Chickies!!

I originally set 24 eggs in the incubator…

(phone pic)

At day 7 I candled and found 3 not fertilized, which left me with 21 eggs.
And then the pipping started on day 20 (I forgot to candle again at day 14).
It took everything I had to *not* open the incubator until day 22…

On the morning of day 22 we prepped the brooder, got a bin ready to transfer from incubator to brooder, and opened her up…

18!!

Of my 21 eggs, 18 hatched.
So we whisked them off to the brooder and I closed up the incubator for another 24 hours…in case those eggs were just slower to hatch.
Turns out they weren’t fertile.
So they went to the piggies.
🙂

And now, here some sneak peek pics of the ones who hatched:

Look at them!!
🙂

Interesting mix…
Our rooster’s sire is (I’m told) pure Ameraucana, hen an easter egger…so him with our easter eggers and our Browns and Columbian Rock Xs made some interesting mixes.
Whether or not I get more coloured egg layers from any of the hens (if there are any lol) we’ll just have to see.

Little cheepers…

What a funny little spot on this one’s head!
😂😂😂

So now we feed ’em and watch ’em grow.
Hens will stay on as layers, roosters will go on to become fajitas.

And round 2 of eggs, 24 again, is in the incubator.
After that hatch, I’ll put it away ’til spring.
I’d love to keep hatching, but we have to be sure whatever pullets we get are big enough come the cool/cold season so they can be in the coop with the older hens safely.

So after this round, I won’t set any more eggs until mid-March.
But I’ll be on the look out for other egg varieties…turkeys, ducks, guineas…just because I can.
🙂

There’ll be more pics in a bit…we’re busy getting ready for The Kid’s grad this weekend. Once that’s done, and we’ve recovered, The Kid and I have a specific photoshoot in mind for these balls of feathery cuteness.

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The Garden So Far…

It’s been a busy weekend.
We have finally gotten the fencing up around the garden!
YAY!!
Now I’m working on planting without the help of asshole chickens-who-are-not-supposed-to-be-free-range-but-do-whatever-the-hell-they-want.

Yesterday I pulled out the biggest weeds from the first quarter of the garden, then planted a 20 ft row of beets, 5 20 ft rows of carrots (yes, we like carrots! between soups/stews, canned carrots for winter and fresh eating, there is never enough of them)

Then, I did a couple short rows of onions.
Today I plan to, if it doesn’t rain, get my leafy greens in…spinach, lettuce and radishes (I love the peppery flavour of radish greens 🙂 ).

After that, it’s beans…hundreds of bean seeds, because like carrots, we love beans.
In soups/stews, in jars and fresh eating.
I could honestly plant my entire garden with beans and carrots and not have enough for the 3 of us.
One day, we’ll expand the garden even more and dedicate a larger area to both.

I’ve also been conditioning my straw bales for planting.
That should be this weekend.
I have 6 full medium square bales (average 400ish lbs) plus a 1/3rd of a bale that I just retied the string on.
That’s where my cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins and squashes will get planted.
I may also take one to plant sunflowers.
Ever since our first year here, I’ve been wanting to do a photo shoot with Sable eating sunflowers…because The Kid’s first garden was next to the pasture and that CinderBella ate every damn sunflower that bloomed…and did so with a huge equine grin on her face.
LOL!!
So I want to plant a bunch of them to give her a bouquet to nibble while I take pictures. 😉

And then there’s the tomatoes to get in, and my grape plant.
Strawberries were planted, but attacked by chickens before the fence went up, so I’m watering and hoping they bounce back from those feathered assholes.

Once the tomatoes are in, and the seeds start coming up, I’ll be heavily mulching with straw.
I’m working towards the garden becoming no till.
I dislike running the rototiller just to mix up the soil and expose the good microbes to the sun…and it really does encourage weed seeds to grow.
So, I’m going no-till.
Lots of mulch, pulling weeds as needed and in the fall, with the fence in, the ducks will go there to finish any weeding before the winter hits.
My garden has great soil already, I just want to keep it that way. 🙂
In the fall, we’ll add more rotted manure (because I have 3 poop factories working 24/7) and whatever straw bales from my bale gardening that are too decomposed to be grown in next year.

The chicks have been growing like crazy.
We cleaned up the old duck house, and the meat chicken house and both are ready for the meaties to make the transition to outdoor living.
Pretty sure that’s going to happen this coming weekend.
Then, if my incubator ever arrives…oy, the problems I’ve been having with Purolator!! That’s a whole different, expletive laden post, let me tell you…one the incubator arrives, I’ll fill it with eggs, and then we’ll have 3ish weeks to get the brooder cleaned out for the next round of chicks.
Home hatched chicks.
Eeeeee!! The excitement. 😀

Piglets will be arriving in about a week.
They’re ready to be off mama on the 27th. They’ll be 8 weeks by then, so should have a really good start.
We changed up the breed this year…thus far we’ve raised pinkies. But, they’re not bred for outdoor living like we like our pigs to live. It takes them time to adjust, time that should be spent growing. And while we’ve, for the most part, been happy with our end products, I feel we could do better with a heritage breed that’s bred for outdoor life.
So, with the help of a neighbour, we found 3 berkshire piglets.
I’m looking forward to seeing how our feed management and raising techniques work on these guys in comparison.

And finally, we have 1 duck and 1 chicken hen gone broody on a nest of chicken and duck eggs.
That started around the beginning of the month, so hopefully we’ll be seeing chicks from them soon.
They have this odd co-parenting thing going on, and I’m just letting them do their thing.
It’s either going to work or it’s not.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
🙂

gratuitous horse picture, because every post should have a picture of one of the Merry Mares. 😉

Now We’re Getting Busy!

Remember how I was complaining that we were in the “hurry up and wait” holding pattern?
Yeah, we’re out of that and working our butts off to get things going for growing.

We picked up the last of the garden seeds I needed to get for planting.
Now we’re at the “pull wire ’round the garden” stage…Hubby already put in the posts around the garden, and we were right on track to pull the wire fencing…until we discovered that we were out off cable ties.
I know, it’s crazy to think that anyone on a farm would run out of cable ties, but it happened, and we stalled.
Hubby stopped and picked up a hundred of them, and we’re ready to pull fencing…that’s going to happen this weekend, so that I can start planting things like carrots and peas and beets…because until the fence is up, I can’t plant anything because of asshole-not-supposed-to-be-free-ranging chickens. 😉

Lemon chicken…she does what she wants.

Once the fencing is up, we’re good to go.
Plus, I have to build a gate, but we can use temporary measures for a day or two until that’s done.

The meat chickens are 2 weeks old now…and eating like crazy.
Between them and the replacement eggies, they’re going through pounds of feed a day.
We’ve had very little losses too this year. 5 meaties and 1 eggie.
After last year’s fiasco, we made sure to change things so that everyone did better this year, and so far, so good!
We have a huge brooder that came with the garage when we bought the place. It has it’s failings (it’s 5 feet tall and the door is too small for any normal sized human to climb through), but those can be fixed later on. Right now Hubby climbs in, morning and night, to refill feeders and waterers. Once this batch of chicks moves off to the poultry yard, we’ll change the design of the brooder and install a bigger door for ease of getting into.

We’re also hoping to build another brooder in our Little Red Shed.
Oh!
Have I not shared about the Little Red Shed??

Our new feed shed…

Hubby made a deal for the shed, but the catch was we had to move it roughly 5 miles.
To do that, a friend of Hubby’s from work came out with a crew, loaded it up and brought it home to us.
Sounds easy, but it took some work, and it was pretty amazing seeing this building being hauled down our road!

So now, Hubby and I are discussing turning 1/2 of that shed into a chick brooder with different sections for different ages and breeds.
Why?
Because for Mother’s Day…
I GOT AN INCUBATOR!!!

Now I’m just waiting for it to arrive, so I can take a bunch of our Easter Egger eggs and try to hatch them out.
Of the 18 EE chicks I bought last year, 5 were hens.
LOL!!
Not that having a whole bunch of roosters to grow out is a huge deal, because they simply go to Freezer Camp.
We kept one, and he’s been diligently fertilizing eggs every chance he gets. So, since none of my hens are showing interest in hatching eggs (and I was so hopeful after the one in the Fall decided she was going to!) I began looking for a cost effective incubator.
When I found what I wanted Hubby said “Ok. Go ahead and buy it. Happy Mother’s Day.”
😀

Also on the list of things to get done for growing season…

~ Clean up around the fruit trees/bushes.
My currants and honeyberries are poppin’!!
Huge growth so far on both, but I need to clean up the grasses underneath and around them, and put down a mulch to keep the weeds down. And add some rotted manure for fertilizer.
Apples and pears are a little slower, but still doing well…maybe this might be the year to get some fruit? I’m hopeful!

~ Give the horse shelter a deep cleaning.
Hasn’t been done since February and we’re now at that stage where it needs to be cleaned out to the dirt and have fresh straw tossed in for the summer.
Besides, I’ll need the rotted manure compost for the Fall to add to the garden.

~ Time to prep the straw bales for the straw bale gardens.
I’ve got the 5 big bales to grow in, so I’m going to do that. But they have to be “seasoned” first and that takes about 2 weeks of watering and fertilizing.

~ Get the piggies!
This weekend, hopefully, we’ll go on a drive to pick up 3 little piggies who will grow into our winter bacon/hams/chops/stew.

And soon it’ll be haying season, because I will continue to cut hay every chance I get. Those small bales I put up have come in handy soooooo many times!
And, there is still talk about getting a calf to grow out for meat.
I had a chance to do so this year, but just ran out of finances…
Sometimes, no matter how much you want something, you have to weigh what would, in the end, be the better investment for the farm.
This year I had the choice of adding an incubator, chicken plucker, and a high quality pair of hoof nippers for Hubby, or a calf.
Yeah, I had to go with the 3 investments in self sustainability this year. :/

And, of course, once the garden produces, canning season ramps back up.
*sigh*
This is the stuff I love.
This is what I dream about all winter.
Getting things growing and getting things stored and put up on the shelves and in the freezer for the next winter.

In between it all, I sneak out at sunrise to take pictures of the Merry Mares…because sunrise is always going to be my favorite time of day to take their pictures.

Ruby

Sable…with Astrid behind her.

Here’s to busy summer days…and rain as needed.

Flashback Friday

We’re going way back to the horses very first Yule with us.
Freezing cold, they’d been here only 39 days, and I wanted holiday pictures.

The surprise and horror on Cookie’s face!

Ruby was having none of these shenanigans…no matter how much Hubby tried to convince her.

And then there’s Sable…who with the very first shoot was a rock star, ready to pose.

November…

How?
How can it be November already?
I feel like this summer, this fall have gone by so fast.
Never enough time to get it all done, still so much left to do before winter sets in for real…

This week alone:

Hubby and I filled my deer tag. (Yay!)
The 3 of us did the cut/wrap on the deer for the freezer.
I put up 10 quarts of chicken soup.
I canned a canner load of cat food from scraps from chicken butchering.
We moved a building…I have pictures of that to come!
We bottled the apple raspberry wine.
Started a concord grape wine.
Discovered yet another place where one of our hens is hiding eggs…she wants to raise chicks sooooo bad! I hope she’s the same way come spring. 🙂

That’s on top of the regular stuff…
Hubby still went to work every day.
Kiddo still did school, plus her extra curriculars.
I still ran around after the animals here and made sure they were all healthy, while taking pictures and doing edits.

So we’re tired.
But it’s a good tired. 😉

And now, we’re coming up fast on 1 year…
And my heart.
Sweet Epona, my heart…

I still miss her so, so much.
And yet, after the fact, I know she was suffering.
Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have let it go on.
I would have given her a grand day of love, with all her favorite meals and treats and said goodbye that way.
It is my 1 regret, that I didn’t know, that I didn’t do better for her.

We did a thing, Hubby, Kid and I…
Most know I kept her skull.
Well, this summer it was in the maceration tub getting cleaned.
It’s not 100% done, but we had to get it out of the water before freeze up. Freezing in the water would have caused irreparable damage.
So, we did a thing…
This was my Hallowe’en image:

Taken under our tree. ❤

I have a few other from the session that I’ll post on the 1 year day.
It was an emotional, Powerful photo shoot.
It’s one I’m proud of.

Once she’s completely cleaned, degreased and whitened, I plan on painting a few decorative images on her (though that might change, we’ll see).
What won’t change is the photo essay I plan with her…
In her life with me, the thought of leaving her pasture scared terrified her…just coming out into the yard to graze was more than she could handle, no matter how hard we worked on it.
It was what it was.

Ah, but now, my dear sweet darling will travel!
And she’ll be photographed in all the places I wanted to take her in life, meeting all the people I wanted her to meet, but couldn’t.
This I look forward to doing.
It’ll be hard at times.
Emotional…powerful.
But so worth doing.

But, that’ll be next year.

I’ll apologize now, if I go missing ’til the 13th.
I’m trying to stay up on things, but this may get to me.
Hopefully once things settle down with Freezer Camp, hunting and winterizing I’ll post more…
Okay, I promise I will!
Sometimes though, it’s just easier to throw myself into the daily grind a little harder when I’m missing her.
And sadly that means y’all get shorted on content.
I’m workin’ on that.

Here’s a couple of pictures of my 3 Stooges for your enjoyment…

Staff meeting…
On the agenda, how to avoid the beepy thing.
Especially now that the Food Lady has turned off the beep.
Can’t have her catching us in those fun, but compromising positions!

The look I get when I ask what they were discussing at their meeting…like I didn’t already know! 😉

Happy Sunday all!

 

Brrrrr!!

It’s been a chilly week!
But things here on the Farm are still chugging along.
🙂

The chickens are starting to lay with a little more consistency.
Finally!
We’ve waited a long time to get these eggie chicks to the point of lay. Soon enough, I should have some eggs that I can sell again.
That will be nice!
I’ve had a few green shelled eggs from the easter egger hens, but not many. I have 4 hens that should be giving me colours (maybe 5, I’m not 100% sure) but I’ve had 3 green eggs…and the easter eggers are older than the brown egg layers, who are getting a little more regular…

One morning last week though, it was really cold and I figured I best check the auto waterer to make sure the Merry Mares water hadn’t frozen over on them…imagine my surprise when Daphne dives under a board in the long grass…I’m thinking “oh shit, she found a skunk!!” but with no immediate stink blast, I figured that couldn’t have been it.
Nope.
Turns out she chased one of my little black hens off a nest of eggs…

16 eggs!!

Stinker had been out all night, instead of coming back to the coop, and was just plain lucky *something* didn’t find her in the night and make a meal of her!
But, she had 16 eggs under her, 10  of which were green.

Not knowing how long they were there, I took them away and float tested them. They seemed like they might be alright, but I still wasn’t sure. So, I cracked them all open.
Turns out, they were fine, though only a handful were fertilized.
Even if the all had been, it’s not a great time of year for chicks anyways…but I now know which hen could be broody in the spring. She, and a few other hens, will get separated off with the one rooster we keep to lay and set eggs in the spring for flock regeneration. Honestly, I’d love to get away from buying hatchery birds for eggs, if I can. And if I can get hens to do the hatching work that’s even better. I have no real interest in using an incubator.
I scrambled the 16 eggs and gave them to the chickens as a treat…their excitement at that made the sting of losing 16 eggs a little less painful.
lol

And then, there was Daphne and her stick…

“I want this one!”

Pulling the stick out of the hobo barrel fire pile…

“MY STICK”

She was rather proud of herself for getting it…

“I am triumphant!!”

*sigh*
My dog is weird.

Always Moving Forward

It’s 5am here.
I’ve been up since 3:30am.
Drinking tea, sitting with cats, listening to the Other 2 snore…
I can’t sleep.
Again.
It’s nothing new. I have always had a hard time sleeping.
Insomnia is my oldest friend.

Today is a little different though.
Today, The Kid starts grade 12.
Already.
And I’m feeling my age…
Soon enough, she’ll be 18.
She’ll be deciding what she wants to do with her life…
She’ll want to move out.

And as much as time is always moving forward, and we all have to grow and go on, I’m not ready.
I’m not ready to be the parent of an adult.
She’s an amazing person.
I love her to the moon and back.
I’m very proud of the person she’s grown into.
And, I think she’ll do great things with her life.

But, I’m not ready to be the Mama of an adult child…
as if I have any choice!
LOL

Riding a Friend’s horse in a local parade. ❤