Sweet Tea & Busy Bees Collage

Sweet Tea & Busy Bees Collage

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Little Monty turns 2!!!

We had our first alpaca birthday on the farm today, Monty turned 2! Naturally we had to celebrate in full Yankee Belle Farm style so we celebrated with Monty throughout the day.
The guys came right over to the fence in the morning ready to start the day of celebrating Monty.

I even got a few birthday kisses from the birthday paca. He had a great day with some extra grain and fresh leaves. Oh and of course the people celebrated too....

Special cupcakes for the paca's people.
Batman wanted to admire the cupcake before he ate it.
Strawberry Shortcake didn't waste any time diving in.

Happy Birthday Little Monty!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Spit Happens

Who me?

Well we've had the alpacas for a couple months now and we L O V E them! I can't even remember not having the boys in our backyard. At this point all of my friends know about the alpacas and several of them have met the guys. Most new people that I meet also know about the alpacas because it always somehow comes in conversation because, well, how could it not. I get three really common questions when I mention alpacas....

1. What is an alpaca?

2. Are you the alpaca farm on 64? ( a huge new farm on a big main road near us )

3. Do they spit on you?

Most people focus on #3... do they spit. Everyone has an opinion on alpaca spit. Even the people who ask what an alpaca is have an opinion on alpaca spit. My answer, yes alpacas spit. No the do not spit on me per say. 

Why alpacas spit:

Alpacas use spit as a defense mechanism. They have no top teeth so they can't bite, they have toe nails so their kick can't do too much damage, so they spit. Now I know you might be thinking, what could spit possible do? Well let me tell you the smell of alpaca spit will knock you over. This spit comes from the bottom of their gut and could clear a room, or barnyard. 

They typically don't spit ON people, well at least mine don't. They spit at each other and if you happen to be between two perturbed alpacas then you are out of luck. Mine usually spit over food or when they are playing, which looks more like fighting. 

I thought we were spit free because for the first 2 weeks there was no spit! Our lovely blue barn was in mint condition and they seemed to be getting along great. Then one day I noticed they had started spitting. 

See all that greenish hay looking stuff... spit. Let me give you a closer look.

It looks more like hay spatter to me. Bottom line, alpacas spit but it doesn't matter much to me. I just wipe it off, and go right on about my day because, well, spit happens.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A tale of two mother hens. An adventure in co-parenting.

Usually mother hens are fiercely protective of their chicks. One hen with her baby chicks. But as everyone who has animals knows, they don't always do what the books say. Sometimes they make their own rules. This is the case with our two little moms.

Meet the girls

One silkie bantam, Gandolf the White, and one brabanter, J Chicken,  found each other and became instant friends. These are two very different breeds of chickens and the first time I saw them together was on their nest.
21 Days on the nest
They decided to sit on the nest together from the very beginning. They had never really been chicken friends before but they sure decided that they were going to do this together. for 21 long days they sat on the nest side by side. When adoption day came I brought both chickens inside and separated them before I gave them their new chicks. You see, their eggs weren't hatching so I bought some day old chicks to slip under them so they would think their eggs had hatched. I wanted to separate them because I thought they might get violent and steel each others chicks or hurt each other. NOT. THE. CASE! The second I separated them they started going nuts clucking and flapping trying to get back to each other. Well this wild chicken show lasted about 5 minutes in my dinning room before I realized I had to put them back together. So back they went. When nighttime came I slipped into the coop and put two chicks under one chicken and two chicks under the other one and prayed that they would keep their chicks and there would be no hen fighting. Now I waited.

Once the they came both moms they went into full protector mode. Protectors of their chicks and of one another. I almost couldn't stand the cuteness when I went into the coop to find the on mom with her wing over the other mom and chicks. I couldn't make this stuff up!

They have been teaching the chicks everything they need to know and doing it together, co-parenting. I guess sometimes you need a partner to help and in some cases a rooster just won't do.

I feel like these two are forever friends now and I love watching them lead their babies around the yard everyday. Only time will tell what their relationship will be in the future, but for now they are together forever.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A lesson in love. A mamma hen.

I have taken an unexpected blogging hiatus due to computer difficulties for about a month. I wanted my first post back to be full of energy and awesome animal stories from the farm. Unfortunately that is not the post I need to write.

Last night I lost one of my favorite chickens to a predator. Not only was she the cutest fluffiest silkie you have ever seen, she was the most friendly chicken around. She tolerated "Batman" picking her up and even taking her to show and tell at school. I know that having chickens means loosing chickens. It is part of keeping livestock. Just because it is inevitable does not make it easy.

Gandolf The Grey was a fierce mamma hen. She would do anything for her little chicks. She adopted 6 chicks without question. It is amazing to watch a mother hen with her chicks. Their protective instinct runs deep. They teach their chicks everything they need to know and protect them at the same time.

I noticed she and one of her chicks were missing when I was doing my nightly coop check. Every once and a while a chicken doesn't come back to the coop so I have to trudge through the woods with my flashlight until I find them hiding in a bush somewhere. This time I had a bad feeling. Gandolf the Grey always comes back. It was especially strange because her chicks were snug inside not under their mother's wing. One of her chicks was also missing. I searched and searched and could not find them. Eventually I had to call the search. I got up early in the morning to search again. This time my search ended in tears and feathers. My poor little chicken had been a victim to a raccoon (at least I think it was a raccoon. ) I assumed that the animal took the little chick.

Tonight when I went into the coop I noticed one little chick standing in the corner. After doing a count I realized it was the lost chick! The chick had survived.

Mamma Hen was just protecting her chick. She sacrificed herself for her baby. As I spent time holding the scared chick and comforting her I thought about a mother's love. Mother's will do anything for their babies, even chickens.

My little chicken had done what any mother would do, protect her baby. I will always be sad that she is gone but it makes my heart smile because she was doing what I would do, protecting her baby.