Thursday, August 12

Thursday, August 12, 2010... The Bittersweet Times of Summer on the Farm......

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Remove Formatting from selectionWow...this has been a really brutal summer...even by native upstate New Yorkers standards! The heat and dryness is brutal not only to us humans forced to stay indoors, comforted by air conditioning and allergy medicines, but by all nature's creatures. Streams have dried up causing wildlife to congregate near lasting water sources and that creates an unnatural and nasty condition of both crowding and a precariously dangerous time for those further down on the food chain.
Just as it happens on the plains of the Serengeti in Africa, where the lions hang around the needed water, where smaller animals must come, sooner or later. The same thing happens here... many animals must frequent the water at the same time, making it very dangerous for the smaller ones. Many rabbits and birds fall prey to foxes and coyote at this time. We here on the farm must be ever vigilant in watching the free ranging chickens because the Pupskill lake draws predators to the farm more than ever now, making our chickens pretty enticing.
Many wild animals can lie in wait in the cover of the undergrowth, back in the woods, for cooler conditions from early morning and then again starting in late afternoon. Our rabbits, turkey poults and ducklings cannot get to such conditions. They are trapped in their cages, relying on us to cool them with fans, shade, frozen water bottle or whatever it takes in the hottest of conditions. It takes good planning and watching the forecasts to react quickly enough to avert dangerous conditions which cause animals to rapidly deteriorate and succumb to severe heat. We lost one of our rabbits and a littler of young, early this summer because we were caught off guard by rapidly increasing heat and unexpectedly high humidity causing heat distress with all the animals at once. While dealing with two alpacas in heat distress, the bunny brothel overheated and the fans couldn't keep up. I found three miscarried baby bunnies in BG's (Bunny Girl) pen. We immediately started shaving valuable fiber onto the floor, trashing it, in a desperate attempt to cool the bunnies. We shaved them all and took them to the basement to lower their body temperatures, which worked..., on all but one. She died two days later... and BG miscarriage another eight bunnies a day after that.
We lost an adult German Angora and ten Giant Walsh babies....heat breaking...and it was almost worse....we just about lost two of our alpacas that day too. They were both down and we were soaking them with the garden hose. It was three days before the shearing date, which almost cost them their lives. We were planning to leave in the morning to go grocery shopping, but something told us not to go. Had we proceeded with our plans, God knows what would have happened, but I know we would have lost the alpacas and all the bunnies....maybe more!
Yes, summer is nice, but I am ready for this heat and drought to end... I've had enough...We've all had enough!
Tomorrow, we go north to Vermont to get cheese curd and then on north to West Hebron for raw honey. Looks like it will be breakfast at Benson's Restaurant in White Creek, our favorite place to eat up there. We'll remember the camera and get pictures this time......PROMISE!
024816© Cluckin' "A" Critter Farm, LLC

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