Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mud, mud, everywhere....or the hazards of livestock in a rainforest.

I know I live in a rainforest.  I know we get upwards of 200 inches of rain a year.  I know how really frustrating our occasional drought (usually around January, when the rest of Hawaii is pouring) can be since we are on water catchment (I go out every day and try to gauge the water levels in our tanks, which are closed and speculate how long it will last - should I try to get on a water hauler's list???)

However, we must have gotten about 4 inches since Thursday night.  It is pouring so hard, I am dreaming about fountains and even cleaning bathrooms.  My chicken pen is an inch deep in mud, the sheep pen had a river running through it at one point.  The volcanic cinder which is under the bedding is very porous, so the water doesn't stay, but still the sheep are not happy.  They came from, lived their whole lives, on the other side of the island which has been in a drought so severe that it looks like the entire acreages burnt up in a fire.  I am not sure they have seen more than 1/2 inch of rain in the last year, poor sheep.

When I went out to feed last night, I swear they were asking me, "What's going on? I am all wet, and it is dark in the middle of the day!"  Even Dodie came up to me and nuzzled in my hand, and she has always been wary, even as the other sheep have gotten used to me scratching them under their ears.  I think she may lamb soon.  I wish I had a drier place for her.  I am going to get some straw, because the pelletized wood bedding can absorb a lot of water, but this rain is too much for it.  Straw, laid thick enough will at least provide some height over the water flow.

As far as the chicken coop goes, I need to make a channel for the water to flow out and into the ditch in the horse pasture that collects run off.  Every time we build something new (like the sheep pen), it redistributes the rain, which means you have to rethink how water flows.  The sheep stall used to be a horse stall which almost never flooded, not until a few days of rain got to about 10 inches.

I was hoping for some relief today, but I doubt it.  Even if the leeward side of the house is somewhat brighter, the windward side shows thick black clouds.

My husband told me to rest today; he says I have been going at it like I am not sick.  There are always so many things to do.  And to be really honest, making the baked goods for next week is way more fun than making report cards.  If I rest, it will have to mean sitting down with the laptop and doing the report cards and bills.  I need to do those things, I really do, but the wet and yucky animal housing is a priority, too.


Chai Chai said...

Nancy, The building we added changed the water flow around here as well. Do you have any spare cinder blocks laying around? A few of those in the coop area give the chickens a place to perch out of the mud, a small group in the sheep pen give the sheep a place to stand and it also wears down their hooves a bit.

I am not an expert on worm counts in Hawaii but you may want to check to see if worming every month is too much. Worms can become resistant to certain medication if it is over used.

NancyDe said...

Fortunately, the chickens do have a coop they can go up in to get out of the mud and wet. We don't have any cinderblocks, but I think we have some cement paving stones laying around...I wonder if they would be high enough?

I checked on our Extension website (total newbie to sheep as I am) and worming schedule is a bit inconclusive. I do rotate wormers for the horses, we have to here....I tried to contact the sheep expert at the university, but no answer. Maybe I have to try a different expert!

Arrgh - I looked at my garden this morning. It looks like two streams flowed through it. I guess the silt fence didn't do it's job. If anything grows, it will be all bunched up at the bottom (has happened before). THIS is why I wanted the garden on the other side of the house....

Grandpa said...

Hi, greetings from another rainforest, showed the way here by Chai Chai. I have this feeling of deja-vu reading your blog...

Our animals (even our farm house!) are raised, on stilts of four to five feet. My experience is raising goats, not sheep. When kid is 4-6 weeks I gave orally 1% Ivermectin (1/2 cc first then 1 cc a month later) for deworming. I let the goats out only towards midday when the ground dries up from rain or dew.

Where ground is too muddy I put sand or raise the level and turf up the area.

NancyDe said...

Grandpa, a lot of houses in Hawaii are raised as your house is (I peeked at your blog). We are upslope quite a ways, so we actually get fairly cold here (cold for Hawaii, in the 40's). We also planted carpet grass, but the kikuyu that was already here won that battle.

However, if I left the sheep in until the ground dries up they could be in there until January! We had the most beautiful sunny summer - I guess I was hoping the streak would continue. Not very realistic of me.

When it lets up a bit, I am planning to add cinder to the stall. I tried sand, but the cinder is a lot more available on our island. The chicken pen, though - I really need to rethink that - the roof is already so low. We just turned over one of those big old satellite dishes and used it as a roof and then fenced around it to keep the dogs out. I put in a coop with a roost, and they have nice safe place to be.

Chai Chai said...

Hope you don't mind my asking Grandpa to stop by, he has experience in the rain forest climate and may be able to answer a few questions for you.

NancyDe said...

Not at all, Chai Chai. I love the idea of community - and need all the experienced advice I can get! Malaysia and Hawaii have similar climates (although I am considerably upslope which means even more wet and colder, as well).