In 3 weeks I’m going to traumatize the turkeys. Again. In 3 weeks they’ll get a deep cleaning of their hut (with weekly spot cleanings in between now and then) and deep, fresh straw added. Then, in 3 weeks, I’ll start collecting eggs for the incubators. Right now the eggs are being washed and eaten (because yummmmmmmmy!!).
Right now, my brooders that Hubby built me last year are all under snow. So we’re not ready for itty bitty birbs. Yet. But in 3 weeks… We’ll be closer to getting them ready. So I’ll set eggs, and in the 4 week time it takes for turkey eggs to hatch, we’ll have those brooders ready for bebes. Which is good, because at the end of May I have: 10 pekin ducklings 10 lavender orpingtons 10 black giants (regional variant of Jersey Giants) 5 white geese and 25 white turkeys to pick up from the feed store. So yeah…Ima need those brooders.
And by the end of May the muscovies will be laying and hopefully some of the hens will be already sitting nests. If not, then soon. I can’t wait for aaaaalllll the leetle bebe birbies to be here! 😍😍😍
So after too many whining about the weather posts, today is not that. We’ve had a few lovely days, that even with a bit of wind blowing, have led to a lot of digging out. We were able to get the ducks out of their coop for some fresh air yesterday, and today I have the oh so lovely task of scooping out their coop…it needs it. Ducks, while cute and funny and really tasty, are gross little goofs who love to make every single thing wet with either water or shit. 😂😂😂 Their bedding makes excellent compost tho…if only I could get to the garden expansion spot. Not that I’m worried about that, since the little brats just keep shitting. There’s a never ending source of fertilizer for the gardens.
The warmer weather really has the green thumb itching. Yesterday I grabbed up my pile of gallon milk jugs and set out some more winter sown seeds. This time it was 2 types of peppers, mullein, and 4 types of tomatoes.
Now, this method doesn’t make things grow sooner. What it does is give the seeds the chance to grow with Mother Nature, and in the end, makes for hardier plants, because they’ve adapted sooner to Ma Nature’s proclivities than if they were started inside and needing hardening off. For our micro climate (which, in case you haven’t noticed, can be quite brutal) plants that adapt and produce well here are very desirable. If I can select seeds from short growing season varieties that prove hardier than most, welp, then I can create my own seed bank for this space. That’s a good thing. (I am assuming that makes sense to more than just my short-on-coffee-brain this morning)
I’m poking at the husband to keep drinking the milks so that I have a few more jugs to set out before spring comes…I have some native perennials that are also medicinal to get going and I want to try both the outdoor and indoor method for starting them. I’m sure those who drop in are confused by my mass of milk jugs sitting in the garden. But if this works? Then I can start a lot more seeds for a lot more things. That’s a good thing.
Stupid turkeys are doing well. Oscar is dancing and a couple hens are letting him do his job. He and I had a “come to Jesus” meeting on Friday. Since I’m not letting the hens sit yet, I’m collecting eggs. Well, Oscar has decided that I am a threat to his hens that must be run off. Oh Oscar. So we had a…discussion…one that reminded him that *I* run his little flock, and he defers to me…so when *I* want the eggs, he will move his tail feathers out of the way and I will collect them. Poor guy. He’s just trying to be a good horny bird, protecting his ladies and making like a big man. But, coming at me with them spurs while I’m picking up eggs? Stops now, or he goes to Freezer Camp. I do believe we have come to an agreement now. Hopefully. I really don’t want to butcher the guy for doing what his hormones tell him to do…he just has to remember his manners with the humans.
And then yesterday, the feathered assholes broke out of their cage in the garage. Hubby was thrilled (not) to find them all over the place. 😂😂😂 They only shit on the tractor a few times, so it wasn’t *that* bad. And I cleaned it up, so he can’t complain. 😉
So now we just have to get through March. Hopefully it won’t be all lion-like and kick our butts with more snow. I keep tellin’ my 2 that “we’re hardy prairie ponies, not pony princesses…we can do this” And they look at me like I’m nuts. Eh, maybe I am.
So off I go to dig some more, fling some poo…and then perhaps grab my favorite Paint and have a discussion with her about how she needs her hooves trimmed. That’s gonna be fun. Everyone is overdue because the weather has been an asshole. Nicer weather means we have to get them Merry Mares back on track. Yeehaw.
So my turkey coop disappeared this past weekend. Not even joking. It has been taken by the snow. The 1st blizzard hit us Thursday evening. Brought us 10 cm blowing in at 70 km from the north. Then, that settled down, and the blizzard warning ended. Oh, but Mother Nature wasn’t done. Friday She decided to toss another blizzard at us…with *another* 10 cms blowing in from the south. 😂😂😂 And Saturday, just for good measure, She gave us another 5cm…blowing, but not at blizzard wind speeds. So all told, we’ve gotten 25ish cm of snow via blizzards in 3 days. That’s about 10 inches of snow. Plus the however many inches that blew in overland. (I swear, I’m planting as many trees as I can, every single damn place that I can!) On top of the multiple feet we already have. 😂😂😂
So in between blizzards, we go out to take care of the animals (because that has to happen no matter the weather) and discover the turkey coop is gone. Hubby gets in there and digs out the first opening he can find, because y’all….my birds were in there and we sure couldn’t leave them! Then, in he climbs so that he can pass out these stupid birds to us (me and The Kid). Listen, turkeys is stupid. There’s no sugar coating it. They are my idiot children. Fucking Oscar is going to fight Hubby about being passed out this hole…the 40lbs of dominant tom bird trying to fight to *stay in* his coop. Stupid, stupid, bird. But we get them, and the ducks in with them, out. Sadly, we lost The Kid’s one drake, Oreo. Oreo was a good duck, who was going to make beautiful bebes come spring time with my HomerJ…but alas, Mother Nature said “Nope.”
So now we have the ducks in the duck coop with the rest of the ducks, and fresh straw, with tons of food and water…and a heat light. They’re good. But we have to get the stupid birds from one side of the yard to the other, into the garage, as the blizzard like weather is ramping back up. Over drifts here, there, and fucking everywhere.
Now, in better weather, I can shake a pail of feed and my idiot children will follow me everywhere. But they won’t do that in crazy winds, or when they’re already in trauma mode (because some guy shoved them out a hole they didn’t want to go out of)…we had to carry the damn fools. So the hens were fairly easy. Upside down them and carry ’em by their feet. They don’t like it, and you can’t do it for long because their weight will dislocate legs, but a quick dash (as fast as my little legs would take me over hill and dale) can be done.
Oh but my Oscar Meyer Wiener (because one day, when he’s done making turkey bebes, he’s gonna be a hot dog 😂😂😂)…I had to carry that asshole all cuddled up while he shrieked his turkey rage at being relocated. He hasn’t gotten over Dingus being taken away and is convinced that we ate Dingus. We didn’t. Dingus has 1 turkey hen in the chicken coop with him, because Oscar hates him as much as he loves him. Simply, Oscar refuses to share hens and beat the crap out of Dingus, so they can’t be in the same pen/coop.
So now, we got the 7 hens and Oscar in the garage in a cage that was supposed to be for bottle lambs next month. I might have to bring bottle lambs inside….sheep don’t smell as bad as birds. But then, Hubby might make me live outside. 😂😂😂
Alright, so we’ve made it past the middle of February. We don’t do the Valentine’s thing here. I don’t need a corporate day of spending money for Hubby to “prove” he loves me. Nor I that I love him.
Pfft. The fact that he doesn’t run screaming away from the Farm, and that he freezes his ass off to clear snow for my nags is proof enough for me. And for him? Always cold beer, hot food, and a little lovin’ on those nights we don’t fall face first asleep into our pillows. 😂😂😂 Hallmark ain’t got nothin’ on us.
But, getting past that annoyance of marketing frenzy means only 32 days ’til Spring. I’m starting pepper seeds this weekend. Poblanos and shepherds. Peppers just take so long to germinate. Tomatoes will get started in about 5-6 weeks. Well, those that I’m starting in the house. I have winter sown a whole bunch of tomatoes, and will do a few more containers this weekend. Same with some of the peppers.
Now one of the good things about that annoyance day, is yesterday we got a Loop load. YAY!! With truck problems, I had to find others to take our pickups because the rental car couldn’t take the loads. (For anyone who missed it…Loop is the local food waste recovery program…we sign on to pick up out dated, short dated, not for human consumption food from grocery stores that would normally go into the dumpster…instead, we (and other farmers) get it to feed to our animals), but finally, we are back to getting our pickups. Yesterday was Valentine’s cake day. My fat, fat horses are gonna *love* them some cake. 😂😂😂 Outdoor cats scored a bounty of lamb. Those little fatties are doing great too. I’m glad, because outdoor life can be rough on felines. All my kids are upwards of 6 years old now, and doing very well. The only one who wasn’t born here is our Maxamillion:
Our old man has helped raised many a kitten that wasn’t his. He came from the local Humane Society as an “outdoor only, unsociable” cat. Ha! He’s my buddy who follows me all over the Farm, and loves to sit in my lap for morning coffee on the deck. He was only “antisocial” at the shelter because in 2 weeks time he’d been brought in, neutered, sent out on adoption trial, brought back, then shunted off to the “barn buddy” program. It took me all of 2 weeks to convince him that life was good here and his belly would never be empty. That was 8 (almost 9) years ago, and he’s been my best buddy ever since.
Where was I? Oh right…the cats scored a bounty of lamb for their next few meals. Max sure does love him a lamb chop! My picky cats tho…they prefer their meats cooked. Unless it’s liver. Liver they gobble raw. I have to fry their meats in a bit of butter (leaving them rare) and then put it out for them. Spoiled rotten cats. But, they do hunt and they keep the rodent population near non-existent. Considering we’re surrounded by grain fields, that’s pretty awesome. So I will not complain about my “please cook my lamb for me Food Lady” felines. 😂😂😂
So that’s it. Mid-February. Mother Nature is kicking our ass with all the snow She shorted us the past 4 years. And we’re dealing with it using alcohol and rage. Sure ain’t any winter weight being gained here…anyone who wants to get in a helluva workout, let me know. I have snow every where you can shovel. Cardio and weights all in one! 😂😂😂
We’re still working on digging out from that last storm. Well folks, we have moisture. 😂😂😂 If we don’t see the return of Lake Midnight this year, I will be completely shocked. I’m sure we will though… Just look at what we have right now:
Behind the drift is our truck. In front of the drift is 2 large round bales of straw. That drift is rock hard…Hubby used the blower on the tractor to cut through it. 😂😂😂 It’s one of the smaller drifts in the yard. The back yard has now 8 foot drifts. This is the most snow we’ve had since we moved here. Even our first year didn’t have this much snow. So I am seriously hopeful for a good growing season without drought issues. I suspect our sump pump in the basement will be working overtime this spring…we have a backup, just in case. In the country, it’s *always* a good thing to have back up pumps stashed everywhere.
But the exciting things are… The last of my seeds I ordered are on their way. Then I start more winter sowing containers. Yarrow, plantain, echinacea, some peppers (that I have tons and tons of seeds from), mullein, parsley, nasturtiums, marigolds…oh I have plans for many seeds to be started this way! Most of what I’m doing self seeds easily, and in my growing zone, so winter sowing should work very well. And it gives me the chance to see what the seedlings look like when they come up, so when they do re-seed next year (and in years to come) I know what I’m looking for.
I also received my seed package from the Northern Seed Library:
I am incredibly excited to grow these seeds. Save the seeds, save the world. Normally I’m not a pretty flowers kinda gardener, but I did discover that all parts of hollyhocks are edible, and bees love ’em, so the idea of growing black ones just tickled my fancy. I had winter sowed a jug of red ones, but I figure I’ll plant those out at my brother’s country property. He can have pretty, edible, bee loving flowers too. Seeing as how I have to leave 1/4 between varieties to ensure pure seed.
I’m also eyeing places where I can add a good sized raspberry patch. I have a few canes that a friend gave me after thinning hers, but I want a *patch*. That won’t happen this year, but I can prep the space in the Fall for them. This year the focus is on growing as much garden foods and medicinal herbs as possible, and always with an eye on expansion.
I always have huge plans, and then get frustrated that I’ve bitten off more than I can possibly do…so this year I’m being more cautious about what the hard core must do plans are. There’s still a lot of work, but it’s at the level that I’m pretty sure we can get done. And grow on in the coming years.
My turkeys are starting to lay eggs…
We’ve gotten a few so far. It’s too cold to incubate them yet. And though Oscar and Dingus are dancing, I don’t think the hens are letting them actually work yet. This year we’re going to let them do their thing…I’ll collect eggs to incubate, but I won’t be buying any hatching eggs this year. Last year I got in over my head, and hatched out too many birds. We didn’t have enough space for everyone once the bad weather hit, and some ended up in the soup pot way too young. Add to that we had some horrible losses because the weather was bouncing all over, and the respiratory problems ripped through the chicken coop, taking out 3 of my 4 roosters and a lot of the youngsters. Ugh. Not over hatching again. So this year, I’m getting 20 dual purpose birds from the local hatchery, and 15 white turkeys. No meat chickens. We’ll let the dual purpose ones grow up, see who’s a nice enough rooster to keep on for breeding, butcher the rest of the boys, and keep the hens in the program. All white turkeys are Freezer Campers. So my incubators won’t be working as hard this year. And beside, we have to redesign the winter coops for the turkeys and the ducks (the duck btw, will be left to their own hatching devices…). Turkeys need height. They love to perch up high…even if they’re standing on ducks to do it. 😡 Ducks like ample straw bedding down low to snuggle in. The current shared coop accommodate ducks decently (though it wasn’t designed with an eye towards cleaning, which is something that needs to change!), and would work for turkeys by themselves, but it does not work as a shared coop at all. So that needs to change. And we want to put the turkeys in their own winter yard next year. 3 yards/winter coops are needed right now. Turkey. Ducks. Chickens.
That’s Hubby’s first building. Yards and coops. While I work on the gardens.
But for next week, while we have a stretch of nice weather, it’s digging. More digging. And more digging. Yeehaw. I am ready for Spring!
We are now, officially, at the midpoint between winter and spring. Yeehaw.
We here just finished another blizzard. Wherein we gave The Merry Mares an entire bale of hay. It took Hubby 4+ hours to clear the snow from the gate to get the bale in to them.
Today he’s been clearing snow from the driveway… That started at 3am so that we could get the truck out and up to town to get her into the mechanic’s shop. Broken cv axle. $25 part.
**edit…I heard wrong…part was $225…but still…overall still cheaper than we expected and done in a days time…so, no complaints.**
Plus she needs new lug nuts. The lady on the phone explained it to me, I’m not a truck person so I didn’t get it, but apparently the metal of the lug nuts can swell and make taking them on and off as needed difficult. Best thing to do is replace them *shrug* Okay then. But the bill looks like it’s going to be substantially less than we were expecting. Thank all that’s frickin’ good and holy in the world for that!
So now we’re just waiting for the call to go get the truck. And praying for no more blowing snow or falling snow. Just melting snow. Because we have no place left to put snow. So…yeah. No. Snow. 😂😂😂
We’ve had 2 major storms in the past 2 weeks. We now have more snow on the ground from those 2 storms than we did all last winter.
We picked up a load of pumpkins at the beginning of the month, so I’m smashing bunches open at a time for seeds for me, and feeding the pumpkin itself to the animals. We got our hay. We got our straw. We finished butchering drakes just this past weekend. Now, butchering is done for the year. Unless Hubby gets a deer. He’s going out Thursday/Friday for that. Fingers crossed.
We have spring plans underway. We need to build an entire yard just for turkeys, plus another coop for them. The low coops that work for ducks don’t work for turkeys. Turkeys like to be up high as much as possible. Even if that means standing on each other and squishing each other. Because turkeys is stoopid. 🤦♀️🙄 So we have to re-jig that yard for ducks and move turkeys to their own space with a bigger/taller coop. But first! The greenhouse. Snow hit before we got more than the 4 walls done. Yes, yes, the fall was a long and lovely one, but there was soooooo much else to do. But, the second things are melted, up it goes!
I’ve saved seeds from a bazillion and 2 things. I’ve jumped into a couple of seeds swaps and gotten seeds from plants I really, really wanted to grow! I think the only thing I might have to buy seeds for in spring is carrots. I’m not 100% certain until I go through my seeds.
I started the garden expansion to go with the greenhouse. In cleaning out the coops when we brought straw home, I had some really nice, composted, chicken poo rich dirt…and a metric eff ton of boxes…hey, that Loop program provides more than feed for the animals!! Boxes to layer to start new gardens too!
So in the spring, I’ll build some simple board sides to keep the dirt where I want it, and then using t-posts and stucco wire, protect the space from the asshole birds, and plant my plants. Every year I can/will expand it.
Tarp did not get pulled over the garden. As I said, too much to do, and not enough time or us to do it. In the spring, I’ll take a bunch of that straw from the horses (because they’ll explode their bales effing every damn where and shit in it) and layer it over top the last plants that didn’t get pulled out. Then, I’ll plant into that. Voila! Mulch and weed suppression, whilst feeding the soil with the urine/shit soaked straw. Worked effing beautifully this year, and I suspect it will work effing beautifully next year too. And there’s no tilling, just soil building. I call that a win/win/win! ‘Bout time them horses did something other than eat money. 😉
So now we just have to get everyone through the winter, so we can start building and expanding again in the spring. Because spring means??
It’s snowing! 😂😂😂 We spent the weekend getting ready for this storm, because it’s been predicted for almost a week and we knew we had to get things ready…
Hubby finished re-furbishing the former pig house. Our last pigs were savages. Literally. The big male was chewing on the wood sides for fun. They had toys, endless food, giant stumps to throw around and he still loved to just chew the wood off the side of the shelter. He was something, that boy…and he was the *nicest* pig of the 3. The girls were crazy assed bitches. I have never been quite so happy to send animals to Freezer Camp as I was those pigs!
Anyway, Hubby got the shelter re-furbished, wood on the sides and a new door…then he fixed the gate to that yard and it’s now the permanent duck yard. We didn’t replace the pallet fence yet, but it’ll be fine for another year yet. Then we moved ducks. How did we get sooooo many ducks?? 😂😂😂 Oh. Yeah. It’s because we let the hens sit nests. Speaking of… Our best mama hen, Ripple, has 22 eggs under her. Fingers crossed that she hatches them all (or most of ’em). She seems to have adjusted to moving her and her nest fairly well. We initially left her in with the turkeys, but turkeys is assholes and they were beating her up, trying to force her off her nest. 😡 So Hubby and The Kid caught her and moved her in with the rest of the ducks…gave her the eggs she was sitting in her own little space, and this morning, even with the storm wailing around outside, she was happily chirruping at The Kid whilst sitting on her new nest. We are hopeful. ❤
Then everyone got new straw. We’re working off the last round bale we bought in the Fall for the horses…so that means wheelbarrow load after wheelbarrow load moved to the poultry houses. But it works well, even if it can be time consuming. We just do what we have to, to make sure all the critters weather the storm safely. 🙂
Hubby pulled a new bale of hay out of the garage. We’re at that point in the year where we start using the ones we have stored for next year…but because weather is so odd (she said while looking at the snow/rain coming down outside her window) we pull 1 at a time. We pay way too much for dried grass to waste *any* of it! And never, ever think I am disparaging our Hay Guy! Oh. Freakin’. No! He makes amazing hay that keeps my Merry Mares fat and sassy throughout the coldest of colds and wettest of wets, and he stands behind his product. No complaints from me. But I won’t waste a stem of it if I can help it, because hay is a precious commodity and that’s all there is to it.
Chicks got another light… Thankfully we had an extra, so now they have 3 heat lamps…but really, there’s a lot of them, and they’re 3weeks apart in age and the Little Red Shed isn’t insulated…so we give ’em heat lamps to cuddle under…and everyone was doing awesome this morning.
Speaking of lights, my grow light is up and over my tomatoes now. The peppers have been growing gangbusters, so are in need of transplanting. Especially the Shepherd peppers, where every single seed seems to have germinated and they are packed into their little cells. lol No complaints, I love roasted red peppers, so I’m happy to grow many, many peppers. This year the plan is to smoke a bunch, dry them and grind them as spices for winter. That’s part of the reason for the diversity in heat levels too…
And today we’re watching the precipitation come down. Maybe we’re not too chuffed about it being snow, but it’ll be melting by Saturday and the land needs the moisture. Like I wrote last week, Lake Midnight never appeared this year, that’s how dry it’s been. While that seems awesome, that means not enough moisture in the land to get a good start on the growing season. And here, the growing season isn’t just the garden, it’s the grasses that we eventually cut and feed to the animals too. Nothing was greening at all. Just brown, dry and crunchy. This will change that. And hopefully, our May 1st celebration can include a Beltane fire. We didn’t get to have our Samhain Ancestral Fire because of crazy wind and weather, so I am hopeful that this moisture will give us the chance to celebrate Beltane with fire. As it should be. 🙂
We’re right in the flight path of thousands of Canada Geese.
Which means they often land on our field in the spring and in the fall.
If it’s snow geese in the spring, we’re happy, because our fall hunting tag is valid for spring hunting of snow geese.
In the fall, we don’t care what lands, Canadas, snows…they’re both good eating.
One side effect of the geese arriving though, is sleep deprived horses.
Unless you’ve lived next to a hoard of honkers, you have no idea how loud they are.
And, at all hours.
This ^^^ is the face of a pissed off at the geese honking 24/7 horse.
She’s actually lying in the straw pile (from February’s bale explosion) trying to nap.
But those geese…they never stop honking.
Today we’re dealing with a snow storm.
I was a wee bit worried about my chicks, outside in the brooder.
But they have 2 heat lamps, a whole lot of feed and clean water.
They’re bopping around in there just fine.
We did lose 2 of them earlier this week.
It happens sometimes.
1 was really small, the other was normal sized, but it died under the heat lamp.
Either it was crushed in a pileup or it just wasn’t a healthy chick.
So far though, the other 43 are doing amazing!
Next run of the incubators is coming up…hopefully this weekend I’ll hear from the woman with the hatching eggs I wanted.
And then, it’s collect eggs from my birds and go.
Last week was Love.
But I was waiting for weather to settle down, for the sun to shine, for things to be just right before I created the images I wanted for this prompt.
My Dad bought this rifle for my Mom’s birthday.
Had their names and the date engraved on it. “Elaine May 13/78
Both my parents are gone now, and this is mine.
A family heirloom that will be passed on to my daughter when she’s ready for it.
Love is shown in so many different ways…this one, to me, is beautiful and captures my parents love for each other perfectly.