May Long Weekend

It’s the holiday Monday of the May Long Weekend here.
If we were still in the city, I’d be planting my tomato plants today.
Of course, this spring has been odd, and we’re not in the city and I ain’t risking my tomatoes yet. Over the next 2 weeks I’ll work on hardening them off, so they go out first weekend (or so) of June.

Still tons of garden work being done this weekend tho…
We’ve, surprisingly, had sunny days and very little rain this weekend.
So, brooders got cleaned out from last year’s last birds.
I had 10 turkeys hatch (with 3 more pipped, but I think I have to help them out of their shells after coffee) and moved to a freshly cleaned out and bedded brooder.
We worked on cleaning up the yard…winter was a tough bitch this round and I’m not proud that there was waaaaay more garbage ’round the Farm yard than normal.
😥
So we made a dump trip with the truck well loaded down.
Rotting pumpkin bits (that the dog spread all over the damn place in her winter fun) got forked up and put into the compost piles.
I broke down more of those food waster recovery program boxes for garden expansion, and laid a ton of them out to be covered by the straw/manure bedding from the brooders.
And we had a bonfire.
A very big bonfire.
😀

While Hubby built the fire, I worked on this:

I’m working on covering the weeds in the tomato patch with deep straw mulch, to smother them out.
I should have cut them down first, but meh…it’ll be fine.
We do still have 1 full round straw bale, but, I don’t want to open it if I don’t have to.
It will hold over to the Fall when we start giving the Merry Mares straw bales to pick though and lay in, so if I don’t need it in the garden, that saves me money later.
So I use a garbage can and haul bin after bin after bin of straw from the current bale that the Mares have been using for bedding (and crapping in). Little more work, but saves me $$$, and free fertilizer. Because peed in straw is *excellent* mulch for tomatoes, dontcha know! 😂😂😂
And, not gonna lie, I get a bit of a giggle out of the folks who pay outlandish prices for “clean” bags of straw to mulch their gardens, as if that’s going to stop weeds.
😂😂😂
Weeds are gonna happen, we just have to get them before they get out of hand, and I’m not paying $18 for bags equivalent to a 45lb small square when my big rounds cost me $40 last year (and that was spendy due to drought, I normally pay $25 for a round of straw) and will go much, much farther.

So that’s gonna be my summer…hauling straw to mulch as the plants come up.
Eh, it worked amazingly last year and hauling 2-3 bins and spreading it a day takes very little time.
It just becomes part of the daily routine.

And that garden expansion strip out front of the house?
Potatoes this year.
With the unexpected expenses that hit us (between the septic pump and the truck going over the $1500 expected cost), I’m not 100% sure I’ll have the $$$ for top soil to add to the lasagna pile to plant tomatoes in.
So, Ruth Stout style potato patch it is.
And then, by next year, tomatoes and peppers will be able to go in there, easy peasy.
🙂

So there ya go…we busy.
In 8 days I have turkeys, ducks, chicks, and goose babies coming.
So we’re gonna get more busy.
But that’s okay.
We’ll plant the garden, grow the foods, preserve the foods and get ready because…
Winter is coming.

Monday Monday

Not much going on here…just shoveling snow, watching the peppers grow, remembered that I have paprika pepper seeds to start…I got so focused on my poblanos I forgot about the paprika ones…for shepherds, I’m relying on winter sowing.
They either will grow or won’t.
But poblanos and paprika peppers are for winter spice mixes, so I’m pretty intent on having great crops of those.

We’re looking at a week of above 0*c daytime temps, so there’s a lot of drifts that need paths cut through them…we’re going to have melting start and falling through a 5 foot drift is not ever a good time.
I’m really just too old for that shit.
😂😂😂
So over the next week I’ll work on digging paths through them.

Hubby gets to fix the overhead door on the garage this week.
Fuck sakes.
If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.
As he was trying to pull a bale out for the nags, the back tire of the tractor sank in snow, he shifted unexpectedly and knocked the control arm for the loader, which sent it up to smack the door, popping it off the cable/reel…in short, it took 3 of us to get it closed and now it won’t open because both cables are off and the springs popped.
But…it’s a fix we know how to do, just need a new roller and time.
So that’s this week, then he can get the tractor out and finish clearing the driveway.
Again.

See?
Just a little bit of snow.
😂😂😂
It’s all good tho…
Just 6 more days ’til spring, and like I said, above zero temps this week.
The melt will start, and we’ll be fine.
Last night we had the chance to bbq, with wobbly pops and music.
So morale is better today.
We haven’t done that since the beginning of December due to weather.
So yeah, it was a very welcome evening.

Down Sizing

This past weekend we got the news that our regular feed guy did not have good returns on his fields.
Which means, he doesn’t have as much to sell to us for feed for the birds for winter.

Now, we had already been discussing downsizing some of the birds, simply because the bulk of our feed money is going into The Merry Mares.
Hay prices are…well I don’t know exactly what’s doing with our regular Hay Guy.
He says things have been real bad (that was back in July) but he didn’t say he wouldn’t have for us.
I’ve been looking and trying to get bales elsewhere, just in case.
One of our other connections had an entire field of hay stolen.
That’s the new thing this year.
Stealing hay.
Hell, she didn’t even get it cut!
They came, cut and baled in a 24 hour period.
Which means it’s either gonna go up in flames or it’s going to mold.
Either way, if they sell the stolen bales, the person buying is fucked and if they try to use it themselves, their animals are gonna suffer.
What a fucked up year.

My straw connection has bales for me.
In fact, she says she has a fair bit extra, so if we had to use straw and supplement with grains and hay cubes, we’ll be able to do that and keep The Merry Mares healthy.
Her prices have gone up…almost double.
But, we also have to consider the low yields on fields, the rising gas prices, repairs to equipment, etc.
It all adds up.
I will not begrudge someone needing to make a living.
And you know, both my straw connection and my Hay Guy have been fucking awesome with us.
I have no complaints about them at all.
Besides, that’s the joys of having money eating shit machines.
In years like this, you pay through the nose to keep them.
But realistically, there’s no market for aging mares who haven’t been ridden for years and who’s only job it has been is to be pretty. Besides, I told them all that they’re here for life.
That’s it, that’s all.

So we’re downsizing where we can.
That’s with birds.
But the good thing with that is, birds are food.
I’m going to go through my hens and take out the aging girls (except for a choice few older gals who will get to die of old age.) Once I have an idea of how many older girls are going, then I’ll see how many roos will stay.
I want to keep 40 hens, so that means 3 roos.
Frank, Blue and probably Darryl (or is it Larry?).

Geese will go to Freezer Camp.
I had hoped to be able to keep them, but…
They’ve been complete assholes to the ducks (they were in the duck yard) and have been picking at new growing wing feathers on the duck hens.
The geese aren’t lacking anything, their just dicks.
😂😂😂
We’ll get more in the spring.

Turkeys will be whittled down to Oscar, Dingus, Emma, 12, 13, and at least 5 other hens.
The boys do best with 4 hens minimum each.
So 8 hens (for sure) and the 2 boys will stay and they’ll easily replenish the flock come spring.
I had thought about keeping a white hen, from the hatchery turkeys.
Those hens do get kept for breeding, but as I thought about it, I worried whether I’d be allowing not-so-hardy genetics into my flock.
Yeah, I might get interesting colours, I might get a faster growing bird, but I might also get the worst of the whites too…
So nope, all whites are Freezer Campers.
In my littles flock, there are 4 Sweetgrass turkeys and the rest are Narragansetts.
6 of that flock belong to a friend.
She’s the one who gave me the Sweetgrass eggs.
I want to keep 1 of the Sweetgrass for my flock, so we’ll have crosses that way, and Sweetgrass are hardy like the Narragansetts, so that works.
Size wise, they’re the same, so it’s just going to be colours that the Sweetgrass will bring to the genetics.
I’m not dead set on pure Narragansetts, so that’s a good thing.
I want hardy, decent layers/mothers, pretty, and tasty.

And then there’s the ducks…
Well, we did just buy 19 bebes, then had another 8 hatch out, so we have a lot of ducks.
😂😂😂
But, we have drakes going Camping, and any drakes in the 19 we bought will go Camping too.
By the time November rolls around, we’ll know who is who and who’s not staying on.
Hens (for the most part) will stay.
We have 4 older gals, the foundation 4, who will be kept because they hatch clutches happily.
Hell, they’re trying to hide nests now!
Ya, no…no nests allowed now!
And the younger hens have been doing just as well too.
Plus, out of those 19 we bought, there should be a few hens, and it’s always good to bring in new bloodlines every few years. Once their coop is renewed (Hubby is working on that and the greenhouse at the same time…the Man is *busy*!!), we’ll see how many fit and go from there.
We have 2 drakes that stay on, Cricket and PoopMachine.
Drake (our main guy) should be staying too…we know he *works* 😉 and then we have Howard and another 1 who looks like Cricket. The Cricket look alike is being replaced with PoopMachine.
We try to keep 4 working drakes, but can go down to 3 if we have to.
That gives us a hen flock of 15-20, depending on space.

So we’re eating bird this winter.
That’s always been the plan, but some of the ones I had originally thought about keeping (space permitting) are now on the table.
And y’know what?
I’m not going to feel bad about that.
Thing is, birds, as much as we enjoy them being here, are food.
For us, for the cats, for the dog.
The rule is they get to live a good life being birds, then when it’s time, they feed us.
That’s just how it is.

Happy Food Tastes Better.

Cricket the Duck. He’s a handsome fella!

Down Came the Rains

Out went the internet.
😂😂😂

This is the first chance at the internet since it went out with the rains, so it’s not a huge deal.
As always, there’s work to be done here.
This past weekend it was soggy wet work, but we needed the rain so bad…and now we’re getting more in a short time than we need. If only it could have been spaced out over the summer, things would have been much, much better.
*sigh*
But that’s the way of it, isn’t it?
At least, it has been the past few years.
If I was a tin foil hat wearin’ conspiracy theorist, I’d be wonderin’ about them “scientists” manipulating the weather…I mean, how else do you keep a hold on people who are getting restless about leadership and plagues other than by controlling the food supply?
Drought for months during planting/growing, then monsoon type rains during harvest?
Hmmmm….

Anyways…

More roosters went to Freezer Camp.
My Kiddo, dang I’m proud of her!
She’s always been hands on helping with the dispatch and the plucking.
Roosters we skin, because it’s just easier.
This time ’round she wanted to learn to gut them.
Awesome!
That means as long as she has a couple hens, a rooster and a sharp knife, she can put meat into her soup pot.
That is a fantastic skill to have.
And not too many young women are interested in learning those skills…so I figure Hubby and I have done something right, in that she’s wanting to know how, from beginning to end.

Then out came the canner.
Beans, chicken and stock, chicken stock.
Now I’m working on horse applesauce…not as nefarious as it sounds…we got about 20lbs of apples in our last Loop pickup, and The Merry Mares do not need apples all the time…but a few jars of applesauce on the shelf for winter additions to their beet pulp?
Oh yeah, that’s a great idea!
Then tomorrow is another round of rooster roasting and canning, with a few jars of cat food in there as well.
Wee roosters (these were culls from friends) have teensy livers and hearts and gizzards (and I’m not there, to be able to eat those) so they go into jars with some stock for winter eats for the outdoor cats.
Gotta keep my mousers fat and happy through the cold months too!
When we do our pig, the liver, heart, tongue and other offal bits get the same treatment.
And same with deer.

Ahhh!! Deer season (for bow) starts in 1 week.
Hubby is excited to get out with his bow and hopefully put some venison in the freezer.
He’s got a few places lined up to hunt, and before rifle season hits (deers know to hide real good during boom boom season) they’re thick like stink on a monkey…so finger crossed!!

And damn if the price of wood hasn’t dropped!
Whoa!
2×6 stud length are down $2 a board over last week!
I’ve been putting off the last few boards needed to finish the greenhouse, hoping for a price drop and here it is…so tomorrow Hubby stops for the last few boards and in between butchering and hunting, that fucker is going up.
I need my greenhouse in place for next year.
No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
So, there’s that.
And there’ll be pictures.
🙂

Then in the spring (because I don’t feel like there’s time now before Fall) I get to lay out some cardboard, a layer of wheat straw and then top with topsoil…and that will be the next garden space in front of the house, between my haskaps and the lilacs.
*sigh*
Then a quick fence of t-posts and stucco wire to keep out the asshole chickens and we’ll be good to go for planting.
The more food I can grow, the better off we’ll be.

Winter is coming.
And without bringing politics into it (because I try not to here), I feel like there’s a long winter coming.
A very long winter.
Best to be prepared as much as we possibly can be.

Finally!

We have emerged from the polar vortex!
And I am happy about that.
Boy am I happy about that!
Weather sure has been challenging humans across North America this month.
I feel for those caught up in patterns that they don’t normally deal with.
It’s easy for those of us with cold experience to sit back and say shitty things (please don’t do that, ‘kay?) but the fact is, even we get slammed with hard-to-deal-with weather.
So before you make some joke about Texas or any of the southern States dealing with cold and snow and no power and frozen pipes, remember, “there but for the grace of God go I…”
We just came out of -50*c weather…imagine if we’d lost power!
I can’t even.
So just try to remember to be kind.
That’s it.
Don’t be shitty and be kind.

Today, as I type this, we’re at -13*c.
After the past 2 weeks that positively t-shirt weather.
And I’m thankful for it.
So are the horses, the hens, the turkeys and the ducks…oh and the cats.
It was so bad there for awhile we were feeding jar after jar after jar of wet food to them, just so they had enough.
Normally a 1/2 pint is a good supplement to their kibble.
They went through a case of 12 in 2 days!
But, food keeps furnaces stoked, and wet food helps keep kitties hydrated.
So I feed ’em.
🙂
But it also means we’re running low on homemade cat food, so Hubby went and bought a few big cans to have on hand, just in case.
And come fall, I’ll just do a few extra jars, bigger jars, to make sure everyone has enough.

Meat birds are ordered.
I added an extra 25 meat chickens, so we’ll be getting 75 chickens and 10 turkey poults.
So. Many. Birds.
Though chicken math means it’s really not more than 12.
😂😂😂
And I’m thinking I might fire up the incubators this weekend.
If I start this weekend, I can get 2 full hatches in before the one hatch that needs to coincide with the arrival of the meat birds.
I ain’t downsizing the amount of birbs I hatch, let me tell ya!!
Hatching out as many as I possibly can.

Hubby brought home the first bag of potting soil yesterday.
And a pouch of fava bean seeds.
I’ve never grown fava beans before, so I had to read up on them.
Turns out the entire plant is edible, so yay for that!
And with today’s trip to the post office, I’ll have the seeds I need to get the garden going as soon as I can.
Whew!
It’s gonna be a lot of beans, tomatoes, carrots, peas and beets this year.
Stuff we eat a lot of, stuff I can a lot of for winter.
As excited as I am to get growing, I’m tired just thinking about the work too.
lol

Ooooh, I told y’all I was pondering extra apple and saskatoons?
Yup, those are ordered too.
The Food Forest is expanding!
And for the last few nights, I’ve having vivid Dreams about cutting hay.
Oh, I can’t *wait* to get scythe in hand and cut hay again!

But for now, I’m just thankful for the warmer weather, that we made it through the coldest snap we’ve had in a very long time, and that Spring is coming.

Our 3 chubby monkeys, who are doing so well this year…even with record breaking cold!

Sharing with Brian’s Home for Thankful Thursday.

Thankful Thursday

Yeah, today is thankful Thursday.
I’m not feeling extremely thankful today though…

It’s cold.
It’s day I-don’t-even-know-any-more of extreme cold warnings. Which means it’s much colder than typical for this time of year.
I guess Mother Nature is catching us up for the nice weather we had back in December and January.
There’s always a cost, right?

So that hay we’ve been doing so well on?
Blowing through a bale every 3ish days.
But mares gotta eat, or they don’t stay warm.
A cold horse in this weather dies.
Not on my fucking watch, if I can help it.
So eating my Merry Mares have been.
And then there’s the waterer…*sigh*
I feel like it’s always something, know what I mean?
The winds were savage for a while, and the damn thing kept freezing over.
And then it froze at the spigot.
That means standing there in the freezing cold, with a hair dryer to thaw it…with 3 toddlers dying of thirst, even though I just brought them buckets of warm water from the house to drink, but they be dyin’ and I be cryin’ because my hands are cold and I’m hopin’ I can get the water running before the hair dryer conks out…
*sigh*
Get horses, she thought…
It’ll be fun, she thought…
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
😂😂😂

Egg production is waaaaaaay down too.
Where I was getting 50-60 eggs a day, now I’m getting 8. If I’m lucky.
People want eggs.
I don’t have much eggs.
I’m just barely making regulars and that’s because I had some stocked up from last week…but now we’re low because 8 effing eggs a day.
60ish hens.
But they’re eating and drinking and trying to stay warm.
Ain’t so easy even with a heat lamp and deep straw.

Today we found we’d lost a duck baby.
Again it’s the cold.
We can feed ’em, we can make sure there’s fresh water, and draft free coops and heat lamps and damn if some aren’t gonna just die on us anyways.
But ya sure feel like shit when it happens.

And then, just to cap off the craptastic shitstorm that is February, I have to go to the dentist.
While to some that’s not a big deal, for some of us it is.
I have a tooth that has to come out, but need a dentist that won’t make me wear a mask (got that) and will let my Hubby in the room too (can’t do that yet…fuck the govt, because it’s their shit restrictions) because y’all….this woman does not do well without her support person…
So I get to stay living with this fucking thing until the shitty restrictions open up enough that I can have my person in the room while having the dental work done.
Looking at the way the hand wringing from the “experts” is going, that oughta be sometime in 2037.
Think I’ll just tie a string to the tooth, tie the other end to Ruby’s halter and give my girl a big ol’ smack on the bum…that oughta yob that fucker right out of my mouth.
😂😂😂
And if I die, they can list me as a covid death.

I guess I should still be thankful…
My Hubby is still working and is able to get his teeth fixed (thank goodness! he’s had problems with his mouth since I’ve known him).
We have plenty of food in the house.
The house is warm.
We’re still able to share our bounty with those who need it.
All in all, as frustrated and cold and tired as we are, we’re still grateful for all that we have.

But for this weekend, I’m just done.

Here’s a picture of cats…Hobbes in front, Trouble in back.

Sharing with Sandee at Comedy Plus and Brian’s Home for Thankful Thursday.

Building a Berm

One of our biggest complaints about our Farm is the lack of trees.
Yeah, we knew it when we bought the place, but I don’t think we realized how much we’d miss those trees.
Bald assed prairie land is freakin’ c-c-cold!!
Colder than bush land because of the wind.
It also makes it damn near impossible to do much shooting with anything other than the shotgun or pellet guns.
That’s frustrating.
And so, this past month, Hubby and I discussed what would go into building a berm for practice shooting.

Some work with the tractor, some too-moldy-for-the-garden straw bales and a whole lot of horse crap.
Well…
Turns out this is something we can do.
And we waited far too damn long to do it!

So, last week, before the snows came, Hubby got started on building the berm.
And The Merry Mares have continued to keep up with their contributions.
After they decided they had to “inspect” his beginnings…

The inspection crew hard at work…or, more likely, hardly working…

Goodness knows, them nosey mares have to inspect every little thing to make sure we humans are doing it right.
😂😂😂