Skunked!

We’ve had quite a few skunks around here this year. The other night Shane and Annie tangled with one. At first I thought it may have been a porcupine. Shane kept running around and rubbing his face along the ground. He didn’t smell like a skunk; he smelled burned. By the time we got home, he definitely smelled like a skunk. I was so relieved that he didn’t have a lot of quills in his face that I didn’t think about the impact his stinky self would have on the household.
I left the dogs outside and quickly searched online for a remedy. I found it here:
The Best Way to De-Skunk Your Dog

The three simple ingredients were in the cupboard and Shane got his first bath. No, he did not like it, but he put up with it. He can be quite a gentleman. I couldn’t do much about the area around his eyes so he is faintly aromatic.

Comfrey Oil

Comfrey oil is reputed to be an effective treatment for insect bites, burns, lacerations, rashes, psoriasis, eczema,  swelling, bruises, sprains, and arthritis A quick check on the Internet reveals that it is pretty expensive. Getting some relief from arthritis pain would surely be welcome. I have lots of comfrey…everywhere. Before the frost gets it, I decided to try my luck at making my own oil.
Leaves were gathered, chopped and added to a quart of naturally pressed, extra virgin olive oil purchased at Sav-A-Lot for $8. I guess tomorrow I will dig up some of the comfrey roots to add to the leaves for added potency.

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A Much Improved Poultry Fountain

The Harris Farm’s Poultry Drinker
Don’t be fooled and assume this is just another plastic fountain with a screw on base. You know the kind. Everything has to be lined up just right or the whole thing comes apart about ½ way to the chicken yard. Your feet get soaked and you have to go back to the faucet and start again. The base on this improved fountain locks securely in place with tabs. The wire handle on the top makes carrying it easy, even when it is full of water. The handle also makes it possible to suspend the fountain which keeps litter from accumulating in the water trough.
I must admit that, at first, I had trouble with the base on this fountain. The base was stiff and I didn’t realize that I really had to force it over for it to be fully locked. Once I mastered the concept there was no more spilled water. I paid under $7 for it at Tractor Supply Company. At that price, I plan on buying a few more.

Buckeye Chickens, A True Dual Purpose Breed?

Through the years, we have raised different breeds of chickens in our quest for a true dual-purpose bird. Realizing that no standard breed of chicken was going to have the enormous breast of the Cornish X, we  looked for a breed that would give a decent carcass by 16 weeks. We never found a breed that was truly satisfactory and raised a batch of Cornish cross chickens each year for the freezer.
I had been attracted to the Buckeye chickens for some years but never followed up until this fall when I ordered 25 pullet and two cockerel chicks from Stromberg’s. What actually pushed me into action was finding this evaluation guide published by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. This guide details how to select for meat qualities and growth rate. Good stuff to know, and the photos that accompany the explanations are of Buckeye chickens. I got into gear and was fortunate enough to get my order in for a 9/22 hatch.
These chicks are feathering out quickly, which is fantastic news in my climate. They have the most unusual temperaments of any chicks I’ve raised. They are alert and active but not flighty. Any movement draws their attention and they meet me at the brooder door at feeding.
The first evaluation takes place when the birds are 8 weeks old. In  less than 3 weeks we will be assessing the birds; I’m excited. They are assessed again at 16 weeks which coincides with butchering time. Then we will know for sure what kind of table birds these Buckeyes make.

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Using Hens to Muck Out a Barn

I love chickens; they are an ideal homestead animal! Our chickens are quadruple-purpose birds. Not only do they provide us with eggs and meat, they till/improve the soil and help muck out the barn.
It doesn’t take long for the wasted hay on the barn floor to build up. Soon, it is a compressed thatch that requires the pitchfork to pry up. It is smelly, heavy work. When I stay on top of the hay mess by raking it out each day, there are no problems. The task of keeping it raked out certainly gets away from me fast.
The storm last week meant keeping the ram lambs in the barn and feeding them hay. The strong winds upended the chicken tractor and so the three, homeless hens were sent to bunk with the ram lambs. They started right in scratching that spoiled hay up and sending it flying. Seeing the fun they are having and what a good job they are doing, I decided not to deprive them of the pleasure of loosening that packed bedding. Tomorrow, I will rake out all the loose stuff and see what kind of job they did.