Another Week

Freezer Camp We now have a brand new freezer, full of 300 lbs of pork and 100 of lamb. The smoked stuff is still yet to come. New Hampshire no longer has state slaughterhouse inspection, so we are attempting to figure out how to sell the meat. We probably needed to sell the critters alive, then kindly arrange to get them slaughtered and packaged for the buyers. We need to keep fishing, though. There seems to be a way to sell meat off the farm, but the NH Ag site is profoundly unhelpful. Re-establishing the state inspection program would be fine too. We could sell everything we can grow inside Cheshire county.

Pretty hens The chickens have gone on strike. No matter how much guaranteed nutritious pelleted feed we give them, they want bugs, damn it. Bugs are yummy, but Layeena is good for them. The nice lady at the feed store said they will eventually give in and start laying again. She also said that we should really keep them confined and living on bought feed all year, or failing that make sure they have expensive supplements available at all times because bugs and grass are only the diet they evolved to eat, not what the USDA says they should eat. Never mind that they laid an egg a day on no feed at all, from June to October. I do admit that the Asian jungle fowl needs to be fed through the winter in New Hampshire. Bug season is never over in Viet Nam.

Fixing the chicken coop floor We also now have two broody hens. It does make some sense. There’s not a lot going on in October in Iceland, and you’re getting fed. It’s a good time to raise a clutch.

We also need to keep working out the housing arrangements: the horses have broken all four windows in the coop, apparently going for the hay in the nest baskets. Our chickens will not use nest boxes on the floor. Bushel baskets three foot in the air are what they lay in. I started with roosts three foot off the floor, as the extension service recommended. The chickens roosted most uncomfortably in the rafters. Now they are quite happy in the six foot high roosts I gave them. I’ve covered all the windows with wire mesh, which will keep the horses out, and the hatch door is open all the time. I still need to replace the windows before snow flies.

Frank & his toys Front wall The sawmill is being good. I’ve milled half a dozen logs this week and we’ve turned a bunch of them into most of a sheep shed. The horse house is a monster project that bogs us down. We can bang out four sheep sheds and a farrowing shed by Halloween. We’ll rent some scaffolding, I think, to put the roof on the horse house. It’s such a muddy mess in their paddock, though. We really need to work on the drainage, and the bedding idea. It’s been so muddy that we can’t get the tractor in their to clean out the manure, so now it’s a stinky muddy mess. Yuck.

The Vet Lisa took Spike to the vet on Friday, and he had every worm known in North America. He had a temp of 105, and the vet said it was the start of pneumonia, poor guy. We are treating him very aggressively — no more losing lambs! We lost three this last run, despite everything we tried, so when he looked like he was getting a relapse, Lisa just threw him into the truck and went to the vet with him. He’s been getting three shots and two drenches a day since, and is quite himself again in his little quarantine pen. Better living through chemistry, I guess. We’re hoping to give him and the four ewe lambs the first breeding pen on Wednesday when his prescriptions run out.

Testosterone central The other boys are in the front yard jail. We’re shooting to get the other three breeding groups going November first. We have a nibble from someone who might buy George. If so, Gracie will go with Sue. If it falls through, she and George will have their own group, hoping to lock in the lovely black-grey color. We’ll check to see if we should worm all the boys before we move them on although none of them have actually had worm issues. Nor have the fence-busting Kaytla line. We just want to be really, really careful and pro-active with parasites with the awful year we’ve had.

Fine. We'll go back. Lisa has noticed that the Kaytla fence-busting issues may be largely our fault. She is an Icelandic leader sheep. For 1100 years (that would be 500 generations), her ancestors have led the flock out of the barn in April and come back in October, bringing their lambs along. She is smart, gutsy, and in charge. Management Intensive Grazing, keeping her in a paddock for an extra day to knock down the weeds, this is not why her line gets the extra fish meal. She thinks she gets paid to find the yummy pasture, and to scoot for the barn when there’s weather or coyotes. If the yummy pasture is on the other side of a fence, that’s all in a day’s work. She can untie a bow knot, and pull an alligator clip off a fence charger. The way to keep her in a fence seems to be to have two areas where she can go back and forth. Otherwise, she spends her time looking for a way out, and making one if need be. The whole flock follows her, of course.

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