I had come home from the Farmers Market and had unpacked my vehicle, I collected eggs and everything was quiet (except the bottle lambs). I got lunch and Zorra had a chew when there was a kerfuffle in the driveway, chickens panicking , flying everywhere and alarm squawks. Zorra immediately went into alarm mode and out the door we went. A hawk had pinned one of the chickens in the small pen behind their trailer. Zorra and I got out there before any true damage was done to the chicken. The chicken lost feathers but not her life, she was shook but when I put her back in the trailer she shook herself off and started eating. I did check her and she didn't have any injuries.
But what this brings to mind is a book I read as a 12 yr old. It was "The Black Cauldron" written by Lloyd Alexander, it involved magic, a wizard, a boy named Taran who cared for the white oracular pig(who the wizard got prophecies from). Now the story being set in the past there was a farm with the white pig and chickens who Taran was in charge of. Needless to say evil threatens, the pig and chickens flee, Taran follows and the adventure begins.
Later in the adventure the chickens who flew away to a safe place were found by Taran. The being named Medwyn protects any animal who comes to his valley and sure enough that is where the chickens went. Medwyn told Taran that he couldn't make head or tales of what the frightened chickens were talking about except it was evil. But once the chickens landed, they felt safe, and forgot what they were scared of and began eating.
The point of the above book review was that my chickens did not feel safe after the hawk attack and it took 2 hrs to get them to come out of hiding using scratch/corn to temp them out. I caught them one at a time and put them back in the trailer. By the time I finished collecting the 14 who were hiding under the old farmers market trailer it was time to do evening chores. Zorra and I went inside to make the lamb milk and came back out to feed the sheep, lambs and the sexy girls. After the chores I rounded up the rest of the chickens in the barn but was still short one chicken. So I thought one chicken had been killed DRAT! I had just closed the trailer door and turned around to see one more chicken come quick to get into the trailer. I have no idea where she was hiding....but now all the chickens are accounted for...yeah!!!!
Oh the excitement of farm life!
Yes, spring has arrived! But we may have snow ,sleet and rain in the middle of the week. Ah well....we do live in New England and shouldn't be surprised by the weather. A weather man the other day said" yes it is mud season, but you know what follows mud season????black fly season" Oh joy...
The view out my window has changed,besides the lack of snow....what I see is large and orange and it isn't a pumpkin. Not sure what it could be? It is a Kubota L series tractor with a bucket and a landscape rake. I am still playing with it and can't get it into the farm yard as my gates are frozen....I am slowly chopping away ....literally with a pic ax freeing the gates from the ice.
Once I get the gates free, more practice will be needed and I will try to clean out the manure pack in the barn where the sheep have been eating all winter. Wish me luck!
Last Wednesday I came down to the barn to feed lambs and do chores. I found wounded adults, dead lambs and blood everywhere. We had a coyote attack. I lost 5 adult sheep (3 of which had to be put down) and 7 lambs(3 of them were dead near the barn and out in the field). It was terrible day...but I am lucky to have good friends & a wonderfully kind vet . The breach in the fence has been blocked and new fencing is due this week. My friend Joe came with his backhoe to dig a hole to bury the 6 animals and my friend Heidi came with her practical suggestions and logical mind, they made this terrible day bearable. Carnage like this makes you feel powerless, the donkey had blood on her, but wasn't injured. I suspect most of the sheep hid behind her, but so many of the sheep and lambs scattered, she wouldn't have been able to protect them. Although my neighbor said he saw a badly limping coyote cross his property, so maybe Sparkle gave one of the coyotes something to remember.
I haven't had an attack like this in 16 years when the coyotes crawled under the electric fence when we had a very wet summer and the water was eroding areas under the fencing. That is when we still had meat goats along with the sheep.
The fencing I had put up in 2019 was a professional job, but one piece of fence was not replaced and that is where the breach was last week. This piece of fencing runs along the stream bed and needs to be moved back as the bank is slowly eroding and I hadn't included this part of the fence in the 2019 fencing job.....I probably thought I could replace it myself....
I am thankful there haven't been any more attacks and I have 8 lambs (4 boys and 4 girls) who were not injured and are doing just fine. The adults are still a bit wary and react to Zorra more than before. Otherwise we are back to the day in and day out farm stuff.
I have 15 lambs out of 19 that have survived and are thriving! I think I may have 4 more ewe's still to deliver, but I am not sure. 3 of the 4 are younger ewes and may have gotten pregnant,it is hard to tell with them.
I have to say that the new barn has been a god send....I have been able to manage lambing easier with less stress for the animals and for me! I still have things that I want to change for next season and will work on those once the mud is gone.
I enjoy looking out my office window and see the lambs running like a school of fish as they jump over and on top of any adults who are in their path!
Also to let everyone know that I have a large pile of well composted manure that will be available in the spring to pick up here at the farm.....it is free! Call the land line and leave a message if you are interested!
Mary Will Sussman