Snow, snow and more snow

We have had now 12+ hours of ongoing snowfall. This is very unusual for our area and has set a snowfall record for this calendar date and also for the amount of total snowfall in a season for our area.  The snow is expected to continue through until the early morning hours of Friday morning then taper off.  Saturday is supposed to be in the 50’s.

Today on my way to work I slid off our little country road (the road has a sharp turn in it; I turned the Explorer steering wheel,  but it kept going straight).  Off the road, into the ditch and up the other side and into the neighbors pasture as I steered it back down the ditch and up onto our road.  And mind you my foot was not even on the gas pedal the entire time.  The vehicle took on a life of it’s own.  Luckily in that section of the road there were no trees, poles or pasture fencing.  I went on to work, very slowly, but the outcome could have been totally different. 

I am amazed at the bravado drivers have in bad weather and choose to impose their bravado onto other drivers by endangering everyone’s safety.  I also don’t understand the drivers who choose not to turn on their vehicle headlights as a matter of safe visibility.  Not because they can’t see, but because I can’t see them in downpouring rain or like today when the snow was so thick I could not see them until they were there, and especially WHITE vehicles. Duh.  That’s why I choose to stay home if I can in bad weather; not because I am a coward, but because I choose to stay out of the way of those idiots.

Please drive safely and TURN ON your headlights so we can see YOU.

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Guinea fowl in the barnyard

I just read an interesting article in my Hobby Farms magazine.http://www.hobbyfarms.com/

 They were featuring poultry and ducks, etc. in this issue.  The guineas they mentioned would not get along well with other chickens or smaller chickens in their coops at night, but I would beg to differ on that comment.

All my chickens and guineas arrived together as a few days old from Ideal Poultry Farms.  I did not lose a single one in transit and they all got along and were together from day one.  Maybe this can make a difference.  I have not added any new ones, except two that hatched out by their moms last June and are 2 gorgeous roosters.  They were “brothers” and get along great and all roost in the same coop at night, guineas, roosters, and chickens.  We have two other coops that a few hang out in, but the rest, all 12 of them, like to be in this one at night.

I have had more losses with the guineas from predators; mainly I think because they are not the “sharpest tack in the drawer”.  They forget they can fly “over” the 4 foot tall  fence if they get stuck on the other side and want to go where the others are.  They forget they have a huge barn to go inside of if they get locked out of the coop at night and it is raining.  They forget that predators will find them roosting asleep on the ground outside the coop when it is pitch black outside.  But I would miss them if they all left, and I will replace them when I need to rebuild that flock.  They can be loud at strange things, so close neighbors probably would not appreciate that.  We don’t have anyone close enough to hear them,  except us and I know something is wrong when they sound off and I investigate.

The alpacas have no tick or insect problems.  The pearl guinea is the prettiest and I like the lavenders too.  I would definitely want guineas again.

Skunks as poultry predators

We will see a skunk occasionally waddling across a pasture hurrying to get across before it is seen or snatched by something, and we know they take shelter in the culvert pipe when it is dry, but we have not ever had one lodging in the barn until recently.

When we had poultry losses last summer (because in the heat of the summer evening I decided not to close up the little chicken door in the coop),  our losses either a) disappeared with no sign of a struggle, or b)  feathers strewn showing signs of a struggle in the coop and a headless body laying inside.  Someone visiting us said the skunks will decapitate to suck the blood of the poultry victim. In these cases, there was never any blood anywhere, amazingly.  So maybe that is true. Even though I did not close the little coop door, I did take off the ramp that hooks onto the lip of the doorway thinking that nothing could climb up that high to get in, but I was wrong about that.

Our skunk visitor in the barn found some leftover lengths of guttering from when the barn was built to hide in. We had just stashed it out of the way.  Once I got the skunk scared and running out of the barn I was able to prop the gutter on end to remove that hiding place.    We are careful not to have animal food exposed (we keep food in their bags and stored in old empty  leaky water troughs not good for water anymore, that so far nothing has gotten access to).  And I had thought all hiding places were eliminated, and now they are for sure.

While the skunk was in the barn it feasted on rabbit; We found a couple of mostly clean leg bones inside the gutter nest.  I don’t care to know what happened to the rest. 

So if you have a skunk problem, eliminate any access to any animal food and water if you can, including your outdoor dogs and cats.  We also  keep the chicken’s food and water closed up with the chickens at night. The alpacas food bins are mounted high up on the chain link fence in the barn, and the water is in a tall container. Here is a very helpful link if you have predator problems.

http://co.el-dorado.ca.us/ag/wildlife/skunks.html

HAITI Earthquake Relief

AARP will match dollar for dollar all contributions, up to $500,000.  Please contribute what you can.  They need the money to allocate accordingly to their needs to supply medicine, food, clothing and shelter.

Please consider a donation of any amount,  that will be matched by AARP, doubling your gift. Follow this link:

http://aarpcares.aarp.org/site/R?i=ac-GXBwtcnb3pXmBsVhNbQ..

“AARP Foundation is proud to be working with HelpAge USA and its international parent organization HelpAge International to rush emergency relief to older and aged victims of the quake.”

Can chickens survive the freeze?

We are in Texas and our chickens don’t seem to mind the cold.  This winter the cold has hit us early and especially hard.  Today through the weekend we will not get above freezing they say, and the nights are dipping to the teens with windchills close to zero.

Our coops are ventilated and warm with a deep litter flooring; the  chickens are let out during the day and the alpaca’s barn is a backup area for their warmth.  They have done just fine.  The  only issue is having a supply of unfrozen water for them.  I am getting some rubber type of livestock containers I saw at Tractor Supply.  I have read they are easy to get frozen water out of.   The  chickens need to exercise, run around, and eat their grains, so let them out and enjoy.  Don’t expect much egg production; we were only getting a couple a day before these freezing temps so may get zero until it warms up some.

Here are some good tips from Robert Plamondon’s blog that I follow.

http://www.plamondon.com/faq_winter.html

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