Scratch One Bobcat

I found a bobcat in one of my snares yesterday, which was Day Three of having snares out. It was a big male — 26 pounds. Most my chicken losses are consistent with how bobcats hunt (dawn or dusk, with a short chase, a quick kill, and the chicken carried away without being dragged), but I think I’m losing chickens faster than can be explained by a single bobcat, however big, so I’ll keep up my anti-predator efforts.

My flock size and egg output are down to shockingly low levels, thanks to large numbers of hens vanishing without a trace. I only had 13 dozen to take to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, where a few weeks ago I was routinely selling over 50 dozen even on a slow day. read more...

Rural Trade-Offs

Living in the country requires trade-offs, and so does farming. Taking vacations in February instead of August, for example.

Sometimes the trade-offs seem like a good deal. Corvallis has an excellent fireworks display every Fourth of July, but we are so far north that the city waits until it’s fully dark at about 10:15 PM before starting the display. After it’s done, there’s a brief traffic jam and then (if you’re me) a half-hour drive home.

I decided a while back to never drive if it’s past my bedtime. It’s way too dangerous. So we spend the night in Corvallis at the Super 8 motel. The odd-numbered rooms on the third floor have a wonderful view of the fireworks. So much for late-night driving! read more...

Why Chickens Should be Fed Outdoors

A lot of the biggest problems we’ve ever had on the farm were related to unwanted critters trying to get at the chicken feed. Recently, we put some pullets into a pasture house and put a feeder inside the house with them as part of the transition. Since this was an open-front house, the local crows started coming in for lunch, which scared the pullets. Moving the feeder outside didn’t get rid of the crows, but there’s a lot more room outdoors, and their occasional presence didn’t terrorize the pullets. read more...

Aw, man! It’s the Seventies again! Bummer!

We’ve got the energy crisis, we’ve got the foreign quagmire, we’ve got the wacky economy. Wait a minute — It’s the Seventies all over again! I did the Seventies already! Hey! No flashbacks!

Admittedly, people are getting the details wrong. Hybrid cars that combine fuel economy and conspicuous consumption? Gross! A fad for piercings that leaves young people with more holes in them than Bonnie and Clyde? Double gross! What are people smoking?

Look, if we’re going to do the Seventies again, let’s do it right. Attention, young people! Ditch the black clothing and wear pastels! Attention, politicians! Let’s see more resignations! Attention, lunatic fringe! More conspiracy theories! (It was JFK himself on the grassy knoll!) read more...

Slipping a Mickey to Mice

Anyone with a farm has an ongoing rodent problem. I’ve noticed that other “alternative living” writers deal with this issue the same way they deal with everything — denial. (Of course, it helps that most of their readers live in the city.)

Once you’ve had an outbreak of rats in your brooder house and lose a whole batch of chicks to them (and you will — everything happens to you eventually), you won’t be able to regain the live-and-let-live attitude of yesteryear. But once you decide to make the area around hour house and barn a rodent-free zone, there are good ways and bad ways of doing it. read more...