Jul. 2nd, 2008 04:27 pm
ponygirl72: (nathistoffear)
After a recent Homer Simpson-esque "D'Oh!" moment, I realized that I'd still been throwing away vegetable and fruit scraps from the kitchen.

The chickens Do Not Approve of such silly human behaviors as throwing away food.

They are particularly fond of watermelon rind.

Yes, I made a video of chicks mobbing a watermelon rind. )

No, I don't get out much. And yes, I'm easily amused. :-)
ponygirl72: (nathistoffear)
My new job has eaten my life. And yet I can't bring myself to resent it nearly as much as I should, because - YAY! - repetitive motion injuries are healing, and I now go entire days sometimes without being in pain.

It's amazing what that can do for your outlook.

Anyway... chickens.

click for chicken updates )
ponygirl72: Tucker Aside (Default)
That's a version of the question I asked years ago when I first heard about geese grazing. 'Cause, y'know, they're *birds*, for crying out loud. With *beaks*. Beaks, for eating bugs, and berries, and... stuff.

A: Yep, they do. Seriously. How? Like this:

That melodic cheeping you hear is the sound of happy chickens. Another thing they do when they're happy and content? They crash out and sleep flat on their sides, with both legs stretched out, occasionally waking enough to stretch the top leg and wing, cat-like, toes wriggling in the sun. That one threw me for a loop the first time I saw it.

Me: "Ack! It's dead!!!!"

Chicken: ::yawn:: ::stretch::

Me: "Oh. Okay." ::feels stupid::

In factory farming, the last third of the chicken's beak is snipped off with wire cutters so it can't peck its cage mates to death in a cannibalistic rage. I'm guessing they don't sleep much in the factory farms.

In other news, the rabbits are freaking delicious, either wrapped in bacon and roasted, or stewed with rice and carrots in beer with a little vinegar. I was very impressed with my Mom's killing technique: she's *fast*. Those rabbits went from happy (and very drunk on the wine they'd been given overnight) to dead with less than 2 seconds of "Whu--?" in between. Closer to 1 second, in many cases.

The fish are being, um, fishy. At least I assume they are, since I can't actually see them.

Lastly, I am currently in the midst of the Great Lamb Dilemma. I can get 4 bottle lambs very cheaply (because no one wants to mess with bottle lambs), but, well, I don't really want to mess with bottle lambs. Or I can *probably* get weaned lambs from this lady who *sort of* wants to cut back her flock of 400 to something more manageable. *Maybe*. My head says I'd probably better snatch up the bottle lambs while I can. My heart asks if I really want to shoot something that crawled into my lap and suckled milk from a bottle in my hand six months previously, and then skin it, gut it, and cut it into pieces.

And hence, the omnivore's dilemma. From the sheep's point of view, scenario one is obviously the best:

"Oh, Momma who used to feed me the milk has come to visit me! What's that metal thing she's got in her hand? Maybe it's got milk in it?" BANG! ::dead::

Scenario two is a little worse:

"La, de, da, la, la. Boy this grass sure is delicious. Oh, noes! The two-legged things that fill my water and move me to a new grazing pen every day are catching me and holding me! This is scary!" BANG! ::dead::

And scenario three, which is the norm, is really quite awful:

"Why did they put me on this scary stock trailer and take me away from my farm? This place smells like dead animals... I don't *wanna* go in there! I'm scared! I'M SCARED!! WHO IS THAT BIG MAN COMING TOWARD ME? I'M TRAPPED, I CAN'T MOVE!" ::captive bolt:: ::dead::

Of course, the order of preference of the HUMANS is 180 degrees opposite, and we are the ones with all of the power in the relationship.

Discuss. (And I know there's at least one vegetarian out there... I'd love to hear from you.)
ponygirl72: (nathistoffear)
Today was Fish Day. This morning I got up, fed the chickens and the horses on pasture, and collected a large trash can with a tight-fitting lid, a bucket, and some bungee cords.

Then hubby, Mom, Dad and I did a bucket brigade from the front pond to the garbage can in the back of the pickup truck, and filled it 3/4 full with nasty pond water. Dad and I drove 10 miles to Orscheln Farm & Home in Columbia, Missouri. The hatchery folks were in the middle of the parking lot with their large, converted truck with a dozen or so separate enclosed tanks where the bed of the truck would normally be.

I paid ($50, or about £24) for our 50 4-6" catfish and 50 4-6" hybrid bluegill, and the hatchery people scooped them out of the tanks and into a bucket, and we dumped the buckets into our mostly-full garbage can of pond water and drove home.

Irritatingly, Orscheln had not thought to stock up on fish food for Fish Day, and was out. (Fail, Orscheln. I love you guys... but, *really*. Epic fail.) Fortunately, fish are not at all like, say, chicks - they're not going to starve because they don't get special baby fish food for a few days. There's plenty of stuff for them to eat in the pond when they're this size, and I'll get a bag of fish chow when they get another shipment next week.

So, home we went, driving like a sloth on barbituates around the curves and still sloshing pond water all the way back.

Then we backed up to

The Pond )
ponygirl72: (nathistoffear)
Beautiful, sunny day? Check.

Lush, green grass? Check.

Slightly bewildered chickens? Double check.

Gorillas In The Mist? Er... Chickens In The Grass )

The last photo is entitled "I Has A Watch Dog." I didn't know until today that I had a watch dog, but apparently I do. It's quite sweet, really. Unfortunately, she has a rather limited attention span and tends to wander off intermittently after being distracted by shiny objects, but hey... that's why the chickens are in a big cage - so they don't have to be guarded all the time.

Neighbor Guy with lambs for sale has fallen through as he has an alarmingly inflated opinion on the monetary value of his lambs. I am going to one of the few regular sheep and goat sales in Missouri tomorrow, which is (ironically) located in the city where I used to do my delivery route. Can't get away from the bloody place, apparently.

Nor from my nagging guilt about going to an auction instead of working. Stupid needing-to-make-a-living. ::grumbles::

Anyway, I'll take the stock trailer just in case, although the market report says that last week there were no feeder lambs available. Probably a bit too early in the spring for weaning.

Tucker, my horse, is being introduced to his movable, electric-fenced grazing pen, and after 3 days, he thinks the whole thing is a smashing idea. Not surprising, since his whole world revolves around food, and this is essentially a movable feast. It remains to be seen if he'll think baby-sitting lambs is a smashing idea as well... or an idea to be smashed. If necessary, they can be put in a little adjacent fenced area right next to him instead of in with him. That just means moving the pen(s) every day has a higher pain-in-the-butt factor.

Pain-in-the-butt? Farming?? *Surely* not... ;-)
ponygirl72: (nathistoffear)
The chicks are now less than one week away from going outside to live in the chicken tractor, which is now completed (Finally!!). Here are some pictures.

Clix for Chix Pix )

The cage, called a "chicken tractor", is 4 feet by 12 feet long, by 2 feet high. It has no bottom, and the back is completely enclosed. The front has a removable wire mesh lid (off in the pictures). The cage is moved by hand, on its skids. I'm rather proud of it, since I designed and built it myself over the past three weeks.

As you can see, the chicks have easily quadrupled in size over nine days. They can (sort of) fly now, though it's mostly a case of "flap-flap-flap... plop." Hence the lack of a lid on the cage; it's covering the brooder at the moment.

In other Meat Independence news, we pick up 50 catfish and 50 hybrid bluegill for the front pond on the 3rd of May. That's fun: you fill up a garbage can with pond water and put it in the back of your pickup, and then drive to the farm & home store rea-llllly slow. Then they dump your baby fish in it, and you drive back home eeee-ven slower, and dump the whole mess in your pond. And then you feed them fish food every day, which is apparently made of gold or something because it's SO DAMNED EXPENSIVE.

Fortunately, they don't eat much, being one of the most efficient converters of food to meat on the planet.

Finally, I have a line on some bottle-fed lambs in early May. The next thing to tackle will be the movable electric fence so they can be used as a living lawnmower in my yard. I'm toying with the idea of trying something similar with my personal riding horse, possibly in tandem with the sheep, so his presence will deter predators at night.

That part is very much in the experimental phase right now.

It's a pity there's no real market to make a living doing this kind of stuff, because this is very much my niche in life.
ponygirl72: (nathistoffear)
As threatened, an update on Day One of hubby's and my attempt to dissociate ourselves from the cruel factory farming of meat and eggs.

Clix for Chix Pix )

In a sign of what's wrong with western agriculture, we were forced to purchase chick starter rations (feed) containing antibiotics, because feed stores don't even *carry* un-medicated chick starter. It's just sort of assumed that *no one* could *possibly* raise chickens without antibiotics. The poor little buggers would just IMMEDIATELY drop dead of all sorts of diseases without them, don'tcha know?

For future batches, I will be looking into having a custom feed blend made. I was not prepared this time, and also not quite confident enough to strike out on my own to that degree. For this batch, we will try to combat the effects of the low dose antibiotics by supplementing with probiotics and allowing access to a natural habitat.

More to come in the next few days; now I must go check the little things and fine tune the temperature in the brooder.
ponygirl72: (Gene/Alex)
I have two days off this week-- Saturday and Sunday. I believe it's called a "weekend." Interesting concept.

My last day at my previous job of 13 years was on Friday. I am taking these two days off of my new job; I've been doing both at the same time since the last week of February. I haven't had two consecutive days off work since August 2004. The time before that was January 1998, when I got married.

I feel a bit lost, TBH. So, um, what are you supposed to do on weekends, again?

In other news, being kinda sorta "published" is a big ol' letdown, so far at least. It's a moment of "Wheee!!", and then it just seems to get sucked into a black hole somewhere. Because of course it's a big hairy deal to you, the author, but of extremely limited interest to the rest of the world. ::le sigh::

Finally, if anyone stateside wants to give the oil companies the finger, I will shortly be selling my veggie car (runs on used fry grease from restaurants, generally available for free). I don't exactly need it if I'm not driving 150 miles a day; stupid to have it sitting in the driveway while I work from home. I'll throw up a website with a video test drive soonish... it's available for $2900 until I get sick of dealing with it, at which point it goes up on eBay with no reserve.

It's very interesting to me how people (especially those who drive for a living) *love* to moan about how gasoline (petrol) prices are killing them, but have no interest in taking the steps necessary to dissociate from the petroleum economy. I'm finding that increasingly irritating as I try to sell the car.

Wake up, sheeple.

Anyway, I have re-emerged to the land of the living, and am available again on the off chance that anyone needs me for anything. I may use this account to blog about hubby's and my attempt to become largely self sufficient for meat by raising pastured chickens, intensively grazed lambs, and fish this year.

Down with factory farms.

And, in a complete non sequitur, go read [ profile] mercuriewords' story "The Foreigner" right now. Do not pass go.

Part 1

Part 2


ponygirl72: Tucker Aside (Default)

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