Things That Got Done This Past Weekend

You know the saying…
Winter is coming.
Which means we have to prepare.
It’s not just about food on the shelves, and meat in the freezer.
It’s also making sure we have feed for the animals and prepping for next spring’s new beginnings.

Hay!!

Our hay was delivered on Saturday.
Hubby stashed a few bales in the garage, so that come March, if we don’t need them, they stay there ’til next year.
Hay is never, ever wasted here!
Who knew that dried grass could be, would be, such a precious commodity!
When I think of all the times I cut mine in the city, with no thought about *what* I could have been feeding it to…
I could have easily fed a nice little backyard rabbits for meat colony off my city lawn…and no one would have been the wiser about us raising meat in the city.
No worries about that now though…

With hay, came my 4 small straw bales to go in this:

chick brooder

It’s out and ready for renovations…it’s just too tall, the door too small, and really, really heavy overall.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Hubby’s gonna cut it down in height…prolly to just under the window.
That way it’s a step in as needed but can mostly just reach in to feed and water chicks.
Because in spring, chicks is coming.
Meat chicks, and hatched chicks.
I’ve got my eye on the 2nd incubator, so we’ll have 2 running at once for more chicks.
And then I need a 2nd brooder box for ducklings.
I plan on ordering 10 pekin ducks when we order our meat chicks.
I’m still hopeful that the muscovies will actually produce chicks for us come spring, but if they don’t I want a back up plan for ducks.
We’ve found we really enjoy duck meat and I refuse to buy it, unless I’m buying from another small farmer like us.

Anyways, after Hubby renos the brooder, it’s going in the Little Red Shed…which needs to have the holes in the side and roof fixed and ridge cap put on before winter…soooooo fingers crossed we can get that done, or moving the brooder in there will be a colossal waste of time.
:/

But we got this done…

tarp on the garden…

I was given a bunch of starting to breakdown flax straw bales, so I spread them out under the tarp, on top of the weeds, to rot and compost…it’s a soil building thing. πŸ˜‰
The tarp will stay until shortly before planting time is to begin.
Then it’ll be replaced with some thick ground cloth, which I’ll plant through and mulch over top.

closed up the compost bins…

So those compost bins…
Got them from a friend when she moved.
I had them in the city myself and left them for the new owners…who then got rid of them. πŸ™„
I shoulda brought them out here.
But this fall, we discovered those bins make *amazing* poultry houses.
Yup, when the ducks were in the garden working on weed control, they overnighted in the compost bins.
It was awesome!
Now they’re closed up for use as actual compost bins.
And I’m on the lookout for anyone getting rid of more of them.
I can’t believe how well they worked as poultry houses!

So that was a bunch of things off the “Winter is Coming” list…
Plus I made english muffins, fed the chickens a bunch of scrambled eggs and slept. As much as I could. lol

And finally, a picture of Astrid…

Astrid

Our Little Red who thinks she should eat eggs.
πŸ™„
Why?
Well, because the chickens have been sneaking into the horse shelter and laying them in there.
That *must* mean the eggs are there for her to eat, right?
Astrid thinks my rules against horses eating eggs is bullshit.
She likes eggs and she wants to keep eating them.
I says “You leave them damn eggs alone, you damn horse!”
All while laughing my ass off…
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚

A Bit of a Giggle

I had a bit of a giggle at Hubby yesterday…

We went to do chores and throw hay for The Merry Mares, and like always at this time of year, while he tossed hay I went in and scratched and petted everyone.
There’s a reason for this…aside from the general love I have for the equine brats. πŸ˜‰
Scratches and pets also let me make sure everyone is is good weight for the impending cold weather.
As coats thicken, if they’re not getting a bit of a fat layer, or if they’ve lost, that can be hidden under that thickening coat.
So, hands on is the easiest way to tell…

So while I’m scratching and poking and prodding, Hubby says to me he’s glad to have our hay home now, because he’s been worried about how much the mares have been eating.
I did a quizzical doggie head tilt at him…
Really?
Worrying about weight and if they’re getting enough is totally my thing.
Almost all year long, I’m worrying about making sure they’re in healthy weight.

He says to me, “well from here, I can see Astrid’s ribs”
I laugh and I’m like, “uh, fucking where???”
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
So I get him to come into the pasture and I show him…if you try to feel ribs, you can’t.
But looking from the angle he was standing it, it looked like she was ribby because of her hair pattern and the dirt in her coat.
Then I took him over to Sable, and showed him the same thing…find the ribs with your hands, through the coat.
Once into the coat, you find she has a nice pad of fat over her ribs…not so much that she’s overweight, but enough that she’ll do just fine with good hay to maintain her.
And Ruby?
Still getting people stopping to find out when she’s gonna have her baby.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
I laugh and say, “no babies here…that’s a food baby!!”

Chubby monkey napping in the sunrise, pre-snow fall.

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚

Deleting Old Posts

That’s what I did yesterday.
After much searching, I found a website that takes posts and turns them into a .pdf.
I did that a while back with a couple years worth of old posts.
Now, I’m working on deleting the posts and images (which means there might be a broken image here and there, if I reused one in a newer post).
This way, I have space for new images to go in new posts.
Because I refuse to go to a pay-to-blog platform.
It’s just not gonna happen…and I didn’t want to move to a whole new blog while trying to encourage followers to come along.
Naw.
Easier to save and delete.
Well, as easy as something so darn tedious can be.
πŸ˜‰

The positive part though, is new images…and they are *much* faster to upload with space!
Which is good, because I managed to get out with the camera Saturday morning, and a bit yesterday too.

Sable

Funny thing is…I’ve been waiting for a Saturday morning sunrise like this for a few weeks now.
I’ve an idea in my head I want to shoot, but need this light and Hubby.
Where was he Saturday when the light looked like this??!?
In a tree stand, hunting deer.
πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„
Fingers crossed we can get another chance before the snow flies and stays.


Then yesterday, knowing that below zero overnight temps. were coming, Hubby cleaned out the maceration tubs.
What is a maceration tub, you ask?
Well, it’s a bin that holds whatever skulls and bones we want cleaned and a whole lot of water.
That’s it.
Nothing high tech or fancy.
Just bins/barrels/tubs of bones and water.

We had Cookie’s skull and bones finishing cleaning…because our warm weather doesn’t last long, it can take a little longer here to clean a skull.
I *should* invest in a fish tank heater to speed thing up a bit, but we don’t keep the tubs anywhere near an electricity source.
If you’ve ever smelt a working maceration tub, you’d understand why they aren’t real close to the house.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Anyway, Hubby pulled Cookie’s parts out and we had a bit of a surprise…

😍😍😍

We were a bit surprised, to say the least. lol
So after I grabbed the camera, I hit the skull cleaning forums on FB.
And it turns out this is nothing to panic about.
It likely happened because I didn’t change the water enough…though a deer leg in with her *didn’t* go black like this.
πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

She may stay darkened like that.
She may not.
She’s ready to go onto degreasing – which is exactly what it sounds like.
Bones hold fats in them, and after maceration, they go into a water/dish soap combo to soak, which draws out the grease.
If this isn’t done, your bones could get stinky (prolly will) and might start to break down as the fats get gross.

If the colour holds through degreasing, then she’ll be left like that.
I could put her into peroxide for whitening, but I love the way she looks dark, so if it stays, it stays.

Hubby also pulled out the giant tarp and tossed it into the garden.
It was too windy to spread, so there’s still that to do.
Hopefully we’ll have a day this week to get that done.
Honestly, I’m ready for spring, seed catalogs and planting the new garden.
lol
I know, I know.
The land needs to sleep first.
I do know that.
I just don’t want to deal with winter.
I will…but I don’t want to.

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚

Well That Was Fun…

Except for it wasn’t.
😦

We weathered the storm.
It was a mighty one, to be sure.
We lost power Friday morning, after losing internet a few hours before that.
I crocheted a whole lot.
Got a blanket about 1/3rd done for The Kid.
We sat under blankets to stay warm.
Had buckets of water for the necessities.
Watered animals with water from the rain barrels.
Poultry stayed locked in their coop.
Horses ate a whole lot of hay…and beet pulp and oats and alfalfa cubes.
Plus Tums for Sable, to keep her tummy happy.

When all was said and done, we had power back on by Friday evening, though there were a few blips and outages for another day or so.
We had a lot of snow.
Way more than a 1st snow storm should drop.
But, by the time we were able to get out to assess any damages, it was already melting.
And melting fast!

Pawing through the melting snow…

I don’t actually know how much snow we got, because of all the winds.
Holy. Moly.
It was windy like crazy, and the snow was wet and heavy.
I do know in the pic above, it had melted down by a 1/3rd (or more) already when I took that.

The week ahead looks nice though.
Thank goodness.
Because the date is set for porcine Freezer Camp.
I’ll be happy when it’s over and done with.
This round of pigs, while growing amazingly well, have had their challenges.
So much so that we’re thinking of taking a year off of raising pigs.

We have an opportunity to put a yearling steer into a pasture with a couple others and it won’t cost us anything for feed.
It means we can grow out a beef for the cost of the steer only. And because we do our own processing, we won’t have to pay those fees either.
We’re thinking of doing that next year.
And I’ll put all my other time into the poultry.
Meat chickens, and incubating eggs.
So we’ll still be able to fill the freezer very well.
I just need a year without pigs.

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚

Storm’s a Comin’

That’s the big news this week in weather.
There’s a storm coming.
Rain?
Snow?
Both?

Either way, we’ve had yesterday and today to prepare and get a few things done before it hits.
Yesterday I finally cleaned out the tomato cages from the garden.
I had just left them after the rains drowned anything that hadn’t burned up in the drought.
Kinda just gave up, I guess.
But, in order to get the garden fully put to bed and prepped for next year, they had to come out.
So, done.

Today I weeded around the strawberries.
Can you believe the damn things are blooming??!?
I was stunned.
But with all the rain, and with the thick mulch around them, they’ve been happy little plants.
I pulled out all the weeds, and fed those to the pigs.
Under the mulch…oh my…*swoons*…there is this gorgeous black, rich soil, with so. many. earth worms.
*This* is what I was trying to create.
Every where I mulched heavily is the same.
So about half the garden.
No till, just dig, plant, mulch.
And the weeds that did come up, came out easy peasy.
So even though I was frustrated with my garden, and we really didn’t get anything from it, the no till route *did* work.
Which means I’ll expand it next year.

Then came this…

😍😍😍

It’s only 53 cloves.
My budget was teeny for seed garlic this year, so I had to be sure that I found a variety that will grow well in the climate, and be a tasty delight.
This was what I found.
10 bulbs gave me 53 cloves.
And now all 53 cloves have been planted.
Into that gorgeous rich soil.
I am hopeful for a bountiful garlic crop come spring.
Which, of course, will expand next Fall.
53 heads (assuming they all grow) is just not enough.
πŸ˜‰

Finally, I spread a good layer of mulch over both garlic and strawberries.
It’s not quite as much as I’d like, they’ll need more before winter truly sets in.
But when I get my hay delivery, I’ll get a few small squares of straw…for mulching the berries/garlic and for the brooders come spring chick season.

Tonight we’ll pull out the tarp for the garden, move some straw to the pig yard, fill all the feed bins, and transfer the feed we keep in the horse trailer to the Little Red Shed.
It is, after all, meant to be our feed building.
And then, I think we’ll be as ready as we can be for this storm.
Next week it’ll all melt and we’ll continue on with winter preps.
Because that’s just how the weather works here.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚

Dreaming

It’s been another wet few days.
Feeling like I need to build an ark.
Or put up a sign that says “send dry weather…and more beer” at the end of the driveway.

All this rain has left me plenty of time to dream about plans for the Farm though.
My biggest 2 wants are:

  1. a couple of water totes ~ and I’m hoping to make that happen in the spring.
    If we get another dry, dry, dry summer like the past 2, I really want as big of a water collection system that I can manage. While at the same time, we’ll continue working on building our soil to be able to hold water as much as possible.
    On that line, I’m reading The Drought Resilient Farm by Dale Strickler…it’s an interesting read and I’m quite enjoying it.
  2. a greenhouse.
    I can’t tell you how long I’ve wished for a greenhouse.
    For as long as I’ve been a gardener for sure!
    Found some interesting and fairly simple plans here: The Seed Guy pallet greenhouse.
    😍😍😍

So I’ve put some feelers out, looking for the cattle panels used in the greenhouse, and looking for a good source for food safe water totes. There are a ton of the totes out there, but not all are safe for water for gardens or drinking.
We use rain water to water the majority of the animals (only the horses’ trough is fed from the well) so it’s incredibly important that the totes can be used for potable water.

And that greenhouse…
Hubby and I talked about making one side of the garden (which is currently 26’x40′) the greenhouse part. So taking 9ish feet off the 26′ side, and then making the greenhouse as long as we possible can.
Then I could have a whole bunch of space for tomatoes and beans (likely just pole beans, but maybe some bush ones too), leaving the outsideΒ  roughly 16’x42′ for things like carrots, beets, onions and garlic. As well as some other assorted things like squashes and pumpkins. πŸ™‚
And probably bush beans too…because even if they’re in the greenhouse, there’s never enough beans in our world.
LOL!!

Plus, Hubby and I just talked about adding extra smaller greenhouses like this in different spots of the yard.
We have a spot between the house and the pasture gate that, right now, is a catch all spot for building materials. It’s kinda ugly looking and I don’t like it.
But it’s a great spot to put up a couple 9’x12’ish greenhouses to grow food in.

That’s what I’m thinking about today, in between rounds of rain.
Making this Farm grow more and more food for us…and then, hopefully, having enough to sell.
❀

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚

Pigs

Can I just tell you how huge these guys are??
These are the biggest pigs we’ve raised.
I figure they’re rapidly approaching the 250lb mark…and they might make 300 if we wait long enough.
Though, I’m not sure how much more energy I have for pig keeping this year.
LOL!

(phone pic)

This is how small they were when we brought them home…

3 (not so) little bacon makers…

They were around 45ish lbs.

Here’s what they look like now…

In the first picture, they’re eating from a feeder Hubby made from an old pressure tank.
He cut it in half and ground the edges so nothing was sharp, and there you go, pig feeder.

In that bottom picture?
They’re standing eating from the same feeder…but YOU CAN’T SEE IT because that’s how big these guys are.
I’m pretty happy with the growth on these guys.
Definitely happy with how hardy they are.
Not so happy with their chicken eating tendencies.
Or their destruction of their shelter.

But it’s a trade off, right?
Grow huge, well and fast and be butts, or slow growing gentler pigs.
Eh.
I can deal with butts.
They still behave fairly well for The Food Lady.
Everybody loves The Food Lady.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

But, by the end of the month, I’m hoping to send them to Freezer Camp.
Because shortly after that, deer season begins, and I don’t want 3 huge pigs to deal with when we have deer to get packaged for the freezer too.

Like this post?
Feel free to buy me a coffee.
πŸ™‚