My whole life, one of my goals has been to have a small functioning farm. My only goal was to have that farm be big enough to feed me, and my family. I wanted to raise my own chickens, have a garden, have my own cows. Luckily for me, my fiance shares this goal. When we met, he already had a small herd of cows. Over the last few months, we have turned that into a small flock of chickens and a few pigs as well. We have also added to our cow herd.
The cows have been a huge learning experience for me. I’ve been around cows before, but there was a lot that I didn’t know. Bryan loves teaching me, and I love learning about things I didn’t know before. Right now, all of the cows have had their babies, and we are currently waiting for them all to get pregnant. After the vet checks them all to make sure they are pregnant, we are going to sell our bull. The bull has recently become aggressive. We are not sure why this is, but have a suspicion it might be because the other bull was moved out, and he has nobody to take his aggression out on. Until about a month ago, one of Bryan’s friends had his bull here with ours. They were buddies and could beat up on each other to get their energy out. Now he doesn’t have that, and has become aggressive towards Bryan. I assume this is because Bryan is a male, and the bull sees Bryan as a threat.
The pigs are a completely different story. When I was younger, my dad had a few pigs. I don’t specifically remember anything about the pigs when I was a child, but I do remember helping dad butcher the pigs. These pigs STINK. They are honestly the most disgusting animals I have ever been around. When you get anywhere close to their pen, they fling stinky mud onto you. Pigs are kind of vicious, also. A couple of weeks ago, one of our pigs disappeared from the pen. The pen shows no sign of escape, and there was no blood to be found. There is no place where the pig would or could have broken out. The pen itself is not big enough for an eagle to have swooped down and scooped out a pig. This leads us to believe that the missing pig was eaten by her siblings. Pigs will eat anything. We have disposed of our deer carcass to the pigs when we butchered our deer last fall. They ate every bit, leaving no trace that it had ever been there.
The chickens have to be my favorite, although I feel on some level that we have failed at raising our chickens. We got our first batch of chickens around the end of July. This batch included: Silkies, Rhode Island Reds, Copper Marans, and two Ameraucana’s. Of those, one ameraucana, two coppers, all silkies, and four reds died. All together, we lost about half of the first batch. At the end of August, we order about 25 day old chicks. These were fun and when they got big enough we set them out with the other chickens. However, all of these died as a result of Coccidiosis. This is an extremely common death causing agent for chickens. After losing the babies, we traded three goats that we had for around 50 chickens. These chickens have gradually died from varying causes. A neighbor’s dog got several of them, hawks have got some others. Our chickens also developed a bout of respiratory issues which helped with the death of others.
One thing that we have learned for sure is that all animals are not hardy enough to survive a winter. This winter, in particular, has taken a toll on our animals. We lost two calves a couple of weeks ago to pneumonia, along with all of our chickens. We have lost two pigs. All we can do is learn from our mistakes, and make better decisions for the following winters.