We didn’t have to wait too long to test the earthen dam that we built to stop the flooding. A couple of weeks after building the dam, we had two days in a row of constant heavy rain (at least several inches per day).
The completed dam in the dry before the test.
Click through to see how the dam handled the heavy rain.
Following the earlier flooding, we decided to try to build a small dam to try to block the water, rocks, leaves and other debris from flooding out into the pastures.
Here is a reminder of what it looked like during the flooding with water and debris flowing out from the woods.
The creek flooding out into the pastures.
We stacked up the logs again in the water channel where it floods out of the woods. This time, instead of just stacks of logs, we put a metal post behind the logs and covered them with a couple feet of dirt and rocks. Hopefully the post and earthen dam will help keep the logs in place and divert the water and debris.
Close-up of the “dam” with metal post holding the logs in place.
Earlier this spring, we had a period of heavy rain combined with melting snow. This led to the increased volume of water over our waterfall.
However, it was too much water for the small creek bed to handle within its banks. The creek burst over its banks at the bottom of the mountain and flooded out into the pastures.
There was some minor flooding the prior year in the same location so I had attempted to block the channel that flooded with piles of logs from downed trees to divert the water away from the pastures. It didn’t work.
There was so much water that it simply pushed all of the logs out of the channel into the path behind the pastures. It even pushed some of the logs several hundred feet away.
The creek flooding out into the pastures.
The water also carried a lot of sticks, leaves, rocks and mud (also several golf balls!?). A lot of this debris was caught in the pasture fence. The debris blocked the bottom portion of the fence for at 3/4 of the way along the entire back fence line. In some places,the mud and leaves was more than 6 inches deep. Even with assistance from visitors, we haven’t been able to clear the entire fence line yet.
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.
A few weeks ago, there was another large snow storm – we got over 30 inches in a couple days.
A picture of the house and main barn a few days after the storm.
We already had over 30 inches in a single storm early in the winter. With this latest storm, it pushed us over our annual average snowfall for the winter.
A panoramic view of the snow from the woods behind the pastures.
Another picture of the pastures from the woods.
Starting a few days after the storm, the temperature warmed up and the snow has been steadily melting since then. We are now down to just a few piles of snow near the driveway. This storm may have been the last significant measurable snow of the winter.
A panoramic shot of the pasture covered in snow.
The animals usually stay inside while it is snowing. The chickens also don’t like to walk on soft snow but they will walk on harder packed snow.
The goats don’t really seem to mind the snow on the ground once the storm stops and the sun comes out – here is a shot of the goats hanging out in the snow next to the barn.
I think we have just solved the mystery of the single old stone pillar in our front yard.
The pillar is well away from the corner of the driveway and isn’t near the corner of the property line either. It didn’t really seem to serve a clear purpose marking any boundaries.
In addition, the stone and brick pillar was falling apart due to the many years of freezing and thawing cycles throughout the winters. It probably wouldn’t have made it more than a couple of more years before completely collapsing. We decided to repair it last fall and redo the mortar and bricks that had broken off.
You can see the multiple colors of bricks in the photo where new bricks were used to replace old bricks that had crumbled apart.
The stone and brick pillar – after repairs.
A neighbor recently provided us with a pencil sketch from the 1950s or 60s that solves the mystery pillar!
Click through to see the sketch and solve the mystery.
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.
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.
Out in the country, traditional home defense products, like standard alarm systems, aren’t as effective because of the long distance and time before assistance can arrive. So, you have to go back to what worked in simpler times.
After some thought, we decided to build a moat around the house. Here are some pictures of the preparations for the moat going about 1/3 of the way around the house. It is approximately 10 feet wide and about 6 feet deep.
A view of the moat in progress.
Another view of the moat.
Another view of the moat with the backhoe.
Click through for more information about the moat.