17. That’s the number of roosters…full sized boys…who went to Freezer Camp this past weekend. Whew. That’s a huge chunk off the feed bill. Add that to the 5 geese we did last week. And that’s more than 10lbs of feed *per day* we’re saving. And we’re eating good this winter.
17. Gave me 7 packages of breasts for the freezer. Supper last night and 2 lunches for Hubby. 8 2lb bags of ground for the freezer. Plus, today and tomorrow are carcass roasting/bone broth making days. So that will give us another 10ish meals. And bones will go either into the fire (ashes go into the garden) or ground and into the garden. Depending on my energy levels. lol
I still have 4 full sized boys to do. A really good amount of younger boys (who are the size that we’d normally do them…the bigger 1st hatch guys got left too long), a bunch of older hens, plus the turkeys. The plan was to do turkeys, but they’re huge and I have to find bags to get them in the freezer with…huge. Like pretty well the 5 white boys are at the 30lb mark live weight, and the hen is pretty close to 20. Huge.
It seems we have hay. There was a quick text conversation with our Hay Guy on Saturday that ended with him saying “okay” and us saying “thank you!” and yeah, we have hay. Thank frickin’ Epona. That’s a load off the mind. Plus we have straw…now that our line is fixed, I can figure out where to put stuff and start getting in on the yard. I say “we have it” but until **we have it** we don’t really “have it”. If that makes sense. But we deal with amazing, honorable people. So when they say “you have it” I can pretty much say “we have it”.
Thank goodness for those last rounds of rains, because I’m sure that’s what made it so that we’d have hay. It saved our pasture, for sure! And it’s been letting my garden continue. The weather is good, we’ve passed the couple of sketchy nights and it’s looking good for the next 2 weeks. Good. I’m busy with birbs, so I need the garden to effectively tend to itself for a bit. We’re in the rhythm of Fall… Butcher, process, roast and can. Lather, rinse, repeat until all done.
Afterwards, maybe I’ll have a chance to take my camera out for some work. Maybe. If I’m not sleeping. 😂😂😂
September 22nd, and so far, so good…we have not had a frost. We better not for a bit yet. I figure after hitting me with frost on the first day of Summer, Mother Nature owes me a long, warm Fall for things to ripen on the plants, before finishing the garden with a killing frost. I’m hopeful. I know better than try to demand *anything* of Mother Nature. 😂😂😂 Plus, we’re still working on building. Building takes all 3 of us, so that only happens on the weekends. Which is why The Kid and I are in full on butchering mode from here on ’til all the birbs going Camping are done.
Today it’s the geese. I’m so done with their shitty geese attitudes. Hey, they’re fun! They have all sorts of hilarious idiosyncrasies, but…they’re dicks. And I’m sure that’s because we didn’t handle them enough from the time we got them. If we decide to get a small flock of them next year, that will change. But for this year, they’re going Camping. Still the best 5 turkeys I ever spent.
Then this weekend, we’re doing roosters and the white turkeys. It’s time for those turkeys, it really is. They are big, big, birbs. And getting them into the freezer will cut down the feed bill immensely.
Of the other turkeys, the 5 of 16 who survived out initial issues in the spring (unbeknownst to us, mold in the brooder) 4 were hens, 1 was a tom. Well, I can’t keep 3 toms. Oscar and Dingus are my 2 breeding boys. Jake was odd boy out. So he was on the block…until we got our water line fixed and I promised a breeding pair to Joe the plumber. On Sunday, Jake went to his new home, with a hen from his age group, at Joe’s place. I think Jake will be very happy there. After that, I have the littles that hatched out in June to finish growing out. 6 for a friend, then I’ll choose my extra keeper hens, and the rest go camping. Unless Joe wants another hen to go with his current pair. But we’ll see what happens between now and the time they get to size enough to run with the bigs. Once the whites are done, that will happen sooner…those darn whites are just too big to let the littles run with the whole flock…they don’t understand their strength or bulk. All in all, I don’t think the whites are cost effective (I’ll know better when I have an idea on carcass size), but they’re a lot of fun. I mean, turkeys are just fun to raise. I would raise them, the whites, again. Next time though, I will give them more scraps and veggies as options, earlier. These guys were freaked out by watermelon. But they love, love, love hard boiled eggs. But scrambled eggs are scary. And bread/bakery stuff? It’s gonna kill them. Jump up off the ground and murder them. I call them my stupid children for a reason… lol So yeah, having them less picky feed wise, especially with Loop as feed supplement, would be soooo nice. But I can work on that next year. If we order whites.
Once all is said and done, everyone who needs to be in the freezer is there, then I’ll sit down and run the numbers, figure out what was worth doing, what needs changing and, if we have a white turkey or two for sale, what the cost will be… I *know* it’s not going to be anywhere like grocery store prices. Ain’t no $0.99/lb birds here. Ever. But, well raised food shouldn’t *be* that cheap. The only way we get food that cheap is by cutting corners, or by raisers and growers losing money. Well, neither is a good answer to me. Sorry. Food is life, and we need to be willing to pay what it’s worth. And yes, I do understand that some cannot afford my prices. At some point though, I think we need to shift our perspective on what whole, good nutrition is and what it’s worth. My turkeys might go for what some feel is an unreasonable price, but if you make the most of the entire bird, you’re coming out ahead. A friend mentioned, last time she was here, she got 50 meals for herself and her husband from a 25lb turkey. 50!! That’s what we have to return to. Slow food cooking, hands on preparations, no more convenience (or make our own convenience) foods… Real. Whole. Well raised. Humanely dispatched. Beak to tail feather consumption. Not just the choice parts and toss the rest. That’s not healthy. It’s not sustainable. It’s not ethical.
I’ve said it many times, and I’ll keep saying it… I will shout it from the rooftops!
Happy Food Tastes Better
And I guaran-damn-tee my food animals are happy right up until their one bad day. The way it should be.
Something we’ve been dealing with here at the Farm for the past 7 months, through one of our areas worst ever droughts, was a leaking water line from our well to our house. It has produced anxiety like very little else. For months.
We tried contacting every well drilling place in the area. We either were told “nope, too busy”, were ignored with calls never returned, or (my personal favorite) after being ghosted for months by a company, being told that we “were better off drilling a new well”.
So as you can imagine, as we’re watching precious water go all over our lawn, destroy our yard, potentially burn out our well pump or run our well dry, we were feeling less and less hope everyday. In fact, we were at the point of looking for an excavator to rent and doing it ourselves.
In a last ditch effort, in a local FB group, I found a woman advertising her hubby’s plumbing business. Being country folks themselves, I checked out his business page and found that he had indeed worked on wells, septic systems, and done excavations. So I took a chance and asked on her post if our problem was something he could do…she gave me his number and said “shoot him a text!” So I did.
And damn if Joe from Hooper and Sons Plumbing and Heating didn’t come through for us! In a week he was out to put in a bypass pump to keep us and the animals in water while the wet area dried enough for excavation, and then Tuesday he texts me and asks if it’s ok that the guy who runs the excavator comes out to see the site…Um, YES!!
Next thing we know? This:
It took them an afternoon to dig, find the problem, and fix it. And we have water again. Before freeze up.
Seriously, I sat down last night and had a good soul cleansing cry about it.
I’ve been fighting to find someone to help us for months, being turned away every single time. And here’s Joe…gets it that water is important for a hobby farmer (he and his family have livestock too), that hauling water in winter from off site would be horrible, that we needed help. And he came through. This guy, I’m telling ya, is a genuine Good Human.
Now I just have to pay his bill, and he has to come get his breeding pair of Narragansett turkeys I promised him. 😂😂😂 The first time he came out, I told him, if he got this fixed for us, I’d give him a young breeding pair, and I’m a Woman of my word. The hilarious part of it is, when I texted our thanks, I reminded him of the offer, and he said “I’ll see what the wife thinks” and my Hubby said “Oh Joe is gettin’ turkeys” 😂😂😂 My Hubby knows. Because that’s how we got ducks… Free poultry for the win.
And!! Just to make it all more fun, the fix happened on a Loop day too. 😂😂😂 So here we are with aaaaallllll this grocery store food for feed piled up every damn place, and my house looks like some sort of crazed food hoarder lives in it and fuck…oh man. I don’t live like that! 😂😂😂 Yeah it looked bad. But free feed for the animals and cutting down on food waste is a very necessary thing. It just happened to coincide with having other people in my house. Oh well.
Water is fixed. I’ll recommend Joe every chance I get (and we’ll probably get him out in the spring to look at our water softener). And we can breathe again. These are good things.
This past weekend we got the news that our regular feed guy did not have good returns on his fields. Which means, he doesn’t have as much to sell to us for feed for the birds for winter.
Now, we had already been discussing downsizing some of the birds, simply because the bulk of our feed money is going into The Merry Mares. Hay prices are…well I don’t know exactly what’s doing with our regular Hay Guy. He says things have been real bad (that was back in July) but he didn’t say he wouldn’t have for us. I’ve been looking and trying to get bales elsewhere, just in case. One of our other connections had an entire field of hay stolen. That’s the new thing this year. Stealing hay. Hell, she didn’t even get it cut! They came, cut and baled in a 24 hour period. Which means it’s either gonna go up in flames or it’s going to mold. Either way, if they sell the stolen bales, the person buying is fucked and if they try to use it themselves, their animals are gonna suffer. What a fucked up year.
My straw connection has bales for me. In fact, she says she has a fair bit extra, so if we had to use straw and supplement with grains and hay cubes, we’ll be able to do that and keep The Merry Mares healthy. Her prices have gone up…almost double. But, we also have to consider the low yields on fields, the rising gas prices, repairs to equipment, etc. It all adds up. I will not begrudge someone needing to make a living. And you know, both my straw connection and my Hay Guy have been fucking awesome with us. I have no complaints about them at all. Besides, that’s the joys of having money eating shit machines. In years like this, you pay through the nose to keep them. But realistically, there’s no market for aging mares who haven’t been ridden for years and who’s only job it has been is to be pretty. Besides, I told them all that they’re here for life. That’s it, that’s all.
So we’re downsizing where we can. That’s with birds. But the good thing with that is, birds are food. I’m going to go through my hens and take out the aging girls (except for a choice few older gals who will get to die of old age.) Once I have an idea of how many older girls are going, then I’ll see how many roos will stay. I want to keep 40 hens, so that means 3 roos. Frank, Blue and probably Darryl (or is it Larry?).
Geese will go to Freezer Camp. I had hoped to be able to keep them, but… They’ve been complete assholes to the ducks (they were in the duck yard) and have been picking at new growing wing feathers on the duck hens. The geese aren’t lacking anything, their just dicks. 😂😂😂 We’ll get more in the spring.
Turkeys will be whittled down to Oscar, Dingus, Emma, 12, 13, and at least 5 other hens. The boys do best with 4 hens minimum each. So 8 hens (for sure) and the 2 boys will stay and they’ll easily replenish the flock come spring. I had thought about keeping a white hen, from the hatchery turkeys. Those hens do get kept for breeding, but as I thought about it, I worried whether I’d be allowing not-so-hardy genetics into my flock. Yeah, I might get interesting colours, I might get a faster growing bird, but I might also get the worst of the whites too… So nope, all whites are Freezer Campers. In my littles flock, there are 4 Sweetgrass turkeys and the rest are Narragansetts. 6 of that flock belong to a friend. She’s the one who gave me the Sweetgrass eggs. I want to keep 1 of the Sweetgrass for my flock, so we’ll have crosses that way, and Sweetgrass are hardy like the Narragansetts, so that works. Size wise, they’re the same, so it’s just going to be colours that the Sweetgrass will bring to the genetics. I’m not dead set on pure Narragansetts, so that’s a good thing. I want hardy, decent layers/mothers, pretty, and tasty.
And then there’s the ducks… Well, we did just buy 19 bebes, then had another 8 hatch out, so we have a lot of ducks. 😂😂😂 But, we have drakes going Camping, and any drakes in the 19 we bought will go Camping too. By the time November rolls around, we’ll know who is who and who’s not staying on. Hens (for the most part) will stay. We have 4 older gals, the foundation 4, who will be kept because they hatch clutches happily. Hell, they’re trying to hide nests now! Ya, no…no nests allowed now! And the younger hens have been doing just as well too. Plus, out of those 19 we bought, there should be a few hens, and it’s always good to bring in new bloodlines every few years. Once their coop is renewed (Hubby is working on that and the greenhouse at the same time…the Man is *busy*!!), we’ll see how many fit and go from there. We have 2 drakes that stay on, Cricket and PoopMachine. Drake (our main guy) should be staying too…we know he *works* 😉 and then we have Howard and another 1 who looks like Cricket. The Cricket look alike is being replaced with PoopMachine. We try to keep 4 working drakes, but can go down to 3 if we have to. That gives us a hen flock of 15-20, depending on space.
So we’re eating bird this winter. That’s always been the plan, but some of the ones I had originally thought about keeping (space permitting) are now on the table. And y’know what? I’m not going to feel bad about that. Thing is, birds, as much as we enjoy them being here, are food. For us, for the cats, for the dog. The rule is they get to live a good life being birds, then when it’s time, they feed us. That’s just how it is.
There is a strip of land between the pasture fence (white) and the trees that’s kinda dead space. There’s not really enough space there to do much of anything. Waaaaaay back when we bought this place, we used to have our bon fire barrel (affectionately know as the Hobo Barrel) in that space. Now it’s at the back of the house, where usually less snow accumulates in the winter, so we can still have raging bonfires in the depths of cold months. Sometimes, ya just hafta!
Anyways, so at the corner post (which is actually a tree) is there the front corner of the greenhouse is going to go…since things get beyond crazy effing windy out here, we’re going to tie the greenhouse into that tree/post for stability. The fence is going to be moved over to the other side of the lilacs (they’re currently inside the fence, as you can see) and that will give us(me) plenty of space for garden between the trees and the lilacs, as well as give some windbreak for the plants that grow there.
On the tree side, the first one is dead…so it’s coming out. Here’s the thing…when you buy a tree, rarely do the sellers tell you *how to plant* said tree. *sigh* So we have 2 trees in that line that, if I had known the proper way to plant them, would be bearing fruit for us now. An apple and a pear tree. But, since I did *not* know that you don’t plant ’em as deep as possible (like, how did I not know that??) and to *not* cover the graft knot, those 2 trees died. Now I know though, so they’ll be replaced with properly planted trees.
I’m hoping the Prairie Shelterbelt folks will be selling again this year. Their website is down right now, but I’m hoping that’s because they’re getting ready to open orders in the next month or so. Last year they had Siberian Crab apple trees that I really wanted. By the time I got an order in (with a friend and some others) I missed out on them. I hope they have them again this year. Plus, I want to add some saskatoons as well. Both will help replace the dead trees.
That aside, the greenhouse (which is a small 8’x8′ to start) will sit at the front, close to the drive way. Behind, where the grass is cut, will be covered with cardboard, straw and then topsoil for garden growing. Then, as we can, we’ll add on to the greenhouse, lengthening it down that strip. Only the first 8’x8′ space will have tables/seed starting space (at first). The rest will stay a dirt floor that we’ll plant straight into.
The first year we’ll use t-posts and stucco wire as a fence to keep the asshole chickens out. Because chickens is assholes and they love to rip out delicate seedling before they get settled in for growing. 🤦♀️🙄
All that to tell you that our focus tomorrow is on moving the fence line. Once that’s done, we can work on getting the 4 walls (now built!!) up and then the roof. We’re so close. So. Very. Close. ❤
Way back in June, on the Summer Solstice, we had frost. I had planted my tomatoes about a week or so earlier. Peppers too. And then BOOM!! Killing frost on the first day of summer. *sigh*
Well, as it turns out, not every tomato plant died, some have bounced back, but no where near in time to get a decent crop off them. I will have some nice green ones though, so that’s okay too. But in the meantime, the shelves are looking very bare of tomato products and we cannot have that.
So when the local mega mart put their cases of roma tomatoes on sale, guess who asked her Hubby to bring some out to the Farm? Yeah, that’d be me, because I’m stupid and didn’t have enough food going into jars. 😂😂😂
But tomatoes are something we love here, and we go through a lot of tomato sauce and pizza sauce…because we live where pizza delivery isn’t an option and we like pizza. 😉
100lbs came home. So my days have been filled with roasting the tomatoes, running them through the food mill, making the sauce, canning the sauce…
In case anyone cares, 100lbs of tomatoes makes roughly 10 gallons of tomato sauce. With about 3 gallons of the juice left over after roasting. That doesn’t get wasted. After all, it’s tomato juice. So I drink it. Some years I freeze it for later on when I make the green tomato wine, but this year the freezers are already short of space, so that’s not an option. So I’ve been enjoying beer and tomato juice at the end of the long canning days.
I have a 5 gallon pail of sauce left to put in jars. That’s tomorrow. Today we’re working on the greenhouse. Being September long weekend already, we’ve got to get our butts in gear and get it up.
I’ll finish tomatogeddon tomorrow… And then we’ll be back at Rooster Rehab until all the roosters (and turkeys) are done.
There’s been a bit of a baby explosion here this week.
I have repeatedly been told that muscovy duck hens left alone will hatch tons and tons and tons of chicks… Well we’ve had a few clutches hatch out, but nothing like the “you’re gonna be over run with that many hens!!” like I’ve been told… Truth be told, because we eat our extra drakes, I *want* to be over run with ducklings. I’m still waiting for that…
In the meantime, there’s kijiji. It’s a Canadian buy/sell site where most farm folk list their extra animals for sale. Welp, after a couple of beers I decided, the other night, to scan the livestock section…we’re coming into fall and lots of folks try to sell off extra animals so they don’t have to winter them. Often, those animals go much cheaper than they would in the spring.
And so when I saw week old muscovy ducklings for $5 each, 21 of them, I contacted the seller…who said if I took them all, she’d charge me $80. So we met up and made the duck deal in a Walmart parking lot. 😂😂😂
When we met up with the seller, she did say she could only catch 19…that’s okay though, because $80 was still a great deal for 19 ducklings.
Away we went, with our bounty. And when we pulled into our driveway, we though “huh, we’re almost out of shavings” so Hubby and I planned on a quick trip to the feed store for another bundle of them, so that we could clean the empty brooder (we finally got the cornish meat birds butchered last week) and put these 19 babies in there… As we’re transfering them to the bigger crate with shaving in it for a temp. holding pen ’til the brooder was cleaned, The Kid yells “duck baby!!” and runs off…I’m thinking “what the hell??” And it turns out one had hatched while we were gone and had escaped from Mama. Huh.
So she catches him, and puts him in the house with another one that she had found earlier in the week. That made our 21 ducklings. 😉
Then this morning, I step out to feed the cats (always before the chickens get out, because otherwise the chickesn steal the outdoor cats’ food) and I see the duck Mama in the puddle (from our leaking well line that has yet to be fixed even though I have been all over every damn company within a 30 mile radius to come help us…fingers crossed this last guy, a local plumber who has been right on top of all my questions adn is booking his excavator guy to come do it, can make it out and get it done…) with 2 little yellow balls of fluff. Huh. So there’s more of ’em.
My brother gets here to check on his old car stored here, and as I come out to talk to him, I see 5 little balls of fluff following Mama Duck and an angry chicken clucking at the extra bebes to come back to her…and when Hubby comes out he says there’s 6 balls of yellow fluff in total. So it turns out that this duck and chicken co-sat the nest and so far have hatched out 8 ducklings. It’s really late in the year for ducklings. And chickens can’t be trusted. So we’ve cleaned out the brooder in the Little Red Shed and duck babies will go there…
But wait!! There’s more!!
This is Lefty…
Lefty listened to all my yelling about if chickens are going to hide eggs here, there and everywhere, then they should at least come back with some damn chicks! So she did. 😂😂😂
In 24 hours, we’re up 32 babies, bringing our grand total for poultry this year to…
That’s it, that’s all. We only have 10 birds. That my friends, is how poultry math works…and why I’m the head and founding mother of Poultry Anonymous. To think, I don’t even really like birds. 😂😂😂