Hello from Manitoba

JJeffrey

In the Brooder
May 25, 2020
9
48
44
Rossburn, Manitoba
I'm just starting out this summer with poultry on our rural Manitoba acreage. Years ago it was an Ukrainian homestead family farm in the usual little-of-everything mode; the former owner told us that back then every single quarter-section (160 ac.) had a farmhouse on it. Now almost all those houses are gone; the few remaining farmers try to make a go of it grain farming 5 or 6 sections of land, or else take their chances on the vagaries of the beef cattle industry and market, in either case in hock to the bank right over their heads, struggling to survive. Fewer and fewer actually live on their land. It is sad to see real family farming dying out as a way of life. I'm 75 and semi-retired. I can't afford the massive farm equipment they use now, so I rent out the arable portion for whatever paltry return it will bring.

For years and years I was doing conservation breeding of an historical sleddog bloodline -- for fourteen years in Yukon Territory and then a few more years here after the Yukon economics became impossible. Our last serious Seppala lineage breeding was in 2008 and since then my wife Susan and I confine ourselves to caretaking our remaining senior stock, now mostly 14 years old, the eldest at the moment 15 1/2; we've had then survive to as much as 17 years.

So we're now just seeing old canine friends into the grave one by one. It got so grim I personally felt I had to have some form of animal husbandry ongoing to keep any interest in the future, so, chickens. I had bantams as a kid, also raised bobwhite quail. Then in the 1990s living in Catalunya I had bantams again, and a few chukar partridge. Now for the first time I'm having a go at standard fowl. I just bought some straight-run Buckeye chicks from Berg's Hatchery in Russell MB, along with some of their "Berg's Browns" hybrid layer chicks to have a few eggs whilst waiting for the Buckeyes to mature, the cockerels can go into the freezer in due time. But the whole crew of 20 are just eleven days old at the moment, just starting to look like growing birdies instead of impossibly-cute fluff balls.

On the principle of "in for a penny, in for a pound" I succumbed to the temptation of a Brinsea Maxi II Advance incubator -- light-years ahead of the rudimentary styrofoam el-cheapo I used in Catalunya (but I managed to get quite a few good chicks out of that primitive affair). To christen the Brinsea, with my heart in my mouth I ordered a dozen expensive hatching eggs from the closest heritage-breed outfit in Manitoba, Breezy Bird Farm in Rosenort. I set the eggs two days ago: half White Bresse and half Croad Langshan. If I'm very, very lucky I might manage to hatch and raise a trio of each breed -- or perhaps only win a bit more experience and the will to try again. You have to start somewhere. The incubator's a wonder, a dream; but it all depends on how the eggs fared in their trip through Canada Post. (Rosenort was a bit too distant for my ancient Dodge truck and its equally ancient driver to consider a farm-gate pickupThey arrived in good time, even a day ahead of expected ETD, their package in immaculate condition, so I'm guardedly hopeful.

What worries me most is my lack of experience in keeping chickens happy, healthy and safe through the long prairie winter. It's winter for about seven months of the year hereabouts. I can recall an experience from 1975 outside Saskatoon SK with a bunch of broilers from Early's Feed & Seed that got badly frostbitten from their reckless drinking and eating habits in our barn back then. And in our present location we've got every predator in the book: red-tailed hawks, marsh hawks, bald eagles, coyotes, red foxes, lynx, black bear, weasels, raccoons -- and probably a few others to boot. Also extensive sloughs with hordes of disease-carrying mosquitoes; unbelievable numbers of wood ticks every spring that make me wonder about the populations of other similar pests -- lice, mites, etc. The temps go down to minus thirty Celsius regularly each winter; we get bitter winds year-round. We have a lot of snow every winter, though never any 30+cm eastern-style snow-dumps. Let's just say that it's a challenging environment for trying to keep poultry year-round.

I'm hoping that Backyard Chickens will help us draw on others folks' experience to avoid any total disaster scenario.

And by the way, just to conclude with an effort to increase my street cred a little -- I knew Dr. Roy Crawford around 1974 in Saskatoon when he was head of the University of Saskatchewan/Western College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Poultry Science. I understand the great man is still alive at something like 87 and still doing farming chores! He probably wouldn't remember me, I didn't know him well and we moved in disparate circles -- I was involved in dogs even then. Maybe in a year or two if all goes well I might manage to talk Matthew Nelson out of a few of those magnificent Hungarian Yellows that Roy rescued from impending extinction. We'll just have to see how it all pans out.
 
Last edited:
Oct 16, 2019
83
178
65
Manitoba
I'm just starting out this summer with poultry on our rural Manitoba acreage. Years ago it was an Ukrainian homestead family farm in the usual little-of-everything mode; the former owner told us that back then every single quarter-section (160 ac.) had a farmhouse on it. Now almost all those houses are gone; the few remaining farmers try to make a go of it grain farming 5 or 6 sections of land, or else take their chances on the vagaries of the beef cattle industry and market, in either case in hock to the bank right over their heads, struggling to survive. Fewer and fewer actually live on their land. It is sad to see real family farming dying out as a way of life. I'm 75 and semi-retired. I can't afford the massive farm equipment they use now, so I rent out the arable portion for whatever paltry return it will bring.

For years and years I was doing conservation breeding of an historical sleddog bloodline -- for fourteen years in Yukon Territory and then a few more years here after the Yukon economics became impossible. Our last serious Seppala lineage breeding was in 2008 and since then my wife Susan and I confine ourselves to caretaking our remaining senior stock, now mostly 14 years old, the eldest at the moment 15 1/2; we've had then survive to as much as 17 years.

So we're now just seeing old canine friends into the grave one by one. It got so grim I personally felt I had to have some form of animal husbandry ongoing to keep any interest in the future, so, chickens. I had bantams as a kid, also raised bobwhite quail. Then in the 1990s living in Catalunya I had bantams again, and a few chukar partridge. Now for the first time I'm having a go at standard fowl. I just bought some straight-run Buckeye chicks from Berg's Hatchery in Russell MB, along with some of their "Berg's Browns" hybrid layer chicks to have a few eggs whilst waiting for the Buckeyes to mature, the cockerels can go into the freezer in due time. But the whole crew of 20 are just eleven days old at the moment, just starting to look like growing birdies instead of impossibly-cute fluff balls.

On the principle of "in for a penny, in for a pound" I succumbed to the temptation of a Brinsea Maxi II Advance incubator -- light-years ahead of the rudimentary styrofoam el-cheapo I used in Catalunya (but I managed to get quite a few good chicks out of that primitive affair). To christen the Brinsea, with my heart in my mouth I ordered a dozen expensive hatching eggs from the closest heritage-breed outfit in Manitoba, Breezy Bird Farm in Rosenort. I set the eggs two days ago: half White Bresse and half Croad Langshan. If I'm very, very lucky I might manage to hatch and raise a trio of each breed -- or perhaps only win a bit more experience and the will to try again. You have to start somewhere. The incubator's a wonder, a dream; but it all depends on how the eggs fared in their trip through Canada Post. (Rosenort was a bit too distant for my ancient Dodge truck and its equally ancient driver to consider a farm-gate pickupThey arrived in good time, even a day ahead of expected ETD, their package in immaculate condition, so I'm guardedly hopeful.

What worries me most is my lack of experience in keeping chickens happy, healthy and safe through the long prairie winter. It's winter for about seven months of the year hereabouts. I can recall an experience from 1975 outside Saskatoon SK with a bunch of broilers from Early's Feed & Seed that got badly frostbitten from their reckless drinking and eating habits in our barn back then. And in our present location we've got every predator in the book: red-tailed hawks, marsh hawks, bald eagles, coyotes, red foxes, lynx, black bear, weasels, raccoons -- and probably a few others to boot. Also extensive sloughs with hordes of disease-carrying mosquitoes; unbelievable numbers of wood ticks every spring that make me wonder about the populations of other similar pests -- lice, mites, etc. The temps go down to minus thirty Celsius regularly each winter; we get bitter winds year-round. We have a lot of snow every winter, though never any 30+cm eastern-style snow-dumps. Let's just say that it's a challenging environment for trying to keep poultry year-round.

I'm hoping that Backyard Chickens will help us draw on others folks' experience to avoid any total disaster scenario.

And by the way, just to conclude with an effort to increase my street cred a little -- I knew Dr. Roy Crawford around 1974 in Saskatoon when he was head of the University of Saskatchewan/Western College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Poultry Science. I understand the great man is still alive at something like 87 and still doing farming chores! He probably wouldn't remember me, I didn't know him well and we moved in disparate circles -- I was involved in dogs even then. Maybe in a year or two if all goes well I might manage to talk Matthew Nelson out of a few if those magnificent Hungarian Yellows that Roy rescued from impending extinction. We'll just have to see how it all pans out.
Howdy neighbor! What a lovely story and welcome to BYC!! What part of Manitoba are you in? I'm in the SE!
 

JJeffrey

In the Brooder
May 25, 2020
9
48
44
Rossburn, Manitoba
Howdy neighbor! What a lovely story and welcome to BYC!! What part of Manitoba are you in? I'm in the SE!
Rossburn rural municipality, couple miles north of Rossman Lake, about a mile from the SW corner of Riding Mountain National Forest Park; we're twenty minutes' grid-road drive from the village of Rossburn itself, come and go to the town of Russell via hiway 45. Used to drive to Brandon every month or so but I haven't done that for five years or so now. No use for cities and they go on getting worse and worse. I refuse even to think about ever going to Winnipeg again, too much street crime and the traffic is horrendous for an old guy in a decrepit mid-1990s pickup truck. I think the word for me is "rusticated"? ;)
 
Oct 16, 2019
83
178
65
Manitoba
Rossburn rural municipality, couple miles north of Rossman Lake, about a mile from the SW corner of Riding Mountain National Forest Park; we're twenty minutes' grid-road drive from the village of Rossburn itself, come and go to the town of Russell via hiway 45. Used to drive to Brandon every month or so but I haven't done that for five years or so now. No use for cities and they go on getting worse and worse. I refuse even to think about ever going to Winnipeg again, too much street crime and the traffic is horrendous for an old guy in a decrepit mid-1990s pickup truck. I think the word for me is "rusticated"? ;)
Haha yeah we are not fans of Winnipeg either. But we have family there that we have to venture in and visit occasionally.
I think Rossburn is about a 4 hour drive from us. We are just outside of a little town called La Broquerie, just east of Steinbach.
Rusticated! I love it!! I will have to use that term from now on!
 

JJeffrey

In the Brooder
May 25, 2020
9
48
44
Rossburn, Manitoba
Haha yeah we are not fans of Winnipeg either. But we have family there that we have to venture in and visit occasionally.
I think Rossburn is about a 4 hour drive from us. We are just outside of a little town called La Broquerie, just east of Steinbach.
Rusticated! I love it!! I will have to use that term from now on!
I love GOOD words, precise words that really nail an idea down tightly -- I suspect maybe you do, too! ;) Yep, I've lost most of my interest in seeking out the society of my fellow anthropoid apes, I enjoy the companionship of my old dogs -- and I LOVE my silly li'l 11-day-old peeps. The nice thing about chickens is their great responsiveness and gratitude when you do things for them. Dogs sometimes fall into taking you for granted and feeling "well, of course" entitled about the stuff you do for them. Chooks give you a gratifying reaction -- not always instantly, often they need time to overcome their instinctive suspiciousness ("you'd be suspicious, too, if practically everything and everybody wanted to eat you!"). Today I took a rusty old baking pan and filled it with dryish earth, put it in the brooder pen because I'd noticed a couple of them trying to do dust baths in their shavings litter. Came back in an hour and the dirt had a big depression right in the middle, somebirdy had already found it and given it a trial run. Few days earlier I put a small salmon tin filled with sand/gravel fine stuff, thinking perhaps I was jumping the gun and they wouldn't yet want grit. In a few hours all the fine stuff had been picked out and only coarse gravel left. Every time I stir it up or add more now, in less than a minute two or three are gathered round just pecking away at it, pushing and shoving. To a guy with strong animal-husbandry instincts, that is heart-warming.
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
29,652
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NY Southern Tier
My Coop
My Coop
Hello and welcome to BYC! :frow Glad you joined.
Great introduction.
I'm a little surprised at your descriptions of the dog vs the chicken responses to our interactions with them.
I think my chickens would eat my body if I collapsed in their territory.
I think the lovely gal in my avatar would lay beside me and mourn.
I couldn't imagine watching my pack of geriatric dogs slowly die off one by one. The chickens were a good idea. But it certainly sounds like you will have your fair share of challenges ahead of you. It sounds like a very large, covered run that you can wrap in tarps for the dead of winter are in order. Similar to this. This entire setup sits inside a 1/3 acre pen surrounded by poultry netting powered with a 10,000 volt charger. It keeps the local black bear, coyote, fox, fisher cats, raccoons, etc. at bay.
IMG_20191203_081415209.jpg
 

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