Growing the Food Forest

A while back I got it into my head that I needed to try propagating the grape vine.
Right around the time I spotted clusters of grapes growing on her.
Y’see, this vine came from a friend’s place, where they decided that they no longer wanted it, and I was looking for a good cold hardy grape to add to our food forest.
So when she asked if I wanted it, I said “absolutely!!”
Then it took a bit to get the vine here, and it’s been 3 years (this is her 3rd summer in our garden) and this year she took off like crazy.
So I cut a short piece, made some smaller pieces, used some rooting hormone and started some cuttings.
4 have taken and have massive roots.
2 softwood, 2 hard wood.
This fall when she gets pruned, I’ll start a whole bunch more.
Because growing food is always a good thing.
🙂

The other day tho…
My brain said “Hey!! The grapes are expanding, why not try the black currants?”
So I did:

I’ll just start with the 2 cuttings (right now, after fall leaf drop I may cut a few more) and see how it goes.

Also…
Since we cleaned out the muscovy hens mass of sat upon but only 4 hatched eggs, they’ve begun laying again.
And I know the eggs are fertile.
Muscovy drakes are whores.
😂😂😂
We’re getting 10 or so eggs a day.
And normally, at this time of year, we’d sell them for people who like eating duck eggs, or feed them back to the hens. I personally don’t care for muscovy eggs, I find they have a fishy taste to them, no matter what we’re feeding.
So, I thought I should put a bunch in the incubator.
Why?
Well, chicken and turkey eggs are easy as pie to hatch in an incubator.
I’ve never had a successful duckling hatch.
So, with eggs that are extras, this is the perfect time for me to see if I can get them to hatch.
Then, once I get that perfected, in spring I can run an incubator load while the hens get ready to sit their nests. And I can take whatever pekin eggs we have to incubate too…
That way, in the fall, when we go to cull back to our breeding flock, (the theory is) we should have ample freezer birds.
So that’s where we’re at.
Always planning on growing more food as much as we can.
Some days, it’s all my poor little brain can think about.
😂😂😂
Oh and since I last posted, I turned 50 (on Sunday) and the Farm turned 9 (on Tuesday)
So, woohoo for that.

New Arrivals

Yesterday we had 60 new little arrivals.
That’s a lot of newbies here…
Well, I guess it’s not, compared to the incubator years.
It’s a lot for *this year*

First we have 25 white turkeys, 10 Lavender Orpingtons, and 10 Jersey Giants.
The turkeys are, obviously, summer vacationers only.
These are fast growing and fast into the freezer birds.
Still, tons of fun to raise. 🙂

The chicken chicks are to help rebuild the flock and the breeding program with dual purpose birds.
Both breeds lay well, and the roosters get to be a good size for the freezer.
Orps average 10-12lbs, Giants 12-15lbs.
Slower growing than meat chickens, better foragers, hardier birds over all.
That’s what I want in our program.
So this year we’ll see how many roosters we get of each and decide how many of them to keep for next year’s incubations.

Next up:

5 white geese.
Geese are so dramatic.
😂😂😂
Drama all the time with them…but they are funny as hell, and tasty too.
I’m hoping for a breeding pair out of the 5 of them.

And…

10 pekin ducks.
They’re a meat breed, but do lay well too.
Once they’re fully grown, we’ll see how the muscovies take to them…muscovies are elitists assholes.
😂😂😂
They tend to not like other birds (tho ours do have their “pet” turkey T.D.) and will shun them (at best) or try to kill them (at worst).
So all the pekins may be Freezer Campers, or we may keep a trio of them for breeding.
We’ll see how that goes.
🙂

Geeses

Things have happened this weekend…
Birb things.

Last week my incubator of 41 Narragansett turkey eggs hatched out 32 poults.
2 passed away shortly after hatching.
That left me with 30.

I have to add…out of the 41 eggs, only 2 weren’t fertile.
But, we did have some strange temperature issues on one of the crazy hot days we had last week, so there were a couple of poults who died in the shell.
It’s was sad, because they were almost fully developed, but incubating can be a delicate balance of heat/humidity and fluctuations can cause deaths in the shell.

Plus, there were 10 already in the brooder from the new incubator…then we lost one because it drowned in the water.
Have I mentioned that turkeys can be stupid?
Yeah, this little one fell asleep in the bottom of the waterer and died.
So we’ve added some cleanly scrubbed rocks…which adds the bonus of giving the poults something to peck at, so they find the water easier.

So I now have 34 poults, with 6 belonging to a friend.
How does 39 become 34?

Well, I’m glad you asked!

39 poults becomes 34 poults when a friend says “hey, I’m going to be in your general area picking up some geeses bebes, do you want some?” and I says “um, yes!” and then she gets here and says “hey, want to trade poults for geeses?” and I once more say “um, yes!”

😂😂😂

And that’s how 39 poults became 34 poults and I now have 5 geeses bebes.
😂😂😂

And what exactly do we plan on doing with 5 geeses bebes?
Welp, we’ll see who’s a boy and who’s a girl (because I have no idea how to tell, if one can tell, at this age) and see who pairs off (because I am told geeses do the 1 mate thing) and then let them make the geeses eine kliene bang bang musick so we have more bebe geeses next year…and the extra geeses will become Freezer Campers.

Until that time though, they get to get acquainted with their space and then they’ll get to wander the yard with the rest of the poultry…because even though no one is supposed to be free rangin’, they don’t listen to me and just do whatever they want…
😂😂😂

Kinda like the turkey and cornish chickens yesterday…

But y’know…
Happy food always tastes better. 😉
And it sure does make them happy to be running all over the place eating bugs and grass and picking through the horse piles. Who am I to deny my food the right to be happy?

On Food Security, Good Friends and Turkey Eggs

It’s been blazing hot here the past few days, with gale force winds.
So I’m a little slow.
We’re all a little slow.
The heat weighs you down, and then the wind strips all moisture out of your body almost instantly.
Lots and lots of liquids going in the past few days, I tell ya!

Working on getting seeds into the garden before the rains come.
Always chasing the waterers for the animals, making sure they have enough to drink.
And trying to stay on top of the “what’s for dinner?” moments.
I’m tired.
😂😂😂

But, it’s a good tired and I’m not complaining.
Much.

Last week I had chance to connect with a friend who’s working on her own family’s food security.
This is something that comes up a lot around here (in case no one’s noticed) because I’m pretty darn passionate about good foods, well raised foods, and not being beholden to any govt for getting access to that food.
So in this conversation, we talked about the space they have for growing food animals, compared to ours.
We’re not doing pigs this year.
Might be a year or 2 more before we consider it.
She and her partner have access to low cost culls, and have space to grow them out.
We have many, many, many birds.
😂😂😂
So. Many. Fucking. Birds.
And so we thought that bartering pork for birds was something to consider.
As always, I worry about making sure that all parties are happy.
I never, ever want to be in a barter situation where someone feels shorted…especially not with a friend.
But I think if we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement (and I do believe we will 🙂 )then I love the idea of bartering.
It builds community (and Lady Bless us all, we so need that in society right now!) and it gets more well raised foods into more homes. Done well it’s an excellent thing!

And then she says to me…I have 12 heritage sweetgrass turkey hatching eggs…are you interested?
Um…
YES!

Last night another friend dropped them off here…and her and I discussed how her daughter’s new home had so many rhubarb plants that could become wine to share amongst us all.
Yup, bartering for food/wine is a damn fine thing.
😉

Tonight the eggs will go into the incubator.
And whatever comes out in after 28 days will be split between two Farms.
I, uh, might be a little bit addicted to hatching turkeys.
😂😂😂

Oooooh, and just because it’s amazing, and finally happened:

That my friends, is our very first laid right here on Midnight Calico Farm Narragansett turkey egg!!
And yup, it’s going into the incubator with the sweetgrass turkey eggs.
🙂
My excitement was (still is) over the moon last night.

We were putting birds to bed, and when I got to the turkey yard, my Kid says “I have a present for you” and puts this egg in my hand…
Oh there is no mistaking turkey eggs.
None whatsoever.
They are unique (among my birds at least) and so very beautiful.
I may have cooed over it like Gollum cooed over the One Ring.
😉
It should be fertile…I’ve been watching the boys do their jobs for the past few weeks…hell, when we were working on the plastic around the garden, I was cheering Oscar on as he made the rounds with every hen in the yard.
😂😂😂
Horny teenager turkey.
If these birds start producing a lot of eggs, I’ll be looking at a 3rd incubator just for turkeys…and another brooder.
But y’know, we’ll eat really well.

And in duck news…
There are many, many duck eggs lying around.
Many of ’em.
And I’m willing to bet even more we cannot see.
Muscovies are notorious for hiding eggs and coming out just about a month later with a whole bunch of littles behind them.
Based on the chirruping and berating we’re getting from some hens, there’s quite a few of our 21 girls thinking about hatching eggs.
So we’ll cross our fingers to start seeing bebes in the next couple of months.
For the record, I’ve tried incubating duck eggs and have had no luck at all.
Followed all the directions and still had quitters.
So I’d rather let the hens to the job.
Means 1 less incubator I have to buy, because muscovies are a 35(ish) day hatch, where chickens are 21 and turkeys are 28. 35 days is a long time to tie up an incubator for no return. 😦

But if we have an abundance of hens hatching, that will give us some ducks to barter as well.
And steak birds is good eating.
😉


Monday

Busy weekend as usual.
We now have 3 brooders!
Hubby and The Kid have been on a building spree.
Thank goodness, because the meat chickens are going to need out of the coop in the Little Red Shed very, very soon!
Those nuggets grow fast. 😉

And then this happened too:

This time it was easier to link to the Instagram post…
That’s our 1st Hatchers, in their new little yard. 🙂

Just a couple of garden stakes pushed into the ground through some stucco wire and bam! Birbs can be outside.
Scary, scary, scary at first.
But we put their food out in the yard and that was enough to convince them to hop out and check out the great outdoors.
So their well on their way to becoming free rangin’ assholes.
Just the way we like our chickens…even if I do bitch about ’em.
😂😂😂

And now some outside world stuff…

Our province has gone batshit crazy.
Again.
Locked down again, and they just closed schools.
I guess they’re not done destroying the small businesses who’ve had to close, yet again.
And their not done destroying the mental health of kids yet.
And screw the folks who can’t afford to stop working to be home with their kids that are too young to be left alone, because we’re “not allowed” to have people in our homes or on our property.
Listen, I get that the virus is real, but saying that one life lost is too many while destroying thousands more is flat out ridiculous.
But, I have my suspicion that the school closure is an attempt to force the shot on those who might not want their kids to get it.
I really, truly hope that I am wrong on that…really, really, really hope so…however, the timing and the fact that the school closure was announced on Mother’s Day, 2 days *after* the businesses being shut down was announced…it’s too coincidental in my books.
Especially since the time frame where the kids should be heading back after this shut down just happens to coincide with the time frame where our province is opening up eligibility to everyone 12 and over.
So, I suspect the medical discrimination is just over that hill there…and I suspect like good little citizens, the bulk of my province will happily medically discriminate against anyone who doesn’t force it into their child, lack of studies be damned.
It’s funny as fuck to me that suddenly alllllll the people who’ve chanted the mantra “my body my choice” for years are now saying the shot should be mandatory.
Huh.
Pretty sure if I had no say in your medical decisions previous to the year the world lost it’s mind, you have no say in my medical decision now. Or ever.

And isn’t it interesting how that’s the big topic now, when you run into someone?
“Oh hey, get your shot yet”
The looks I get when I say “Nope.”
😂😂😂

And before anyone starts with the screeching about me being an “anti-vaxer”, just don’t…
2 things I live by:
1. my body my choice
2. informed consent
That’s how it’s supposed to be.
We own our medical decisions for our meat suits, plain and simple.
If that bothers anyone, well…🤷‍♀️

And…
Oh and this is a big one…
Do not even dare to try the whole “if you don’t get the shot, you shouldn’t have access to health care” bullshit.
Canadian health care is not supposed to discriminate against people for their life choices and who gets cared for.
So really, take that shit and fuck off. Way the fuck off.
Besides, Hubby and I have paid into that health care system for our entire working lives, and that health care has paid for other people’s choices that we may not have agreed with, and at no fucking time have we tried to have them stripped of access to care, just because we didn’t like their life choices.

So fucking remember that, when you say people who “don’t act right” should lose access to health care, ‘kay?
Everyone pays in here, everyone has access to care.
Whether you like “how they act” or not.
Simple as fuck.

And that’s enough of that.
Because I’m trying to keep that shit out of this blog, but sometimes, the frustrations ooze out…and damn if this ain’t my place, so I’ll write what I want.

But to finish it out, I’ll share a picture of Ruby from the weekend…

Being all pretty and crabby af because I woke her from her nap.
😂😂😂
I was *trying* to take pictures of her half buried in the straw pile, snoring her fool head off…but when she heard me open the gate she got up, hoping for treats.
Because that’s what a Fat Girl needs.
Treats.
😂😂😂
Have a great week folks, and don’t let the bastards grind ya down.

Transplanting Seedlings

I’m quite excited that my peppers are at the point of needing to be transplanted.
This is exciting to me because, even though there is snow on the ground outside, the garden will soon enough be filled and growing.
The problem is always those seedling trays.
What on Earth is with them blowing holes in the corners all. the. time?
I get it, they’re not the sturdiest of plastics, but why doesn’t someone make a sturdy, hard plastic version?
I have said I would happily pay more so that I don’t have to re-buy them every season or two.

Yesterday, in our nearest small town, Hubby went into the hardware store to see if they had seedling trays.
Well, they did, but for some strange and ridiculous reason, they had drainage holes in the bottom.
Um, does the manufacturer (in this case Jiffy) even understand the usage of the trays?
*sigh*

But, The Kid and Hubby came up with a fix, so that I can get the peppers transplanted:

Yeah, that’s a drawer.
And that’s gonna work out juuuuuuuust fine!
But this is what manufacturers need to do.
Make us trays that are rugged and sturdy like this drawer.
We serious gardeners would *happily* pay more for them.
And let’s be honest, not having to ditch those flimsy ones every year or two and replace them would be a helluva lot better for the environment.

In other news, tomorrow is day 25 for the turkey eggs.
Tomorrow we take the turners out of the incubator, raise the humidity and wait…anxiously, for the turkey chirp, chirp, chirps to begin!
Still haven’t seen any eggs from the girls in the turkey yard, but that’s okay.
Last night I had to carry 3 of them back to the yard because they thought they should escape and go to bed with the chickens.
🤦‍♀️🙄
Um, no my poor silly birbs.
What I did notice is that they have the tell tale signs on the backs of their heads that Oscar and/or Dingus are doing their job(s). So hopefully soon, but even if not until next year, that’s okay too.
Good breeding stock is worth the time and investment, and these guys are quality birbs.