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Farm Life: Sunbathing Pigs and Baby Chicks

This year's warm winter presents unique challenges at Lewis-Oliver farm, like two new baby chicks!

This time last year, we were buried under two feet of frozen snow with fresh accumulations piling on each week. It seemed the winter would never end and proved to be a trying time for everyone at the including the animals and the volunteers who help take care of them.

It was physically exhausting work, but our dedicated team of volunteers still managed to make their way to the farm each morning and again at night to ensure the animals were warm, safe and well fed throughout the winter of 2011. In the beginning, the animals chose to stay inside, but by February they had developed enough "barn fever" to venture outdoors through the shoulder-deep snow that covered their pasture on Oak Street and Burt Avenue. It was quite a scene -- and one that was wonderfully captured by volunteers Wendy and Roy Erlandson -- to see Annabelle the cow blazing the way for the sheep and goats through the ice and snow. The animals didn't stay out for long that day...perhaps just long enough to get some fresh air and a renewed appreciation for the warm confines of the barn.

Fast forward 12 months to where we are now, in the midst of a winter that has yet to be. A winter where "Tiny," our half-ton spotted pig, can be observed basking in the sun, and where we are faced with a different set of "challenges" brought on by these unusually mild temperatures.

Meet "Poachie" and "Benedict" -- two baby chicks who unexpectedly hatched in early January when egg laying generally slows to a halt and when hens typically don't bother to incubate their eggs knowing it's too cold for their chicks to thrive.

Despite our efforts to keep them outside with their mom, for their survival, the chicks had to be moved inside and placed under the warmth of a heat lamp.  Irresistibly cute and quite fun to watch, the chicks are easy to tell apart; Poachie's feet and beak are yellow while Benedict's are black.

As small as they are, they do require a lot of attention and care which our volunteers are happy to provide. Each day, we monitor the room temperature and adjust their heat lamp to ensure the chicks are being kept warm enough. We replenish their food and water twice a day and make sure their bedding is always clean and fresh. And, we're careful to keep them out of the reach of Salem, Gemini and Sabrina- our three sweet but overly-curious cats.
 
Tomorrow we'll move Poachie and Benedict into a bigger cage as they seem to be growing right before our eyes and could use a little more elbow room.

Stop by soon and meet them...You'll be glad you did!

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