Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Cochin Broodies

I made the decision a while ago, to leave the eggs in the nest boxes in the Cochin coop, in hopes a girl or two would go broody. It is a nice, natural, low-input way to hatch chicks out. This isn't quite what I had in mind. Out of abut 8 hens, 6 are broody....

I am working on getting them spread out a bit better, and pulled all but one rooster. Hopefully in the next day or two they will all go broody and I can hatch a whole batch of chicks out easily. Time will tell!

Monday, December 28, 2015

A New Christmas Flock

My husband is wonderful. He drives me utterly insane, but he is wonderful. Early last week, on one of the swaps I am on on Facebook, I found a guy with a whole pile of true Ameraucanas, lovely blacks and lavenders. Lavender may not be a recognized color, but it is very popular and pretty! So I set up an appointment with him for Saturday, and off we went! 

The guy had so many birds. Spitzhaubens, Speckled Sussex, 4 different color groups of Ameraucans, some mutt cross breed that was part Araucana with the huge ear tufts. He was the craziest looking rooster I had ever seen but so cool looking in all of his goofiness. I selected 2 beautiful full muffed lavender hens, and a black rooster so deeply colored he shimmered and his feathers had the most amazing green luster. 

As we were leaving I was checking my cell to get his number, and stumbled on another ad he had posted, for a flock of Bearded Belgian D'Anvers that he was selling with their coop. Since I wasn't sure how Jade would feel about an entire flock of bantams...and since he wanted to sell the whole group with their coop, which was way out of our spendability, I said nothing. While Paul and I were discussing which hens and rooster would be going home with us, Jade and Peggy were falling in love with the little wild banties. We had taken "some" extra cash, but we just really didn't want or need the coop. So the guy gave us a too good to refuse deal, 20 bucks for 5 pairs of bantams. And a real nice pet taxi box to take them home in. It is a big one so basically we paid for half of the birds and a beautiful crate. 

So our flock grew by over a dozen. I have a trio of Ameraucanas to breed from, with the hope he will have a few hens left this weekend, as we will gladly go back for more. We are delighted with the looks and health of the birds. Once the Ameraucanas are quarantined, until they have their own large coop, will go in with my younger cochins, which are the same age. The D'Anvers will stay in the small brooder box for now, it is plenty big enough for them, and will allow me to gather their eggs neatly, and soon we will have an incubator to start hatching chicks to raise and sell. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Deer Down

Today is the last day of season. It was, as far as hunting, a crummy one. Too warm for the deer to hit rut and the bucks get up and get moving. Luckily the husband and brother are great hunters, and know the farm well. So the bedding down and grazing places are know for the most part. Brother filled his doe and buck tags, and yesterday, my husband filled our last DMP doe tag, with this fantastic girl, who yielded better than 70 lbs of meat, with an over 300 yard shot. Good job hun. She's all processed and in the freezer. 3 kinds of sausage, steaks, roasts and stew meat will be so welcome when the cold does hit!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

New Cow Pen

And then, finally, it was done.


The cow pen. 
One cow pen, 50 feet long

What a huge relief. Jade, my brother Alan and I had been working on it as we could all summer. Old debris and such had been cleaned out. The floor swept bare. I kept finding pieces of glass, all summer. I finally found where they were coming from. A bigger piece, in a window sill, that my short legs couldn't see over the board that was  nailed up who knows how many years ago, to keep stubborn heifers from putting their heads through the Plexiglas. Problem solved now, as it has all been disposed of properly.

The men cut old hog/cow panels to length, cut sections of them that were twisted or too battered to use away. I used some 1000lb -40 zip ties to attach them. The plan is to re-do the pen in a more permanent way next summer. The zip ties for now should hold. If not we will buy water clamps and replace them with those as needed

A good strong wall of fencing

Saturday night, Jade, Princess P and I went out to get a gate and some 4x4 uprights. We needed something to attach the two end gates. One side was going to be tied in to the I-beams and round uprights that support the barn. Some in the middle will need to be re-concreted but the two on the end, where the most stress will be, were good and solid. However, one wall is just poured concrete, with no real way to attach or tie in to anything other than with tap-cons. As such, our first stop was to the local Amish saw mill. Lo and behold they had nothing, and I do mean nothing, bigger than a 2x4 in stock. 

Well guess we are off  to try again. Next stop another Amish saw mill...with the sign "gone fishing be back Monday". Ookkk we are not having any luck here, guess we are going to just get our gate!

One shiny new gate, a gift for me

Runnings, ahhh dangerous store. Husband and I could spend a grand there a week and not get everything we want/need. And P-the-wild loves their toy and clothes sections. Everything a little farm girl could want or need, all in one place. And for her folks, gates. We spoke with the folks at the register, yes the gate we want is in stock, oo they carry 5 inch diameter 10 ft fence posts, shoot that will work. Sooo we buy two. Nope, this is not something they actually carry, and despite the girl who was out in the "bull pen" (supply yard) swearing to the girl at the register that they did indeed have them in stock, in either blunt or pointed end, they really didn't. 

New upright, the shiny spots are the taps

We headed off to deliver some eggs to my Aunt, and decided well we are only 2 towns away from Lowes, we will go see what they have. So for cheaper than the Amish would have charged, we got 2 10 ft 4x4's, that are HEAVY. 

Once home we unloaded, and set up the end swing gate. By the time we got finished, Peg was cold, and hungry, and her parents weren't feeling too much better. Sunday would be soon enough to finish.

Headlocks, such a useful thing, but so very heavy!

Sunday morning, the brother got in on the action. With Peggy moving tools, not necessarily where they needed to go, he put in big taps, all the better to stabilize the gate, and make sure the cows wouldn't be popping it out any time soon. Then, while my dad went for the feed through gate we needed on the south end, Alan and Jade tore out the headlocks that were by my rabbit hutch. I need those bad boys if I am going to get these cows bred by spring. They then installed them, on the north end of the pen by the main gate. Now I have a 4-hole place I can lock the cows in to do routine stuff such as vaccinate, and breed, so that in 9 or so months we have another crop of beef calves roaming the hills. 

Feeding area, room for a round bale plus!

So now we wait. The weather has been so mild there is no reason to lock the old girls in. The grass is still there, and it is easy as all get out to just haul up a few bales with the skid steer. Once they are in for the winter I will have to haul water to them, make sure the pen is cleaned, and keep a lot of hay in the barn to keep them fed. It is a chore taking care of animals that weigh over a 1000 lbs. But I am thrilled to be ready for them. It is good to have one more winter prep item off of the list!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


The wild one helping with egg gathering

The past few weeks have just been crazy. So much busy-ness going on. We are slowly prepping the barns for winter. This seems to be something of a never ending task. 

Move this tractor, tuck it into that corner there, as it won't be used until spring. O those free poly-tech signs, lets use a couple of them to close in this side of this coop, it will keep the heat in for the birds better, and give the tractors some protection from the dust.

Phone call of hey hun Bill Sr has some rabbits he picked up at the auction, says there are some real nice meat bucks in the mix if you want to go take a look see and pick one or two out...come home with 12, including a lovely pet quality lop buck, a nice liter of kits, a broken chestnut doe, and a mix that is silver fox colored. Now every available hutch is full. Gee go figure.

This coming weekend we will be building cattle pens and feeders. Its a must do as winter is fast approaching, and the cows are still all out on pasture. Thankfully for us the weather has held fairly steady, cold at night but very nice most days.

The husband and I bought our little one several pumpkins for Halloween. However, after discovering that she is currently terrified of jack-o-lanterns we just left them whole while we decided what to do with them. We finally came to the conclusion one good idea would be to dry some seeds to try and grow a large crop of our own next year. So now on the side table is a pan full of seeds, and I do mean full. We probably kept aside far too many, but well we can give away or sell any extra plants we have, and if we put in a big enough patch of pumpkins we can sell those as well! I have been taking extra birds, roosters and hens that either are too aggressive for around our daughter or are just too whatever for our own flock, extra buck rabbits when we don't have enough to make butchering worth while, and plants to the swaps fairly successfully already. Jade and I would really like to add produce, meat, eggs and more variety of bed and house plants to our sale items next year. We know we have a long uphill climb to get the stock even remotely self sufficient, or at least able to buy SOME of their feed, but it is a lovely job.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Keep Running

Our Big Blue

Things are so hectic and crazy here. Plans, and changing plans, and altering plans, implementing plans to see that the plan needs some tweaking. That is what fall is for us. The husband started ripping out the gardens Monday. Tuesday it rained, and the gardens were too wet. Changed plan to house work (blech I am an awful housewife). Today he is working extended hours, good for the paycheck, not so good for the process of getting things done. The majority of the family is going to Talladega for da big race. I may enjoy racing, but  I would much rather go to Vegas for the PBR World Finals.

One of this years black cockerels. 

So it is just the hubs, the sister, the kiddo and myself until sometime next week. I am dragging the last turkey from last year out of the freezer. I am just NOT going to have time to cook elaborate meals. Sorry guys turkey sandwiches, fix your owns and casserole, maybe a soup if you are lucky, is what is on the menu!

One of the mottled cockerels, I have two if anyone is looking...

Today I am hoping before they leave dad has time to move the skid steer up by an old icky building that is in need of a deep clean and an overhaul. If we can get it done in time for winter, the floor will be repaired, and a second coop and a set of conditioning pens will be built in it. I really want to get our Cochin breeding program off the ground so to speak. Right now I only have room to breed one rooster to 2-3 hens at a rip. I want Big Blue to have 5 of his own, plus a pen of mottleds and a pen of blacks. I am going to give Blue the best pullets and go from there. I only have one mottled female so I will have to start with her. 

He's got such pretty feet

This weekends project is building up the cow pen for winter, and building a second small pen. We are hoping to pick up a bull calf to steer, so if anyone knows of a nice Holstein, or beef cross for a reasonable price we are looking. I have to set up a butcher appointment for Klondike. I am hoping we have kept him long enough that he has gotten Echo bred. He's a stocky dude, and poor Mo our future breeding ram is still so much smaller. We are looking at a pair of bred barbado-katahdin cross ewes. They are gorgeous, and hair type, which would be so nice for me. I guess time will tell if we can get them or not, but we could really use some more ewes to build our flock, and hopefully provide us with lambs in the spring.
Blue's current harem

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Don't yah just love...

When your spouse gets home early from work? Jade left at 2am, and was home by 9 am yesterday. He got the front blade on the 4-wheeler and pushed manure pile up while I cleaned out coops. It is just so much faster, and easier on me, to just pitch it out the door, and have the 4-wheeler move it to the drop spot, instead of loading it into the wheelbarrow and pushing it out. So the two big coops got cleaned. Today I have to start on horse stalls, get the smaller brooder cleaned out, and get the hutches done. Manure...a never ending up hill battle on the farm. But heck things look and smell so good with all the fresh bedding. and the barn just seems so much brighter!

If anyone is interested, I have a few cochin cockerels for sale. Just let me know.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What a Weekend!

The weekend was loaded with work, insanity, new stock, did I mention work and insanity? 

Saturday we loaded up the truck and trailer, went to Gable motor sports for parts, and then went out to Waterville to pick up a beautiful trio of extremely large turkeys. From there it was a 2 hour drive back to the husband's grandparents, where we spent several hours fixing the rear wheel bearings on the 4-wheeler. Then the poor beast needed its air filter and oil changed. By the time we got that done, Peggy was tired and cranky and hungry. I was tired and cranky and hungry. And we were all three filthy as could be. We still had to make a trip to Lowes for lumber. See Jade kind of bought these turkeys, with no spare coop available. Taco Bell and KFC became our dinner/lunch choice, as it was "fast". By fast I mean BK was already closed, at 6 pm I might add, and we were all so sick o McD's that the thought made my stomach suddenly not so empty. We waited in the drive thru for over 45 minutes, but our food was fresh and piping hot so all was well. 

After filling our grumbling bellies we drove up the road to see about some screws, wood and such. Husband finally found a back up battery for his new drill. It is kind of a pain in the rear to be knee deep in some project, with only one battery for the drill. We got 2x6's, and 2x4's of multiple lengths, and headed back to the grandfolks to load the trailer, 4-wheeler and new turkeys back up and head home. Which brought us to our conundrum for the night. It was O dark 30, we had an exhausted 1 year old, and 3 birds with no place to sleep. Enter dog kennels. We put the 6 free birds in a big dog crate for the night, and the 3 turkeys in the   turkey tractor for the night. It was a workable short term solution.

Sunday morning I got up at the butt crack of dawn, and started chores. Did I mention I consumed a pot of very strong coffee by myself first? After the husband and kiddo arose, we went out to inspect the situation, and make some decisions. I had already had the brain blast idea, to move the sheep, which were part of the reason we were short a coop, as well the little sneaks have been living in the 3rd big coop since I got them. I had an empty stall, as Sonny was out on pasture for the day. So I ran them across the alley and put a pallet across the opening in the bottom of his stall door. A gap that a 1250 lb horse won't fit through, is not necessarily the same size gap that will keep a 100 lb spring lamb secure. 

Jade and I measured out our new pen. As it is only a temporary sheep pen, and will someday be boarded, reinforced and used for butcher hogs, we went 10.5x12, instead of the 10x10 we had intended. Cutting, placing, wiring, reinforcing, and hanging the gate took us about 2 hours. Then it was off for breakfast/lunch, and a run to the feed store, as I didn't have acceptable turkey feeders, waterers, feed, and was running low on shavings. That accounted for nearly another 2 hours, and we never did find a feeder for hay for the danged sheep. 

Once back at the farm we unloaded again...there was a lot of unloading done this weekend. We moved the sheep into the new pen, and started on the door for the turkeys new coop. The door is a nice big beast, well reinforced to try and keep our new babies as safe as possible. By the time we got that done, did night chores, and got back up to the house, it was dark again, and we were all grubby exhausted and ready to collapse. I ran to town for subs and chips, and we all curled up to watch some tv and relax. Peggy got a treat of cookies and juice for being such a big patient girl and really helping out in the barn. 

Now it is Monday, P has an appointment at 1 for shots. I am dragging, the husband is off delivering goods somewhere in Massachusetts, and now I have to start gearing up to do more pens this weekend, o and there is a poultry swap....what do normal folks do on their breaks?