So, there are some new farmy friends around here. First, meet Nemo.
Nemo was adopted by our family twice. First, I brought him home to be a barn cat. I planned on him living outside and helping keep the mouse-y, mole-y, vole-y, icky populations under control. However, Grace claimed him the moment she laid eyes on him. She reminded me that I’d promised she could have a kitten to replace our dear old Killian who passed away this spring. I pointed out the obvious litter box and cat shedding issues, but a promise is a promise. (Liam and I aren’t fans of indoor cats. Actually, we like indoor cats, we just don’t like the litter and shedding issues that come with them.)
So, Nemo was re-adopted and promoted to house boy status. He now spends his nights batting at Grace’s eyes attempting to catch her eyelashes. I smile smugly and offer to demote him back to barn cat. However, he’s a silly little thing and watching his antics has made us all laugh. Well, all of us except Celt. Celt is our indoor/outdoor Majordomo/Farm Hand cat. He’s gentle and passive even with strays. However, he’s had a few rounds of hissing, growling, spitting spats with the kitten. Grace’s theory is that Nemo said something rude in Cattish first.
I should explain that apart from Celt, our cats have literary names. After several days of debate, we still couldn’t arrive at a name for the kitten. Grace said, “We have to come up with something or we might as well call him Nemo.” We laughed and it stuck. Nemo means ‘no man’ in Latin, thus the famous captain chose it as his sobriquet. No matter what T. S. Eliot said, I’m not sure it matters ‘how you address’ a cat. Apart from Oliver the Odd Ball, I’ve never seen a cat answer to a name.
We have three other accidental additions to the farm. Liam went to the feed store for hay. He came back with news that an acquaintance had offered to sell him a lot of rabbit equipment and three rabbits. We recently bought a new buck and doe from some friends. So, if we bought these three we would have more rabbits than we need or want to summer over.
Texas summers are hard on rabbits, and they require ice bottles and special care. However, the price for the entire lot was about a third of what the equipment would normally cost. So, we made the decision to buy it and cull the rabbits. (We were open about this with the seller.) However, the rabbits in question are large, well formed, and SEEMED to have good temperaments. In the end, we added them to our ‘flock’.
These new rabbits were quite calm, until a couple of days after their arrival. Grace reached in to fill the water for one of them (Rabbit B). Suddenly, the large lagomorph morphed into the savage rabbit from Monty Python! It didn’t harm her, but started ricocheting around barking and charging. I’ve never heard a rabbit bark, and didn’t know they could! Grace being a cell-phone-in-hand teenager took a video. It was a good thing she did, because it was the only evidence of the fit. The rabbit was calm and docile when we all came out to investigate. The fit has been repeated a couple of times, but between episodes, the animal lies sweetly and lets us pet between her ears. It’s bizarre! But then, most of the animals that live on our farm have proven they belong on the Funny Farm!
We do have some additions that were actually intentional. We added 52 meat chicks a few weeks ago. We prefer red rangers for meat, but are trying Cornish X’s this time. The reason for the switch was because these chicks were available from a reputable local hatchery.
We could pick them up rather than exposing them to the trauma of traveling cross country via USPS. (We also avoided paying rather exorbitant shipping fees.) These chicks have been healthy, and we haven’t lost any of them. However, that may be about to change.
Yesterday, Sam went to feed them and immediately came to get me. He explained that two of the chicks had string dangling from their mouths and one had its foot caught in string too. I expected a bit of feed bag string had blown in and was the cause of the problem. Instead, I discovered that one of the tarps had fallen from the roof and they’d pulled bits of it into their run. The chick’s foot was encased in a massive snarl of plastic threads. Some of the threads were pulled quite tight and the foot was swollen to twice it’s normal size. I carefully cut it free.
Then, I tried to deal with the two chicks who had strings protruding from their mouths. One of them swallowed the delightful treat before I could reach it. The other, who had been caught by the foot, was unable to do so. The string it had swallowed was attached to the mass I cut free from it’s leg. I tried tugging gently at the swallowed string, but I could feel significant resistance and feel it pulling from deep within the birds body. Finally, I made the choice to clip the string near the chick’s mouth. It was in no distress and was eating and drinking when I left it. So, only time will tell if it can pass the string and survive or not. We’ve kept watch on them today (and obviously removed all tarp fragments).
Lastly, we’ve been incubating turkey eggs. Last year we raised fifteen bourbon red turkeys. They were easy to raise, tasty, and sold well. We kept back a breeding trio. However, our young hens show no desire to take on the duties of soccer mom and minivan driver. So, we collected their eggs and put 18 in to incubate. When we candled at two weeks, only eight of the eggs showed signs of developing. Unbeknownst to us, our incubator has a faulty countdown. This made us unsure when to expect hatching to start. I’d written the dates, but the incubator had reset itself at some point along the way.
With the confusion, the humidity wasn’t increased or the temperature decreased on schedule. So, we’re pleased three of the eggs have hatched successfully so far, and there is cheeping coming from at least one more.
We plan to restart the incubator with more turkey eggs in the next week and are going to collect some cuckoo maran eggs to fill it a few days later. Turkey eggs take 28 days and chickens only need 21. However, if you allow for this, you can incubate them together.
We don’t really need any more layers this year. But we try to cycle some in each year. Layers decline in production after three years. Next year will be the third for our dominickers (barred rock). So, we’ll add a few young hens to maintain the three year rotation and to replace attrition. We lost two hens this year to unknown causes, one inherited Americana to old age, and two dominickers to a game of Marie Antoinette in the coop door. If enough hatch, we may even sell a few locally.
So, what’s new in your home or on your homestead? Do you have animals in need of psychoanalysis? Are your rabbits planning an Animal Farm style Marxist take over? Leave me a comment if you have the time! I love hearing what’s happening on your place!
This post may be shared with some of our favorite blog hops and linky parties!