A lot of fun on the farm over the last couple of weeks, so this is a pretty full post.
In my last Sunday homestead update I shared that we had new livestock coming to the farm. Gardeningwithalex’s guess in the comments was right…
Look who joined the farm!
This is Pansy. She is a 4-year-old Nubian doe. She is currently fresh and filling our fridge with healthy, delicious, raw milk!
When she first saw the sheep I’m pretty sure she thought they were aliens – she freaked out. But we spread out some hay across the barnyard to lighten things up and they slowly got to know one another. She actually came from the same farm where we got our LGD, Anya. So she and Anya are doing fine with each other because she is used to Anatolians. And she and the chickens are fine with each other as well. Over time we expect her to settle into the sheep flock and be fine with them as well.
It is SO wonderful to have fresh milk again. It has been 18 months since we last had a dairy animal on the farm and we missed it.
We have had goats and sheep together in the past at our farm. A group of sheep is a flock, and a group of goats is a herd. So when we have them living together, we like to call it a flerd.
Welcome to the flerd, Pansy!
We had a big wet spring snow. We got about 18 inches of very wet snow and the kids had a lot of fun playing in it. We had snow forts and snowball fights, and sledding going on for 3 days in a row.
It is mostly melted at this point. That is the difference between Colorado snow and snow in most other cold states – we have SO many days of sunshine each year that our snow does not stick around. It falls, melts, falls, melts, etc. There is occasionally some build-up of snow on the north side of buildings, but nothing compared to what other states experience.
The Bears Are Awake
Despite the big snow, we have had some warmer days in the 40sF this week. We started saying to each other…I bet the bears will be out soon. And sure enough, we had a bear visit.
This one obviously had a very big appetite because he broke the bear-proof dumpster and made a big mess. The bent piece of metal in this pic:
is supposed to be straight like the one in this pic.
So we had quite a mess to clean up. But a new bear-proof dumpster is in place and we should be fine for the rest of the season. They rarely are able to break them.
Speaking of predators at the homestead…we are still having issues with the coyotes and bobcats this year. We haven’t had many problems the last few years, they mostly just move through the property occasionally and don’t cause trouble. But this year they are continuing to hang around the property and not move through.
Friday I heard Anya barking and went to look out the window. I saw a coyote running north of the barnyard and around the back of the barn. I ran out to see what was going on and chase it off. I found our barn cat, Midnight, up in a tree with his fur puffed up bigger than I’ve ever seen. The coyote had treed him. It took off when I got there and I stayed for awhile to be sure it didn’t come back.
And the latest snow showed us footprints that show that there is a bobcat spending time here and hanging out in the large pile of boulders just 30 feet from our barnyard fence. A bobcat got one of our chickens in early December, when Anya was in a separate pen from the chickens. Thankfully, she is now living with the chickens, so we hopefully wont have any problems.
I don’t know why the coyotes and bobcats are hanging out. It makes me wonder if it has been a lean winter for them. Maybe the rabbit population is down or something, although we have seen plenty of sign of rabbits around. Hopefully as spring comes they will move on.
The chicks are now 4 weeks old and have moved up into the barn. It is SO wonderful to not have them in my mud room anymore making impossibly thick layers of dust on everything. This is why I only wanted to do one incubation and brooding this year…because I really dislike the dust mess of brooding. I would much rather have the hens set their own eggs and raise the chicks in the barn – SO much lower maintenance.
So two weeks ago when our hen Betsy decided she wanted to set I was totally on board. We put her in the broody coop, 10 eggs went under her, and she settled in beautifully.
She is a first-time setter and did great…until a couple days ago when she decided she was done. We found her off the eggs and desperate to get out of the broody coop. The nest she had built was right under the heat lamp (only 100 watt), so I was hopeful that the eggs might not be dead yet. I quickly collected them up and took them to the house. The kids held them against their tummies keeping them warm while I quickly set up the incubator and got it warming and hydrated. Then I quickly candled them because I had not yet candled for fertility. 2 were infertile, but the other 8 were looking great and I even saw some movement, indicating they were alive at that point. We put them in the incubator and time will tell if they survive.
I don’t know how long she had been off the nest, but it was awhile. They may survive to hatch, they may not, but I had to try. I do not want to have to do another brooding, but I just couldn’t let them die when I have the incubator and therefore have the means to give them a chance to live. So, this Friday is their theoretic hatch day, although with being chilled they might take a little longer…or not hatch at all. We shall see. And Betsy is definitely off the list of broody hens and wont be allowed to try again unless I have another hen setting at the same time to adopt the eggs should she quit again.
I have been focusing on finishing my scrap sock yarn afghan which I started last spring. I have finished all the squares now and all that is left is to finish hooking them together. The picture is dark, but I will get better ones when it is done. I am very happy how it is turning out.