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.
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!
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.
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.
It’s like autumn out there, and I wish it would stay that way! I love it. But as usual, the hot humid weather is arriving on Tuesday, just in time for the first day of school for the kids. Ah well, nice to enjoy it this weekend at any rate.
Our pigeons had an early race this week because Sunday looks a little thundershowery. They were released in Oakfield, Maine this morning, and some of them got back in about 3 hours. Not bad for 160 miles, but it was thought that there would be a better tailwind than there was. All but one of our flyers are back as of this evening.
The main structure of the loft is just about finished; the roof only needs the ridge cap and parts of the inside need to be tailored to the groups that will be hanging in there. All the birds are together right now and they are beginning to pair off a little. So we will need to have a section for the families and one for the single males. Soon, I am sure. And we have 8 more races to go !
(Video of a training release of our birds earlier this summer)
This past weekend our young homing pigeons were scheduled for their first race, 125 miles. They have been training pretty much every day, being driven to different spots around the state to be released for their flight back to the home loft, but most trips like this averaged about 50 miles or so from here, a lot different than 125! Weather looked bad for Sunday, so they were transported to northern Maine with Monday being the release in Jackman, Maine. It’s farther than they have flown yet on any training flight. John only chose to enter 7 of his 17 flyers as this is all very new to us!
It was a little nerve-wracking as I was the one at home waiting for them. Their release got delayed because the mountains up north were socked in with fog, so the person releasing them finally had to drive south a ways to get a clearer take-off. In any case, I was out working in the goat paddock and I heard their wings before I saw the first 4 of them. They only briefly stopped on the ridge of the loft roof and then they were inside (which is the only way to get their electronic leg bands to register on the “clock”). It was great to see 4 of the 7 come in, but then I worried about the rest. Needlessly, because they trickled in quite soon after. Phew!
So that was the first race of the year. There will be quite a few more, almost every weekend for the next couple of months. In the meantime, we wait for the race results to find out which of the lofts had a winner!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!