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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Cows!

Long time readers may remember that our pastures have been the summer home for 3 different yearling heifers from a neighbor’s farm for each of the past 2 years. This year is no different.

The 3 cows arrived in late May. Their names are Jean, Raven and Faith.

Jean at the start of the summer 2017.

Raven and Faith at the start of the summer. Raven is in front and Faith in the back.

Shortly after arriving at our farm, they actually squeezed through a loose gate and escaped from the farm. They had quite an adventure.

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The Second Old Stone Pillar

You may recall the old stone pillar along the road that used to be at the end of the driveway of our property many years ago.  However, of the 2 pillars from the old sketch, only 1 stone pillar is still standing. The other pillar was missing, presumed destroyed.

Sketch of our house from the 1950s or 60s.

But.. we think we found the other pillar! Click through for the details.

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Stemming the Flow: Building a Small Dam

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.

Click through for more pictures and details.

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Snow Melt + Heavy Rains = Flood

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.

Water flooding out of the creek.

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A New Goat Feeder (Part 2)

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.

More Snow!

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.

Goats hanging out near the barn.

The Old Stone Pillar

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.

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