Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chickens Just Drop Dead Sometimes

I've lost chickens to predators, sure, and I've lost 'em to Marek's (a sudden paralysis that they're typically vaccinated for as chicks). But this morning is the first time I've opened up the chicken barn to let everyone out for the day, and found a seemingly healthy 4-month-old bird dead on the floor.

Its head had a big, bloody wound on it, but I'm 90% sure that was post-mortem, as the rest of the chickens woke up. If one pecked and drew a spot of blood, the rest of them wouldn't be able to resist the incongruous red dot, and they'd all peck away. Chickens aren't known for their brains.

Anyway, as I say I saw no sign of disease, there are no poisons of any sort anywhere around, and it's too chilly for rattlesnakes. I don't know what the heck happened, but I'll need to keep an eye on the others.

Last weekend I installed new lay boxes in a seperate shed for them, as I expect the older birds will start laying in December. The "replacements" I got when the coons took 3 chicks a month or so ago won't lay until March or so.

This weekend I'm gonna take a nearby friend up on his offer for a free rooster. I want to have one around; next spring I'd like to incubate a fresh batch of chicks. Given the churn rate with chickens, you've gotta keep new ones coming!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tractor Newbee Lesson Learned

I took the tractor into a ravine yesterday to dig out a big rock that I thought would look great in my cactus garden, and got the dang thing stuck. Dug a huge hole with my rear wheel, and couldn't get back out of the ravine no matter how many rocks I put under the wheel for traction. I finally got fed up and just left it there overnight.

Woke up in the morning thinking, "Hey, I'll bet I didn't have the 4-wheel drive engaged." Checked the manual, and yep, that's what was wrong. I stuck a couple planks in front of the wheels, put it in 4-wheel drive, and motored right out of the ravine, no problem.

Almost embarassed to admit to that one...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Got a "Buzz Worm"

That's what my neighbor likes to call rattlers. We've got a lot of them here in the chapparal, and this morning I moved a small bucket in an area I was doing some rock work--- and there was a sleeping little baby buzz worm.

The weather was chilly, so the little fella (or gal?) just sat there, flicking its tongue. It wasn't being defensive, and it was too young to rattle. Here's what it looked like when I uncovered it:
I got my snake-stick (the kind the fire department uses; basically a really long version of those "reach extenders" that have a trigger at one end, and a kind of pincer-device at the other) and put it into a bucket.

I took the bucket up the hill a little ways, and let it go into a sage thicket. It wasn't moving too fast, but it managed to get itself under cover, so it'll be fine. Which is good; the more snakes we've got around, the less rats, mice, ground squirrels and gophers.