I’m ready and rarin’ to go! First of the seed orders went in on Sunday.
I went through my seed stores as well. I saved *a lot* of seeds this year too. Some things will be grown just for the animals…like the tons of pumpkin and squash seeds I saved. Those ducklings sure do love them a pumpkin…and they work great as feed bowls!
And I’m trying something new (to me) this year. Winter sowing. I have a tiny house. And really not enough space to start aaaaalllll the plants I want in the garden. Which is why the push for a greenhouse (plus I can grow extra plants through the summer in there). Then I found the Winter Sowers group on Facebook and decided to check it out. I have an abundance of seeds. I have an abundance of containers (hooray for Loop!! I can re-use the containers we get stuff in!). I have nothing to lose but a bit of dirt (that will go into the garden later anyways) to try it out. So that’s my plan. On the Winter Solstice, I’ll prep my containers and sow my seeds. I’ll let y’all know how it works out for me.
So now, I figure the only things I *need* to order are peas, yellow beans, and carrots. Probably beets too, just because my store of pickled beets has dwindled. Must have pickled beets on the shelf!! I still have this years beets in storage and can pickle them, I just haven’t gotten to that yet. 🙂 I’ll probably order some extra of the Blue Lake pole beans too…I’ve read that they are incredibly prolific, tasty, and excellent for canning. Those will go in the greenhouse. Just because it’s so damn windy here.
I’m also ready and rarin’ to go on making more growing space. With all the boxes from Loop and the compost/fertilizer from the animals, I have big, big plans. lol I have the space to do it. And a source for more straw for mulch…
Plus, in just a few short months, the incubators will be fired up again. And in spring a new turkey coop/yard will be built, while the ducks get the shared yard they’re in now. I’m ready for it. I’m rarin’ for it. C’mon Spring!!
Sharing with Brian’s Home for Thankful Thursday. I am extremely thankful that we made the move to the Farm when we did, that I have the skills to grow this much food, and that we have the ability/wish to share with those we can. ❤
We’ve had 2 major storms in the past 2 weeks. We now have more snow on the ground from those 2 storms than we did all last winter.
We picked up a load of pumpkins at the beginning of the month, so I’m smashing bunches open at a time for seeds for me, and feeding the pumpkin itself to the animals. We got our hay. We got our straw. We finished butchering drakes just this past weekend. Now, butchering is done for the year. Unless Hubby gets a deer. He’s going out Thursday/Friday for that. Fingers crossed.
We have spring plans underway. We need to build an entire yard just for turkeys, plus another coop for them. The low coops that work for ducks don’t work for turkeys. Turkeys like to be up high as much as possible. Even if that means standing on each other and squishing each other. Because turkeys is stoopid. 🤦♀️🙄 So we have to re-jig that yard for ducks and move turkeys to their own space with a bigger/taller coop. But first! The greenhouse. Snow hit before we got more than the 4 walls done. Yes, yes, the fall was a long and lovely one, but there was soooooo much else to do. But, the second things are melted, up it goes!
I’ve saved seeds from a bazillion and 2 things. I’ve jumped into a couple of seeds swaps and gotten seeds from plants I really, really wanted to grow! I think the only thing I might have to buy seeds for in spring is carrots. I’m not 100% certain until I go through my seeds.
I started the garden expansion to go with the greenhouse. In cleaning out the coops when we brought straw home, I had some really nice, composted, chicken poo rich dirt…and a metric eff ton of boxes…hey, that Loop program provides more than feed for the animals!! Boxes to layer to start new gardens too!
So in the spring, I’ll build some simple board sides to keep the dirt where I want it, and then using t-posts and stucco wire, protect the space from the asshole birds, and plant my plants. Every year I can/will expand it.
Tarp did not get pulled over the garden. As I said, too much to do, and not enough time or us to do it. In the spring, I’ll take a bunch of that straw from the horses (because they’ll explode their bales effing every damn where and shit in it) and layer it over top the last plants that didn’t get pulled out. Then, I’ll plant into that. Voila! Mulch and weed suppression, whilst feeding the soil with the urine/shit soaked straw. Worked effing beautifully this year, and I suspect it will work effing beautifully next year too. And there’s no tilling, just soil building. I call that a win/win/win! ‘Bout time them horses did something other than eat money. 😉
So now we just have to get everyone through the winter, so we can start building and expanding again in the spring. Because spring means??
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.
We’re getting that rain we wanted. We actually have puddles. And ducks in the puddles. They are very happy ducks. I am happy that I got a bunch of seeds planted in the garden before the rains came. I am also happy I didn’t fall for Mother Nature’s trap and plant my tomatoes and peppers…since it’s a chilly 2*c right now. But, we have the moisture we so desperately needed. The trees are popping. My lilacs might actually bloom…if we can keep a certain large blonde from nibbling on them. 😉 Apple trees are starting to blossom. And the grass! *swoons* With a round of heat and a few more quick showers, I’ll be cutting hay in just a few weeks time. Thank goodness! And the mares are officially off hay. They got their last portion last night, and it’s all still sitting in the feeder this morning. Unless some weird weather event happens, we’re done feeding hay for the year. (please, no weird weather events occur!) So with today’s rain, I’ll be doing some wine maintenance (got a few batches ready to bottle and another one to transfer out of the pail, plus a beer kit to start and a sugar shine to get going) and enjoying coffee while trying to beat off a migraine. In short, I’m staying inside today. Have a great weekend friends! ❤
Yesterday was the first day we all left the Farm for errands in just about a year. It’s been mostly Hubby, sometimes I go with him, but The Kid has 99.99% of the time stayed home. Yesterday we all went for the drive.
First up we met up with a friend so she could get some delicious farm fresh eggs from my asshole birds. That was a lovely visit…we hadn’t seen her for more than a year, between life schedules and then this *waves hands* stuff going on…but it was so good to see her. ❤
Then off to see the Lady with the turkey eggs. Holy smokes, this woman is living the Dream! Moved from a crowded once country turned citified area to a 1/4 section farm where she can see elk off her deck most mornings. So exciting! She’s a really cool lady, and I’m super happy for her and her family. And when I found out I could still get turkey eggs from her this year, I jumped at the chance.
And then from see the Turkey Egg Lady, we went into the big city to get a new well pressure tank. Our well pump has been coming on every 20 minutes or so…which is not normal and not good. After posting on Facebook for ideas, we checked/fixed the leaky toilet and the leaky water softener and that didn’t change things. So a friend’s son, who is a plumber and former farm boy, said the next thing is the tank, because it sounds like the bladder has a leak. To be fair, another friend, who just recently had her pressure tank replaced, said the same thing. So now we have a new pressure tank, and Hubby (with the assistance of The Kid and I) will set about to replace the leaky one with the new one. Wish us all luck.
And finally, we were given some more feed seeds. Beans, and some feed corn. Pintos, and navy beans. Those got put into the “we’ll plant these for food for us” pile. And then there was the bag of feed corn. Um, yes please! I don’t actually have to tell y’all why I might want to grow feed corn, do I? Knowing that I love to do home brewing? Yeah, so I now have enough feed corn seed to do a very nice plot of corn. That may or may not become a lovely alcohol in the fall/winter. 😉
And the duck girls have started to lay…we’re taking the eggs away for a bit, just because it’s still chilly at night, but in a few weeks, we’ll leave them for the hens to start to sit, so we can have many, many bebe ducks. Fingers crossed! 🙂
Oh boy oh boy… I’m soooooo itchy to get things going! The only thing keeping me from firing up the incubators is the darn cold. *Still* under an extreme cold watch. It’s been 10 days straight. That’s just crazy. Hopefully tonight it’ll end…tomorrow? Soon. It’s gotta end soon.
But here I’m thinking about ordering my meat chicks. In fact, this week I have to buy layer feed again. With this cold, the birbs are blowing through feed like crazy. Like. Crazy. 3 25kg bags typically go 2 1/2-3 weeks. Pfft. I think we’re at a week and a half, and we’re gonna need for this weekend. So, yeah…effing cold. When I place my next feed order, I’ll order my meat chickens and 10 white turkeys. Now that I have a better grasp on raising turkeys, I figure I should be able to raise the whites. Hopefully. Looking forward to putting a whole bunch of turkey into the freezer. 🤤🤤🤤
And once the order goes in, Hubby has his orders for building. We need a whole separate brooder for turkeys. The biggest thing we did wrong last year was not keep them in the brooder with high protein feed longer. My Narragansett crew did ah-mazing staying in the brooder for almost 4 months before getting outdoor time. And I tell you, they are hardy af! This cold snap, they’ve been out doing turkey races over the snow drifts like maniacs! So hopefully they breed and lay like nuts come spring time, because we need more of them. 😉 But whites are a raise for meat, short season bird only. So they’ll spend a good long time in the brooder, then get some outdoor free ranging time away from chickens before going to Freezer Camp. And we can’t have them tying up the brooder that cycles chicken chicks through it throughout the summer…which means building work for Hubby…well, all of us, really.
Then we needs a shelter in the old pig yard for ducks. We’re changing that yard from pigs to the ducks full time. We’ll rip out the pallet fence, replace it with stucco wire, and put up some windbreak boards as well. We’re looking at making it the year round duck yard, so we have to account for the snow that blows in there. To go with the new shelter (that we’ll be able to lock ducks in at ight to protect them from coyotes) we’re planning on a few broody boxes…that can also be closed up at night to protect broody ducks and their eggs from predators. This is the design I’m thinking about:
I want to make those fronts removable though, so that once ducklings hatch, Mama Ducks can take them out and teach them all the things bebes need to be taught. But those fronts would be easy to close up to protect everyone too…
And it’s almost time to start pepper seeds. I just need a bag (or two) of potting soil to get going. Peppers take longer than tomatoes to start, so they’ll be going in the next week. Than ground cherries. If the damn things will ever germinate for me. 🙄 They are sooooo tasty, and supposed to be super prolific. But I can’t get even 1 seed to start. Stupid things. I’ll try again, because I have the seeds, but I might through them in the garden and see if they’ll volunteer if nothing happens indoors.
And that’s where we’re at. I’m itching to get busy, but it’s not quite time, and we’re not quite ready. Sooooooooon, though. Very, very soon. 🙂
Welp, that escalated quickly, didn’t it? New year, then all of a sudden it’s February. And yet, it still felt like the longest January ever. We sure enjoyed the nice days we had. Didn’t care for the crazy cold ones though…of course, I never do, but I recognize that our climate needs that cold time for the Earth to reset Herself for the coming growing season.
Last month we sold 36 dozen eggs. No joke, the hens have been blasting them out. For which I’m glad because I’m sure I gave away that many eggs too. See, we’re still in “code red lockdown” here. And no matter how I feel about that, I know that for some that means putting food on their tables is that much harder to do. Not everyone is “lucky” enough to be considered “essential” by our oh-so-benevolent govt 🤦♀️🙄 and not everyone has the ability to work from home. I am always and forever a person who will hand food off to people who need it when I can…and I try to make sure it’s done in a way that it doesn’t look or feel like charity. No one wants be treated like a charity case. But I’ve had extra lately and a few people have come to my attention about needing, so Hubby and I have been porch dropping bundles of food when we can. I don’t say any of that for accolades. I don’t want that. I just want people to be able to eat. And if they can, pay it forward when they can.
Anyways, we sold a lot of eggs. And from those sales, I shared half the money we earned with Can Praxis. Now, another thing this entire pandemic thing has done is beat the crap out of fundraising for groups that rely on donations. Can Praxis uses equine therapy to help veterans, first responders and their families manage PTSD. They rely on donations a lot. I am happy to have been able to send them a little money.
Now, once I get things settled out with my credit card… Oh yeah, some douchnozzle stole my credit card number and went on a shopping spree last year and I’ve been working on getting it straightened out…in the mean time, I have no credit card to use to purchase my seeds for the garden. Joy! But thankfully the credit card company has been easy to work with and hopefully in the next couple of weeks it’ll all be sorted… But until then, this months egg money over and above feed costs is going into *MY* food security…aka my seed order. lol Once that’s done, I have another place in mind (or 2 or 3) to share our egg money with to help others. ❤
In other news… 4 weeks.
It’s 4 weeks until we start the incubators. Whew! And then the work begins. We have to build a couple more brooders. Plus we have to build a couple broody boxes for the duck hens, so that when they decide that it’s time for bebes they can do so without being bothered and are safe. We’re looking at the end of April for meat chicks and white turkey poults. And then there’s turkey eggs to hatch as soon as they start laying… So yeah, brooders to build. Thankfully the source of free building materials is still an option and Hubby has been stopping every darn chance he gets to pick things up.
Oooooh….and these 2 big boys joined our flock just over a week ago…
Ain’t they handsome? 😍 They are Lavender Orpingtons. Big boys, to breed more size into our next generation of birds. Just like our Orpington/Wyandotte cross boys. Big roosters with good meat to bone ratio. Eventually I want to only be buying meat chicks to raise for sale and we eat chickens from our self sustaining flock. (We’re close to that now, just need a couple more breeding seasons to perfect my crosses.)
Yesterday was Imbolc. That means we’re officially half way through winter. Yay! It also means that the nags got them the next round straw bale to explode and enjoy. When that happens, they also get to run…because fat mares gotta get a little exercise and thy sure do know what the shakin’ of the tractor bucket means…prance, dance, run like mad whilst posing for The Food Lady to take pictures.
So we’re at…waiting for seeds so I can start seeds…waiting for March 1st to rev up the incubators…waiting to collect enough building materials to build brooders…waiting for spring weather to get the first walls built on the greenhouse and the herbal/medicinal garden beds built…and rhubarb! Gotta get me a rhubarb plant…but gotta wait for spring. 😂😂😂 That’s my life folks, hurry up and wait for the busy season to start, and then the busy season hits and we don’t have time to think. It’s all good though. Don’t think I’m complaining. I’m not. The only thing I’m complaining about is the impending ass numbingly cold front headed our way this weekend…oh and the govt, because I hate those bastards. 😂😂😂
The gate is now hung on the turkey/duck yard. Instead of being leaned on the posts and braced with a stick. 😂😂😂 Hey, we’re innovative here! Sometimes things need a little ingenuity before being finished. Especially when we didn’t have hinges for a week and quite honestly, I didn’t want to leave the turkeys cooped up in their coop for that long…see what I did there? Cooped up in their coop? 😂😂😂
And now that the turkeys and ducks have decided that co-habitating in the new duck house is okay, we have the brooder coop free…well, it was free. Now it’s housing 19 duck babies who aren’t quite ready to integrate with the rest of the flock. And Mama Ripple didn’t give 2 duck shits about seeing her ducklings again. 😂😂😂 She’s already flirting and dancing for Drake so they can get to workin’ on the next clutch.
Next thing to get done is to run cords for the heat lamps. I ordered new ones from Princess Auto (one of my favorite stores ever!) so that we can heat the 3 coops (ducks/turkeys, ducklings, and chicken coop) when the temperatures drop. Plus have an extra for the brooder come spring…because y’all just know once March 1st hits, the incubators get fired up and we start this hatching/growing thing all over again. Here’s hoping we don’t have to replace the outdoor plugs. It’s one of those things that’s been on “The List” but has yet to get done…and Hubby is not a fan of electrical work, and trust me, a licensed electrician is *not* in this Farm Girl’s budget right now! So we’re hoping the plugs don’t keep popping their breakers. Fingers crossed.
Oh! And my light colored turkey boy has been figuring out his dance moves. 😂😂😂 He keeps doing his mating dance for the ducks hens, not the turkey hens tho…I think he likes his girls short, fat and weird looking. lol But that he’s figuring out his moves now means he’ll be ready once the hens are receptive, and that’s a good thing. So fingers crossed for many, many fertilized turkey eggs for hatching! 😍😍😍
Today’s next task is cleaning the kitchen so I can rinse the pork bellies that have been brining so that I can fire up the smoker tomorrow and have bacon…and see about hanging a tree stand for Hubby to hunt out of tomorrow and Wednesday. Since all the Remembrance Day ceremonies are cancelled (#fuckcovid) he might as well go out and see about putting some red meat in the freezer.
The ducks are well. They’re now in the same yard as the turkeys and the 2 species seem to be getting along pretty darn good. *knock on wood* The other day when I sat down to take pictues of the turkeys, our drake (whom I’ve simply been calling Drake) took exception to my being there…
He was hissing and wagging his tail and side eying me the whole time. 😂😂😂
The girls, however, weren’t terribly worried. They were more interested in seeing if I had some food for them…
The 2 hens we bought in the spring have blue eyes…it’s kinda cool. And it makes it easier for me to know who they are. The whites look so similar.
Remember back in August I bought those 14 ducks off the local buy and sell page? Well, 6 went to freezer camp. I have 3 more drakes to go, and we have 4 lovely young hens to add to the flock. (and yes, if you math that out, we’re short one…we lost a bebe in the beginning 😥 ) 2 whites…because I guess I needed more white ducks to get confused by…a black and white pied…
And a chocolate pied…
Now don’t yell at me if I have those colour names wrong. I *think* that’s what the colours are called, but I’m very open to my being wrong. We’re not a breed for colour Farm, so I haven’t researched it beyond the simple basics. 🙂
That gives us 10 hens to 1 Drake. Plus the 18 ducklings and Cricket.
Now little Mr Cricket…he gets to stay on as a breeding drake. It’s become obvious that Cricket is male. And, we have 4 unrelated hens, with goodness knows how many hens who are half siblings in the brooder with him. The standard seems to be 5 hens/drake. So, even with just the 10 we have now, having a 2nd boy to work come spring is needed. By the time spring rolls around, Mr Cricket will be quite interested in young hens… And to be fair, he is a favorite of The Kid’s. He’s become her pet, and I try not to chop the heads off of pets. 😂😂😂 But, like every other animal here, he’ll have a job. Only horses get to be pretty and eat money. 😉
Welp, I finally managed to get out to the turkey yard with my camera. Hubby and The Kid got the fence pulled and we now *have* a turkey yard! Those poor birds were so confused the first time we left the door to their coop open. And then again when Hubby shoveled out the mass of poo and straw. 😂😂😂 He was stealing their good stuff!! But they’ve had a few days of freedom outside now and they’re starting to get it. So the other day I went out with Voldemort and just sat down in the yard…in a spot they hadn’t shit yet…lemme tell ya, turkeys can shit a lot. Everywhere. Lots of shit.
But I found a spot and had a seat, giving them a chance to settle down and try to figure out what the hell I was…
They spent a lot of time just staring at me, completely confused. 😂😂😂 Um, turkeys are confused a lot. And a bit sketchy/skittish. Oh but they’re fun! They sing and hoot and call to each other and they’re like gangly teenagers who don’t have complete control of their bodies yet.
And I am 100% convinced that turkeys were the inspiration for the Skeksies.
Tell me that bird doesn’t look like a Skeksie! Of course he does! In case you’re wondering what the hell I’m going on about… Skeksies
In a few months, we should see the hens begin to lay eggs…probably end of Feb., beginning of March…and then we’ll see the boys dance their mating dance…and then! Then I’ll be grabbing eggs to put into the incubator, because more turkeys is a good thing. 😉 Hell, if I can order some broad breasted whites (commercial birds) to raise with a round of these guys, hopefully we’ll be flush with turkeys for next year! Fingers crossed. 🙂