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Bruce's Journal

Discussion in 'Member's "BackYardHerds" Journals' started by Bruce, Oct 13, 2016.

  1. Oct 13, 2016
    Bruce

    Bruce Herd Master

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    Not sure what all I'll put here but @Latestarter asked about a post mentioning my alpacas (news to his busy self) so I figured I would start a journal for random info.

    Some history first. DD1 has had a 24x7x365 migraine since 2007. It is aggravated by loud noises, man made fragrances etc. Our prior home (still own and STILL trying to get totally moved out so I can finish it. Work stopped when her head went south) was 1,500 sq ft on a lot 44x100 with neighbors close on each side, similar size lots. Open the window when they are doing laundry and suck in the stink from their "make it smell nice" detergent and dryer sheets. Sirens on main road 1/4 mile away not muted, etc.

    Wife decided in 2011 that we should find someplace quieter so I started hunting land to build a house. She wanted an already built house for faster move. Found this place, it had been fairly recently rehabbed. ~26 acres, about 20 is woods. Some fields, two old barns. All buildings pre US Civil War. Bought Nov 2011. Nearest neighbor is 100 yards across the road to the east. DD1 didn't know he had a dog for a year. GOOD dog. Next closest is his neighbor to the north at 150 yards, next is our neighbor to the SW at over 200 yards. The noise we hear the most is their dog. Bark bark bark. And no, it is not a LGD doing a job.

    Wife and DD1 moved in here March 2012 after I fixed some stuff and we replaced the relatively new washer and dryer because try as she might, my wife could NOT get the "make the clothes smell nice" :sick stink out of them. (BTW, CLEAN does not have an odor). Mostly I stayed at the other house with DD2 since I didn't think it fair to move her for the last 1.5 years of HS to a place where she knew no one on a hope that the move would help her sister.

    Fast forward to March 2013, DW And DD1 move back to the old house and the spring and summer (and a TON OF MONEY we had not expected to blow) is spent 95% rebuilding the north building of the house because the prior owners had lied through their teeth about the condition of the house. It was obvious how much they had knowingly covered up in their 'rehab', things a building inspector can't see because they can't rip down drywall, etc.

    In the middle of this the company I worked for was blowing the workforce to make it look like a better deal to the company they were going to PAY to 'buy' the 2 manufacturing sites and I retired when I was laid off.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
  2. Oct 13, 2016
    Bruce

    Bruce Herd Master

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    DD1 is an emotional vegetarian. Nothing living here will be eaten by us or anyone else so my options are eggs (she ignores the "what happens to the male chicks at the hatchery" thing), honey and fiber animals. Can't do dairy goats or sheep because ~50% of the offspring required to get the mom back in milk will be male and if no one is going to eat them, that runs into a lot of "useless" male animals to be fed all winter. It does not pay to be male in the agricultural world.

    I researched Alpacas as fiber animals but at the time it was a business model doomed to failure near as I could tell. Pay thousands (if not $10K plus) each for breeding animals then sell the babies to people who will pay thousands for them so they can breed them and sell the babies to people who will pay thousands ..... You get the idea. There has to be a relatively small number of people who will ride that train so I wrote them off. Sheep? Money is in the food value, not the wool so that was a no go. Stopped thinking about fiber animals.

    The first "livestock" was a dozen layer chicks from Ideal in Texas, June 2012. I converted a 10x12 stall in the barn to a predator safe coop. The barn alley (70'x8') is their indoor run. They are free to come out of the barn most every day and put themselves to roost at night though they do want their scratch grains first. And while a bunch of chickens is a flock not a herd, let me tell you a dozen hens running for treats sure SOUNDS like a herd! I put the game camera in the barn last night. Here they are when they heard me at the barn door this morning



    Lost 1 Partridge Chantecler to "who knows what" March 2014 and an EE to a fox in late April. Lost the other Partridge Chantecler to a fox in late April 2015, nearly lost my fave Back Australorp Echo that same day but saw the fox from the kitchen window with the hen in it's mouth. Yelled, it dropped the hen and ran across the field to the woods. Echo ran the other way, found her 1.5 hours later across the road at the NE neighbor's. Got 7 chicks from Meyer in June 2015, they were raised by Zorra, my BIG Black Australorp after spending 2 nights and 1 day in their Momma Heating Pad brooder in our bedroom. Lost 2 of the older girls (both the Cubalayas) to a raccoon this past summer, one of the Anconas (also 4 Y/O, guessing heart issues) and one of the 1 Y/O EEs :( to Fatty Liver Disease based on my autopsy and review of the pictures by someone who knows chickens. So, back to 12 at the moment.
     
  3. Oct 13, 2016
    NH homesteader

    NH homesteader Herd Master

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    Oh I so feel for your daughter. I have migraines but they've really been better as I get older. Having one all the time? Wow... That's so awful. Doctor at Dartmouth Hitchcock really helped but I don't need migraine meds anymore, thank goodness.

    Are the alpacas pets? I love alpacas. I'm hoping this journal will have pictures of them... ;)
     
  4. Oct 13, 2016
    Bruce

    Bruce Herd Master

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    Back in late June I was at the mailbox before going somewhere with DD1 and 2. A car pulled up, I didn't recognize the lady so I figured she needed directions. Nope, she wanted to talk alpacas. Her family is moving to Florida in the spring and she was divesting her animals. Some chickens (already gone), 7 alpacas (the 5 girls already gone) and 3 goats. Her husband had apparently been suggesting she talk to me. Maybe because we have the space and fields and maybe because our hens are outside a lot so he figured we treat our animals well. I never asked. Anyway, she thought it would be weird to come up to the door to talk about this but since I was out on the road, not weird :lol:

    So the deal was, she didn't want to post them on Craig's List and sell them to someone who might not appreciate them and care for them well. Instead, she wanted to GIVE them to me, along with their heated water bucket, a stock tank, leads (the halters were too small for them and she gave them away with the girls) and even the toenail shears. Such a deal. But I have SO MUCH TO DO at this house and the other. Figured my wife would say "Nice, NO!!!!!". Instead she was excited. Go figure. So I thought about it some and kept trying to talk myself out of taking the free boys because I already have SO MUCH TO DO. But I failed.

    I started working on fencing an area on the north side of the barn so the boys could come and go as they please. In the video in the prior post, you can see the gate that separates the last stall and that part of the run (alpaca area) from the rest of the barn (chicken area). For whatever reason the prior owners had fenced around the pond behind the big barn to the NW corner (poor job as is true of everything done here that I can attribute to them) and did not include the doors on the north end. And OF COURSE I found another "sacred rock burial ground". EVERYWHERE I want to dig a hole here seems to be somewhere someone in the past decided would be THE perfect place to bury a bunch of unwanted and fairly large rocks. The garden fork hits rock no more than 1/2" down pretty much everywhere in the area I was working and well outside it. You can't see all the rocks in this picture but the posts are not in line as they should be, some rocks were just too big to move without equipment. The leaning post is just marking where it will go. The post to the right of it IS in place, several inches out of line. The pipe gate can't open in because it hits a large rock, you can see the white edge of it.

    DSCN0274.jpg

    The "door" on the left used to go to a silo that was apparently falling down and was removed by the prior owner. It is just plywood screwed to the opening. I am putting in an operable door so the wind won't blow straight through the barn alley. There is this narrow area that goes from the alley to that door beside the alpaca stall. I have it all cleaned up now and the plywood is removed.

    DSCN0281.jpg
     
  5. Oct 13, 2016
    Bruce

    Bruce Herd Master

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    The boys, Laddie (purchased) and Teddy (born at their place to one of their girls and a sire off the farm) arrived Sunday morning. I had figured out that I needed some way to keep them in the barnyard rather than having access to the area between the barns since I open the gate to let the chickens range around the house. To that end I used the remaining half of the gate that was there and put in some T posts to hold up a spare 10' pipe gate as a fence. Then I opened the doors on both ends of the barn hoping they would find their way through and out around back.

    Teddy was let out first, he waited for Laddie then they walked down toward the barn.

    DSCN0301.jpg

    DSCN0302.jpg



    DSCN0304.jpg

    I love it when a plan comes together!

    DSCN0306.jpg

    DSCN0308.jpg
     
  6. Oct 13, 2016
    luvmypets

    luvmypets Herd Master

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    Beautiful boys! Alpacas are pregnant for so long, so we opted against breeding. Our herd is all boys. We were going to add a white and brown boy but that fell through. Cant wait to see what you do with them.
     
  7. Oct 13, 2016
    Bruce

    Bruce Herd Master

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    The boys do not spend much time in the barn. In fact the reason that I have the video of the chickens running for the door is because I set the camera up to see if the alpacas came in during the night. They were in there in the late afternoon 3 days ago and I had put some alpaca pellets in their feeders on the gate in the alley later that day when I gave the girls their nighttime scratch but it was still there in the morning. It "disappeared" sometime during the day.

    They have taken pellets from my hand through the pipe gate every morning but NO touching. They are a bit sloppy when eating out of hand and the chickens (still nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs) have figured out that there are eats just beyond the gate and will venture there if the boys are elsewhere.

    One of my White Rocks (2015 chick) is insistent on laying out. She was fine with the nest boxes in the barn all last fall, winter and spring. Then something got stuck in her brain. I keep OCD track of who lays when, how large etc and it was obvious I was getting nothing from Yuki for a period and she had previously been a great layer. The first nest was in the bushes in the front yard, 13 eggs (all good) by the time I found it. Her next nest was OUTSIDE the fence in the daylilies by the road. 5 eggs in that one when I followed her. I would not let her lay there and she was going NUTS trying to get back to that nest. I finally captured her and locked her in the barn and was going NUTS jumping in every nest box, then out. I don't know what her little chicken brain was looking for. One box is a dark community box 4' long. The other is a 4' box with 2 dividers. NONE were OK with her. I finally made a nest box out of a corner grain feeder I put on the floor in the "feed room" and covered fairly well and that seemed OK.

    She laid there for many days then went silent again. Finally saw her going into the 5' tall weeds on the north end of the pond and later went looking. Found a nest with 9 eggs about 25' in. Long trudge for both of us. I stole those eggs too. Then I started seeing her at the south end of the pond. She had been poking around there some weeks before and I'm not certain there isn't a nest I never found. I found her latest nest about 10' in (much more reasonable) with 2 eggs and evidence there had been a third though there were no shell bits (odd??) I stole one egg and marked the other so I could tell which was the most recently laid egg the next day. But the next day (Tuesday) there were NO eggs. I put one of the rock weighted, taped shut plastic eggs in the nest. Wed it was there along with her egg for the day (I stole it). Clearly, much as the girls are afraid of the alpacas, she is so determined to lay out that she is taking her chances. Not that the alpacas are a threat. They had chickens before at their prior home, no big deal. Rainy today, not sure if she will go lay out or not. Here is a Google maps picture of the barn/pond area so you can get a bit oriented. The area I enclosed in is just to the right on the upper right of the outlined red area

    Barnyard.jpg

    I can walk past the alpacas and talk and they are OK with that. But they are nervous if I want to talk "face to face". Yesterday they alerted to a flock of turkeys in the NW field, the same area they saw a deer and alerted the prior day. Their alert noise is something like a higher pitched donkey bray.
     
  8. Oct 13, 2016
    frustratedearthmother

    frustratedearthmother Herd Master

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    They are soooo pretty, and so is your scenery!
     
  9. Oct 13, 2016
    Bruce

    Bruce Herd Master

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    Pets and fiber animals. Other than the 3 house cats (2 my wife's, 1 DD1s) I figure the animals need to "give back" something for my efforts to give them a decent life. We refer to the girls as "Spoiled butt chickens". Anyone from PETA that wants to claim keeping chickens for eggs is cruel would find it impossible to make their argument here. How many of them have dogs that are locked in their house or apartment all day waiting for their loving owners to come home and maybe take them for a walk?

    The plan is that D1 with her migraine is not exactly employable so we need to find something she can do at home. How about "value added" fiber products?? We have a ~4' floor loom that my wife got from a college friend when his mother could no longer see well enough to use it. Sad part is we got it all put together, wife and D1 got a starter kit (placemats I think) 2 years ago and it hasn't even been opened. So not sure if the alpaca fiber WILL get made into something salable here. My wife's cousin has a spinning wheel (that she isn't ready to give up) and shears though I don't know if they are electric or manual. I have enough arthritis in my hands that I couldn't shear with manuals so I would have to buy an electric. Yes I could wait for Dan to come by next year, it was $35/animal last year, probably higher next year. Might be worth investing in my own and learning to do it. Maybe I can find a good used one on eBay or Craig's List. If I can do mine, maybe the lady NE would pay me to do hers. Less than $35, especially since I'd be REALLY new at it, so quite slow, but it would help pay for the equipment. So maybe it could be a family operation, we raise the animals, get the fiber off them and Sally spins it then sends it back for D1 to make something and sell it.

    Dan, the guy who shears around here (only one I've heard of from the neighbor to the NE (3 horses, 2 intact male alpacas) and the lady who owned mine)) didn't come or call back this year until it was too late to shear them so the poor boys had an uncomfortable quantity of warmth through the summer. We snacked and watered the boys and their 3 goats for 2 weeks while they were in Florida the end of August and other than one day, the boys were in their barn every day. They came out to get their snacks, eyeing us warily if we stayed by the feeders (opposite side of the fence) then headed straight back to their barn. I was worried they would be the same here but they have shown interest in seeing what I am doing and don't hide at all so I ASSUME they were just WAY too hot before.
     
    Senile_Texas_Aggie and sadieml like this.
  10. Oct 13, 2016
    NH homesteader

    NH homesteader Herd Master

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    Wow that's expensive. I think the best way to make money with fiber is doing just that, taking the whole thing from animal to finished project and doing it yourself. Sounds like a good plan. I'm going to attempt to do a similar thing with soap, lotions, etc. With my goat milk. I thought about fiber animals but I have too much going on right now!

    I do intend to learn to spin but more for fun. My aunt, who lives in VT, has been spinning for 30+ years and is going to teach me.

    Don't get me started on PETA! The real committed ones don't believe in keeping pets either. At least they're not as hypocritical!
     
    sadieml and Alexz7272 like this.