Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Fox and The Bull

I wanted to update you on Monday – but Monday got away from me. Yesterday and today have been a change in routine because Joel is home sick. Yesterday he slept most of the day and woke up today feeling much better, but he also had an eye infection of some sort and that was twice as bad today. At the rate it’s going, it seems like his eye will be shut by tomorrow.

While he’s at the doctors, I thought I’d finally sit to write.

Last weekend was a wonderful but busy one. We celebrated Resurrection Sunday with a Sunrise Service, Church Breakfast and Worship Service. It was a wonderful time! We spent some time at Joel’s sister and brother in law’s house with his family, and then came back to my parents for a dinner. We intended to go back down to his sister’s house, but we had a chicken problem to take care of and we were quite drained.

Chicken problem: A fox was in the yard and tried to carry our sweet buckeye away early that morning. The fox also took most of the tail feathers out of the nice rooster.

We didn’t know about this until we came home that afternoon and my sister and cousin ran down the hill (my parents live very close – right up the hill) to tell us the morning happenings and heroics. My cousin, Alan, chased the fox away in his PJs when he noticed it carrying one of the hens. The fox tried to circle around the neighborhood (he knew that these chickens tasted good now) but Alan chased it away again. My sister and Alan managed to shove all the chickens in the coop before leaving for their church service. So thankful they were there and noticed what was happening!

Right up the hill. Noah took this picture on my phone.

All the chickens are now walking around in their coop like nothing happened and seem to be doing okay. Our chickens haven’t pecked each other yet, so the one bird with an exposed muscle is still doing fine and seems to be healing. There could have been the risk that the exposed skin would cause other birds to become cannibals and get her, but that hasn’t been the case so far. This has been a good bunch of chickens.

The rooster.
Prior to Sunday, their coop had become little more than where they slept since they were spending so much time outside. Now we need to deck the place out if they have to spend all their time in there until we can be sure we have a safe place for them away from the fox. Joel let them out on Monday night and forgot to close them back up (it is not our norm to even bother around here). Tuesday morning, while Joel was sick, we chased the fox away again and put them all back in the coop.

Hopefully a reinforced run and some netting on the top of the run will be finished soon and we can give them all sorts of fresh goodies from the yard in lieu of free ranging.

Back to Sunday night.

The bull.

Norway. He punched a hole in our wooden gate with his head. He was trained on psychological fences, and we never finished making this fence a combination. So it was pure barrier, and a fairly week barrier for a mature bull. Our cow acts so dainty that she couldn’t do any harm to it, but Norway gets an itch and the whole thing could fall over. Not really. He had a pretty good running start this time.

Norway's work. Honestly, this would not normally hold a mature bull, he's just never challenged fences before -
but he's growing up.
Another electric strand or two a little lower would have held him in just fine.

Noah taking a picture too. Although, not of Norway's destruction.
Anyway, we knew we could do some super creative things and work through the night, or we could do something temporary and move him to our neighbors farm early. He wasn’t the happiest camper here because we were keeping him separate from Buttercup for the time being. Joel pulled out the old electric netting, set that up in a jiffy and Norway was good for the night. Norway remembered the unpleasant shock.

Our friend had already said she was willing to share Norway with us, and the plan was for him to go to her house this Saturday. We called Sunday night to see if we could bump that up. Joel went over to pick up the trailer that evening so that we could have it set up and ready to put Norway in Monday morning at 6am. Joel works at 8am and we knew it would give him enough time. Ever since we started waking up early for chores, it feels like half the day is in the morning before he goes to work – at least it does to me. It’s a good time to get things done.

So Norway went to the other farm to spend time with the other gals he got pregnant. Turns out he’s been beneficial there so far. The horse and two cows share a pasture space and the horse liked to chase the cows around. With Norway there, no one gets chased around!

Our plan here is to make the winter fence psychological again by adding a few lines of electric. He won’t touch electric fences. He’s even better with that than Buttercup. So if he comes here again, we’ll be set.

The wooden fence creates a definite separation for us and guests on what is farm land and what is pleasure space (lawn). Guests didn’t enjoy accidentally getting to the point where they had to jump over land mines that the cows deposited days prior. Since we move the cows around in portable electric netting, it was sometimes tricky to see where they had been. It is a good second barrier for the animals too, especially Buttercup. While we move them from paddock to paddock, we don’t have to worry about loosing them too far before we can redirect them.

Oh the learning.

The next update will be on Buttercup and how milking is going! We had a few hiccups, but she’s doing better again. Stay tuned! (I’ll include an update on Buddy too.)

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