Monday, July 18, 2011

rainy day

I'm worried about Sal. The ol' man was limping this morning and for no visible reason. After close inspection of his front hoof that he was avoiding, there was no wounds, blood, pus, foot rot, or even over-grown hoof nail. Out of precaution, I gave him some PenG in case an older wound had gone systemic. I hope he is okay. If he doesn't turn around soon, the vet will be called. Sal is, hands down, my favorite farm animal. I will do what I can to keep him around long as the quality of life is there for him.

Something is killing off poultry at the rate of one or two animals a night. I am down to just one turkey, and larger laying hens. At least a two dozen young birds, maybe more, have gone missing. I keep seeing this small cat hanging around and I set a trap for her this morning. Though it certainly could be something else. Either way, it turns out I am not much of a cat person and don't really want any strange cats on the farm. Period.

Deer are taking over the garden at an alarming rate. The potato patch got a hard hit, half of the plants eaten down. I don't know if they'll make it or not, or if I should cut my losses and dig up whatever I can save...

Rain all day today. I will be at the office, concerned.

34 Comments:

Blogger Kathy P. said...

Hope Sal will be okay. Maybe just a touch of arthritis?

Leave the potatoes be. Let the tops die down naturally - whatever's left of them - and then harvest. They'll be fine. I always miss a few and they sprout the following spring and grow new potatoes. So it won't hurt to leave them in the ground even if the tops are sparse. Also, when you harvest, let them "cure" in a dark place. Exposure to light for any length of time will turn the skins green - and green skinned potatoes are potentially toxic.

July 18, 2011 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

Gosh, I am so sorry. We had chicken predators too and it ended up being a combo thing -- several raccoons, a possuum and a neighbor's cat. The turkeys-- that was a loss as I know you had planned on selling them at Thanksgiving.
Thinking of you today and sending good healing thoughts to Sal.

July 18, 2011 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger PansWife said...

Everything loves chicken. The best cure for deer is a good fence.

July 18, 2011 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

Hope Sal feels better soon, I still have his picture as my screen saver.

I agree with Kathy, leave the potatoes to die back naturally.

When we had ducks, we lost most of them to a fox. They are very hard to catch, you might have to bring out the shotgun. I doubt the little cat is getting your turkeys, my cats were very leery of the ducks and chickens, they kept their distance.

I'm afraid to say that once the deer find your garden they will come back every night to devour it. If you could see the fencing we have rigged up you would probably laugh. Its now at least 12feet high (glavanized and deer fencing on top). So far so good, but something is still getting in and we can't figure it out. Probably a squirrel squeezing between the gate and post.

Good luck!

July 18, 2011 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

You could try making a "chicken moat" around your garden - an inner fence around the veggies, about four feet of space for the chickens, turkeys, etc. to run around in, and then an outer fence. I am told the deer don't like to have to jump two fences that are close together. Plus, the chickens and turkeys would be safer, and would help keep bugs out of the veggie garden. I have a version of it with electric net around the chicken yard surrounding raised beds fenced with woven wire. Seems to work so far. The only veggie predators I've had so far were my own sheep. :)
I hope Sal is OK.

July 18, 2011 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

Sal may have twisted something. I have seen that sort of thing in my older sheep, and even though they seemed fine, I trimmed their feet, and then, after a few days, they were fine. Has it been very wet where they are?

July 18, 2011 at 8:16 AM  
Blogger Westfarm Goat Mom said...

Sometimes older animals get arthritis. I massage Arnica cream into their legs and joints.

July 18, 2011 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

Maybe one of your hunting friends has one of those cameras the hunters put out in the wounds to track where the game is? I've used those to monitor fences at night.

It would make it easier to defend if you know what you are defending against.

I hate losing animals to predators. Last year I lost (25) 5 week old chicks in one night. It was like a war zone in the barn.

Fisher Cats are most likely around here but I have seen a Bobcat or two in the winter.

July 18, 2011 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger steak and eggs said...

Sorry to hear about Sal. Hope he's better soon. He could have stepped on a stone, a small hole, or twisted it some way. Our cow's sometimes come up limping and in a few days they are fine.

If I remember correctly a raccoon's will just eat the breast and inside of a chicken and leave the rest. A fox or wild cat will carry it off to eat it. If it was a neighbor's cat there would probably feathers and parts of the chicken around. I know how exasperating it can be to work so hard and lose it to the critters. When you raise it yourself it mean so much more than if you just go to the store and buy it. Hang in there girl things will get better.

July 18, 2011 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Oh, those are the worst kinds of days. How long has Sal had the limp? We have goats and dogs with limps pretty frequently, and it always self corrects - they seem to just misstep or tweak it somehow and need to stay of for awhile. Sometimes it's a day, sometimes a week, but it's never any big deal. I hope it turns out that Sal's is no big deal as well.

Do you have bobcat there? We have them come through from time to time, and once they see our place as a mark, we can lose A LOT of animals to them. You'd likely find piles or trails of feathers, and possibly some "hidden" carcasses. They kill multiples at once and hide them for later. They're also big enough to take down a turkey. If they're just straight up disappearing, I'd vote coyote. And yeah, you can leave the potatoes in the ground.

July 18, 2011 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Casie said...

Sorry to hear about the poultry bandit. Have you ever seen these? http://www.amazon.com/Solar-Nite-Eyes-Predator-Protection/dp/B00570LTSK/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I2GR84AYDHO7XC&colid=1OWVNYRIJ23K4

We've been lucky and only had one attack here, but if we get more troubles I'll be getting a few of these to put out.

July 18, 2011 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Whosyergurl said...

Jenna,
How many years have you kept chickens? This is my first batch- twelve that are 3 months old. We have bobcats, racoons, lots of evil critters and have our chickens in a pen. I think you let yours free range if I remember correctly. I use your book as my chicken bible.
xo, Cheryl

July 18, 2011 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger WeekendFarmer said...

Aaah what a day you are having. I had those days..not fun. Look under Sal's hoof. Use the shear's tip and clean out any dirt there may be and trim the hoof again. Use blue coat after you are done. He will be fine. If he gets worse...try banamine to ease the pain. Good luck!

July 18, 2011 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

I seem to recall that there is a gland just above/between the two hooves that can get plugged and cause some pain. Perhaps a soaking in warm epson salt and then a gentle probing/squeezing to remove the blockage if there is one?

July 18, 2011 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

don't rule out your large black snakes, they have been known to kill smaller poultry.

i can't imagine you don't lock your pounltry up at night, but if not i'd start immediately before you're completely wiped out.

July 18, 2011 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger melldot said...

"When Sheep limp and it's not foot rot" by Laurie Ball-Gisch was an article printed in SHEEP magazine. If you do a quick search it should still pop up. Last season two of my spring lambs developed a limp, nothing obvious as far as disease, infectious or otherwise, but I came across this article, followed the advice and they resolved. So, maybe? I hope this helps. Good luck

July 18, 2011 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Harbor Freight sells a cage trap, cheap, I keep one, set and baited, in the garden. Put a golf ball in the trap so coons will have something to play with, else they will damage your trap. Bait it with sardines and the juice sardines are packed in.

July 18, 2011 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger redbird said...

That’s one reason I hesitated in the past to go for poultry. My grandpa always had chickens, ducks, and geese when I was a youngster and my sister and I would name each one, would have conversations with them when we went out to collect eggs, and got ridiculously attached; then they’d get raided by the neighbors hounds or other marauding predators and I’d go out in the morning to see Rachel the chicken’s beautiful feathers all over the place (it must have really had an impact on me because I still remember names!)—very traumatic for a six year old even though I knew it was a part of life with chickens. I’m a lot better about things like that now so that I can’t wait to have chickens, but I’m sure I’ll be overly anal about keeping them safe and very violent with predators! If they’re the little guys that are going missing it may be the cat, just maybe. That’s how I ended up with my original barn cat—a friend’s little poultry were being done in by a hungry mamma. Since I didn’t have chickens she was relocated to my place where she was just as efficient with invading ground squirrels and mice.

Wishing the best of health to Sal.

July 18, 2011 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Whatever happened with the sheep that were sick?
If you don't have a mess of feathers left behind, you probably have a fox taking one a night for her kits. The best deterrent for 4 legged poultry predation is securing the birds. I can't imagine not doing it as you lose too much money when they are snatched. As far as the deer in the garden goes, dog scent and soap bars work. You could tie a Husky out for a few nights. You sound like your throwing in the towel on the garden. That seems kind of silly.

July 18, 2011 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 18, 2011 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I was also thinking one of your snake friends might be eating your chickens.

I hope Sal gets better soon.

July 18, 2011 at 2:44 PM  
Blogger M Gardner said...

Jenna,

Check your its a far walk e-mail. there is a nuisance trapper right down the road from your office, he's a really nice guy. he taught the VT state trapping course to me two years ago.

July 18, 2011 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

a cheap short term solution to the garden problem would be to leave a radio playing outside at night (might help with the poultry as well).

July 18, 2011 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger sheila said...

Electric fencing is your friend.

July 18, 2011 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Martha Bright said...

Raccoons raccoons raccoons. Cats don't kill chickens unless they're tiny. Even then, we never saw it and we have always had cats and chickens. Raccoons have been by far our worst predators. There's probably with babies out there--this time of year there are hungry families.

July 18, 2011 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger Whiffletree Farm said...

I had a limping goat once that just had a sore hoof from climbing on something unfriendly. I hope Sal's is that benign. Dogs usually keep deer away, particularly if you let/bring them out at the crack of dawn, which is when deer feed. We let the dogs chase the deer but not touch them. They are my arch enemy in the orchard where they nibble the succulent new shoots. Sorry about the chickens. Weasels will slink in through very small places in the coop, eat out the chest and leave the rest. Ugh. Foxes will take the whole bird. 'Posum will drag them off but once I had one sleeping in the coop in order to keep warm! Coyotes are notorious chicken kidnappers; they are fast, good planners, and will watch for a while before they nab them. Good luck catching the culprit.

July 18, 2011 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

Hope Sal will feel better soon. Hope it's arthritis or a sprain.

I agree with some of the other posters that it's more likely that something other than a small cat is getting your poultry. We have all kinds of hungry critters here, such as raccoons, possums, hawks and coyotes, so it's not possible to let our chickens free range unless we are near them. Even then, it's risky because of the hawks. We have to have a fenced run complete with wire on the ceiling. Once a predator kills one, most of the time they don't stop until either you get rid of the predators, fence in the chickens or stay with the chickens when they're not in the coop. None of these remedies is an easy fix!!

Dad blame it!! We have deer who eat all our pears, but leave the garden alone. Go figure.

I'm hoping to hear that Sal is much improved this evening.

Diane in North Carolina

As far as the deer are concerned, I fear th

July 18, 2011 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Sewing Machine Girl said...

3 words, electric poultry netting. Godsend. the cat is not doing it. Take your pick: raccoon, weasle, possum, coyote,fisher cat (he can kill your sheep too)in your neck of the woods, or...gulp...your neighbor's dog, lost 12 birds to a husky last year. "Dixie" was a neighbor's pet, and also a serial killer. Returned her to her pet-parents and they did reimburse us for the loss.

July 18, 2011 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

one solution will solve all your problems Jenna, and I am rather surprised you have not acquired one yet....... a livestock guardian dog? hellloooo?

July 18, 2011 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger Anton said...

I had the same problem for the first time this year. I contacted a nuisance trapper and he set 9 traps here. In the past 3 weeks I've caught 10 raccoons and 2 opossums and only lost 2 additional chicks (on the nights I didn't bait the traps). My solution is: electric poultry netting, a secure coop and trapping.

July 18, 2011 at 11:16 PM  
Blogger The Village Queen said...

I wonder how the breeders of your rare expensive heritage chickens feel knowing they are going somewhere without a secure chicken coop.
I know life and death is a normal part of farm life, but youre allfully cavalier about it. Over the history of your blog youve let an awful lot of your animals die. You have a responsibilty to domestic animals to protect them.

July 19, 2011 at 4:41 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

We use Irish Spring soap to keep critters out of the garden. Just cut up a bar of soap around the perimeter of the garden and the deer and raccoon's will not cross it. They don't like the smell. You could also try urinating around the garden and they will not cross that either.
I prefer the Irish Spring.

Steve

July 19, 2011 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

We have cats that are excellent hunters of small rodents. A cat will not take on something as large as a chicken. Chicks, possibly; adult chickens, no.

Dogs, will, though. Even my livestock guardians can't seem to help chasing the fowl. And of course all the usual gamut of predators you'll find in the country. The only cure is to lock up the chickens. Or spend a good deal of time in the yard with a gun.

July 19, 2011 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Meagan said...

Hey Jenna. Just wanted to send you a little message of support, I know how tough the hard times can get. As long as you never lose your purpose and passion, all will be well despite the hardships. It's really through the tough times that we learn the most!

July 19, 2011 at 2:08 PM  

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