Hope y'all had a merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Also wanted to let y'all know about the movie some of our friends are making! It is coming out spring 2015. Called "To The Town of Downing" - and it is a western murder mystery! Look for the full movie on here when it comes out!!!
I have the pleasure of knowing one of the most gifted horsewomen. Tikvah Strain has modeled her training after some of the greatest horsemen: Ray Hunt, Buck Brannaman, Chris Bohenek and others, who have worked at discovering a way of training horses that represents the horse’s natural way of communication. The Vaquero / Californio style has a special significance as it was the beginning of the working cowboy that we know today. A cowboy working cattle needs to be one with his horse, using mostly legs to communicate cues so that his hands are free to work. It is a way of working with horses that creates “oneness” between the horse and rider, making a soft and willing horse that works with and not against you. Training them to learn from the release, not pressure, takes feel, timing, and consistency.
Tikvah working Snowfire on the cow
One thing particularly different with the Vaquero style is the tack. The Vaquero style has you move through first the halter, then the hackamore stages, into the two rein and finally to straight up in the bridle. The hackamore reins are made of horse hair which is soft and easy to work with. The bosal is rawhide with rawhide cord. Mecarte Reins are used with a slobber strap – the weight and feel of this allows communication with the horse with just the slightest movement from the rider. The traditional Vaquero tack includes the Vaquero style saddle, spade bit, spoon spade, the half breed, regular spade, and more. Tikvah didn’t start out with this style though. Her father and elder brothers and sisters taught her how to ride, and by the time she was seven years old she could ride by herself. The style she learned from her family was pretty much sack it out, kick it to go and pull it to stop, and didn’t really learn how to develop a relationship with the horse. When she was thirteen she started her first colt under saddle. About a year later, she began working at Chris Bohenek’s training facility. She started noticing how Chris worked with his horses, how they had a relationship with him, and were soft and compliant. She started taking lessons from him and going to clinics, watching videos and reading books on this method.
Tikvah and Denny working on stopping with feel
There is a big difference between the Vaquero style and the usual rough cowboy rodeo style. The Vaquero prefers the silver spade bit with the silver Conchos on the bridle and the braided romal reins. The old cowboy style is more apt to use the grazer bit, tom thumb, or maybe the curve bit with the simpler leather split reins. The Vaquero style has never been about just getting the job done; doing it with style has always been the way. They take pride in being able to work the cattle and horses with great skill. I asked Tikvah if there was a way to tell if a horse was about to buck or act up and she answered, “Before a horse bucks, that horse has been going to do it for a long time. There's been a lot of things leading up to right before the horse bucks, for example: being bracie, taking over, taking control, and all of that starts out from not being prepped good, and correct. If that horse was prepped totally correct, then you probably wouldn't have to worry about it ever bucking. Because whatever you asked that horse it would be trusting what you were asking it wouldn't get it into trouble.” She also talked about working with problem horses that others may have started and not done the foundation properly. She described using the energy, getting them moving forward while trying to establish this relationship she strives for. She works at training horses 5 days a week. She can start colts, give older horses a tune up, and can also help problem horses. When she has finished training a horse for someone she will go over with the owner how she has been riding and handling the horse, and will work with people if they are wanting to learn more about how to get the horse working better on groundwork or riding.
We are planning to host a horsemanship demonstration with Tikvah in the spring or summer – check back for dates, or feel free to email us if you want to be put on the list.
We are now about to start incubating and hatching cute little, fluffy chicks. We started collecting eggs a couple days ago. When you are collecting eggs for incubation they should be kept at around 50 degrees for optimum hatch rates. We have a GQF cabinet incubator that will hold 198 eggs for the incubation part and two tabletop incubators that hold 110 eggs altogether for the hatching. The eggs have to be turned at least 3 or 4 times a day to prevent the embryo from sticking to the cell membrane - the incubators we have do that automatically, about every two hours. Usually we stagger the incubation batches by at least a couple days or up to a week - so that by the time one batch is finished and done in the hatcher and the chicks are in the brooder there will be at least a couple days before we have to put another batch in the hatcher. That gives us time to clean and sanitize the incubators too. Even though it is January it feels like Spring once we being incubating:)
One of the tabletop incubators
You have to keep the eggs at a certain temperature and humidity while they are incubating. At day 18 when they go into the hatcher you have to up the humidity quite a bit. We like to candle the eggs at days 7, 14 and 18. The reason for candling them is to remove any that are infertile or if one dies it will contaminate the ones around it and then they will die, too. You will have a much higher hatch rate if you candle your eggs. We use the Fleischmann Eggs Ray and it works really well for us.
Old English Game Bantam egg at day 10
On day 18 the eggs go into the hatcher and stay there until day 21. On day 21 we open the hatcher, take out the chicks. The chicks should hatch on day 21 - some hatch a little earlier and some a little later - however they all get taken out together.
Buckeye chicks just out of the hatcher
It is so amazing how God made an egg - so that from this: a shell with a pile of goo inside
It turns into this. All the little developmental changes they go through - it is quite amazing!
We incubate and hatch two breeds of chickens which we offer for sale - Marans and Buckeyes (and occasionally some little bantams). We are taking orders now and will be hatching them until we decide we are exhausted, usually around July or August :)
Marans chicks $5 ea. - pullets / hens $25 to $30 ea. Buckeye chicks $5 ea. - pullets / hens $25 to $30 ea. $55 for 15 hatching eggs Thank you for reading and have a great day!
It is the time of year to breed the ewes and does. This is our first year with the goats. We have two does named Tilly and Dottie. They are Nigerian Dwarf / Oberhasli crosses and we are breeding them to a pure Nigerian buck named Oreo. The buck is quite an interesting character! Bucks urinate on their faces because the does think that's hot, so they are extremely smelly! When a buck is around a doe that is in heat he will flap his lips, wiggles his tongue, jumps up and down and baby talks them into standing still. Quite a show!
Our ewes are starting to lamb! Here is one who had triplet ewes last Saturday! Gertrude (the mamma) is an older sheep and we were hoping for at least one ewe from her for her last year (she has had rams for the last two years). They are all very pretty little lambs. She is an excellent mamma and keeps them in the loafing shed most of the time, especially since it's been very cold the last couple of days! Pretty soon as they get stronger they will get frisky and use hoping around as their primary mode of travel - especially in the evening. She was due after the 15th but we didn't really think she'd make it until then - she looked like a whale!
This Saturday Little Mamma had her lamb! A little girl! She has it in the loafing shed now, but it was born out in the rain. Little Mamma is a first time mom, and she's doing really good.
The Buckeye is a large, heritage, dual purpose breed. They were developed by Mrs. Nettie Metcalf to stand the cold winters of Warren, Ohio - and they do excellent in our Montana climate.
These birds are a heritage dual purpose breed. They grow very large with roosters dressing out at weights of 4 to 6 pounds at 18 to 20 weeks. Buckeyes are a sustainable bird - bringing meat and eggs to the table year after year - We have found it takes less feed to raise our Buckeyes to 20 weeks than it took to raise broilers to 8 weeks - they eat more like a normal chicken:)
Buckeyes are also excellent layers for those looking just for the laying flock. Very docile and personable birds, they make an excellent backyard or family farm bird. One of the fabulous things about our heritage birds is that they will dependably lay for you much longer than hatchery type birds which usually stop producing well by around age 2 - our birds should lay well into 5 or 6 years!
We have started hatching now - call to pre-order your chicks today! Day old chicks - strait run: $5 ea. Hatching eggs: 15 for $55 We will have laying age pullets/hens and breeding pairs and trios available later in the year Laying age pullets/hens: $35 ea.