Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The fox

We've had a number of sitings of the fox in the past week.  He/She always is walking up from the stream, along the edge of the goats' pen, towards the woods on the north side of our property.  So far the fox has left our chickens and turkeys alone.  Although, I've probably just jinxed them.
My daughter got some great pictures of the fox hunting mice or chipmunks in the field.  It looked just like a nature film and we felt very special to be able to see the fox in action (as long as no poultry are harmed in the process).

Hopefully, the fox will leave our animals alone.  However, if we start having poultry attacks we will need to figure out something.  After much searching on the web I found out legally we will be able to trap the fox and either "euthanize it within 24 hours or release it within the same county with the owner's permission."  But only if we have property damage.  Turns out Alan's brother's property includes one acre located in Berks county so we could trap and then release the fox there.  So let's hope we won't have to buy a really large trap for the fox.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Today was an interesting day of predators.  Our three Mottled Java hens do not like to stay in the pen and can fly pretty well, so they spend most of their day outside the chicken run.  They like to hang out under the bird feeder and clean up the sunflower seeds.  This morning I saw a lot of flapping going on at the edge of the stream on the other side of the bird feeders.  A Red Tail Hawk was attacking one of the Mottled Java hens, and she was putting up a pretty good fight.  There was lots of squawking going on as well.  When I opened up the patio door the hawk took off.  The hens hid under some arborvitae for the rest of the morning, but all of them were back to their normal activities by the afternoon.

When I went out to feed later this evening I spied a red fox moving slowly through the meadow near the chickens.  I was able to grab a quick picture, then we scared it away with a lot of very loud noise.
That;s the fox in nearly the middle of the picture.  He/She is about 50 feet from the chickens who insist on staying outside the pen every day.  I guess they need their wings clipped again to keep them in and safe.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More on the turkeys

The turkeys have been testing my patience lately.  First it was sitting on the laundry:
Then the girls decided the roof was a great place to hang out:
And sitting on the power line coming into the house is definitely not a good idea girls!

Flying was really what was getting the girls into all kinds of trouble, so on Sunday Mackenzie and I clipped their wings.  I have not seen this yet, but my husband says they are really funny when they try to fly.  They get up about four feet in the air then bank sharply to the left and end up back on the ground. The males were happy, though, to have the females sticking around them.

In other turkey news: one tom went to the butcher's this morning along with four hens from the old house.  One hen at the old house was attacked over the weekend and needed to be put out of its misery, so only four old stewing hens for the freezer.  But they finished their job at the old house, doing a nice job cleaning up the vegetable garden there.

The butcher's farm is a quintessential Mennonite farm; two buggies in the garage, well pump powered by a large windmill, and great gardens.  And the price can't be beat.  Only $2 per chicken and $3 per turkey.  At these prices I may never want to butcher my own birds again.

It was fully dark by the time I got the call that the birds were ready to be picked up.  It was dark at the farm, guess they don't have outside lights, and the path to the butchering room was between two dark buildings.  Two people were standing outside the door waiting for their birds.  As I opened the door there was a rush of warm moist air laden with the scent of wet poultry feathers.  The whole family was involved in the butchering.  The turkey and chickens were put straight into the cooler, no bags, and then he dropped in the hearts and livers.  A quick stop on the way home to get bags big enough for a whole bird and then we spent a half hour packaging the birds. Can't wait to try them.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Snow in the forecast!

I am sitting here with a cat on my lap writing this blog post secure in the knowledge that our little place is a s ready for the coming snow as we can reasonably be.  Yes, I would love to have all the leaves raked up, shredded and spread in the chicken run.  And it would be great if the poplar tree was not hanging over my garden, cantilevered out 15 feet in the air on the root ball of a large walnut tree.  But the goats have new hay and straw put away in their hay hut, fresh straw bedding in their house, and new clover hay in their manager.  The turkeys have a place to get out of the wind and snow and the chicken coop is snug as well. There is a wagon load of firewood on the patio and lots of kindling by the wood stove.

All the plants I brought from the old house are now in the ground.  The last seven Rose of Sharon shrubs were planted by the stream this morning.  And I didn't find one rock, stone, or pebble while digging the holes. I even did a few test digs in the area I want to turn into my raspberry patch and that was pretty nice digging as well. The soil here continues to amaze me.

I found a butcher for my five old laying hens who've been busily cleaning up the garden at the old house.  They are nearly three years old and have pretty much reached the end of their productive lives.  They will make great stewing hens since they have only ever eaten organic feed and garden plants and produce.  He even butchers turkeys so one of our males will go along for the ride.  Last Tuesday night two of our tom turkeys must have gotten into a fight. One of the toms was not doing well with multiple gashes around his face and neck.  Maddy butchered him, with the help of a friend, on Wednesday and he now resides in the freezer.  The other two tom turkeys had to be separated when they started fighting.  Never thought I would have to break up a fight between two turkeys!  The most dominant turkey also had to be separated from the chickens since one chicken was relentlessly pecking at his back side and he was starting to bleed.  He is fine now and enjoying having his ladies to himself.