Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Win Some or Learn Some...

Lately, I feel like I am learning a lot and winning rather little. I think this run of farming failure partly stems from attempting to juggle too many things and subsequently, ending out becoming not very good at any of them. And, partly it stems from... well, life. Time and unforeseen occurrence befalling us in our turn.

Brighid is an older bunny. She now wheezes when she is inside over the freezing winter months and develops a terrible sounding barking cough. She is a sweet, tolerant lagomorph, but bunnies don't live forever. Usually 6-8 years is the norm and we are fast approaching year 7. With this in mind, I have not been overly vigilant in moving her house as she repeatedly tunnels her way out to freedom. She never wanders far. The cats do not bother her and do hunt other pests that might. I am mindful that other predators are a potential threat to her, but anything that really wanted to eat her, could attack her inside the bunny house, too. There is danger to freedom. But, there is Freedom to freedom, too. (That is not redundant, it is the only way to describe it.) At this point, I am considering her quality of life for what probably will be one of her last summers- exploring all day, snoozing where she'd like to- versus longevity of a life in captivity. Usually, Brighid can be found in the mornings hiding in the shade under Sean's vehicle or wandering near the barn in the hay stacks or under the porch or the woodpile... Before my morning chores are complete, she pops out of some hiding place to investigate what we are doing. She didn't this morning which has been weighing on my mind all day.

Also, it seems that we shall not have any new chicks hatching from the incubator this go around. I candled them this afternoon hoping my hopes, but though they all showed signs of beginning their development, none of them harbored any signs of life. How frustrating and disappointing!

I think this failure may have been caused by a malfunctioning thermostat. After Rudy's hatching group having a poor hatch rate, I was extra vigilant regarding the temperature. The thermometer has steadily read that it has maintained 100 degrees. The automatic turner worked perfectly. There were no power outages. The eggs were mostly all fertilized. I cannot think of any other reason for our losing this entire batch- except that the temperature was wrong. Sean is picking up another thermometer at the store on his way home from work today. I will place it into the incubator and compare the readings. If that is the case, it will be a simple matter to calibrate the incubator before attempting any future hatching.

It feels good to have some kind of plan of fixing this, but I still feel sad over this loss. Thinking I would feel a little better to spend some time with the other chicks, I went outside to visit them.

In the main coop, almost everyone was quietly napping in the shade- out of the mid-day sun. The geese had their bills tucked over their shoulders under their wings, eye closed, sleeping until they noted my approach. Then, the male became animated and approached honking loudly. He started biting at my skirt hem to check whether it was suitably edible. Deciding it wasn't he wandered off to rouse the ducks and announce a visitor. Where has the time gone? It was only the beginning of summer that they were teeny babies following me around the yard and playing with me in the grass. Now, they still allow themselves to be pet, but barely tolerate hugging or holding anymore. I love my geese, but today, they did not do the job of making me feel happier. Instead, I felt a little sad at how much they've grown.

My attention wandered to the ducklings, which also foiled me by growing into ducks. Still cute, they are no longer tiny fuzz balls, either. Remember when had to help these to hatch? (READ HERE and HERE. ) They were such tiny fuzzies. And, in just a little while, the sounding pat-pat-patter of little duckling feet announced them following us around while we worked. They slept curled in our arms (or shirts). No more. Charming, friendly, wonderful as they remain, it didn't help my blues today, either.

The 2 month old pullets/cockerels were napping in the shade. I was pleased to see both Sebastian and White Snake standing guard over their new charges. The young chicks have been accepted into the flock. They still keep mostly together, but are doing very well. I had to smile at them all "pig piled" in the shade. Definitely cute.

I spent a little time watching the month old chicks in their new temporary pen. They had reached the point on Sunday where they smelled too badly and too constantly to be allowed to remain in my living room any longer. But, with all the tractors currently engaged in their correct occupants, what to do? Our solution was to move the unused bunny fencing to between the walls of the barn and the walls of the main coop. Located just a few feet across the driveway within view of our porch, front sitting room, and in a heavy trafficked area, they should be safe from any predators. Then, it was an easy matter to add the chick shelter we built earlier for the other hatchlings. A bit of protective netting over the top to deflect unwanted raptor attention and we were in business. They loved the expanded room to roam and wasted no time in pecking at their first offering of fresh grasses.

I haven't described them in detail previously. We have two partridge patterned Cochins (which I suspect are crosses between Aloysius and one of the Americauna hens) and one lovely copper Cochin. We have a striking white chick with smart black striped feathers and cream colored feet. Two others have white and black banded feathers. And, lastly, we have one partridge colored Americauna chick. These are so different from each other that they will also suffer our naming them. I especially like the golden colored cochin and the pale white chicks. Now, to find suitable names for them. I disallow names that have to do with physical characteristics. I do not mind naming them for people of whom they remind me or of whom I am fond. Any suggestions???

Watching the newest healthy babies did help me to get out of my funk. What helped even more was Brighid coming out of hiding this afternoon and being promptly returned to a newly fenced bunny yard. (Kristen, Meaghan, and I repaired the fencing this morning in anticipation). No doubt, my mood reflects cumulative exhaustion from 1- working full-time this past month in helping with the charity golf tournament, 2- toiling at necessary farming chores and improvements, 3- mental fatigue from planning life changing decisions, 4- the wicked wrenching knot living in my right shoulder/neck area, and 5- the whole aforementioned LIFE. I am certain my mood will improve and my aches and pains will decrease, but just now, I could really use an adjustment!

Tammy from http://www.ourneckofthewoods.net/ reminded me in the value of finding joy in the simple pleasures of life this morning with a post she made on her blog. With that in mind, I add this final photograph.

 I am going to forget about what is not working as well as I want it to and focus on this thought, "THIS was harvested from our farm today.":

...and, THIS is only the beginning.

I hope this post finds you all well and happy. I appreciate your checking in. ♥

Good night,


  1. I am sorry about the chicks, but it sounds like you have the solution for the next batch. I think sweet Brighid enjoys her life, and I am sorry they don't live as long as kitter cats. I am glad all the chickens are getting along now.
    You have basket full of goodies, yeah!
    I know all the life changing stuff is a bit nerve wracking but I think you will be a happy camper in the end.

  2. What a great post! I can totally relate with everything you said here.

    I get really frustrated, too, when things don't work out on the homestead. I'm sorry about your eggs not developing. I know that must be very disappointing. Seems that this farming thing is a lot of trial and error, and we are finding out it's a lot of error up front! So we try to take joy in what goes right, just like you are.

    Hang in there and think of where you'll be a year from now and how much more you will have learned. You're doing such great things on your farm and you are a big inspiration for me! :)