Farming 101

After moving in next door to my parents, who, through the years, I’d only spent limited time with; I discovered a whole world beneath my feet that operated separately from the world we’d departed from.  An over-grown summer garden, suffering the effects of generational business, as well as the prized poultry area, full of squawks and ruffles that I had not been privy to for well over thirty years, awaited my exploration and assistance.

As a man that takes advantage of every opportunity…those he seeks out as well as those that haphazardly land in his front yard; my dad quickly set us all to work, prepping for, planting and fencing around the fall/winter garden.  At the same time, he was teaching me how to administer different medicines and supplements and ointments to the different animals he was raising.  Like a whirlwind, Dad pulled us into his microcosm on earth and I, for one, loved it.

sweet peace

sweet peace

At first, I must admit, I wasn’t very excited about working with chickens.  The garden is always a place I will enjoy, but chickens are pretty gross, really.  However, after working in the remodeling business for five years, and pulling a few toilets and p-traps, not to mention changing diapers for eight years straight; gross is something I’ve learned to handle with a wee bit of dignity…after the first few utterances of disgust, at least.

Somewhere along the way, the silliness between the chickens jumping, out of fear and my own jumping, out of fear, wore off.  Well, mostly.  Mr. M still keeps me on my toes.  He’s a shifty-eyed, intimidating one, I’m telling ya!

 I sing to the chickens.  It seems to calm them down and it seems to keep me calm.  I am glad to be able to help care for this place my parents have spent so many years cultivating.  But I will be the first to admit, I am sometimes overwhelmed.  My boys aren’t as excited about the change in lifestyles as I have been, and they haven’t taken to the hoe with as much excitement as I had expected them to.  Sometimes it takes more effort to get effort out of them than it is worth.

But this is just the beginning.  I am fighting against the world to form well-rounded, fully capable, intelligent and dignified men…FIGHTING THE WORLD!  But at least I have two folks nearby who are willing to step into this battle with me.

All of this— living so close to my parents, and handling the animals, and raising the boys in a new environment, has been one big crash course in farming and co-habitation.

 I’ve always said that I want to spend my life learning, and I definitely stepped from a stalemate situation into a place of constant education.   It is also a place of safety and love and plenty of laughter.  A good place out in the country, away from all the noise and hub-bub, a place where boys can be boys and eventually grow into men.

I hope that you enjoy this journey along with me, as we’ve only just begun.

Mother-to-be enjoying icicle

Mother-to-be enjoying icicle

Yesterday, when I entered the caged fowl and rabbit area, I noticed pink things wriggling on the ground behind the rabbit and quails’ cages.  Our young doe, who I’ve named Daphne, had her first litter of 5 kits.  Only 3 were barely alive when I found their little cold, naked bodies.

I quickly prepared them a nest and got a lamp to warm them up.  After they were warm, I offered them a dropper of water.  They did not attempt to latch on, but I was able to get a little water into each of them.

 When dad got home from work, he put the nest in Daphne’s cage.  (I had tried this earlier, and tried to lay her in the nest, but she freaked and hopped out.)  Dad experienced similar results.

Today, Daphne still does not seem interested in having anything to do with her precious little babies.  We still have a lamp on them, and I have gotten two of the three to latch on, temporarily, to the dropper of water.  The third did take in a little, but did not yet latch on.

As I carried on, cleaning water dishes and refreshing those and the food for all the caged animals, I came upon another of our young does.  She had two big chunks of hair ripped out in the corners of her cage, so I quickly prepared her a nest as well.  This young mother-to-be gave me notice!!  Yippee!  First time for everything.

I am about to go check on her for the final time this evening.  I hope she is a better and more instinctual mother than Daphne.  I will be able to let her adopt Daphne’s babies, if she does well with her own.  I need some help here, I’m new to this!  Hopefully, I can sit down and talk with Dad, so I will know other measures to take with the newborns.  If you have any advice, I’m all ears!  Ha and I’m pun-ny too!

Other reports on the farm include our d’Uccle hen’s daily egg!!  Things like this will make a country girl happy.  Well, the sun’s sinkin’ fast.  Better go check on the mother-to-be and the babies.

Until next time, this is the Crazy Chicken Lady, signing OUT!

IMG_4995

The Crazy Chicken Lady

Vaya con Dios

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5 thoughts on “Farming 101

  1. Mother rabbits feed their kits typically just once a day and violently ignore them the rest of the time. It is a defense mechanism to keep the mom rabbit drawing predators away from the vulnerable kits in the nest. They cannot be forced to care for their kits at all. Do not panic. First see if the kits are warm and maintaining their body temp in the nest. Make sure theres lots of fur too, hay is not enough. You can pluck a doe by hand if you have to, to add more fur. If they do not feel warm to the touch that is a bad sign. Next, check their tummies. A kit that is being cared for by mom will have a full, round tummy. A kit that is not fed will have a lot of wrinkled sunken skin around its abdomen… Which means it is time for more drastic measures. Force nursing where you turn the doe on her back, put the kits on the nipples and massage the does tummy to stimulate milk is the best way to go. Rabbit milk is EXTREMELY rich and very hard to replicate. Second best way is Kitten Milk Replacer or fresh goats milk mixed with a bit of probiotic powder. You can also try a home made formula with whole milk and egg yolk and probiotic powder if you have it. Heat any mixture to around one hundred degrees (F) before feeding and try to keep it there.
    Try to stay away from feeding kits water or things non formula. They can get the runs quite easilly and die. After feeding they need to be wiped from chest to tail on their tummy with a warm damp cloth until they defecated and urinate. They cant do it on their own. This simulates a mom licking them clean.

    In the future, take note of the day your rabbits get bred and put in a nest box and extra hay after twenty eight days. They typically give birth after thirty two, so this gives them time to build a proper nest somewhere safe.

    Good luck! Chilled, unfed kits can be tough to get to pull through.

    • Yes, all three are still with us. I spied Daphne fulfilling her motherly duties on and off yesterday.

      Our 3rd gal had her first litter and I am having a hard time counting them all!! There could be 8-10, the lowest count has been 9…she pulled out so much more hair than Daphne, and it’s hard to make heads or tails, so someone may be getting counted twice.

      She has been very attentive to hers, which she actually birthed in the nesting box. Thanks for your advice.

      • Oh, I’m so glad you didn’t lose them. That is so hard when it happens. I’ve only had one rabbit who gave birth in the nesting box the first time and she is one of the best mothers. It is always interesting to see how much fur they pull. I’ve got some that pull a ton and some that only pull a little.

        When are you putting the nesting boxes in? They should be going in about day 25 or 26 of the pregnancy. Something you said made me think you’re not putting a box in until they start pulling fur. If you put it in earlier they get used to the box and will usually dig a burrow in it.

        Do you have baby saver wire on your cages? Since the first litter fell out, I’m thinking you don’t. It is a 1/2 inch by 1 inch wire that goes on the bottom of the cage and up the first two to three inches on the sides (unless you have urine guards in place then it doesn’t need to go up the sides). This is important not only for when they are first born, but in case one holds on when nursing and gets pulled out of the box. They can fall through until they get big enough not to. Plus some will stick their heads through the bigger wire and get caught.

      • We did end up losing the three lil’ ones of Daphne’s. And we do mark our calendars, but when the new year came ’round, someone (not pointing any fingers) threw our 2013 calendar away, before marking up the new one.

        We are putting the wiring around Super Mama’s cage tomorrow, as the babies are getting more frisky. I will also attempt to get pics tomorrow…between me catching a rotten cold and the rotten cold outdoors, I haven’t been motivated to capture shots, as I usually am.

        Thanks for your wisdom and concerns. And for reading!!

        We are about to put

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