Thursday, July 3, 2014

Unity Farm Journal - First week of July 2014

While I’m in Japan, Kathy has her hands full at Unity Farm.   I did my best to prepare the farm for my 5 days away including building bee hive supplies, ensuring the health of all the animals, and completing all the monthly maintenance tasks.

As I’ve posted before, Guinea fowl are horrible parents.  They lay eggs in a communal pile then assign a designated layer to incubate them.  When the eggs hatch the young have to find their way to the coop, often through tall wet grass and through predator laden terrain.   Most don’t make it.   This year, we’re helping them a bit.

The ducks hatched 4 guineas and kept the babies (keets) warm and safe in a brooder for 2 weeks before moving them into the coop.   It’s likely the adults would attack them if they ran free in the barnyard, so we had to build a protected enclosure - a coop within a coop.  I call it the mini-cooper (sounds like a catchy name).   Here’s a photo of the keets enjoying their new coop space, safe from the adults.

The ducks have been sitting on another 17 eggs and we moved them from the duck house to the incubator before I left to prevent Kathy’s having to keep newly hatched birds from drowning in the duck pond (Guineas can’t swim).

At the moment, we have two large nests on the farm - one to the north near the hoop house with about 40 eggs and another to the south with about 30 eggs.   Two designed female guineas keep the eggs warm all night and thus far have not been attacked by nighttime predators.   The keets should hatch July 18, so we’ll be on the lookout and rescue them if needed.    We have 30 guineas today (and could accommodate 50),  Every summer we lose some to predators, so the new additions are likely to keep the population stable.

Over the weekend we weighed, immunized, and examined every animal in the farm.  Two of the alpaca are pregnant (Mint and Persia).   Their abdomens are round and their breasts are filling with milk.   We believe they will deliver in the next 30 days after an 11 1/2 month gestation.   Baby alpaca are called cria and these will be the first new alpaca born on the farm.   Every day is a cria watch.  I really hope they do not deliver while I’m in Japan.

Belle, the duck with the injured eye is healing fast and after 3 weeks of antibiotics, she has returned to her daily duck activities - swimming in the pond, hunting for insects, and nest building with her comrades.

We inspected the bee hives and added queens to two of them, given that lack of eggs in the brood boxes that implies the old queens have died.   Normally, the bees would have made “emergency queens” by feeding royal jelly to a developing bee, but in this case, there were no queen cells in the hives, implying that the queen’s death must have been rapid and unexpected.

Shiro, our 125 pound male Great Pyrenees, turned 2 years old this week.     When he was born, a blue ribbon was placed around his neck.    Today he wears a blue collar.   Here are “before” and “after” pictures.

Next weekend I'll be hauling logs and cleaning up any debris for the hurricane that is on track to hit the East Cost on Friday.

1 comment:

Will Snow said...

Sounds like you have your hands full! I had a great time visiting the farm and meeting the animals. Wish I could be there to help!