Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother Hen Hatches Her Nest

I can't believe that an entire month has passed since I last wrote. Where has the time gone? Most of it has been spent caring for our animals and restocking in preparation for upcoming shows and shops. Sean is working steadily for clients; replacing roofing, repairing clapboard, painting, repairing drywall. He's also been busy at home. Besides his regular chores, Sean finished painting out our kitchen cupboards and furnishings and installed our daughter, Caitlin's new kitchen sink and counter top. I have posted images on our FACEBOOK PAGE and if you are not already following us there, please join us!

Rather than recap all the happenings for the past month, I'll start with some fresh news: Baby Chicks!

Several of our feathered females are broody. Currently, we have duck Chapelle sitting on a nest of 9 turkey eggs and a dozen of her own Muscovie eggs inside Jasmine's stall. Frances is sitting on a nest of a dozen goose eggs inside a dog crate within the duck and goose enclosure. My favorite hen turkey, Lydia, is sharing a nest with another hen. Between them, they are sitting on over 2 dozen eggs under our rabbit hutch. Priscilla is sitting on a nest of turkey eggs inside the chicken yard. And, our hen, Maggie has chosen to lay her turkey eggs up in the rafters of the chicken coop. We are excited for all the chicks, goslings, and turkey poults to hatch.

Someday, we might invest in an incubator for better control of hatching, but for now, our chicks are hatched naturally, which has its pros and cons, like everything else. In the Pro column is that even with nights still dipping into the 30's and below, we don't worry about the temperature of the eggs. The mothers are perfectly suited to regulate the proper temperature for their nests. We don't fuss with turning the eggs or measuring for proper humidity. In fact, mostly, we leave them alone as much as possible. The Con side includes predator attacks on either the mother, the eggs, or both. About a month ago, in the middle of the night, we had a fox take a mother hen from a nest she made in the pig stall that had only about a week left before hatching. It was heart-breaking to lose the hen and and all the would-be chicks. Once in a while, a Mother hen gets tired of sitting on her nest and leaves it before the chicks hatch. Sometimes, the chicks don't hatch all at once and get trampled by their siblings or don't get warmed up fast enough and die. Hatching with an incubator is not danger-free nor stress-free. Power outages happen. Spikes in temperature or drops in humidity can all effect hatching. We just do the best we can with what we have. It is all anyone can do. Thankfully, most of the time, things go well and the result is fluffy, chirping, healthy chicks. ♥

Our first nest to hatch was the only hen laying in an approved nesting area, an actual nesting box. Momma hen hatched 6 eggs without our assistance and another with a little help from her friends. (See video)

We're trying to get back into the habit of writing more frequently, but Spring adds a lot of work on the homestead. Right now, we are prepping for gardens and CSA Shares. We'll post more later! Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. I hope you have a great day! ~Sean and Sonja ♥

Monday, March 21, 2016

Graphic Video: Breach Birth~ Naomi & Bailey Kid Over the Weekend

As predicted, Naomi kidded yesterday. And, in typical Naomi fashion- she stole off into the field to have her kids without our prying eyes or helping hands. Sean cared for the afternoon chores on his own yesterday. So as to not steal his joy in gifting me the afternoon "off", I let him... Until he raced back inside with a shout of, "Kids dropped in the field.... Naomi.... looks like one is already dry and standing... you want to help?" Storm door slam. Boots a-movin'.

Of course I wanted to help. Well, to be completely honest, I was tired and *really* wanted to nap, but that was not going to happen, regardless of kidding. Sean grabbed towels and headed back to the field. I slid on my boots and barn coat, grabbed my camera and followed Sean to the barn.

Naomi was laying under the outside manger in a mess of discarded hay from before the winter snow came. As advertised, one kid was nearly clean, mostly dry and standing wobbly. Naomi was clearly still in labor and pushing hard. I was mortified to spy the unborn kid's leg sticking out, no head. Sean said, "It's breach." as the thoughts formed in my mind. We didn't wait. Sean immediately reached inside, hooked the other leg and pulled it free of its mother's body. Naomi may not like to have our assistance, but she needed it today. It was difficult to see if the kid was moving or not and there was no time to wait or inspect. I braced myself that it might be still-born. Sean applied steady pressure and pulled the kid free. We both sighed in relief to see the kid kick and sputter.

Trauma forgotten. Naomi cleans Jareth.
Tobey enjoys some Colostrum. 

I picked up both the kids and Sean led Naomi to an empty, clean kidding stall in the barn. Sean grabbed some fresh hay, grain, and a bucket of fresh water while I helped clean and dry the kids. Naomi kidded twin bucks. They are gorgeous. One is red, like his Momma. We'll name him Jareth. The younger buck is black with a white blaze on his forehead and white saddle across his hind legs. His name is Tobey. They are both Nigerian Dwarf/Lamancha cross. They both have lamancha "elf" ears. :)

After things settled, we gave Bailey a once over. I suggested that we put her into the other empty kidding stall for the night. "I can, but she might not kid for days still. Do you want to keep her confined all that time?" Sean asked. I did think she was close, but Sean was right and I was still tired. I should have gone with my gut.

Chloe was very interested in what was happening on the other side of the wall.

This morning, Sean went out to check on the new baby goats and their Mommas and discovered Bailey had kidded in the night. She had one pure white kid curled up with her. Sean looked around to see if she'd had a twin, which we expected. No kid in any of the doe stalls. He turned to come inside to relay the good news, but then thought, "I better check the buck stall, just in case..." And, there she was. Curled up in a corner, sleeping peacefully. Another tawny kid. They were both dry and cleaned off and the placenta had already passed. Sean took a minute to give them a once-over and check for their gender. Two does! Both Lamancha "cauliflower" eared! Winner! These ladies will stay here on the homestead. We named the pure white lass, Rebecca and her sister is named Tabitha. We'll call them Becca and Tabby.

Bailey is attentive and cleans her kids regularly. This one is Tabby. 
Tabitha: Sanaan/LaMancha Cross.
Where do you keep your extra cute? In your wattles, of course!
 That brings the total to fourteen kids born on the homestead this year; six does and eight bucks. We believe that we have three more does to kid; Leah, Cassie, and Phoebe. I think they are due next month, but goats being goats... who know? ;)
Becca the beautiful. Sanaan/LaMancha Cross.

Tobey~ Nigerian Dwarf/Lamancha Cross 
Jareth~ Nigerian Dwarf/Lamancha Cross
Thanks for visiting tonight, friends. We're glad you did.
~Sean & Sonja ♥

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES~ Hadassah Kids Twin Does

The time has come for the second round of kiddings on the homestead. Hadassah (Haddie) is the first of this group to kid. We are expecting Bailey and Naomi to follow her any day now, but goats being the creatures they inherently are, it could be another month. We'll let you know about any new kids as they arrive.

Haddie's labor went almost textbook perfectly. The only strange element was that the first "bubble" presented, was not the first kid delivered. And, that "bubble" did not break until the second kid arrived. A little strange, but since we have two healthy, beautiful does to show for the laboring, we will not complain. (The "bubble" is the amniotic sac containing the kid(s).) In these images, you can see the intact bubble below the second bubble holding Mackenzie, the first kid actually born. The second kid is still inside her unbroken "bubble" almost ready to be completely born. It was strange and another first for us. Usually, a "bubble" presents, a kid starts to emerge and we hold our breaths until we see 2 hooves and a nose. We keep holding our breaths until that kid moves in any fashion. Then, with a sigh of relief we wait in case we are needed, but basically, we let nature do its thing.

We hope you enjoy the video and images of Hadassah's kidding. Since I caught the second doe, I only got pictures of her being born.

MacKenzie, Oberhausli-Lamancha doe, 7 pounds
Miss MacKenzie was READY to move when she was born. She stood within minutes of her birth, found her Momma's udder, latched on and nursed with no assistance from us.

As lovely as she is, MacKenzie is not for us to keep. She will be paired with Mason and we'll find her a great home with folks who want to raise dairy goats.

We thought to pair the second doe born with Kirk because of her coloring and planned to name her Marimanee (Mari) accordingly. After considering it for a bit, we decided to pair her with Theodore (Teddy) instead. They have lovely complimentary coloring and both of them have full ears, where Kirk was born with lamancha elf ears. They are also very evenly tempered; as goats go, these two are laid back and sweet. That being the case, we are going to call our champagne coated doeling, Brice.
Brice (Oberhausli-Lamancha) doe, weight 7 pounds
We'll have lots of new images of these two in the days and weeks to come. Thanks for visiting with us tonight, friends. We're really happy you are here!

Sean & Sonja ♥

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Homestead Updates

This week has passed in a blur of working, building, making, designing, and kidding. Whew! I know you are all anxious to read about the new kids born yesterday and I am in the process of editing the videos I captured, but that takes a lot of time. That video is uploading and when that finishes, I will post it, too. I am hoping to have it finished tonight. We'll see if the interweb cooperates with that plan.

In the meantime, I can update you on Superman's hand. I removed the stitches on Friday because I couldn't put Sean off any longer. I really wanted to give it a full 10 days of healing before taking them out. I was worried that if they weren't ready to be removed, it would reopen and have needless complications. But, they were driving Sean mad. He started insisting I remove them on Tuesday. Since Sean's skin was starting to grow over his stitches, he won and out they came. The injury is healing well and improving every day.

With the improved weather last week and Sean feeling better, we were able to repair and move the wind-damaged turkey fencing to fully expand the duck and geese enclosure. From 64' × 32', it more than doubled again to 64' x '90', which gives the ducks and geese an area totaling approximately 5760 square feet to wander and explore.  Ferdinand and Frances have settled in well. Frances is laying eggs in a nest. We are hopeful that Frances will hatch a nest this Spring. 

All the birds are picking up in their egg-laying.  We are collecting roughly 14 dozen eggs each week right now and that should increase as the daylight does.  We have five egg shares spoken for and can easily satisfy another five shares, so if you are local and are interested in farm fresh eggs each week, let us know! An egg share provides a total of 18 dozen eggs for the cost of $50- that's only $2.78/dozen!!!

One morning this week, Sean and I walked through the woods to where it borders the stream at the back end of our property, dreaming of this year's fence expansion for the goats. It is a lovely space. Quiet and peaceful. It may not get finished until next season, but we are hoping to be able to finish the goat pasture expansion this year. If we can, this is the view they will enjoy. Not too shabby, huh? Now, imagine it in high summer, with the stream running with small fish and wood ducks and the brown grasses alive and green.

Sean wants to fence so the stream is the fourth wall of the pasture. I think that would look lovely, but I am very worried that the goats would go swimming- though they are not known to like water- just because they are GOATS. Goat code clearly reads that any time it is inconvenient to follow goat etiquette, goats will do as they please, when they please, how they please. Research is wanted before we do anything more, but it is a good idea...

 While I am discussing those goats, this goat has decided that she can roam at will. She has discovered a place in the back woods where with just a little pressure, she can slip under the fencing. I followed her to see where she was getting out and caught her in the act. She caught me watching her and slowly removed her head from the fence and sauntered back to the barn hoping all the while that as an inferior-brained human, I would forget it and not repair her escape route. Look, I am not denying that they may have the upperhand in the "Canniness Department". I just don't like it rubbed in.

Afterward, she spent the afternoon pretending that all was well in the world while secretly planning her next escape attempt. Peter is only a few weeks old, but look how he has grown! He is going to take after his Daddy and be a big buck, for sure!

We have had a bit of bad news, too, to share. Sean and I replaced the damaged turkey fencing panels with some four-foot tall, rolled chicken wire and metal posts. Since our animals free-range, fencing is meant to give a small barrier to predators, not keep our birds contained. The downside of freedom is danger. And, that struck us last week. We lost three turkeys in two days. At first, Aquila was missing at night when we went to put them to bed. That isn't completely unusual, as the turkeys have a penchant for roosting on our roof, the chicken coop roof, or in the summer pig pen. I wasn't too worried. In the morning, we were missing two turkey hens. Sean went searching the woods and found them. It was clear a predator had taken them- most likely a fox. That night, we brought them up to the chicken yard. There have been no further attacks, but it is still hard to lose animals, both mentally and financially. The alternative is captivity and that brings its own risks. We will continue to free range our birds as much as we can. Despite these rare attacks (this has been the 2nd in seven years), we feel it is better for our birds to live as freely and naturally as possible. But, another advantage of expanding the goat fencing is that they do a wonderful job of clearing out the brush and under-growth. Open land means less cover for a would-be predator to get close to our birds.

I don't want to end on a sad note. Overall, things are going well for the homestead. We can feel the weather changing and with it, we are bursting with plans for the coming season. As soon as the video of Haddie's kidding uploads, I will post that for you, too.

Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. We're glad you're here.

Sean & Sonja ♥

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES!!!!!!! Superman's Kryptonite

Our resident Superman is adept and capable of tackling nearly any project that needs it. His ability to improvise, adapt, and build our dreams with his strong hands, is just one of the reasons why I love Sean so. There are many. My Superman has his kryptonite, though; it takes form of a simple, utilitarian box cutter. Exhibits A-C: (a) Before Sonja, Sean gouged his side with a box cutter while working at Petco. (b) While cutting a rubber trash can to create a chicken feeder, Sean sliced open his thumb, which is still numb in one area. (c) Sean nicked himself through the years in various box-cutting mishaps. Which brings us to this morning. Sean is really careful using box cutters and open blades, having experienced their wicked help before. He thought to make certain that his appendages were well away from danger. Yet an accident still happened while using a box cutter to remove a sliver of wood from the side of a door, so as to insert the hinges. His hand slipped. His hand slipped with enough force to slice through the fleshy part between his left thumb and forefinger, leaving a gaping, perfectly parted, 2 inch wound- very nearly to the bone. It severed through Sean's skin, protective fat, vein and nicked the muscle within. Blood welled bright red and gushed from it. Thinking quickly, Sean clamped his uninjured hand over the injury and pinched together the skin while moving off the family room's carpeted floor- so as to bleed on the more easily cleanable wood floor- and calling for my help.

I had been chatting on the phone with a friend, took one look at Sean and the blood running through through his hands and dripping onto his pants and said, "I have to go. Sean's hurt." and hung up the phone. Sean was not going into shock, but he was clearly hurting and the amount of blood running from his hand was ringing alarms in me loud and strong. We are not easily scared by injury. We do most of our own doctoring around here. Step on a nail- clean it, disinfect it and bandage it. Dislocate a thumb- put it back into place while you have the window of shock to cushion the pain. Slice yourself- clean it, disinfect it, butterfly it if you can. Even without seeing the wound up close, there was NO doubt in my mind that Sean needed help and stitches. I was a little sick at the thought that he might be more gravely injured than that. I grabbed a clean towel and on the count of three had Sean quickly remove the pressure of his hand and push the cloth over the wound. It happened so fast, I couldn't see more than blood, so I still had no idea how bad this was. The nearest hospital is 20 minutes away and we spent the ride there joking to each other to lighten the mood. It was laugh or give in to the fears and worry.

Inside the Waldo County General Hospital ER, Sean's hand was still bleeding profusely. In the waiting room, the blood ran down his palm, through the cloth and dripped onto the floor. While a more absorbent cloth was applied, I got my first peak at the damage. It was bad- worse than I imagined. There was no doubt Sean would need stitches.

He joked," Are you sure you don't want to just stitch me up so we can get back to work?"

"Well, we came all this way, we might as well let the doctors have a go at it." I replied. "Oh, that's a good picture! Stay still."

The triage nurse did not know what to make of us. Obviously Sean was injured, but he was joking and laughing in between wincing in pain. And, I was taking pictures of everything. What a pair of loons she must have thought us!

The staff was wonderful. Professional. Competent. Compassionate. Sean was numbed, debrided, stitched and released within a couple hours of arrival. 12 stitches: two inside to close around the muscle and ten outside to close the skin and keep everything in place where it belongs. Sean should not suffer any permanent damage, but he won't be doing much in the way of work this week- if he'll listen to me.

Debriding the wound, even numbed made Sean wince and jump. 

A lovely row of neat stitches.

Final product. Everything back inside where it should be.
The unexpected trip put us behind schedule on the list of things we needed to do today. Things like, making soap and cheese, mailing packages, washing the laundry, replacing Kristen's bedroom door and deep cleaning the chicken coop. While we were gone, the girls helped with straining the feta cheese and setting it to drain. They also kept the laundry going. Once we were back at home, Meaghan and Kristen pitched in to help us with the afternoon chores, while Sean looked on in frustration and carried water buckets and bales of hay with his good hand whenever I turned my back for an instant. Sean restrained from using his hand and chores completed, Sean walked Kristen through using a chisel and hammer to finish preparing her door to be hung and ate his lunch. I talked Meaghan through making garlic alfredo sauce for tonight's dinner. The list that needs attending is still long, but we'll get through it together. Milking goats in the morning should be interesting!

I had planned on writing to you tonight about other happenings around the homestead. I'll try to make some time to finish those posts as soon as I can. In the meantime, thanks for visiting with us tonight, Friends. As always, we are sure glad you are here.

Sean & Sonja ♥

Thursday, February 18, 2016


In response to Nature's effort to redecorate our turkey coop and yard, we posted a FLASH SALE on our Lally Broch Farm Facebook Page this morning. This is what our coop and protective fencing looked like on February 15th. The turkeys hop over it to free range and visit the other farm animal areas. They like to challenge and run at Molly- who can't understand why they are not afraid of her. She tucks tail and hides behind me when the turkey babies are out. I would love to say they roost in their coop, but really they don't. They prefer to sleep on the roof of their coop (or the chicken coop) or on the fencing itself. They do eat inside their coop, so all the time and effort moving it from Swanville to here, was not for nothing. :)

Mother Nature's overnight remodel February 16, 2016. I like the lack of snow cover and I can definitely work with the warmer, sunny feeling. I feel the protective fencing is somewhat lacking, however and could use some work.

I hope you will take a couple minutes to hop over to our Lally Broch Farm Facebook page to see what we have offered for sale. If you have a $5 coupon from us from a past sale/auction, you can use it for deeper discounts. Or not, your choice. ♥

Our plan for the day involves driving to meet a bonded pair of geese in Rockport and their coop-mates, a pair of hens. Their family is moving across country soon and they may be joining us on the homestead. We'll meet them before we make any decisions to make sure that this is a good fit for all of us, but I have a good feeling after talking with their family that we will be able to provide them a good home.

The 7, year-old hens we just collected from a friend in Abott last week settled in fine and are doing well. We have room to add up to 20 additional hens to the farm this year now that we have moved our ducks and geese to their separate yard. We'll breed to keep an additional 8 turkey poults, too. I am excited about hatching new chicks, ducklings, goslings, keets, and poults come Spring. If you are interested in adding some to your family, do contact us about what we are expecting to have available in these lines this year. :)

Thanks for stopping in, friends. We love your company.
Sean & Sonja ♥ 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It Rains and It Pours...

The adage says, "If you don't like the weather in Maine, wait a minute. It will change." Over the weekend, our temperatures plummeted to -30* degrees. By Monday, the brutal cold eased and we climbed to +8* degrees. Tuesday saw the temperature increase to nearly 50* degrees during the day, but with the warmer temperatures came gusting winds up to 50 MPH and torrential rains through the night. We woke this morning to survey the damage.

All the safety walls collapsed.
Thomas and Lazarus
My first thought was that we had suffered a predator attack over night. My stomach dropped and I felt sick at the thought. I stood in the kitchen window, imaging the horror of dead or missing turkey babies. It was not an attack. The destruction was caused by the brute force of the winds tearing apart 2x4 framed, wire panels. We are very thankful that all of the turkeys are unharmed. They met me at the top of the field. And are wandering the yard, as normal, right now. But, that fencing must be repaired.

The Waldo County Woodshed Shelter Disaster
The second casualty we discovered was the heavy duty shelter Sean and I built and staked down in November. It belongs, along with the wood it covered, to The Waldo County Wood Shed. Sean surveyed the damage. It seems the covering might be salvageable and if they sell replacement parts, the main supports which twisted, bent and are ruined may be able to be replaced. With a heavy heart, I contacted the coordinator to report the trouble. :( No one was injured. That is most important, but these are not the things I want to wake up to. It does NOT make for a good start to the morning.

With nothing else to do, we set to work. While we waited for the hardware store to open, Sean and I put our backs into manual labor. We cleaned out the entire barn and all its stalls. I cleared the horse stall, the main doe stall and the buck stall; Sean cleared the kidding stalls. Fresh shavings and new bales of hay filled me with a feeling of setting something to right. It looked good and smelled good. I accomplished something. A deep breath, a trip to the store and a plan for the afternoon to clean up the mess and repair what we could did much to restore my spirits.

We'll be hosting a sale in the next few days. We need to make us some money! Stay tuned on our Lally Broch Farm facebook page for that.

And, there are these to remind me to smile:

Nyota and Spock. She is almost the inverse of him in terms of coloring. While she is white with black spots and brown legs, he is black with white spots and brown legs. And they both have the sweetest outlined ears! We are going to offer this pair for sale this season once they are weaned. If you are interested, please drop me a message. :)

So that is what is going on in our world. :)

Thanks for visiting today friends. We are glad you are here.

Sean and Sonja