April 2017 on the Farm

We are having a lovely spring with a long period of cool weather.  We still have lots of butterflies around, the dewberries are already ripening, and a few bumble bees are showing up.

American Lady butterfly, Vanessa virginiensis.

Dewberries, which are like tart wild blackberries.

American Bumble Bee, Bombus pensylvanicus.

Last year my husband rebuilt our deck, using recycled wood decking, and we kept most of the boards from the old deck.  This year he built me a new chicken coop from those old boards.   He bought one sheet of plywood and new wire and hinges, but everything else was reused.  There was even enough wood to make a storage shelf under the coop, and a boardwalk in front of it.  (We have lots of rain here and a big problem of getting through mud.)

New chicken coop. The windows and doors can be propped open for airing.

Our old coop was a lean-to attached to our old barn, very close to the woods.  If I ever let the chickens out of the shaded run on the side of the barn, into the more open yard area, they would fly over the fence into the woods, and end up as somebody’s dinner.  This new coop has a run with wire on all sides, top, and floor.  It is in the middle of our fenced garden, which is next to the goat/sheep pen, surrounded by open yard.  Hopefully all that will deter hawks, foxes, and raccoons.

We haven’t gotten new chickens yet; my husband brought home new ducklings for Valentine’s Day, and we kept them in the coop when they were young.  They are just now big enough to hang out with our old ducks, which I hope will mean longer life for them as they learn from the ducks with some “pond smarts.”

I have also gotten a new addition to my little flock.  The neighbor called and said his friend had a companion goat for his show goat, and after the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the companion goat would need a new home.  It was a male Boer goat, already neutered.

I had reservations, because my existing animals are already 6 and 8 years old, and set in their ways.  I worried that there would be a lot of fighting for pecking order if a young, energetic goat tried to blend into the flock, but I decided to give him a try.

I thought he would be full-grown (as my goat Leila was when I got her in the same situation), but when they brought him over, it turned out he was just a few months old, practically a baby!

Concho and Leila.

The others do head-butt him regularly (but lightly) to make sure he knows his place, but he has boundless self-confidence and charges through every gate first in line, to every feed bucket first.  He is so much fun to be around!  The others all look very shaggy this time of year as they drop their winter coats, but since he is so new, his coat is fresh and shiny.

New baby goat.

So currently we are at 5 ducks, 3 sheep, 2 goats, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and one brand new home, ready for chickens!