Mid-February

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:

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!
😂😂😂

Still Digging…

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!

Imbolc

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!

Frosted Samsquanch 😂

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.
😂😂😂

Our Crazy, Crazy, Morning…

Turkey babies (who are not so much babies anymore, but teens) needed their brooder cleaned.
So I set up a yard within the big turkey yard, put out food and water and opened them up…and they proceeded to panic and fly here, there, and everywhere whilst screaming angst filled teenaged turkey anthems of woe and abuse because the whole wide world is scary and The Food Lady was murdering them.
*sigh*

So they ran the big turkey yard (the big turkeys were still in their coop because they are too big to run with the teen turkeys who are still mid-sized and no match for a full sized hen, let alone Dingus or Oscar) while I scooped their mass of straw/feed/shit out…
With this being the stenchiest part of the job, my Kiddo went off to feed the ducks and chicks in the Little Red Shed, only to come back to tell me 10 (58) chicks had popped their door and were now wandering around the building here, there and everywhere.
*sigh*

With that, we rounded up the teenaged angst filled turkeys and put them back into the brooder…and let the big adults out because they were convinced that they were gonna starve to death.

If Oscar doesn’t eat 65.3 times a day, he will die. He is happy to regale you with tales of how I starve him and how he has died so many times for lack of food.
*sigh*

As I cleaned out the next brooder (which is a half full combo of cornish and first hatchers), Kiddo let out and fed the ducks, geeses and big chickens. Geeses are mad that I haven’t dropped every single goddamed thing to get them some weeds right fucking now…and they are happy to tell me that in no uncertain terms.

😂
😂
😂

I have not listened to them, other than to laugh and say “You’re on the list, I’ll get to you soon”.
The next brooder got lined with shavings (because I’m out of straw and I don’t have the energy to chase anyone for any quite yet) and we set out to capture 10 (58) chicks and move them to it.
1 Wheelbarrow, a dog crate, 2 women, a dog and 3 horses…
This is what it takes to move 10 (58) chicks out of the Little Red Shed to the brooder.
Well, the dog and the horses are more a hindrance than help, but that is no surprise. And then there were 10 (58) chicks in the brooder.
*sigh*

Finally, we got to the point of making sure all the feeders and waterer were topped up, collecting eggs (my turkey hens are trying to nest again and are rather put out that I keep stealing their smooth egg babies), the pools for the smaller ducks filled to warm in the sunshine for afternoon swimming and now?
Now it is finally coffee time.
While I play with money to pay the bills, buy some groceries and if all gets paid just right, maybe even a case of beer for Hubby.
*sigh*

My helper at editing earlier this week…
This is Homer J, our latest house duckling.
He was abandoned by the hen who hatched him, left for dead at night in the duck yard.
We found him and brought him inside.
Honestly, didn’t think he was going to make it.
But it’s been a week now, and he’s doing just fine.
Singing up a storm and pooping everywhere but on my desk.
😉

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.