Hi Farm Friends,
I've got more news to share this month from Julia, who lives on an Organic Valley dairy farm in Wisconsin. Happy holidays and have a great New Year!
I was excited to go back to school this year, excited to see what was all going to be new-teachers, students classes and so forth. But a whole year ahead of me? That I was not thrilled about. But I guess I will just have to work my way through this year, just like all the animals will have to as well.
It's getting to be winter now, but for a long time we were having a very mild fall. With fall being in the air, the first thing I notice is smell—the smell of fall. There really is no explaining what that smell is, but if you walk outside on a fall day, maybe the smell of fall will touch you too. In fall everyone has energy, everyone is happy and full of spirit. At the school playground kids run around and skip for pleasure, the horses gallop and gallop around their pasture, the cows walk faster. The animals are happy and wild when fall comes, because they prefer cold calming weather. And in the fall the weather can be pretty wild too, like this storm we had a little while ago!!
It was a warm fall night and I was sitting in our humid house, doing homework, when this huge gust of wind came in through all the open windows and sent my papers flying. Then thunder crashed and lightning bolted and then...it hailed! Quarter size ice chunks fell from the sky. Harold was bringing in the cows for milking and was trying to duck under the cows to stay protected from the hail; he came back with bruises! The calves were so scared they were running around crashing through fences, which took days to repair.
The storm lasted for only one minute. It was a very strange storm. After the storm had ended, I went outside. I always go out during or after storms, when everything is fresh and clean again. I think storms are putting the earth in a washing machine and then the sun comes out and puts it in the dryer. Holy cow! Look, I thought. The chicken wagon is upside-down! The wind blew it over with 25 chickens in it! Luckily all the chickens survived! The chicken wagon is pretty busted up though.
What I call the 'chicken wagon' is basically a chicken house on wheels, it has a little door and a ladder for the chickens so they can go outside in the day. They wander about 200 feet from the wagon but always come at night and all we have to do is shut the door so no creatures sneak in and eat them alive! Every day my dad hitches up the wagon to the four-wheeler and moves them to a different pasture, they follow the cows and are part of our pasture cycle. You probably won't find a chicken wagon at any other farm. The chickens scratch at any cow pies that they might find, and they eat the fly larva, which helps keep the fly population down. Flies can get really bad on farms!
On our farm we have woods where coyotes live, and there are pastures that surround the woods, in midday when no people are around those coyotes sneak into the pasture and eat up the chickens! We were looking into guard animals, and found a donkey, Jack. He chases the coyotes away! But there are also hawks who spot chickens as they soar above, and they swoop down to eat them as well. Jack had nothing against hawks, so he would just let the poor chickens get gobbled up! So this time our guard animal is a fake owl on the top of the chicken wagon. My oldest brother Tony is responsible for the chickens. Every afternoon he drives the golf cart out to the chicken wagon, (sometimes a mile away), with water and food for the chickens, and comes home with a basket of fresh organic eggs! Yummy!
Go outside and enjoy the earth!
Your farm friend,
Farm Fact: Did you know that some breeds of chickens can lay colored eggs? Sure enough, the Ameraucana and Araucana can lay eggs colored in shades of green or blue, depending on the breed and it's ancestry.