Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oooh! A Fox In The Henhouse?

One of the nastiest bits of farm life is finding dead chickens. Last week, we found a dead chicken on the side of the driveway. It was a whole chicken, nothing eaten, thus, it didn't raise my curiosity much. It looked like one of the older layers so I thought just that, that it had died of old age, or something.

Like the knucklehead I tend to be, I failed to discard it. In a couple of days it had been eaten. Today, we found a dead, eaten carcass of a pullet in our barn. This has got me thinking because most predators we have around here, hunt at night. This one appears to have been taken in the day time as my daughter didn't see anything unusual in the barn while doing chores this morning.

Then there is the usual M.O. of the predator to drag off the quarry, out of sight, for consumption. This had been consumed, and left, in the barn, in an out-of-the-way corner. Too much of the carcass had been left for me to believe it was a raccoon, or something.

I put out the watch for blood on the fur of any of the thousands of cats we have around here. We found no blood, but, cats do clean themselves.

This has got me concerned, though. It always seems that when we get close to "laying time" for the pullets, we start to lose them. Now I have to be on the lookout. We have many people that want fresh eggs and we always need more layers, so losing just a couple is a big deal.

On a brighter note, our family milk cow is starting to freshen. She is due to calf in less than two weeks. I am guessing early next week. This is very exciting to us as we will, once again, have fresh milk. We went without for the entire winter, which is actually healthy, but we are ready now. Winter consumption of milk is not dangerous but can cause respiratory problems. Milk is a mucous causer and can stuff you up. We needed more water in our diet anyway.

So, as soon as Lucy drops her baby, I will post pictures for the world to see. Of course we are hoping for a heifer, but a bull would be good for beef, anyway. Stay tuned.

One of these days (I keep threatening this) I will share the wisdom I have read and the reasons I have come to believe in seasonal calving and dairying. It has a lot to do with the health of the cow and the grass that is available for the calf to give it a good start in life. This does not make me an expert, by any means. Everyone has their opinions on how things should be done on a farm. This is what fits our small homestead. There is wisdom on both sides of the argument, I just think there is more wisdom on the seasonal side.

So, hang in there, I will get to that post, one of these days. Until then, pray that I catch the chicken murderer. God bless and until next time...

1 comment:

Marci said...

Scott, we had to leave a loaded gun near our back door. We had something getting our chickens and it was in the daytime. We would hear the chickens start to make a ruckus. My son would sneak out there and whatever it was would hear him open the door and be gone. He finally sneaked out there one time and it was a coon. It was killing them in the daytime, but mostly later afternoon. We ended up another time getting a live trap and putting the dead chicken in it and leaving it overnight. We caught 3 huge coons that way.

How exciting that your cow is almost ready to calve. We have 3 jerseys. Our oldest and best is Buttercup. She is at least 13 years old. She is not due to calve until May. She had been in milk for over a year and half. We were only milking once a day. She seemed to slow down and started fighting a mild case of mastitis. So, we dried her off. Her older daughter, Molasses had calves on her. She is not due until September, and is a bugger to milk. Buttercup's younger daughter, Clover is a heifer due in September.