Some Pre-Spring Tips for Lambing

two lambs

I know we posted this back in the end of Fall, but with lambing season beginning soon, we felt that we should bump this post back to our front page. This will help make sure that you’re prepped for lambing this Spring (which is only two months away, by the way). Also, if you’re new to raising sheep or are researching the possibility of adding sheep to your farm, we have a short tip sheet as well as put together a more in-depth guide that you should take a look at!

Even though the winter might feel like it lasts forever, it will eventually come to an end, and lambing season will be upon us sooner than we expect. So, here are a few tips to remember when it comes to lambing this Spring.

Is your space ready?

First thing to remember is your lambing barn ready? No two barns are going to be alike, and there isn’t one correct way of going about this. It all depends on what your needs are and what resources you have available to you. However, there are a few things that you need to make sure of. Firstly, that you have a warm, clean area for the ewes and their babies. However, there is a fine line between a warm barn and one that isn’t getting good airflow and has high humidity, you have to find a balance between getting fresh air into the barn but not creating a draft through it. Secondly, you need to make sure you have the lambing pens ready at the same time, these should be a large enough space so that the lambs have room to move around, and are equipped with a heat lamp.

Attentiveness is key!

I cannot stress this enough, when lambing you need to make sure that the lambs are getting colostrum right away. Producers should always be prepared to deal with weak or cold lambs as this can happen, especially when lambing gets into full swing. The longer these lambs go without an colostrum adequate intake and/or are still cold the most likely they won’t recover.

Nursing

In an ideal situation the lamb should nurse from the ewe around an hour after birth so that the lamb can get the full nutritional benefit of the colostrum. If the lamb is too weak to nurse, it might be necessary to tube feed the lamb. This should be done by someone who is skilled at this due to the potential health risks on the lamb from tube-feeding. Additionally, you should have some frozen colostrum and milk replacer handy in case of weak lambs. When defrosting the colostrum make sure to bring it up to temperature via warming in hot water, never in the microwave as this will destroy any nutritional value of the colostrum for the lamb.

Finally, you should have an immunization schedule in place prior to the start of lambing, by doing this you’ll be prepped for lambing and will have all the necessary equipment in place.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Rainy Day Fun With Your Cat

Kitten-indoor-playtimeWith Fall now in full swing, the rainy days have once again come to Upstate New York. However, just because you want to curl up with your favorite blanket and binge the latest season of your favorite show on Netflix, doesn’t mean that your feline friend wants to as well. So, here are some great ways to entertain yourself and your cat at the same time. Plus, you get to add to the multitudes of cat videos on social media.

The Treasure Hunt

Cats are hunters by nature, so an excellent way to stimulate your cat is to set up a treasure hunt for your indoor cat. You can hide special treats for your cat inside puzzle feeders for your cat to discover. Also, spread a few around the house so that they never know when they’re going to find a treat. This is a great option to break up boredom for the cats when left home while their humans are at work.

The Agility Course

Creating a homemade agility course for your cat sounds complicated but actually isn’t at all. Start by making a paper bag tunnel and then give them a treat when your cat goes through it. Then add a second obstacle, then a third, and so on. Cats love being active and love the exercise. More important though, is to make it fun and stress-free, for yourself and for the cat. One of the nice things about a homemade agility course is that you can customize it as you see fit and build it to match your cat’s physical abilities.

The Paper Bag

One of the great things about cats is that it doesn’t take much to entertain them. Sometimes, all you need is a paper bag and they’ll be entertained for hours on end. One thing you can do is take 3 or 4 and put them around the room and sprinkle a little catnip inside the bag and watch your cat dive, pounce and generally act silly.

iPad Playtime

If you’re feeling particularly tired from the day, you can also set up an app (yes, they have apps for cats) that lets them hunt after bugs and fish. Some of the apps, even interact when the cat catches a fish or bug.

Whatever indoor games you decide to set up with your cat, keep in mind that your furry feline friend was born to move, and they have highly tuned senses. While it’s important to keep them safe indoors, it is also very important to provide them with adequate stimulation and environmental enrichment. After all, indoor games and activities may go a long way in preventing behavior problems down the road due to boredom or separation anxiety.

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Tips For Choosing A First Family Pet

siberian

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing a new pet to your household can provide your household with a loving companion that can teach your kids about responsibility and compassion as they and you help care for the animal. However parents, it’s important to remember that not all pets are created equal when it comes to compatibility with kids. Here are some tips that can help you select a first pet that’s suited to living with kids and won’t outgrow your home.

1. Consider Your Family’s Lifestyle

One of the most important things to first take into consideration is your family’s lifestyle as a whole when you’re choosing a pet. Is the house empty most of the day or is there someone at home throughout? If it’s empty most of the day, a puppy that needs to be taken outside multiple times might not be the most ideal choice.

2. Financial Responsibility

Any pet, big or small, requires a financial commitment from the family. Food isn’t free, and neither is healthcare for pets. That being said, some pets are much more expensive to care for and feed than others. Adopting a rescue might be a noble choice, but one that comes with preexisting health issues will also bring a slew of medical bills that might break the bank. Think about how much room there is in the family budget, and keep that in mind when you consider upkeep costs for the pet.

3. Allergies

Some pets are more aggravating to allergies than others, and living with an animal that triggers those allergies can be miserable. For example, no matter how much your child begs for a puppy or kitten, if someone in the home is allergic to pet dander, it’s just not a good idea to bring one home. However, there is a little caveat to this, there are cats and dogs that are hypoallergenic, it just takes a little research into which breeds (and how expensive they are) fall into this category.

4. Space Constraints

A small, cuddly, baby fluffball might be cute and extremely tempting to bring home, but sometimes, those cute little babies can grow up into large, unwieldy pets. An iguana might be small when you bring it home, but some can grow up to 6 feet in length! Similarly, a Great Dane might not be the best choice of canine companion for a small apartment.

Great Pyrenees being a goof ball

5. Animal Care Requirements

Every pet has certain care requirements that are non-negotiable and must be taken care of. Litter boxes need to be cleaned, dogs need to be walked, fish fed, and gerbil cages cleared. If the primary goal of owning a pet is to help introduce a level of responsibility for your kids, make sure that the animal care requirements aren’t beyond their ability to manage.

6. Be Realistic About Responsibilities

This next tip fits in with #5 above. You may have these grand ideas that your child is going to be a major participator in pet chores, however, be prepared to shoulder that burden yourself if the kids don’t hold up their end of the bargain.

7. Do Your Homework

The best way to choose a pet that will mesh well with your family is to simply do research about any type of pets that you may be considering. Don’t be swayed by the cuteness of certain baby animals, and make sure you don’t simply buy on impulse. Create a list of pet types that would be suitable for your home, and narrow down the options to find the one that will be a good fit for your family.

Also, make sure that if you get a four legged furry companion, that you have them properly identified. This will not only save you from heartache later, by making sure that they are always easily identified in case they get lost.

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10 common myths about farming

Farming and agriculture are the backbone of our country, without farms we’d starve. However, many myths and urban legends swirl around this hard-working bedrock industry. In honor of the farmers in New York, and around the US we’re helping to set the record straight by disproving ten of the most popular myths about farming.

#10 – All farms are large corporate industrial farms

Completely untrue! 97 percent of all farms are family owned and run, and some have even been passed down from older generations. Don’t let the names of some fool you. Just because a farm has an “inc.” on the end of their name doesn’t mean they’re a corporate farm.

#9 – Farmers don’t care about their animals

When someone claims that farmers do not care about their animals they couldn’t be further from the truth. Farmers do what the animal needs, when they need it to make sure that the animal is taken care of. From staying up all night birthing calves on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day (yes, this happens), to going out in sub-zero temperatures in the middle of the night to make sure their water isn’t frozen and they can get to their food, farmers do it all. For farmers, their animals are just another extended part of their family.

#8 – Farmers don’t care about their damage to the environment

Honestly, farming is one of the greenest professions out there these days. With advancements in technology growing exponentially daily, farmers are able to use less fertilizers and chemicals, while producing more product. Additionally, the land that the farmer uses is their greatest resource, it feeds their animals, and nurtures the plants they grow, why would they want to sully that?

#7 – Small farms don’t matter, and are eaten up by larger farms

You know how earlier I said that 97% of farms are family owned? Well, a good portion of that percentage is small farms. Small farms are what allow people to get locally produced food and able to know the farmer that helped raise their meal.

#6 – Farmers are uneducated

This myth is a doozy, and I can’t stand it! The truth of the matter, not only does the farmer have to know how to farm, they must also be mechanics, weathermen, vets, and a business owner. The days of using old farm wisdom passed down by family members is long gone. Times have changed and so have the duties and knowledge necessary to be a farmer.

#5 – Farmers are rich

Farmers don’t farm for the money, they do it for the love of the job. I’m not saying that there aren’t rich farmers out there, but a few does not make up the whole. Farmers farm because they love the lifestyle, they know it’s one of the backbone industries of our country, or they do it for the love of farming. Whatever their reason is, be sure it isn’t for the money.

#4 – There’s no future in agriculture

Completely untrue. One of the highest growing industries is actually farming. Not only are the numbers growing in agriculture related degrees, the number of young farmers is growing consistently.

#3 – Farmers line their pockets from the cost of food

Many people believe that food prices are driven by what the farmer wants to charge the stores so that they make as much money possible. However, only 15 cents goes to the farmer. The rest goes to paying things such as transportation, labor, processing, and other business costs. Unfortunately, many of the direct and indirect costs that farmers face, such as insurance and feed for the animals, are not as easily covered. Additionally, these costs are even harder to deal with when there’s a drought, hail, hurricane, flooding or any other sort of natural disaster that wipes out the crop, the farmer can lose most of their year’s income but still have to deal with the costs.

#2 – Food costs too much

In some parts of the world, this is absolutely true. It not only costs too much but is unavailable to many people. But in the United States, we have one of the most abundant and affordable food supplies in the world. In a recent study, food costs were shown to make up about 7% of our income. In Japan, it’s 14%; China, 21%; and India was 51%.

#1 – Our food is unsafe

Sometimes we get overwhelmed by the headlines that a commodity or a producer is having problems. Thus, the reason these stories are called news, because it is outside the realm of normal. The truth is, the food industries has some of the strictest standards and regulations of any industry. For example, before a cow can be cleared for slaughter, the slaughterhouse must test to make sure that any antibiotics or hormones have completely passed through their system. In fact, many other foods contain higher levels of hormones that are astronomically higher than that found in dairy and meat products.

So I hope this helps dispelled some myths about farming for you. So, next time, you want to pick up some great produce at a local store, remember to thank your farmers!

Sources:

http://wsm.wsu.edu/researcher/WSMaug11_billions.pdf

http://www.realfarmersrealfood.com/

http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/safetyhealth/productsafetyinformation/ucm055436.htm

http://www.usda.gov/documents/FARM_FAMILY_INCOME.pdf

http://findourcommonground.com/food-facts/corporate-farms/

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Some Tips For Raising Ducks

In the past we’ve talked about raising chickens, goats, sheep, and even cows. However, there is one fowl that we haven’t talked about yet, but is a common occurrence on many farms. Of course I’m talking about ducks. Now, raising ducks is not necessarily a simple task, however, they tent to be easier to care for than other fowl and can be enjoyable to watch and tend to. So read on for our collection of tips and to-do’s when raising ducks.

Ducklings

Safety First!

One thing that is important to remember is health safety when it comes to raising ducks. Like chickens, ducks may have Salmonella germs in their dropping and on their bodies, even if they appear healthy and clean. These germs can also get on anything the duck interacts with within their habitat. Of course, this can pass on to the caretakers if they’re not careful. Always make sure that you wash your hands immediately after handling the ducks or anything in the area that they live in.

Feeding Baby Ducks

When taking care of baby ducks make sure to never feed them without water. Water helps get the food down and clean their beak vents. Always give baby ducks access to water for at least an hour before feeding and an hour after. Also, when providing them with water make sure to use a chick fountain or shallow bowl, and be prepared to clean the area often. Ducklings love to splash around in the water, which can be adorable, but also a pain in the rear once they’re done. Also when providing water make sure that it is no deeper than a quarter inch so that the ducks don’t drown.

Providing Shelter

When you have ducklings, you can’t put them into a normal shelter to protect them from predators and weather. There is a special cage you will need called a brooder. These help keep the ducklings safe and warm and can be made in the home or out of easy to get materials. For the base you can use a spare bathtub, plastic tote, dog crate, or even a sturdy cardboard box lined with plastic. Additionally, until they reach 7 to 9 weeks, you’re going to want to keep a heat lamp on the brooder to keep the ducklings warm. The reason being, before they reach that 7 to 9 week point, ducklings can’t regulate their internal temperature and need outside sources of heat to keep them alive. For the first week that the ducklings are in the brooder the temperature should be 90 degrees Fahrenheit. After that first week you will want to lower the temperature by a degree a day until the temperature is equal with the temperature outside the brooder.

What Came First? The Duck Or The Egg?

Once the ducks are old enough, and the females begin producing eggs, they can actually be used as a good replacement for chicken eggs. They’re the same as chicken eggs but are much larger and contain higher levels of protein, calcium, iron and potassium. Additionally, they’re can be useful when baking cakes, as the extra protein helps the cake to rise, and the fat content can add more richness and flavor to the bakery treat.

What are some of your tips and tricks when it comes to raising ducks? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Local Spotlight: Lake Luzerne-Hadley Fire Dept.

I know that we’ve posted in the past about our furry friends and how to take care of them along with some interesting things on personal farming and gardening. But, this week we wanted to take a moment to highlight friends of ours that put there lives on the line to save ours and our homes. So, this post is going to be dedicated to the brave firefighters of the Luzerne-Hadley Fire Department.

History of the Luzerne-Hadley Fire Department

The history of the LHFD starts back in the early 20th century. in 1926, the Rockwell Falls Presbyterian Church was completely destroyed along with two other buildings. This fire caused over $50,000 in damages that day. Just to give you an idea, that would be equivalent to a fire costing a community in almost a million dollars in damages today. This fire brought the community together to vote to create the beginnings of the Van R. Rhodes Fire Company.

In January of 1927, three hundred men gathered together in the Gem Theater on Main Street in lake Luzerne and organized the Rockwell Falls volunteer fire company, which is the foundation of what would become the LHFD. However, according to town records and historical documents, these brave men fought fires with little to no equipment until the summer of 1927 where the town approved the use of $25,000 for purchasing equipment along with the erection of the firehouse on School Street in Luzerne.

The Rockwell Falls VFD would last for one year until it was re-formed as the Van R. Rhodes Fire Company, the name that this company still carries today. Van R. Rhodes is a local figure who not only helped to organize fire protection within the district, but also helped develop the area, bringing more business and homes for people of the area. Additionally, he was a charter member of the board of directors of the Luzerne-Hadley Bank.

The Van R. Rhodes Fire Company has been involved in many different philanthropic endeavors within the community over the years. First, with its annual Fireman’s Ball which it held every year until the start of World War II. Later, they would sponsor a regatta which became a popular event for many years. They were also the sponsor for the local Boy Scout troop for many years.

So thank you LHFD, for everything that you do. It’s not an easy job, but we’re glad there are strong selfless people like you in the world.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Urban Gardening

So, we know that farming can be a very rewarding experience. Hard work, but rewarding. The food is always fresh and you know what goes into what you’re eating. But, what if you don’t live in an area that you can have livestock and garden veggies galore? Urban living gives us access to a lot, but also limits us to the supermarket or your local farmer’s market. So, whether you have an apartment, a studio, or even maybe a little land outside your house, here’s our quick guide to getting started with some urban gardening.

Finding a spot

Before you start planning out and mapping the (possibly) limited space you have for growing, you need to find a spot that is going to be able to get six to eight hours of sun per day and has easy access to water. Some great spots could be your patio, balcony, roof eaves (for hanging plants, more on that later). Additionally, as long as it’s not against fire code and not preventing your use, you could even use your fire escape if your building has one.

What to use

Now that you have a spot picked out, the next step is to figure out how you’re going to plant your garden. There are different ways to go about this. However, you want to make sure of a few things before you buy pots. Make sure your container has draining holes (these are easy to make if you want to save money, just poke some holes in the bottom of the container that you’re planning on using), isn’t transparent since sunlight will fry exposed roots, will be big enough to support the plant, and to use good draining soil.

What plants to buy

While you can grow any sort of veggies in pots as long as they have room to grow. IF you don’t have a lot of space certain types of plants fit better with certain types of pots. If you’re using hanging pots, ‘tumbler’ vine tomatoes are great because the vines will just bush out over the sides of the hanging pot. If you have more room you can use a trellis planted into a larger planter for vine plants like squash, beans, or peas. Spices have shallow roots so smaller planters can be great for them and they end up not taking up a lot of room.

If you’re really looking to dig your hands into the dirt, and see how much of a green thumb you really have, try finding out if your community has a community garden. These spaces are great to come together and share the work to maintain a great garden for your friends and neighbors.

Well I hope this quick guide helps, and even though it’s the dead of winter, now is a great time to start seedlings and figure out what space will work perfect come spring and summer.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Tips for Raising Sheep

sheep

A couple of weeks ago we released some tips on lambing that will help you make it a smoother process. There are many reasons to raise sheep and it’s important to first find out your reasons for wanting to raise sheep in the first place. They can be great for improving your agricultural landscape as livestock grazing helps to to control vegetation and preserve open lands. Also, they can be great to raise for profit, and it isn’t as hard as some think it is. But, whatever your reason, here are some tips to help you get started if you want to start raising sheep.

Tip #1 – Housing

Traditional barns are, by far, the most standard choice for housing when raising sheep for profit. While they might be expensive, they give the best protection for sheep, the feeds, and the equipment. If you’re looking for something less expensive, a hoop house can be a good alternative. Additionally, you’re going to want to make sure where you put the barn is on elevated ground, has good drainage, wind protection, electricity, and easy access for deliveries and trash collection.

Tip #2 – Feeding

Whatever you plan on doing with your sheep herd, I would recommend that you invest in some feeders, not only will it make feeding easier, it will also reduce the risk of your sheep contracting diseases. Feeding sheep on the ground can increase this risk because your sheep are likely to use the same area that you feed them in as their bathroom, which means that the feed can get contaminated.

Tip # 3 – Handling

Sheep are very tame and sociable creatures, like goats, they strive for an environment that follows a routine and is peaceful. Also, make sure to keep your sheep together, this will help foster a sense of home and helps them stay comfortable. The more comfortable your herd is, the healthier they will be.

two lambs

Tip #4 – Management

The style in which you manage your herd’s breeding schedule is also extremely important. There are three different styles of lambing. Early lambing takes place from January to February, and then selling the lambs in early summer. Late lambing, which occurs between April and May, which will reduce production costs but the lambs will also be sold for less. Finally, there is also accelerated lambing, which increases production, but also puts additional strain on the sheep and needs extremely close attention to your herd.

We hope that these tips will help you with your research into raising sheep. For any identification needs, we carry a wide variety of animal ID tags, and Tambra Brass Tags!

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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