Turkey Disaster

As detailed in a recent post, we’ve been raising turkeys this year. What I haven’t yet shared is that the birds have been a disaster.

Out of the 14 that arrived alive in the shipment, we’re now down to three. Yes, three.

Turkeys famously spend their first days and weeks, “sitting around thinking of ways to die,” and ours were no exception. I’d come out every morning, and there’d be a few more dead ones. Mostly, though, that was my fault: the first night they were here, I didn’t have the heat lamp low enough. They shivered all night, and even those that survived were so weakened that they dropped dead within a few more days (despite my fixing the heat lamp the second morning). Soon, we were down to four survivors.

Those four were looking pretty good. Then, I came out this morning, someone had left the door to the brooder room open. And one of the four turkey poults was…gone. Nowhere to be found. The other three were huddled up, which was uncharacteristic. Not sure what happened; it’s possible that the missing one flew out of the brooder (they’re feathered now, and capable of it), or if a hungry barn cat jumped in looking for a meal. Either way, looks like I’m going to be putting a mesh cover over the top of the brooder tub tonight.

As these heritage turkeys are an important gift that I offer clients at the end of the year, I can’t get by on just three. I’ve already ordered an additional 20, these from McMurray Hatchery, which is the best in the business. Not taking any chances this time, and not scrimping on price; the window of availability is closing, and I’ve simply got to have turkeys.

They arrive next week, and hopefully we’ll have better success with that batch.

UPDATE: Later in the day, Homeschooled Farm Girl was playing in the barn and heard a chirping sound. She began looking around, and found Turkey #4! We put him back in with the others, and covered the brooder tub with chicken wire. No escapees since.

Hillary’s Downfall

There is a movie about Hitler with a scene that is now famous; he’s in the bunker, the Allies are closing in, he knows the war is lost, and he begins ranting at the top of his lungs. The movie is in German, with English subtitles. That scene has been spoofed in a dizzying number of ways, by inserting different subtitles. Hitler rants in German, but the English words change.

I’ve seen several of these versions now, and all of them are funny. But the one below is by far the funniest. Warning: the subtitles contain a considerable amount of profanity. But, quite honestly, that makes it all the funnier. I nearly coughed up a lung the first time I saw this.

H/T: Joe D.

Biscuits Lives

We’ve had two goat kids born this year. Both are males, and both will be butchered this fall. Just to make sure neither the children nor us gets too attached to these critters, we named one of them “Sausage” and the other one “Biscuits.”

Both have been gaining weight healthily, and were doing well. But earlier this week, Biscuits started moving around lethargically. Then he didn’t want to move at all. He’d throw himself into convulsions, foam at the mouth, throw himself on the ground, and wedge himself into odd places.

Our first concern was tetanus; we had a lamb contract it once, and Biscuits’ symptoms were similar. But with some troubleshooting, we pretty much eliminated that. My larger concern was that he was neither eating nor drinking; no matter what he was sick with, if he didn’t eat or drink he’d slowly die anyhow. I drenched him with a 50-50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water, and he seemed to perk up a bit after that. (Drenching involves filling a large needle-less syringe with the liquid, opening the animal’s mouth, inserting the syringe all the way to the back of the mouth, and releasing the liquid.) But he still wasn’t really improving, so on Friday morning Mrs. Yeoman Farmer found a large animal vet who wasn’t too far away.

At times like this, I really miss our old place. Our old vet was awesome, and we could call him any time and he’d work us in. Plus, he lived just a mile from our house and could stop by on his way to work (or on his way home). Here, the closest such vet was over a half hour away. But there was a “regular” vet in the next town over who would look at Biscuits if we could bring him in. Mrs. Yeoman Farmer loaded him in the Ford Bronco, drove up, and got in line with all the puppies, kittens, etc that the vet usually sees. Definitely a case of “One of these things is not like the others.” When the receptionist called her name, she asked MYF, “So, what breed of dog is Biscuits?” MYF laughed and replied, “Uhm, Toggenburg and Saanen. Goat.”

The vet diagnosed pneumonia, which is a lot more treatable than tetanus. Injected him with penicillin and a B complex vitamin, and sent more of both home with MYF. Also instructed us to drench Biscuits with a baking soda/water solution, to re-start his rumen.

So, we’ve been doing that all weekend, and also going out several times a day to feed Biscuits some milk. We’ve had him out on the back lawn, in the shade of a tree, so we can monitor him. He’s been getting up a lot better, and moving around more. So much, in fact, we were worried he might wander to the front yard and out onto the road. The vet said we’d know by Sunday night whether he’d live or not. It’s now Sunday morning, and things are looking a whole lot better than they were Friday morning.

The vet bill was $48. When you add that to what Biscuits will eat the rest of this year, it’s not certain the price was worth what we’ll get from him in meat. But farming, for us, is much more than a cost-benefit analysis. Yes his name is Biscuits, and yes he’s going to be butchered anyway. Caring for him these last few days has been quite time consuming; all things considered, the most economical option probably would’ve been to have put a bullet in his head Friday morning. He’s not a prize breeder, and he’s not a pet.

But he is also more than a machine. He’s a living thing that we’ve been given temporary custody over, and over which we need to exercise responsible stewardship. I couldn’t imagine not doing everything in our power to save his life, or to nurse him back to health. And there are few things more satisfying than watching a sick animal slowly emerge from the shadow of death’s door, regain his strength, and rejoin the herd.

Not Me

By a quirk of their computer system, the Barnes & Noble listing for my novel has links to “More By this Author.” If you click it, you’ll find four murder mysteries authored by, yes, Chris Blunt.

I always thought I had a pretty unusual name…but apparently it’s not that unusual. Anyway, one of the people who read my novel sent a remarkable note. She said she’d liked Passport so much, she’d already clicked through and ordered another of my books. And she asked if I’d written any other books I hadn’t told her about.

Once I figured out what had happened, I explained that some other Chris Blunt had written the books B&N was linking to mine. She was able to cancel her order before it shipped. I contacted B&N about the issue, and they said they are aware that these kinds of errors can happen, but it will take quite some time before they can fix all of those errors.

Must say…her ordering that “other” Chris Blunt’s book was, I believe, one of the sincerest forms of flattery I’ve ever received. Never, ever, could have imagined that happening.

But it does make me want to get off my tail and start writing a second novel.


Thanks to all who have written to let us know you’ve been praying for my mother-in-law. She had a good night last night, and the doctors have been able to identify the bug that’d put her in such a tailspin. Mrs Yeoman Farmer spent the bulk of the day at the hospital, and reports a marked improvement from yesterday. We’re still not out of the woods (aka ICU) yet, but things are definitely looking up.

Please Pray…

…for Mrs. Yeoman Farmer’s mother. She’s been chronically ill for many years, and in hospitals or nursing homes for nearly two straight years. She’d seemed to be making a recovery in recent months, and there was even talk of her moving home this summer. But in the last few days, she’s taken a terrible turn and is now deteriorating rapidly. Prognosis is quite dim. She received Extreme Unction (yes, we still call it that in our family) this afternoon, and is spiritually very prepared to pass to the next life. Please join us in “accompanying” her with your prayers in these hours.

I must say, we’ve never been so glad we made the move to Michigan. Mrs. Yeoman Farmer has been able to see her mother many times over these last months, and has been able to spend many hours at the hospital these last few days. We’re very thankful we’re not right now frantically packing the minivan and wondering if we’ll make it from Illinois to Michigan in time…and wondering who will take care of the farm while we’re gone.

It’s good to be home. And for this to be our home.

Who Needs a Weed Whacker?

Who needs a fancy string trimmer to clip the grass around your fence, when you’ve got this youthful Icelandic work crew that keeps getting loose?

Meanwhile, back at the barn, their parents were feasting on all the grass clippings I’d gotten using the lawn mower. These guys love the fresh green stuff so much, they don’t even wait for the wheelbarrow to finish dumping into their feeder.