Thursday, November 20, 2014

Photos from the Farm #12

Welcome back!

Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving Dinner next Thursday?

We are!

Since you are thinking about all the yummy food you will be eating next week I thought it would be interesting for you to see what types of food the animals on our farm eat.

Before I show you what the animals eat, I thought you would like to know that we got another new animal on the farm this week! Her name is Echo and she is a mini-Jersey cow. She is 9 months old so she is too young to give milk. She is too young to have a calf!

We will breed her in February or March. Cows are pregnant for 9 1/2 to 10 months. If we breed her in February she will have her calf in November.
You will be in Second Grade when she has her calf!
That seems like a very long time.

Next, I thought you would like to see how our older chicks are doing. They are about 12 weeks old now and just starting to cluck. They still peep like younger chicks most of the time, but you can hear them starting to make an adult noise in the video.

I'm sorry the video is shaky today! Myles decided to sit right in front of me and push me a little bit! Silly dog!

One more update: Here is a photo of the hen who hatched her chicks during Fall Break. They were born on October 17th and 18th. They are about 5 weeks old.

They are just starting to get some little feathers now!
Something sad happened the day I took this photo. The mama hen died. We're not sure what happened. Sometimes we can tell if a dog (not ours) got into the yard and got a chicken. Sometimes a fox or a racoon or a mink will kill the hens. We know it happened during the day so we know it wasn't a fox, or a racoon, or a mink. They usually come at night.

The chicks are in a box until they are big enough to go out with the rest of the flock. They have a special light on them and they get special food.

When a mama hen takes care of the chicks she pecks the food until it is small enough for them to eat. Since they don't have a hen to take care of them we give them food that is already ground into small pieces.

I'll show you the box and the light when you come back from Thanksgiving.

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Your teacher has small baggies with the different kinds of food we feed the animals. I thought you would like to see and smell the food along with seeing some photos.

There was one kind of animal food that I didn't send. Your teacher told me all the good guesses you made last week!

Most of your guesses were wrong! Some of your guesses were right! I didn't send bugs that the chickens eat. I didn't send grass from the pasture.

No one guessed that I wouldn't send milk! Remi, the calf, is still drinking about 1 gallon of milk a day. If I send milk with your teacher it might spill, or it might go sour. I only sent her dry food for you to look at.

Nutrition is a big word. It means the way animals, plants, and humans take nutrients from food and use them for energy and growth.

If animals, plants, and humans (that's you!) have food that is good for them they grow strong and are healthy. They are able to perform well. That means they are able to do what they were meant to do.

A milk goat that is given the right nutrition (food, vitamins, and minerals) is healthy and strong. She can give 1/2 - 1 gallon of milk each time I milk her.

A calf that is given the right nutrition is healthy and can grow into a big, strong steer.

Chicks that are given the right nutrition are healthy and can grow into hens that will produce eggs. 

Chickens that are given the right nutrition are healthy and can produce eggs for our family.

Dogs that are healthy can run and play and learn new tricks. They have energy and can help us with the animals on the farm. 

Animals that have the right amount of food and water can stay warm in the winter.

Children that eat the right foods are usually healthy and grow properly. They can learn and do well in school. They can run and play at recess. Now you know why your mother tells you that you need to eat fruits and vegetables every day. You know why she tells you not to eat too many sweets.

People eat different foods to get proper nutrition and stay healthy. Animals need to eat the same things every day to get the proper nutrition and stay healthy. They don't need to eat different foods every day. Most animals will get sick if you change their food every day.

You will have many different types of food for Thanksgiving Dinner. The animals on our farm will have the same food they eat every day.

That may sound mean to you, but it is what is best for the animals. We like to do what will keep our animals healthy and strong!

This is cat food.
You might know what cat food looks like if you have a cat.
Cats need to have the same food every day or they may get sick.

This is dog food.
Some dogs eat too much food and get too fat! They are not healthy if they are fat.
Our dogs get fed about 1 cup of food for breakfast and 1 cup of food for dinner.
That is all they need to stay strong and healthy, so that is all they get.

This is called a 'grain blend.'
If you look closely you can see different types of grain and some pellets in the food.
This is what we feed to the milk goats, Remi (the calf), and Echo.
We never feed this type of feed to the bucks (boy goats). It isn't good for them.
We can feed a little bit of this to the chickens, ducks, and turkeys.

This is wild bird food.
We have bird feeders on our farm. One day I will show you some pictures of the birds that visit our feeders.

These are alfalfa pellets.
They are made from alfalfa hay. We feed a little bit of this to the milk goats, Remi, and Echo. We don't feed them very much of this because we also feed them hay.
We don't feed this to the bucks (boy goats) because it will cause problems for them.

These are Timothy hay pellets.
This is what we feed to the bucks! They don't get very much of this because we also give them hay.

This is oat hay and alfalfa hay.
We feed this to the milk goats, the bucks, Remi, and Echo.
These animals also eat grass in the pasture. In the winter there isn't any good grass on the pasture so we make sure they have plenty of hay to eat.
Can you see the seeds in the hay? Those are oat seeds!

This is called "Calf Manna."
If you guessed that we give this to the calves, you are right! We give it to any animal that needs more protein. You probably eat meat and beans for protein. Protein helps you grow properly.
Our animals don't eat meat but they need protein just like you do.
We feed Calf Manna to the milk goats, Remi, and Echo. Milk goats need protein and fat to make milk. Remi and Echo need protein to grow.

These are called lay pellets.
We feed them to the chickens and the turkeys. Lay pellets have protein, too! Chickens need protein to stay warm and to make eggs. Some people like to feed chickens 'mash.' It is made up of the same things that pellets are made of, but it looks like corn meal. It looks like the chick starter in the next photo, too.
We like pellets because it doesn't get wasted like the mash does. Chickens can make a mess. If their food is small it can get lost in the dirt when they peck it out of their feeder. Then it's wasted!

This is chick starter.
It has the right nutrition for chicks to grow into chickens. It also is small enough for the chicks to eat. They can't eat pellets like adult chickens can because their beaks aren't big enough yet.

In an upcoming post I will show you what the animal feeders look like. Last week you saw the metal tub that we use for the turkey's food. We have a hanging feeder for the chickens. The chicks have a special feeder for their food. The goats eat their hay out of a special feeder, too.

When you eat Thanksgiving Dinner this week look at the different types of dishes and bowls that the food is served in. Each dish is made to hold a different type of food. Bowls hold soup and liquids. Different size plates hold different types of foods.

Animals have feeders that hold their food just like you have bowls and dishes to hold your food!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Photos from the Farm #11

Welcome back!

It got cold this week, didn't it? Have you been wearing your coat out to recess?

I've been wearing my warm, winter coat every morning out to the barn when I do the chores. The animal's water has been freezing at night so it's time to put heaters in the water barrels. I'll show you some pictures of the heaters next week.

Someone had a good question last week! They asked, "How old is a rooster when he starts to crow?"

Charlie was about 5 months old when he started to crow. Sometimes roosters start to crow when they are about 6 weeks old, but we've never had a rooster crow that young.

Roosters start to grow bigger tail feathers than hens at about 6-7 weeks old. That's usually how we can tell if we have roosters before they start to crow.

I think all our older chicks are hens because they don't have big tails. I'll post some pictures of them again next week.

This week is a listening week!

Listen carefully and you will hear two different kinds of quacks from our ducks. The white duck is a drake. A drake is a boy duck. He has a quiet quack. It sounds as if he has a sore throat or that he might have lost his voice. That's how he sounds all the time, he isn't sick at all.

The other ducks sound like what you think a duck sounds like. Quack, quack! Those are the ducks. A duck is a female duck.

I know that is a little bit confusing, a girl duck is called a 'duck', a boy duck is called a 'drake', but all animals that look like ducks are called 'ducks.'

This is how adults say it:
  • The generic term for ducks of all species (male or female) is duck
  • All male ducks (no mater what the species) are called drakes
  • All female ducks (no mater what the species) are called ducks. 
  • All baby ducks (no mater what the species) are called ducklings.
Did you hear the dog barking in the video? You heard Miles, he doesn't like birds so if a magpie or another bird flies into the barnyard, he barks and chases them away. One day I'll get a video of him singing with the police sirens! He doesn't bark at anything else, which is very nice for us!

 *     *     *     *     * 

This is a video of the new chicks. Aren't they cute? Can you hear them peeping? What other animals do you hear in the video?

I hear the chicks peeping, the hen talking to her chicks, and both the female and the male ducks quacking. I also heard the turkeys at the very end!

 *     *     *     *     *

Do you want to see the new animals we got?

What did you guess last week?

This is Scout! He is four years old.

He likes Bryon, best.

This is JJ. She is five years old.

She likes me best, but she is timid.
Do you know what 'timid' means? It means JJ is shy, and that she likes to hide when there are new things going on. She is hiding in her crate because she has never seen a camera before. Scout is timid, too, but not as timid as JJ!

When people come over that they haven't met before, they both hide. JJ hides in her crate, Scout hides under the table.

Scout and JJ came from Texas to live on our farm. They are both Border Collies who have been trained to help herd sheep. Sometimes we call them, 'the twins' because they look alike.

Can you tell them apart? They are both black and white. What things are different that can help you tell them apart?

They like running in the barnyard and watching the animals. Border Collies don't hurt farm animals, that isn't their job. They are one of the breeds of dogs that farmers and ranchers use to help watch out for and protect the animals on the farm.

Do you have a dog? What kind of dog do you have? Does your dog do tricks? Is it trained to sit and stay?

The next time you write a story you could write a story about your dog and share it with me! What things does your dog do best? What does your dog look like?

If you don't have a dog, you could write about your cat, or you could pretend that you have a pet and write a story about your pretend pet.

Next week I'll show you how we keep the animals' water from freezing. I'll show you what kind of food each animal eats, too. I'll send some baggies to your teacher so you can see and smell and touch most of the kinds of foods that the animals eat.

Can you guess what kind of food I won't send in a baggie?

That's all for this week!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Photos from the Farm #10

Wow! You've been visiting for ten weeks! Welcome back!

What have you enjoyed the most?

Here is this week's photo of the new chicks.
They don't look very different from last week, do they?
Did you notice that there are three dark chicks and one yellow chick?

One of the funny things about mother hens is that they will sit on any eggs in the nest. It doesn't matter which hen laid the egg. Hens come sit on the nest, lay an egg, then leave. Usually only one hen sits on the nest and hatches the eggs.

It takes about 21 days for chicken eggs to hatch. Twenty-one days is three weeks. I'm sure your teacher will show you what that looks like on a calendar if you want to see what it looks like.

Thanksgiving is 20 days from Friday!

Here are the chicks you have been watching grow up since school started. 
They are about 10 weeks old. I've put a number by each chick so you can try the next activity.
Look at the chicks in the photo above and try to remember what they look like. Only one hen hatched them out, but that mother hen didn't lay all the eggs.

Try to decide which of the hens laid the egg that the chick hatched from. I'll post the answers after each picture.

This is Charlie, our Buff Cochin rooster. He's the dad of all the chicks. Charlie is a little bit fluffy. That is why all the chicks look a little bit fluffy, too. Charlie's parents and grandparents all looked like Charlie.

This hen is an Ameraucana. Both her parents and grandparents looked like she does.
Are there chicks that look like her?

Chick 4 came from an egg laid by an Ameraucana. She looks a little fluffy like Charlie, and she has a dark tail like her mother.

*     *     *     

This is an Arucana. Both her parents and grandparents looked like she does. Are there chicks that look like her?

No chicks look like our Arucana hen. She didn't lay any eggs in the mother hen's nest.

*     *     *     *     *     *     

This is a Barred Rock. Both her parents and her grandparents looked like she does.
Are there chicks that look like her?

Chicks 1 and 2 came from eggs laid by a Barred Rock hen. They are a little bit fluffy like Charlie, and they are black and white like their mother.

*     *     *     

This is a Buff Cochin. Both her parents and grandparents looked like she does.
Charlie, the rooster, is a Buff Cochin, too! Are there chicks that look like her?

Chicks 3 and 5 came from eggs laid by a Buff Cochin hen. They will look just like the hen that laid the egg and Charlie, the rooster. They will be a golden color and they will be fluffy. Do you see the hen's legs? They have feathers near her feet so she looks fluffy.

*     *     *      

This hen is a mixed breed hen. She doesn't look much like her parents. Her grandparents looked different from each other, too. Everyone in this chicken's family looked very different from each other so this hen doesn't look like any other chicken I have ever seen!
Do any chicks look like her?

None of the chicks look like our mixed breed hen. She isn't old enough to lay eggs yet so she didn't lay any eggs in the mother hen's nest.

*     *     *     

This is a Silkie. Most Silkies are a little fluffier.
Her parents and grandparents must have had smooth feathers instead of fluffy feathers.
Do you see any chicks that look like her? Are there any grey chicks?

None of the chicks look like our Silkie hen. That means she didn't lay any eggs in the nest.

Remember, the mother hen you see near the chicks is the one that hatched the eggs and raised the chicks, but she isn't the one that laid the eggs.

Did you make good guesses?

We have to wait a few more weeks to see which of the chicks are roosters (boys) and which are hens (girls).  We will find a new home for the roosters because we only want one rooster on our farm. The hens can live here and lay eggs for our family.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    

Here's a very short video of our turkeys gobbling. Your teacher told me you never heard a real turkey before! What do you think of the sound they make?

This is what they look like when they eat their breakfast. They look hungry!

Next week I'll show you pictures of the new animals we have on the farm. We don't usually get new animals this close to winter. This year we have new chicks, a new steer, and ....

I won't spoil the surprise. You can come back and see the new animals next week. I'll give you three hints:
  • there are two 
  • they are black and white
  • they do not drink from a bottle.

That's all for this week.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Friday Photos from the Farm #9

Happy Halloween!

I hope you are all having a great day. I bet it's one of your favorite days in school.

I'm going to keep today's message short because I'm sure your teacher has many fun things planned.

Here is this week's photo of the old chicks. Look how big they are getting! They all have the same father, but they have different mothers. That's why they aren't all the same color. Next week I'll send some photos of the hens that laid the eggs that hatched into chicks. You can match the hen to the chick! Even though the black mother hen hatched the eggs, she isn't the one who laid them all.

Do you see the little chick?

Where did it go? Look closely and you will see some tiny orange legs.

I put some chicken food out for the new mother hen. It's chilly this morning! Watch what her chicks do to stay warm!

How many chicks did you see? Did you count four chicks? Last week there were only three chicks. One more egg hatched the day after Farm Friday so now we have four new chicks.

It was so cold this morning that the water had ice floating on top of the buckets. Now you know why the little chicks were hiding under their mother. They were chilly, too!

All the animals have grown a winter coat of fur. It keeps them warm in the winter. I'm sure you wear your coat outside to recess when it's cold. The little chicks listen to their mother. They snuggle under her when it's cold because they don't want to get sick. I hope you listen to your mother and your teacher and wear your coat outside when it's cold. I don't want you to get sick!

Do you see the big bottle Quin is carrying? The bottle is a clue for the new animal that came to Welcome Home Farm last week.

Can you guess what animal drinks from a bottle that big?

After you make a good guess your teacher can scroll down to see if you are right.

It's a new calf! His name is Remington Steele because he was a beautiful grey color when he was born. His nick-name is Remi.
Do you have a nick-name?

I thought you might like to see Remi drink from a bottle, so we took a video of him.

He's a messy eater!
He always has milk dripping off his chin when he's done eating.

He is a sweet calf and we are so glad he came to live with us on the farm.

That's all for today!

Next week I'll post some pictures of the old chicks and some hens. You can guess which hens laid the eggs that hatched out each chick.

Have a Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Friday Photos from the Farm #8

Welcome back from Fall Break! I hope you had a wonderful vacation.

We used our time to start getting ready for winter on the farm. We cleaned out the garden, raked leaves, and put up some shelter for the chickens.

Here is what we do with leaves after we rake them in a pile!

Guess what? I found the picture of me holding a chick!

The chicks look like little chickens now that they have all their feathers. They still 'peep' instead of clucking like an adult hen.

Can you hear them peeping? You can hear the turkeys gobbling because they are loud!

This is Stew, our lamb. His fleece is too long and needs to be clipped off. We call that 'shearing.' It might seem funny to be shearing a sheep in the fall. This breed is called "Navajo Churro" and they get sheared twice a year.

The stomach is always sheared first. Stew might look a little uncomfortable, but he's really taking a nap. When you put a sheep or a lamb on its tail like that he almost falls asleep!

Those shears look like giant scissors!
Dallan is very careful when he shears the sheep for us.

Doesn't Stew look nice!

He's happier, too. He doesn't have a heavy coat to carry around.

He's telling me to put down the camera and give his nose a pet!
I hope you got to see and feel some of Stew's wool. I sent some to your teacher so you could see what it looks like right after it's been sheared. I haven't washed it so it might have bits of leaves and grass in it. It will smell just like Stew. If you don't like the smell of sheep, don't open the bag!

Do you remember what I said a few weeks ago about the new hen sitting on eggs?

Did you remember that I said they might hatch while you were having your Fall Break?

Guess what!!!

Look very closely!

Now you can see them! I moved the mother hen out of the way. The chicks were born on Thursday. So far three chicks have hatched out. I'll let you know next week if there are any more.

The mother hen is so sweet that she doesn't mind me holding her chicks.

Can you hear the chicks peeping? Can you hear the mother hen clucking? These chicks are only a few hours old. Watch the mother hen closely. She is rolling one of the eggs underneath her to keep it warm.

Get excited for next weeks photos! We have another new animal to show you! I think you will be so happy to see our new addition to the farm!

Have a great week!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Friday Photos from the Farm #7

Welcome back! I hope you all had a wonderful week. We did!

This week I have some photos and videos of the bees. It's important to check the bees before winter comes. We need to make sure this new hive of bees has enough food for the winter. They need food storage just like our family does.

Bryon is opening the hive to check on the bees. Honey bees are usually very calm and don't bother anyone. He wears a special suit because sometimes the bees don't understand what people are doing when they are opening the hive! This keeps him safe from getting stung.

He also likes to squirt the top of the hive with sugar water. The bees love sugar water! It's like candy for them. They are so busy licking it up that they don't worry about who is opening up their hive.

Look at all the bees on the inside of the lid!

Here they are on the frame. All that dark stuff that they are on is wax that is covering up honey.

Can you see them wandering all over? It's fun to watch bees working in their hive. All the bees you see are girls, they are called worker bees.
I'm not wearing a suit and they aren't trying to bother me because I'm being quite and moving slowly so I don't surprise them.

The chicks are growing up! Can you find all five? I'll give you a hint, one is hiding behind the mother hen.
I'm sorry I don't have a photo of me holding a chick. We took a photo, but it got lost somehow. Do you loose things sometimes, like I do?

We thought our black chicken was funny for hatching chicks so late in the summer. We have another hen that decided she wanted to hatch some chicks, too!

She is sitting the corner of Stall #2. She made herself a very nice nest where it is warm and safe.

She is a nice chicken and let me move her off her nest so I could take a picture of her eggs. She started sitting on them on October 2. That means if the chicks are going to hatch (sometimes they don't) they will hatch around October 23.
Do you see the 'X' on some of the eggs? I marked the eggs that were in the nest on October 2. I check the nest every day and leave the eggs with the 'X' on them for the hen to hatch. I take all the newly laid eggs for our family. There are a few different colors of eggs because many hens decided to lay eggs in this spot, but only one hen decided sit on the nest.

Here is our new nesting box. Quin and his dad built it for me. We are so happy to have a place for the hens to lay eggs. Hens don't like laying eggs in dog crates very much. Sometimes hens are sneaky and hide their eggs where I can't find them! The nesting box will make it easier for us to find the eggs.
Can you see the hen in the picture?

There she is! She has 3 eggs under her. She didn't lay all three. She was the last chicken to lay an egg in the box.

Quin likes to help gather the eggs when he comes for a visit. If children come to visit the farm, I always let them gather eggs.

Our hens are so nice that they don't mind Quin getting their eggs. Quin helped raise the hens when they were little chicks only a few days old. The hen in the picture is just watching Quin put the eggs in the basket so he can bring them into the house for me.

I thought you might want to hear what Charlie, our rooster, sounds like when he crows. What did you think?

Your teacher said that you are still learning about maps. She said you were going to draw a map of your bedroom at home so I thought you might like to see a map of our barn.

What do you think of my barn map? Do you understand what all the symbols mean?
Thank you for asking questions! I hope you start writing down your questions and sending them to me. If you do, I will pick a few and put them up on the blog for everyone to read. That means you have to have good handwriting so everyone can read what you wrote!

Have a great week!