Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Eleven Developments in '11

Wren, the white mutt-Ameraucana rooster is beginning to take leadership now that the dominant Naked Neck roosters are in the freezer.  Fortunately, having been a "low rooster" in the pecking order seems to have kept him from being aggressive.  The other day he and his harem discovered that the compost pile posts make nice roosts.
He never used to crow, but now that he's the Top Rooster, we regularly hear his melodious crow throughout the day.  While he's happy to hang out during the day with his flock-sisters, at night he has moved into the coop of the older laying hens!
We've started to get some rain--a welcome relief after a 13" deficit last year. 

This picture shows the layout of the corral panels in the barn.  Angel is standing in front of the feed area.  The two panels between her and Sara make one pen that can be closed off if we decide to put a gate there.  The two panels between Sara and Brandy make another pen.  That pen already has its own gate which is swung to the right off the edge of the picture, actually making another small pen in the location of the future milking parlor.
Getting four inches of rain in one day made us realize a project that has to be added to the Honey-Do list--gutters on the barn roof!  It's not nice having to wade through ankle-deep water to get into the barn!  We hope to eventually run gutters into a large water storage tank that can be solar-heated--a perfect source for warm water to pipe into the milking parlor.  I'm sure Sara would appreciate warm water for pre-milking wash-ups!
I happened to let the chickens out the other day, and I found out why the "old" girls missed several days of laying last week.  For some unknown reason, they took it into their heads to use the nest boxes in the brooder house where the "young" chickens live!  Two of the eight had frozen and cracked, but the other six were fine.  And the girls are back to laying in their coop like they usually do.  It gives new meaning to the expression "Bird brain!"
This is a sight to warm the cockles of the heart of any organic gardener!  No, it's not a bonfire--it's a steaming pile of compost!  Herb had just turned over a recently-made pile of barnyard compost, and despite the hard frost overnight, it was producing plenty of heat!
Also producing plenty of heat is the new de-icer I installed in the water tank now that we have electricity in the barn.  Note the frost on the de-icer itself, but none on the water.  No more using a sledgehammer to break up ice on the tank.  An added perk is that now that the water isn't so icy cold, the animals are drinking more.
Thanks to the separate pens in the barn, we've started feeding Siobhan separately from Sara.  While Sara is a wonderful and protective mother, that does not extend to sharing her feed!  We think it's important for Siobhan to associate us with feed and good things and to be comfortable being separated from Sara.  We haven't pushed to the point of trying to put a halter on her yet; we're just keeping things peaceful and pleasant!
Jenny discovered that Siobhan likes to rub her face against the horses' brushes, so we've been playing with her, all the while getting her used to being handled.  Yesterday I brushed under her chin, and she stretched her head way out and let me brush all the way down her throat.
With plans to add a couple steers to feed out, we realized that Herb can't keep hauling individual loads of hay in the wheelbarrow and hay net.  So we put the hay spear to use and put a round bale in the barn.  Chores are much easier now!
Not for Sara, though!  At first reluctant to get up close to the horses to share the hay bale, she devised a novel, if complicated, way to eat!  Angel twitches her lip and rolls her eye at me as if to say, "Huh?" as Sara drops to her knees, tips her horns under the corral panel, grabs a mouthful of hay, tips her horns back under the panel, and stands up to eat!  Not to worry, she did eventually figure out that she could simply go over to the opposite side of the hay bale and eat from that side!
The last two pictures aren't developments, just a couple of "freebies" because I loved the play of light and shadow and couldn't resist sharing them.

A belated Happy New Year to all of you, and may 2011 be a year full of blessing for each of you.

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