Monday, June 11, 2012

This is how you do it

The lamb that was caught went to a small farm not too far from us.  They called me to ask how much they should feed it (grain) and other questions.  I told them what I would tell anyone- and that is what I learned- feed 1/4 lb for for days and then up it by 1/4 after 5-7 days.  Since the lamb is not on grain normally, a big load of feed could kill him, especially since he is not vaccinated.  They also asked if I would come over and look at their set up to see if it was good.  Wow, this is refreshing. I am no expert, but since they have not had sheep before (they have Goats) they are seeking information/help from someone who does.  Isn't that great? Instead of just winging it, they go forward thoughtfully.  Anyway, after spraying the White Snake Root with Roundup yesterday, I headed over there.  It was extremely warm and muggy yesterday, so I was a bit overdone when I got there. 

When I pulled in I saw a nice little farm.  They only have 7.5 acres, but they have everything put together well.  There was no smell, there was no piles of rotten hay, there was just a working farm.  Te husband is a retired P/O and the wife is a nurse.   You can tell that this place is a labor of love for them.

I opened the car up for the dogs and heard Mr. G call me over to behind the barn.  Mrs G and a friend were just finishing up processing some chickens. They had the whole deal- the cones set up on a wood frame, the wiz banger chicken plucker and a table, all very clean.  They were wearing aprons, but I saw nothing visceral.  Later, I checked out the ten chickens they had processed- they were cooling in a tank of water.  Clean, meaty and well, basically what you expect to see if you took your chicken out of the freezer and put it in water.  I made a mental note to buy chickens from them, or maybe even learn to process chickens from them.  They sell at farmers markets, and have a good steady stream of customers.

Then, we continued on the farm tour... The bigger paddock had one Angus heifer standing in a run in shed- she looked great.  Shed was clean and good grass available.  They told me about her, and some others they have had- she's actually an Angus cross.  They raise one or two a year.  I noticed that for fence posts, this guy used telephone poles!  Talk about sturdy, and each one was as plumb square and level as possible.  They had high tensile wire and it was also done well- six strands I believe. 

Then, I checked out the pigs, all heritage breeds- some Red Wattles, Tamworths, and I believe, a cross of the two.  The digs for the pigs were great.  They were on cement, and as was explained to me, they tried dirt, but it was impossible to keep clean.  They went to cement with sheds- one shed was a converted GIANT walk in fuel tank, that had been completely over-hauled and affixed to the ground.  In the other pens there were some nice sheds, for them.  They all had spigots of water going slow, so the pigs could cool off.  I suggested that if they wanted to, they could get short/low stock tanks for the pigs to mud in.  He made a mental note.  That way you can keep their housing clean, but allow them some good environmental enrichment and a more natural way of life.  I will say, I have never seen such nice looking, happy pigs.

Then, I checked out the horses.  One, named Beatrice is a twenty one year old Belgian, who hangs out with a little mini horse, who is identical to Beatrice in coloring, just a mini me of her. Cute as heck.  They also had a Thoroughbred that they were given.  The Thoroughbred had a foot injury that they were treating as I was there.   Then there were the four goats- two Nubians and two goat kids, kids from those- the Nubians had been bred to a Boer goat.  The kids were Boer goats in looks.  The Goats were allowed to walk around the place, and followed us back into their paddock when we went to see the lambikin (that's what I call lambs) you pronounce it "Lammiekin".  Anyway, there he was.  There was no more limp (that they had told me about the day before).  He looked good, albeit thin from his foray into the woods, and all that chasing.  The little paddock was more than sufficient, and I saw him eating some grass and wondering a little when I was there.  I suggested that they worm him, and was asked with what, how much, etc..  I told them that under stress lambs can die very quickly, and stress can cause the worm population in their bodies to explode.  Mr. G told his wife in front of me that they need to worm him asap.  I appreciated that he took it to heed.  Another good sign of good conscientious farmers.

Mr. G showed me the barn he built- top shelf again, and also the feed room. Neat and clean as can be.  They used screw top metal barrels for their feed, and he went through the line up of what food is in what.  He also showed me some meat chickens still in a brooder.  This was a man very proud of his place.  As I walked around with him I could see the pride of the work they do, the care of the animals and how they are always trying to improve things.  When Joel Salatin wrote the book "You Can Farm" this is what he was talking about.

As I was getting ready to leave, a farrier came in to work on the horse with the hurt foot.  I watched as she trimmed away they horn a bit to open up the abscess.  She had been there earlier, but this was a second call.  I recalled many hours holding horses for farriers for just such purposes, and suggested Icthamol which will draw out any infection.  The farrier suggested the same thing- that put cotton on the bottom of the foot and wrap with vet wrap.  Boy does all that bring back memories.

It was soon time for me to leave, and I bade them good bye, and told them I would be in touch (they will be getting a ram lamb from me).

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see people taking such good care of their animals.  Animals that they will ultimately eat.   It makes sense to be that way, but I have seen just the opposite.  To some there is some sort of un-written rule that says- spend as little as possible because these animals owe it to us, or some such garbage.  I am going to try and get these folks to maybe put together a work shop on chicken processing, and a farm tour.  These are the people we need to learn from.  These are the people who are the real stewards of the land, and animals; the real farmers.

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