Saturday, August 29, 2009

Reconsidered Opinion on Gapeworm

Wow, you wouldn't think it would be so hard to find Ivermec, but I was unable to locate any in local feed stores.

So, I decided to try and confirm the diagnosis before hunting the stuff down. I held the chick and opened its mouth while my wife looked down its throat to see if she could spot the gapeworms. Gapeworms are hooked together in a "V", in permanent conjugal bliss... at least, I guess it's bliss.
Here's a romantic picture of a bunch cuddling up in a chicken's trachea

Anyway, my wife couldn't find anything in our chick's throat. So now I'm back to wondering what the heck the sneezing is. Maybe something I need to treat, maybe not. I'll watch and see if any of the other birds start sneezing too.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chick with Gapeworm

One of my chicks was sneezing (or coughing, hard to tell which with a chicken) and was opening her mouth in a yawning motion. The latter tells me she's probably got gapeworm, a little booger that nestles in the trachea (usually paired male-female, for double the fun).

I had her isolated in the brooder box (I've moved the others to the chicken barn) because I thought she might have a respiratory infection, but the "yawning" is a pretty good sign of gapeworm, so I put her back with the flock and tomorrow I'll get some Ivermectin and treat all of them. I'll mix it 2 ml to a gallon of water, and let 'em finish the water.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

War on Yellow-Jackets

I hate 'em. They're aggressive, pesky, and occasionally they'll gang up and go after one of the beehives. So, I set a lot of those standard yellow traps, but I don't use that high-priced smelly "pheremone" fluid they sell with the traps (and separately, once you use that first dose)

Instead, I soak some cooked chicken meat in water in the fridge for awhile. Then I tear off a chunk and put that in the "well" of the trap. I open a can of the cheapest cat food I can find, take a fingerful of that, and smear it on the chicken.

Yellow jackets are carniverous, and in my experience they just can't resist this concoction. I hang a trap near my trash cans, a few near my beeyard, and another one near my frog pond--- all places the little boogers like to hang out.

Usually I've got one or two buzzing around inside the trap within a minute or two, and others soon follow. I empty the trap and change the bait once a week or so.

TIP- If I'm ready to change the trap but there are still a few yellow jackets buzzing around inside, I just stick the trap in the freezer for a half-hour. No more buzzing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tractor Repair is Expensive!

A month or so ago I bought a VERY used Ford 1900 tractor on Craigslist. I paid only four grand, so while it runs great, there were some minor repairs I wanted to make right away. First and foremost, I wanted to replace some worn hydraulic hoses. I started with two that run the bucket. You can see they were pretty trashed:

I pulled them off, took 'em to Hose-Man out in Oxnard, and they made up a couple new ones for me faster than the guy could write up an invoice. And just that fast, I was out $125!

Clearly, I'll have to parse out the hose replacement project over a period of time!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Jaws of Death- Lizard vs. Snake

Over the years we've seen some amazing things on our ranch. I've seen a pair of rattlesnakes rear up, weave back and forth, and then entwine with each other and roll around on the ground (never did find out if they were fighting or mating). I've come across two bobcats so intent on staring each other down they literally wouldn't move out of the road. I've had an enormous sycamore crash down just in front of me--- and an angry mob of hornets emerge from that tree and sting the hell out of me. My wife has awakened with a big ol' tarantula next to her on the headboard.

This one was much less dramatic, but kinda cool. Evidently a California Whipsnake had tried to make lunch of an Alligator Lizard, and the lizard turned the tables. I found them locked in stock-still combat in my driveway. The snake was starting to fade out, and the lizard was hanging on like a pit bull.

For the record, I rescued the snake. And although it was pretty chewed up in that one spot, it eventually revived enough to slither under a woodpile. The lizard did its best to threaten me with mouth agape, but eventually he wiggled away too.

Here's the picture I shot before I broke up the death match.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ranch-Style Dumpster Diving

We've got a family of four raccoons living under our deck, and every night they raid our trash. Well, while I was doing the morning chores this morning I heard a lot of ruckus going on in one of the trash cans. I knew what happened, so I got my camera and snapped this:

After getting the shot I tipped the trash can enough so the little fella (gal?) could climb out, and he/she made his exhausted way back to our deck--- with one final glance back at us...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Brooder Shed for Chicks

I recently had a coyote burrow his (or her) way into the chicken pen and kill all ten of my chickens. I actually saw him/her jump the 5'+ fence with a full grown Black Australorp in its mouth!

So, while I do some reinforcing work on the pen, I hit the feed store for some new chicks. Some Australorps, Auracanas, a California White (I think), some good ol' Rhode Island Reds, and a Brahma (a heavier bird, similar to a Buff Orpington).

As chicks, they just look like fuzzy tennis balls.

My chick brooder shed has insulated walls, a 100w bulb in one of those metal clamp-on utility lamps for warmth, a hatch leading to a fenced-in area under the shed, and sliding panels over screened windows for ventilation during the day.