Owl Caught In Electric Fence

While at Ikea getting kitchen cabinets I got a call from my son telling me “We have an Owl Problem”.  There was an owl caught in our electric fence that goes around the chicken coop and defines the area they have to run around in.  The owl was eating a dead chicken and then must have tried to fly away and didn’t see the fence.

Jacob turned of the electric fence so the owl was no longer getting shocked, but getting it untangled from the fence had to wait until I got home.  We had to be very cautious as we didn’t want to get scratched or bit by the owl.  So after putting on heavy gloves we went out to check out the situation.

The owl was well caught and must have been exhausted from trying to get out and getting shocked every second for maybe several hours.  He would his and click his beak at us but didn’t do much else.  We had to cut a few strands of the fence to free the owl and he just laid on the ground for several minutes after he was free breathing heavy.  Then he got himself stood up and glared at us.  He was covered in mud so he couldn’t fly so he stood there a while to try and recover.  We watched him from the house and over the next hour he kept fluffing his feathers as the mud dried.  When we checked again he was gone, we found the tracks where he walked through the snow into the woods.  We did take a bit of before and after video.

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Another Winter The Bees Did Not Over-Winter

Whil I suspected for some time now that my 2nd hive did not survive today prety much proved it  we had a 50 degree day with sunshine and no activite seen at the hive  I looked in the top box and saw a bunch of dead bees.  I’ll have to tear the hive apart and see if I can get any hint of what happened.

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Chickens In Michigan Winter

All things considered I think my chickens have done fairly well is this record setting winter.  We have close to two feet of snow on the ground where the chickens are and have had many nights of below zero temps.  I’m using the “3 sided coop” model based on what is in the old literature.  That is the coop has plastic on 3 sides (and part of the 4th truth be told).  The theory is the chickens need a wind break and a roof, but it is better to be well ventilated.  So far I’ve only lost one hen over the winter and she didn’t die overnight but sometime during the day.  However on those cold nights they do roost close together.

The chickens have not been able to reach the ground since sometime December, there has just been too much snow.  It would have been nice to have some kind of standing grain crop that they could self harvest, but it would have had to be something with a strong stalk.  All of the areas I left with tall grass is buried under the snow so I don’t think something like wheat would have worked.

Therefore the chickens are living on a layer pellet produced by a local feed mill.  Plus they get all of our food scraps.  I’ve also taken to sprouting barley for them is seed flats.  After 7 days or so it has a couple inches of green plus a lot of roots, they love it.  It’s the best I can do this year, I’ll have to think about what I can do for next year.

Chickens Eating Sprouted Barley

Chickens Eating Sprouted Barley

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Tractor Problems

The starter stopped engaging on my 1964 Ford 4000.  This is a bit of a problem as I use the scraper blade to clear the snow from the driveway and put a hitch on it to move things around.  This starter looks different than anything I’ve ever seen.  The teeth of the flywheel is near the motor and the gear comes from the back side.  I understand how the spiral gear drives a gear (hidden under the metal collar in this case), but I don’t see what retracts it.  Time to do some searching on the internet and try and find an answer.

IMG_0891

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Winter Is Here

We have got over a foot of snow in the last 24-48 hours and now the temp is going to plummet and the wind will pick up producing wind chills well below zero.  I have to say I’m not really prepared for this weather, it has been a long time since we had weather like this in S.E. MI.  My little Saturn is so low to the ground that it is scraping snow with the undercarriage and is repeatably getting stuck.

The chickens have plastic wrapped around their coop to keep the wind out and they are not really leaving the coop the last two days.  Everything I’ve read about traditional chicken keeping in this area said they do find in unheated coops, I hope that is true.

Once I’m able to live on my 10 acres things will be a little easier as I can just hunker knowing I have everything I need around me, but living someplace else while I finish building the house means that invariably something I need is at the place I’m not.  Oh well a few more months and we should be done.

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Drywall almost all up

We put up about 200 sheets of drywall over the last 2 weeks and are almost done hanging, just 2 small bathrooms to go. Much of the work platform came down yesterday, and with drywall on the side walls of the great room you get a much better feel for the room. Drywall finishing should start in earnest the middle of next week. There are a lot of joints to tape, but it is a bit easier on the outside walls. With it being OSD on the inside the sheets can be hung up and down as 10′ sheets, so that means no butt joints, only edge joints running up and down every 4′

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Starting On Drywall

We got the go-ahead to drywall my house and things are rally starting to move.  It is amazing how much difference things look when you go from exposed studs to rooms.  It was a bit of excitement to hang the great room ceiling.  10/12 pitch and from 13′ in the air to 22′.  We also have to paint this ceiling so we are going to leave the scaffolding up for as long as possible.

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Losses at the Homestead

We lost 3 more hens including one of our white leghorns.  I’m assuming that it is due to some kind of flying predator as I found a carcass inside the electro-net fencing.  In just over a year I’ve lost 5 birds out of 40, so I guess that isn’t too bad.  I have moved the coop to what is going to be their winter home. This is an area close to the house that has some brush and low bushy trees. This should give them cover from flying predators. Plus come spring I warn to clear this area to become our vegetable garden.  By running chickens through here the ground will have added fertility.

We also lost one of our hives.  I was out by the hives on a warm day and I noticed that one of them had a few bees flying in and out, but the other didn’t.  I opened up the hive with no activity and found there were 5 mice in the there.  They went running after I opened the hive.  The hive with bees still in it got all the frames with honey.  Lesson learned is that mice can get through a 3/4″ opening.

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My Old Friend – DR Field & Brush Mower

I got this mower probably a dozen years ago, and it was old then.  It has served me well and even though I have a tractor I sill find I use it a lot in clearing new areas.  You can see what you are doing much better and I find I don’t hit things as much.  It is much more maneuverable than a tractor and what it won’t take down I consider firewood and use a chainsaw.  Just feeling nostalgic today.

DR Mower

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Moving Chickens

I try to move the areas the chickens are in at least twice a week.  It is fairly easy to just move the electronet fencing in a open grassy area and the chickens will stay contained.  However if there is a tree I have to take down most of the fence and then had to spend time rounding up the hens.

In a “Duh” moment I realized they follow food.  So now I move the fence and coop and leave a 10′-20′ opening in the fence and then pull out the food.  This shows how far the chickens are willing to follow me to get food.  They will cluster around my feet so densely that I have to shuffle walk to keep from stepping on a chicken.

Chickens Following

 

 

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