Friday, July 30, 2010

Turkey battles

Here you can see some natural turkey fights as the toms try to prove whos better than who. At this age an authority structure must be formed within the flock.

We only step in if one is being threatened near death. Otherwise it's best to let nature take it's course.

New pig feeders

We finally spent the money for free feeding pig feeders. Feeding twice a day just became too much of a chore. With these 2 feeders we can fill them once a week and then just supplement with food scraps once a day. Much easier!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Its that time again

The first weekend of every month is special at little sprouts farm. This is the weekend that we take extra precaution agaisnt parasites. Since we are following organic principles, we do not use any chemical parasite control on our animals. Instead we have found a "food source" treatment htat apparently works as well as chemical treatments and has no side effects.

This is not commonly known but when commercial parasite controls are used, there is always a mandated waiting period after. During this time no animal products can be used for human consumption. That means no eggs and no butchering until the body has a chance to "cleanse" the chemicals. The stuff is really that toxic!

So, we use a product called VermX. It is a natural food and herbal mix that kills parasites in most any animal. There is no waiting period, and hte animals are actually better on it than not, much like vitimans and herbal tea. It is actually a healthy way to stay healthy!

So... for the first weekend, we move all the chickens and turkeys into their pens, and add the VermX to the feed for the required time. The pigs, sheep, and horses, and llama also get treated. Depending o the animal, it is a 3 to 5 day treatment.

The good news about all this is, our final products are healthy, parasite free, and consistent. The manure produced does not contain the chemical by-products that further affect the land and food chain. this also keeps the pasture in better shape by allowing hte manure to properly compost as nature intended.

Bottom line... its another way we are working to create a healthy farm, and a nutritous and delicious product.

Monday, July 26, 2010

These turkeys knows who feeds them!

In nature, food is one of the most important parts of any day, so naturally animals, even farm animals, develop quite the attachment to those that provide food for them. Turkeys, despite their bad rap ffor being "un-intelligent" know exactly where food shows up and who brings it!

These pics show our little flock of turkeys following me around the pasture. Sometimes its tought to walk without stepping on them! They are always underfoot. Even if I run to get ahead, they fly to catch up.  When I stand still, they start hunting around for more grasshoppers to eat.

First, the pep talk.. ready guys?

Here we go on a quick walk.

And.. the proud farmer

Friday, July 23, 2010


While working on the new turkey house last night... Hunter comes running up to announce the 6 baby pigs are in his yard!

Sure enough.. They escaped! We all pitched in and herded them back to the pen to find the momma waiting impatiently for them.

Apparently romeo (the dad) had lifted the fence panel we use for a gate while scratching himself and they all slipped out.

Looks like time for more fencing!

Teaching turkeys to hunt

I discovered recently that our dry pasture is actually a haven for grasshoppers. For some extra protein I walk the turkeys out when it's not too hot and stir some up for them to hunt.

They are really very good hunters!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chickens are growing up!

Just a few days ago the golden rooster started crowing. A few days later the americana rooster started crowing. The farm 'sounds' like a farm now with the occasional rooster in the background.

Yesterday we found the first eggs from the young chickens. They are tiny compared to the 3 yr old chicken eggs!

Then... I witnesed the first rooster fight. After throwing out some feed both boys went after it... But natures way is a single dominant male in each society. So they went after it. Feathers fluffed... Necks stretched... Trying to jump on each other and attack. Fortunately the golden had enough before any damage was done. He walked off to let the americana eat.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Teenage Turkeys showing off!

While we were all busy weeding the garden, the turkeys were busying strutting their stuff in true turkey fashion. These guys are officailly "teenagers" now and have the hormones raging.  Unfortuntely for the guys, female turkeys mature a bit slower. They are not laying eggs yet, so they really arent interested, but the guys keep courting anyway!

Heres one hopeful guy trying to impress the ladies!

Alas, she walks away unimpressed.

Two males establishing who is the boss

And here is one more try at getting a date

But still, he end up alone.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Very sad day at Little Sprouts

Today we lost one of our Jacob sheep.  This is an unfortunate side of raising animals that cant be avoided completely, but it still tears at your heart when it happens. To make this situation worse, it appears that this death could have been prevented.

About 2 days ago I discovered that someone had left the gate open inside the barn leading to the feed storage area. On that same day we let the sheep out into the yard to graze the green grass there (while we are trying to get the pasture growing again). Unfortunately the sheep found the feed storage and seemed to really like th pig food stored there. I immediately chased them away and locked the gate, not thinking much of it.

Then the night before yesterday one of the sheep showed labored breathing and a sort of humming sound with each breath.  It had no signs of a fight or any physical markings, so since it was late I decided to wait till morning and callt he breeder to ask what to do.  That was a bad choice on my part. The next day I found the little sheep curled up motionless just outside the shelter. It had died through the night.

I contacted the breeder and from the symptoms she deduced that the sheep had contracted "acidosis", which is caused by a ruminate (sheep, cow, horse, or other grass eater) consumes too much grain. The bacteria in their rumen make acid from teh excess carbs in the grain. If too much acid id formed, it creates a kind of pnumonia, which can be fatal.

We could have prevented this death by either being more careful to keep the grass eaters away from grain products, or by recognizing and treating this condition immediartely.  Now it is a sad learning experience.

This experience does once again raise the question, why do factory farms feed grain to cows on purpose? These animals are intended to eat grass and their digestive system is only geared to handle grass. intorducing grain is not beneficial and can lead to death of the animal or the person that consumes the meat after it is butchered. It just doesnt make sense to take that chance.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Baby pigs discover the mud hole

the baby piglets are out exploring a lot now, and one of their favorite destinations is the mud hole. The pictures below show them playing and resting in the mud just like mom and dad.

It is amazing how quickly these guys are maturing!