Catching Up

Well, it would seem we are back on line.

After more than a month of increasingly poor internet service that had our signal weaken slowly until it gave out completely, I finally had to fix it myself. (See under If you want something done right; also under do it yourself for advice.) We are on a wireless set-up with a receiver mounted to a hydro pole and with the lean the pole had taken in the past year or so – the tower at Pisa has nothing on the pole – and the emergence of summer’s leaves on the trees, our signal was not able to get through. I had to climb the pole and extend the receiver’s height close to four feet which I couldn’t do until I had straightened the pole itself. Not a difficult task, except the four feet I had to go was eight feet above the ladder’s uppermost reach. Then there was the matter of reconfiguring the signal and resetting our IP address and all that stuff, which I have no idea how to do, so instead, I used my skills to phone and phone and phone and phone our provider until he finally did a bit here, tweaked a bit there and we had our signal back. I knew he wouldn’t mind, though, because even though we have not had the internet at all for close to a month and very spotty service for three months, our payments kept coming out of the bank. But, I think we’re back for good.

And with that, here is what you have missed:

The raccoons made their slinky return to our poultry area, announcing it by killing four of the five Indian Runner ducks Jenn and Hunter had picked out. The raccoons must have not been very hungry, though, because they didn’t eat much, if any, of the ducks; they just killed them and left them strewn about the yard. After selling almost all of the laying hens last fall we had only two layers left and after the ‘coon visited, we now have just one duck. It wouldn’t have been a big deal that the ‘coons had returned but we had only a week left until Jenn was to go and pick up our first batch of fifty meat birds so this was a problem that needed to be sorted out and soon. I set my traps and caught a raccoon that night. A week later, with the little peepers safely locked inside the coop, a new raccoon made itself a little snack with half a bag of chick feed. Again, I had to set the traps and catch it. So that was two. I thought we were done with them, as they were both a fair size suggesting they were not born this year. I never bothered to sex them, so when I had trapped and dealt with two of them, I figured that we had mom and dad ‘coon disposed of. A week later again, however, another muddy-footed raccoon left the tell-tale signs of its marauding on our feed containers and, again, out came the traps.

The first night, I missed the ‘coon. My bait was taken, but the trap was left un-sprung so, ticked off at this affront to my trapping abilities, I set my traps better the following night. Just after dusk, I heard the sound of metal slamming shut and I went out to see what, if anything, we had caught. It was a raccoon, number three, and this time I took a look: it was a nursing female. I’m hoping that this has solved the raccoon issue. We haven’t had any problems since this last one was dealt with.

The first batch of chickens and turkeys are now just over three weeks old. Raising them in the coop has been far better than in the living room (two years ago) or the basement (last year). I know – amazing, eh? Last week, Jenn moved the chickens out of the coop and into a small barn (I’d call it a shed but it houses animals more than it stores equipment.) We used it for housing the turkeys last year and it has sufficient space for the growing birds and an attached, fully enclosed outdoor area where they can eat all the mosquitoes and weeds they want. The turkeys stayed in the back half of the coop which still gave them access to the chicken door and free-range area, which is also fully enclosed by a fence around the perimeter and bird netting on the top. That left the front of the coop free for two days until Jenn came home with the new batch of fifty meat birds this past Thursday.

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The first batch of chickens, with the lone duck, in the shed/barn/secondary coop.

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More of the first batch on the outside of the coop.

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The second batch of chicks, in the other coop.

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A singled out, close up of one of the new chicks.

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A size comparison: on the left, a three day old chick and the right, a three week old chicken.  They grow fast.

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Some turkeys.  They share the coop (divided, of course) with the new chicks.

Our garden is doing well despite being nearly choked with weeds and eaten by our two new rabbits, which have turned out to be furious diggers. Alcatraz couldn’t hold them in. As it is, I’ve had to lay fencing along the ground where their pen abuts the garden and I’ve had to hold the fence down with rebar stakes and spare steel pipes. This is after their one-night foray into the garden in which they ate an entire head of lettuce, some broccoli plants, pea plants, bean plants, the tops off the carrots and all but two of the sunflowers. One night, two bunnies.

Our other garden, the one that had all my hot peppers planted in it, has been absolutely decimated by the goats. At first, I thought it was the cat jumping up and using the garden as a litter box. I thought I would solve the problem by putting some spare bird netting over the plants so he couldn’t get in, but one day I noticed complete and utter devastation in the pepper patch and I couldn’t believe the cat could – or would – be able to create such a disaster. I propped up what plants were still salvageable with some little twigs, packed the soil around them again and walked away hoping that my series of splints would save the peppers. I went to feed the dogs and when I was finished and walking back towards the house and garden I saw one of our goats standing in the garden chewing on a plant. A pepper plant. The supports for the bird netting were all bent in and the netting itself was mashed into the soil and helping to cut off the tops of the pepper plants that hadn’t already been trampled.

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The pepper garden before the goats found it.

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The pepper garden after the goats found it.

…and that should just about cover the events to date. It’s good to be back and writing the blog and to those of you who are regular readers, thank you for your patience and checking back for new updates.

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2 Responses

  1. Your animals must feel especially favoured that they have all this food home grown just for them.

    Glad to see the blog back.

    Love to all of you (animals included).

    Dad

    • Favoured or not, they are still going in the freezer when autumn rolls around. Well, maybe not the bunnies, but I bet they’d make someone a nice pair of mitts.

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