Baby Chicks Move Outside

The day old chicks we were raising outgrew their cage in the house after about 4 weeks.  They were ready to move outside to the barn. They didn’t need the heat lamp any more and were ready for more space and fresher air (the house needed to be aired out by that point as well!).

I used an outdoor pet exercise pen and covered the outside with chicken wire to make sure the chicks couldn’t squeeze out between the bars. I added a wooden crate and a cement block inside to give them something to climb and roost on. The floor is covered with pine shavings to help maintain cleanliness and provide the chicks with something to kick through.  The roof over the pen was just a scrap of wood from the barn to prevent them from flying out and any other chickens from getting in.

Four week old chicks out in the barn.

Click through for a video and more photos of the baby chicks.

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Bottle Feeding Piglets

You may recall that we got the chance to bottle feed an orphaned calf last year at a neighbor’s farm. This year, there wasn’t an orphaned calf, but there were some orphaned piglets that my neighbor took in to raise. He let us stop by to help with one of the bottle feedings earlier in the summer.

Bottle feeding a piglet.

Our neighbor took in 3 of the piglets from the litter. He had 2 black and white piglets and 1 red piglet.

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Local Wildlife: Red-Tailed Hawk

With a good portion of our pasture surrounded by woods, we sometimes get a chance to see young birds learning to fly – they take off from the trees on the edge of the pasture and flap / glide into the field.  The pastures are relatively safe as the fences block most ground predators.

This year, a juvenile red-tailed hawk came to our pastures to practice flights. However, on one attempt, the hawk’s foot got stuck in the fence and the hawk was stuck hanging on the fence, unable to get free.

By the time we noticed and began to approach, the hawk was able to free itself, but was still either in shock or needed to rest. It sat on the ground near the fence for a couple of hours before flying away.  We checked on it periodically to make sure it wasn’t permanently injured and didn’t need any human intervention.

Juvenile red tailed hawk on the ground.

Here is a video of the hawk on the ground, turning its head to watch us closely as we approach.

We saw the hawk around the area for the next few days afterwards, but it always flew away before we could get anywhere close it.

Day Old Chicks

New arrivals: we bought 6 day-old chicks!

Last year, we raised 3 bantam Cochins but they were already 6 weeks old when we got them. We also picked up a couple of hens from the NY state fair, but those were already grown.  This year, we decided to try starting with day old chicks.

We picked up our chicks from a local hatchery and brought them home in a small shoebox with a few air holes. They chirped loudly most of the drive home.

The chicks try to hide from the camera in the corner of their cage.

They are very cute and fluffy!

Click through for some more pictures!

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Billy the Foster Dog

We heard about a dog that was having some trouble at the same shelter in New Jersey from where we adopted Shaffron. He was overly stressed at the shelter and had to be placed in a foster home. However, his first foster home was moving and they couldn’t take him to the new location so he had to go back into the shelter. At the shelter, he was so stressed in the shelter that he drooled so much that he dehydrated himself within hours.

We decided to foster him until he can find a permanent home. His shelter petfinder page is here. The shelter is calling him Pretty Boy but we are calling him Billy (because that’s way better).

Some volunteers drove him the almost 4 hours up to our house. We took him for a walk around the pastures and while he was a bit shy at first, he really liked the quiet open spaces.

Billy looks out over the pastures.

Here is Billy walking through a puddle.

Billy walking through the water.

Click through to see more photos and videos of how Billy gets along with the farm animals.  Continue reading

Local Wildlife: Cooper’s Hawk

A couple weeks ago, a small hawk caught and killed a small bird just off the porch in our back yard. After a bit of research, I think it was a Cooper’s hawk.

Unfortunately, by the time, I got outside to get some closer pictures, the hawk had already flown away with its meal.

A picture of a Cooper’s hawk in the backyard.

Cooper’s hawks mainly eat small birds caught in flight and the hawks are too small to seriously bother our chickens.

The hawk on top of its kill.

Click through for a video of the hawk removing the feathers.

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Mindy the Miracle Chicken

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

Getting ready for the summer!

Aside

Even though we are still in the middle of winter, summer is not that far away!

Penny has had enough of the snow and is ready for some sun and warmth! Here she is wearing sunglasses (tinted doggles).

Penny getting ready for the summer.

Penny getting ready for the summer.

She actually needed to wear them at the vet to protect her eyes during a medical treatment, but she sure looks ready for the beach!

Rainie settles in

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.

A Horse!

We bought a horse!

Rainie preparing for a test ride.

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.

Rainie out on a test ride.

Click through for more pictures, video and information about Rainie.

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