Sunday, June 21, 2015

How to Stop Hens from Eating their Eggs

Recently we got 6 laying hens from an auction. We separated them, leaving 3 in a large enclosure for the purpose of producing eggs, and giving the other ones to a rooster for the purpose of raising chicks.

In the past we have never had any issues with the hens.  We either had them produce eggs, or raise chicks, no issues at all.

This year, something seemed wrong.  First of all it was ages before we got our first egg and it did seem that we were not getting as many eggs.  Odder still was that the hens with the rooster were not laying eggs at all.

Finally I found one egg in with the hens and the rooster.  Yeah!  I got excited, however after two days the egg disappeared.  I looked around to make sure no predators had gotten into the enclosure.  Then a few days later I found another egg, but it too disappeared after a couple of days.  By now I was suspecting they were eating the eggs.

When chickens egg their own eggs there is no evidence, they even eat the shell. 

A good hen, rooster, and their family!
I tried to combat this by offering them more oyster shell, and also by placing fake eggs in their nesting boxes.  It seemed to do the trick as a couple of days later I found an egg, but not long after that, it disappeared too, so I know they ate that one as well.

Another suggestion was to empty a couple of eggs and then fill them with Tabasco sauce or something spicy, but I have not done that.

The only other suggestions would be to remove the eggs sooner and put them in an incubator but we do not have one, or to take the chickens and make them into soup, which is not going to happen either.

At least we did get a few eating eggs from the other hens, as long as I check them early for eggs I typically find some, but I suspect they are also eating eggs if they are left too long as would be on the days we leave early for work and get home later.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

High Pressure Tactics Used By Livestock Buyers

When many people think of high pressure sales techniques they think of the techniques that sellers use to pressure people into buying things, or into paying a high price.  In my experience selling sheep I have actually encountered a few buyers who use pressure to try to get me to lower the price.

Of course typically I will lower the price a bit on sheep from time to time, but what I am talking about is when I have already negotiated a price and the buyer then comes up with some reason why I should lower it further.

I had one jerk that I actually did let myself get bullied by several years ago.  It was winter.  One of my ewes had got herself stuck in a feed trough and died, leaving two orphaned lambs (about 2 weeks old).  Another ewe had rejected one of her lambs, so I had 3 bottle baby lambs in the middle of winter and I was working away from home at the time too.  It was simply too much work for me.  I had other ewes for sale at the time too because I was very short of cash and needed to pay some bills.  I had negotiated a price for all the sheep over the phone with a buyer.  He lived 2 hours away, and while he was on route to come and get the sheep I actually turned away other interested buyers because to me they were "sold".

When the guy got here he said that I should lower my price because he had to come from so far away.  Then he said I should lower my price because he thought 2 of the ewes were older than I had stated, which I know was false.  I had already caught all the sheep and put them in a pen ready to go.  Catching and separating sheep is a lot of work, not something I wanted to do again.  I did not keep the phone numbers of the other buyers, I was at a loss.  So I gave in.  I was furious at myself for allowing him to bully me like that.

Just recently I had another potential buyer call about the sheep I currently have for sale.  He too tried to bully me.  I only have 3 lambs for sale at this time and he said that since he had to come from far away I needed to make it worth his trip so should lower my prices.  To note I had already offered the three sheep as a package deal for a price lower than if a person bought them individually.  Then he said I needed to sell more sheep to make it worth his trip.   Needless to say, this time I as firm with the guy and said "NO".

I really do not mind being fair to other people, offering a reasonable price, but it is not my fault if a buyer lives far away.  It does not lower the value of my sheep if a buyer lives father away.  I just do not like bullies!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What is the Value of Old Barn Wood?

Old, weathered, barn wood, is in big demand these days.  You may also see this advertised as "reclaimed barn wood".  Old window frames are also something that many people want.

The window frames are often turned into picture frames, or just hung on the wall as "art" itself.

The barn wood is also used as art, for picture frames, and other craft projects.  I have seen people use reclaimed barn wood to build tables or to use for other home decor items.

The value of the wood depends on many things, including the type of wood.  Some, such as chestnut, may be worth more.  If the wood was painted and the paint has come off in strips, it adds to the character and may be very much in demand.  In the case of window frames, the condition of the glass is important.
I sold this one for $20.00

I recently posted a listing featuring two large window frames for sale, and I had very much underestimated how much people were willing to pay for them.  To be fair I mostly wanted them gone anyhow so the fact that I got money out of them was a bonus for me and I hate to be greedy.  I sold them for $25, but probably could have gotten $100 or more for the very large ones (8 ft long). 

I have seen prices for weathered barn wood (as would be on the barn pictured below) anywhere from $1 per foot to $3 per foot.  A long beam, made of oak from an old growth forest, may be worth hundreds of dollars because of rarity.  Wood from old growth forests is much stronger than wood from younger trees.

My old barn.  Well weathered wood.
One tip for selling old, weathered barn wood, is not to fix it up.  If you have a piece of old wood with some paint still clinging to it, you need to resist the temptation to rub the loose paint off; leave it, it adds character.  If you have an old piece of wood and it has the bent head of an old rusty nail sticking out, do not pull the nail out.  The nail may be seen as character.  If the buyer wants it out, let them remove it, but otherwise leave it as a "bonus".  The same with rusty hinges and so forth, these all add to the value of what you are selling.

Old door knobs, doors, and other hardware items are also in demand by the same people that seek out old barn wood, so be sure to hold onto them and offer them for sale when somebody comes looking to buy barn wood from you.

Other reading:  Designing a Farm House Kitchen

Monday, February 23, 2015

Arabian Gelding, The Sorcerer, Zory

A few years ago I wrote a blog post about a wonderful horse I owned back in the late 1980's, his registered name was The Sorcerer, but for short we called him Zory.  I had sold him and the last I had heard was that he had been sold again and his new owner was not particularly good to him, showing him so much that he was looking very unhappy in the ring.  I wrote about this in my blog post and assumed that was the end of the story.

Myself on The Sorcerer, I think he was 4 years old in this picture.

Then, just last year (December 2014) I got a comment on that blog post.  It seems that a lady, Elain, who had purchased him (presumably from the owner I had heard about) just had a feeling to do a search for her horse;s online and found the blog.  She bought him when he was 8 years old and had owned him ever since, actually retiring him from the show ring with a proper ceremony when he was 19 years old.  He was now 31 (a good age for a horse).  She invited me to see him.

Years later as owned by Elain
 It was the middle of winter and although where he was stabled was only about an hour from my home, I decided to wait until spring.  She had told me that he had arthritis (typical of older horses, especially those that had been used in English pleasure), but was otherwise in pretty good shape.

She sent me photos of him which showed his progressive steps into going gray (this is normal for horses with a gray gene).  He looked beautiful and happy!  She told me that when she got him he was scared and not a real happy horse at all, but that she was able to bring him around to being his former self.   She told me she had often heard about how much I loved him.  I looked forward to seeing him, and meeting her, in the spring.

Sadly only three weeks after our initial talk she sent me a shocking e-mail.  It would appear that one evening he had suffered a heart attack.  She raced to the barn to be with him and although he did struggle to get up, he was unable to, and did pass away.

At that point I was able to drive up and meet with her, we shared our tears and talked about the life The Sorcerer had and she showed me her other horses.

Years later and playing with his friend "Mover"

Elain impressed me a lot with her love for Zory, especially as she did not own the farm where he was kept and actually paid board for him there.  Not too many people are willing to pay board fees for an old horse they cannot even ride, but she said he had more than earned it.

Although I am obviously sad that I did not make it up to see Zory when he was alive I was thrilled to know that in the end he did find a wonderful owner and did have a great life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lamb Born With Unusual Coat

Just two days ago we had a lamb born on our farm that has an unusual coat.  The mother is a Barbado x Jacob sheep, she has wool and hair, but evenly mixed.  We do not know who the father was as we had a few rams at the time, I suspect an unrelated Barbado cross Dorset ram (due to the color) although we also had some Katahdin and Katahdin cross rams too.

The lamb was born outside in the afternoon and we got her into the barn within hours of birth. I thought she had a sort of gray color to the fur on her shoulders but then noticed that she looked almost bald there.  In fact the hair on her shoulders looked very fine and totally different to the hair on the rest of her body.

The lamb is one day old here, photographed with her mom.
Could she be a Chimera?  I know they can occur in any mammal.  Or did she just not grow proper hair in that area prior to being born?  I am keeping an eye on her to make sure that she gets more hair, or wool, there prior to going outside.

I have noted in the past that when I have a white Katahdin they often have orange in the same area and that it tends to look a bit different for a few days, although not "bald", which does make me suspect a Katahdin connection of sorts.

This photo was taken within hours of her birth
I should note we have had other lambs born earlier, none of whom exhibited any signs of having different hair.  I am very curious to know of other sheep keepers have seen the same thing on their lambs or know anything about hairlessness on newborn lambs?

Monday, January 5, 2015

So Many More Ram Lambs Than Ewe Lambs

What are the odds that out of 11 lambs only 2 would be ewes?

I have had 6 lambs born so far and only 1 was a ewe.  Somebody who bought 2 ewes from me has also had lambs born, out of the 5 lambs they had only 1 was a ewe.

It is the sperm from the father that determines what gender the young are going to be so I am wondering if the early breeding somehow predisposed things so that we would get more ram lambs born than ewes.  These sheep would have been bred in the middle of the summer in order to have lambs now, so I am not sure if that somehow affected the odds and caused us to have so many more males?

 I am wondering if there are any other people out there who have noted that the time of year when they breed their sheep seems to have any bearing on what gender the young are more likely to be.  Usually its a bit more of an even ratio.

Getting a high percentage of ram lambs would be great if I were strictly breeding for the meat market, because most of the buyers in my area want ram lambs for meat, but I am a sucker and prefer to sell my sheep as pets, so I prefer to get ewe lambs.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Surprise Triplet Lambs Born at the Wrong TIme of Year

On Sunday, November 23, I went outside to feed the sheep as usual.  We had known that at least one ewe was pregnant but did not expect lambs for another month at least (ideally later than that), so when I went out to feed them in the morning and found one ewe with triplet lambs following behind her I was quite surprised.  Especially since the weather had been below freezing and there was snow on the ground.

I got them into a stall in the barn and made sure they were okay.  They were already dried but the tails on two of them were frozen and I expect may fall off due to frost bite.  I tried to warm in my hands but it could have been too late.

After a day it was clear that the ewe, named Girlie, was not producing enough milk for all three lambs so I went to the feed store and bought a bag of lamb milk replacement formula which cost around $50.00.  I also bought more nipples for the bottles.

Two of the three lambs, the one in front is not being bottle fed, the one in back is.


I am currently bottle feeding two of the three lambs at least three times a day, four if I am home from work.  Unfortunately the weather only got worse, we have a huge amount of snow now and the temperature fell to -34 C (including windchill) which is about the same as -29 F.

The lambs are doing okay and I am monitoring the other ewes as well, it looks like 3 of them are pregnant too, so we have started giving them extra rations and bringing them in the barn for the night too (mind you with the cold temperatures I would have started to bring them in the barn at night anyhow).