Blessed Lammas

Mid summer already.
Holy smokes, this year…after the slowest passing winter, this summer seems to be flying by us.

Things are kicking into high gear here.
Meat chickens are graduating to freezer camp…the first 10 went last weekend.
The rest go this weekend.
The freezers are being cleaned out of last year’s meats and turned into sausages.
Yeah, I’m really on this kick of making sausages.
The roosters from last year were so flavorful, but not good eating on the bbq. They were just too tough.
We bbq a lot.
But cooked low and slow, they were amazing!
So I figure I’ll take what’s left, grind with some bacon and seasonings and make sausage.
I also have some of last year’s pork left that I’ll do the same with.

We found some bags of chopped green tomatoes in there too.
So the next round of green tomato wine starts this weekend.
As well as a grapefruit one…we got a fantastic deal on MinuteMaid frozen concentrates. I wanna say it was 3 for $1.
Since my lime wine turned out pretty decent (still have to bottle that one) I figured I’d try grapefruit.
And then, I have my dandelion petals ready to start a small batch of Odhinn’s Mead.

I’m still fighting weeds in the garden.
I think I will forever and ever.
That’s just the nature of gardening.
But, my beans are in full flower, the tomatoes are too, and I don’t have any clue what’s in there for carrots.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weeds sheltered the teeny seeds enough to let them get a good hold on growing, but I’m not really expecting anything.

Ducks have resumed laying eggs.


Which is good because the last nest the one hen sat on was all rotten eggs.
We’ve seen the drake doing his job, so I’m collecting a dozen eggs and firing up the incubator.
I didn’t want to run it again ’til spring, but this is an opportunity I can’t pass up.
I’ll be watching out for a sale on 2nd one too…that way in spring, once the ducks pick up laying after their winter break, I can run batches of chickens and ducks at the same time.

Haying is moving right along.
I’m putting up as much as I can, while I can.
I had the opportunity to purchase a 2nd scythe. One with a longer blade. Oh how nice it glides through the grasses!!
It’s given me the chance to cut an extra area that I couldn’t do with the shorter ditch blade…so I’m a happy girl!

Plus, the longer blade makes 2nd cut here go so much more smooth!
The short blade isn’t meant for those later in the season softer grasses, so it tends to rip instead of cut. No matter how sharp it is.
I do have to fix the tip of the new-to-me one, but aside from that, I’m even making the snath (which is just a hair too short for me) work with a change of posture.

So that’s where we’re at here.
Working, working working.
Prepping for winter.
Thinking about plans for next year already.
I feel like this is all stuff I’ve shared before, but really, day to day right now is a lot of “more of the same” with only small changes.
Feel free to ask anything though, if there’s something y’all are curious about.

Ruby enjoying a nap in the sunshine…

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Around the Farm

We’ve had sunshine.
We’ve had heat.
We’ve had rain.

Weeds in the garden are fighting me…hard.
But in some places I’m winning.
πŸ™‚

I have a whole bunch of grass down for hay.
Actually, should be baling it today.
Then I have more to cut along our property.
This year…whew, every little bit is going to count this year.
So even though I’m tired af, I’m still going out and cutting, raking, turning, drying, baling…
Oy, and the horsefly bites!!
Yikes!
Bruises upon bruises from the rotten little s.o.b’s.

But, there’s some good stuff too…

There’s beets in them thar weeds!!
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

beans are turning into flowering bushy masses…

look at all the apples!
*swoons*
So. Happy.

It’s supposed to be one of those Russian Giant sunflowers.
Not very tall, but I’m hopeful for a large head of seeds.

Flowers on the strawberries…

And there’s the pigs…

naptime

Oh George…

George has happily chewed the side out of the shelter so that, on super hot days, he can stay inside in the shade and still munch away on the thistles and other garden weeds I toss to the pigs.
Whatever works for him, so long as he’s growing.
πŸ˜‰

alfalfa blossoms

dragonfly

There are so many dragonflies here this year!
I love seeing them flitting around.
And they make the poor chickens lose their minds, as the birds try to chase them to catch and eat.
Every now and then you’ll see a bird run by with one in her beak, but the dragonflies tend to be too fast for them.

the thistles are blooming…

Thinking I’m going to dry some for tea this year (thistle is good for liver health and is supposed to ease asthma attacks/symptoms)…but right now I’m mostly cutting them for the pigs and the poultry.
They all love thistles to eat.

And finally, because I haven’t shared a picture of her in quite some time…

Daphne

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™‚

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!
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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.