Saturday, June 06, 2009

My Appleseed Project Weekend -- Chores

I thought I would give you an example of what it is like on the farm when I am left to do chores while everyone else leaves to attend an event. I don't know if it's because I'm unfamiliar with the inner workings of our farm (the boys don't always tell me about their misadventures or quirky animals) or if it's just that things happen. It sure makes life interesting!

Last weekend was a very busy one for me. Jim and the boys left by 6:00 a.m. to travel a couple of hours to where the Appleseed Project weekend would take place. I went back out to finish chores around 8:00, and then worked on some other projects around the house.

Around noon I checked on the broiler chicks located in the chicken barn. Those creatures sure can eat! Jonathan has boards blocking the chicks into one area of the barn, and when they saw me walk in they flocked to the other side of the gate. It was very hard not to step on them. I felt like I was constantly filling their feeding dishes.
This time I noticed the bell waterer had quit working, so the chicks weren't getting any water. I tried fiddling with the tube (there is a bucket of water that feeds the waterer), but nothing happened. I do not possess a mechanical mind and couldn't figure out what was wrong, so I walked up the hill and checked the internet.
From what I gathered, the filter on the waterer was most likely plugged, but it didn't tell me where the filter was located or how to access it! I decided to go back down and fill some small feeders Jonathan had left in the barn with water. That meant I had to go down every hour or so and refill the pans.
Later I went to check the egg layers located in movable pens a ways from the house and behind our raspberry bushes. In one pen I discovered a chicken close to death. The others had pecked her so badly that her intestines were out. By the time I got her out of the pen she was dead. I didn't have a clue why that had just happened.
Later in the day I knew the shoot would be over, so I called someone's cell phone and he gave the phone to Jonathan. He then was able to walk me through how to find and clean the filter on the waterer, and wonder of wonders -- it worked! I was so relieved, and I'm sure the chicks were as well.
I also discussed the dead chicken, and Jonathan asked me if that pen still had food in the feeder. I had thought so, but when I went back to check things I did notice the feeder was smaller than the other pens' feeders, and it was indeed short of feed. No wonder the chickens had found a victim to prey on.

I have a feeling our dog Samson decided so sneak over to the woods where I left the dead chicken, as he had a very guilty look on his face when I walked out of the house.

Jim had asked me to water the gardens; I tried, but couldn't figure out how to get the water to go to the sprinkler I wanted it to go to. I gave it up for the time being. This really made me wish I had paid closer attention to the times I watched the men work the sprinkler system.

In the evening I tucked everyone in for the night, and when I was down checking the cow and horse I heard a terrible ruckus. Three roosters were beating up on a fourth one. The night before one of the Buff Orpington roosters had been sitting on a pile of dirt in front of the house; his eyes were swollen shut and he hardly moved. In the morning he seemed better, but apparently the other roosters weren't finished with him yet. I grabbed a stick and smacked the attacking roosters and they finally left the injured one alone. He entered the barn, and I hoped he would have a chance to recover.
I also had to contend with our cat, Funny Face. She seems to have been pregnant forever, but I had a feeling she was in labor and wanted to deliver in the house. She has had her kittens outside in the past, and this time we wanted her to do that as well. Jim has an allergy to cats.
Funny Face followed me all over the farm and meowed constantly. I even walked over to the chicken tractors three times in a half hour, and she followed me every time! I don't know how she did it.
During evening chores I had to take the food away from the broiler chicks. We found out the hard way that they tend to eat themselves into problems and can have heart attacks from eating too much. So, they need to be without food for 12 hours each day. They weren't too happy with me when I took the feeders out for the night.

In the morning I was a welcome sight for the chicks, and it was quite a challenge to get the feeders back into their pen without setting them on somebody. They acted like I had starved them!

Another waterer in one of the egg layer's pen went out, and I was glad I had talked to Jonathan the night before so I knew what to do to fix it. I actually had to hold onto the top cover of the pen (there was a pretty stiff wind out there and I didn't want it flying off its hinges), climb in and repair the waterer, then get it hanging again on its nail. I was beginning to feel like Houdini!

At noon I went down to give the goats and large animals more hay. The guys have been letting the goats out to roam, but I thought that was a recipe for disaster with only me here so I kept them in the barnyard. They didn't like me for it, though. The cow is usually staked out for the day, but I wasn't going to tackle that or milking the goats.

Anyway, one of our yearling goats had gotten her head out of the fence and was stuck. I couldn't get her out, so I walked back up to the house and tried to think about what to do.

All of a sudden the stuck goat was screaming, and I ran down there to find the cow bashing her on her side. There was also a couple of other goats that were smashing into her as well. She was frantic. It's usually hard to tell any kind of emotion on a goat, but this time I could sure tell she was scared.
I filled the feeder so the other animals had something else do to than torment her, and they quit. I tried to get her head out of the fence, but she resisted anything I did.

I ran back up to the house and called a friend to come over and help. I got in the fence and she twisted the goat's head back while I pulled from behind, and the goat's head was pulled out. She was okay, but probably pretty sore from her ordeal.

At least the pigs were no trouble at all!
Funny Face did have her kittens that night, and the injured rooster disappeared.

I was also very thankful when Jim and the boys returned before evening chores on Sunday night.


Chicken Herder from Westville said...

That is sure a lot of work to be done!

Marci said...

I think I would be keeping a boy at home!!!! Sounds like the natives were restless that weekend!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow- that's a lot of work!!!!

Tnfarmgirl said...

Boy, can I relate! Seems the animals know when the boys are gone and tend to act up....I need to pray more diligently for you on those weekends!