Grit Blogs > Biggers Farm

Farm Update: Interior of the Cabin, Butchering Chickens and a Run-in With a Skunk

Samantha BiggersA lot has been happening on the farm and with the house building. A couple of weeks ago we received our special ordered pine planks for our 600 square foot cabin. We finally have walls and and ceilings. Unfortunately we had some trouble getting the planks initially. We were told that we could get 1/2” dimension planks anytime, but a year later when we were actually ready to start putting up the walls, we discovered that we could not get the planks without special ordering them, and they were going to cost $1,000 more than we thought they would.

Sometimes building a house these things just happen. Costs can change greatly from one year to the next so if you are building your house as you can afford it, you need to over budget a bit for when these things occur. The planks have gone up pretty easily with a nail gun but definitely have taken longer than dry wall or panels would have. At the same time this cabin is supposed to also be a farm house and I think that if we had gone with drywall we would have wound up with it looking bad really quick and the repairs over the years would have been very time consuming. I don't think I am careful enough with chairs and objects to not put holes in it, especially during canning season. We still have some planks to put up since we have not been able to dedicate all our time to the house.

Our Future Kitchen 

The loft of our Roughly 600 sq ft cabin 

 This time of year there is a lot of winterizing and harvesting duties to take care of on the farm. Last week we butchered 30 Cornish Cross Broilers. Most of the birds (21) were deboned and canned. I cooked down and canned chicken broth with what was left. The broilers got butchered a little younger this year. They were also cockerels and hens. This is the first year we have tried raising the straight run birds. The mortality was higher this year due to the intense heat we had this summer. Cornish crosses can be really sensitive birds.

Our Broilers At 5 Weeks or So 

Chicken canned the day of butcher   Broth was canned after it was cooked down for at least 12 hours 

A few weeks ago we acquired a full blooded Jersey bull calf to raise on a bottle. This was the youngest calf we have ever gotten to bottle raise. We got him at just two days old from a grass fed dairy near us. It was great to get a calf from a farm that doesn't use antibiotics unless they truly need them and that lets the calf get 2 days of colostrum. We had no problem with scours with this guy whatsoever. He did have a bit of a cough so we gave him a few antibiotic shots because we were afraid it was going to turn into pneumonia. A cow can die of pneumonia really fast at any age but it is even worse when they are really young and have such a small lung capacity. He seems to be doing really well now though. We are going to have to make him a steer soon. Next month we will be getting another Jersey calf to raise on a bottle. Not sure if it will be a heifer or bull. If it is a heifer I will keep her for a milk cow if at all possible.

Jersey Calf at Feeding Time Sucking On My Thumb 

On September 21 we had a scare with what we think was a rabid skunk. First I need to give you some background on the skunk issue on this mountain. The whole mountain had a huge skunk population when we first moved up here. Part of this is the fault of my illustrious uncle and cousins feeding the darn things for years before I moved up here with Matt. They even had the things named. After losing my baby rabbits to one I was not thrilled about the prospect of sharing the mountain with Myrtle and Fred and all their skunk kin. The population has dropped a bit since the beginning, but we still have our fair share of pole cats.

Today we were working on putting up some of the pine planks inside the house. It was rainy all day so we were inside most of it working. I hear my husband say “Oh my God! Oh no!” The first thing I thought was “Oh no one of the animals has come in hurt.” Then he said “A skunk just walked right under the truck. It is daylight, they are not supposed to be out. Not unless it's sick. Sure enough the skunk was walking sideways and acting really out of it. All signs of rabies. Matt went to get the gun because we were afraid to just let it go. Our pigs are nearby and we were not sure if pigs could get rabies at the time.

Matt didn't want to shoot it in our driveway due to the horrible odor it would cause so he let it walk down the road a ways. At that time Ruby Pearl our Great Pyrenees decided that she would jump out of the pasture and come home to the house. So here she was ambling up the road as the skunk wobbled down the road. The skunk jumped around taunting her and sprayed her right on the head. Matt followed the skunk but could not get a good shot with all the animals around and without leaving the neighbors with a present in their driveway. So for now the skunk just ambled off into a neighboring cow pasture so we are going to have to be on the lookout for it.

Ruby Pearl got sprayed down with a product called “Skunk Buster” to help neutralize the smell and has been confined to outdoors for a few days until the smell fades, and she gets a complete bath. If you live in the country and have dogs or cats “Skunk Buster” is a must. It has helped us survive 3 major skunkings. You can also wash clothes in it that are really smelly. It was only about $8 or so at our local hunting supply store. I had to spray the cat down with it as well because he and Ruby are best buddies, and he is always playing and rubbing on her so he got skunked by association. Later on we looked it up and were horrified to learn that pigs can get rabies. I am so glad that the skunk did not go in the pig lot. We could very well have lost everything we had invested in the pigs if that skunk had gone in there and had a confrontation with them. Below is a photo of Ruby and Felix right after the "Skunking".
 Ruby Pearl and Her Cat Felix     They are best buddies 

The Shiitakes Have Been Fruiting 

 

mary carton
10/1/2011 8:45:04 AM

I have a skunk den in the ditch along the road in front of the house. We see them out in the day time a lot. I drove down to Mom's house one day while she was out of town (with the dog following) and one was in the orchard. I hoped the dog didn't see it, and she didn't at that time. Going back to my house trotting up the middle of the road going back to it's den was the skunk. About the time I went around it, Casey saw it and got herself and the side of my car sprayed. Hydrogen peroxide is also good for the odor.


nebraska dave
9/30/2011 10:54:12 PM

Samantha, I only had one encounter with a skunk. You can read about it by going to the following link on the GRIT Blog. http://www.grit.com/blogs/blog.aspx?blogid=4294967389 Your farm house looks great. I too have discovered that when planning a project of any kind to expect it to cost more than anticipated and take longer than expected. It's always those little unexpected issues that spring up and bite me that expend the time frame on a project. You have a cute little calf. I always like Jersey cows. We had one in our rag tag milk cow herd when I milked cows in high school. She was half the size of the Holsteins and only gave half the milk that a Holstein would but her milk was very rich in butter fat and we always used her milk to skim off the cream for making butter. Her name was Little Bitty. As I recall she was the only one out the 13 that had a name. Cute as a button she was even as a grown milk cow. We never had a bull for breeding and always sold the calves as feeder calves. It wasn't a big operation but it convinced me to consider college and a career in technology instead of farming. Have a great day on the farm.