Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

On the Homestead: When Predators Attack

It's been a disheartening week on the homestead this week. With the cold snap came the nocturnal predators. I awoke and started my outside feeding of our critters.  I noticed that only four hens out of six showed up and were closely followed by Whitie the rooster. Dinner, the other rooster, and the other two hens were no shows which were highly unusual. Well, I figured it was their loss and went on the tend to the rabbits.

I rounded the corner of the house and headed for the angora rabbitry building. I noticed a huge amount of feathers on the ground near where the chicken roost at night, then I knew the cause of these chickens absence. A predator had entered the chicken pen during the night. There were rooster feathers all over the place. I do  know Dinner had not gone peacefully, but had put up a fight. No bodies, not much blood, but loads of feathers littered the ground.

We are still not sure what predator got the hens and rooster. Needless to say, Whitie and the hens have abandoned their newly built coop and are back on the front porch for the time being. They are safer. We'll clean up the mess after we build a proper enclosed area for the chickens this spring.

A couple of days later, Mel was bringing in one of the Jersey Woolie, Ebony, to groom  and she noticed Whitie harassing a hen to walk to the other hens so he could protect them. The bird was obviously injured and hobbled on one leg with the other tucked tucked up under her. She was using her right wing as a crutch. Mel filled a milk crate with straw, placed the hen in it, and brought it inside. She now has a permanent spot by our wood stove.

After checking her out, we found no cause for her leg being drawn up. No obvious breaks or wounds. It might be muscular which time may heal. Her comb is a ragged mess and you can see where feathers have been stripped of their fluffy bits around her head. We figured she survived the attack and went into hiding under the house and hunger brought her out. For now, I'm calling her Gimpy. I know cruel, right? But it's true. Whether she survives or not is still up in the air. All we can do is hope. She just might be able to join Whitie and the other hens again.

Meanwhile, Mel cut a little too deeply while grooming Ebony. Rabbits have tissue paper fine skin. It resulted in a rather large cut on her shoulder. We are tending to it with an antibiotic ointment. She's been placed in the dog crate in the living room. She'll get the preferential treatment until she heals.

Mel was doing dishes and I was at my computer last evening when she looked around the corner of the short wall that divided us, We're running an animal house!"
Three of five cats were on the breakfast table because it's next to the wood stove, the border terrier, Herbie, was under my feet, and Nnyus, the pit bull, was lying on the kitchen floor. Plus the chicken by the wood stove, the rabbit in the living room, and two other cats lazing on the back of the couch. "We can move out and let them have it," she said.
I responded, "Sure we could, but none of their houses would fit us. We wouldn't be the Cockeyed Homestead, if things were normal, would we?"
We both had a good chuckle about that.

Amy on the left
Our Wwolfer, Amy, and her son were here last weekend. Mel showed her how to groom angora rabbits. I had him building a drop down nesting box out of wire for the new/old 30x36 rabbit cage. It was Colleen's, meat rabbit, previous home on my old homestead. I'm still waiting for his return next weekend to attach it to the cage itself. I got the idea from the Hillbilly Half Acre Homestead channel on YouTube. It seems like a more natural way to have litters for rabbits. In the wild, rabbits would have their babies in burrows. It would also free up floor space in Colleen's cage by not having a nesting box cramp her up. She's a big bunny. Once the babies are big enough to climb out of the drop down nest box, they can be weaned and placed in grow out cages within a couple of weeks.

I have been researching the raising of quail on our homestead. Now that the angoras have been moved to their official home, our angora rabbitry, we have empty cages outside. It would be another meat source for us. I was talking with Jason at the Big Bear Homestead, and he raises Cortunix quails. He has offered to hatch half a dozen for us in the spring. They are easy to butcher, clean and are delicious! So stay tuned to our YouTube channel for further updates on this.

I kinda like this one with additions
I could get hatching eggs but the plan is to get some Buff Orpington chicks in the spring. They are a broody bird so hopefully we can hatch out more birds. We will also be incubating some of our own New Hampshire Red eggs. We're both sold on this breed. I wouldn't mind getting some Americauna, Easter eggers, chickens also. Yes we are branching out in our chicken and egg production. Since Mel has the certification to sell eggs, why not take a stab at the market. They will be semi free range eggs and definitely organic once I start sprouting their feed in the spring. Only semi free range because I want to have a productive garden this year. I plan on housing the different breeds in chicken tractors. They are mobile and can be moved daily if necessary even close to the garden. I figure all it would take is one 4x8 piece of plywood, some 2x4x8s, chicken wire, and some screws. Maybe a couple of latches, a tarp, and a tow rope. We've got enough paint leftover from other jobs to paint them for weather proofing. We could even stick rabbits and quail in them too. I figure under $50 each.

Anyhow that's my plan. Mel may have other ideas. That's it for this week. As always,
"Y'all have a blessed day."

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