Last Day of February

Ever have one of those months where all you can think is “holy shit, I made it!”??
Yep, that was February for me.
😂😂😂

But today is the last day, I’m almost ready to fire up the grow lights…
Oh.
Wait.
So I’m sending Hubby out on a mission tomorrow. Because my stand for growing seedlings isn’t big enough.
And I always end up with some in the library window, with a hanging lamp that doesn’t have enough light to keep the plants from getting long and leggy before planting.
Thanks to the google, I discovered the Home Depot here in Canada has a led light fixture that is a grow light.
Probably designed for the folks who want to grow pot (because that’s legal here now) but hey…it works for us gardening folks.
So I’m sending Hubby out to buy me one tomorrow after work.
And then, if that works, I’ll send him back for another 2 of them.
And we’ll build one of the shelving units we have in boxes in the basement and hook up lights for 3 shelves and then I’ll have 2 plant stands and 4 shelves to grow seedlings!
Not that I’m excited about growing seedling for the garden or anything…
Oh no.
Not me.
Not even a little bit.
😂😂😂
Okay…maybe a little bit.

We’re a week into the first round of incubation.
I haven’t candled the eggs yet.
Maybe tonight, if I remember.
Not sure how many are going to be good…I had to collect for 6 days before I had enough, which is longer than I like to collect eggs for.
After that polar vortex ripped through here, the hens were withholding eggs like crazy.
Down from 60ish a day to 8…if I was lucky.
They’re on the upswing now, which is good because in 2 weeks Ima need aaaaallllll the greens and blues they’ll give me.
I always collect as many of those as I can for hatching, then fill in with the browns.
Those genetic egg pictures tell me my big roos from brown eggs crossed on blue and green egg layers should give me more green eggs…
I love me some colour in my egg basket.
😉

This is Miracle the Rooster…and nice side eye from that black hen there…🙄

See? Big rooster.
This guy’s name is Miracle.
He came to us a year ago on NYE with 2 other boys and a group of hens.
A friend needed to rehome her birds and asked if I was interested.
Yup!
Now, this guy and his 2 brothers were originally called Larry, Darryl and Darryl (google it if you don’t get the reference 😉 ), but this summer and fall we had no end of trouble with that damn coyote.
Bastard got the other Darryl and we thought got this Darryl too…
Until the evening (because that stinking coyote was brazen enough to be picking my birds off in the middle of the damn day!) and we were bbq’ing and my Kid goes dashing off the deck yelling “rooster!!”
And I’m like “wtf?!?” as she runs to the pasture fence, climbs over, then climbs back with this rooster in her arms…well, he was short some tail feathers and he was definitely in shock, but we couldn’t find any other injuries on him.
So we banded his leg and re-named him Miracle because it’s a damn miracle he got away from the coyote!
Lemme tell ya, he’s a lot more careful how far he lets his hens go and he sure does make sure they listen and scuttle their feathered butts back to safety the *second* he says so…
He’s a lucky boy to still be alive and he knows it!
Hopefully he teaches the other roosters to be just as diligent with their ladies.
(though thankfully we haven’t seen Wile E since the last time we fired shots at his rear end…)

So we’re ready for March.
Looks like it’s coming in like a Lamb, and I’ll be expecting it to go out like one too.
Either way, we’re ready for spring, for building, for gardening, for the growing season overall.

And maybe a nap or two too. 😉

Duckling Update

This mild winter we’ve been having has been very good for our ducklings.
Very good indeed!
Instead of being stuck inside on crazy cold days, they’ve been venturing our into the yard, and they’re now mixing at will with the adult ducks and the turkeys.

Today, we double checked leg bands on everyone.
The last thing we want is anyone to have issues because their bad is too tight, so we try to check every week or two. Since it was so nice out, we caught up all the birbs, chickens too, who have bands and checked them, replacing as needed.

And then, as I was collecting eggs, I discovered an unlikely chicken hen pop out a green egg.
I was not expecting this girl to be a green layer. She’s a rather unassuming gold colored hen. But I saw the egg come out of her and it was green, so…so I caught her up and banded her.
That way I know who she is come time to separate out Chubby, Chonky and a rooster…then I can grab her and put her in with them (plus at least 1 more hen) so that the cornish girls aren’t the only objects of the roo’s affections.
Oh, and while banding her, I discovered she has feathered legs/feet.
Interesting.

But back to the ducks…

We have 2 mature drakes, and 11 mature hens.
Of the 14 ducklings we bought in the summer, 6 turned out to be girls.
All except 1 boy went to Freezer Camp.
Not too shabby.
Then we had 2 clutches hatch successfully, with 19 between them, and our lone duckling from a 3rd hatch where 2 died and 1 survived. That is The Kid’s duck, Cricket.
We did lose 1 duckling for unknown reasons, so we are at 19 duck babies.
Well, now they aren’t quite so baby-ish ad we’re beginning to be able to tell who’s a boy and who’s a girl.
If we’re 100% right, we have 12 hens hatched out and 7 drakes.
Of the drakes, only Cricket will stay.
So all told, we’ll have 23 hens and 3 drakes once culling is done.

Gotta say, that’s a darn fine late season hatch, to get so many hens!
That gives each drake roughly 7 hens each for springtime duckling making.
So now we have our fingers crossed for a bunch of the girls setting on nests…and I’m starting to look seriously for crates, bins, barrels…anything I can make places where the girls can hide out in their yard to sit a nest.
My hope is for many ducklings to grow over the summer.
Hopefully we’ll get to see the prolific hatching nature of muscovy hens this year?
Damn, I hope so!!

Cricket from a month ago…he’s considerably bigger now and looks like he’s going to be a blue pied in colour. Hard to know 100% ’til after his first full molt.

Down Sizing

This morning while I did the chores, I marveled at how fast things were being done lately. Then I realized it’s because were down to 3 coops for the birds, in just 2 yards.

The turkeys and adult ducks in one coop together, the young ducks who aren’t ready to be in the big duck coop in another, and the main chicken coop.
I must admit, it’s nice to have everyone together, making things go faster.
Especially since we’re haying the nags now.

At one point in the summer, we had 8 coops (temporary and permanent) going at once.
That, my friends, is a lot of birds.
😂😂😂

For next year, though, I need a couple more bachelor coops.
This year we had too many roosters boys in one place a few times, and that can lead to fighting.
That was usually in the days leading up to butcher day, because the last thing you want to be doing on butcher day is chasing roos…so we separate them a few days (up to a week) before.
I’d rather have a couple smaller coops/yards that they can have more space and freedom with a yard so that they’re happier.
Being raised for food doesn’t make them any less deserving of excellent care.

So that’s another task added on for winter/spring.
With hopes of building a bigger/second layer coop as well.

One thing we learned with this year is that people are more interested in local foods.
I’m telling you, I cannot keep up on egg orders.
I used to post 15-20 dozen for sale on a Monday and be sold out by Thursday, or sometimes have left overs…
Now?
Backlogged.
I don’t even have a chance to post eggs for sale.
People are messaging me to get on a wait list.
So…my plan?
More laying hens.
😂😂😂

I can have up to 300 laying hens to be able to still sell farmgate.
Once I have 301, I have to be a part of the local egg monopoly.
Thanks, but I’m not interested in that…so I’ll be hovering around the 280 mark for hens…eventually.
Once we have coops built for them.

So for now, we’ve downsized.
But soon enough, we’ll be upsizing.
🙂

Ducklings Round 2

Back in the spring I had bought a trio of muscovies…a replacment drake (because Donald was infertile) and a couple of hens…
I paid a fair bit for them, but spring is prime time for adding new blood to flocks, so people charge more.
That’s more than fair…if I wasn’t happy with the price, I wouldn’t have paid it…just in case anyone thinks I’m complaining about the seller. I absolutely am not. I know spring is premium price time and I needed a drake. 🙂

Well after a few slow starts and 2 eggs not hatching in the incubator, our muscovy ducks are delivering.
Last week we found Ripple’s 8 ducklings hatched.
Today we have another 9 or 10 more…

Don’t you be lookin’ too close at my babies, human!!

Oh, I’m lookin’!
And I’m wondering if those 2 chicken eggs are gonna hatch or if they’ve gone rotten.
🤢
🤮

All those fluff butts!
😍

I’ve got 2 more hens sitting on nests that should be hatching in the next week or so.
I hadn’t planned on over wintering quite so many ducks, but when the babies happen the babies happen.
Good thing we have a duck coop just about ready to move them all in to!

Sharing with Comedy Plus for Awww Mondays
🙂

Editing to add…
The final count for this hens hatch is…11!!
Eleven baby ducklings.
Pretty darn awesome.
🙂

It Finally Happened

This has been a couple years in the making.
We’ve been waiting what feels like for. ever.
We’ve been wanting this to happen for so long.
And finally…

This is Ripple…one of our muscovy hens.
Isn’t she a beautiful girl?
Look beside her…

There’s a scrap of something bright, bright yellow there…
Do you see it?

Do you see now?
🙂

Ripple has hatched out ducklings!!

It’s late in the season, yes.
But after the eggs I stuck into the incubator died (but were well formed) we knew our new drake was working…before winter though, I needed confirmation that spring would give us ducklings. Otherwise, I’d be looking for a new drake. Again.
So when Ripple decided she was sitting a nest at the end of July, we let her.

There’s 2!

There’s a couple more eggs under her that might hatch yet…

There’s 3!
You can just see the hint of a 3rd duckling under her.
🙂

Good job, Mama Ripple!

If that doesn’t make getting the duck house in place for winter that much more urgent, I don’t know what does!!
😂😂😂

Rainy Saturday

Today was supposed to be meat chicken processing day.
Last night however, we had a raging down pour.
No complaints here though.
It was a hot, hot week and it was getting dry and crispy again.
So we definitely needed the rain.
But it messed with getting meat chickens done.
Ah well, gives ’em another week to enjoy life as a chicken. 😉

We’ve moved chicks around again.
We had 40 chickens in that orange tool racking for a couple months now.
Now they’re big enough to join the general population of birds.
Since we took out another dozen roosters last week, we have more room in the meat chicken house and the layer coop for them to move into.
So it’s time to get them free rangin’ like the rest of the birds.

Next up today, now that the drizzle has stopped, is to get the ducklings moved.
They’re doing well and growing like crazy in their space, but we need to rotate them around the grass…so they can enjoy fresh grass and their poop can fertilize the ground. 😉
Rotational grazing for ducks.
Gotta love it!

Then yesterday we picked up some more wood for the greenhouse build.

We have a pile of windows now, a bunch of 2×6’s to get started and I have to dig the 4×4’s we have out of the lumber pile.
The walls will be built on pressure treated 4×4’s on gravel.
Then inside I’ll build raised beds on either side, which will work as seed starting areas in spring and growing spaces through summer and fall.
Lots of work coming up to get it done for use next spring.
But we’re working on it when we’re not butchering.
Then once our big field is harvested, we’re starting the garden expansion permabeds.
lol
I’ll sleep in winter.
Hopefully.
😂😂😂

Oh, I finally took some pictures of the turkeys!
Just pics with my phone.
Haven’t had much energy to use Voldemort for a while now, so he’s been sitting…but I figured at 2 1/2 weeks old, y’all should get to see what a bunch of cuties these poults are!
😍

13 adorable little faces.
😍

That little white one!!
😍

3 from above

Ain’t they something?
😍

So now we need to think about how we’re gonna over winter ’em.
At least half of them, anyways.
Because I want to have a breeding flock, but it won’t be all of them.
Some will be freezer campers, but we won’t know who until much later in the year.
For now, all they have to do is eat, sing, poop and grow.
😍

Other than poultry wrangling and butchering, I’ve been weeding the garden.
Surprise, right?
lol

I have to say, with all the weeds, I’m missing kinda having pigs to feed them to.
But the Cornish meat birds are eating a lot of them.
😂😂😂
Their little hooting sounds they make while running over as fast as their little legs will bring them is hilarious.
It’s once of the best parts of my day, seeing those happy little chicken faces come barreling at me for thistles and garden weeds.

If we can build another pen next year, we’ll probably do pigs again.
By that time we’ll be out of pork and need to grow a few out.

I’m still hopeful for sheep though.
Definitely need something more for meat and I really want a dairy animal.
If I can find a dairy ewe or 2 (or 3 or 4) that can fit into our Farm, I’ll be happy.
I don’t care about wool.
There’s more than enough people shearing and selling wool in the province, so I’m not interested in getting into that.
Obviously if I had a breed that needed shearing it would be done for the health of the animals, but fiber is so low down on my list of wants it really doesn’t matter.
Milk and meat are my 2 top priorities.
After that, it’s horns for Hubby.
😂😂😂

That’s next year though…
Right now I’ve enough on my plate without adding another animal to take care of for winter.

August 1st

Welp, this summer is going too fast…and too slow at the same time.
August 1st already.

We have blossoms all over the yellow beans, so there should be a decent bean crop.
Hubby picked up a new hose and spray nozzle for me, so I can now run the hose aaaaaallllll the way from the hydrant to the garden….they’re at opposite ends of the Farm yard.
*sigh*
We have a hose hookup on the house, but for some reason, the outdoor hose hookup is *after* the water softener.
Yes, because I want soft water to use on the plants.
🙄
So I don’t use that water line…can’t anyways, because we had to cap it off after it burst one winter (shut off valves, people!!! Use frickin’ shut off valves!!) when the lines froze…
Either way, no real loss.
And I have a new hose, with a sprinkler.
🙂

My almost-dead-might-as-well-plant-the-survivor tomato plants have blossoms on them.
There’s 2 ropreco paste tomatoes, who are supposed to be prairie hardy.
Clearly, these 2 are, because they went a month with nothing but rain water and in full blazing sun before I decided to plant them proper….and now, after roughly 2 weeks, they’re blooming.
Heh.
Tough as hell, survive through damn near anything…that’s tomatoes I’m gonna save seeds from (yep, they are an heirloom variety) because *that’s* the kinda toughness I need from a tomato plant in my garden. 😉

I have zucchini fruiting, and I’ve gotten a decent amount of Lamb’s Quarters put up for winter too.
Gotta love them edible weeds! 😉

Tomorrow is lock down day for the turkey eggs.
We take out the turners, do a quick candle to see how things are developing (fingers crossed for a good hatch…*please* let it be a good hatch!!), adjust temp./humidity and then close ’em up and wait for chirping.
Later this weekend we’ll play switch around with housing on some of the later hatches that haven’t been fully integrated with the main flock.
But first, today is Rooster Rehab day.
It’s time for some of the boys to full fill their destiny as sausage.
Which will make *a lot* of the hens happy.
There’s all too many roos running around out there right now…but we knew that wold happen with hatching out so many chicks.
But that’s a part of our self sufficiency.
Extra roos feed the humans and felines for winter.

Check out the Farm Instagram for pics.
Still haven’t had Voldemort out for fresh images, just my phone camera.
But you can see pics there.

Have a great (long) weekend folks!
🙂

How is it Only Tuesday??

It’s been a long week.
It feels like it oughta be Friday already.
But, it’s only Tuesday.
😂😂😂

The past few days have been aaaallllll about weeding.
Weeding the garden, weeding the flower bed in front of the house, weeding the hay fields (aka as my front lawn…😂😂😂).
Weeding.
Weeding.
Weeding.

But at least the chickens are loving the thistles I’m pulling out.
Oh yeah, that’s the bulk of the weeding.
Pulling thistles as tall as me in some places.
So.
Much.
Fun.
NOT

Has to be done though, because I’d like to avoid using chemicals to kill the thistles and they are trying really hard to take over.
So I gotta pull ’em out.

As for the front of the house…
We *had* 4 trees there.
I don’t know why people think planting a tree right next to the foundation of their house is a good idea.
It’s not.
Really, it’s not.
Well, we had 3 planted by the previous owner and a pop up out of nowhere lilac that appeared last year.
Now?
Gone.
The front of the house looks so clean and open now!
Not some jungle mess of weeds and half dead trees.
So another project of having to regrade beside the house, and graveled over to keep asshole chickens from dust bathing there, has been created.
It was hilarious the first morning we let the birds out and a handful of hens ran out to go hide under a tree to lay their egg…and there were no trees there!! 😂😂😂
If chickens could look stunned, these ones did.
Maybe now it’ll be easier to find the eggs those feathered assholes are hiding.

And this weekend we start sending roosters to Freezer Camp.
It’s time.
The first hatchers are getting big and getting to the point that they’re pissing off the hens.
So, off with their heads.
We’re also relocating the ducks to the pig yard.
No pigs in there, and only a 2 sided shelter, but a couple of the duck hens have been sneaking out of the poultry yard and hiding in the long grass overnight, so we’ll give the 6 of them an entire yard of tall plants to noodle around and play in.
They’ll be much happier…at least until the Fall when they have to go back into the main coop.
Turkey eggs are doing well, I suppose.
I mean, I haven’t candled to check them, so I’m assuming they’re developing and rolling right along.
Sunday they go into lockdown, and by he 6th I should have poults.
Fingers crossed!!

And then we have to figure out how we’re gonna winter any we want to keep.
But y’know…we’ll figure something out.
😂😂😂

‘Til then, Ima just gonna be weeding.

Just a Quick Update…

Still cutting hay.
Waaaaaay behind on it, but trying *hard* to catch up.

Still weeding the garden.
So far beans look awesome, same with beets.
Many of the strawberries we planted are doing well, some were lost to *$?@ing grasshoppers. 😡
Carrots are coming up great and same with parsnips.

Yesterday I noticed the tomatoes and peppers I tossed outside (with the plan to plant them) were still struggling…
I thought they’d all died, but today I managed to save 3 tomatoes (2 ropreco paste, 1 brandywine) and about a dozen pepper plants.
I figured, at this point, I have nothing to lose if I clear a spot and stick ’em in the ground.
I had already written them off as dead anyways.

Later when it cools down a bit, I’ll pull back the tarp a bit in another spot and stuff in some onions.
Because I have ’em and if I don’t plant ’em they’ll be compost.
If I plant ’em and they grow, that’s awesome.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

We’ve been collecting used windows.
And selling many eggs….that the chickens haven’t been hiding.
They’re hiding many of ’em.
Because assholes.
What’s my point?
Used windows + egg money for lumber = greenhouse build this Fall!!!

Oh. The. Excitement!!

😍 😍 😍

This is the inspiration…image stolen from somewhere out there on the interwebs…

We were talking about a hoop house.
And a gift was sent that we were going to use to build it so that we had it ready to go come spring time.
Once we started pricing materials though, we looked at each other and said “huh. for a temp. structure we can spend just about the same amount as we would spend on lumber to build the framing for used windows…and if we build a permanent greenhouse, it’s gonna last longer.”

So the money that was earmarked for the hoop house got stuffed back into the bank until we could double it with egg sales and now, this weekend, Hubby goes to get the lumber.
SQUEEEEEE!

I have wanted a greenhouse for-fucking-ever.
This will give us a place to start seeds out of the house, and a place to keep the peppers and delicate, longer season tomatoes to grow.
It’s gonna be a metric fuck tonne of work, but it’s gonna be soooo worth it.
I’m hoping between this and the garden expansion project that I can begin offering fresh, organically grown veggies with the free ranged eggs.

If I thought I was tired before…
😂😂😂
Wait for the expansion of growing foods.
😂😂😂

Hatching Egg Update

There was much chirping this week.
Again.
Another 44 chicks have joined the flock(s) out of the incubators.
That puts my hatching total this year at 217 chicks.
Whew!!
That’s a lot of chicks!
Though, it’s only half of what I was hoping for.
But, with the amount of roosters, and with the older layers slowing, we’ll have ample chicken in the freezer this winter.

There are a few eggs still in the small incubator.
It’s only day 22, and some might still hatch.
I’ll give them until Saturday to show signs, and if nothing, they’ll go to the compost bin.

With new chicks going into the brooder, that meant the chicks in there (now fully feathered and growing like crazy!) had to move out.
They moved into the tool rack Hubby brought home a while back.
As it turns out, it has a top section and a bottom section.
The 40 chicks who had to move previous to the 33 who moved today have the top section.
They’ve been there for almost 4 weeks and have space to go another couple of weeks for sure.
By that time, we’ll be looking at the 1st hatchers to separate roosters for Freezer Camp.
Once they’re processed, we can move the Top Half 40 to the poultry yard.
Whew.
It gets exhausting trying to remember who is how old and where they need to go next!
That’s why I take notes, to keep track of everything.
Except feed.
I got lost and distracted on feed this year.
*sigh*
It happens.

Ooooh, and the new thing…

So I told you all how we tried turkeys.
Hatchery turkeys did not work out.
Every one died.
BUT
I took the time to talk to a lot of folks who have heritage turkeys, did a LOT of learning, found where I made too many mistakes with the hatchery ones, and have vowed to not make those mistakes again.
Live, learn, do better when I know better.
And that’s where I’m at.

Yesterday, I picked up these…

Narragansett turkey eggs

Those went into the big incubator today.
The person I got them from is meticulous about her breeding program and has an excellent fertility rate.
So, fingers crossed that all goes well and we have (in 28 days) a bunch of turkey poults.
I’ll be looking at keeping a fair few as breeding stock, and then others will go to freezer camp.
Means more building to do, but it also puts us another step towards self sufficiency.
Plus, these guys are pretty af…

I am hopeful (and prayer filled…because I really want a flock of turkeys).

And Now I’m off to go do some weeding in the garden.
I may have fallen down on getting the tomatoes and peppers planted, but I have beans, carrots, beets, parsnips, some zucchini plants and some other random stuff growing in the weeds.
Time to work on that.
🙂

Enjoy your day, folks!