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Sunday, December 26, 2010

The dark side of backyard farming

Backyard farming is fun and fulfilling. But there is a dark side. I have posted a few of my full fledged disasters. But these episodes are rare. More often the dark side is the day-to-day problems. For example, I was so excited about my new flock of different varieties of layers. However, I went out this morning to find two of them dead - a Black Australorp and a Delaware. What a disappointment! Another Black Australorp is limping. So the first job was quarantining the injured chicken from the rest so they wouldn’t pick it to death. Next was an informal autopsy of the dead layers to find the cause of death – picking up the limp, soiled, dead bodies and pulling back the feathers to look for body trauma – likely since the third one was limping.  Yup, both had been killed. But it wasn’t traumatic - some minor scratches. There was a small hole under the wall of the coop - too big for a coon. It could possibly be a possum. But possums usually take a head or another part of the chicken or the whole chicken. Maybe the possum was chased away by these very flighty new layers before it could do more damage.  Another possibility was that the layers were picked to death by the old layers that we have. I have had this happen before. I can’t be sure of the cause so I composted the dead layers, filed in the hole under the wall and harvested our three old layers. They were eating their eggs anyhow so it was their time to go. It amounted to an hour and half of unexpected and unpleasant work, washing my blood splattered Levis and shirt, and five, possibly six less layers than I had yesterday. Oh well, that is the dark side of backyard farming. I thank Heavenly Father for the “opposition in all things” to help me appreciate the good.

 Dale with a Buff Orpington and an Araucana 

5 comments:

Fiona said...

I always wanted to live on a farm, but had limited opportunities. I once owned a couple goats, a horse, and some chickens. But if it is not a partnership between both partners, it's very difficult. I hope you had a wonderful holiday and your looking forward to a joyous new years.

Thank you for sharing.

Blessings Fiona

Rachel said...

Are your pullets vaccinated for Mareks? Limping can be a sign of it.

Barbara said...

I doubt it was Mareks. One can consider all birds to have Mareks (a form of cancer if you will) It will show up by six months usually before with more than just limping. The vaccine will prevent it from rearing it's ugly head. Difficulty walking with legs going in different directions. A limp can be a sign of it starting due to the tumor of Mareks being close or on the spine. Anyhow, It was probably a possum. Here in the woods if a possum get's into the coop they will kill all the birds and then leave quielty. I have chicken wire stapled to lower bottom of coop and then extended out and buried under soil so no diggers can get in.

jacki said...

Just out of curiosity, how old were the layers you harvested? How old is "old" to the point that they start eating their own eggs and are a danger to the other birds?

Amy @ Homestead Revival said...

Sorry to hear about your loss. While homesteading is a sure way to see life and death up close and personal, it still is no fun to loose an animal; and loosing a layer means less eggs for several months unless you find some hens already laying (I usually have to replace with chicks in the spring when they are available). I thought we had lost one of ours this week because one of the kids didn't get the chickens closed up in the coop before dark - we were all searching with flashlights and finally gave up thinking that a coyote had already found it. The next morning, it was outside the coop area waiting to get back in. Somehow it had found its way out and slept all night under a lawn mower.