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.
🙂

White Turkeys

That is a wrap on white turkey growing for the year.
Yee. Haw.
We learned some things, have plans to improve those things, and yup, will definitely grow them again next year.

First thing…
Remember I said I wanted to keep the hen for the breeding program with the Narragansetts?
HA!!
Good thing we decided against it.
The one I thought was a hen…wasn’t.
In fact it was the only male in the group of 6.
That’s right, the massive 30-40lb birds were actually the hens.
So I would have been keeping the wrong bird!
And clearly, the size of the hens would have made long term health for them all but impossible.
But they’re not bred for health, they’re bred for fast and furious growth and off to the freezer.
Still, mine went 24 weeks without issues, where most commercial turkeys are done at 16.
I figure as long as they’re running and hooting looking for their morning hard boiled eggs, they’re good to stay.

Which brings me to the 2nd thing…
Size.
Oh my word.
Those hens I thought were toms were huge!
I don’t have a final dressed out weight yet, but they did not fit the restraining cone.
And even though we tried to make it work, the cone completely split on the 2nd to last bird.
So we need to invest in metal restraining cones.
Whether Hubby makes them or we buy them, doesn’t matter.
Also, thankfully we had the turkey fryer pot for the scald to pluck dip.
Our regular pot we use with meaties and roosters is waaaaay too small.
And!
Our plucker, which says it can handle turkeys…can’t.
Or, at least not the size these hens made.
So we either grow them smaller next year (😂😂😂) or we hand pluck.
They are easy enough to hand pluck.

Of course the other thing about size is the rest period after butcher.
They have to stay in the fridge for 24-48 hours afterwards and before packaging.
We have our regular food fridge up stairs and the basement beer/butchering fridge.
Um, the basement fridge is really, really full with 6 turkeys.
😂😂😂
If we grew more than 6 (we had 10 but had a 40% loss over their growing season) we’d have to do processing for more than 1 day.

Finally, feed costs…
Turkeys are expensive to raise.
There’s no getting around that.
For the first 8 weeks, they need a quality high protein feed.
For us, that meant buying the gamebird feed from the local feed store…and supplementing with hard boiled eggs.
Each poult eats an average of 3 ~ 55lb bags in their first 8 weeks.
They grow fast and need ample protein and energy to do it, so feed is out for them 24/7.
After the first 8 weeks, I transition them to the fermented barley/wheat chop that we feed everyone else.
But they still get hard boiled eggs.
Both for protein and to help the transition.
Once fully on the chop, they get that with garden weeds, thistles, greens and kitchen scraps.
And hard boiled eggs. 😂😂😂
What?
They really, really, really love hard boiled eggs!
Plus the next poults will learn what the goodies from Loop are sooner, rather than later. 😉

So, 6 whites go through roughly 55-110lbs of fermented feed a week.
That fluctuates with the amount of green/weeds and food waste from Loop.

Cost wise?
$6.70 for each poult.
3 x $27.50 for gamebird feed.
16 weeks at 2 x $8 for chop/6
**edited to adjust the chop costs since I forgot to divide the 16 week total by 6 for 6 poults.

Which gives us a total of $131.86 to raise a poult to butcher.
It’s that upfront of almost $100 in feed, plus that we pushed them out to 24 weeks.
But their size shows that 24 weeks was fine.
And to get size like that in 16 weeks, you’re feeding more bagged feed than the chop.
See?
Turkeys are just plain spendy to raise.

So why do it?
Well, it’s because happy food tastes better.
This growing your own food thing isn’t always about saving money.
Hell, I’d say growing food animals is almost always a money losing activity.
BUT
I say this so often…we are what we eat.
And eating poorly raised, never ever see the light of day, no delight in weeds and greens tossed to them, no space for turkey races and fun, turkeys has an effect on us.
Never mind that it’s cruel, in my opinion, to keep birds locked up away from the sunshine and the ability to act naturally.
So we raise our birds on the ground, in the sunshine, giving them the foods they love and that help them grow. Anyone who’s been here can see, my birbs are happy af.
Just watch ’em come running when they see me…because that means The Food Lady is bringing *something* good. 😉
That’s worth the cost.

To sum up:
Turkeys are expensive.
The end product is huge and worth it.
Need metal kill cones.
And a 3rd fridge (or a walk in) would be nice.

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!

Finally!

Something we’ve been dealing with here at the Farm for the past 7 months, through one of our areas worst ever droughts, was a leaking water line from our well to our house.
It has produced anxiety like very little else.
For months.

We tried contacting every well drilling place in the area.
We either were told “nope, too busy”, were ignored with calls never returned, or (my personal favorite) after being ghosted for months by a company, being told that we “were better off drilling a new well”.

So as you can imagine, as we’re watching precious water go all over our lawn, destroy our yard, potentially burn out our well pump or run our well dry, we were feeling less and less hope everyday.
In fact, we were at the point of looking for an excavator to rent and doing it ourselves.

In a last ditch effort, in a local FB group, I found a woman advertising her hubby’s plumbing business.
Being country folks themselves, I checked out his business page and found that he had indeed worked on wells, septic systems, and done excavations.
So I took a chance and asked on her post if our problem was something he could do…she gave me his number and said “shoot him a text!”
So I did.

And damn if Joe from Hooper and Sons Plumbing and Heating didn’t come through for us!
In a week he was out to put in a bypass pump to keep us and the animals in water while the wet area dried enough for excavation, and then Tuesday he texts me and asks if it’s ok that the guy who runs the excavator comes out to see the site…Um, YES!!

Next thing we know?
This:

It took them an afternoon to dig, find the problem, and fix it.
And we have water again.
Before freeze up.

Seriously, I sat down last night and had a good soul cleansing cry about it.

I’ve been fighting to find someone to help us for months, being turned away every single time.
And here’s Joe…gets it that water is important for a hobby farmer (he and his family have livestock too), that hauling water in winter from off site would be horrible, that we needed help.
And he came through.
This guy, I’m telling ya, is a genuine Good Human.

Now I just have to pay his bill, and he has to come get his breeding pair of Narragansett turkeys I promised him.
😂😂😂
The first time he came out, I told him, if he got this fixed for us, I’d give him a young breeding pair, and I’m a Woman of my word.
The hilarious part of it is, when I texted our thanks, I reminded him of the offer, and he said “I’ll see what the wife thinks” and my Hubby said “Oh Joe is gettin’ turkeys”
😂😂😂
My Hubby knows.
Because that’s how we got ducks…
Free poultry for the win.

But anyways, anyone in the Interlake are of Manitoba, if you need plumbing work done, Hooper and Sons Plumbing and Heating are the folks to get the job done.

And!!
Just to make it all more fun, the fix happened on a Loop day too.
😂😂😂
So here we are with aaaaallllll this grocery store food for feed piled up every damn place, and my house looks like some sort of crazed food hoarder lives in it and fuck…oh man.
I don’t live like that!
😂😂😂
Yeah it looked bad.
But free feed for the animals and cutting down on food waste is a very necessary thing.
It just happened to coincide with having other people in my house.
Oh well.

Water is fixed.
I’ll recommend Joe every chance I get (and we’ll probably get him out in the spring to look at our water softener).
And we can breathe again.
These are good things.

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.

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.

It’s Raining!

First of all, like the title says, it’s raining.
We had some rain last week that really helped, and now we’re in for just about the entire weekend full of rain.
So while I’m frustrated that it makes butchering difficult (got 18 more cornish to go…turns out I can’t count,
I kept missing 2 of them 😂😂😂), I am happy af for rain.
And I’m praying it’s in time to save our pasture.
And our Hay Guy’s yield.
And doesn’t eff up our straw supplier’s harvest.
*sigh*
But rain, right now, is a good thing.
😉

First jars of chicken are ready for the shelf.
Only 85ish more to go.
😂😂😂

This year I’m trying to do them with a bit more stock in them.
Last year they were jammed full of chicken with as little stock as I could safely get away with.
Which was great when I opened a jar for Hubby, but not so great when I opened a jar for the old Calico cat.
Yep, I fed the damn cat home canned chicken.
A. Lot.
But when you’re the feline equivalent of 128 years old, you eat whatever the eff you want…and she wanted home canned chicken.
It always had to have stock with it though and she drove me nuts screaming when the liquid ran out…so this year, a little more juice and a few extra smaller jars of just stock to supplement when the bigger jar runs out.

Before the rains came, I headed into the garden to pick beans (canning those tomorrow) and pull some weeds.
‘Round here not even the weeds go to waste.
First bin of them went to the geese.
They get crazy excited over weeds and cut grass.
They’re gonna be my garden clean up crew this year.
I figure they should do a great job of eating down everything left once we’re done.
I will have to protect a few things, like the black currants, the chives and the grape vine, but they’ll have tons of stuff then can eat and enjoy.

2nd bin went to the turkeys.
It was mostly thistles and those white turkeys sure love thistles!
Thistles are good for liver health, so they can have as many thistles as I can give them.
This year I’m going to try turkey liver.
I hate liver.
Really, really hate it.
But it’s because growing up all we ever had was over cooked, grainy af, vomit inducing beef liver and onions.
And when it was put in front of us, we got nothing else until our plate was clean.
Even if it took days.
I uh, learned to fast for long periods of time…real young.

But now as an adult, who is trying to work a little harder on nose to tail eating (not that livers or other offal were ever wasted…we’ve always found someone who wanted those bits) I’ve committed myself to trying to eat poultry livers.
I have a few duck ones in the freezer from our last duck days.
I just couldn’t convince myself to try them.
Yet.
I’ll get there.

There’s 5 boys, and 1 hen here.
The smallest one just above the Farm logo is the hen.
I have researched and learned that white hens are often kept for breeding purposes in big barn settings.
So I figure I’m going to keep her and see what happens.
Either she’ll mate and lay or she won’t.
If she does, it should add some size and maybe some speed to the growth of poults…or maybe she’ll only add a different colour shade to the next gen poults from her.
If she doesn’t, we’ll send her to Freezer Camp in the spring.
But she’s already doing the sit down and flirt thing with Oscar, so I’m hopeful. 🙂

The boys will all be going off to Freezer Camp soon.
They’re at 16 weeks now and just about the size of Oscar and Dingus.
For reference, Oscar and Dingus are a year old now and are just about 35lbs each.
Yeah so, you can see the whites grow a lot faster.
If we could keep them going, the white turkeys (Nicholas turkeys) have been known to make 70lbs live weight…which is why the toms aren’t kept for breeding.
It’s all A.I.
Yup, someone in the world has the job of extracting turkey semen and artificially inseminating hens.
😂😂😂
Can’t say it’s a job I’d want, but I guess someone has to do it.
How else do ya get those cheap turkeys at the holidays??
But seriously, I much prefer my Narragansetts who do the joyful deed themselves and quite proudly.

So. Much. Chirping.

On Thursday I took the turners out of the incubator.
I thought it was day 19.
It was actually day 18, so I was on time instead of a day late.
Which was why I was worried when I didn’t hear chirping right away on Thursday evening.
It’s all good though, the birbs are making up for it!
Last night was almost impossible to sleep because of the chirp, chirp, chirping.
Tomorrow we’ll pull the ones that have hatched out and put them in the brooder, and start all over again.

Speaking of brooders, Hubby got one built for me.
Yay!
Check the Farm Instagram on the sidebar…
(I still haven’t figured out WP’s problem with me uploading images, so I’ll be recycling some until I do…and there’s always Instagram for current images.)
Meat birds come in 3 weeks, and when that happens, the current chicks will go into that brooder (and hopefully he’ll have the chance to build a couple more!) and we’ll go from there.

Yesterday I took care of two asshole roosters.
I had kept them back from last years hatches because of their size (big, big boys!) and because they were not showing the mean rooster traits.
I don’t mind so much if roosters are shitty with us humans *IF* they’re good to the hens.
Well, as the winter wound down, these boys started getting shittier and shittier with the girls, to the point where they were holding girls down just to hold them down, while pulling out head feathers.
I ain’t having that.
There’s way too many nice boys out there to put up with that garbage.
And so, they went to the soup pot.
No room in my poultry yard for asshole roos…
**LOTS** of room in my freezer for ’em. 😉
It wasn’t even that there were too many boys (we had before yesterday 7 roos) because I have (even though I claim only 10 😉 ) at least 60 hens out there. So there’s no excuse for shitty rooster behaviour.
Welp, now the girls can be happy because the mean boys are gone…and the girls happily consumed their innards.
😂😂😂
Yeah, anyone who says chickens are vegetarians ain’t never seen the glee in a hen’s eye when she gets the testicle from a shitty rooster.
😂😂😂

I had also planned on send Oscar to Freezer Camp.

But lately he’s taken a shine to Daphne…

Booooop the snooooot!

Daphne is not impressed that this big bird has decided he’s in love with her.
She’s not impressed by his dancing, prancing and turkey songs.
Nope. Not at all.
😂😂😂
Us humans, however, find it funny as hell…and when Oscar is busy trying to woo Daphne he’s not fighting with Dingus.
And Dingus then spends *his* time trying to woo the turkey hens.
So it all works out just fine.
Besides, I have Narragansett turkey eggs in the big incubator…Oscar can stick around until we see exactly what hatches for us there. He might get him a flock of his own hens. Or he might go Camping.
But there’s time to wait and not be hasty about sending him to Camp.

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.
😂😂😂

Turkey Day

I think it’s kinda funny that on American Thanksgiving I’m butchering a couple turkeys.
I’m Canadian, so our Thanksgiving was last month.
None of my turkeys were ready then…but now?

So, we have 7 toms.
That means, as they’re maturing, there’s a lot of dancing and gobbling and trying to figure out the whole mating thing.
Having 6 hens, well, that’s waaaaay too many boys to be strutting around and hopping on the girls.
Sadly, earlier this week, we lost a hen to over enthusiastic toms.
Now we’re down to 5 hens.
So it’s time to get real about who gets to stay on as a breeder and who gets to go to Freezer Camp.

Hens stay, there’s no doubt about that.
But only 2 toms get to stay…and of those 2, if they start being too much for the hens, I’ll take one of them out later.
The good thing is, my feed bill will thank me.
5 toms eat a lot of food!
And the family will thank me because 5 toms is a lot of food for us.
😉

The blonde fellow will stay, and one of the other bigger boys.

The rest of the toms will feed us.
That’s just life on the Farm.