Sunday, August 24, 2014

It's That Time of Year Again

Scary as it is. 

Summer is essentially officially over. Not that we've had much of one, what with the wet and chill days with little sun, and very few hot muggy days.

My darling nephew last year with Diamond.
O and my sweet husband too.

But now it will feel as though its all done. Fonda Fair truck in is tomorrow. Today we will go borrow a horse trailer from the husband's darling aunt, and go over and decorate our stalls. This year we are doing a pirate theme. Should be fun and definitely interesting. We have little fish for the water and sparkly letters. Fun fun.

We're taking two ponies and one rooster this year. BlackJack was less than impressed with his bath yesterday. And I predict today Diamond will react much the same to hers. Then there is the clipping they must both deal with, O Lord what was I thinking? Cows, while more complicated, are still so much easier. O well it must be done, and once finished both will shine like the gems they are.

Last years stall design. 
Not as creative but it worked.

For now it's chore time. Turkeys, chickens, guineas and equines alike all beggeth for their breakfasts and romp times outside. 

Any and all who live in the Mohawk Valley and are near enough to enjoy the splendor of the fair come on over and visit. Cows of the beef and dairy variety, ponies and mules and horses of every shape size and color, chickens and turkeys and pheasants, o and the little fluffy bunnies await to delight the senses of young and old alike. Ferris wheels, bumper cars and the bus that goes round and round sit silent now, waiting to light up the night skies and thrill small and large children of all ages as they dance to the age old music of the carnival. We hope to see you there!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Happy Birthday

Today is my wonderful husband's 32 birthday. He might not appreciate me putting up his age but o well there it is. He informed me this morning it just means he's that much closer to retirement. I think he's getting a little ahead of himself but its all okay. So Happy Birthday darling, I'm looking forward to meeting up with you for lunch later. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Turkey Tractor

For years I've been fascinated by the idea of doing pastured poultry. However, we have a lot of varmints of various sizes, weasels to coyotes to eagles all would love a chicken dinner. Even a big heavy coop is not necessarily a deterrent, as last summer I lost nearly my entire flock to something. $ mature hens, one cockerel and one later-to-pass-from-its-injuries chick were left out of over 20 hens and pullets that I had purchased. 

The crew
Enter my delightful husband. 

This spring we got 7 turkeys, BB Bronzes, with my uncle and aunt. Husband promised me that he'd get me a tractor so we could pasture them on the lawn. I want these big babies healthy and well grown when it comes butcher time this fall for Turkey Day.
Central branch manager AKA Peggy-Ann

Last weekend the husband undertook the big task of designing and manufacturing the actual tractor. Between his grandparents, myself, my sister and him we came up with what I think is a pretty sweet design. 

We made it 8x5 with a high peaked roof, a sliding door, and two big skids underneath it to allow it to be slid along to make for easy moving every day to fresh grass. Along the outer edge we put small wire to help keep the smaller poultry for dinner loving critters out as best we could. 

On the front it has a heavy chain attached to a large bolt to pull it with one of our heavy duty garden tractors. However I've discovered so far that while it is extremely heavy, I can easily move it along by hand. 

Sunday, we wired the outside up, put a tarp over it to allow for a weather/sun shade, and stuck all 7 of the turkeys in it. By Tuesday, they knew they were going to get moved to fresh grass early in the morning, and were standing lined up along the front edge waiting eagerly for the new feed. I've discovered I really enjoy my gobblers and take a lot of pleasure in caring for them up close and personal like I have been for the last week. Now to see how well this coop holds up, and how well the birds grow. Next year, I hope to add in meat chickens and even more turkeys. Time will tell :)

The finished product

Friday, August 01, 2014

Decisions, decisions

It's that time of year again. Fair entries come up in about 10 days or so. Trying to decide what to take and enter this year is a bit harder than in the past. For sure we are taking Jade's new Cochin rooster. He's simply gorgeous and we just adore his color and style. 
 Uncle Jade and Ryker with Diamond 
Fonda Fair 2013 

We're also planning to take my pony. I've been trying to buy her a decent-ish show halter on Ebay but so far haven't had any luck. We have a few bids on a nice one of Western style rather than the popular cable type that I don't have time to get her used to. The husband is going to cut me some poles to work on teaching her to in-hand jump in the coming weeks so I can do a few more classes with her this year, and have her be more comfortable in the trail class which always includes a few cavaletti and ground pole type jumps. 

Last year's stall design. Need new ideas for this year.

Next week I'll need to have the vet in to do Di's health work, she needs a fresh rabies and coggins, and Sunny is due for his rabies as well. Monday I'll call to arrange having them in. Just one more in a plethora of steps that gets you to that delightful week of sun, well really its usually a mix of sun and torrential downpours, shavings, sand, and shouts that make up fair week. Jade even took three days off so he'll have seven days or so of fun with Peggy and I. This means for the first time in many many years he won't miss Tractor Pull night. Note the capitalization. Which is because the tractor pulls are something of a religious holiday for those that enjoy them, and we have many friends involved which makes them just that much better. 

Big Cochin rooster, former owner called him
Mr. Balloon Pants 

At any rate in a few weeks we'll be loading up the stock trailer, putting pony and poultry inside with various paraphernalia that must accompany them, and enjoying the closeness with friends we see so infrequently. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

I may have been

Irritated to say the least with the hen the other day when she kicked all the poor guinea keets out of the nest. I had been making sure to check under her fluffy butt a couple times a day just to make sure no one else was in danger of her deranged ways. 

New guinea keet

Well yesterday evening I'd decided I wasn't going to check again until night coop lock up. However, some little voice in my head kept saying, you really ought to get out there and take a look. That voice was very wise. Another lovely keet, pied in color, and a gorgeous blue and yellow Cochin-EE cross chick had hatched and were peeping away all fluffed out and happy underneath her. Needless to say I opted not to take any chances this time around and promptly scooped their sweet selves up to the relative safety of the brooder we built for the others. I'm not saying the brooder is without its dangers. We have a plethora of varmints of various sizes which could tear into or tip over their little home and make a very short meal of my babies. That is sadly a risk every poultry or livestock owner takes.

Turkey poult number one

Turkey poult number two

Later when I went to check on the bird and her remaining half dozen or so eggs, I noted two turkey eggs were in various stages of hatch. By the time we left to go to my beloved great aunt and uncles farm to pick up a new fancy commercial style brooder, of a sort I could certainly never afford on y own, one was nearly hatched, and the other about a 1/3 of the way done. When we finally got back home around 8:15 my sister had already cuddled, imprinted and moved the one poult, and the other had literally just slipped from its shell.

Fluffy new chick and the new keet

This morning both are fluffed out and perfectly happy with their six guinea keet and one chick friends. Additionally, my last remaining turkey egg, and I believe another chicken egg are both hatching. There are still a few guinea eggs under the hen, but I'm not sure if they are any good or not. I guess time will tell. Meanwhile I've got the start if all goes well to a beautiful guinea and turkey flock.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

There are days...

That I find myself really disliking poultry. Lately I have been having many of them in a row. My old red cranky hen hatched out so far somewhere around 6 guinea keets. Must be the guinea hens were setting themselves for a short time prior to her taking over the clutch of eggs as the babies hatched nearly a week before they should have. Mother Hen is not the best of mothers, probably because she is a red sex-link and they aren't exactly meant to be mothers anyway. She kicked every baby out of the nest, and abandoned them. There were 6 keets alive when she got done, she'd stomped 3 to death that I know of. 

Whaaa but we were sleeping

White keet

Now all the remaining keets are tucked safely in an old hog water trough, with a heat light, food, water, and no marauding mother to kill them. There are 4 that look like they will be pied pearls, and one that is a lovely white shade. One keet did die after we got them away from the cranky lady. She was dragging it around in her beak and try as we might it was badly damaged when we finally got it away from her. Hopefully these last five thrive, and I can get any other chicks, poults or keets that hatch if the remaining eggs are viable away from her before they come to harm.

 Little pearlie pieds :)