Farm dogs Max and Copper Sue both turned 18 months old (Max on Oct. 10th and Copper Aug. 1st). I think that makes them either officially or unofficially full grown! Dad thinks Max will continue to grow though. Copper weighed in at about 80 lbs at her annual vet visit, and Max at 107! Max went home with instructions that he needed to lose some weight, so we’ve cut back on his food some. After a few weeks of this, we’re not sure he’s lost much yet though.
Believe it or not, there was a time when the two dogs ate the same amount of food, and Copper stayed slim while Max got heavier! There is a big difference in their activity levels, which we think is the biggest factor. Some of his favorite snacks are fresh vegetables, from our own garden, so I think we do well there too. We’ll keep working on it!
The new guinea hens got to start free ranging over the summer, and their chicken mamas have taken very good care of them. They have grown so much! You may remember that the 7 keets had 3 chickens raising them. After a couple weeks outside, 2 of the mamas mostly retired, and even though they are now 11 weeks old, Mama Blanche is still sticking pretty close to them! It will be interesting to see when they move on and start spending their time with the other guinea fowl. So far, we’re only aware that we have one female in that group, which is disappointing since we love their eggs and were hoping for more females!
The chickens that we hatched ourselves didn’t give us a good turnout either. We sadly lost 2 to a predator (who has now moved on), that left us with 8, and we’re pretty sure 4 of them are roosters! Those are definitely not good odds, so eventually some of those boys will have to go to new homes. The four hens have yet to lay an egg either! Well, not that we know of anyway. We have found a couple of small eggs in odd places so it is possible those came from one of them. With shortening days, cooler weather, and many of the older ladies molting, our egg supply is way down (and demand has been up!), so we really could use those 4 eggs per day! They are 22 weeks old now, and most hens start laying around 24 weeks, though it can be as early as 18. We just didn’t get lucky enough to get any of those early layers.
Fall brings more work to the farm. We haven’t had a frost here yet, so we’re still getting some vegetables, mostly squash and tomatoes, which is good. Things have slowed way down though. Soon it will be time to harvest the rest of the carrots and potatoes (they can stay in the ground until it starts freezing), and then to put the garden to bed for the winter.
The chicken coop will need a thorough cleaning, and then extra bedding to keep it warm for the winter. The barn cats will get their beds cleaned up and ready too. They have all been doing quite well, they seem to enjoy the cool weather too, as do the dogs.
Pyrador Max has a heavier coat, so he has become noticeably more playful with the cooler weather (hopefully that helps bring his weight down too). Copper Sue? Well, she never slows down anyway! Max has become quite the watch dog and spends time barking even when there is nothing to be seen (though I think he often hears deer and such that we don’t see). It’s a good thing we don’t have close neighbors! He’s been getting better about coming inside or quieting down when we tell him to though. Both dogs seem to be maturing more in that way, they listen better than they used to.
We’ve still been getting a lot of rain, though we did at least get some sunny spells in between which we didn’t see much of during the summer. We seem to be in a cloudy and cool spell right now though, with occasional showers and breaks of sun. Our crazy summer weather seems to have affected the fall foliage as well. Though some parts of the state still had a very beautiful turnout, here we had a lot of trees drop their leaves early and the colors were not that spectacular.
Who knows what winter will bring? The only thing I know for sure is that we have no idea what to expect, not that it matters! Mother Nature will do what she’s going to do, and all we can hope for is an easy winter. The wood is stacked and ready to go, so it will always be cozy inside the farmhouse!