Fireworks and Livestock

Every year right around July 4th (or January 1), I start to worry. 

The fireworks... 

Livestock and fireworks just don't mix...

Maybe this post will help people understand a little bit about what happens here, what happens to the animals and the detrimental effects of setting off fireworks around livestock.

Our area in the Acreage/ Loxahatchee is a prime location for setting off fireworks.  Every street has that one person who spends a bunch on the loudest, biggest, brightest fireworks. The problem though is they don't take the animals into consideration...This is a problem for people with livestock. 

One of the things we all know about our dogs is that their hearing is so much more discerning then ours. Livestock are the same. The dogs can be brought in the house, livestock can't... I can't bring my goats, horses, pigs in. Dogs can be prescribed medicine to calm them. Livestock can't. Even if there is something on the market that is OK to give food animals, great, but when you have 30 of them? Costly.  Livestock don't get used to it. I see that the older they get the worse their reaction to it is. Older animals and young stock are the most concerning. Events like this can scare them to death.

Here is what I do on the afternoon of July 4. I grab all the milkers and lock them in a stall after I've milked 4 hours early - my second milking is around 10 pm so, its done early that day. I move the horse to the full half acre paddock. She runs and panics. More room for her, the less she can hurt herself. I can't put her in the stall with the goats as she kicks, bucks, and generally makes the goats worse, and can hurt them. The pig, bucks, and kids go in to the chicken coop, they get locked in at dusk, if i can catch them before the fireworks start. I have to wait till all the chickens go to roost for the evening. And then we wait... for the onslaught of noise, lights, etc. 

My whole day is shot. It's a waiting game, and I never leave the farm these nights. When the fireworks start I might throw hay hoping it takes their mind off it. This depends on how many are in the stall, and level of fear starting. Herd animals don't think individually, they think as a herd. So if one starts, the others will, too. If i'm not there with them, its worse. 

Every year without fail, I get hurt in some way. Every year without fail, a goat gets hurt in some way. The pony gets stressed out and loses weight. The dogs bark incessantly, get stressed out, overheat. Panic. In the house or out of the house. It doesn't matter. 

And then we wait... until its over.

Here are a few things that would greatly help your fellow livestock neighbor. 
(I know fireworks are going to happen, just keep us in mind, please!)

- We expect you to set them off at a certain hour. On July 4, 9 pm or 10 pm (an hour or so after dark)... or January 1, at midnight. What we don't expect is hearing them the day before, the day after, and weeks after. We don't expect them at 4 am, 10 am, and so on...

Please understand that people are riding their horses, grooming, doing daily chores and while you are setting off fireworks at noon on July 3, that noise can set off an animal and truly hurt the person, or persons NEAR it, not to mention the animal. 

- We expect that you will fire them off in groups. We don't like to see that there was a giant 40 round display taking an hour or so to finish, thinking its over, go in the house, and an hour later you're at it again. No Bueno! Do it once. And don't be the neighbor that waits till everyone is done to start your display at midnight. 

- When you are firing them please go UP, not into the trees, over others houses, down the street, or over paddocks. I can't tell you how many times, over the years, I am picking up used fireworks in my yard, on my house, in the paddocks. It's dangerous. Know where you are firing them and more importantly WHERE they are going to land. It is funny ...how those that fire them don't want them over their own houses.

- Have some courtesy and fire them away from those of us with livestock. If you have livestock across the street, fire them in the back yard, or side yard- furthest away from the livestock. Not on the street right in front of them. Yes, 50 yards does make a difference in sound.

- When firing off your fireworks. STOP and LISTEN after you set a few off. LISTEN and learn. My street has two farms on it. The street in front of me has 1, behind me 2....and all have livestock that panic. Stop and listen. What do you hear? You can hear mine crying, screaming, neighing, running, snorting....you might here me trying to calm them. If you hear that? have some courtesy. STOP. Last year in particular, I wasn't prepared for round 4... I finally thought it was over, it wasn't. As I was letting animals out and, one more 3 am check, another round of fireworks went off. They panicked, and I was getting trampled. You could hear me swearing 4 streets over. STOP. 

If you're firing off fireworks I bet you're not really an animal caregiver or lover. Because if you saw the fear in their eyes, the scouring the next morning, the drop in weight for a week, the general distress, loss of production, or the extra work you put us thru, you wouldn't be firing them off.

- Not all animals are afraid of the lights. Pretty lights in the sky... I can lock up the worst of the fearful animals, so they can't see it. What i can't do is shield them from these fireworks that are no lights, but giant booms. If i had a say in what you could purchase, it would be lights and little booms. Just like training any animal, if they associate light, then boom, thats more manageable, they will start to expect it. It doesn't lessen fear, it does help them prepare for what is next. What i can't train them for is BOOMS without warning. 

Also, livestock, particularly goats, cows, pigs, they don't remember year after year what happened last year, and comments of, 'they should be used to it'... does not apply...

- Pick up after yourself. My goodness people... after its over go find the refuse and clean up your mess. And yes, that means in the lot next to you that no one lives in. Who knows what toxic mess is in that paper refuse and now its in my paddocks, front drive, front lawn. Empty lot. Animals nibble on things all the time. I wonder how many care that the refuse can make an animal sick.

For days after the display of fireworks the farm is still suffering the after effects. Scared animals are stressed animals that can become sick animals or worse physically hurt. My milkers drop in milk every year. Without fail it takes me a week to get them back up to where they were July 1. My pig stops eating for a day or so. The horses, if not physically injured are more irritable and jumpy for days after. And the dogs. Barking at anything and everything. 

I do my best to prepare for the holiday. I do enjoy properly done, well managed, not too long, (or all day /night) displays. I really wish people would pay more attention to the surrounding area, and what they do and how it affects those with livestock. 

And please be safe when firing them off. 

Happy Fourth of July!


Sad little people

For almost 10 years (started this blog in 2006), I’ve been documenting my journey with the animals. From the first one... Ignatius C Potbelly to the day I drove up North to pick up Samson and Delilah, to the very worst (Hurricanes), to the very best ( babies lots of them).  Even when 5 years ago my lifestyle, I feared was in danger... Still is. ...I wrote about development, land use, codes and zoning. I have documented EVERY step of my journey. The good. The bad. Taken pictures, posted them, and its all here for anyone and everyone to read. There is nothing to hide.

Today, I get a disturbing email alerting me that there was a nasty post about me and my farm from the a certain pro -development homeowner,  in my area, that likes to bully. And it was posted online in one of the groups I am NOT a member of so I couldn’t defend myself. How brave is that?  This isn't new, except this time it can affect my business. I suppose ignoring it would be prudent, except that this is never-ending. And i'm not the first person they/she has done this to.  But I am the first that has a blog and a following. 

Enough is enough. I have had it, her name is Holly Beck (loxahatchee, florida not the famous surfer) and I want everyone to know who she is.  Evil. small minded. SAD human being. And i’m writing on my blog that gets over 20,000 hits a year. She called me out, was nasty, and now I’m doing the same to her. Maybe by doing so will shame her into stopping this crap. 

At first I was going to let it slide.... At first. Then of course, I got angry. Then I laughed. A friend came over to confirm for me that nothing is amiss. This is a FARM. I have farm animals. I run a dairy, I have chickens, they mess, I have a trailer for transport, I have a myriad of things in piles that are for those ‘what if’ moments. I work outdoors and things are just not perfect. And that is it. 

Life isn’t perfect. 

But she is. 

She is so perfect that she feels confident that she can write whatever she wants without repercussions. 

Her comments are damaging and mean and its now plastered on Facebook. So, my only recourse short of hiring an attorney to slap her with a cease and desist is to now defend myself and finally, call her out. This needs to stop. They and she have gone after the wrong person. I’m just a long line of friends and fellow activists that she has done this to. They've harassed, ridiculed, disparaged, but mostly try to ruin reputations. And it's been going on for years. Everything that comes out of this persons mouth is evil and vindictive and not true. 

Especially, in this particular instance, so, I want to point out a few positives about my farm...

In the 10 years that I have lived here my farm has been open to everyone and anyone. Even her. I have documented and added up over 1,000 people that have walked thru my gates. I have had farm days, school groups, farm groups, other farmers, a congress woman, a judge, a federal judge, police, reporters, famous chefs, even a couple famous actors ....and oh yeah, how could i forget...PBS was here to shoot a segment on the farm for national TV.... (click here) I’ve been photographed, locally and nationally, the animals photographed, products highlighted, barn, paddocks, for newspapers, magazines... Articles written, and stories told on blogs, but yet, not one of them had any problems with what I do here and how things look. Actually the opposite. They think its GREAT.
Know why? THEY GET IT. This is a working homestead. 

I moved out here to have farm animals and to be more self- sufficient. I raise goats, chickens and bees. I'm one of the few homesteads that actually make a living doing this. And I'm pretty well known thru- out S. Florida in certain circles. I don't make a large living. I just sometimes squeak by. But I use the land as it is intended. I spend money when I have extra- on the animals. I don't keep spending on things they keep breaking. I don't mow the yard, it's money down the drain. And I surely don't waste anything that I can one day use. And I make no excuses on what I can or cannot afford to do. And, I do this alone. So get off my back.

Her post and comments were uncalled for, unnecessary, and downright nasty. She is a spore on the ass of my pig, who by the way is the cleanest animal in the barn yard. 

This type of person is moving in to our area, they move next door, then they want to see perfectly mowed yards, no animals, and cookie cutter lifestyles. They call ACC on noisy roosters, uncut lawns, they call code when your drain pipes are falling, and when they don't like what you stand for,  try to disparage your reputation thinking this will shut me up. Well, the opposite happened.

I fight to keep a ‘live and let live’ attitude. It is why we all moved out here in the first place. Not to be in an HOA. To not have neighbors so close you can hear them snoring. To be able to have livestock, and to care for them as I see fit. And If I choose to spend any little extra income, it’ goes to them. Maybe I should splurge and buy her a muzzle. 

So,  don’t come after me,  it’s not going to work. I work hard for what I do here. I'm proud of my little farm and what we've achieved these past 10 years. And nothing you can say can change this fact. 

BUT maybe, just maybe you will run across her, and remember her name, and what an evil, vindictive, jerk she really is and just like she is trying to ruin my reputation, this might help do the same to her and whatever business she might be in. 

So here’s the deal. Screw you pooch. Get off your ass and do something positive for once. Stop berating others because you can't argue a point without being mean and nasty... you are a really sorry sad little person. :) 


Pitter Patter...

I love getting the cards.

I had two school groups here the past month. To learn about the small farm and milking goats, and to bring me some chicks.  As a thank you, the children from St. Andrews private school and Sea Star Academy sent these lovely cards to me again this year. Both schools are set in urban settings, and sometimes this is the first time they get to see outside of a petting zoo setting what these animals are meant to do. Why I do it, etc.

What we've been doing is sending over some hatchable eggs to the school. They do all the work. I enjoy the spoils.  As a treat once the eggs have hatched. And its not a given they will. They can come here and bring them back. And we set up the coop for them. 8 Chicks were hatched for me this year. The kids learn about embryology. I get free chicks. It's always fun to see how little minds think. The questions they ask. And what they remember most. Best of all are these cards.

It was fun to read them all. And see what stood out to them on their visit.

Gobble. Gobble. Bob the Turkey has been memorialized.

St. Andrews kids made me this group card. 

Yes! Now they are EGGsperts. How cute.


Honey Timeline

just a few jars. I pulled almost 20 lbs/honey from the one hive. and left three full  frames in for them.

Someone asked me the other day it didn't seem that long for me to have gotten so much honey. Got me thinking on when I first started.

August 2013  Went to the S. Florida Bee College and spent 3 days learning about bees. As well as the Small Farms Conference where I had taken a class that started the interest. (The thought to keep bees had been swimming around for years).

September 7 2013 Went to hear Michael Bush speak and he sealed it for me. I can do this. I wasn't so sure leaving the Bee College courses. I just liked what he had to say. I go to his site for most questions.

October 5 2013 Kayla brought me a swarm she had found. I still have that lovely docile hive. She started it. I would likely still be waffling if she hadn't shown up with a hive for me.

November 9 2013 Picked up a nuc from a beekeeper in Delray. All beeks say must have more then one to compare and work and learn from. But the commercial keep wasn't arriving. So i was getting ancy.

November 11, 2013 2 boxes arrived from a commercial beekeeper. 

And that is how it started.... 4 boxes. Almost 2 years. Not without some bumps in the learning curve. I have learned i have a knack for it. I don't mind rank bees. I like (no LOVE) seeing them in the yard every morning. I commune with them daily. I know their moods. I'm respectful and mostly leave them alone. I've been stung 4 times in 2 years. Thats not 4 episodes but literally just 4 stings. Each my fault. 3 times on the fingers trying to move frames around. Once on the lip. I think we 'bumped' into each other.

I've also lost some. Split some. Swarmed some. And learned even more from these experiences. One box just up and left (absconded) and literally left the boxes clean as a whistle. That was the split i messed that up royally.  It happened while i was in the hospital for 10 days. PooF! So sad. Amazing though how the hive was cleaned.

I have put zero into the hive in terms of beetle, varroa etc. management. I do see beetles, periodically. I did have to change out the commercial keeps hive he gave me wax moth. And dealing with it. 

I've one episode I'd rather not repeat, but it involved a queen less hive. And that prompted help from beeks from above. But that experience was invaluable.

Since I was down to 2 hives friends brought me a split this past December. While not totally back on my feet from surgery what a nice little christmas surprise. 

My thoughts on the bees are with the goats, if you're in it for the long haul, what's the rush? I say this all the time to new potential goat owners. I'm not in any rush with the bees. Nor pulling honey out too soon. One wasn't established. One was weak from moths. One was doing so great had to split and so on... Each time, maybe pulling a frame or two just to play. 

Last week really was my first ever pull. So, really it was a long time coming. And Then it got rainy, cold front moved in, with 70 MPH type winds and i'm itching to go back out and see what the other two hives are doing.

I also know that I still know absolutely nothing about bees. I read and read, and the more I experience realize this is truly a life long pursuit. I can learn about how to trim a hoof, read lots on it. Trim hooves and then feel mastery in a very short time. Bees are not like that. And as slow as I go? Isn't there a saying ... ' the more i learn, the less i know'.... feels that way with bees.

Goodness Gracious More...

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