‘Tis the Season…for Tornadoes

Although parts of Oklahoma have seen some devastating tornadoes already this year, we have not experienced any. We have had our share of wind though. I know it doesn’t compare in the least to the horrific damage a tornado produces. I am, however, in the process of repairing wind damaged animal structures here.

We like to use the John Suscovich-style chicken tractor for our meat birds of various sorts and they also make a handy extra pen for odd ball situations such as too many roosters that need to be processed or injured animal quarantine, etc.

The one weakness in this style of chicken tractor is the tarp that covers the top and two sides of the pen. Most tarps don’t last the summer season here and they’re getting enormously expensive to replace. Two years ago, the tarp cost about $40 to $50. This last tarp I bought was $70. I have a backup plan in the works and I’m hoping to go into a light weight, non canvas solution. Will keep you updated.

I have been raising American Bresse chickens over the winter in hopes of providing a homestead scale alternative to the Cornish cross birds. Something about the breeding process requires about a thousand birds minimum to keep the Cornish cross genes going. This bird is the one you buy in the grocery store. A thousand birds are definitely more than the average homesteader wants to handle, so, many of us have been looking for an alternative. There are a few out there, though none will give you the same breast and meat production that the Cornish cross will, especially in 6-8 weeks. Regardless, I’ve chosen the Bresse for my closed flock meat bird.

My male/female count was four to four, until the too many roosters injured one of my hens and she died from her injuries. I had hoped to get two of the roosters and other birds to the processor earlier but this poor family has so many people scheduling with them there is now a waiting list. I have had to segregate my roosters to a separate pen to spare the three hens I have remaining.

Just this morning, I transferred my Cornish cross chicks to the chicken tractor. They were overdue for the move but the replacement tarp had not arrived yet and we had frost advisories the past two nights. They should be fine now, learning the feel of spring grass under their feet.

Poor Oscar still struggles to get to his feet despite anti-inflammatory medication and a chiropractic adjustment. His efforts to get up while inside the pig hut has him thrashing about, slamming into the sides of the hut. He has dislodged a wall panel and that is the next thing I need to repair.

Wattles is starting to waddle as she appears to be days away from farrowing. I certainly pray her first farrow goes much more smoothly than Daisy’s did.

I talk about some of these things on my latest podcast episode here.

On a whole other note, we have had a bit of a mystery the past couple of weeks that I believe I have finally figured out. Sidney the cat has been bringing in young rabbits and playing with them until they die, sometimes even eating most of them. I know that is graphic, but it is what it is. The mystery is how the rabbits got into the house in the first place.

Last year, I discovered a hole in the wall in the closet of the pantry room. It must also lead to a hole in the floor because that is where a 6-foot black snake gained access to my duck and chicken eggs I had stored on the shelf. I believe that is how Sidney gets into the house when he takes his occasional jaunts outside and we have not let him back in.

I decided to peek into the closet to see if this was a possibility with the rabbits. I keep cases of canning jars and equipment stacked in this closet so it must be a real chore to get inside this way, but I suppose it is possible. I shone my light into the corner of the closet and saw a live rabbit hiding in the dark! That was a surprise.

So, since I don’t want any more snakes, rabbits or cats gaining access to the house, I need to pull everything out of that closet and get the hole(s) repaired. Life in a $2500 mobile home…

Speaking of which, friends came over and helped Tom put a few tires on the roof. The wind here in Oklahoma really makes the roof pop, moan and groan and I find the sound very distressing. It appears that we need more tires to put up there but I am very grateful for the ones already in place. We now look full-on redneck with the tires on the roof and I just don’t care.

I am still trying to get caught up on my video editing but I did get the farm update video from April 4 put up. You can see it here.

I believe that is all I have for you this week. God Bless!

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