The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go

This past week my parents came from Texas to spend some time on the farm and although the trip was short, my heart is filled with family love once again. Living so far away isn’t easy, but it makes the time we have together a little sweeter.

IMG_0151.JPG
And by sweeter I mean we killed chickens…

We also picked chokecherries, did farm work, laughed, cried, collected eggs, wrangled pitbulls, cooked delicious food and fought hawks with our bare hands (okay, that was only my Dad).

IMG_0129.JPG

IMG_0132.JPG

IMG_0130.JPG

IMG_0131.JPG

IMG_0147.PNG

IMG_0152.JPG
All in all a fabulous week, don’t you think?

Saying goodbye is never easy, but as I fly closer to my mountains and friends in Alaska for the next ten days, I am grateful to be such a lucky farm girl.

Adventure bound and loving it.

~Katy

IMG_0186.JPG

Advertisements

Bear Butts – Game Cam Update August 2014

After checking one of our game cams after only a few days yesterday, it’s become apparent that we aren’t the only busy beings on the farm. We set up the camera in a new location, on a huge game trail that I use to ski on in the wintertime.

P026-256-256-256-17f006

We have quite the resident black bear population at the farm

P057-377-256-347-17056

Two little bears on the prowl

P061-370-256-389-14058

Mama and baby

I should note that most of these critters are heading in the direction of the house… don’t tell Wyatt.

Lot’s of action in a few days but no huge racks to be found, so we’re hoping to see some big game as fall approaches.

Happy Monday to you!

~Katy

W

This what we look like when we’re traveling the property… Clay is training for a sheep hunt and I’m just hanging out with a gun, no big deal 🙂

Goodbye Gerty

Yesterday was a rough day on the farm full of mixed emotions. I got my first egg and I lost my first hen.

Gerty had started nesting a few days ago and I started to anticipate the arrival of the first egg on Canadian Acres. My very first egg! All the hard work would soon payoff.

At 18 weeks and 6 days my dinosaur chicken gave me my first egg. I noticed her squatting multiple times around the yard and looking rather uncomfortable. Upon further inspection I realized her egg was stuck. By the time I got the egg out of her, it was too late. Her uterus prolapsed. I did everything I could do with my limited knowledge of chicken healing, even scoured the internet for an answer. I called a vet clinic in town only to be laughed at and to have no doctor return to me with any type of advice or news. I know she’s just a chicken… but she was my chicken. After reading everything I could find, I found out that a prolapsed uterus is a pretty rare thing to happen and could have been caused by a number of things. I think that she just maybe wasn’t built right.

1-IMG_2709

One month old Gerty

I made her comfortable last night and tried to figure out what to do next. She wasn’t suffering, she was calm and seemed to like the extra attention.

I knew I couldn’t kill her myself. I’m sure that makes me a crappy farmer but I just couldn’t do it. I backed up some reinforcements and had a team ready (I have some pretty great girl friends). But this morning as I approached the kennel I had her in, I realized she was gone. She looked peaceful and that’s all I could have asked for.

I am burying her today in the horse pasture with a nice view of the fields and plenty of grasshoppers to chase. I filled her burial box with herbs and flowers and laid her to rest. This is emotional for me, and it should be. I love my animals and care for them to my best ability. I will cry over the loss of this brave hen. She gave me one beautiful pastel green egg. I will bury it with her.

1-DSCN3742

So, my first egg story won’t be exciting or joyful. It will be one that holds sadness and loss, but I am so grateful that the funny looking chicken graced me with her presence for the short time we had. And her one egg will be the most beautiful of all my future eggs.

Farm life is hard, but I know that she lived a great one. I came into this adventure knowing that I would experience loss at a new level and I shall always meet each one with respect, gratitude and emotion. All life is precious and Gerty deserved to be loved and remembered.

Goodbye Gerty, thank you my friend.

1-IMG_3104

~Katy

The Wild Ones – Update August 6, 2014

This weekend brought the mess and chaos that canning brings to my house annually. It was hot, it was sticky and most importantly, it was magic.

More on that whole scene later,  the real reason to bring it up is because while I was so busy storing away goods for the winter my father-in-law got a chance to head across the river and check on the wild ones (jealous).

He found 29 horses in all, and everyone looks happy, fat and healthy. The teeny tiny babies I fell in love with this spring are growing into fine horses and it’s so nice to see.

Here are a few select photos from Timber’s trip (thank you for taking them in my absence). Clay and I will attempt to canoe across the river to check them out ourselves this fall, somewhere between kayak trips and hunting trips and all the work in between.

1-IMG_1925

Loving them oats

1-IMG_1928

Two little foals growing up fast

1-IMG_1928-001

Beautiful colorings

1-IMG_1933

Enjoying a gorgeous day

1-IMG_1935

Someone has some very similar markings to Mom

1-IMG_1937

Looking pretty healthy for wild horses

1-IMG_1938

Sweet

1-IMG_1951

I want to call this one Bambi because I think the mark on it’s side looks like a deer…

1-IMG_1974

The Bachelor Bunch, aka Clay’s idea of our future pack string

Hope you enjoy the updated photos as much as we did. I am itching to get my Nikon D5100 back into commission and over the river and through the woods.

~Katy

Chicken Guard Dogs in the Making

August is officially here and we are closing in on the one year mark of my arrival in Canada. My goodness, for a season that doesn’t last very long, summer sure has kept me on my toes.

The chickens have been continually running my life these days and I’ve been letting them venture out onto the property more and more since the chicken run has become a hot-and-heavy junior high school dance. Have I mentioned we have a cock problem? It’s still not solved.

Free-ranging has become a necessity at Canadian Acres due to lack of space for so many roosters and having different sized and age grouped chickens. The older bunch are closing in on being 18 weeks old whereas the littles are going to be 8 weeks old. After being scared to death that the bigger chickens would immediately kill the smaller ones if put in the same pen (thanks a lot internet), I’ve been isolating the two groups in the coop. Everything was going smoothly until I had to start isolating certain hens from the roosters as well. Then I quickly ran out of room in the brooding pen. I currently have 12 large chickens in the roosting area with access to the run (coop plans found here) and 12 littles and 2 large chickens in the brooding area with no access to the run. So, being the wonderful chicken mama that I am, I felt bad on these hot sunny days and started letting the littles and Ethel and Beatrix out to free-range during the day.

1-IMG_4455

The older chickens learning how to be free

1-IMG_4373

Why hello Beatrix

1-IMG_4382

Beatrix is my new shadow and best friend… who knew chickens liked to cuddle

1-IMG_4533

The littles free ranging with Ethel

They absolutely LOVE it! And I love giving them freedom but it does worry me at the same time. Not only because we have a number of predators on our farm, we also have two large “city” dogs with little to no chicken manners.

My largest concern with introducing the dogs to the chickens is that Maynard has a pretty strong prey drive. Wyatt really only cares about food and my husband, so I knew he’d be a pretty easy sell. Maynard on the other hand is part greyhound, so he struggles with little moving things. He loves to please his mama though, so I knew I had that on my side.

When the first batch of chickens came to the farm, we had a brooder box set up in the house. This worked well because the dogs not only got to see the chickens from a safe distance, they also got used to their smell and sounds. I would sit in the room with the dogs on a leash and let them watch and smell, correcting any nervous or fixated behavior and rewarding good behavior and posture. Wyatt grew pretty bored of the whole scene quickly, and Maynard found a way to calmly sit with good posture and use his nose. It took about a month for us to get to that state.

1-IMG_2759

Maynard working very hard on his chicken manners

After moving the chickens to the coop, the dogs enjoyed heading out with me in the mornings and evenings to do my chicken chores. The chickens were always in their very safe chicken run so the dogs got a chance to interact without fear of anyone getting injured. As I cleaned the coop and fed and watered, the dogs took their jobs very seriously by walking the perimeter and peeing on any and every bush that surrounded the area. Great predator proofing in my book.

1-IMG_4536

Watch out predators, Wyatt is on the loose

The only alarming behavior is Wyatt running up to the fence quickly to get a scare out of the chickens… he really enjoys that.

Next step was to pull out my handy training collar system and try some supervised free-range time. The training collar system I own is great. It’s a remote controlled system that allows me to control two collars with either a beeping noise, a vibration or a shock. Honestly, for this exercise, the beeping noise and an occasional vibration was all I needed to accompany my verbal and touch corrections. They did so well!

1-IMG_4452

Wyatt’s famous pibble grin

1-IMG_4459

Maynard is once again trying sooooo hard

1-IMG_4354

Good posture and relaxed

After a few weeks of training with the collars, the dogs now come out with me collar free and are in charge of helping me watch the flock. Wyatt has resorted to stealing their food and treats (really Wyatt, really?) and Maynard has some moments of nervousness, but I am always there to correct and reward. It’s been so wonderful to see them go through this process and come out with shining colors.

1-IMG_4556

No food? Yawn

Maynard likes to lay down and settle if he gets too nervous, which works for me

Maynard likes to lay down and settle if he gets too nervous, which works for me

1-IMG_4546

Trying to make friends

1-IMG_4557

There’s that grin again. Obviously very proud of himself too

1-IMG_4518

On duty

1-IMG_4512

Maynard on watch

I am not a licensed dog trainer, but by utilizing my experience with animal behavior and my dogs quirks in particular, I was able to confidently and patiently introduce them to a new experience and training. I am so pleased with their willingness to learn and do well. They never cease to amaze me.

It just goes to prove that if I give them the opportunity to succeed and set them up for that success through knowledge, patience, guidelines and a whole lot of nerve, my boys really can live in peace at the farm. We have a long ways to go (Wyatt is pretty sure the horses are his arch nemeses), but everyday is a new day and I am dedicated to the health and happiness of all my creatures. So there you have it, my two chicken guard dogs in the making.

Hope you and your critters are all healthy and happy on this first day of August 2014.

~Katy