You may recall that last year we built a movable goat hay feeder. However, the goats were eating the wood at the corners of the hay feeder so we had to pull the hay feeder out of service temporarily to make improvements.
Using some spare metal flashing, I covered the corners where the goats were most interested in chewing during the first attempt.
Here is a close-up of the repaired corner of the hay feeder.
The second try was more successful. The goats focused more on eating the hay and less on eating the hay feeder.
We used the hay feeder throughout the entire winter of 2016/2017 so far. It is still working well. The goats have chewed and rubbed against a few small areas of the feeder but overall there is very little damage.
The hay feeder in place for the winter.
The new issue that has arisen is the tray underneath the feeder collects a lot of hay dust that needs to periodically be cleaned out. After the winter, we might try drilling holes in the tray to help the hay dust fall out on its own.
As you may recall, we lost a hen last spring to what was likely a case of egg yolk peritonitis (EYP). EYP is when the egg does not form properly inside the hen and then the yolk can remain inside the hen and cause an internal infection. EYP is almost always fatal.
A few weeks ago, another of our hens, Mindy, was exhibiting similar symptoms. She was somewhat more lethargic than normal and she was also walking upright like a penguin. We recognized the symptoms from our prior experience. We separated her from the flock.
After last time, we had asked around the area and had been given the names of several local vets who are willing to see chickens. We packed her up in a travel dog crate and took her to the vet at their first open slot.
Mindy in a crate ready for transport to the vet.
Not surprisingly, in the waiting room, we were the only one with a chicken instead of a dog or cat.
After meeting with the vet, the situation was not looking great. Mindy’s abdomen was enlarged and somewhat solid to the touch. The vet could not provide a specific diagnosis and there were a number of possibilities, most of them were very likely to be fatal.
Mindy’s only realistic chance was exploratory surgery. The vet could not provide any likelihood for success because there are very few chicken surgeries (the cost of a chicken is so low compared to the cost of surgery that few people ever take chickens to a vet at all, let alone for a surgery). We opted for the surgery.
Her surgery was the next morning. Click through to see how it turned out. Continue reading →
Chickens like to scratch in the dirt, leaf litter and other areas to look for bugs to eat. To help them exercise their natural instincts, we decided to build a sandbox for the chickens near their coop.
Here is a video of the chickens enjoying their sandbox for the first time last fall. You can see them scratching at the surface and then looking for anything that might be edible.
The construction was very simple and cheap. We used 4 logs from downed trees on our property. We just placed them into a rectangle.
Then, for the sand to fill the sandbox, we used excess sand that was kicked up from the drilling rig when it drilled the holes for our geothermal heating system. I used the loader on the tractor to move the sand. It cleaned up the excess sand in the yard and helped the chickens at the same time.
Chickens explore the sandbox.
Occasionally we rake the top layer if the sand becomes too packed. We also throw some seeds or other food on top of the sandbox to re-generate interest in the sand from the chickens.
Rainie (short for her registered name of “JT’s Elegant Rain”) has now been at her new home for several weeks and has started to settle in.
Her journey from Canada took most of a day – although only about 5 hours of driving – there was an additional multi-hour delay at the border crossing for customs paperwork. We used a horse transport company that was familiar with the process that made it easy on us to arrange. We used The Horse Limo from Ontario. If you need to ship a horse to or from their neck of the woods, check them out!
I wasn’t quick enough to get any pictures of Rainie actually on the trailer before she was unloaded – but I did manage to get a single shot of the trailer as it pulled away after dropping her off. Due to a cancellation for another horse and the unique locations on both ends of the route, Rainie got to ride in a large 4 horse trailer by herself which was helpful as Rainie doesn’t like small or cramped trailers.
Horse trailer that delivered Rainie.
After her first night settling in, we stopped by the stable to get to know Rainie better and decided to groom her.
Here is a picture of Rainie about to get groomed – you can see her curly coat.
Rainie preparing for grooming.
Here is a close-up of Rainie’s coat – you can see how her hair is wavy with a little curl.
Close-up of Rainie’s hair.
After a few days of settling in, my wife was able to take Rainie for her first ride since her arrival.
Rainie on a ride.
Both horse and (mostly) rider have a lot to learn and need to get used to each other.
We spent several weekends in the late fall traveling around the region looking for a horse. Due to horse allergies, we needed to locate a specific breed of horse which is more hypoallergenic than normal horses. That breed is the Bashkir Curly, also called the North American Curly Horse, or simply Curlies. Curlies have finer, curly hair (somewhat similar to a poodle or other hypoallergenic dog) compared to other horse breeds.
After several weekend trips the northeast U.S., we took a trip to Ontario, Canada to visit several more Curly breeders / owners. It was there that we met Rainie, a 9-year old Bay-colored Curly-Friesian cross.
Rainie out on a test ride.
Click through for more pictures, video and information about Rainie.
It is hard to picture Thanksgiving without thinking of turkey.
We have a local flock of wild turkeys that visits our yard every few days, especially during the spring and summer. This year, the primary visitors were a single hen with around 4 poults (baby turkeys). Occasionally, the flock would consist of several hens with even more young turkeys.
They tend to avoid people and if anyone tries to approach too closely, they usually scatter into the trees.
You may recall that we picked up a couple of new hens from the NY State Fair earlier in the fall. We quarantined them in the chicken tractor for a few weeks to make sure they settled in to the new area and they were healthy.
After a couple of weeks and no signs of illness, we moved the chicken tractor into the field with the main flock so the new hens could see and smell the main flock while safely in the chicken tractor. Many members of the main flock crowded around the chicken tractor to meet the new hens.
The main flock meets the new hens.
Neither the main flock nor the new hens seemed troubled by each other and we were hopeful that the full integration would be successful.