It has been a challenging year

So let me begin with a summary:
At the first of the year I had 18 chickens (2 roosters, 16 hens), 22 ducks (not sure how many drakes…maybe 9 or so) and 10 does, 1 buck (Hank Jr.) and 2 wethers (Fathead and Rusty).

The buck came to me sick. Infested with a gut load of parasites and I  was just getting him cured. I had bred him with Phoebe, Skeeter and Dominoe but was not sure if he had been well enough to do his job. In April I started seeing signs that they were due to kid so I  took them out of the buck pen and put Bird, Flower and Bunny in with him to let them get acquainted for this fall. He was no longer in rut, they were too young to be in heat (I thought).

Phoebe had her kids first, twins Dora and Diego the first part of April, then the other two waited until June to have their kids. Skeeter had twins (Betty and Jack) as did Dominoe (Peggy and Flash). A neighbor wanted to expand his herd so he came down in July and negotiated a trade for Dora with some hay. I have been having a dickens of a time finding and keeping local sources for hay. Adam claimed Diego as his  (hereafter known as Tanngnjóstr), and one of Adam’s friends Ken bought Flash and Jack all to be raised and kept until they are old enough to be slaughtered. I negotiated keeping Diego for breeding the next set of milkers so I didn’t neuter him, but Flash and Jack I did neuter with Ken’s help and consent.

About the end of July I started to notice that Bird, Bunny and Flower had big bellies and their udders were starting to develop. Sure enough they all gave birth in mid to late august. Bird delivered first with triplets Dot, Dash and a stillborn kid I will call Cipher. Bunny followed that same week with twin girls and 2 weeks after that Flower delivered twin boys Rocky and Apollo. Flower’s babies were the biggest and she was the only one I had to help with the delivery. I even thought that Apollo would have a broken neck the way he came out, but both boys survived and turned out to be fighters.

The total count for this year’s births then is 6 boys, 6 girls, and one stillborn (boy). That left me with 25 goats total. That is far too many for the limited pasture and shelter space I have currently. I tried selling Hank, but it was the wrong time of year for anyone to be interested. I had traded Dora for a 1/2 ton of hay, and so I further negotiated with Adam to take Hank for meat and let me keep Diego 6 months longer than originally planned. One Sunday Adam and Ken and another friend of theirs came out and we slaughtered Hank right here on the farm. The plan was to turn him  into sausage, not sure yet if that has happened.

I did finally find a local hay source and they delivered 5 tons, told me that someone would be back to present the bill and I have yet to see that bill. I have nearly used up that 5 tons and will start on the other hay within a week or so. Oh yes, I found other hay, not local, more costly but better quality. My bamboo plants are doing well, I hope to be using them for goat fodder in the next year or so. It might save me some money on hay.

In the past couple months I have been negotiating with one of the local farm workers who wanted to buy some goats. I ended up selling him 4 girls and 3 boys. They all left  last week  leaving me with 14 total. This was the first year I have sold/traded females, not as difficult as I had thought to let them go and now the feed consumption is much lower.

During the summer I have sold 4 drakes and one of the roosters. I also have lost 3 hens and 3 ducks to sickness or predators so I am down to 18 ducks and 14 chickens at this point. The chicken’s egg production was going well until the roosters matured and since then I think the hens have been a bit stressed by the aggressive  behavior of the roosters. I’m only getting 3 or 4 eggs/day and that has been the count all through the summer and fall.

The ducks were doing better, between 9 and 11 eggs/day up until I took the break over labor day. Then it dropped to 4 or 5 eggs/day and now with the cold of winter setting in both the ducks and chickens will stop laying completely for about 60 days or so.

One nice thing this year is that the local co-op started buying duck eggs from me until they learned that the ducks are getting a supplemental feed that MAY (probably does) contain GMO grains. I’m not sure how to make the supplemental feed go away, but I’m working on a plan. More space for them to graze for one thing, and maybe some hay during the winter? Not sure yet.

We went to the Oregon coast over the labor day week to honor my late brother by scattering his ashes over the church camp that meant so much to him. It was a good time spent with family, lots of walks on the beach and a couple of camp fires. On the way back we stayed overnight in seaside oregon and then stopped at the bamboo nursery where I had bought my bamboo plants. I wanted my wife to catch the vision I have for the bamboo grove. I think that being there among the mature bamboo she might have seen a small glimpse of what could be.

The other thing about this year is that my gun collection went from a .22 air rifle and a airsoft pistol to a second .22 air rifle, 2 shotguns that have been in my family for a long time, and a new Ruger 22/45 pistol. When we got home from the coast, my daughter and her boyfriend were here for a couple of days. So he and I took the 1897 Winchester 12 gauge down to the “pit” and blew through a box of shells, then sighted in the new Benjamin Trail .22 air rifle. I have since spent several afternoons plinking pest birds that bother my ducks with that gun. I have even had the opportunity to take the Ruger out to the gun range and TRY to sight it in. I’m not sure I even came close to hitting the target, something else I need to work on.

I think that is about it, I might tally up the egg production for this year so far in a new post. I have also been trying to keep track of the amount of milk that I bottle and give out. so I can probably sum that up as well. But for now I think I will close this post out and get on with my day.

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