November

Here we are, first week into November.
Hard to believe we’re there already.
I feel like getting ready to hibernate for Winter, and yet, there’s still so much to do.
Like, right now, I’m writing, but I should be out cleaning and re-bedding the chicken coop. That’s my plan for this afternoon.

But, for now, a chance to catch y’all up on things here…

We’ve finally finished putting the meat chickens in the freezer.
In running the numbers, it was definitely worth doing more chickens, than last years small amount. It was, however, too late in the season to start 50 chicks. Next year, we’ll start them earlier.
I plan on getting eggie chicks, so doing meaties early won’t be a big deal…we’ll do them together.

Since there’s only 3 of us to do the butchering, we can’t do all 50 in one day.
I wish!!
But no, we’re not fast enough for that. So we broke it up into 3 different days. Which, truth be told, worked out well, because we took out all the biggest ones in the first round, which gave the others a chance to grow. Second round, same thing.

Of the 50 chicks we ordered, we lost 3.
1 to a piling incident.
1 to the mean nasty bitch hennys.
1 to a heart attack…which is an unfortunate possibility with Cornish Cross birds.

Turns out we had gotten 51 from the hatchery, because my finished numbers show we processed 48 birds.
9 stayed whole as roasters.
39 were parted into breast, legs/thighs and wings, with backs and necks saved for soup fixings.
Feet were fed to the dog…who ate soooooo many feet. And feathers. I swear, that dog is going to sprout wings, she ate so many feathers. Weirdo.
Livers were saved for friends who enjoy them.
Hearts, gizzards and trim bits were bagged and frozen for winter cat food.

In total, we got 141.1 pounds of meat for our freezer.
Factoring in initial cost of chicks and feed, not including time, infrastructure or butchering supplies, our winter chickens cost us $1.24/pound.
So, really, not too bad.

Next up, comes the pigs.
That starts this weekend.

I think the ducks will be happy to no long have the pigs as neighbours.
And, to be brutally honest, I’ll be happy to no longer have to care for pigs.
Pigs are cute and fun when they’re little.
Once they get this big (they’re around the 200-250lbs mark) they’re butts.
Oh, they have their moments, like with the straw…but man, I’m just tired.
I had thought of wintering some, some year, but I don’t think so.
By November, I’m just done.
LOL!

And then there’s this duck:

Indignant Duck is indignant…and wants me to know it!!

Y’see, we’ve run out of time to get the duck house installed before hard-core winter hits. There’s other things that have to be done before and there is only 3 of us…
So, the ducks have been bunking with the hennys in the insulated coop.
Now that the meaties are gone, we moved the other poultry in there.
Which is why I’m supposed to be cleaning it… 😉

Ducks are not happy about change.
Rain especially.
He’s been rather insistent that he shouldn’t have to sleep with “those stupid girls”. We won’t discuss that the hens have been bunking in the temp. duck house anyways. Still…he doesn’t want to be in the coop with them.
So nightly “put the birds to bed” has been even more fun, with the ducks running away and refusing to go in the coop.

And then…

Last night, Hubby picked Rain up and put him in the coop.
Oh. My. Duck.
The world was ending, Scary Guy Walking touched him, Rain was Going. To. Die. He was so traumatized.
The next morning when I let everyone out, he chased me around the poultry yard, trying to bite and peck me, quacking his fool head off…he went from playing “trauma duck” to being full on rage-y “Indignant Duck”.
Ducks are incredibly expressive.
It did not help at all that I was laughing at him.
😀

Check out my “hard keeper”…

Remember I said I was happy with Sable’s condition this year?
Just look at the picture…

Holy fat Palomino!

Yay!
Fat, sassy, and happy as can be!
Yeah, she looks pregnant in this shot. lol
But seriously, she’s doing really well, and I am so happy for it.

Basking in the Fall sunshine…

Astrid’s back to 98% health.
I’m still liniment-ing and stretching her daily, just to be sure. She’s been trotting and playing, so that’s one less worry for me.

Ghost and Gabrielle

This ^^^ is my poultry helper crew.
They’re sitting in a sandbox that was the ducks’ pool for a while, but is actually The Kid’s flowerbed that never got set up when we got out here.
Now, it’s the feline viewing gallery.
Feline cheering section?
That Ghost is so adorable…and so flippin’ fat now!
I’ve been calling him FatGhost.
I love him dearly, though. ❤

Finally, a lovely shot of our Ruby, dozing in the sunshine…

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Blogaversary

Holy Moly folks!
Today is our 4 year blogaversary.
4 years of rambling about this Farm life.
4 years of pictures…we’re just starting to run out of storage space.
Hehe. I may have to spring for a paid account soon. 😉

Here’s a few pictures to celebrate 4 years…

Mr. RainyDay Duck

Such a handsome, cheeky duck.
I’m telling ya, ducks rock!
Chickens are fun, but ducks have way more personality…at least, my 2 do.
That’s why they’re permanent residents. They’ll get girlfriends in the spring, so that we can hopefully have some ducklings to add to our Freezer Camp stores in the Fall.

Mr RainyDay Duck and Sir JazzyHands taking over the chicken coop…

This year’s batch of ex-battery hens have been unpleasant.
They’re mean and nasty bitches.
Even on high quality foods, with lots of greens and straw to play in, the coop treated in case of lice, and ample places to dust bathe, they’re still pecking each other. In too many cases, to death.

So, next year, we’re going with eggie chicks.
And this year’s lot of ex-batts are being disciplined by the ducks.
Sir JazzyHands takes no shit from nasty chickens…he’s not a mean duck at all, but he keeps those egg laying bitches in line. 😉

❤ CoalCat

We have a rule…when kittens were placed in homes, we told folks, if it doesn’t work out, we’ll take them back.
This Coal Cat is a returned kitten, who’s home placement didn’t work out. It’s taken us a few months to reintegrate her into Farm life, and she’s now happily an outdoor hunter cat…who also loves a hella good snuggle with the humans. ❤

“I’m itchin’ my leg, Mama. Don’t take my picture while I’m itchin’ my leg!”
~ Cookie

Poor BabyGirl has had a rough week.
We had some goose hunters out pulling bullshit on the field next to ours, shooting simply to scare the Girls…normally, they don’t care about guns, but when 5 guys shoot before daylight, in the darkness, that scares the bejeebus out of even a well adjust horse.
Once they were wound up, they just couldn’t settle while they jackwangs were shooting. And, of course, they could *see* the Girls running, so even when there were no birds, they shot off rounds just to see them run.
And Conservation was a damn joke to deal with.
😡

The next day, my poor Girl came up lame.
Like 3 legged hobbling lame.
On went the halter, Kid fed her grass while Hubby and I went over that horse with a fine toothed comb.
Turns out she has a stone bruise in her right rear hoof…so epsom salts soaks and a clean hoof were the order for her week. Then, I ran out of epsom salts, so I switched it up to sea salt soaks.
And today, she’s doing much, much better.
Stiff and sore, from compensating for the booboo hoof, but better.
She’s biting Astrid again, so… 😉

And, one of my favorite pics from the last few weeks…

It’s the rainy/damp season, and she gets ouchy.
Some days are worse than others. Some days it’s too hard to get to the beet pulp spot to eat and get her supplements in…some days she’s also a colossal Drama Queen. LOL!
But, because I love her dearly, Hubby is patient with her, even when it’s clear she has her D.Q. crown on.
Here he held her bucket for her while she ate…she was obviously hungry because she had her piggie nose in there before he bent over enough for her to eat comfortably.
What can I say, she’s my special pony, and I love her.

In 4 years of writing this has been my most popular post…
They Don’t Need to Understand

Or, if not my most popular, my most read post.

So here’s to 4 years, and darn near 500 posts.
We’ll probably do something to celebrate 500…maybe a giveaway of a print? Or an Equi~Gem?
We shall see.
I welcome y’all’s input.

Now, can we all chant “4 more years!! 4 more years!!”…because that just makes me giggle. 😉

Labour Day Weekend

How, oh how, can it be September already?
I feel like I’m going into Fall kicking and screaming.

“I don’t wanna get ready for winter….waaaahhhhhhh!!!!”

*sigh*

And yet, the signs are all there.
The cooler nights.
The geese are coming back.
Combines on the fields.
Horses are getting fuzzy… 😥

I’m not ready for fuzzy horses…last night at beet pulp time, Bella said she isn’t either.
Ah, but we have no choice. Time marches on, and away we go towards the coming winter.

This weekend has been a busy one.
Hubby worked Saturday, came home to take The Kid back to the city for back to school shopping.
Grade 11, this year.
Once more, where is time going?!?
How can I be okay with watching my baby girl handle a 1200lb animal, including jumping, and yet, be so on edge with her handling her Father’s truck??
It’s not that I doubt her skills.
She’s had a good teacher…
It’s the fact the she’s grown up enough to be legally allowed to take the truck out.

*sigh*
Damn that Father Time. 😉

Yesterday, Hubby worked on the winter duck house.
We cobbled together a quick shelter when we realized that putting them in the coop with the meat chickens wasn’t viable.
Now, we need to put together an insulated coop (with a heat lamp) for winter. Still don’t know genders, but that’s okay. In spring we’ll figure it out, and we’ll add whatever gender we need to get baby ducks.
Hubby is building a good-sized coop, because we’re all pretty darn enamored with ducks.
And we all like duck meat.

Ducks ❤

Seriously, how adorable are these 2?
Rain (front) always has an opinion…I have to admit, I love that.
I love an animal that you can have a conversation with, and I can totally do that with Rain.
Jazzy (back) is much quieter and a little more wary…s/he is warming up slowly, but is still uncertain of this crazy person who keeps trying to pet her/him. LOL!
Today, I had them both nibbling grain out of the feed scoop.

Speaking of feed scoops…

This one:

😉

Has learned how to lick the pig grain out of their feed scoop.
Now, nobody panic…the pigs eat a crushed wheat/barley mixture as their primary feed. Nothing that can harm a horse in any way.
In fact, Sable gets anywhere from 1/4-1 full cup of this grain mixture a day in her beet pulp.

Yesterday though, she had the pleasure of eating it from the scoop, once I was done feeding the piggies.
Just a few licks, as a treat. 🙂

“I like apples…”
~ Cookie

I’m so loving this taken-from-below set of images.
The Girls look so different from that angle, and it’s an absolutely fun set. I’ve got a few more I’ll share over the next few days…

With the forest fires, the high winds from the North, and our own smudges for bugs, we’ve had a few fairly smokey days…the haze on the image above is only 1/2 from the smudge fire.
It’s been hard on The Kid, and Cookie has been coughing a bit too.
😦

And then, there’s my MaxCat, who in one frame sums up my feelings for today…

“Really? You want me to what now??”
~ MaxCat

I’d love to crawl back into bed with a good book and a big bowl of bbq chips. Not to be though. As always, there’s work to do. And, I don’t have any chips.
We’ve actually managed to break the chip addiction in the house. Haven’t bought a bag in near onto 3 months.
Whew! That was a hard habit to break!
Anyways…
Onward and upward.
Winter is coming.
Boo.
😉

Winter is Coming

And I’m already tired.

The nights have been cooler.
The days, when not raining, well, not so much.
But the nights are cooler, and there is a definite scent of Fall in the air.

I’m not ready.
There is so much work to do before we can settle in and say we’re ready for Winter.
The good news?
I have the hay money all set aside for a full delivery of hay, not a month to month purchase like last year.
Thank Epona for that!! Just have to get that arranged…

But before winter comes we have so much other stuff to do…
I have to start 2nd cut on my hay.
Now it’s going to be just the front, around the fruit trees.
Hubby used the mower on the tractor to cut the back yard because we had people come out for our Anniversary party.
The grass wasn’t quite long enough for hay yet, and we needed to not sit in mosquio-ized grass.

There’s this guy…

Meat chicken…

And 48 of his friends (we lost one last weekend to a “piling” incident) to get ready for their Freezer Camp session…

As well as this guy…

Andy Piggie

And 5 of his pals to do the same with.
Plus, once the pig processing starts, I’m hoping to run the smoker for a few days and get some hams and bacon done as well.
Last year I didn’t get bacon done before winter, and um, I was sad.
LOL!
Having home smoked bacon for the winter months will be wonderful…but pigs don’t start the Freezer Camp journey until into October, and the weather can be unpredictable then.
Of course, now that Hubby’s garage is cleaned up, I can run it in there in cases of inclement weather.
So, that’s a huge bonus!

I’m also working on getting this one…

Used to wearing a blanket.
It’s been a slow and steady process, and neither one of us have died yet.
That’s good. 😉
I figure with the way the weather has effected her the past couple rough seasons, being able to toss a blanket on her (and Sable as well) will go a long way towards my sanity through the long cold months.
Normally, I don’t worry about blankets for the Girls, but the 2 Old Ladies sometimes just need a little extra help.
And it’s my responsibility to make sure they get it.

And then there’s these 2…

Quack quack quack

Ducks are new to me.
I’ve never wintered ducks before.
This is a learning experience, and again, it’s my responsibility to make sure they get what they need.

Oh, and there’s the garden to put to bed, once things are done there.
That should be done before pigs go to Camp, so that the pigs can eat some of the left overs…pea plants, bean plants, carrot tops…that sorta thing.
Sadly, can’t give ’em potato plants or tomato plants, because nightshade family, so those will be burned.
Then we can cover in manure, pull the tarp and stake it down.
All so we can be ready for next spring, when the plan/hope is to get the whole of the garden planted.

We’re also hoping to set the fence posts for the next pasture.
I know, said that last summer/fall, but yeah, I really want either a milk cow or a couple steers next year to round out the meat freezers. Another pasture is a need, to be able to do either one.

At the end of the day, I know all will be well.
The Kid will miss a few weekends of riding lessons while the work gets done, we’ll work until we’re so tired we can’t think…then go do some more, and all will get done.
Why?
Because, it has to be done.
That’s the simple answer.

So, if you start seeing one picture posts, or no posts for a little while, it’s all good.
We’re just getting ready for the inevitable.
Winter is coming.

Quack

So, this happened today…

“quack quack quack!”

These 2 lovelies joined the Midnight Calico Farm crew.
Permanent residents who, once we know their sex for sure and we adjust their numbers as needed, will hopefully provide us with ducklings next year.

A friend from the stable was helping her work find a new home for them, and thought of us.
I’ve been after Hubby for about a year and a half for ducks…
The deal was, I got to have ducks, he gets to have an ostrich.

Hahahaha!!
So, now he has to build infrastructure for an ostrich.

In the mean time, Jazzy (sitting) and Rain (standing) are settling in nicely. ❤