We have had an excellent week of spring-like warm weather and life is in full swing around the farm.
Aerial Predator Deterrent
The first thing on our list of things to get done, due to the loss of two chickens to aerial predators last week, was putting up the fishing line above the barnyard.
We are pretty sure that the bird that attacked the chickens was a great-horned owl. We have heard one on our property at night several nights in a row now. From what we have read, stringing fishing line back and forth above the chicken’s living area can help prevent these attacks. I am guessing the birds see the line glinting in the sun and don’t like the thought of dropping down between the lines. Add to that the fact that we have the farm dog and thus the bird would need to make a hasty get-away and would know that it could potentially get caught up in those lines and we are pretty hopeful that this will keep the attackers away.
As you can see, we live in the woods. This is a huge benefit when one is wanting to string fishing line around above the barnyard. We had plenty of trees, plus the barn and the garage to hook the line to.
We used large eye-hook screws to feed the line through so that it wasn’t rubbing on anything rough. We used a mix of 15 and 20 lb test fishing line. We would have preferred 30, but when you live in the mountains, where there are only small fish, getting that kind of fishing line is near impossible. We put up the eye-hook screws along the barn, garage, and on several of the trees. Then we zig-zagged the fishing line through them all over and back and forth. It was quite a job. Thankfully, oldest son could be on the barn roof (it has a very shallow pitch) and oldest daughter could be on a ladder that was very stably against the garage. Husband hauled another ladder to and fro and all over from tree to tree. Younger two kiddos and I ran back and forth with the line, tossing it to the people up high so they could put it through the hooks. All-in-all it took us about 3 hours to get the whole barnyard covered with a pretty good grid.
It is near impossible to photograph, but I was able to get the sun to shine just right so you can see some of the lines in these photos.
We are very hopeful this will fix our chicken-eating aerial predator issue. Time will tell. But the hens are very happy to be out in the barnyard scratching and pecking again.
Hay-Flavored Snow Cones
Speaking of hens pecking in the barnyard…they found a tasty treat while they were scratching around. There is a section of the yard that gets very little sun. It is a spot we sometimes feed the sheep. So the snow got covered with a layer of hay and such, and it has been insulated a bit from the heat. The chickens have found that if they scratch down through the hay, they get to little balls of snow. Apparently this is a chicken delicacy – hay-flavored snow cones! They were digging it up all over that section of the yard and fighting over who got to eat it. One would find some, and the other hens would rush over to steal them from her (as you can see in the pictures).
Very Pregnant Sheep
We have some VERY pregnant ewes around here. Fiona, who is ten days out from her due date has taken on a waddle whenever she walks. And when she gets up or down from the laying position you can see the extra effort she is exerting. The ultrasound showed that she was carrying at least two lambs, so the poor girl is very full of baby right now.
It is hard to really tell in photos because of the sheep jackets, but her belly is much bigger than normal.
Her udder is bagging up, and everything on her back-end is loosening up. I am hopeful to have lambs by Easter, but that is a few days before her due date, so it might not happen. But it is possible that we will be announcing lambs this week!
Stella is the second ewe due. She is a little over two weeks from her due date. Her udder is bagging up as well. Her belly is obviously prego, though it doesn’t look as big as Fiona’s. However, she is carrying a single (vs. Fiona’s twins+), AND she is a much larger sheep than Fiona and is due about a week later.
You can see her belly and her udder in this photo, even though it is a bit blurry because I had to zoom.
We are SO excited for our first lambing season!!!
Lamb watch starts in earnest on Wednesday, as Fiona will be a week from her due date. We are putting the finishing touches on the lambing supplies kit, and I will share a detailed post about that this week.
Our seedlings are doing great and thriving under their grow lights. Everything has sprouted so far except a few types of herbs and the celery, but that takes a while to germinate. The first tomatoes to sprout are getting their second leaves already.
So we have tomatoes, leeks, rhubarb, cabbage, onions, and a bunch of herbs sprouted so far.
More Chicks on the Way!
Eve, our white Silkie, is ready to brood again – she is such a great broody hen! Her chicks are 9 weeks old now and she started laying about two weeks ago. Then she started wanting to set, but the chicks, which are larger than she is now, kept trying to squeeze into the nest box with her and cuddle. But the chicks aren’t quite ready to integrate with the adult birds yet. So we decided to put her in her own little broody coop within the Mama hen pen.
Lacy, one of our blue hens, has also decided to set. This is Lacy’s first time ever. We moved her into the broody coop and she settled right in.
So we put breeding eggs under each of them. Eve got 6 eggs and Lacy got 11 (Lacy is a full-sized hen, Eve is a bantam). In about three weeks we will have some more baby chicks!
Lambs, chicks, seedlings! New life all around. It definitely feels like spring.