Living on a farm is a real “Circle of Life” kind of experience. Papa from A Day No Pigs Would Die said, “Dyin’ and getting bornt is dirty work.” He wasn’t exaggerating. Raising animals, kind of like raising teenagers, can get downright grisly. I’m lucky enough to get to do both! Here’s what we have going on at Moore’s Creek Farm these days…
OUT of the Egg Business (at least this season): My chickens and laying ducks got plucked off one by one by a gang of renegade raccoons. The ruffians would lure the birds into sticking their little heads out of the fence, grab ’em, and start a sick game of tug o’ war. The poor victim couldn’t scream because of the stranglehold and would come out the other side of the wire dead, divested of its feathers, and ready for eating. At least that’s what the evidence points to. We do have the designated survivors sequestered in a pen-within-a pen setup; they are safe, but my egg business is kaput.
We aren’t ignorant folks, but it can be surprisingly challenging to thwart coons, snakes, foxes, coyotes, owls and the like. We plan to relocate the hen housing to an area on the farm where the predators will have to run the Great Dane gauntlet to have a go at the birds. This more open-concept design will sacrifice shade for our feathered friends, but should offer another layer of protection. I expect shiplap to be involved in the renovation.
We ordered a replacement flock of chicks. They will come by US Mail in cute little chirping boxes. The babies will stay in the barn nursery until they feather out and become big enough to start trying to kill each other in the small cages. The barn is relatively safe, but we must be careful not to leave the door ajar…that looks like an open invitation to a feast for rat snakes. With a little luck, I’ll be back to providing farm fresh eggs for multiple families by spring.
Ole Number 29: We have a resident artist here at the farm for a few months. He’s a gorgeous Black Angus bull with an ear tag that identifies him simply as 29. I am tempted to make a Weinstein joke here, but perhaps it’s too soon. You get the idea. Ole Number 29 is most assuredly serious about getting his job done, and he practices his…um…creativity with enough gusto for us to feel pretty confident we’ll have a couple of calves running around the farm before long. He’s friendly enough to come right up to the fence for a head-scratching, but I’m just going to let that fence stay right between us. I’m not sure I quite trust that glint in his eye.
Winterizing: Russ spent a good part of the day yesterday on the tractor bush-hogging the pastures. Next weekend, winter grass will get planted so that hopefully we won’t go broke buying hay for the cows and our guard donkey Jack the Ass. The way this usually works is that we spend a bundle to keep from spending a bundle. Once the seed is planted, that will cue the driest fall season in Baldwin County history. Nary a blade of new grass will grow and we’ll get to help support the haying industry…or we’ll get a gorgeous stand of green and the cattle will munch contentedly throughout the winter. It could go either way. That’s part of the fun and frustration of farming.
Fencing: One of my greatest pleasures living out here on the farm is the “chore” of checking the fences. My job is to walk along the fence lines of the pastures to make sure there are no security breaches. What it really is, though, is an act of love. Russ keeps a strip along all the fences mowed so that I have a clear path (and a jump on any snake sightings) as I walk. Naturally, he fixes any fence problems as he does this. What I get is a tour of the farm, a pleasant bit of exercise, and a daily reminder of the blessing of elbow room. Smart man.
Folks can take their McMansions, planned communities, and even their beach houses. Those are all great, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I have fantasized about each. But when I really get to pondering, there’s no place I’d rather be than right here, mad raccoon raiders and all.