Category Archives: Monday 101day

When sunlight inevitably results in a piggyback ride


Because pollen is clouding my brain (and nose, and eyes), today’s Monday101 will be a short one.

When handling the swine species, always account for the sunlight. Since most pigs are raised inside, they tend to have a fascination with sunlight and will run at it with wreckless abandon.

Should you happen to be using your own body to block a pig’s entrance to the outdoors, please keep your feet together. The light shining between your legs will otherwise ALWAYS result in a pig being loose in the neighbors property, and your butt on the ground 30-50 yards from where you started. And it’s not an enjoyable piggyback ride.

Click picture for photo credit 🙂

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Monday 101 Day is a new theme I am launching in efforts of 1. educating the average reader about interesting tidbits in the various facets of the Agriculture world as I learn them. 2- improving my abilities to speak volumes with few words (I was not blessed with brevity). If you are an average, removed-from-ag reader who would like to learn something, or if you are a farmer/rancher who thinks something should be shared, please leave me a comment! I’m always looking for cool ideas :)

Happy Monday!! Hope everyone has a great week

I bet you didn’t know this “entrancing” fact about chickens…


I have a bachelors of science in Animal and Poultry Science from Virginia Tech. For some reason, people usually lock into the “poultry” portion of this title and start asking me loads of chicken questions. Truth is, my focus was livestock animals (sheep, swine, and beef cattle). I didn’t take the poultry focus curriculum, but we did have some overview.

Honestly, poultry kind of freaks me out, with their jerky movements and reptilian feet and internal testicles (more on that another day…)

But this post isn’t about my squirmy feelings towards chickens. It’s about how I got a bachelors of science in one of the toughest majors all the while being tested on seemingly unconventional skills such as flipping sheep and hypnotizing chickens.

Yep, one of the coolest things about chickens, in my opinion, is the fact that you can hypnotize them. Most people don’t believe me when I say this, or tell me that VT must have had “special chickens”, but after a brief youtube search, it seems apparent that this is a relatively wide-known fact for such a well-kept secret.  And you can hypnotize a chicken in less than 10 seconds. And, for fear of alarming my vegan buddies, I should point out that this does not harm the animal and lasts at most 30 minutes, and usually closer to 30 seconds. AND you could do it. Yep, you, who doesn’t know the first thing about how to handle a chicken. I did it on my very first in-person encounter with poultry.

So, without further ado, I will give you a video that will do far more justice than any description I could offer. You can clearly see that the child is being gentle with the bird, and that the chicken walks away easily when all is said and done. AND HOW FREAKING COOL IS THIS?!

For those interested, VT taught me using method 2. Although a chicken with his legs straight up in the air is pretty classy 🙂

As far as I know, this works on all chickens, although some are more sensitive to your movement and therefore “snap out of it” more easily than others (who require loud clapping or gentle poking). I do not know if it works on turkeys (anyone??)

You’re welcome for educating you on the endlessly cool things about livestock, even though you didn’t think smelly animals could be interesting. Yep, I’m talking to my brother on this one.

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Monday 101 Day is a new theme I am launching in efforts of 1. educating the average reader about interesting tidbits in the various facets of the Agriculture world as I learn them. 2- improving my abilities to speak volumes with few words (I was not blessed with brevity). If you are an average, removed-from-ag reader who would like to learn something, or if you are a farmer/rancher who thinks something should be shared, please leave me a comment! I’m always looking for cool ideas :)

Happy Monday!! Hope everyone has a great week

Monday101: How and Why to Flip a Sheep


It’s a good possibility that when you hear “flip a sheep” you conjure up an image similar to cow-tipping. In fact, flipping sheep is a relatively peaceful animal husbandry practice that allows sheep to remain calm while being sheared, getting his teeth checked out, or getting his hooves trimmed. I say “relatively” because in my experience, sheep are rather frantic animals. It probably doesn’t help that I’m not a sheep whisperer.

This is not cow tipping, folks. (www.zazzle.com)

In any case, once you successfully flip the sheep, it really is entirely peaceful. There is something about a sheep sitting on his behind that makes him go almost into a trance. They stop resisting your presence and really just chill out (remarkable!). This allows for quick, safe practices such as the ones listed above to be carried out without much hassle to either party.

Shearing sheep not only allows the wool to be used for socks and mittens, but it also helps keep a sheep cool & clean. Sheep can also go wool blind, which means the wool grows so long around their eyes that they have trouble seeing, and this affects their ability to properly find and graze grasses.

Just like cutting your own finger and toe nails, hoof trimming is important for overall foot health. While you are trimming, you also dig out the mud and dirt in their hooves to make sure they are dry and do not get infected. Just like humans, the longer the hoof, the more dirt you can hide up there! If a sheep’s hooves get too long, they will cause sore feet and sheep will not walk on them properly, leading to bigger problems.

As you can see, this sheep has some worn and broken teeth. It is estimated she is about 10 years old. Picture taken from http://sheep101.info/

Don’t be alarmed! Sheep do not have top front teeth. More on that at another time…

Checking teeth is important in any livestock or domesticated animal. Since they don’t brush twice a day, its a lot easier for things to go wrong. Checking teeth can tell you the age of the sheep (like seeing baby teeth, or how many adult teeth have come in so far, or how worn down they are can signify elderly sheep). Some sheep are also born with strong overbites (parrot-mouth) or underbites (Monkey-Mouthed). This affects their ability to chew properly and can mean it is harder for them to get the proper nutrition they need. If a sheep has particularly bad mouth structure, you will not breed them to avoid passing it on to the offspring. Similarly, if a sheep has gotten to the point that they have bad mouth health, it may be time to send them to market before their sore mouths become a great discomfort, or worse, the sheep begins to go hungry instead of chewing on sore teeth.

So, now that we know 3 main reasons for flipping sheep, how is it done?! First, you have to catch the sheep you want to flip. Sheep are EXTREMELY gregarious and do not like to be separated from their flock, so this is often one of the more challenging aspects. It is helpful to catch the sheep firmly around the stomach and around the chest (to keep it from running forward). There are a few different techniques, but for little people like me, this is one of the easiest:

Step 1: Catch your sheep.If right-handed, Stand on it’s left side with its head to your left

Step 2: Wrap your left hand gently but firmly around the muzzle and push its head to it’s right hip (don’t worry, their necks are very flexible and they can naturally touch their nose to their hindquarters)

Step 3: Reach your right hand around the sheeps back and reach for its front left leg (you will really have to wrap yourself around him to do this).

Step 4: Pull it’s left leg towards its right one to get it off balance, and guide it into the “sitting” position. Slightly recline him so that his back rests against your legs and waist.

Step 5: Remember to do all of this in one fluid motion or the sheep will run away laughing at your clumsy antics.

Hurray! Now that he is contently daydreaming, you can reach around to his hooves/teeth/whole body to get your chores done! If you are effecient, you can shear, trim, and check teeth in under 3-4 minutes! To return the sheep to his flock, simply push him forward a bit, you’ll be amazed how he jumps to life and leaves you in the dust for his buddies.

This professor demonstrates how to flip a sheep in slow motion. Notice that she stresses doing it faster and not dallying…you could get kicked if they try to outwit you. Also notice how he just sits there like a bump on a log once he’s successfully flipped. If only they could be so nonchalant all the time…

Cow 101


I recently came across a vegan blog about feedlots, and saw a comment on a roadside-feedlot-video that asked, “Are those cows dead, or do cows sleep lying down?” So I realized: Most people don’t know what normal cows look like! Actually, we even had some feedtruck drivers on the feedlot accidentally call sleeping cows in over the radio as dead ones. So here are some basics for those who are interested for the sake of dissecting videos or just for the fun of the know-cow!

  • Calves are born after a little over 9 months of pregnancy. They weigh roughly 70-90 lbs at birth!
  • Cows don’t have 4 stomachs, but rather a four-chambered stomach. Each chamber looks VERY different and helps provide a different function for digestion.
  • Both male and female cattle can have horns.
  • Female cattle have udders.
  • Cows do sleep laying down. In fact, they can adopt just about any sleeping position a dog can do, (on one side with legs out, curled up, or how dogs lay when you tell them “lay down”–back legs tucked under). The only sleeping position I have not seen in a cow that is shared with dogs is this one (Although I guess it’s possible):
  • My foster dog's fav sleeping position. How is this comfy?

  • Cows bellow (moo) for all sorts of reasons: hunger, communication, distress, challenge. Each moo varies.
  • Cattle naturally move away from people. That’s why it’s relatively easy to move them without causing much stress. It’s basically a system of “poking” their space bubble just enough to make them move opposite of you. Just like humans, each individual cow has it’s own sized space bubble.
  • Cattle are also naturally curious. This is why if you pull over at a fence and stand there for a while (quietly), they will likely approach you, smell you, maybe even lick you (if they’re brave) to see what you are like and why you are there. This is one reason cattle can look cramped together in photographs, as they become very curious of a cameraman and thus seem to bask in the limelight 🙂
  • Cattle can and will pick their nose with their tongue.
  • “I just threw up a little in my mouth” is a phrase that takes on a whole new meaning in Cow-World. Healthy, happy cattle will naturally eructate to bring large bits of feed back into their mouth for more chewing. This is known as chewing the cud, and many cattle will find a nice, sunny (or shady if its especially hot) place to lie down after grazing to chew the cud.
  • The chick-fil-a cow (large white with black spots) is actually a Holstein breed, which is a dairy cow. While it will most likely eventually become beef, it is not raised for that primary purpose.
  • Cattle come in black, brown, red, grey, white,and various spotted patterns. My personal favorite is the brockle-faced ones (freckle faced). Some have LOTS of spots all over their face, or others just have small freckles on their noses, like this Simmental-breed heifer calf:

    My friend Marti & her halterbreak-project calf, Squirt. He has the cutest black spots on his otherwise pink nose. (Photo courtesy of Marti Helbert)

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    Monday 101 Day is a new theme I am launching in efforts of 1. educating the average reader about interesting tidbits in the various facets of the Agriculture world as I learn them. 2- improving my abilities to speak volumes with few words (I was not blessed with brevity). If you are an average, removed-from-ag reader who would like to learn something, or if you are a farmer/rancher who thinks something should be shared, please leave me a comment! I’m always looking for cool ideas 🙂

    Happy Monday!! Hope everyone has a great week

Monday 101 day!


Often when I sit down to blog, I end up blogging nothing because I have so many ideas floating around in my head! So I’ve decided to launch a Farm the Start Monday 101-day! May it be a fun farm fact or mini 101-sesh, hopefully it’ll be a fun and quick way to learn something about Agriculture. I’ve also made it a category so you can find them more easily even as time goes on!

Let me know if you are interested in any particular topic, I’m taking requests! Meanwhile, look forward to the first one this Monday: Cows 101 –a basic in cow behaviors.

Have a great weekend!