Hot and Sweaty

July.
Amirite??
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

So it’s hot.
Hotter than normal.
But one of the side effects of hotter than normal, is that we’ve had some good downpours.
YAY.
We sure did need them!

So this week I’m back to cutting hay.
Not ’til Friday though, because we have a couple more days of rain in the forecast for mid-week.
My small hay “fields” look good though…I’ll know more once I get cutting, but I think we’ll do okay with my work this year.
*fingers crossed*
I still have 2 bales put up from last year for the Merry Mares, and I made sure our Hay Guy knew with our last delivery last year…”Let’s just get this out of the way now…yup, I’m gonna need hay next year.”
LOL!!
But there’ll be no horse shopping for me this year…I don’t anticipate any extra hay over what I typically order, because so far the year hasn’t been great.
I had been hoping to bring my herd back up to 4, even if it was only a mini, but that’s just not in the cards for this year.
Oh, there’s plenty of equines out there to be had, but I ain’t taking on another if I can’t feed ’em.
That’s just how it is.

As for the rest of the Farm…

Garden has been loving the rain.
Weeds are huge.
In among the weeds my beans are starting to flower.
I found some strawberry plants on sale at the local grocery store.
$1.94 each and they were huge already!

Holy cheap berries to add to the garden!!

I seriously couldn’t pass them up, it was too good of a deal.
So since my asshole chickens πŸ˜‰ got to the others, I snapped up 4 of them. Planted them ASAP, mulched heavily, and so far, so good.
They’re inside the garden fence, so chickens can’t get to ’em.

Added a new apple tree to the Farm, in honour of a good friend who lost her last battle with cancer over the winter.
She was an avid gardener, so a tree just seemed right.
❀
Also bought 2 black currant bushes on sale…
We love the end of season clear out on fruit trees/bushes, I tell ya!!
πŸ™‚

My honeyberry cuttings!!
We. Have. Roots!

Loooooook!!!
Roots!

Okay, so only 2 cuttings of the 15 I took ended up rooting…but that’s okay! 2 is better than none, and they’re good strong rootings.
Since berries are done for the season, I popped out and cut another 1/2 dozen. We’ll see if I can get any of those to take.
Any that do will spend the winter inside being babied, until the spring thaw, when they’ll go out to expand the Food Forest.

And finally, we’re into the home stretch with the meat chickens.
Whew!
In the next couple of weeks we’ll be looking at sending them to Freezer Camp. That’ll take 43 beaks off the feed bill.
And it will add a whole lot of meals to the freezer/shelves for winter.
Then in the Fall all we’ll have for poultry is whatever roosters I hatched out.

So, in short…
Life is busy.
Hot.
Sweaty.
But we’re getting things done, and it all looks like things are going according to plan (may it stay so…).
πŸ™‚

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2nd Hatching

We’re at 15 moved to the brooder so far…

15 chirp chirps

Under the mass that was chirp chirps, there was 1 that was trying to pop out of the shell. We didn’t see them until we had the 15 out…so we closed up the incubator right quick to let the little one finish.

Now it sounds like a couple more needed more time, because there’s more than one voice in there chirp chirp chirping.

So, as it stands, with 2 hatches, my incubator has paid for itself…math here:

Trying to decide last night, if financially, the investment in the incubator was a good idea. Leaving the whole idea of one step closer to self sustainability out of it (because *of course* the investment was worth it on that front)…because math…and because there are so many numbers that swirl around in that brain of mine that I had to throw a few extras into the mix…
(These are the things that I think about after a handful or so of beers…πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚)

So last year I paid $4/ per Easter Egger chick.
Pick up was, literally, down the road from us.
I bought 18 of them, 13 were roosters.
Kept the 5 hens and 1 rooster.
Total of $72 invested in the birds.
(not including feeds in this, because I can’t remember what I spent on starter last year for those chicks…and it’s not in my notes anywhere. )

This year, same woman was selling her EEs for $4.50/chick.
I bought an incubator (not because I has a problem with her prices, but because I kept missing her sales posts)
With the incubator, 2 gallon sized waterers, a pkg of Poul-Vite and shipping, the total was $137 and change.
So, using last year’s prices, to come out even chick wise on my investment, I would need to hatch out 34.25 chicks. πŸ˜‚
We’ll just round down to 34 chicks.
But, if we use this year’s pricing (which I’m inclined to do, because it’s what I would have happily paid, because her chicks are quality birds), I would need to hatch out 30.444~ chicks…so 30 of the fuzzy fluff-balls.

So far, in my first hatch, I had 18 chicks.
All are growing well, feathering out nicely and getting ready to start spending a bit of time outside.
All I need, chick wise, to hatch this time to make my investment worth the money is 12 chicks.
12 chicks and the incubator has paid for itself.
Then everything hatched out after that is gravy…or fajitas…or, and this is the front running idea, sausage.
Mmmmmmm, chicken sausage πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹

We’ll probably open up the incubator tonight or tomorrow morning and see who else hatched.
And then, we’re done hatching eggs for the year.
We just have to let everyone grow and see who stays on as egg makers. πŸ™‚

Gosh It’s Hot

Hotter than balls…
Hotter than a nun’s…
Hotter than Hell…

Yup, it’s hot.
And I’m trying not to complain, because the alternative is cold…

Colder than a Witch’s…

So yeah, the heat is okay right now.
But some rain would be nice.
We’re not as dry as last year (so far) but we’re not where we should be. Once again, the garden is getting minimal watering.
The weeds are doing great! πŸ˜€
In among them, though, the rows of food crops aren’t doing too bad.
Beans are up and seem okay, same with carrots.
Damn barn swallows have been pulling out my beet seedlings.
Jerks.
Tomatoes…well, let’s just say I’m hoping for a tremendous sale on them again this year like we got last year. I’m not sure I’ll have much of anything. :/

Of the orchard…

2 apple trees have fruit on them…one has more than 20 apples!
So excited for those!
We planted that tree the year we moved here and this is the first year we’ve got fruit on it.
The honeyberries are done fruiting for the year.
I ate several big handfuls of them.
Nom!! πŸ™‚
And then I took cuttings in an attempt to propagate some more.
Fingers crossed they take!

Currants didn’t produce berries this year (even though they flowered) but are growing like crazy. They’re only 2 years old, so growth over berries is fine with me.

Pears seem to be decorations, because even though they keep growing, I’ve never seen flowers on them.
*shrug*
Fine. Trees are good no matter what, and they’re already established, so I’m not changing them out.

Chickens killed the strawberries I was gifted.
Jerks. 😑

Speaking of chickens…

Meaties are growing like crazy.
Another couple of weeks will see them going to freezer camp.
They’ll be 9 weeks on Tuesday.
We feed them soaked barley/wheat chop, which is not as high of protein as grower or layer feed.
Means they grow a bit slower, but, they’re also more active and they don’t drop dead of heart attacks, like CornishX are known to do.
So instead of 8 weeks, our birds grow for 10-12 weeks.
I prefer health over fast growing, personally.

Oh, and we bought a chicken plucker.
πŸ˜€ <— my face knowing I don’t have to hand pluck this year!!
It was listed for sale in a local Agriculture group and a friend gave me the heads up it was there…with a bit of back and forth, the seller and I made a deal (she was flippin’ amazing to deal with!!) and we got another super useful tool for the Farm.
So. Happy.

Eggies are growing too…learning free ranging bad habits from the current egg laying assholes. πŸ™„
Why I ever thought I’d be able to train the new ones to stay where they belong, I don’t know.
Wishful thinking?
Or plain stupidity.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Ah well.
Free ranging is fine during the day, and they’re learning to come back to the coop at night, so hey…happy chickens make happy food.
And we like eggs from happy chickens.

The 18 from my first round with the incubator are growing soooo well! Almost ready to move them into the poultry yard, after we integrate the meaties and eggies with the older birds.
And next weekend the next round is due to hatch…

All the eggs my broody duck were sitting on turned out to be duds.
So no ducklings…but we’re going to have to cull one of the hens.
She’s a mean little bitch who beats up on one of the nicer hens.
In fact she beat on her so bad one night in the coop, we’ve had to separate the injured one for a few weeks.Β  We did learn the injured one is great with chicks…so she gets to stay (the other 3 hens are fine with her) and the mean one will become burger.
There’s no room on my Farm for mean animals…and it’s certainly not a trait I want passed on when breeding resumes.

Then there’s the pigs…

Wow.
So they are 13 weeks old tomorrow and easily approaching 100lbs.
They have more than doubled in size since we got them…and they have until November to grow!
I’m really enjoying these ones.
Being Berkshire crosses they are much better suited to hot outdoor life. They love to play in the hose, and lay in the water pan, and flop belly down in the wallow…they’re friendly and curious and quite fun, actually.
I know by the time we’re getting close to freezer camp, I’ll be ready for them to go, but for now, I’m enjoying them.

Like today…
Hot as balls.
So I turn the hose on to fill the mud wallow.
George comes out of the shelter to flop into it.
Ginger and Sophie come to the trough to eat the fresh food I had just given them and George just looked too hot to bother with food…so for fun, I tossed the 3 chicken eggs I had with me into the wallow beside him.

Well…

You would have thought I’d thrown the bestest toy ever!

He spent the next 10 minutes rooting in the water/mud for these eggs, squealing happily and wagging his tail.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
This is why I love raising my own meat animals.
They should have the chance to have that kind of fun/excitement in their lives before becoming food.
❀

As for us humans…

The Kid graduated grade 12…

And Of course she had to pose with her Sable for pictures…Sable just wanted the cookie Kid was holding.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Hubby got injured at work, ending up with a couple stitches in his hand. Dork. πŸ™„

And me?
I’m hip deep in cutting hay.
‘Tis that time of year, and it’s looking like I should get a decent cut.
And if we get some rain, I may even get a good 2nd cut.
Fingers crossed.
πŸ™‚

Chickies!!

I originally set 24 eggs in the incubator…

(phone pic)

At day 7 I candled and found 3 not fertilized, which left me with 21 eggs.
And then the pipping started on day 20 (I forgot to candle again at day 14).
It took everything I had to *not* open the incubator until day 22…

On the morning of day 22 we prepped the brooder, got a bin ready to transfer from incubator to brooder, and opened her up…

18!!

Of my 21 eggs, 18 hatched.
So we whisked them off to the brooder and I closed up the incubator for another 24 hours…in case those eggs were just slower to hatch.
Turns out they weren’t fertile.
So they went to the piggies.
πŸ™‚

And now, here some sneak peek pics of the ones who hatched:

Look at them!!
πŸ™‚

Interesting mix…
Our rooster’s sire is (I’m told) pure Ameraucana, hen an easter egger…so him with our easter eggers and our Browns and Columbian Rock Xs made some interesting mixes.
Whether or not I get more coloured egg layers from any of the hens (if there are any lol) we’ll just have to see.

Little cheepers…

What a funny little spot on this one’s head!
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So now we feed ’em and watch ’em grow.
Hens will stay on as layers, roosters will go on to become fajitas.

And round 2 of eggs, 24 again, is in the incubator.
After that hatch, I’ll put it away ’til spring.
I’d love to keep hatching, but we have to be sure whatever pullets we get are big enough come the cool/cold season so they can be in the coop with the older hens safely.

So after this round, I won’t set any more eggs until mid-March.
But I’ll be on the look out for other egg varieties…turkeys, ducks, guineas…just because I can.
πŸ™‚

There’ll be more pics in a bit…we’re busy getting ready for The Kid’s grad this weekend. Once that’s done, and we’ve recovered, The Kid and I have a specific photoshoot in mind for these balls of feathery cuteness.

Day 18 in the Incubator

We’re in lock down now…
Day 18.
Fingers crossed for a good hatching!

(phone pic)

24 went in.
At day 7 candling, 3 that were not fertilized came out (and went to the pigs).
I forgot to candle at day 14, and it wasn’t dark enough this morning when I removed the turner to candle, so…just hoping most, if not all hatch.
Truthfully, I’m hoping for *any* to hatch.
I’m ready for peepers!
(as ready as I can be)
πŸ™‚

Oughta have pics this weekend of what hatches…and what doesn’t.

A Little Catching Up

Beans are in.
Over 500 seeds this year…what can I say? We like green beans. πŸ˜‰
Straw bales are planted.
I put my peppers in one, with zucchini seeds.
The rest are pumpkin, melons, squashes, sunflowers and cucumbers.
Tomatoes start going in today.
Fingers crossed for a huge bounty. πŸ™‚

Pig babies are growing very well!
I sure like these guys…we only had to lock them up at night for a few days, then left them loose in their yard.
They happily put themselves to bed when they’re tired, and haven’t even once tried to push the fencing.
YAY!!
At 9 weeks now, they’ve grow a good 10 or more pounds since we got them, and are now starting to enjoy the morning slop bucket.
Y’know, the left over bits of coffee and table scraps that get put together for the morning meal.
And, then there’s the things I’ve saved over the winter for them…cream that’s gone bad, pastries that didn’t get eaten, left overs that were right on the edge of going blech but weren’t good for the poultry (we don’t feed human food to the poultry in the winter *unless* they are outside…on those too cold days, they only get the layer feed because it makes less mess in the coop.), small amounts of ice cream that were left too long in the freezer…
I am hopeful for explosive growth on these guys!

(phone pic)

Hubby made a couple of feeders from an old pressure tank…just cut it in half, plop it down and add food.
Works very well!!
And it was free. We love free stuff!
Check out BokBok helping herself to the pig food…I love that these pigs are so laid back that they’re fine with sharing food with the chickens.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Meat chicks have been evicted from the brooder.
They’re now outside in the meat chicken house (with the few eggies I ordered) with more room and time outdoors.
They’re growing like crazy too.
5 weeks old today and I think we’re on track for Freezer Camp by mid July.
I’m easing them off the grower feed onto soaked/fermented grains.
We found that with the fermented grains they grew a bit slower but we didn’t have problems with them dropping dead of heart attacks…that’s always a possibility with CornishX chickens.
But we get them outside asap, make them have to move around for food and make sure they’re acting like chickens.
Not eating and pooping lumps.
It cuts down on early death by a lot.

My incubator is 11 days into it’s first running.
I candled the eggs on the 2nd.
Took out 3 that were obviously unfertilized (holy did the pig babies love those eggs in their grains!!) leaving me 21 still cooking.
Some were super obvious that there was chick development going on, others like the dark green shelled eggs were harder to tell…but the air pocket looked right, so I left them in.
I’ll candle them again on the weekend, just to see how things are going.
Then, by the 14th/15th, we should be seeing chicks hatching.
Fingers crossed.

Next project on the go…

We have sooooo many dandelions.
I refuse to spray them.
This year I’m making mead. And wine.
So this past weekend, I picked a pail of flowers, and then spent a couple hours taking all the petals off the green parts.
I have to do one more pail to have enough for a gallon batch of mead. That’s all I can do right now because I only have enough honey to do a gallon…

And then I pick as many dandies as I can to make as big of a batch of wine as I can.
The mead will be named after Odhinn.
The wine will be my Palomino Princess white.
I sure hope they both turn out tasty.
πŸ™‚

And finally, even though I haven’t had a chance to use my camera (other than a quick couple of shots of the pigs when they came home) for a few weeks, I have a pretty of Ruby to share, because there needs to be at least 1 horse picture in this post.

She is such a funny girl…what a way to sleep!