Still Here

Still working.
Still…sumthin’ or other…
Meh.

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.

Little arrows on the sides of the images give you a chance to click through all images…don’t hit that arrow on this one if blood bothers you, ‘kay?


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!

Oh look!
You can see my greenhouse walls in the background!
And the straw bales…and chickens picking at the straw bales.
😂😂😂

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??

SHEEPIES!!!

I am so damn excited!!
😀

Damage Report

Well.
So that happened.
It was blowy, snowy, icy, and down right gross out for just about 48 hours.

We lost power for at least 18 of those hours.
We got a massive amount of snow dumped on us.
Then we got another massive amount blown in.
lol
This is Farm Life.

But…

Last weekend, we brought home 6 big round straw bales.
That was fun.
2 loads, but only a few miles away from us.
From some damn fine folks that we appreciate doing business with.
We knew the storm was coming, so we cleaned brooders, and gave everyone a thick bedding of straw to snuggle down into.
That was Monday we did that.
Then Wednesday, we renewed the straw so that when the storm blew in that night, they’d have even more bedding.
Mares got their own straw bale to rip apart, nibble, and sleep in.
They did just fine.

But, we didn’t know we were going to lose power.

Most of the birds were fine.
Bippies (youngest ducks) did great.
Chickens were all good.
Big ducks got a little stir crazy and started picking feathers on tails.
That gets remedied with meat.
Poultry are omnivorous raptors.
They eat meat.
I know people don’t like to hear/know that, but it’s true.
And once they have the craving, only a good feed of it will settle them down.
This is why we keep things like rib cages from deer and have a freezer specifically for freezer burnt meats. Because this happens when birds can’t get out to forage for bugs, snakes and small rodents, and they’ll turn on each other. Even with a complete feed.

So, as I said, most of the birds were fine.
I did however, lose turkeys.
😥
None of my year olds.
But a couple 9 month olds and about 8 of the youngest ones.
It’s crushing.
When the power went out, the littles just couldn’t stay warm enough, even with mounds of straw to snuggle into. Especially in the over night.
This morning I pulled out body after body and started a fire to put them in.
My heart aches.
Worst part is, there was nothing we could have done to change things.
It is one of the shittiest things about farming…losing lives, and knowing you couldn’t change it.

Today was shoveling day.
Hubby used the tractor to clear the driveway, the path to the hay, and to drop a full round straw bale into the turkey yard.
The Kid and I shoveled.
And dropped straw into places we shoveled out so birds had somewhere to sit out of the snow.
We have more shoveling to do.
But for now, coffee.

Cookie
Ima Midnight Tuxedo
May 21st, 2005 ~ November 13th, 2017
🖤🖤🖤

November

Here we are, one of my least favorite months.
I don’t like the turn towards cold.
As I get older, I’m feeling the cold more and more.
And I don’t like it.
It’s also the month that my Cookie died.
So I tend to be a wee bit…emotional.
lol

BUT

As of last night, our winter hay is on the yard.
So, I am over the frickin’ moon grateful for that.
Our Hay Guy is a genuine Good Human.
And in this day and age, those sorts of folks are becoming fewer and harder to find.
But he’s a gooder, just like the people who introduced us to him. 🙂

And we have hay.
So The Merry Mares get to eat.

Next up to get home, straw bales.
We have 6 big rounds waiting for us with the same Farm family we bought Sir Oinks A Lot from.
This weekend we’ll pick those up.
Then we’ll get a couple bags of hay replacer (for those super cold days where the horses need a little extra but oats are too hard for our CinderBella to eat) and our yearly allotment of oats.

Then we’re good for feed for all the animals for a while.
We still have the Loop pickups to supplement and we’re so grateful for those.
A friend has a bunch of pumpkins for us too…which is gonna make the bippies (our bunch of ducklings we bought in late summer) the happiest of happy bippies.
Bippies can strip a raw pumpkin down to nothing in 10.2 seconds.
I *love* that I don’t have to cook the pumpkins for them!!
Though, I will cook off a couple to freeze for winter for equines.
Pumpkin is just as good for horse tummies as it is for dogs.

And, we have some nice weather for the next week, so I’m working on the next garden space…
While working on putting the current garden to bed.
It’s all happening, just slowly.
This nice weather has been awesome for our heat bill…since I haven’t turned the heat on yet.
Tonight is gonna be out coldest night of the week, so extra blankets and sweaters and slippers and we’ll be just fine. Even if I complain about it. 😉
Not that complaining will do any good.
Winter is coming.
I’ll just have to deal with it.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Well, that’s in the books for another year.
We don’t actually celebrate it, so for us it was just another weekend of trying to get things done before winter. More roosters need doing, but we were getting hammered by rain so that got put off.
We did get some yard clean up done between rains.
Plus we got the roosters separated so that we can just get up and go on the next not-rainy day.

That was supposed to be Saturday, because the next 3 days after today is rain, and today is a Loop pickup day so we need the 2nd fridge for some of that stuff…
Oh, but then this morning?
I get the text that our pig is ready to pick up.
Awesome, right?
Absolutely!
But now Saturday is pick up the pig and process it day…because we pick up the pig live, bring it home and do all the work here.
Saves us a couple hundred dollars doing it that way, and we are very happy with the family that raises the pig for us.
They have the same #HappyFoodTastesBetter values that we do.
And they have a better porcine set up.
So I am happy af to buy a finished pig to put down in the Fall while focusing on poultry on my Farm.

But the work…
O.M.G.
Like I said, I’ll sleep come winter.

Garden is still producing.
With the rains over the next few days, we shouldn’t frost, though we’re hovering awful close to it.
I am hoping that it holds off a wee bit longer, since my peppers are not ripe yet.
I really, really don’t want to buy poblano or paprika seeds next year, so I need those dang peppers to ripen!
The beans are being left now to grow seed for next year.
What ever is out there will get harvested after the frost and further dried to seed for the yellow, Painted pony and Royal Burgandy varieties. The pintos will just be left and tarped over. I have a *lot* of pinto seeds. lol

And carrots and beets can be left for a couple weeks yet, since they’re underground.
Thank goodness, since I am not ready to pull them yet.
So as soon as I see a frost warning, I’ll pick the peppers, tomatoes and ground cherrys, then let the plants die off. Once the bean seeds are harvested and the beets/carrots too, we can tarp the entire space and let her go to sleep for winter.
It’s coming fast.

In the meantime, we’re just going along, trying to get as much done as possible.
Butchering, building, and trying to stay sane.
😂😂😂
That last one in the toughest one.

Here’s Homer J…who, it has been determined, is a hen.
YAY!!
So next year we’ll have Homer J bebes.
I’m very happy she’s a hen. She’s growing into a beauty of a duck (not that you can tell with all the mud on her), and she’s my pal. 😉
Today we’re working on the winter duck coop so Homer J and everyone else can have a nice warm space to snuggle on those
c-c-c-old winter nights.
🙂

17

17.
That’s the number of roosters…full sized boys…who went to Freezer Camp this past weekend.
Whew.
That’s a huge chunk off the feed bill.
Add that to the 5 geese we did last week.
And that’s more than 10lbs of feed *per day* we’re saving.
And we’re eating good this winter.

17.
Gave me 7 packages of breasts for the freezer.
Supper last night and 2 lunches for Hubby.
8 2lb bags of ground for the freezer.
Plus, today and tomorrow are carcass roasting/bone broth making days.
So that will give us another 10ish meals.
And bones will go either into the fire (ashes go into the garden) or ground and into the garden.
Depending on my energy levels.
lol

I still have 4 full sized boys to do.
A really good amount of younger boys (who are the size that we’d normally do them…the bigger 1st hatch guys got left too long), a bunch of older hens, plus the turkeys.
The plan was to do turkeys, but they’re huge and I have to find bags to get them in the freezer with…huge.
Like pretty well the 5 white boys are at the 30lb mark live weight, and the hen is pretty close to 20.
Huge.

BUT

It seems we have hay.
There was a quick text conversation with our Hay Guy on Saturday that ended with him saying “okay” and us saying “thank you!” and yeah, we have hay.
Thank frickin’ Epona.
That’s a load off the mind.
Plus we have straw…now that our line is fixed, I can figure out where to put stuff and start getting in on the yard.
I say “we have it” but until **we have it** we don’t really “have it”.
If that makes sense.
But we deal with amazing, honorable people.
So when they say “you have it” I can pretty much say “we have it”.

Thank goodness for those last rounds of rains, because I’m sure that’s what made it so that we’d have hay.
It saved our pasture, for sure!
And it’s been letting my garden continue.
The weather is good, we’ve passed the couple of sketchy nights and it’s looking good for the next 2 weeks.
Good.
I’m busy with birbs, so I need the garden to effectively tend to itself for a bit.
We’re in the rhythm of Fall…
Butcher, process, roast and can.
Lather, rinse, repeat until all done.

Afterwards, maybe I’ll have a chance to take my camera out for some work.
Maybe.
If I’m not sleeping.
😂😂😂

Have a great week y’all!

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!

Here’s The Plan…

My front yard, beside the pasture.

There is a strip of land between the pasture fence (white) and the trees that’s kinda dead space.
There’s not really enough space there to do much of anything.
Waaaaaay back when we bought this place, we used to have our bon fire barrel (affectionately know as the Hobo Barrel) in that space.
Now it’s at the back of the house, where usually less snow accumulates in the winter, so we can still have raging bonfires in the depths of cold months.
Sometimes, ya just hafta!

Anyways, so at the corner post (which is actually a tree) is there the front corner of the greenhouse is going to go…since things get beyond crazy effing windy out here, we’re going to tie the greenhouse into that tree/post for stability.
The fence is going to be moved over to the other side of the lilacs (they’re currently inside the fence, as you can see) and that will give us(me) plenty of space for garden between the trees and the lilacs, as well as give some windbreak for the plants that grow there.

On the tree side, the first one is dead…so it’s coming out.
Here’s the thing…when you buy a tree, rarely do the sellers tell you *how to plant* said tree.
*sigh*
So we have 2 trees in that line that, if I had known the proper way to plant them, would be bearing fruit for us now.
An apple and a pear tree.
But, since I did *not* know that you don’t plant ’em as deep as possible (like, how did I not know that??) and to *not* cover the graft knot, those 2 trees died.
Now I know though, so they’ll be replaced with properly planted trees.

I’m hoping the Prairie Shelterbelt folks will be selling again this year.
Their website is down right now, but I’m hoping that’s because they’re getting ready to open orders in the next month or so.
Last year they had Siberian Crab apple trees that I really wanted.
By the time I got an order in (with a friend and some others) I missed out on them.
I hope they have them again this year.
Plus, I want to add some saskatoons as well.
Both will help replace the dead trees.

That aside, the greenhouse (which is a small 8’x8′ to start) will sit at the front, close to the drive way.
Behind, where the grass is cut, will be covered with cardboard, straw and then topsoil for garden growing.
Then, as we can, we’ll add on to the greenhouse, lengthening it down that strip.
Only the first 8’x8′ space will have tables/seed starting space (at first).
The rest will stay a dirt floor that we’ll plant straight into.

The first year we’ll use t-posts and stucco wire as a fence to keep the asshole chickens out.
Because chickens is assholes and they love to rip out delicate seedling before they get settled in for growing.
🤦‍♀️🙄

All that to tell you that our focus tomorrow is on moving the fence line.
Once that’s done, we can work on getting the 4 walls (now built!!) up and then the roof.
We’re so close.
So. Very. Close.

Tomatogeddon

Way back in June, on the Summer Solstice, we had frost.
I had planted my tomatoes about a week or so earlier.
Peppers too.
And then BOOM!!
Killing frost on the first day of summer.
*sigh*

Well, as it turns out, not every tomato plant died, some have bounced back, but no where near in time to get a decent crop off them.
I will have some nice green ones though, so that’s okay too.
But in the meantime, the shelves are looking very bare of tomato products and we cannot have that.

So when the local mega mart put their cases of roma tomatoes on sale, guess who asked her Hubby to bring some out to the Farm?
Yeah, that’d be me, because I’m stupid and didn’t have enough food going into jars.
😂😂😂

But tomatoes are something we love here, and we go through a lot of tomato sauce and pizza sauce…because we live where pizza delivery isn’t an option and we like pizza. 😉

100lbs came home.
So my days have been filled with roasting the tomatoes, running them through the food mill, making the sauce, canning the sauce…

In case anyone cares, 100lbs of tomatoes makes roughly 10 gallons of tomato sauce.
With about 3 gallons of the juice left over after roasting.
That doesn’t get wasted.
After all, it’s tomato juice.
So I drink it.
Some years I freeze it for later on when I make the green tomato wine, but this year the freezers are already short of space, so that’s not an option.
So I’ve been enjoying beer and tomato juice at the end of the long canning days.

I have a 5 gallon pail of sauce left to put in jars.
That’s tomorrow.
Today we’re working on the greenhouse.
Being September long weekend already, we’ve got to get our butts in gear and get it up.

I’ll finish tomatogeddon tomorrow…
And then we’ll be back at Rooster Rehab until all the roosters (and turkeys) are done.

Got It!!

And now, we just need the time to get it put up…

Those are the last 20 boards we needed to get the greenhouse fully built.
I’M SO EXCITED!!

It’s not going to be huge, but it will be expandable, and it will definitely be a game changer in our gardening world.
Not just for starting plants, but for growing some too…the greenhouse is where things like pole beans and some tomatoes will grow, just because they need a little extra oomph…but once seedlings are up in the house and we have a heat source in the greenhouse, outside they’ll go!
So this winter will be me studying how, exactly, to use the greenhouse to our very best benefits.

EXCITING!

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.