Wednesday, February 10, 2016

And, so it goes...

Remember the barn cleaning I had planned for Sean? The removal of any spider webs ::shudder:: from the barn? Surely, attempt three would be the charm in getting that done. Keep laughing, Universe. Tomorrow is another day.

Today was spent in getting Levi back on his feet. For the past couple weeks, Levi has been acting "off". He is eating normally, rumen is functioning fine, no signs of illness, fecal counts came back good [57 total egg count; Barberpole (Haemonchus Strongyle) & Coccidia], and eyelids are a nice, bright pink. His main symptom is that he is weak. We thought that perhaps Asher and Eli were bullying him causing Levi to not get enough hay. To remedy that, we offered extra hay in the field where the larger bucks could not get to it. That didn't seem to help. After finding Levi down on his side, we separated him out into a private stall to try to build his strength back. Our course of action was: all the hay he wanted, water available 24/7 and we added 1 cup of grain to his diet in the morning. Additionally, we gave him an injection of 5 CCs vitamin B subcutaneously and 5 CCs of Propylene Glycol orally. He seemed stable, but not gaining ground until yesterday. Our spending so much time in the barn has the added benefit that we are able to really watch all the goaties. I remarked to Sean that I thought Levi had turned the bend. He seemed much stronger. Apparently Levi heard me. This morning we found him stiff, cold and on his side. I thought for sure he was dying. So did Sean.

Sean picked him up and we headed inside. We injected 5 CC's Vitamin B sub-q, got 5 CCs Propylene Glycol and 3 CCs CMPK drench into him orally. We attempted to take his temperature, but found our brand new thermometer was not functioning(!). I felt inside his mouth. Levi's gums were wet and pink. Eyelids a nice, healthy pink. His mouth felt warm to the touch, but not hot. His breathing sounded good, nice lung sounds. His heartbeat was slow. We got a blanket on him and settled him in front of the wood stove. Levi showed no interest in eating hay and could barely hold his head up. I warmed some penicillin (just in case we needed it) and Sean called our veterinary, Dr. Arena and left a message with her. He laid curled in a ball for about 5 minutes and then, began chewing his cud in this position. So weird!

There was nothing else to do for him at this point, we left him to rest while we fed Anna's new kid and got the rest of the herd their morning hay. Meaghan and Kristen were inside. We asked them to keep an eye on him and if he started to cry or call at all, come get us.

When we checked back with him an hour later, after the morning chores, Levi had started to perk up a little. We gave him another 5 CCs oral Propylene Glycol and I mixed 5 ml Probios in a cup of apple cider to offer him. If his rumen was off at all, the probiotics might be of use. He still was not interested in eating or drinking and couldn't stand unassisted. This was a critical situation, we were just throwing anything we could at him at this point- anything that might help. Sean grabbed a cup of grain and I cut up a fresh carrot. Levi could not hold up his head unassisted, but with Sean's support on his neck and me holding the dish, Levi ate a cup of grain and an entire carrot. We offered hay, but he did not want any. Sean messaged Dr. Arena again.

Another hour passed and Levi started to get a little stronger. Sean carried him outside, where he both urinated and passed perfect pellets. I messaged our friend Shea to pick her brain for what else I could be missing. Shea offered to loan us a pet thermometer and agreed to run another set of fecals for us. She also offered a flake of the greenest hay she had in her barn. I can't say how grateful I am for Shea's friendship and her willingness to help- however it is needed. Levi seemed willing to eat, just not hay, so we gave him a couple celery stalks and a few small pieces of brocolli- just trying to get anything into his system resembling food. I know browse/hay is the best food for him, but I felt that we were at a point that anything was better than nothing.

When Sean returned, we checked Levi's temperature. It registered 98.8. We took it a second time, 98.6. The normal temperature range for a healthy goat is 102*-103*. A temperature this low is critical and is, in itself, life-threatening. We gave him a 2nd injection of vitamin B (5 CCs) and decided to give him an injection of the penicillin. While I didn't think he had an infection, I just didn't know what was going on and doing something felt better than just waiting. I figured best case, he had some kind of infection that was causing his weakness and we got a jump on it. Worst case, he didn't need the dose we gave him and Dr. Arena would let us know that when she called back.

As it turns out, we were way off base with this one. Based on the symptoms, Dr. Arena believes that Levi contracted Parelaphostrongylus Tenuis or Meningeal worm. We checked all the right things to start with, but missed this one completely having never come across it before. Our experience told us to check eyelids, gums, fecal count for worm/parasite load. The problem is, this type of worm does not show up on fecal exams because they do not live in the gastrointestinal tract. They live in the muscles of an infected host and move towards the spine. This is what causes the tell-tale signs of weakness, usually presented in the hind end first and progressing towards the front. For those interested in more information about this, you can check out this link to read about the identification and lifestyle, clinical disease, prevention and treatment: (Meningeal Worm). The article is not long and it was very helpful to my understanding of how my goat contracted this worm and what treatment ahead would look like for us. The sooner it is identified and treatment is started, the better the chance of recovery. Our treatment course is .5 CCs banamine injected IM once per day. .8 CCs Ivomectin injected sub-q once per day for five consecutive days. Dr. Arena may also prescribe a steroid to help Levi in regaining his strength.

It looks like it will be a long road ahead for this guy, but he is able to stand and that is a good sign that permanent damage has not set in. Dr. Arena warned us that he may look worse before he gets better. We'll let you know how it goes.

In better news, we got to have some goat kid play time in the barn today and I have some great video of the nine goat kids playing together. I'll try to get that posted for you all tomorrow. I'll also post some pictures of the new chickens, too. That is, if everything goes according to plan. Laugh away, Universe.

Thanks for popping in for a visit today, friends. We are glad you are here. ♥
~Sean and Sonja

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Best Laid Plans...

There is never enough time in the day to get done all that I plan. Today was a shining example of that. Sean and I intended to drive to a friend's house in Abbot, Maine to pick up seven, 1 year-old hens and then stop in Bangor on our way home to pick up heavy hinges for Asher's new stall and our son, Brian for a lunch visit. At home, I planned to help Sean install the hinges, take pictures and video of the new stall manger arrangement- which we LOVE, and update you all on those sweet goat kids. I had six batches of soap to package and some earrings to finish while Sean cleared spider webs *shudder* from the barn ceiling. Easy day.

Anna and her son, 3/4 lamancha 1/4 nigerian dwarf 
Instead, the day began with Sean bringing in a dripping wet, freshly delivered goat kid. Number 9 for the season. The PERFECT combination of color and ears that I am trying to breed here, except it is a buck. *Sigh* I am thrilled that Anna kidded so easily and that her buck seems healthy, especially since we hadn't intended on breeding her until next year. Sean has especially worried over her well being. She showed us. She wasn't showing signs of labor at 3 am when Sean last checked out things in the barn and her kid greeted him a couple hours later. She had already passed the placenta and was busily eating hay from the newest manger, oblivious to her kid curled up on the floor, snoozing next to Lily. While I finished cleaning off this latest addition, Sean moved Anna, Naomi and the kid to our vacant 4th kidding stall. A little late, but the stall will afford Momma and kid some privacy and time to get to know each other without being trampled by the rest of the herd. We let Naomi join Anna since she has strong mothering instincts and was interested in helping to clean off her grand-kid. Besides this, Naomi is due to kid out herself in the next couple weeks and we are running out of empty stalls! :) We waited until the newest kid had latched on for necessary colostrum and was resting before we left for Mission Chicken Relocation.

This surprise addition put us an hour and a half behind when we wanted to leave for Abbot, which is an hour and a half drive north. We messaged Sarah to let her know we were on our way and Brian to let him know we would be later than originally planned and set off on our adventure. Thankfully our GPS sent us all the way around the barn to get there so it took us nearly two hours!?!?!?! Despite the added time, it was a nice drive. Mission Chicken Relocation went off without trouble and before too long, seven lovely ladies were settled inside a large dog kennel in the back of the van.

On the way to Bangor to pick up those heavy hinges, merging onto I 95, we got into a fender bender. Sean very nearly avoided the crash with quick thinking and reflexes, but the car behind us pushed a third car into our passenger side door. Thankfully, no people or chickens were injured, but I felt bad for the other two cars that were towed away. We had to reschedule our lunch with Brian, too.

By the time the police came and got everyone settled and we drove from the scene, ran our errands and got back home, it was 4:30 pm instead of 1 pm. Sean and I set quickly to afternoon chores, checked on those sweet kids, and finally got into the house around 6 pm. While I worked on a short video for you all and packaged soaps, Sean made us grilled cheese sandwiches and warmed the tomato soup I made yesterday for our dinner. After dinner we finished the soap packaging and I am stealing a couple minutes to write this for you.

Tomorrow is another day. I think we'll stay around here for the day- the 3-5 inches of snow we're supposed to get overnight will make that an extra appealing proposal. I hope to get those earrings finished and perhaps get another post written for you. There is so much happening that we want to share with you. For now, I leave you with this short video of goat kid cuteness.

Thanks for visiting with us tonight, friends. We're glad you are here.
Sonja ♥

Saturday, February 6, 2016

GRAPHIC IMAGES: Abigail's Kids are Born

Spock, newly delivered.
While I was helping Sean with implementing the new hay manger/wall design I dreamed up for inside the barn (a post for another day), I noticed Abby displaying signs of pre-labor. She couldn't seem able to get comfortable; she'd lie down, then immediately stand up, repeatedly. Next came Abigail pawing the ground and calling softly. Then, began the contractions. Abigail has always had an easy, normal delivery. We like that and vote for the streak to continue. While we're making preferences known, it would be awesome if she could take a year off. We hadn't intended on breeding her this season. Clearly, she didn't understand that. Or, she had plans of her own. 

Abigail's kidding was nearly text book. Active contractions began at 12:15 and she was completely delivered by 1:00 pm. Abigail gifted us with two, 8 pound, perfect little bucks. Her first kid presented himself nose and hooves first. After a couple good pushes and not much forward motion, Sean applied a little traction on the hooves and within a few minutes, "Kirk" was completely delivered.  Abigail took immediate interest in cleaning him off.  I helped with a towel to speed the job before kid #2 presented. About 10 minutes after Kirk was born, his brother entered the world. We named him "Spock" because of his upswept eyebrow markings and long ears. He is stunning. With an anticipated season that could potentially give us 20 kids, we cannot keep them all, nor even most of them; I am sorely tempted to keep him based on his markings and character. He is all GOAT. While Kirk is happy to snuggle down with his Momma, or enjoy some warm milk when it walks by and naps the rest of the time, Spock wanders into whatever pen he pleases- to explore, to bounce upon on unsuspecting chickens or sleep in a goat pile with Rachel's kids or Jane's. Oh! You caught that, did you?  Yes. Wednesday saw an explosion of kidding on the homestead. Between noon and 4:30 pm, we delivered 8 kids to 4 Mommas.

After Abigail's delivery, we gave the other goats a once over. No one seemed to be heading into labor, so Sean and I went inside to clean up, eat some lunch, and spend some time with our human kids. We finished the final half hour of Star Trek "Generations" (which may have been what led to the strong Vulcan resemblance I saw in Spock). Sean went back out to the barn to check on the kids and Abigail while I posted some images of the new kids on our facebook page. Sean was gone about two minutes before he raced back inside to yell, "I have a hoof!" pause "Keziah" pause "Hurry or you're gonna miss it!" Door slam. Feet running.
I grabbed my boots, camera, fresh towels, the goat kit and headed back to the barn. We thought Keziah had about a week to go before kidding, so she was still with the rest of the herd. When Sean got to the barn, Keziah was on the floor of the main stall, crying with contractions. Her mother, Rachel was standing over her, protecting her from the unwanted attention of the other does. When I got to the barn, Sean was furiously screwing in the panels of our kidding stall to make a separate space for Keziah to kid in peace. Between contractions, we assisted Keziah to her feet and helped her into the private kidding stall. Rachel was determined to follow her daughter. We didn't stop her. Rachel's presence seemed to help calm Keziah as much as anything we were doing for her. Rachel helped clear away the mucus discharge. She was quite the midwife, actually.

Don't think about resting now,
I am about to be in labor, too. 
While I watched them, I noticed that Rachel seemed to stop and tense for a second, every now and again. I was suspicious that she, too, would be going into labor shortly, but Rachel did not have any discharge or udder forming so, I focused on the kidding immediately to hand. Keziah's single kid was a hearty, 8 pound doeling. She presented perfectly, but with this being Keziah's first kidding, we did not let her strain and push alone. Once the head and legs were free, we applied careful pressure to help the kid be born more quickly. Immediately, Rachel set to work, helping to clean off her grand-daughter. Keziah was more interested in grabbing mouthfuls of hay and the bowl of grain I offered her. Once she'd eaten, she turned her attention to cleaning her young.

And, then Rachel began active labor. We decided to just let her kid in the same stall since it was both convenient and seemed to be acceptable to the does. In between contractions, watching Abigail's kids to make sure they were up and getting colostrum, watching Keziah and her kid, I glanced over to the other side of the wall and spotted Jane, panting. She couldn't also be going into labor, could she? Now? Right now? Her answer: Labor. Now.
Right now. The other does, having met foul tempered Jane when she is NOT in labor, decided to give her a stall all to herself and watch from the relative safety of the doorway to the main doe stall. Still, we felt it best to add a couple more panels and seclude her for her comfort and safety. No sooner were they added, both Rachel and Jane began straining and panting.

"Do you want to call Shea for the extra pair of hands she offered?" I asked Sean. Our friend, Shea from Gentle Meadow Goat Farm had offered to come out if we wanted more hands.

"I'm on it!" he replied. We have 5 years of experience helping our goats to kid. But, asking for some assistance seemed the wise course in the wake of three kids already born to two Mommas needing attention compounded with two more imminent deliveries. Shea arrived within minutes and then it was a back and forth rash of kiddings. Jane delivered before Rachel, a healthy robust chamois colored buck. As I was getting him sorted, I heard Shea say, "I have a nose right on top of hooves. Do you want me to straighten a leg?" Sean replied,"Give her a minute to see if she can deliver... *heart beat*... Like that." No sooner had he responded, Rachel delivered her first kid, a black buck with just a touch of white spots along the edge of his ears. He was delivered still inside his membrane. Shea broke it for him, introduced him to Rachel and worked with her to stimulate the kid. I looked up to see all was well and turned back just in time for Jane to deliver another buck. He dropped onto the floor still housed in his caul. I opened the membrane with my finger. Though it only took seconds, it felt like forever as he started to thrash on the floor. Sean grabbed him, turned him upside down and cleared his nose and throat of mucus and fluid. The kid was fine and quite probably would have been fine without the extra effort, but watching a kid thrash is scary! I am glad Sean jumped into action. As soon as the kid was laying on the towel again, Jane turned her attention to stimulating and cleaning him. There was another push and Jane's third kid shot out of her in a slippery, whoosh onto the floor, which seemed to surprise her as much as it did me. Our first triplets born on the homestead! All boys!

I couldn't really pay attention to Sean and Shea delivering Rachel's final kid, a lovely chamois doe, but it seemed that the delivery went quickly and without incident. Normally, we have time for one of us to be on the camera or video while the other catches a kid and helps dry it off. Once dry and standing, we weigh the kids, dip umbilical cords in iodine to help dry them up, and make certain everyone is getting colostrum. We have had multiple goats kid in one day. We have NEVER had them kid all at once, back to back! It was exciting. I'll say that for it!

When all was said and done, at the end of the day we had 4 happy Mommas and 8 healthy, perfect kids; 6 bucks and 2 does. We are very pleased to introduce you to our first kids of 2016. Most of these will be available for sale.
Kirk, 8 pounds, Lamancha buck, cauliflower ears

Spock, 8 pound Lamancha cross buck

Mason (left) Sanaan/Lamancha cross buck (full ears), black with white spots on the ear, 7 pounds
Nyota (right) Sanaan/Lamancha cross doe (full ears) She is going to be paired with Spock, 8 pounds

Lydia, Lamancha doe, chamois colored, 6 pounds. We are keeping her.
Mason, for sale (see above)
Nyota for sale (see above)

Jane's triplets. Un-named as of now...

Black buck w/tan eyebrows & legs and white splotch, lamancha/french alpine cross, lamancha ears, 5 pounds
Chamois colored lamancha/french alpine cross buck, lamancha ears, 7 pounds
Spotted brown and white buck, lamancha/french alpine cross, 6 pounds, ears

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Weekend Getaway

Those of you who follow our Facebook page may recall my recent inquiry of which post to work on first;  moving the turkey house,  our fight against parasites to keep our goats healthy,  how we prepare to face the winter, or general farm updates.  I will get to every one of those topics- just as soon as Sean and I return from visiting Daddy Dale and Momma Twombly for the weekend at their Florida condo.

In the brief lull between putting to bed the Creatively Maine Pop Up Shop to settle in for the the winter and the rush and worry of kidding season, we received the most wonderful message asking us if Sean,  the girls, and I could get away for a 7-10 day visit. At the moment we received the message, we were just finishing the 6 week whirlwind of coordinating this year's winter pop up.  Looking out over a half dismantled shop and thinking ahead to the massive work it would be to put our home back into order (In addition to display items from the other Artisans, the majority of our furniture lived as displays at the shop), we quickly agreed.  Dancing for joy ensued.  It wasn't until we delivered a sample of goat pellets to Shea of  Gentle Meadow Goat Farm for testing that reality reared it's head. As I stood, holding a plastic bag of fresh goat droppings, I suddenly remembered,  we have a herd of goats we only just got the Barberpole worms under control for, ten of whom are pregnant with some of our girls due to kid at the end of January or the beginning of February. Plus, temperatures are running in the single digits at night and don't often warm up past 30* during the day; the perfect weather for frozen,  burst pipes. And, there is Molly to consider.  Our working at the shop each day had been rough on her,  missing her pack.  If we left her home with Cait,  Molly would surely believe we'd abandoned her forever.  And, there is the homestead to consider as a whole; who will feed,  water,  and care for everyone?  With a sad heart,  I realized,  a family vacation to Florida was not in the cards for us this year. 

Until Sean stepped in with his almost magical power of reason.  He arranged for us to go for a long weekend with his Dad and Mom.  Sean watched the goat does meticulously for signs of kidding while I cared for putting our home back together and returned to creating our farm products to restock our shelves. He loaned Shea our van and arranged to have her "on call" in case the pregnant does decided to kid early in our absence.  (Goats have a habit of making things not run smooth.  ;) ) Our girls offered to remain at home to feed, water, care for the animals and generally hold down the fort. Obstacles thus attended to,  with a grateful heart and thankful spirit,  we boarded a plane.

Day one of our long weekend showed us how capable our teenagers are-equipped to keep the home fires burning,  literally. I am so proud of them.  Each phone call to check in is answered with positive updates. I hope this short time away helps to build their confidence in themselves. 

Sean and I are having a lovely, relaxing visit.  In addition to seeing Heron, egrets, osprey, and wood storks wandering everywhere,  we got a close look at the manatees in the canal, dolphins playing in the bay, and took a walk along the beach. Sean and Daddy Dale played a round of Frisby golf.  We've enjoyed games of spades and dominoes. It feels strange not to be dislodging ice from buckets,  working in my studio,  or attending to other homestead needs,  but the short rest was both welcome and needed. 

I'll get to writing those other stories when we're home again- when I have my laptop full of images handy.  For now,  I can post on my cool, new tablet, but I don't yet know how to insert images where they should live.  I'm learning.   Thanks for visiting with us this morning,  friends. We're glad for your company. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

I Can Do Anything, But Not Everything...

~David Allen
Last year, my motto was, "Not my circus; not my monkeys". Cute and relevant for those of us who are born the eldest child and besides that, are completely convinced that we can fix the world's troubles- one crisis at a time. I name no names. *cough cough* Me.

woolart Monkey
This year, I am adopting a new saying, "I can do anything I want, but not everything I want". We have less than a week before this year's pop up shop, Creatively Maine, opens in Bucksport with me in the roll of ring master and all around monkey wrangler. In the midst of trying to get ready for winter here, and doing all the regular activities it takes to help Sean make this homestead work, I have significant time and effort poured into promoting not only myself, but 45 (and that list is growing daily) other talented local artisans. Most of these folks are people I've met working markets and shows through the year. They are people whose craftsmanship I admire. They are people, like Jean Fink of woolart, or Shea Rolnick of Gentle Meadow Goat Farm that I genuinely care about. I know what this venture's success or failure means to our family and to the artisans and their families. Sean assures me it is not the case, but sometimes, in the wee hours of the morning, I feel that the success or failure of *all of this* depends solely upon me. On the choices I made on who is involved in this year's shop. On the price I negotiated for  the rent of our space. On the advertising and promoting I can do. On the appeal of our website and whether people "like" our Creatively Maine facebook page. On whether a shelf looks better on this wall or that. On each and every display arranged to encourage someone to spend their hard-earned money with us instead of at Walmart, Target, or wherever else they might be inclined to shop. Between you and I... I am not sure that I am enough.

I started getting massive tension headaches a week ago, stressed over trying to help everyone in my path. I took a couple of aspirin (okay, a bottle of aspirin) and ignored the headaches. "This initial set up phase is relatively short. Once the shop actually opens, the stress level and list of things needing to be cared for will ease", I convinced myself. Last Tuesday's full-blown migraine with all the bells and whistles, gave me the wake up call I was in desperate need of. Sean warned me I was taking on too much. I knew I was taking on too much. But, sometimes it takes a little "congnitive recalibration" to reset a body. Well, this body. I *am* the kind of person that sometimes needs to be "hit over the head" to stop and think about a situation and then make some changes.

Oh Rachel. What a face! ♥
One necessary change for me was learning to say the hardest word in the English language... "No."

I am still determined to make a success of all the projects I am involved with, but I sat down and mentally figured out some guidelines for myself and some boundaries. I gave myself "office hours" to care for things shop related. No one complained about my not being there 24/7. I said "No" to some special requests asked of me. And, the world did not stop. The people asking managed to work their issues out and life ticked on. I asked other artisans to pitch in when the need arose. And, they did. I allowed myself time to spend with Sean and our daughters. I threw a stick for Molly. The "chore" of feeding the animals (which I had released to Sean a week ago) was taken back. I like spending that time with my animals and releasing that to Sean made me feel disconnected from this homestead and my life. I captured some video and took some pictures to share with you. Without the unnecessary stress, I painted some new pendants and that felt wonderful. (They'll be posted to our facebook page later today). I added in time for myself to eat and sleep. This coming Saturday morning I have plans to spend time with our family in our ministry. So, it has only been 3 days. And, I know me. The other things will come encroaching. But, Sean is here to help me to be balanced and to take care of me, so that I can keep helping others.
Our Pop Up Shop is only open for 7 weeks, but I can tell you that it will be filled to the brim with wonderful, quality hand-made creations. We get the keys on November 19th and Open our doors for the first time this year on November 23 at 11 am. Local friends, we are looking forward to sharing our work with you in person. Far Away Friends, please visit us online. We'll gift wrap and ship! In contrast to last year, we won't be updating "shop news" here. This page is remaining dedicated to all things homesteady and farmish.

That is what is going on in our world. Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. I am so happy you are here.

~Sonja ♥

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sweater Mittens: A Gift to Warm my Heart (and Fingers)

 I got a package in the mail on Monday. I wasn't expecting anything and I didn't recognize the address. Strange. I opened the package to reveal hand-made sweater mittens, created by my friend, Jean Fink- just for me.

I have brown hair and often wear browns with purples, so she could not have chosen a better color combination for me. The sweet embellished flower on the cuff made me smile. I tried them on immediately and modeled them for Sean.

Sean remarked, "That Jean is good people." And, she is. Not because she took the time to make me a pair of mittens, but because in making me mittens, she took the time to show she cares about me. Every time I wear them, I will think of my friend, Jean, and remember her thoughtfulness.

Now, here is the irony. Sean and I planned to take the girls mitten and sock shopping this weekend. We already have coats, hats, scarves, and boots, but we could all use new warm socks for our feet and at least one good pair of gloves or mittens for our fingers. I hadn't publicized our plans. How did she know what I needed? Perhaps she didn't. Perhaps this was just a happy accident. I don't really believe that. I look at every opportunity to act in kindness as a way to be used as a blessing to someone else, therefore every kindness done towards me is a blessing, too. I doubt Jean knew how deeply touched I would be by her thoughtful gesture. I hope she knows now. Thank you for taking time to create for me my favorite pair of mittens ever and for reminding me to continue to look for blessings wherever they might be found.
If you know of someone in your life who might love a heart-warming, hand-crafted pair of mittens, Jean's creations can be found on her Etsy shop, woolart.

Thanks for stopping in for a visit today, friends. I am so glad you are here.

~Sonja ♥

Monday, November 9, 2015

Autumn Turkey Coop Prepping

Before Sean's Mom and Dad returned home to North Carolina this year, Sean, our friend, Matt, and Daddy Dale gave a mighty effort to move a large ice shack from its home in Swanville to our homestead. The building hadn't been used at all in a couple years, but it's last purpose was as a chicken coop. Vinyl siding and asphalt shingled roof in good condition, large windows for light, linoleum flooring for easy care, a door for people and one for the feathered animals, it would need just a little TLC to make this into a very serviceable Turkey coop for my babies. The only trouble? Getting it out.
Despite their best efforts:removing small Sumac trees and birch branches grown up around the shed and using metal runners as a lever, the shed refused to budge.

The guys attempted to use Matt's truck to pull it out. This moved the shed diagonally about a foot, but the stubborn shed refused to give up. Then the metal rings ripped out of the sill, taking siding and wood with it, there was nothing else to do, but call it for that day.

Matt suggested that he and Sean return with some tools another day to cut off the roof and the four side walls. With the shed dismantled, the guys would load it into the truck in large pieces and reassemble it once they got it safely to our homestead. I was not in love with this plan, but there did not really seem to be an alternative.

The shed on the left cannot be used another winter. The yard is a good size, but needs to be
moved to give the Toms more fresh greens- while they last. As you can see, the teens 
come and go as they please. 

So, the Turkey Coop project was put aside for the time being. We really need that shed for our turkey birds. We have been able to extend their yard to a decent size for them, but their shelter this summer will not work once the weather turns. They are using one of the small, square coop boxes gifted to us a couple of years ago. These are really no longer habitable. It was built with a flat top and after a few years of usage, that top is no longer in good repair. We'll still salvage any usable 2x4's, the vents, and any screws that we can from it, but the rotting plywood top and base will be burned in our next bonfire.

The weather this fall is cooperating with us and that is a blessing. I am worried, though. Winter is not long off and besides resolving the turkey situation, we still need to build new doors for the barn stalls, move Ebony up to the barn, and cut and stack our firewood for the season. It is the time of year when we start getting phone calls asking us to take on animals that need to find new homes. At this stage, we are full when it comes to providing for large animals. It is going to be a hard winter just to provide for those that we already are responsible for. We can do it and will, but only if we continue to be careful about our herd management. So, no new mammals being added to the homestead.

On the other hand, there was a little room for additional birds. In addition to our two new muscovy ducks, Chapelle and Boris, we agreed to take care of two new adult turkey hens, Riley and Maggie. Miss Riley has a tassel on her chest. They are a cross between a Royal Palm and a Naragansett. Right now, they live next to the main turkey area while they get accustomed to their new flock-mates. Also, I am given to understand that these ladies have a habit of roosting high up in the tree tops or on roof tops. We want to make sure they are happy with their new arrangements before releasing them where they can come and go as they please.

Besides these four, Sean and I went for an adventure day two weeks ago to collect our four new Silkie pullets in Augusta. Our lone Silkie has been living in our family room because the other hens in our flock bully her. The thought of living with a chicken inside all winter long was not one I relished. We hope that adding several other hens of her same breed will give her some companionship and stop the others from chasing her. If it doesn't work, the Silkies can take up residence together in the barn. Phase One went as planned. All the Silkies are getting along well, living next to the main coop. Phase Two will happen on Saturday and we'll see how that goes.

Billy Roo was very interested in the new ladies.
Yesterday, a neighbor friend stopped by to ask us to take his flock of six hens; four Rhode Island Reds and two Barred Rocks. His family is heading south for a bit and has decided not to have chickens at this point. They are large, lovely ladies. And, they help to solve the problem of having a few too many roosters on the homestead right now. We still need to find homes for a couple of boys that came with some straight run chicks earlier in the spring, but having a total of ten new teenaged-young adult hens to add to our flock will spread the attention somewhat.

We have not given up hope on our Turkey coop project. I will keep you posted with that saga as it unfolds!

Thanks for stopping in to visit with us, friends. We're sure glad for your company.

Sonja ♥