Friday, August 28, 2015

Putting the Sheep Out into the Garden





As I mentioned yesterday I moved the movable fence portion of the West paddock from one side of the garden area to the other. Pulling all those panels and posts, moving them, and pounding them all back in again is a real pain but for the moment made more financial sense.

That's a flowery way of saying at the moment I have more time than money really.

Eventually I think I will put a permanent fence between the garden and the West paddock and one on the side of the garden. Then all I will have to do is use temporary fencing on the West end of the garden plot to close it off so this moving panels will not be necessary. I need to leave at least one side open to till the garden plot with the tractor though.

I really wish I had taken a before and after shot of the overgrown garden area. My original plan was to plant Buckwheat in the garden to keep the weeds down and it kinda worked for a while until the constant rains stunted and then killed the Buckwheat. After that the weeds came in full force.

Since I can't let the sheep back out into the hayfield now until I fix the fence in the back and I can't fix the fence in the back until the underground cable guys get here to tell me where I can drill post holes on my own property I decided to run the sheep into the garden to keep em busy for a few days.

They made quite a dent on day one though.




The above picture is a part of the yard I enclosed in with the garden. You can see how much of the short grass they ate in one day. That little mound was an area I hadn't cleared out yet and had weeds chest high. They made very short work of that.

My plan is to let the flock browse this area now until I sell the excess and put the ewes in with the rams. Even then I will still have about 10 members of the invalid and youngin flock to run in here all Winter. Then about March I will move the fence again and till the garden up for Spring.

While not as good a four legged tilling crew as a couple of pigs they still don't do too bad of a job.  I have also been thinking if I enclose it off separately I can use it as an emergency holding pen or temporary ram pen if I need to work on their areas.

One thing is for certain it shut the flock up for a day at least. They were so busy munching on weeds and surviving pole beans etc. they didn't have time to complain about anything.

Today Littlebit (the Hamburg Hen) took one of the Americauna hens with her when she went exploring outside the coop area.




I have looked everywhere around the coop area and there are no eggs other than the chocolate brown ones anywhere to be found. Either the stress is keeping the Americauna and Hamburg hens from laying or as I suspect they are not mature enough yet. As I said the roosters seem only interested in the Red and Black Sex-Link hens so far. They haven't even tried to mount the new Barred Rock hens either.

Already one of the old Black hens is showing signs of death. She pretty much sleeps the entire day and moves very little. Rocky, the Barred Rock rooster was so concerned about her he checked on her frequently and brought her food from time to time. Seems counter productive to lose a hen so soon after forming the flock but I knew those four old black hens were old anyway. So far they have actually done a fine job of keeping the mixed and matched flock of young hens together peaceably.

I think it was a pretty good call on my part to specifically ask around for old hens when I started this endeavor.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!


15 comments:

  1. Are you sure she's sleeping? She may just be broody, Australorps are a very broody breed . They kinda go into a trance and won't leave the nest but once or twice a day. That's probably where all your eggs are too, lol. Other hens will see a broody and squeeze in and lay their eggs in the nest to be incubated by her. http://www.backyardchickens.com/ has tons of info and is my go to chicken source

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    1. Easter eggers mature alot slower in my experience, I had one that didn't lay until she was about 10 months, then pretty much went right to being broody and hatched out a few new babies. I don't know much about the bantam breeds, but that link will be able to help you out with breed specifics.

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    2. Anon - She maybe broody. She seemed fine at first but then about two days ago I noticed she was just laying in the corner. An hour or so later she was up again then today I noticed she was laying in another corner. An hour or so later she had moved to yet another corner and has stayed there ever since. All the other hens went up to the roost this evening but she was still laying there. If I go and disturb her she will look at me but I don't know what else to do at this point.

      None of the birds I got should be bantams as far as I know.

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    3. Oh ya this isn;t one of the Easter Eggers it's one of the old Black hens I got from a neighbor. He told me when I got them they didn't have much time left and really should be pot hens at this point. I just got them to kinda show the mixed bag of young new hens I was getting the ropes so to speak.

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    4. Go over and try to look under her (I would personally wear gloves), if she puffs up and growls, she is most likely just broody. You can let her try to hatch out some chicks, which I would go in and put an x on the eggs so you know which are hers. Or you could break her from being broody, it's not very healthy for them to just sit and brood for no reason. I've tried the dunking them in a cold bucket of water method before with some success, but blocking my hens from their broody spots seems to work better. If you have a smaller cage you can put her in it for a day or two (she'll be worried about getting out of the cage, not her nest) Make sure she's caged in the yard with the other chicks so you don't have to re-introduce her.
      Basically you are trying to shock her out of the behavior, when they are broody they eat and drink very little reducing body weight, they won't lay eggs, or they may try to hatch babies in late fall which you don't want, because momma hens will generally kick the babies to the curb after 3 weeks (in my experience) then they are on their own in the middle of winter. Good luck

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  2. Some of our old hens (the pets) lived to be over 8 years old. Sounds like yours is broody. Mostly when they get ready to die they just keel over.

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    1. Tewshooz - I have no idea how old this one is at all. I only know the guy told me "she was old enough to not be laying much and was ready for the pot". This morning she was up and about again though but she spent the night in the corner.

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  3. try a bit of a protein food boost see if that helps perk her up, perhaps she has decided she is now retired and just wants to snooze, if any of my chooks look under the weather I check there crops and give them some natrual yogurt to eat they go one of two ways, perk up or die, I have some oldies and they are just living out there days now they are little bantams.

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    1. DH - I been giving all the chickens electrolyte boosts and the low level antibiotics in their water. We have three waterers up one with the mixtures int hem and two that is just fresh water. This girl slept almost all afternoon in that corner and all night but is up and around this morning.

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    1. deborah - No I am not sure of anything at this point it is mostly all new to me. She seems fine sometimes but then will spend hours and hours just sleeping.

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  5. I have all of my metal fence posts in use at the moment and could use a bunch more but I am going to spend money on other things like a rim for the tractor. I have plastic ones that I can put up electric on if I need something. I have had old hens that just can't fight off an infection or something and they hang on for a few days and eventually die. Unfortunately an old chicken isn't worth fixing and they aren't pets so it is a wait and see thing. I don't butcher the old hens but let them hang around but a lot of people put them in the pot before they get old and sick but they do provide some stability to the flock.

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    1. Sf - I think I have maybe one five pack of t-posts and a few singles laying around still. Perhaps another 6 or so still int he garden I used for the tomatoes. I am totally out of panels now though as I have used them all. I saw an ad for a guy selling a bunch of posts and gates at a very good price I may look into that today.

      That was kinda my take on the chickens. I can't really doctor them up like I do the sheep I think. I gave em some electrolytes and low level anti-biotics and got some wormer here to put int heir water when I get the entire flock assembled. After that I don't know. Try advice from readers and see what the book and internet tells me I guess.

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  6. Would it be better to put up permanent fencing then to move it all the time?? Sorry I don't know the lay of the land. How much time did you spend moving it all???

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    1. Rob - Well it would be better in the fact I wouldn't have to move it but before I can put up two sides permanent I would need to have all the fence wire, posts and gates which isn't cheap. The other problem is that no matter what I need to keep one side open or it makes it too hard to till with the tractor.

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