Sandy, the new Flemish Giant doe. She is a young rabbit, but can be bred near the end of summer.
The Fat Ewe Farm rabbits are meat breeds, but any rabbits can be pets if they are socialized and handled as youngsters. The two new girls are for breeding and for pets. Peter Rabbit, the Flemish giant buck, is not so much a pet. He does not like to be picked up and defends his cage from prying hands. On the other hand, the new does are used to being handled, picked up and cuddled because they were raised with children as well as adults. Sandy is not quite as comfortable with all the attention as her new room mate, Cindy Lop Ear. Cindy is a French lop eared big rabbit, but is not full grown yet either. The girls will continue as pet rabbits and Petey will visit when it is time to raise a family, though after he breeds the girls, he will be returned to his domain and have nothing more to do with the family. Mother rabbits only feed their young once daily and they are very helpless when they are first born. Within a few weeks, they are fully furred and squirming around, ready almost, to jump from the nest and explore their world. The does had never lived on the earth before, and though they likely tasted grass, their diet was water and pellets with a little hay. They are quite enjoying themselves in the large dog kennel where they can hop and play and kick up their heels. Welcome to the Fat Ewe Farm bunnies!
I have always loved Highland cows. Their shaggy furry bodies and round faces are so adorable and their soft eyes explain their gentle natures. The cows are not mine, unfortunately, but belong to the man who is renting the pasture. They are currently sharing with a bear, at least one that we have seen. This morning he was licking the cow's salt leisurely, but when he realized he was not alone, he bolted. Generally bears are not any threat to Highland cows, even the calves, once they are on their feet and strong. The huge horns deter predators and the cows will use them if they have to. The big bull is quiet and watches over his herd with care. One day, it would be nice to have a few of these beautiful creatures for the farm, but for now it is a pleasure to just have them as guests. The bear, on the other hand, can leave for the bush at any time now.
Sherry and Oreo Cookie, Nigerian doelings.
The goats are wonderful to have on the farm. Miniature models of their naughty counterparts, these Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf goats do not present the same problems. They are too small to climb on vehicles, to short to tear down branches from trees, and not nearly big enough to climb and challenge fences, yet they are packed full of cuteness and fun. Nigerian Dwarf goats are dairy bred and their udders certainly are evidence of this. Compared to the tiny udders of the Pygmy goats, the Nigerians sport rather huge udders and are capable of being milked and supporting kids. By separating the kids at night, then milking first thing in the morning, and letting the kids be with the moms all day, the doe can provide milk for a family and her own kids. Daphne is almost pure Nigerian Dwarf and her daughter Sherry is also close, since her dad was Nigerian with a touch of Pygmy. There are 3 other Nigerian doelings that will be bred this fall to an Angora buck to produce Nygoras. I can only imagine how cute they will be with their fuzzy coloured fiber. There are three does yet to kid. Quite a few of the kids and moms have been sold this year as packages. Tomorrow someone is coming to view one mom and her twin wethers (castrated boys) for pets. Everyone who watches the goats falls in love with them in no time at all. Soon, The Fat Ewe Farm will have a goat playground so they can play and entertain themselves since they love to be up high and to climb and jump. Weezie's twins are not very healthy, but they are receiving their B shots daily and are coming along nicely. Weezie had a skin condition which was treated with a mix of copper sulphate, garlic and oil and she is responding finally and hair is regrowing. Weezie also gets shots and so far has been able to feed her babies herself. Way to go Weezie. I love that goat. The Fat Ewe Farm will be keeping the Nigerian Dwarf does and doelings and Weezie for fall breeding. Next year's crop of little ones will be the cutest ever. Stay tuned!
The Fat Ewe Farm is at the Farmers' market. This is an approved market, which means we have filled in paperwork that satisfies some authorities. Because The Fat Ewe Bed and Breakfast has an approved kitchen, we can bake, pickle, bottle and bag foods, either purchased elsewhere or made from scratch on the farm. This market, the Fat Ewe is concentrating on being green with soap, lip balm, essential oils and blends, beeswax candles, hemp and crocheted cotton bags, shampoo, Yerba Mate tea and wool. In the near future hemp protein powder, hemp oil and hemp hearts will be offered. The hemp oil will be packaged in Miron glass, a black glass that blocks all light, keeping the product held inside as fresh as the day it was packaged. The technology is amazing. More will be explained as soon as the hemp products are ready for market. Fresh Paper is being offered too, a paper that is impregnated with Fenugreek, an Indian spice that has the qualities to kill bacteria and mold and keep food fresh longer. We will also do Yerba Mate green and dark roast. The good thing is that no one in this neck of the woods has heard of these products, so it is also a chance to educate the people. The great benefits of hemp and Yerba Mate are highly beneficial to us mortals. We plan to do the market for the summer and then retire to our on site farm store right outside the Bed and Breakfast house where customers can drop in to shop for their favourite things. This should be fun!
Being a cat on The Fat Ewe Farm is really easy. You even get your own basket in a tree, away from the dogs and other barnyard critters, so you can rest in peace. Here Jane is catching a nap in the mid afternoon during a light rain. She has enough shelter from the rain to curl up comfortably and stay dry, while the farm goes on around her. Jane lost her four kittens to something unknown last week. Jane is the kitten of Sally, the original sisters who came to live on the farm in 2011 during its inception. Jane caught a mouse and gets along well with the dogs, so she got to stay, while her mother allowed herself to be tossed around like a rag doll toy for the dogs and has since been rehomed. It appears that Jane is dreaming of holding her kittens in his photo. Barbie, the other farm cat, has 6 babies just a few days old. They are protected by a cage over the opening of Ofcharka's dog house, where she chose to give birth. So far all the kittens and mom are doing very well. Wouldn't it be adorable to see the cats and kittens in the tree basket together?
A broody hen is worth her weight in gold. She sacrifices herself for 3 weeks (Muscovy Ducks for just longer than a month) to incubate her eggs, and then raises her babies with the fierce protection of a lion and cubs, only in a much smaller size. Still, a mother hen is very formidable when it comes to protecting her brood. The Muscovy ducks became broody about three weeks ago, first, Suzy, the chocolate Muscovy, then Linda, the black and yesterday, they were joined by the Orpington hen, Penny. Oh my goodness, they are all in one nest. The thing is, the ducks were in the nest for a while now and two of the hens continued to lay their eggs in the old dog house as well, so there are a number of chicken eggs there. I doubt any are fertile because the roosters are tiny bantams and though they try, they just cannot quite mate with the big hens. Currently, there are so many eggs in the nest that the three broody hens cannot cover them all. Once in a while one or two fall out and then there are those that it appears they may have pushed out due to breakage. It is quite the interesting combo, two ducks and a hen, but so far, they all seem to be getting along just fine. Cute or what?
The Fat Ewe Farm has a lot of chickens. Well, about 25 are chicks, Ameraucana chicks to be exact. These are spry, thin birds that are capable of flight and lay blue eggs, though none have yet to lay, or at least I have not found any blue eggs so far. The value in the Ameraucanas is their ability to forage. They are quick and agile and can travel in and out of pens very quickly. They are less apt to be eaten by the pigs too, since they pay attention to their surroundings. I really like them, along with the Polish/Ameraucana bantams that live here. The heritage breed hens are fine too, busy, but slow and much more docile. The other birds are everywhere and have proven their worth keeping the ant population down. The ducks do a remarkable job gobbling up flies and eat any spilled grain, however; the chickens also scratch through old manure and straw which helps cultivate it in the earth. They also pick up any maggots in the bones that the dogs are not quite finished with. These maggots do provide excellent protein for the birds, even though to humans the sight of maggots squirming in an old bone is disgusting, let alone chickens gobbling maggots. Ewwwwwe.
The 25 chicks will turn out to be half roosters and will be sent to freezer camp if good homes for them cannot be found. That is the sad part of raising animals. The males' fate is more often than not, meat.
I am thankful that I have overcome my phobia of birds by raising chickens for the past two years and am grateful to the chickens for their work around the farm and of course for their eggs. There is nothing quite like a bright orange egg yolk from a farm fresh egg.
The goat kids are starting to play and do funny antics, such as jump on their mothers and flip sideways as they jump off. The boys are very noticeable because they already are much more the show offs than the girls. Four kids were born between yesterday and today, a pair of boys and a brother and sister, all different with different markings. That is one of the nice things about miniature goats - you never quite know what will turn up. There are two more mothers due in the next two or three days and then the last of the pregnant goats will deliver weeks after that. She did not take with the first breeding and was exposed to an Angora goat later, so most likely is going to have an Angora/Alpine cross. These Angora cross goats are popular for their fibre, which is long and quite spinnable. It will be interesting to see what the chocolate box brings forth. Welcome to the Fat Ewe little goaties!
Finding farm help has been very challenging. Here, in the oil patch, unskilled workers are paid 20 to 25 dollars an hour as a starting wage. No one wants to work for less and farm labour is impossible to find. Skilled trades people command very high wages and can pick and choose their jobs. So can fencers.
I have waited 2 years to have the fencing done. 4 times now, the locators have come and marked the lines because the fencers said they would come and they did not. Instead they got a better paying easier job and went there without bothering to let me know. That is how it is here. Plumbers command extreme wages and only show up when they are ready. Life is like that. So, the lines were located a month ago and many rains later, the paint is no longer visible, with only the flags still standing in some places. The fencers did not want to do the job and though they said they would come, they did not. A second crew came to look at the job, said they would let me know one way or the other by Wednesday and now, it is Friday and there has been no words from them.
So, my cousin, who has been helping around the farm, has volunteered to supervise and assist to do the fencing. He is retired and loves the farm, the animals and taking his quad out in the bush. In exchange for these small pleasures, he works hard repairing, building, fencing, moving and so on. My son and his friend have also come out and will give me a hand before they secure jobs. I am grateful for these men to help me. I surely wish for the fencing to be complete, but I see that I will have to do some myself. Learning new skills is always a good idea and I will give it a whole hearted try. But, I surely do wish farm help was easy to come by. I do.
Barbie cat has six kitties! This is her first litter, at least the first I have seen. I believed she was pregnant 3 times before, though I had never seen her kittens. Either she had them and abandoned them or they were eaten by something, or she really was not pregnant. This time she had the babies in Ofcharka's dog house, which seems to be the hang out on the farm. Two chicken prefer it for their nesting box, and Jane had her kittens in it as well. Poor Ofcharka has not slept in his house all spring! Jane's babies disappeared in one day, either to the chickens or to the dogs I am thinking, so I blocked off the entrance so chickens and dogs cannot get in. Maybe this littler will survive. I have not looked to see how many boys or girls she had, but there is one kitten that is calico and is so cute. Two are orange and white and a couple of grey tabby cats. Babie is grey, white and orange, and I have no idea what the male looked like, since no male has ever been seen around here. With the livestock guardian dogs, it seems no one wanted to come courting the ladies, so perhaps they took a long walk themselves. The kittens will be for adoption except for one little girl, if they all survive. Welcome to the Fat Ewe Farm little kitties!
Fluffy writes daily about the experiences on the farm and with the bed and breakfast patrons.