Friday, September 4, 2015
Hay Season Waits for No Man.... Or ^$#@*& Chicken Drama Either
When the planets align and the weather is right at the proper time of late Summer hay season comes a calling. Oh certainly there are some Legume and Grass hay that can be put up earlier in the year and you get several cuttings from but each year there is always that perfect time for the big harvest. If you don't recognize it or take advantage of it you may screw yourself out of hay for the year.
This surprise one or two week window is even more important for those who are using old middle 1900's technology to cut, rake and bale like me. I watch my big operator neighbor come out and cut his Alfalfa, condition it and bale it all in one afternoon. It takes me a minimum of three days mostly waiting on the stuff to dry properly.
One thing is for certain the sheep LOVE hay season. After I park my implements and they come into the barn lot for the night they clean up whatever implement I have used in no time flat. The above brush hog was literally covered in grass clippings six inches deep last night.
The hay rake had more than a few grass clingers when I parked it this afternoon and the other day the sickle mower had some bindweed wrapped so tight around the PTO shaft I gave up trying to get it off. The sheep had nibbled it all gone by morning.
I was a bit leery of letting the sheep stay out in the barn yard with the implements all Summer but so far no one has hurt themselves nor have they damaged anything. I make sure anything that is light enough for them to move while using it as a scratching post is well blocked up though. The yearlings seem to think checking out the implements I use each day is some kind of game and if I bring a new one in "Hold on to your Hat" they have to check every inch of it out.
So far it's been a win - win arrangement for both man and beast.
So why I am out slaving away in this hot dry wave we've been getting the last week or so the chickens are still doing their best to make the busiest time of the year totally unbearable. I think the dogs helped it along today too though.
I swear these chickens are worse than a teenage girls softball team having their first kegger. Now that the rooster issue is settled the hens are working out their pecking order I guess and they are driving the dogs crazy. The dogs have been happy to ignore the tasty dinner items in the barn as long as they don't make too much noise. They ignore the crowing but the sounds of hen squabbling will bring the dogs running and they MUST break it up.
I went and picked up eight more hens today to bring my total up to 20 hens which is where I wanted to stop. I didn't count the sick old black hen as I was pretty sure she was going to have to be put down today. I got three beautiful Buff Orphington hens and five very pretty Rhode Island Reds. The buffs are already laying while the reds are just about ready to start. I put them in their cages inside the coop to let them kinda get to know each other until roosting time.
Well I can tell you right now there is going to be an issue between what I assume is the head Hen-cho (Like what I did there?) and the head Black hen. They were making that growling noise at each other all afternoon through the cage door.
At some point the dogs tried to get involved and (I am assuming it was the dog) killed one of the little Red hens somehow. They didn't get into the coop or the run area so I guess they caught her outside. It was the one I called Barcode who was always standing on the gate and never jumped down when the dog sniffed her.
All this went down while I was out raking up the bottom half of the hay field. I thought I had finally broke the damned dog from trying to chase the chickens but the argument sounds was just too much for him.
So now I have lost three chickens (1 rooster and 2 hens) in the course of two days. These damned birds are proving way too high maintenance for me especially during hay season.
Something has got to either work itself out real soon or there is going to be more culling happening and I am not sure if it will be avian or canine at this point.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!!