Category Archives: Pigeons

Pickles picks the perfect day

New boy on the farm
New boy on the farm

Our yearling doe, Pickles, chose wisely.  She really didn’t look ready to kid today at all, but first-timers can fool just about all of us!  I did chores, checked her carefully, and her udder looked a little tiny bit bigger, but nothing serious.  We took our grandson to our favorite breakfast place, and then scooted up the hill to our pigeon racing friend’s house to watch his birds come in from a race.  He and his wife had driven and released the club’s birds in Massachusetts, and he wanted to make sure they all registered on the clock (we have no old birds flying this spring).  We saw the first 7 or 8 pigeons come in a little after 9:30, and then I got a call from my son that we had baby touchdown.  So I raced home to take care of seeing that the little guy got his Bo-Se shot (to prevent white muscle disease) and his little umbilical cord dipped in iodine, plus a weight.

Mama is taking good care of her boy
Mama is taking good care of her boy

Pickles is a medium-sized doe, but not the biggest, and she birthed a 7.75 lb buckling with no trouble.  She is definitely SnowPea’s daughter!  Our little buck definitely has the Guernsey genes (his father, Reddog, is almost pure Guernsey, his mother is 1/4 Alpine, 3/4 Lamancha).  Sigh.  This day has not disappointed!

Tired out from being the new boy in town
Tired out from being the new boy in town

I am really not sure if anyone else out there is bred, but this morning I just happened to be standing behind Pickles’ sister Sassafrass, and one side of her udder is round and full.  I don’t know if this is just a copycat of what Pickles had last fall, an udder that was filling without any pregnancy, or if Sassafras is really bred and might be cooking a baby in there!  I guess only time will tell, or I can draw blood and do a pregnancy check.  If I still don’t know by mid to late June, I may just do that.  The one thing I am pretty sure of is that none of the goats are likely to be kidding before then, if they are bred, so I will be out of school if things should look promising!  All of us can get a good night’s sleep for awhile now :*)

Hot and stickies are here

The waves at Pemaquid Point lighthouse park.
The waves at Pemaquid Point lighthouse park.

And how!  Even doing chores really early in the morning won’t get you out of it.  We have had a breakneck weekend, with a friend visiting from NJ who is looking at a house not far from us.  He is planning to retire up here in a few years, and a fantastic property came onto the market recently that is perfect for a single guy and his trusty black lab.  Plus all his hit-and-miss engines and car toys!

One of the outbuildings at the lighthouse (used for oil storage, and close to the rocks to pull up supplies in the old days)
One of the outbuildings at the lighthouse (used for oil storage, and close to the rocks to pull up supplies in the old days)

And so it goes.  The two youngest goat kids showed up with the scours a few days ago, but the heat and humidity don’t help that at all.  They are coming around with the Di-Methox treatment, but I feel so bad for them in the meantime.  They are as perky and interested in food as ever, so I think I caught it just at the right time.  It’s always something on a farm.

As far as “it’s always something” goes, during our stay in NJ, our friend who was caring for the goats and the pigeons kept calling to say that our bucks were out of their paddock every time he turned around.  When we returned, I beefed up all the fences in the boys’ paddock, and still Bagels the Buck was over and roaming about.  (He was also luring Henry the Buck along with him, and Henry twisted his leg pretty badly jumping out, so he is a three-legged goat for now, but doing very well).  I finally put Bagels into a pretty airtight pen, and there he stayed until I took him to the butcher last Tuesday.  I would have kept him around for awhile, but only as a companion for whatever buck we get for the next few years.  I couldn’t use him on all of his daughters, and having him breed the 3 moms would only result in more babies related to him.  So, getting meat into the freezer is not the worst thing in the world, but I admit that I was not thinking about this for the moment.  And I am keeping Henry around to be a short-term companion to the young buck that is still with his mom, Pippi, for weaning time.  I won’t allow a buck to be alone, even with Jingle the Donkey, because goats are social animals and need another of their kind to pal around with.  It’s the forever juggling act!

The view from lighthouse park where I released the pigeons for training the other morning
The view from lighthouse park where I released the pigeons for training the other morning

And tomorrow is Monday.  The humidity is supposed to stay with us for a few more days, but it sounds like the temperatures will stay in the upper 70s, and not hover near 90F.  Yay!  There are a few things on my list for tomorrow, so I will see if I can get them done without too much trouble.  I can’t stand the heat, so even though I am relieved not to have 5 feet of snow on the ground out there, the opposite is not very conducive to creativity or activity either!

 

Summer routine

One of our squeaker trainees:  #5751
One of our squeaker trainees: #5751

I love getting into the summer routine.  We have been home from NJ for a week now, and I am still not into it!  Aargh!  My husband has been working some days and not others; his truck is waiting for parts so that is not running, which means that I have to take him to work, and on and on.  I have a list as long as my arm of things that I want to get accomplished over the summer, besides getting some R&R and doing some fun things, but I feel like I am not getting anything done right now because of the routine I have not settled into :*)

Youngest squeakers coming back to the entrance tunnel
Youngest squeakers coming back to the entrance tunnel

I always feel so much more productive when I get going on this!  It hasn’t helped that I am not milking SnowPea yet, either.  I am all in a dither.  We got our new boxspring and mattress delivered on Monday (wasn’t supposed to be here until today), which meant that I had to rush around and trash the house moving stuff so that we could get the old bed upstairs and the new one into our bedroom on the first floor.  The corner of the living room that meets one corner of our bedroom has been housing all manner of things that need sorting, so now that stuff is sitting in front of the recliner and the dining room table.  It’s too disgusting to even take a photo of it all, I just need to dig in and get going on it (most of the “stuff” are boxes of mixed up junk papers and bills and “real” papers that just need to be sorted and filed or recycled.  We do a little better now with that kind of thing, but it has never been our strong suit at all!).  Sigh.

But for now, I am going up to let the younger pigeons out of the loft for a little loft toss.  They usually fly around for a few minutes and then come down and sit on the roof for a little bit, and then hop back through the tunnel and gate and go in for their food.  Our older flyers have been training well.  This morning I took them down to what used to be Sherman Lake (now Sherman Marsh) between Damariscotta and Wiscasset, and let them go.  All 14 returned, thank goodness.  Currently we are missing 3 flyers, but hopefully one or two of those will turn up as they do sometimes. I just hope this crew are ready for the first young bird race in mid-August!

Maybe if I get into my routine, my mojo will improve!

Weekend goodness

The gates are open!
The gates are open!

It’s been a good one. Pigeon flying friends of ours have returned from a winter in Florida, and we also had a chance to spend some time with our grandson. The weather was okay, but the wind is still hitting us pretty hard with  some icy temps. But on the positive side, the snow is retreating at a very nice pace, and we can finally open most of our gates in both directions (when I shoveled, I got at least one side open well, but didn’t always get both going. It’s an age thing, I think. Turning 61 didn’t help my shoveling skills).

Beezus and Zorro the Llama are enjoying the sun
Beezus and Zorro the Llama are enjoying the sun

On Friday we had a new vet visit us to take a look at the bucks. I had a suspicion that Bagels the Buck had some mites as he has an itchy issue, and his scrotum looks a little funny. Kind of leathery and hairless at the bottom, almost looking like it might be frostbitten. The vet was very lovely, took some skin samples and let us know that it’s very difficult to read for mites. But in her opinion, they are probably suffering from it.

As the world turns, of course I presumed that we had the mites. So we are going to have to treat for them. The vet saw some evidence of the little buggers, and we need to just get on top of this asap. But in the meantime, we have had a great weekend with the family. And the pigeons are coming along as well. More on that in the next few days!

Chicks

Pigeon chicks
Pigeon chicks

The three pigeon chicks that were hatched late last week are doing well so far. I expected them to look radically different each day, but at this point in their growth, apparently not! They definitely look a little stronger, and their little heads are not wobbling around like rag dolls, but they are still almost all beak, dark unopened eyes, and a few funny feathers!

Pigeon chick #3
Pigeon chick #3

I am trying to get photos of them every other day or so. It’s all a new baby adventure, and we are excited to see how they grow. The mama and daddy birds take equal care of the hatching, feeding and nurture of the chicks. Quite impressive, seeing as how many mammals don’t manage that!

Helluva month

Marigold the doeling
Marigold the doeling, looking for her sister, Iris, who left the farm last Saturday

It’s been one of the craziest Novembers that I can remember. Folks in the Great Lakes are getting hammered with multiple feet of snow, and we have had some pretty cruel temperatures here as well. Tomorrow morning is supposed to be the coldest of the season so far, but after that there should be a little warm up. And I am definitely looking forward to that!

Walking in the paddocks has been a little bit easier the past few days because the mud has firmed up, but it also causes a little bit of a slowdown at chore time, because the walking is also hazardous due to the peaks and valleys in the frozen mud (made by my feet and little hooves). But, I do like having a good freeze-off so that I worry less about the parasite situation with the goats.

#827 is a daddy!
#827 is a daddy!

And we have some news today: our first pigeon chicks hatched. They are definitely “so ugly they are cute” material, with their gigundas beaks and their huge eyes and not-much-for-feathery-covering. Hopefully they do okay, as they are in the general population area (our breeding room is not quite finished yet). Lovely to get a little bit of new life on the farm even as we are going into the hard months of winter. Nice for a pre-Solstice event!

 

That went quickly

Gentle Sunday skies
Gentle Sunday skies

It’s Sunday night again. We have power tonight, as opposed to last weekend, but it is the end of the weekend as well. Oh dear, didn’t get nearly as much accomplished as I had hoped, but we did make some progress on a few things.

Bucket of rocks
Bucket of rocks

I was mostly moving rocks for the better part of the end of the afternoon. Nothing glamorous about that, but it had to be done. Some of our cattle panels in the paddocks lean outward, because the green t-posts that are holding them up are sitting on ledge. Granite. So they droop. Someone we know who used to raise sheep not far from here used tall spirals of wire that she filled with rocks, as a support for the t-posts. I have made a few of these before, with very unsatisfactory results (because I used chicken wire for the baskets, and they all broke and exploded their rocks everywhere).

Half a rock pillar support!
Half a rock pillar support!

So this time I used different wire, tried to fashion a little bit of a bottom, and then went about filling it. My grandson and I have been making a small pile of good sized rocks since last spring, and today I used them. But they were about 2 acres away from where I needed them, so I got the black rubber bucket, and shuttled away. Where are those grandkids when you need help???

Milking greenhouse. Empty!
Milking greenhouse. Empty!

The other thing I worked on was getting the milking greenhouse cleared out. I am moving things around and am going to try and use that as part of the girl goats’ shelter this winter. Maybe with an eye to using it for kidding in the springtime.

Otherwise, John and our son and grandson worked on electrical things in the pigeon loft. It was a busy day, and I was glad of the hot bath and pot roast out of the crock pot tonight. I think it is going to be an early night!

Sliding into autumn

Wednesday afternoon light
Wednesday afternoon light

The week bumps on. Past hump day and into the home stretch. The weather continues to be amazingly gorgeous, we can’t complain about that! Cool in the mornings, fairly warm during the day, in the upper 50s and lower 60s. We don’t have any really nice color on the trees yet, but they do seem to be fading,losing their brilliant summer green.

Little India's pelt
Little India’s pelt

Yesterday I was surprised by the UPS van zooming down the driveway. The last 3 sheep pelts that I had processed came back from Bucks County Fur. It’s certainly nice to have them since we don’t have the sheep anymore. All of them are lovely, and will definitely be useful around here.

HoneyBea's pelt
HoneyBea’s pelt

Pigeon racing continues. We had 4 birds in the top 20 this past weekend, which isn’t bad for beginners. I can’t remember where they are being released this weekend, but the races are getting progressively longer. We don’t have enough flyers to be death-defyingly competitive, but they are definitely holding their own.

Settling gently into autumn is just about my favorite time of the year. It’s here, and it’s time.

 

Super moons

Super moon over one of our greenhouses
Super moon over one of our greenhouses

This is the week of the last ‘super moon’ for the next while. Super sized, early in the evening I can’t see it as it is below the ring of trees around our property. During the night if I open my eyes it looks like all of our outdoor lights are on, which can be a bit disorienting.

And then there is the early morning. When I go out to do chores, I know that I can usually catch a glimpse of the setting moon. It’s always a thrill, and being the optimist that I am, I always think that I can get a great photo of it with my little iPhone. Not so much, but it’s fun trying.

Grainy, but interesting, super moon
Grainy, but interesting, super moon

And this morning was no different, but I got a bunch of different photos that were all equally interesting. Now that I have a light in my milking greenhouse and a light in the hay greenhouse, I am settling into my winter-ish chore routine. A little sadly, perhaps, as that means the daylight is waning, but a satisfying part of the year nonetheless. And I can’t say it or think it enough: I love this cool weather! Bring on the blankets.

(Just a note on our weekend pigeon race: the birds were driven to Derby, Vermont, right up near the Canadian border. One of our birds came in 8th, which is pretty remarkable, considering they crossed the 4,000 foot White Mountains! 4 hours.)

 

 

Such a week

One of our flyers
One of our flyers

Getting back into the swing of the work year is always a bit of a rude awakening (especially when that awakening happens at 4:15 a.m.!). But it seems like we have also had a serious pile of crazy added to it.

Last week during a training run our best bird, #828, failed to come home. It wasn’t a particularly hot or windy day, but he just never showed up. He did, however, come limping home about 4 days later, and we had a tough time grabbing him because he was hiding under the loft building. Not a good sign. Awhile later we found him inside the loft, back with his buddies, but in pretty bad condition. Most likely savaged by a hawk. He was missing all kinds of feathers, and pretty cut up. We took him to one of our pigeon friends who thought that he might make it if we were to separate him and clean him up, give him electrolytes and special easy-to-digest food. So we did. He seemed to be getting better, was eating and pooping, and a friend recommended we treat him with Ledum, as it had seriously helped with a chicken that was attacked, and another friend had used it on a ram with a badly infected head. Unfortunately, I think he was away for too many critical days, and was too far gone. He died yesterday, so our thoughts of keeping him just as a breeder were done. Poor little guy. He was a tough one, and you do read about homing pigeons who endure a lot and get home okay and survive. But I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for him.

Waiting for a peanut treat
Waiting for a peanut treat

Added to that, the litany of aggravating craziness just keeps on coming. Last week the washing machine was out of order; end of the week we lost our hot water for 36 hours; this week our refrigerator crapped out (but the freezer part is still working); I got another denial on my NJ pension; and the real topper: a wonderful woman who ran our middle school cafeteria for many years and had beat cancer, just didn’t wake up the other morning. 54 years old and the sweetest, most positive and upbeat person I have never met. She will be sorely missed by so many. I can’t even really process it.

So in the scheme of things, the washer and the refrigerator, and the pension hoo-ha doesn’t really amount to much. Frustrating, but nothing compared to the loss of a dear, sweet soul. Maybe she and our pigeon boy are out there somewhere smiling on us. I hope so.