Monday, December 29, 2008

Weather and ducks

Now the temperature is just above freezing and it is raining...a lot!  Today there's also hail, wind and thunder.  The snow is slowly melting but the compact snow is like ice sheets and a lot of water is collecting in the fields:
We lost one more critter due to the weather.  On Friday our last remaining Magpie duck died.  I had put him in a pen with food and water, and I thought he would make it out of the weather, but Tom found him dead that morning.  I had purchased Magpie ducklings from Holderread's in 1998 to eat slugs.  In 1999 I purchased Pekin, runner and white golden hybrid ducklings from Metzer's.  They ate slugs quite well, but the bald eagles ate them.  I finally figured out that if I put them in an enclosure with string or netting that the killing (and the slug eating) would stop but by then we were down to three ducks- a Magpie drake, a runner hen and a hybrid hen.  You can see them in the photo below from 2005 with the first batch of ducklings they produced:
Now our last rare purebred Magpie is gone.  He lived 10.5 years and likely had a good duck life.  Although we do not have any more purebred Magpies, you can certainly see his influence as well as the runner duck's influence on the ducks we do still have:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Even more snow and ice

We have over 2 feet of snow at this point and the icicles are getting long!

We continue to use the garden cart to haul hay and water to the animals.  Through the snow, it is tough.
The forecast now here in western Skagit county calls for 3-6 more inches of snow starting tonight and continued snow after that until Saturday when it supposed to start to rain.  We are really tired of the snow but not looking forward to the flooding when it all melts either.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Zero degrees

This is a new low for me here.  I have never seen 0 degrees in Western Washington- Tom has though in Whatcom.  (I know I have seen lower in Alaska though).  The problem here is that we are not designed for this much cold.  Our water pump went out this morning, causing much concern.  It turned out to be a frozen pressure hose to the switch so once we added a second electric heater to the pump-house we were able to unfreeze it and now have water again.  We also still have heat and electricity for the house so are thankful for that.  Last night we covered up windows and doors for the barn and feed shed (doubling as a skinny sheep and chick shelter now).  This is in hopes it will keep a little of the chill out.  Every critter has shelter and another of their species to bed down with so hopefully will make it through this bitter cold.  

Now we are just waiting for the next storm to strike this afternoon with more snow, wind and possible freezing rain.  We are trying to prevent catastrophe here by brushing the heavy snow off the structures.  But with the frozen tree limbs we are really expecting some fallen trees and limbs with any wind we get- definitely could lose our power.  We do have fuel and a generator. One of my bigger worries is that I have to get to work somehow tomorrow early morning during the storm- should be interesting.

When we went out to check on critters after fixing the water pump we found all the water was frozen solid- not too surprising at 0 degrees but a real pain.  We knew we would have to bucket water to the animals in the fields 5 gallons at a time.  The tractor and quad would not start.  We had a family Christmas party to go to at 2:00.  So we were able to start up a 26 year old snowmobile and tie the garden cart behind it.  We filled up 5 gallon plastic carboys with water from the faucet near the pump-house that still works and used the snowmobile to haul the water out- 75 gallons total.  Tom's father came out to help us to try to get us to the party.  This worked out well and we made it to the party only 45 minutes late.

There was, however, another loss because of the bitter cold.  My favorite goose Honky died during the night.  He was one of my first geese- a white Pilgrim gander- 11 years old.  He was a character, not friendly but not aggressive either.  In the last couple of years he had become an outcast in the gaggle- he had lost the eyesight in one eye in a goose fight and never seemed to be in the pecking order after that.  I was trying to make sure he was getting food and water (along with the other geese) and all of them seemed to have trouble walking the in cold snow.  I put him in the chicken pen to try to get extra water, food and warmth but despite this in the morning he was gone.  

Friday, December 19, 2008

Even more snow photos

Sorry- we do not usually get this much snow here.  This is the goat trail to the hay barn:

This is Tom bringing hay to the hungry critters:
This is the curving sheep trail:
This is a Gotland ewe blazing a new sheep trail:

Even more snow!

And cider!
These each represent one of the carboys.  The farthest on the right has the most crabapple juice in it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cold weather and Cogburn

As the local people know, we experienced a snowstorm last weekend and very cold temperatures since then.  With this, it is beautiful so I felt compelled to take some photos.  But it is also very hard on the animals.  We have an unheated, uninsulated barn but fortunately pretty tough animals.  So they just cuddle up with one another and stay warm through the very cold nights.  The biggest problem is breaking up the ice so they can have water to drink.  

This cold weather is especially hard on older, thinner animals.  We have a rooster that Tom named Cogburn.  He was the king of the barn- the top rooster with the largest "harem" of hens.  In the last few months he stopped being the top rooster and then he lost his harem and his roosting spot.  The last few days he looked droopy.  Yesterday he looked especially droopy although he could still fly, eat and drink.  I put him in the feed shed with food and water thinking it would be a little warmer for him in there.  We found him this morning dead in there.  We have had some interesting roosters including "hitler chicken" who walked like Hitler and a one legged rooster that a neighbor kindly took in as he wasn't doing well with the others here,  but Cogburn was the best of them all.  He was a beautiful bird who strutted around but was never too aggressive.  He will be sorely missed in the barn and in our hearts.

This cold weather is also hard on my first sheep, Ebony.  She has been quite thin for a while but has eaten very well.  This morning she did not want to eat, only drink water.  I knew if she did not eat she would not do well in this cold weather.  So we moved her into the trailer with some heat, hay, grain and warm water.  I am hoping for the best.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

(Re) Introducing Hazel

This  is Hazel- a satin angora rabbit who I sold 2 years ago and have bought back.  This is because both of her parents died and with them the great red genetics they carried.  Hazel is not well behaved.  I handled her daily when she was a kit but despite this she is ornery and therefore a problem for the daughter who was supposed to take care of her.  So I brought her back and sheared her and clipped her nails.  I never had a rabbit attack me before.  Now this occurred after I had started sheared her, and she was upset about it, but when I went to pick up the bits of wool she lunged at me and scratched me.  I am hoping her personality is not inherited!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wisdom tooth blues

I had my last wisdom tooth removed yesterday evening after it had become inflamed and painful. So I had a bad day, but my dentist's day was actually worse so I can't complain too much. So today I wasn't feeling as ambitious as I had hoped and didn't get the farm chores done I had wanted too. I did manage to finish skirting my fall fleeces, weigh them, and take new photos which are below. Now I'll prepare Christmas cards to mail out tomorrow and call it a day!

Shaun the Sheep "Off the Baa"

Shaun the Sheep clip "Save the Tree"