Saturday, March 27, 2010

I finally figured out a mystery cause of mortality in my chicken flock. Well, I should probably say the mystery revealed itself to me. One cost of letting chickens do what they love and live out of doors and have this outdoor housing is that you attract predators. I feel like I've had every kind: racoons, skunks, hawks, and now: weasel! Yesterday I had the kids for the day because Mary was at a board retreat, and while Nate was napping and Maddie didn't want to do chores with me due to roosters the little guy showed himself. A lot! At 10 am he was out and about looking for a way to get at those chickens, and he didn't show much fear of me. It was like he knew that there wasn't a darn thing I could do but take pictures. So I did. Ran in and got Mary's good camera and Madeline too, but of course when properly prepared he decided his recon was over and he was in the burrow planning his attack.

He ended up with one meat chicken for lunch. He bit her right on the butt, which caused a prolapse. Much like several chickens in the last batch, and solves a mystery about one of my pullets too. Time to move to the new property I just got a verbal on using that's very close to here so its a good next step.

The fact is, it is worth it to pay more to get real food. This weasel sure knows what a real chicken should taste like. I bet he'd turn his nose up at the factory farmed stuff. Shouldn't you eat as well as a weasel? With my chickens gone, he'll be forced to go back to the gophers, rats, and mice that are his usual specialty. And here I'd thought the owl boxes must be working...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

baby pictures

Can't really call Nate a baby anymore, and the little goats are growing fast. But Mary took some pics with her nice camera (all mine seem to be the phone these days) so I'm using it as an excuse to post to the blog.

a couple of nice pics of Nathaniel.

Flicker and Madeline.

Just can't take a nap with your goats. They seem to think you are something to climb all over. You watch your step there Andy, that's awfully close to not cool!

Monday, March 15, 2010

poor neglected blog

Lately my life has been dominated by farm work, 100% completely. I got some bottle feeding dairy goats and the extra work involved has pushed me over the edge. I haven't had less than a 12 hour day, including weekend days, for the last 3 weeks. Of course, my first 2 chicken harvests were part of that, so I'd think that this would be letting up soon, but looking at my calendar for the next few days it seems unlikely. Maybe next week things will get easier.

So I haven't been posting much to the blog, the only thing I've been managing to do is post to twitter using my phone. The problem with that is just that it amounts to nothing, in the end, the Japanese word "mu-da" (nothingness) seems to best describe my time with twitter. Its very easy to post to, takes no time at all, but nothing is also what you get in return. So my new plan is to try to save up the efforts into a batch and put them in the blog, at least I will end up with a permanent record. See ya twitter.

Here's what I've been up to, in 140 words or less...

The pigs got out of the fence because it wasn't turned on, so I went with the flow and just put up more fence around them.

The pigs are happy when the sun not only comes out, but someone comes out to scratch them on the tummy.

Our Saturday ritual is waffles from scratch from Mary's family recipe. 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, 1 grass fed egg, 1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp sugar; separate the whites from yolks, beat to peak and fold into batter at end.

Oh boy!

Baby female dairy goats have their horns removed for the safety of the person milking; it sure beats what they do to baby males (sheep, pig, cow, goat, & even some human baby boys have a rough ride at first)

I wanted nest boxes for my second eggmobile that could be slid out and dirty litter would just drop to the pasture. I was able to build that trailer myself, but it took my Dad to have the woodworking skills to do this one. Thanks Dad! (they work great!)

I took Shawna to Cotati Large Animal hospital because after 4 days she still wasn't bottle feeding. The vet confirmed I was doing it right, she speculated that leaving her with her mommy for an unusually long time was the cause. I got a lesson in tube feeding and she finally got 4 oz. in her belly. I traded her with one of Silva Star's goats that was on the bottle fine and in a few days Sarah amazingly taught her to take a bottle. Yay! But I lost my favorite La Mancha baby in trade for an Alpine mutt. Whatever; Sarah earned it.

The first chicken harvest of 2010 is in the fridge. That's real food.

Batch2 (harvest 3 & 4) are almost ready to go out on pasture. I really like the looks of this mixed batch which I have only because JM accidentally sent Silva Star a batch of Freedom Rangers by mistake, so I bought some from her.

The remaining hogs enjoying a sunny nap time. The farmer was jealous.

Monday, March 1, 2010

is it OK to eat a sentient creature?

I finally was able to be concise about why I think its OK to eat meat in an email to Mary's aunt. I liked it enough that I decided to post it here, questionable vocabulary and all.

OK Anne,
can't wait to discuss it over wine. the executive summary is that I believe in God. Who am I to criticize the food chain that God set up and put into motion? God gave us a special responsibility in that food chain to be good stewards of it. I don't believe opting out is the best way to do that. IMO it is a cop-out for people who feel powerless to think they have some power. Really they are just supporting bad farming practices of taking a wonderful diverse ecosystem and grinding it up and planting a single vegetable there in a monoculture, not even using livestock for fertility. God never farms without livestock, so I don't think we should either. Eating that livestock delivers the immortality that we are all after. What lamb wouldn't like to be part of a child that may some day cure cancer, bring world peace, or figure out how to change the food system so that we can begin repairing the damage we have done to the environment?

As for the sentience of an animal, well, we ALL gonna die someday, and out in the wild they are going to die in fear and pain at the mercy of a merciless predator, or a minivan bumper, or starvation, or if they are tough and lucky, old age. 1000s of years ago many animals "decided" that a partnership with these god-like humans was a better way to go. They get all the comforts of life that we ourselves find so indispensable, shelter, secure food, water and physical safety, and some love and attention every once and a while. Then they go to God. Who am I to deny them that option? I think I'd choose it myself, given the farmer was like me. I invite anyone who thinks all livestock should be freed today to head out in the woods butt naked and make themselves a life with nothing...see if they don't come crawling back right about dinnertime.