Snow

Woke up to a snow capped rainbow yesterday…

Everyone was in good spirits though.
No one was shivering (Yay!!) and everyone was hungry. No surprise there. 😉

“If I close my eyes tight, and wish reaaaaaaalllll hard, when I open them, it’ll be Spring, right Mama?!?!??”

*sigh*
Sorry, Bella.
We’re in for winter now.
Just hoping it’s an easy one on all us Old Ladies.
😉

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November

Here we are, first week into November.
Hard to believe we’re there already.
I feel like getting ready to hibernate for Winter, and yet, there’s still so much to do.
Like, right now, I’m writing, but I should be out cleaning and re-bedding the chicken coop. That’s my plan for this afternoon.

But, for now, a chance to catch y’all up on things here…

We’ve finally finished putting the meat chickens in the freezer.
In running the numbers, it was definitely worth doing more chickens, than last years small amount. It was, however, too late in the season to start 50 chicks. Next year, we’ll start them earlier.
I plan on getting eggie chicks, so doing meaties early won’t be a big deal…we’ll do them together.

Since there’s only 3 of us to do the butchering, we can’t do all 50 in one day.
I wish!!
But no, we’re not fast enough for that. So we broke it up into 3 different days. Which, truth be told, worked out well, because we took out all the biggest ones in the first round, which gave the others a chance to grow. Second round, same thing.

Of the 50 chicks we ordered, we lost 3.
1 to a piling incident.
1 to the mean nasty bitch hennys.
1 to a heart attack…which is an unfortunate possibility with Cornish Cross birds.

Turns out we had gotten 51 from the hatchery, because my finished numbers show we processed 48 birds.
9 stayed whole as roasters.
39 were parted into breast, legs/thighs and wings, with backs and necks saved for soup fixings.
Feet were fed to the dog…who ate soooooo many feet. And feathers. I swear, that dog is going to sprout wings, she ate so many feathers. Weirdo.
Livers were saved for friends who enjoy them.
Hearts, gizzards and trim bits were bagged and frozen for winter cat food.

In total, we got 141.1 pounds of meat for our freezer.
Factoring in initial cost of chicks and feed, not including time, infrastructure or butchering supplies, our winter chickens cost us $1.24/pound.
So, really, not too bad.

Next up, comes the pigs.
That starts this weekend.

I think the ducks will be happy to no long have the pigs as neighbours.
And, to be brutally honest, I’ll be happy to no longer have to care for pigs.
Pigs are cute and fun when they’re little.
Once they get this big (they’re around the 200-250lbs mark) they’re butts.
Oh, they have their moments, like with the straw…but man, I’m just tired.
I had thought of wintering some, some year, but I don’t think so.
By November, I’m just done.
LOL!

And then there’s this duck:

Indignant Duck is indignant…and wants me to know it!!

Y’see, we’ve run out of time to get the duck house installed before hard-core winter hits. There’s other things that have to be done before and there is only 3 of us…
So, the ducks have been bunking with the hennys in the insulated coop.
Now that the meaties are gone, we moved the other poultry in there.
Which is why I’m supposed to be cleaning it… 😉

Ducks are not happy about change.
Rain especially.
He’s been rather insistent that he shouldn’t have to sleep with “those stupid girls”. We won’t discuss that the hens have been bunking in the temp. duck house anyways. Still…he doesn’t want to be in the coop with them.
So nightly “put the birds to bed” has been even more fun, with the ducks running away and refusing to go in the coop.

And then…

Last night, Hubby picked Rain up and put him in the coop.
Oh. My. Duck.
The world was ending, Scary Guy Walking touched him, Rain was Going. To. Die. He was so traumatized.
The next morning when I let everyone out, he chased me around the poultry yard, trying to bite and peck me, quacking his fool head off…he went from playing “trauma duck” to being full on rage-y “Indignant Duck”.
Ducks are incredibly expressive.
It did not help at all that I was laughing at him.
😀

Check out my “hard keeper”…

Remember I said I was happy with Sable’s condition this year?
Just look at the picture…

Holy fat Palomino!

Yay!
Fat, sassy, and happy as can be!
Yeah, she looks pregnant in this shot. lol
But seriously, she’s doing really well, and I am so happy for it.

Basking in the Fall sunshine…

Astrid’s back to 98% health.
I’m still liniment-ing and stretching her daily, just to be sure. She’s been trotting and playing, so that’s one less worry for me.

Ghost and Gabrielle

This ^^^ is my poultry helper crew.
They’re sitting in a sandbox that was the ducks’ pool for a while, but is actually The Kid’s flowerbed that never got set up when we got out here.
Now, it’s the feline viewing gallery.
Feline cheering section?
That Ghost is so adorable…and so flippin’ fat now!
I’ve been calling him FatGhost.
I love him dearly, though. ❤

Finally, a lovely shot of our Ruby, dozing in the sunshine…

Day After the Storm

The day after a storm always reminds me how amazing life out here is.
We’ve just come through the first snow storm of the season.
This one was a little tougher than the last few years because I have an injured mare and an arthritic mare…and in stretching my injured Girl, I tweaked my back.

*sigh*

Old age is setting in.
But, even as sore as I was last night, it didn’t stop me from doing my nightly checks, making sure Astrid was snug in the shelter with her herdmates, making sure my Cookie wasn’t laying somewhere out in the storm because laying eases the aches, making sure Bella was comfy too…Ruby is my Super Horse right now and I slipped her a few mints last night and thanked her for being so.
I worry about them all in a storm, but, having 1 that I know I can put a hay pile in front of and she’ll be fine made things just wee bit less stressful.

Poultry and pigs fared just fine through the first snow of the season. I broke open a bale of straw to line the pig hut, and both the poultry coops.
Even though the pigs will be going to Freezer Camp in the coming month, they still deserve to be comfortable.
And, oh how they loved having new straw down!!
Once they figured out that they could burrow into the fluffy straw there were oinks and grunts of glee. LOL!!
It really was fun hearing them enjoy their newly bedded home.
Almost made me consider attempting wintering a pair…but not this year.
Maybe next year…

Chickens are always delighted with straw, whether it’s new bedding, or an old lump of buggy, moldy straw. It’s exciting and fun to play in, and new bedding in the coop *must* be rearranged to chicken specifications. I just don’t decorate properly, according to them. 😉

Ducks were torn between being happy and offended at my throwing straw into their house. Jazzy was hissing at me, while Rain kept trying to chew my pant leg. Finally, when I was done, I chased Rain into the shelter and he realized how nice fluffy, dry straw can be.
When we went to let them out this morning, no ducks came out with hens.
Peeking into the house, I saw 2 ducks snuggled together in deep straw, necks entwined.
Awesome! 🙂

Today my injured mare and my arthritic mare are doing just fine too.
Astrid even gave us a little trot while coming to the feeders.
It was real good to see. ❤
She’s still slower than her normal, but she’s showing great improvements from when she first hurt herself. Now, if only she’ll remember the lesson she learned here…

As for me, today I’m racking my green tomato wine to a carboy, getting ready to start a roasted pumpkin spiced wine and prepping for tomorrow’s final Peeperpocalypse. It’ll be nice to have all the chickens done and in the freezer. And then we start pigs.
Raising, and butchering, your own meat animals is incredibly rewarding.
I know their treatment, care and feed from a very young age (day old with chickens, 3 weeks with pigs) all the way up to the day they die.
It’s also exhausting.
But so very worth it, in the end.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I don’t have any new pictures to share today, so I’m going to re-use this one…just because it makes me smile…and coming through the first storm of the season is definitely a good reason to smile. 🙂

“Oh, hello there Ladies…would you like some apple slices?”

4 Years

4 years ago our story began…it was the day we first met.
I loved her the second I lay eyes on her photo.
I knew that she and I were meant to be together.
4 years ago…
I told her “I’ll be back for you. I’m bringing you Home.”

Taken the day I met her…

2 months after, she arrived.
She’s Home.
A Midnight Calico Farm lifer.

Sleepy Girl ❤

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The same day, Hubby met his Girl…

Oh, Ruby!

Such a character, his Fat Girl.
Patient, willing, always up for a scratching. 😉
A level-headed, calm Girl…
Perfect to lead our little herd.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s not Gotcha Day.
Nope.
It’s “Damn We Were Lucky to Meet Y’all” Day.
Definitely worth celebrating.
🙂

Rainy Days

Not much happening here.
We’ve been getting the entire summer’s worth of rains in the past few days. As much as we need the moisture, I need sunshine (or at least no sky water falling) to get things done.
Hopefully we’ll get a day or two this next week, because I got 49 birds ready for freezer camp, and I ain’t doing that in the house!

Taken during Friday’s monsoon…

Nothing like napping in the rain, butts to the wind. 😉

If I was any other kinda woman, I’d take today’s rainy day as a sign to pamper myself.
Heh. But no.
Between chores outside (because animals don’t stop needing just because of weather) and working on cleaning the house (haven’t done that in a while, because outdoor work…) I have a 5 gallon pail of ripe tomatoes my brother brought me from his garden.
He had a bumper crop and wasn’t sure what to do with them all…I said, bring ’em to me. I will most definitely use them!

So, I’ll be making some tomato sauce today.
Whilst trying to stay dry…and keeping up on the mud tracked into the house.
😉

Labour Day Weekend

How, oh how, can it be September already?
I feel like I’m going into Fall kicking and screaming.

“I don’t wanna get ready for winter….waaaahhhhhhh!!!!”

*sigh*

And yet, the signs are all there.
The cooler nights.
The geese are coming back.
Combines on the fields.
Horses are getting fuzzy… 😥

I’m not ready for fuzzy horses…last night at beet pulp time, Bella said she isn’t either.
Ah, but we have no choice. Time marches on, and away we go towards the coming winter.

This weekend has been a busy one.
Hubby worked Saturday, came home to take The Kid back to the city for back to school shopping.
Grade 11, this year.
Once more, where is time going?!?
How can I be okay with watching my baby girl handle a 1200lb animal, including jumping, and yet, be so on edge with her handling her Father’s truck??
It’s not that I doubt her skills.
She’s had a good teacher…
It’s the fact the she’s grown up enough to be legally allowed to take the truck out.

*sigh*
Damn that Father Time. 😉

Yesterday, Hubby worked on the winter duck house.
We cobbled together a quick shelter when we realized that putting them in the coop with the meat chickens wasn’t viable.
Now, we need to put together an insulated coop (with a heat lamp) for winter. Still don’t know genders, but that’s okay. In spring we’ll figure it out, and we’ll add whatever gender we need to get baby ducks.
Hubby is building a good-sized coop, because we’re all pretty darn enamored with ducks.
And we all like duck meat.

Ducks ❤

Seriously, how adorable are these 2?
Rain (front) always has an opinion…I have to admit, I love that.
I love an animal that you can have a conversation with, and I can totally do that with Rain.
Jazzy (back) is much quieter and a little more wary…s/he is warming up slowly, but is still uncertain of this crazy person who keeps trying to pet her/him. LOL!
Today, I had them both nibbling grain out of the feed scoop.

Speaking of feed scoops…

This one:

😉

Has learned how to lick the pig grain out of their feed scoop.
Now, nobody panic…the pigs eat a crushed wheat/barley mixture as their primary feed. Nothing that can harm a horse in any way.
In fact, Sable gets anywhere from 1/4-1 full cup of this grain mixture a day in her beet pulp.

Yesterday though, she had the pleasure of eating it from the scoop, once I was done feeding the piggies.
Just a few licks, as a treat. 🙂

“I like apples…”
~ Cookie

I’m so loving this taken-from-below set of images.
The Girls look so different from that angle, and it’s an absolutely fun set. I’ve got a few more I’ll share over the next few days…

With the forest fires, the high winds from the North, and our own smudges for bugs, we’ve had a few fairly smokey days…the haze on the image above is only 1/2 from the smudge fire.
It’s been hard on The Kid, and Cookie has been coughing a bit too.
😦

And then, there’s my MaxCat, who in one frame sums up my feelings for today…

“Really? You want me to what now??”
~ MaxCat

I’d love to crawl back into bed with a good book and a big bowl of bbq chips. Not to be though. As always, there’s work to do. And, I don’t have any chips.
We’ve actually managed to break the chip addiction in the house. Haven’t bought a bag in near onto 3 months.
Whew! That was a hard habit to break!
Anyways…
Onward and upward.
Winter is coming.
Boo.
😉