Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Aromatherapy for pigs and Wile E. Coyote impersonations

Since moving to the farm, I've tried to use things that are more 'natural'. I've been reading up on medicinal herbs, aromatherapy, and things of this nature. I'm a big fan of Molly over at Fiasco Farm. She has completely embraced natural healing and even sells medicinal herb mixes for goats.
Well, last week we experienced our first case of hoof rot in our goats. I did a little research and found that tea tree oil is a treatment for hoof rot (also for dandruff and I put it in my shampoo). I trimmed away as much of the dead material on the hoof and put a few drops of the oil on the affected area. It may have been my imagination, but Millicent seemed to be getting around a little better that afternoon. We're applying it twice a day.

That got me thinking. I have noticed some scaly skin on Nigel, our Old Spot/Large Black pig, in his ham region. I've been applying it twice a day for him as well. It's definitely improving. As an added benefit, the barn smells better too.

One of our Black Copper Marans(breed of chicken) pullets(young female) got out of the fence and decided to take up residence across the road in the neighbors' pine trees. When they're in the barn, they come running to me because I = feed. Since she has heard the call of the wild, I = The Warden. My first attempt was to rely on the Pavlovian conditioning I've imposed on her. To set the scene, I'm in my plaid, fuzzy robe wearing pajama pants and muck boots. I went to the barn and got some cracked corn in the scoop I always use for the chickens and my butterfly net (and you thought the scene couldn't get funnier). I go over to her new home (with the net behind my back). I shook the scoop and did my usual 'heeeere chick, chick, chick'. Here she comes! It works! I let her eat for a bit and ready the net. I wait for her to bend down and peck up a few more kernels. Swoosh goes the net. 'Bock, bock, bock', goes the pullet as she runs back to the pine trees. "Grrrrrrr" goes the farmer as he chases after the chicken, followed by lots of wheezing and coughing. I love getting reminded by a chicken that I'm not the spring chicken here...

Once I was able to keep enough oxygen to get the wheels turning again, I came up with an even more brilliant plan. Chickens are flock animals, right? Well, I figured she might come around one of her flockmates. And no, I wasn't going to end up with two chickens on the lam....really. I took a length of twine and tied it around the 'bait chicken's' leg. I took her over to the runaway chickens new abode. We sat there for a while with the bait chicken trying to untie her leg. Little Miss Runaway started heading our way! I wasn't going to try the net again. I was sitting on the ground by the bait chicken. This time I was going to go for the leg with my lightning reflexes. Yeah, see the last sentence of the previous paragraph. The chicken is still on the loose. I went out with a flashlight tonight to see if she was roosting, because they're easy to grab when it's dark. No such luck. Tomorrow, I'm trying some bird seed and an Acme anvil. Stay tuned.

This is a video of the first time the pigs ventured outside. They just look so happy. It breaks my heart that so many pigs never get to be a pig. They are locked in buildings and many never even see the sun, let alone root in the dirt. Our pigs will get to be 100% natural pigs. Tell me they don't look happy. Now the goats on the other hand look terrified LOL. It gets more interesting about 15 seconds in or so...

I have some exciting news. Chad and I worked on the scents for our line of goat milk soap. We came up with two scents and we're going to do one that is unscented called Raaw ;-). We'll decide the mixtures of all the ingredients that go in with the goat milk. We found someone to make the soap as well. We really like her bars. We'll use our own goat milk as soon as we have some....c'mon Shaasta and Staar. It's really fun coming up with the recipes for the soap.

What's going on in your neck of the woods?

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