Tag Archives: racing pigeons

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!

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!

 

And it’s here

The bucks in one of their favorite spots, the empty hay feeder
The bucks in one of their favorite spots, the empty hay feeder

At last the weekend! All I could think of this morning was how much my feet ached and hurt, even after an extremely good night’s rest. Pounding the concrete floors in school takes some getting used to after the summer.

Sleeping in until almost 6 was heavenly this morning. As soon as I got up I hurried out to do chores, and the morning didn’t let me down, it was a glorious one. Crisp and perfect. After I fed and watered my crew we had some packing up of racing birds to do, and this weekend we are racing 10 of our 15 remaining flyers. Because of the eastward moving wall of rain we are having right now, instead of going south to be released in Massachusetts, we believe they are being taken to Montpelier, Vermont for the morning’s rally. Should be another interesting race, navigating the White Mountains. It’s amazing that each weekend and really, each training session, I find it incredibly amazing when the birds come soaring over the trees to home.

Marigold and Iris, happy in their gluttony!
Marigold and Iris, happy in their gluttony!

Today I went up to one of our hay suppliers and got some Canadian compressed hay for the girls. I am anxiously awaiting the Canadian second cut, but it’s not arrived yet. In the past few months my husband’s friend has been helping build our pigeon loft and many of his tools had been stored in the greenhouse that we use for hay storage. The other day he took most of his tools home, and there was 3/4 of a bale of compressed Canadian second cut hay from last winter standing there, magically exposed! I put some in with the girls’ hay tonight and it created a total feeding frenzy. Marigold and Iris always tuck their heads in at one end of the feeder, and I wish I had thought to take a video. Their grins were enormous, and their sweet grunts of happiness were funny as anything. It started a little tussle at the other end of the feed bunker, but after a moment or two all the girls and Zorro the Llama had their places staked out and were happily munching away. The hay that most of us can grow and harvest on the coast of Maine is not usually as nutritious as the hay that can be grown in less foggy and moist summer climates. It’s funny that we have better access to Canadian hay than we have to hay that’s been grown in the Midwest of the United States.

I am glad they got their dinner in before the rains came. Now I am hunkered down with a glass of wine and the end of one of my favorite mysteries on my iPad at hand. (Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, The Long Road Home). I am loathe to finish it, because that means that I have to wait another year or so for the next one! Quelle horreur!

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.

 

Very blue sky day

Blue Friday sky
Blue Friday sky

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.

Waiting at the nearly finished loft
Waiting at the nearly finished loft

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 !

 

 

First race

(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!