Cindy Skillman

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since Sep 12, 2018
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bike books building cattle chicken dog food preservation homestead hunting cooking sheep
Grew up during the “back-to-the-land” movement in the 60’s/70’s, but I was too young. Then like magic I was too old. Now it turns out at last that I’m just right (as Goldilocks famously said.) Having the time of my life.
Zone 3-4 (usually 4) Western South Dakota, central Black Hills
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Recent posts by Cindy Skillman

Mine has two 9” cart wheels. The bottom rails extend beyond the back end about 8”. There’s a 10” (or so) carriage bolt inserted through each 2x4” from the outside to the inside and affixed there with washer & nut. You slide the wheels on when ready to move the tractor (this involves some lifting, but it’s not too bad). On the front there’s a rope from one side to the other of the bottom rails. You pick the front up with the rope and pull it. It only needs to lift a few inches. Again, not too hard. The chickens kind of bunch up in the back when I’m moving them. They’re still pretty small, but it hasn’t been a problem, despite there being no floor. Like most (maybe all) tractor-style portable coops, this works best on relatively flat ground. I’d take some pics, but it’s all mired down in snow at the moment.

Edited to add: You have to take off the wheels once you have it moved. Otherwise there’s a gap underneath the back end. The chickens won’t get out but nasties could get in. You can also encircle the bottom of the tractor with a strand of temporary (solar is most practical) electric fence a couple inches above the ground, if your predator load demands it.
1 month ago
Here’s my new one. Summer residence only. Two more to go...

1 month ago
I just put four 4 week old BBWs out in a Suskovich tractor with 25 red ranger meat chickens for company. They’re all fairly well feathered. I’m pushing it since they’re not fully feathered and Spring is still dithering as to whether or not she wants to come out just yet. I put in two Heat lamps (it’s a big tractor) and tarped both ends that are designed to be unclothed wire. I’m putting up and taking down those tarps depending on Spring’s mood of the moment but I’m leaving the lamps on 24-7. Everyone seems to be doing okay with this arrangement. (Photo below)

Obviously the BBWs are a lot faster growing than heritage breeds. I have heritage ones coming in about a week along with more laying chickens and they’ll grow more slowly. Hopefully Spring will get over her stage fright soon and get on with the sunshine stuff.

1 month ago
Ohmygoodness that was great! Still giggling. WOLVERINES!!!
2 months ago
WHYYYY must I choose!!!???

Chickens are fascinating! Cows mostly just stand around... except when they’re excited about treats or a new bail or a fresh paddock. Then they’re soooo cute, the way they gallop-skip-cavort toward me. I love my girls... it’s lucky they’re breeders. What I will do about adorable Scottish Highland calves I fear to say. I will have to harden myself; I realize this. DH says the sweetest one is like a shaggy puppy dog. With horns... She stands at the fence and stares until I go out and pet her and give them all treats.

I love my chickens too. They all run out to see me when I open the door or even look out the glass door. They’re definitely in it for the treats but it still feels like they like me. Still, they’re chickens and not so cuddly as a furry cow. They’re safe so long as they lay, or at least clean up pasture after the cows, and they ARE fun to watch. I just got 26 chicks at the PO this morning. They’re for meat—a ranger type. They’re cute, but I must not let myself fall in love.

In a SHTF scenario the cattle would be easier to feed but as I don’t have a bull, pretty hard to perpetuate. We really don’t have room for a bull—or maybe we do, if the pasture (which is already good) gets better. If we did, it would be one bull and three cows. Not a lot of genetic diversity there. With chickens, you have a lot more scope for keeping different lines in play. Cows of whatever kind can give milk but chickens give eggs. Both give meat. Cattle also give hides if you know how and have the gear to tan them. (I am not up to chewing them; my teeth are too old for that. :-p )

I don’t know; I’m pretty sure I need both, plus some wooly sheep and American Guinea hogs, rabbits & quail. It’s hard to grow much of a garden here; the season is too short, so it will have to be mostly meat until I get a greenhouse done. So.. which is better: chicken or cow? Yes.
2 months ago
Oh yes, and he’s talking heritage breeds. The main thing (aside from common sense itself) is whether the poults are fully feathered.
2 months ago
Have you considered a bit of soapy water?  You’re in a better position to get a good look at her than I, but in the photo it looks like maybe some dried mucous. They can excrete a bit of mucous (sometimes bloody) a day or two after estrus. She could easily have smeared it over there with her tail, I think...
2 months ago