Tuesday, April 02, 2013

My critters keep me active

Working with my cows and calves is rewarding or I wouldn't be doing it.  It isn't work, it's fun.  Better still, it's play!  The cows and chickens are hobbies I enjoy, and so is the garden:  I don't make money from my efforts, but I am doing what I love and, in the process, I get some good-quality food.  The day any of these things ceases to be fun, I'll stop.  I am liable to look at my garden in July, see nothing but weeds (or plants killed by drought), and tell Cliff to mow the whole thing.  I've done that before.  I don't have to garden.   
Since I've had the Fitbit counting my steps for me, I've realized how many of those steps are taken as I care for my animals.  I usually have a mile in before breakfast, due to the fact that I walked to the gate to let Jody in, walked to barn and milked the cow, walked to and from the feed containers as I got feed for the cow and cats, walked out of the lot and over to feed Penny her bottle, walked to the shop to feed the ever-growing chickens... you get the picture.  I had no idea that all those small trips would add up to a mile.  So obviously, my hobbies help keep me fit and healthy, and I hadn't even thought of that aspect.  
Before I got the chicks, I saved up newspapers to line the bottom of their home, and that's what I used for the first couple of days.  I was on some website, I think Back Yard Chickens, when I read that someone had chicks coming soon and had their home all ready for them.  She used horse bedding material, which I think is made of pine shavings.  Well now, that was the obvious solution.  After one day on newspapers, my chickens stank to high heaven, and they are in Cliff's man-cave, his shop.  Not good.  We picked up a bag of horse bedding and it works great at keeping odors down.  Today Cliff sucked the dirty bedding out with his shop-vac and we gave the chicks a fresh bed.  They started scratching up a storm when I put them back in their home. 

The Cornish Cross, as you can see, are more than twice the size of the others.  That smallest chick, in the foreground, is the banty.  I'm pretty sure it's a pullet.  I'm going to be looking for a free, or cheap, dual-purpose type rooster this summer.  I like to hear a rooster crow, and I want the option of having eggs for a setting hen to hatch.  What am I going to do with all these chickens?  I have NO idea.  It's a disease as bad as my calf-buying addiction!     
I've been working with six-month-old Gracie and little Penny trying to break them to lead.  Gracie has been a problem child.  She's my balker from day one, and the only way I could keep her moving was to constantly tap her with a cattle prod in my right hand as I tried to lead her with my left.  She's just so dead-headed she would rather balk than cooperate.  I finally figured a way to get her to lead like she ought to:  I take a pan of sweet feed out in the yard somewhere, lead her all around the place, and end up at the pan of feed, which I watch her devour.  Next time I put the pan of feed in a totally different spot, lead her around, and again, end up at the pan of feed.  I move the pan around because I don't want her fighting to go to a certain spot all the time.  Today was the third time I used this method and she already leads like an angel.  Cliff couldn't believe her progress when he saw us in action.  
You can see on my current header what Penny thinks of the halter, but I think she's going to take to it just fine.  The reason I like to be able to lead my milk cows is that it's so much easier to get them from point A to point B if you can just slip a halter on them and lead them.   



You have the patience of a saint with your animals. I couldn't do it because I get frustrated too easy. It must be so satisfying to get them just so, the way you want them, doing what you need them to do. It seems like a wonderful hobby and livelyhood, keeping you fit and with food.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I'm glad you enjoy it all because it is work. But when your work is fun it isn't really work at all.

Fleta said...

You are breaking me to be led. I came, I read, I commented, now I am leaving.

Hyperblogal said...

I prepare Cornish Hens all the time. Related?

Lori said...

I love your idea for teaching Gracie to lead. Genius! And I really like that picture of Penny. She is so very pretty, even when she's being stubborn.