Around the Farm

It’s that busy time of year where just about everything has to be done all at the same time…
Garden needs weeding and mulching.
Hay needs cutting, raking, baling.
Animals need yards, moving, shifting, getting outdoors.
And the regular day-to-day stuff still has to happen too…laundry, dishes, cleaning the house…
Give it a couple of months and we’ll be adding canning, and butchering to the list of things that need doing.
I, uh, mighta started this Farming thing a bit late in life…I’m tired.
But it’s a good tired, so not much complaining is happening.
😉

So how’s things going?

Duck and goose babies now have regular outdoor time.
That makes keeping their coop cleaner much easier.
All the food and water is out in their yard, and most of the pooping happens out there too.
😂😂😂
They’re growing like mad, eating weeds from the garden, produce from Loop, and fermented grains.
The ducks are starting to quack like normal ducks, which confuses the hell out of the muscovies.
Genetically, muscovies are similar to geese, so they don’t speak the same “duck” as mallard derived ducks.
Instead of quacking (noisily, I might add!!) muscovies trill (girls) and hiss (boys). They are much, much, much quieter than pekins!

Garden is all planted.
Except for the few stragglers I keep seeming to bring home from the local greenhouse.
Yesterday another 14 tomato plants arrived.
😂😂😂
1 is specifically for in the house, and at least 1 other will come in too…but most will be fit into spare small spots in the garden.
As has been explained to me, there is no such thing as “no more room to plant”, much like there is no such thing as “no more room for books”.
It is true.

Hubby and The Kid got the fencing up around my Ruth Stout garden yesterday.
While I pulled thistles out of the haying area.
I don’t mind feeding the mares weeds…in fact, many weeds are good for them (some aren’t of course, but those are removed), like thistles are (they’re excellent for liver health), but too many in a bale of hay won’t get eaten…and a certain Palomino Princess has been known to eat dried thistles and get stickers stuck inside her mouth/lips.
That’s not a good time to deal with, especially since her 1 fault is having humans doing anything near/in her mouth.
I no longer give her worming pastes…not after having been lifted 3 feet in the air by her halter as she reared to get away from the tube of funky goo.
It’s just not a good time and it ain’t worth fighting with her.
When she gets her teeth floated, she’s drugged before the vet sticks his hand in…
Trust me, it’s the best for everyone.
No one wins when fighting 1500lbs.
Anyways…
I pulled a massive load of thistles out and fed them to all the birds.
Ducks and geese just plain love any food we give them, so they got the bulk of them.

The Kid fashioned a yard for the first brooder of turkey babies and they got a chance to get outside for the first time ever yesterday.

It was a bit scary at first, but then they came out and discovered their pile of thistles.
Then the singing and cooing started.
And then the dust bathing…
They were doing great until Daphne ran by and well, apparently, dogs are terrifying to little turkeys who’ve never seen such a thing before!
😂😂😂

There’s also the foraging harvests to do…
Stinging nettles, pineapple weed, lamb’s quarters, yarrow (which I discovered we’ve had for a while, but didn’t realize, so I’ve planted it for next year…this year I can harvest the wild…), thistles for teas (because liver health 😉 ), some prairie sage, and soon, chokecherries and hawthorn berries, and saskatoons…
Some will be dried for teas, much will be made into tinctures, some will become salves/balms.

Then, I planted some poblano seeds for indoor peppers.
Some Inkspot micro dwarf tomatoes for indoor tomatoes.
And I took a small tendril off the grape vine so I can try propagating it.
And so on, and so forth…

Have a great week folks.
🙂

Connection With Our Food

One of the things that I love about our life is the intimate connection we have with our food.
We grow not only vegetables in very alive soil, but we grow our meat animals as well.
Or, most of them.
I remind myself that I “ordered” our winter pig this past weekend…a pig who will live outdoors, rooting in dirt, playing in bales of straw, eating every little thing that tickles their little porcine fancy
(except humans 😉 ) until the day we arrive with our trailer to bring them home and send them off to see The Great Piggie in the Sky.
But, we *have* raised our own pigs, so I do feel that connection with these ones we “order” as well, simply because I *know* exactly how they were raised.
Hell, I can go visit our piggie anytime we want to, if we want to.
They’re happy pigs…and anyone who knows me, knows that I strive at all times for happy food.
Why?
Because Happy Food Tastes Better.
That is, after all, our Farm’s motto!
Happy Food Tastes Better.
Happy food is also *better* for you. 😉

So what brought this post on was a Instagram post by SlowDownFarmstead.
I love a lot of her posts because she talks *a lot* about our primal connection to food and feeding ourselves.
It resonates, big time.
To me at least…
So I give you this link to the post that inspired this one, and hope you have the time (make the time) to read it…and I hope you take the time (make the time) to connect with your food in that primal way that feeds and nourishes not only our bodies but our souls, spirit and very essence.

It’s Fall Y’all

September 22nd, and so far, so good…we have not had a frost.
We better not for a bit yet.
I figure after hitting me with frost on the first day of Summer, Mother Nature owes me a long, warm Fall for things to ripen on the plants, before finishing the garden with a killing frost.
I’m hopeful.
I know better than try to demand *anything* of Mother Nature.
😂😂😂
Plus, we’re still working on building.
Building takes all 3 of us, so that only happens on the weekends.
Which is why The Kid and I are in full on butchering mode from here on ’til all the birbs going Camping are done.

Today it’s the geese.
I’m so done with their shitty geese attitudes.
Hey, they’re fun!
They have all sorts of hilarious idiosyncrasies, but…they’re dicks.
And I’m sure that’s because we didn’t handle them enough from the time we got them.
If we decide to get a small flock of them next year, that will change.
But for this year, they’re going Camping.
Still the best 5 turkeys I ever spent.

Then this weekend, we’re doing roosters and the white turkeys.
It’s time for those turkeys, it really is.
They are big, big, birbs.
And getting them into the freezer will cut down the feed bill immensely.

Of the other turkeys, the 5 of 16 who survived out initial issues in the spring (unbeknownst to us, mold in the brooder) 4 were hens, 1 was a tom.
Well, I can’t keep 3 toms.
Oscar and Dingus are my 2 breeding boys.
Jake was odd boy out.
So he was on the block…until we got our water line fixed and I promised a breeding pair to Joe the plumber.
On Sunday, Jake went to his new home, with a hen from his age group, at Joe’s place.
I think Jake will be very happy there.
After that, I have the littles that hatched out in June to finish growing out.
6 for a friend, then I’ll choose my extra keeper hens, and the rest go camping.
Unless Joe wants another hen to go with his current pair.
But we’ll see what happens between now and the time they get to size enough to run with the bigs.
Once the whites are done, that will happen sooner…those darn whites are just too big to let the littles run with the whole flock…they don’t understand their strength or bulk.
All in all, I don’t think the whites are cost effective (I’ll know better when I have an idea on carcass size), but they’re a lot of fun.
I mean, turkeys are just fun to raise.
I would raise them, the whites, again.
Next time though, I will give them more scraps and veggies as options, earlier.
These guys were freaked out by watermelon.
But they love, love, love hard boiled eggs.
But scrambled eggs are scary.
And bread/bakery stuff?
It’s gonna kill them. Jump up off the ground and murder them.
I call them my stupid children for a reason…
lol
So yeah, having them less picky feed wise, especially with Loop as feed supplement, would be soooo nice.
But I can work on that next year. If we order whites.

Once all is said and done, everyone who needs to be in the freezer is there, then I’ll sit down and run the numbers, figure out what was worth doing, what needs changing and, if we have a white turkey or two for sale, what the cost will be…
I *know* it’s not going to be anywhere like grocery store prices.
Ain’t no $0.99/lb birds here. Ever.
But, well raised food shouldn’t *be* that cheap.
The only way we get food that cheap is by cutting corners, or by raisers and growers losing money.
Well, neither is a good answer to me.
Sorry.
Food is life, and we need to be willing to pay what it’s worth.
And yes, I do understand that some cannot afford my prices.
At some point though, I think we need to shift our perspective on what whole, good nutrition is and what it’s worth.
My turkeys might go for what some feel is an unreasonable price, but if you make the most of the entire bird, you’re coming out ahead.
A friend mentioned, last time she was here, she got 50 meals for herself and her husband from a 25lb turkey. 50!!
That’s what we have to return to.
Slow food cooking, hands on preparations, no more convenience (or make our own convenience) foods…
Real.
Whole.
Well raised.
Humanely dispatched.
Beak to tail feather consumption.
Not just the choice parts and toss the rest.
That’s not healthy. It’s not sustainable. It’s not ethical.

I’ve said it many times, and I’ll keep saying it…
I will shout it from the rooftops!

Happy Food Tastes Better

And I guaran-damn-tee my food animals are happy right up until their one bad day.
The way it should be.

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?

Outside!!

Today is a milestone for the meat chickens and turkeys.
It’s their first day outside!

You can use the arrows on the sides of the pictures ^^^ to scroll through…
It’s scary and exciting and whooooo….they’ve been waiting so long (to them) and they really, really, really wanted out…until they could get out and then it was too terrifying…that’s where the food comes in.
😂😂😂

Once they knew the food was outside, they were much braver.
So for now they get the small yards, but as time goes on, they’ll get more and more space, until the turkeys end up in the turkey yard and the meat chickens just run with everyone else.
Until they go to Freezer Camp.

I tell ya, the real panic is going to be this afternoon, when I clean their coops out for them.
😂😂😂
**THAT’S** going to be terrifying.
😂😂😂

First Week of March

And we’re marching right along.
Heh.
See what I did there?
😂😂😂
I promise, I’m funnier in person.
Or, maybe I’m not.
🤷‍♀️

So I’ve booked 2 dozen turkey hatching eggs for the end of the month.
Why?
Uh….why not?
So I have 2 toms and 5 hens.
The hens should start laying soon…and if their shrieking songs are any indication, it will. be. soon.
But the lady I got the eggs from last year moved far, far away and chances to get eggs from her again this year dwindled…until we found out that she’s still finishing up the relocation of her family (to an amazing property in the bush, surrounded by wildlife, huge areas to forage and so much space for growing her own food…I’m teensy bit jealous. 😉 ) so is back in the area once a week for a few more months.
So I jumped at the chance for a couple dozen eggs, since she had added new genetics last year, meaning I could hatch and run the new hatches with my current turkeys.
Hopefully, by the time we get eggs from her, my hens will have popped a few eggs out so I can add those to the incubator too.
I know the boys are dancing up a storm and there has been some turkey lovin’ goin’ on.
😂😂😂

We’re half way through the incubation for the first 80 chicken eggs.
So. Exciting!
I get excited about them hatching until the work of taking care of the chicks comes along.
😂😂😂
I’m a bit like a little kid like that.
But this is what we have to do to make sure there’s food in the freezer for next winter.
I mean holy crap, it’s not even spring and I’m already planning for winter!

And like every other year, thoughts move towards “what else can I grow”.
We have enjoyed having pigs for the summer…well, until these last ones.
Those effers were scary. 😳
And I’m not one to be scared by animals.
But watching them hunt chickens, stalk the cats and a time or two stalk Hubby, well…as much as I want pigs again, they have to be manageable for The Kid and I.
So we’re thinking potbellies.
Smaller, easier to handle, and if we get a boar and 2 sows, a renewable resource.
😉
We’ll try them out and see how they work for us.

LemonChicken enjoys the droppings off the hay bales.

The weather is warming up and the chickens are wandering around the yard again.
No matter how hard I try, those dang birds just won’t stay in their yard!
But they have fun picking through the bits of hay that fall all winter when we feed the Merry Mares.
And they find any voles that might be coming out into the sunshine.
Plus they steal cat food.
Because chickens is jerks.

the mares mooning me under the full moon…

The northern lights have been crazy active!
I keep trying to go out a photograph them, but I really don’t think my heart is in it.
When trying to take pictures, I don’t get to enjoy them as much.
I’ve just been enjoying my glass of whiskey and watching the lights.
In a world gone mad, it’s been a pleasure to enjoy the magic of their dancing with a fine sipping whiskey in hand and cats in my lap…
Because I can’t sit anywhere without cats in my lap. I ain’t complaining about that though…I do love a feline lap warmer. 😉
Last night it was Max, Trouble, Xena and Coal all vying for who got to sit in my lap.
4 cats don’t fit so well, no matter how hard they try.
😂😂😂

My big chubby monkey…
Daphne…because she’s hard to photograph, and y’all don’t get to see enough of her. 🙂

It’s That Time Of Year

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:

Image shamelessly stolen from Google.

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.
🙂

Ruby says this cold snap is equine excrement. I agree.

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.
🙂

Bacon Seeds

The bacon seeds have arrived!!

Just about 6 weeks later than last year.
But, life happens.
We were getting close to drought conditions right around when we normally would get piglets, and I was concerned about bringing more livestock onto the Farm without being 100% sure I could keep everyone watered and healthy on the well.

So, we waited.
Then we got amazing rainfalls (that took out my garden a time or two) and now we’ve had good, regular rains (which have been helping my garden…and the weeds in it!).
That eased my worries about water.
Then, we just had to wait for schedules to align to go pick these guys up…that was yesterday.

Behold, our cute little bacon makers!

Bums!

We brought home 6 little baconettes to grow for as long as possible before winter hits.
🙂