Sunday, October 21, 2012

Animal Adventures and the Geat Switch-er-roo

A day old quail.

It's been a week of changes around the farm.  With fall is in full swing and winter coming quickly on it's heels we did some animal switch-er-roo's to make chores easier for us this winter.

The first thing we did was send our egg layers to the butcher.  I am still secretly a little sad - I miss their little personalities.  After cleaning out the coop and making some modifications by adding more nesting boxes and  opening up a door between it and the next-door-coop for more space we were ready to move the new egg layers in.  They've spent the summer in the Jesus Tomb on the far side of the barn so we've had to lock them in for a few days.  Hopefully when we do  let them out they will remember that THIS is home.  

Chickens are REALLY hard to count...they just don't stand still!  We really had no idea how many of our chicks had survived the summer because some of them would just walk under the fence and disappear - probably eaten by some predator.  Our final count yesterday was 58.  Oh dear.  We started with 100. If we include the rooster that didn't go to the butcher and a few ready-to-lay hens we bought a few weeks ago we now have just under 70 egg layers.  That's still about 5 dozen eggs a day on average.  We will need some more customers in November when the laying goes into full swing!!

Momma and two of her lambs.

We had a brainstorm this week as we were cleaning up in the barn.  We're going to clean out the Jesus Tomb and make it the new sheep and donkey pen. (seems appropriate anyway huh??) Their current pen is looking a little crowded with the growing babies and will certainly be too small when lambing time comes around this winter.  It's also leaking when it rains which makes for a messy pen and dirty sheep!!  With a few modifications and some simple carpentry the kids and I should manage to get their new home ready this week.  We know they like that pen because they spent lots of time this summer trying to crash through the gates to get in and eat the chicken feed. I guess they might be a little disappointed to only find hay in there!!!

We added to our flock last week by purchasing a new pregnant ewe.  Juliette is a pure bred Canadian.  She's all white and looks very similar to our other ewes except she lacks the burr decoration that all of them are sporting since we opened up the new paddock and didn't cut the burdock plants down before we let them in.  Ack.  Burrs and sheep's wool don't mix!  

Mr. Sheepie is on vacation!  He went to visit a friends farm for a few weeks so they can have cute little Mr. Sheepie babies this winter.  He was not to thrilled about leaving the girls here.  Thankfully he comes with two handy handles - his horns - and we were able to load him into the wooden box in the back of Farmer Henk's van without too much trouble.  Lydia went to the farm to visit him but he just ignored her - I guess he's sulking!!  

Just hatched quail.

The other switch we made was moving the quail to a new pen.  We have 8 in total and since the babies are now full grown we decided to move them into the same cage and reduce our cleaning chores.  I'm still not completely happy with their made-over-rabbit-cages but I'll have time over the winter to see if I can come up with a better idea.  Also in the pen is Madeline.  The kids have different names for her.  Poor Madeline-The-Chicken fell head-first into a chicken feeder and broke her leg earlier this summer.  I didn't have the heart to do-her-in so we put her on her own in the quail pen (but not in their cage)  I think she's a little lonely because she seems very happy to see us each morning..  She hops around on one leg and doesn't mind being snuggled.  Chickens can be very mean to each other - especially when one of them is injured.  She's on her own for her own protection but we are hoping to find a loner chicken to keep her company - one that won't peck!!

Some of our kitties.

One last addition arrives today.  We don't know her name yet but she's a friends cat.  They moved this summer to a home where they are not allowed to have pets so they brought kitty to the pound where she was promptly and thankfully adopted.  I guess she missed her old owners so she ran away and somehow found her way back to the old house 15 km away!!  One of the kids happened to be there picking up the last of the items to move and there was the cat!

We have 1 momma and 4 almost full grown kittens right now. All of them are farm-smart meaning they know how to survive outdoors.  I am worried about the new cat.  I give her points for her long journey home but I am worried she won't last.  If you only knew what I was thinking...

We've been having trouble with mice this fall - like never before.  I swear they're the smartest mice around.  They eat the bait right off the traps and scurry away none the worse for wear.  I am getting tired of cleaning up after them.  Thankfully I have almost all my food stuffs in mouse proof containers but I am surprised at the places the little-buggers get in to.  

Can you see how my mice problem and this new de-clawed cat come together. Me too. I wonder how the cat will feel about baths because that's the only way this is going to work.  I've never had a cat in my life - I've always been more of a dog person. Generally cats make me sneeze and having been attacked by Sunshine-the-black-psycho-cat has left me with a niggling distrust of purr-pots.  I'm not sure what to do but I have to decide by this afternoon when the cat arrives!!

So just for the record we have:
7 sheep
1 donkey
8 ducks
70 egg layer chickens
1 rooster
8 quail
1 Madeline-the-Amazing-chicken
6 cats
and 1 very happy and spoiled rotten dog named Levi. 

It's a wonderful life!!

Levi the wonder dog.


  1. My my you have been busy.It's wonderful to stay that way.How often do you raise quails? I have another blogger having trouble with his.I too thought of raising quails but I got to get educated in the chickens first LOL.Unfortunatly we have a dog who don't like cats and I have never been a cat person myself,but I realize we may have to get one ourselves.Would be cheaper than spending money on traps.Love your blog! Have a great Sunday.

    1. We bought 6 adult quail this spring from another farmer and raised three babies this summer in an incubator. We didn't have any luck with hatches after that so we gave up until next year. I am not expert for sure. They are cute as a button and make really neat little sounds. Very fun and small and don't eat much. Their eggs are the size of a robins egg so there's not much there to eat but they are gorgeous colors. My kids think I got them just to take pictures of the eggs :)Have a lovely day yourself!

  2. Maybe you need one more chore to do!LOL To bad you lost so many chickens. I use peanut butter on mouse traps. They can't get it off before the thing snaps. You can also set it lighter just by moving the catch a bit. Perhaps you should take the declawed cat back to the people that adopted her. A cat will stay put if kept inside somewhere for a week. They have to be happy with their surroundings though and that means good food and a heat register or heated bed. And toys.

    Was wondering about you dog. Is he a cocker spaniel? We are thinking about getting one but have heard horror stories about them such as a tendency to bite, not liking kids, and difficult to house train.

  3. sista - We've tried peanut butter, crunchy peanut butter, raisins, and cheese. Today's buffet will include marshmallows. They just eat everything right off the trap. I've got them set as sensitive as I can and still no luck. Hoping the marshmallows work tonight!!

    I've heard the new owners decided no to take the cat back which is why we were asked...still trying to decide!

    Our dog is a cocka-poo - cocker spaniel poodle cross. He is a delightful friend who will lick everyone he meets to death, does great with children and is a mostly useless farm dog! He is a pet and that's all there is to it :) he moved here with us so he thinks he's moved to heaven. No more leases - hurrah! He learned quickly that he wasn't supposed to chase the chickens and he has never hurt any of the animals but aside from barking at every blowing leaf and the squirrel 2km away he does not make a very good watch dog! We just love him to pieces anyway!!

  4. wow you have been busy

    I found this type of mouse trap always works.

  5. Thanks oldschool - we'll give it a try - they didn't even touch the marshmallows!!!

  6. I loved reading your farm update and seeing the pictures of your animals. I agree with "sista's" advice: when cats are moved, they need to stay indoors for at least a week to imprint their little brains that this is their new home. The new cat might end up liking the outdoors. My Toby was an abandoned cat, with ribs showing, when I rescued him one winter. You could tell that he was so grateful to have found a warm, indoor home. For the longest time he had no desire to go outside, but now, he likes to spend time outdoors with our other cat (he came to us declawed, too). But his hair is very thin, so he stays in for the winter, lying on the heat register, just as sista commented, lol! I hope she works out for you.

    I grew up with a Cocker Spaniel whom we loved. We finally had to give her away because she bit a neighbour's child, but maybe she was provoked because that wasn't her nature. Anyway, we heard from the new owner that her home had been burglarized and she never heard a thing! So, they're not the best watch dogs, as you know!

    Finally, about the son raised quite a few out on Vancouver Island. They can be very difficult to raise, with low hatch rates. Some just keeled over and died, without any apparent reason. He figures it's not worth it, but now he's having great success with pigeons of all things! Says they're great eating and they sit on their eggs to hatch them--no incubator needed!

    This is my last thought, I promise! Your Levi is a beauty. I love his shiny black coat. I heard that feeding dogs raw eggs will do that, is that what you do?

    1. Hi Brenda! Princess the cat came for a visit the other day. She arrived with her owner and was not a happy camper right from the get go. She was upset with all of us and was particularly not impressed with Levi the dog. She escaped her owners arms and took off at a trot down the road never even looking back. We've been trying to catch her ever since :( Oh dear!

      Pigeons - I've never really considered that. We hope to raise enough quail to supply a Japanese restaurant nearby - the eggs are considered a delicacy and would sell for a good profit. Every time we eat quail eggs we tally the price we would have gotten if we could have sold them. One night we ate $45 in eggs for supper :)

      Our sweet Levi probably has the shiny coat from the amount of cheese he eats. It's his favorite treat. He got really sick years ago (and nearly died) from a reaction to his yearly shots. Around that time we switched him to an expensive dog food - Proformatrin. He doesn't eat that much so I can handle the expense for one dog. He also eats raw veggies - carrots are a favorite - and leftover people food. We eat pretty healthy and homemade so although some people would disagree with our choice we feel he eats well. He has certainly been very healthy the last few years.

      hugs my friend - thanks for dropping in :)

  7. I feel so sorry for the poor cat! Many cats do not like car rides, so she was probably pretty frightened with all the changes. I hope she'll be taken in by a neighbouring farmer, or maybe she will come back when she's desperate for food. It took me many months to tame my grey cat, Toby, who showed up just skin and bones. I started feeding him outdoors, but I rarely saw him in the early days because he was so timid. I would just find the empty bowl. Now he's my sucky baby mostly-indoor cat.

    Glad to hear that you can market the quail eggs, that makes it worthwhile!

    Levi is one blessed doggie! I give my dog some of our people food, too. Like you, I cook healthy food made from scratch.

    Hugs to you, too! I haven't given up the dream of meeting you in person one day. Maybe once we get settled at the new place. Maybe we can get together through one of the preppers meet-ups! Take care...


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