Sunday, June 29, 2014

Quantity or Quality

In judging the life of any living being, the question has been asked over and over, what is more important- length of life or quality of life?  We lost another chicken last night.

The chickens residing at Cabin Spring Farm are all free range.  This means they can go wherever they wish.  They are not confined to a cage or run.  Many people who raise chickens for eggs have the chickens confined for their safety.  We do not raise chickens for eggs.  We are always appreciative of the gifts they give us but if they don't lay for a time, for whatever reason, it is not a problem.  We like to have chickens living here to keep insects down, to help keep the barn clean, to manage the manure pile, and for general balance on the farm.  If we confined them they could no longer do this.  We have tried closing them in a coop at night.  That works pretty good as long as they chose to go in there-- and  if we don't forget to close the door to the coop at night.  When you have rhythms and routines and then do something different one night, it leads to doing something else different and that sometimes puts animals at risks.

  We have lost 3 hens in a very short time.  The first to complications of an attack of a daytime predator, the second to human error (forgetting to close the coop one night), and the third to a nighttime predator (due to a bad choice by a hen).  Two nights in a row, one of the hens decided she wanted to sleep on top of the closet in the barn.  Two nights in a row, I had to nudge her and encourage her to roost back up in the high rafters with the other two.  Last night I was not here when the chickens went to roost.  I thought I would be home an hour or so later, but an airplane connection was missed and we got home very late.  So is it US Air's fault, the hen's fault, my fault, or the hungry predator's fault that the hen is not with us any longer?

We have a wonderful life here at Cabin Spring Farm and we all try to take care of each other and keep on top of things but sometimes that is not enough.  Now the geese are asking the sheep and chickens to help them get out of their pen but they are not yet able to defend themselves so it is a good thing none of us listen to them.  Right now they will have to be happy with quantity (each new day) instead of quality.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Worse Than a Nuisance

We lost another hen last night.  This time to a night predator.

  I was doing my evening chores early yesterday, and somehow forgot to close the coop.  This morning I went to open the coop and found the door open and some feathers inside but no black hen.  When I found her body, elsewhere, it was pretty much eaten.  Somehow, it is a little easier if the hen disappears altogether or is found in one piece.

Tonight, one of the Americanas was thinking about sleeping on top of the closet in the barn.  That is where they lay eggs and where some eggs have been eaten of late.  I had to coax her to join the others on the high beams in the barn.  I set my spy camera up tonight so I hope to catch the nuisance, on film at least.  I wonder if whatever it is, looks at the geese in the pen and tries to find a way to get them.  Are the geese frightened, I ponder, or do they not know the danger?  Is it good practice for them to know that predators are lurking in the night or do they think the intruder is just another barnyard animal?

Farm life is not for the faint of heart.  I hope things settle down,  at least for awhile.  I don't know what we are going to do but I guess the first step is to see what we are dealing with.

I moved the sheep to a new pasture tonight.  I need to keep mentioning the moves to document the length of stay on each pasture.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2014 Summer Fiber Camp is Under Way

What a great group of kids and wonderful creativity.  We are having SO much fun.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Moving Day

Yesterday was moving day for Cirrus and Sal.  Lyndy recorded the momentous occasion.  Now they are in the pasture with the sheep and chickens but still in a pen until they get bigger.

So much more room to stand and spread the wings.  Our little ones are growing up so fast.

 Now they have a bigger splash pool too.

Does Cirrus look happy or what?

The first visitor at the new home.  Gretta didn't know what to think.  Now they are used to the geese being in the neighborhood.  Cirrus and Sal seem to want to get out with the sheep but I am even nervous with them in the pen.  

Our hen that was attacked several days ago died today.  She seemed like she was getting better but I guess the injury was worse than we thought, or stress and heat after the attack.  She had been laying low but getting around.   It is always sad when we lose one of the animals that live at Cabin Spring Farm.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Who's the Nuisance?

Everyone has probably heard the expression, "A weed is a plant in the WRONG place."  Is a nuisance an animal in the wrong place?  Who is the nuisance and who gets to say what or where is the WRONG place?

This is something that has really been bothering me a lot lately.  It is, for me, one of the hardest things to deal with on the farm.  From my perspective, all kinds of animals have been in the wrong place lately.  There was the black snake that was in the area where John was working.  I love black snakes but I don't like them in bathrooms when I am not expecting them.  How can I complain about John killing one if I turn around and trap mice and yell at deer.  Snakes and mice, in some peoples book, may always be in the wrong place. Deer are a great example of an endearing animal when it is in the woods but not so beautiful in your garden, eating fruit or bark from a tree in the orchard, or on the roads at night.  To golfers, and others, geese are nuisances.    To me, geese are wonderful creatures, so far.

Then there were the gzillion ants on the stone by the entry steps, the bat in the house, the bluebird that dirties the doors and windows, and the predator that attacked one of the hens.  (She got through the fence and survived).  Not sure what it was but I am sure it is a lovely animal when it is not chasing hens.

I was complaining to Beverly the other day and she reminded me that they are all in their places.  It is true but I don't want them where I don't want them.  At Boxerwood, we always remind the kids that all the animals that they encounter as they go on adventures, are in their homes and we are the ones visiting.  That is easy to say at Boxerwood but what do I do at Cabin Spring Farm?

I am beginning to do Spring Cleaning in the fiber shed to get ready for Fiber Camp the next 3 weeks.  No telling what I will encounter there.  I want to build some bungalows or condos for small critters to entice them to move out of the fiber shed and garden closet.  What else can I do?  The bats and the bluebirds already have there own houses.  But what do I do about the rest?

The animals are probably thinking, "those humans- they act like they own the place.  Always moving things around and disturbing thing.  They make too much noise and you never know when or where they are going to show up, always in the WRONG place".

Who's the nuisance?

Ideas welcome!!!  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Animals of Cabin Spring Farm

Lots of animals goings-on in the last few days.  

The hens have figured out how to get over the fence.  John and I were sitting out in the barnyard a couple of days ago and left the chairs near the fence so a couple of the hens took the easy way over.  Now they can go back and forth and Mr. Black is so happy and leads them all over the place.  See how proud he looks.

This morning Mr. Black came up to meet the geese. 

 I have come up with good names for the geese, finally.  We are going to call the gander, Cirrus, because he is white and feathery and has a bit of a cloudy personality.  The goose we are going to call Sal, because she is a silly sally.  There used to be a restaurant in Provincetown we liked called Ciro's and Sal's.

A week or so ago, the baby bunny, who we call baby bunny, came out of his hideout in the mint, to meet the geese but I didn't get his picture.  

The deer were around this morning and I heard some wild turkeys but they didn't come up to the house.  

We did have a visitor in the house for two nights.  We called him/her Benny or Benita Bat.  Finally yesterday, I found him/her sleeping behind a picture on the wall and snuck up with a towel at dusk and told him it was time to go home.  We have a nice bat house down by the veggie garden.  

The sheep looked happy after the afternoon cooling shower.