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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Monday July 25, Turkeys, Skunks and Ballsies Big Escape!

Every night Jens and I must make our rounds of all the poultry flocks and put them all to bed. With the chickens (both Layers and Growers) this is a simple matter of closing the door (chickens go in on their own at dusk) but the ducks and geese (there are three groups of ducks and one of geese, each with about thirty individuals) have not yet learned this trick. So, every night, we have to herd them back into their houses. Thankfully ducks and geese have a "herding" (perhaps "flocking?") instinct. They tend to clump together and run away from the herders. This makes putting them to bed relatively easy.

Turkeys, on the other hand, do not have this instinct, and their curious nature makes them just as likely to turn around and inspect the herder (or tree or fence or stone) as run away! Trying to herd turkeys is like trying to herd cats. A nightly exercise in frustration!

One might wonder why we have to put the flocks to bed every evening, only to set them free nine hours later.  Farmers who have free range birds have competition from all kinds of predators. Weasels, skunks, foxes racoons, ferrel cats and more would all like to have an easy dinner at the expense of the farmer.  So when you are paying more for free range eggs and meat, remember the extra care and time it takes on a daily basis to provide it.

For the past week Ballsie (Saturday May 9) has been spending a lot of time "inspecting" the fence which separates himself and the sows (female pigs), trying to find a way through. On Friday he must have figured it out. We were getting ready for market the following Saturday when we heard a commotion coming from the pig pen! We rushed to see what all the fuss was about! Ballsie and the sows were "going at it" with reckless abandon. Although it is apparently thoroughly enjoyed by both parties, pigs make a lot of very strange noises when having sex! Apparently Ballsie finally figured out that although the fence is electric the gate is not. He simply put his snout under the bottom bar and lifted (pigs have enormously strong necks and shoulders!) Once off its hinges the gate just fell away leaving the very happy Ballsie a clear path to the waiting sows!

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