Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Creepy Meat Loss

There is nothing more infuriating then losing livestock - especially just before they are schedule to go to the great barbeque in the sky.

Fair warning... you might want to put down that bagel or eggomuffin... this is going to be gross. No pictures but your imagination will be more than enough.... I said I'd only tell you the Truth About Farming and it's not always about roses and ducklings..... I'm not kidding. Turn back now....here, you can look at Little Mo instead... he's the cutest cat I've ever seen. Last chance...You know I'm not kidding.

OK. Here we go then. Yesterday I went out to do chores. Admittedly I was not in a huge hurry to get outside. So I meandered out to open the door for the meat chickens. I was then confronted with the horror of varmint villainy. Two of our meat chickens were grievously wounded.

There is no easy way to say this, friend, them meats had been chewed on. As in, pretty much they had been partially eaten. Alive. Their rear quarter panels were open down to the flesh.

Did you puke? I nearly did.

Normally I don't like to touch the meat chickens - they are gross and decidedly not chicken-like. But I had to get those two up and separated from the herd.  It was disgusting. I didn't even have gloves.

Despite their wounds they were still upright alright but they were panicked. I got ahold of them, put them in a separate pen, and called my husband. He agreed to come home as soon as he could. Unfortunately it would be a couple hours.  I thought they might flop over dead on their own.

So my day changed immediately. We needed to take action. Our original plan was to butcher the meats on Saturday and we had just rearranged our schedule so we could get that job done. Three days. Three stinkin' days and this would never have happened.

And. It was entirely my fault. The burden of responsibility hangs heavy on a shepherd or flockkeeper. The truth is that the night before the motion sensor light turned on. I peeped my eyes open just in time to see it go off and I listened but didn't hear anything suspicious. So I foolishly went back to sleep. I should have hauled my lazy carcass out of bed, got the dog, and went to see what was going on...... but I deliriously rationalized away this correct call to action. Don't do that, friends. Just get up.

Dang.

So what got them? You know that we've been dealing with that slinky mink. But I don't think that weaselly bastard was the culprit - a mink/weasel/whatnot would have just eaten off their heads. A raccoon probably would have tried to drag them off or at least had the decency to kill them. Possum? Maybe. Skunk - don't think so.. which leaves... rats. I do hate me them rats. And them must be big ones too.

Public Enemy #1 lives in the woods and they come on in for some easy pickin's. Then they end up staying. We've been fighting them all summer. At this point you could say we are losing.

The reason I didn't hear anything is that most poultry don't panic at night. Taking chickens off their roost at night is like shooting fish in a barrel. Turkeys can't see in the dark and you remember when something pulled that guinea clean off his high roost - and not even a sound. During the day, sure, all you hear is your flocks making all kinda noise but not at night. Some folks will put baby monitors in their coops and will hear ne'erdowelling that way. We might have to resort to this until we can get them rat bastards.

Either way we needed to move the meat chickens out of the turkey house pronto. It was clear they were sitting ducks where they were. I was supposed to work on getting new turkey pens set up yesterday - and I was going to go about it at a slow pace. Not so after this grim find. I shifted into high gear.

The good news is that we are getting our money's worth out of the garbage guys today and we'll have a burn pile the likes of which this county will be talking about for years. And I found the floor of the garage too! After shoveling everything out  I was able to make some space. A quick trip down to the feed store for a hog panel (cut in half) and voila! We were ready for action.

By this time The Big Man got home and we got to work.

We quickly disassembled the two turkey pens and re-assembled a new configuration so that we now have 4 pens. After a short taste of freedom we rounded up the turkeys and installed them, 7 each, into 3 pens and then hauled the meats over and put them into the 4th pen.

Our garage is now a meat mecca. So many creepy meat birds in one place. Oh the stink.

The barncats did not like this at all. My lame duck and equally lame older hen who live in the garage, safely away from eager roos and love-struck ducks, thought it was mildly interesting.... as long as they still got their special eats they didn't much care one way or another about their big lumbering, meat like neighbors.

To my surprise the injured meats lived thru the day but were quickly dispatched. There was no way to try and save any of the carcasses. They were just too gross and the risk of some kind of infection was way too high. We didn't even try and save them for dog food. We were just too grossed out.

Today we'll be hunting rats. Kai is eager for battle. Last night I took her on her Bunny Hunt in the Goat Yard. She immediately scented her enemy, poised, and then struck like lightening. She threw down the ruined carcass of a mole, a big creepy one, at me feet. We hailed her victory and she received many accolades - and some special meat. Those rats won't stand a chance.

That's the story here. Any body else miss a full harvest by just days?


9 comments:

Stacy Davis said...

I feel for you...we're battling the nasty buggers too. We never had rat issues until we raised pigs...now they're EVERYWHERE! Disgusting..blahhhhh. And they'll eat anything...I'm losing more eggs than I choose to think about :/ On the bright side, the Chihuahua LOVES rat hunting..and has even killed one right in front of me..and of course we have the Kittay :D Good luck!

katiegirl said...

Oh no! How disappointing! I hope the dogs get those dirty rats (ha!) and you won't have any problems anymore. I haven't lost a harvest due to predators, but to my own stupidity. I had two incidents with the same litter of meat rabbits earlier this summer. Out of 9, 4 escaped and I only was able to harvest 5. Bummer!

Anthony Cipolone said...

Last year we lost a couple of turkeys and some guineas to a raccoon, we think. Ate their heads and left the rest of these massive broad-breasted bronze turkeys to waste.

I was furious. Any time we lose stock to something other than its intended purpose, I get mad and feel bad for the stock. We brought them into the world with a sort of unspoken agreement that they would live happy lives, be dispatched humanely, and be almost completely put to use. A big, fat, dead turkey, killed by a freakin' raccoon, with only the head missing that needs to be thrown in the garbage is not that at all. Argh.

Horst in Edmonton said...

Hello OFG, yes a farmer is constantly under the gun from all angles, constantly fighting the wild scavengers and two legged thieves (humans). Hope you get all of the culprits that did the deed to the meat chickens.

Tucker said...

Damn them Rat Bastards!!

Anonymous said...

Never had a rat problem and thank God after hearing that story ! Tooo sick ! Nasty dirty Rats ! Sorry for your loss. How do the other chickens and ducks keep from having the same thing happen to their butts ? Are they in a more secure pen? Are they bigger? Anyway, thanks for not filtering REAL farm life. It may be sad and or upsetting but it is Real. Thanks for keeping it so. Todd

Farmer Liz said...

yes! Our 3 month old chickens just keep dropping dead, one every few days. They seem to have some kind of bird flu, because they get all sneezy and unhappy and some recover and some die, I'm hoping that they've all had it now and no more of them die, I think its been 5 or 6 from 30 something. The cross-breeds seems to survive better than the pure Rhode Island Reds. I hate having to make changes in a hurry! Sounds like you got the job done though.

Diana said...

Oh, baby. That hurts so bad. I remember how awful I felt when I came out and found four dead birds, the night before we were going to move them into safer quarters... or last year, when something carried off more than a dozen birds, again the night before I was going to move them. Somehow, predators know they are about to be outfoxed. But it sure doesn't get easier to handle.

The Paisley Butterfly said...

LOL! Though I am sorry for your loss!
My uncle purchased 300 chicks a few years ago, for the purpose of selling their meat. The smell was awful! I remember helping clean them off, it was quite a production. We didn't send them off to the butchers, we became the butchers! My husband helped him build a plucker, and we created an assembly line. Thank goodness my job was just to clean them off after the gross stuff, making sure all of the feather were gone, and weighing them for packaging and selling. While I pray to have a homestead someday, including chickens, I will never be interested in doing meat chickens to that scale! It was just too much icky-ness...and my husband agrees with using a butcher :)

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