Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Goat Shearing Stand

     I recently completed a shearing stand for the goats. Its a little project I've been working on over the past month or so.  I found plans on the internet for a milking stand and with a few modifications seems to work very well as a shearing stand.  I built the shearing stand from recycled treated wood and deck screws from the erstwhile front deck.  It is very stout and worked surprisingly well.  I managed to shear both goats in less time than it would normally have taken for me to shear one of them.  The most wonderful part was that I didn't have to recruit an assistant to help restrain the goat while I sheared it.  Its amazing how much easier a job can be if you have the right tools.  I was also able to trim their hooves at the same time. While I'm still not exactly an expert shearer, I felt a good deal more competent having the aid of the shearing stand. I had to build what is in effect a "booster chair" for Buster as he is so much shorter than Black Jack.  That worked very well too.  I built a bracket to hold 2x4 boards to keep the goats from moving away from me and stepping off the shearing stand.  I didn't even have to use that with little Buster, but it was very necessary with Black Jack.  I still need to tweak that particular feature a bit and I need to add a second one on the other side of the shearing stand as well.
Less than Fully Cooperative Black Jack on Shearing Stand

Unhappy to be Here and Going Nowhere

     I took my incubator and 18 duck eggs over to the Veatch family on Wednesday evening.  The girls were real excited about trying to hatch out ducklings.  I'm hopeful that they will have some success. I gave them some instructions and left the potential little ducklings in their enthusiastic, but less than experienced hands.  The incubator is a still air type and needs to stay at about 102 degrees fahrenheit, measured at the top of the eggs.  The eggs need to be turned three times every day. Once when they get up, once when the girls get home from school, and once before they go to bed.  Since waterfowl eggs require higher humidity, it is important to spray the eggs with warm water every time they are turned. Duck eggs require 28 days incubation. I bought a really cool egg candling device the other day. I lent that out as well because it is very very important to cull out any eggs that are infertile. Otherwise they just get very very rotten and can actually explode inside the incubator.  I told the girls they needed to candle the eggs at the end of the first week.  Any eggs that are infertile need to be culled and thrown very far away.  We wrote a number on each egg in a circle on one side of the egg.  We placed an x on the other side so as to make it easier to know when all of the eggs have been turned.  The girls wanted to start naming them on the spot, but I suggested they may want to wait until they have culled the infertile eggs.  At that time they can name all of the infertile ones different variation of "Stinky".

    Meanwhile, my two runner duck hens, Olive Oyle and Sweet Pea, are each still laying an egg every morning, just like clockwork.  The score as of Friday, March 9th is Ducks 62, Chickens 0.

   I have been trying to diligently keep the bird feeder filled during Linda's absence.  We had a pretty good supply of McDaniel's "Patio blend" bird feed when Linda left for China. I have gone through most of it during the last four weeks.  I had to buy another large bag of the stuff today to replenish our store.  It seems rather expensive compared to most bird feed, but its really not a bad buy. It doesn't contain anything the birds don't like so they don't have to scatter seeds everywhere as they try to pick through to find the good stuff.  From the birds' perspective, its all good stuff.  They like it so well that they even clean up most of what falls to the ground.  I took a few pictures to document the fact that I've been keeping the feeder filled.  Note the Western Flicker in the top picture.  The cats are both very enthusiastic bird watchers and also appreciate a full bird feeder.

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