There Was a Plan…

For this weekend.
It’s the May long weekend here in Canada.
Typically this means it’s time to get the garden planted.
Meh, where I am, waiting another week or two is a good idea because of those sneaky frosty nights that love to kill tomatoes and peppers just for a good time.
But, there’s other things that need to be done to get ready for the mass exodus of plants out of my house and into my garden…
That’s what we were planning to work on this weekend, so that during the week I could get seeds in and then plants go in next weekend.
*sigh*
If’n you wanna hear God laugh, tell Her your plans.
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Friday The Kid’s phone crapped out.
Dead as a doornail.
Nothing more than a smart phone shaped paperweight.

So I go looking to see what we can replace it with and what local cell stores are open.
Because the virus, y’know.
Gotta make sure the small town stores close and funnel folks into the big city to do their business.
Bcause that absolutley makes sense, right?
Those of us who’ve stayed *out* of the city now have to go *into* the city to take care of things.
Effing brilliant.
Said no smart person ever.
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That was Saturday shot to Hell.
Didn’t even come away with new phones…we figured ours are on their last legs, so we’d upgrade everyone at the same time…but…there’s some network blather that made it so that the technician helping us couldn’t port the number from Kid’s old phone to the new phone and someone at a different location had to do it and we couldn’t have the phone ’til it was done…
Essentially, it’s a stupid system and when they get to ours it might take an hour to do or it might take 5 days.
They don’t know.
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Today we were going to work on the garden.
Until…
I woke up with seasonal allergies kicking my ass.
Yes, I know it’s allergies.
No it’s not SchrΓΆdinger’s Virus.

So I took a Reactine.
Fuck.
What a mistake.
Non-drowsy my shiny metal ass.
Normally I take the Costco brand of Reactine.
Same medicine in it, different carrier, clearly, because I *never* get drowsy on the Costco version.
But the name brand stuff?
Yeah, can’t say the same.
In fact, I’m feeling side effects so bad that I called off working on the garden.
I just can’t.
The allergy symptoms are gone, but the side effects…drowsy, foggy, drowsy…are kicking my ass.

And so, tomorrow for garden work.
And if the allergies are acting up again, I’ll stick with my Costco brand allergy pills.
Plus, they’re a whole lot cheaper than the name brand.
200 Costco allergy pills for $18.99.
Or 48 Reactine pills on sale for $38.99.
Mind boggling.
Seriously.

In other news…

The meaties, 2nd hatchers and turkey poults are doing very well.
Getting big.
Next weekend they’ll move to the meat chicken house.
In fact, they’re don’t even have heat on during the day now.
It’s too warm in the brooder with it on…so we’ve added a wire section to let cool, fresh air in for them to enjoy.
Soon they’ll have the fun of running around outside. πŸ™‚

Now, one of the joys of the easter egger/barnyard mix chicks is the interesting colour combos we get.
Like this eagle looking one:

Kinda cute little fella…

“I am the albatross!! I will destroy you all!!”

Sure ya will, little buddy…

Gonna have to grow a wee bit more before you do…
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Out 43 first hatchers are now mixing slowly with the adult chickens.
And next weekend the eggs in the incubators should start hatching.
I did realize though, that my next round will only be with the big incubator.
I have 3 muscovy duck eggs in the small one, and they take up to 35 days to hatch, compared to 21 for chickens.
So, they have to stay in for another 2 weeks, leaving me with one working incubator for another round of chicken eggs.
*shrug*
I didn’t think of that, just wanted ducklings, and now I gotta deal with it.
And we’re letting the muscovy hens hide eggs so hopefully they’ll hatch them out and not let them rot.
Fingers crossed.

Ahhh, Monday

Feels like it’s been a while since I last posted…
Ah, because it has. πŸ˜‰

Hubby is still off work.
We still have no idea how long that’s going to go on.

Spring is finally, slowly working it’s way here.
We have another forecast day of chilly and then off into double digits with some spring rain and a whole lot of sunshine coming.
Hooray!
We need both for the pasture to grow.

The 2nd round of chicks are 14 days into incubation.
Fingers crossed (because I’m too lazy to candle the eggs) for a good hatching.
My first 43 are growing amazingly well.
This week, once the temps go up, they’ll move to the duck house in the poultry yard.
They’re fully feathered now, so ready to be off the heat lamps.
That’s a good thing, because with the impending hatch, and the fact that my meat chickens…and turkeys!! I took the plunge and ordered 10 white turkey poults…come next week, the brooder needs to be ready for those chicks.

I ran a smaller batch of eggs in the big incubator this time.
It says it can do 56 eggs, but I found that too many of the eggs ended up on their ends instead of turning properly, so the plan was to drop to 48 eggs, making them fit a bit better.
Well, I only had 40 eggs that were incubator worthy when I was ready to start, so that’s what I did.
Which gives me the potential for 64 chicks this round…
Still a lot of birds!
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Then I’ll clean the incubators and start all over again.
I know it sounds like a lot of hatching, and it will be, but it’s really looking like our animal protein for this coming winter is going to be poultry.

Our latest duck additions are fitting in nicely as well.
The boy has discovered his hormones and is loving having 6 ladies to chase.
The girls are showing signs of wanting to nest (as well as signs that the boy has been working, based on the lack of feathers on the backs of their heads!) so we’re hoping for that warmth to hurry up so we can get them into their own yard/coop.
They’ll be taking up residence in what was the pig yard for the summer.
And dang it, I want duck babies!

The Merry Mares are well.
Anxious for spring and fresh green grass.
Tired of hay.
Tired of snow and chilly rains.
Ready for sunshine and warm naps.

Ruby’s ears say it all…

I’ve transplanted the peppers.
And the tomatoes.
They’re waiting under lights to go in the garden.
I’ve found a few closer to home, not in the city garden centers to shop at this year.
Including one that has a new-to-me bush that will be added to our expanding next spring food forest…
Nannyberries!
Native to the area, like moist/wet soil.
Perfect for one end of the strip of land I want to expand into…
The fruits are edible right off the bush, good for jams/jellies/baking and wine.
They had me at wine and moist soil. πŸ˜‰

And I revived my sourdough starter out of the fridge.
My yeast store had been getting low before *waves hand* all this started…
And then suddenly the world went stupid and everyone and their dog now bakes.
Plus since I typically buy the 2lb brick at Costco, and it’s damn near impossible to get into the place right now for all the lines, I just can’t be bothered with searching yeast out anywhere else.
Sourdough does just fine.
Feed it, make other stuff with the discards, make bread once a week.
*shrug*
Been doing it for years, just got lazy and tucked the starter away a few months ago.
At least I have it now.

So long asΒ  there doesn’t become a run on sugar, so that I can keep my carboys filled with wines, we’ll be doing just fine.
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New Ducks

Say hello to our new trio of muscovy ducks…

There’s 2 hens and a drake there.
They’re young yet, being a Sept. 2019 hatch.
But, in the next month or two, the hens will start to lay and hopefully the drake will get to work doing what drakes do best.
He’s got a total of 6 hens to service and I’m hoping her does that.
I want these girls to give me ducklings…many, many ducklings.
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Freelance Writing

I don’t know how people do it…make money blogging.
I just don’t.
I’m clearly missing something…I’m sure it’s the lack of ads and affiliate links…or maybe I’m not pimping myself out quite right.
lol
If you’ve got any secrets on how to do that, (make money while blogging, not pimping myself out) please feel free to share. πŸ˜‰

That said…I have, in the past, picked up a little extra money freelance writing for online homesteading magazines…most notably homestead.org.
And, having submitted a few ideas back in January, I got the go ahead to write 3 articles for them.
Yay!

So I’m busy writing those…and once they’re live, I’ll share the links so y’all can read them.
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Hopefully I can keep up the writing streak here, but, things might get light here and there.
Paying work has to come first.
Mama gots to makes the moneys, ya know?
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But I’ll do my best to keep things rolling here…after all, in just about 2 weeks, there’s gonna be chicks hatching, and I’ve got 3 new ducks coming today…including a drake for my Muscovy hens.
I don’t want y’all to miss chicks or ducks. Or new equine pics. Or the latest Capture52 shots.
Just bear with me if I’m slow, ‘kay?

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Sharing with Brian’s Home for Thankful Thursday
Because I”m thankful to be able to share my Farm life with everyone and I’m thankful to have a few paying jobs coming.
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Ducks

I’m adding to the duck flock this spring.
We still have our 4 muscovy hens.
Donald went to Freezer Camp.

So today I was looking at the local hatchery’s website, planning…dreaming…plotting what I need financially and in supplies for what birds I plan to order.
In May there’s going to be a local small animal auction that we want to go to, so I’m hoping to pick up a new drake for the muscovy girls.


I don’t think they much cared for Donald, because of all the eggs they gave us, not a one was fertile.
So I’ll see if we can find them a better suitor.
And then, hopefully, we’ll be overrun with muscovy babies!
I’m told they breed like crazy…I haven’t see it yet.

Back to the hatchery…
My plan is to order pekins.
They’re a simple white meat duck.
Which is what we want ducks for…meat.
And then I noticed they had cayugas this year.
Oooooooh…

Cayugas are a black duck with an iridescent sheen to them..
You can see examples here:
Metzer Farms

So now I’m thinking I’m going to order 9 pekins and 1 cayuga.
And we’ll see what happens from there.
I’m hoping to get at least a pair of drake and hen so I can keep 2 for breeding, and the rest will go to Freezer Camp at the end of the summer.
Again, we’ll see what happens.
But I’m focusing on poultry this year, while researching sheep still, because we’re not planning on pigs this year.
This is my break year from raising pigs.
That’s okay, because we still have a bunch in the freezer…and I still have to smoke the bacon.
I’m getting there.
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Back Again

Well, that was a long 7 days.
A lot of work was done.
Freezers are nicely filled…with some room yet for a deer. πŸ˜‰

We put down the 3 pigs all at once.
We didn’t have much choice, because the second the first one went down, the other 2 were on her, trying to eat her.
Pigs is assholes.

So the other 2 were shot right there.
Because it wouldn’t have been safe to go into the yard to try and take out the first one, and we didn’t raise them for 2 to eat one.

From there, it’s been a bit of a blur of butchering, dishes, showering, laundry, sleeping and getting up early to do it all over again.
It was a crazy lot of work.
Today I’m finishing up with canning pork soup.

The final break down looks like this…

George weighed a whopping 265lbs live weight.
For a 7 month old pig, that’s amazing.
I can only imagine how big he might have gotten if he’d gone over the year mark!

Jinger was 181lbs live weight.
Sophie was 176lbs live weight.

Biggest pigs we’ve ever raised.
Weights were determined using the heart girth/length measurements, so they are, of course estimates.
Only way to know 100% what they weighed is to scale them.
We didn’t have that option, so weights are within 5%, based on the online calculator I used.

Heads, feet and offal went to a friend of Hubby’s.
He was very happy with getting those parts.
We were very happy to give them.
They’re parts I don’t use.
Normally they would be dog treats, but, I’d rather give them to people who would use them instead. So when Hubby told me he knew someone who would use them, I was happy to let them go. πŸ™‚

All trimmings went to the chickens and ducks.
After the pigs ate as many chickens as they did, we figured turnabout was fair play.
And poultry ain’t vegetarians, no matter what the marketing hype might try to tell us.

Fat was saved for a local soap maker.
I would have kept it for myself, but I still have lard from other years that I haven’t gotten to using.
Plus I have deer tallow from last year for whenever I get my ass into gear and make soap. lol

Fat, trimmings, feet etc. are not included in the final tallies.

Final tallies look like this…

Total take home weight of meat put into the freezer was 304.32 lbs.
A whopping 66.46 lbs was bellies! That translates into a whole lot of bacon…once I get to brining and smoking.
52.36 lbs of ground. Some of that will become sausages. Some will be made into yummy spring rolls. Most will stay as burger…because we enjoy ground meats.
28.74 lbs of boneless loin chops.
47.51 lbs of chops, both bone in a boneless…can you say “hello bbq!”
Then there were the tenderloins, various roasts/hams, stew chunks (which I canned yesterday for using as quick pulled pork) and soup pieces.

Not included in the final weight were bones used for soup stock/bone broth.
That was another 8ish lbs.

We paid $270 for the 3 piglets.
We used $558 worth of barley/wheat feed.
Plus they ate garden scraps, excess milk/left over coffee, wine making fruit scraps, weeds, grasses, hay, straw and rooted around their entire yard.
The hay and straw were left overs from last year’s horse supply. Things that could not be given to The Merry Mares, but made pigs oh so very happy.
The cost of the barley/wheat feed is high.
But, we feed the same feed to the chickens, and instead of (properly) tracking how much went to the bird bin and how much went to the pig bin, I just kept track of the total amount purchased.
Lesson for next time, track how much feed goes in what bins. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

So, expenses wise (not including the chickens they ate…assholes) was $828.
We brought them home May 27th.
They went to Freezer Camp 18th.
9 days shy of being here 5 full months.
Our total cost per pound of meat in the freezer is $2.72/lb.
Not too shabby.

Now for next year?
No pigs.
I’m in need of a year off of them, like I said before.
Next year we’re hoping to do a steer.
And I’ll be pushing my poultry growing program.
Probably invest in a 2nd incubator, and I’m looking for a new drake for my duck hens.
Donald seems to be infertile.
Out of 2 nests sat on, and an incubator full of eggs, *nothing* hatched.
Muscovies are supposed to be very prolific breeders, and hens excellent mothers.
Welp, the girls tried, but the eggs all rotted.
I figure that means my boy is the issue.
So, we’ll replace him…hopefully before the snow flies to stay, so that in the spring the new guy can get right to work.
And the pig yard from this year will be turned into the duck yard for next year…and likely beyond.
For the next time we have pigs, we plan to build a different yard, with a new set up.
Something that shouldn’t allow chickens, ducks or cats to go into the yard.

In a month or so I’ll make the bacon. And the sausages.
But for now, with soup almost done, I’m taking a few days off of winter food prep.
Still have to tarp the garden for the winter.
And have to get hay home for The Merry Mares.
Then, deer season.
Once that’s done, we have to cull roosters for winter.
And finally, I can rest.
For a minute or 2 before the next thing comes along.
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Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
(after the last week, I sure could use coffee!!)
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Holy Moly

What’s with all the spambots lately??
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I’m gone for a bit and my spam filter catches 239 spam comments.
WOW!!
Kinda crazy…

It’s been chilly and rainy here.
And rainy too.
Did I mention the rain?
lol

Well, it seems we’ve gotten a couple seasons worth of rain in the past week or two.
I mean, we could use the moisture in the ground going into Fall, and my haying spots look amazing…I may even, if it stops raining for longer than an hour, get another cut before a hard frost sets in.
Fingers crossed!!

While the rains have been coming down, we’ve still been busy.
Ducks are laying eggs like crazy in the garden, and every day we have to search for them.
And every so slowly, they’re getting the weeds taken down there too…they’re not as good at it as I thought they would be, but still…they’re doing some of the work for me. πŸ™‚

With the sloppy muddiness of the pig yard, we’ve managed to use up almost all of the moldy hay that’s been sitting around.
Y’see, when we have hay that we can’t feed to The Merry Mares, we set it aside for the spring pigs.
We’ve had a couple years worth accumulate (sound like a lot, but it’s not really…our Hay Guy is awesome about having a high quality product…sometimes though, we get lazy about tarping in the wet seasons, and the bales suffer) and these pigs are loving it!
We toss it into the shelter and they roll around in it, bury themselves, happily eat any moldy parts…pigs love eating gross things. lol And if there’s mushrooms growing, even better!! No joke, pigs super ❀ mushrooms.

And then there was that sale on carrots…

I’ve been looking for carrots to put up ever since my crop died.
Finally, a local mega mart had a smokin’ deal on local grown carrots.
50 lbs later, I’m filling jars with carrot coins, and diced carrots.
Pressure canned and ready for winter eating.
Plus 10 lbs sitting in the basement fridge for soup…canning soup will be coming in the next couple of weeks and carrots store nicely in the fridge.

My shelves are getting full, I’m running seriously low on jars and it’s a good thing.
This makes me a happy FarmHer for sure.
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Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
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Thanks to all of you who’ve bought me coffee!
Your generosity has been greatly appreciated.