It’s Friday night and I’m finally feeling a little bit more normal and got my muck boots on and went out for a farm yard stroll. I miss being out there working and visiting everyone, it’s felt like a month of Sundays, even though it’s really only been 5 days. Still, I just took my time and went on a little walk about, visiting everyone and taking a few pictures.
Had to stop and see the baby bunnies!!! Grizelda’s little litter of three are doing great. It was sad that we lost three from this litter, two were stillborn and one died the day of birth… but the three that made it are doing fantastic. This often happens when some are lost, the remaining small litter really gets a big boost and time with momma’s milk, making them very nice and robust. They just started to open their eyes and are hopping around the nest box! So cute…
It’s hard to know their sex yet, and we looked, but not very sure, so just have to wait and see. But this little one is a perfect duplicate of Grizelda’s markings! A little mini-me-mommy!
We’ve got a family wanting two bucks for their kids for a 4H project, so we’re hoping… that would be nice to have two already with waiting homes! Another lady is interested in a doe, but is not sure if she wants one from this litter as they are French and English crosses, or will wait till a fall litter of our pedigreed French parents. We are not planning any more litters until the early fall, since the heat is very hard on babies and we don’t want to go nuts with litters. We would rather build up a waiting list and do just a litter or two in the spring and then in the fall. We’re pretty much one of the few Angora breeders in the area! Hard to imagine since we just started, but we haven’t been able to get any of our bunnies in state. In fact our new doe is coming from a nice young lady up in Michigan. We should be able to pick her up next week some time. She’s a beautiful carmel colored pedigreed little lady! Jessy is excited… she loves her bunbuns!
A funny thing happened with the coon attacks of last week. (Which have THANKFULLY stopped with the capture of one coon and the death of another out front on the road….which we had NOTHING to do with… honest….) We had to move the meat chickens into the garage for a few nights for safety. And we let them out into our courtyard for the daytime since it was all pretty much dead anyway. Well, they are thriving out there! They love the freedom of the whole big courtyard and pretty much stay put. One or two have figured out how to squeeze through the fence, but for the most part they stay put. And the other free range flock leaves them alone. So it’s been so entertaining to lay in my bed and watch them out in the courtyard this week. They are like big dumb toddlers, all waddling around, eating bugs, laying in the grass, following Maggie around on her chore run. They love any food you give them and will come running at the sound of the screen door opening to see what is going on. One time they all came to the fence to watch me start the car and then once the car was running, they all squawked and ran off in terror at the noise! haha…. it was so funny. They came back and were interested in the weird thing that I climbed into. They are just so silly and innocent, interested in every little thing.
The first time one of the kitties walked out there, they mobbed him! Just being interested in this new beast! They are due to start going off to finishing school soon… I had wanted to take some in this week but I was just not up to it, so they got an extra week of laying out in the sun and all. Maggie put the sprinkler in there today to just give the dead grass a little water and it was hilarious to watch them all run in and under the sprinkling water as it moved around and around. I believe they were enjoying it. They did learn from watching some of the laying hens how to snatch the little worms that were coming up after awhile! I just love when they get to do real world chicken things.
I was missing all my hoofies so badly! We had a little bit of coleslaw that was just a little old so I took that out with me to scatter about as an offering to the herd! Of course, they love stuff like that and everyone got a teeny nibble. Brought a carrot out for Cody, he was very happy about that. He was so cute, following me around and just sniffing me and rubbing against me. I think he missed me! The sheep were all very curious to get a good sniff and a little chin tickle. Even shy little Molly came over to give me the stink eye and a little sniff. Animals are funny creatures. They love routines and when you mess it up for some reason, they just are not so happy about it. Even Angus, whom is always ready for a little loving, was a little shy at first. But I won him over pretty quickly. He loves to be scratched under his chin!
Maggie has done a great job of taking care of the farm. She has done most of the farm chores for the last five days. It was a tough thing but she kept things going. Jessy and I spent a little time tonight helping to tidy the place up for our Sunday shindig. We wanted to make sure that the screen porch and mud room were nice and not so cluttered and we helped to gather feed bags and stuff from around the place that needed a little picking up. We try to keep a tidy farm and boy, let me tell you, its hard at times! It always seems that you’re doing this and doing that and you leave this here and leave that there and next thing you know, there is clutter everywhere! So quick, it’s frightening! So we try and take time every week to do a good round up, put away and gather up so that the place stays tidy. It’s far from perfect, but we’re trying to instill good habits!
I really wanted to get out back and see the piggies. Of course, they were doing great and came up to the fence to see what I might offer but I had forgotten to bring them some treats! They are at least double in size from when we got them over 6 weeks ago. Everyone seems healthy and in good spirits. They have a big heavy ball to push around and an old tire and a nice pile of hay for their beds. They seem to be enjoying life and that’s what makes it all good for me. We are looking for a little child’s pool to put in there for them, something to play with! Since pigs don’t sweat, it’s a good thing to give them something to cool off with. And a nice little wallow will make them happy!
We are about a quarter of the way to their finishing dates, sometime in the fall. Fred, at the feed store, says it take 500 pounds of feed to finish a hog. These little guys have eaten about 100 pounds of pig chow starter and 50 pounds of milk replacer so far. Since we are finishing these for friends and family, as well as ourselves, we are keeping very good records on them. Next week we will order 500 pounds of food from the local feed mill! It’s really the best way to go… $100 for 500 pounds. They are old enough to start on grown up piggy chow soon and it’s really better than the starter food which is $34 for 50 pounds! But they need a good healthy start and the starter has a lot of the good stuff to get them off to a awesome start. I think they look pretty darn good for our first set of farm raised hog!
I like the idea of filling up their feeder with 100 pounds at a time and just having to make sure their water is fresh and filled. They are pretty self regulating with their feed and usually won’t gorge themselves on it or anything like that. Maggie thinks she will still make them a bucket of slop once a day because they really enjoy her slop. She uses bread and goodies from the bake shop thrift store and mixes in kitchen scraps and oatmeal and whatever else she thinks might be tasty. Sometimes they get stale cereal which they really like. Fruit Loops makes them very happy! I think they will like the pulp from the juicer once it arrives! Can’t wait!
The garden is doing pretty good. The lack of water is really hitting it hard and we are trying to water every evening for a while. We just have had the DRYEST spring in forever! Last year was a flooded mess. This year? We haven’t hardly had ANY rain. Yesterday, it rained for about 10 minutes and then it was done and gone. Other areas all around us got a good drenching but we are dry, dry, dry. Our grass all over is burned out and dead. I have been trying to get a little cash together to finish the back pasture fencing, but it’s not going to help much. The poor hoofstock is getting supplimental hay now because the grass they are trying to graze is just dead, dead, dead. Not much in the way of nutritional value. The only grass that seems to be okay in out in the garden because of the sprinkler going. Sigh… I wanted an awesome garden this year and I’m not totally sure it’s going to happen.
Right now we have onions, garlic, sweet peppers, peas, beans, chives, ground cherries, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, beets and turnips growing. I still want to plant a bunch more, but the last week and the heat has put a damper on that. I think I’m going to start haunting some of the big box places as I see they are starting to discount their veggie and herb packs greatly. I can get cheap starts that have already had a good month of growing time. I still might plant some seeds here and there, mostly due to the fact that we have nice weather up and into October. That means we still have a good 3 months + of growing weather. Might not be able to get a bunch of big watermelon and pumpkins to finish but I sure can get a bunch of other stuff to do well. A gardener is always a hopeful optimist, eh?
I ADORE my straw bale raised beds! They are so nice! Big and easy to work, not so much bending over and all that jazz. I have three of them and that is a good start. Straw is going to get expensive this season because of the lack of rain. So, three is all I am going to do this year. Which is fine! I still have all those shipping containers to start filling up! But the straw bale beds are nice. So far, they are holding up nicely, partially, I’m sure, because of the lack of rain. But we are watering everything a good deal, and they are holding their shape nicely. I know they will break down eventually and I’m actually counting on it. When that happens then I will have some nice composted lumpy beds and they will be still awesome to use and plant in.
I’m also enjoying the old carpet in the walkways. My is that keeping the weed growth down to a low roar! Just a little around the edges as you can see. Stuff that I try and yank up before it gets too much of a foothold in my new garden. There were such weeds, oh my goodness… it’s been a battle to keep the place from overgrowing like nuts. Last year was such a disapointment, that we really didn’t have a garden, that I really want to get this year going good. Of course, there are so many little obstacles in my path, but I just keep at it. I figure anything I get this year is a bountiful windfall! It’s all good. Can’t wait for the beans and peas to start producing! And of course, that first beautiful tomato!!!
Our little turkeys are doing wonderfully. We have 15 now, 3 heritage birds and 12 little white commercial poults. I adore the turkeys! They are so sweet and gentle, just very easy to like. They are getting bigger now, the little ones are 3 weeks old and the big three are now 7 or 8 weeks old. Don’t remember. Ah, 8 weeks. I just checked m handy little date calendar. That thing is very important for remembering livestock births and ages. I digress… the turkeys are just so sweet, soft natured and gentle birds. They don’t make as much of a mess as chickens do, and are calm and quiet birds. They are doing wonderfully in the brooder as they are supposed to do for another couple weeks. We’ve read that the first 12 weeks of turkey life are the hardest and if you can get them through to that point, you’re doing great! The three have another month to go and the little guys, well, two months really.
We hope to be building their transistional home in a few weeks, but we’re just not totally sure on how it’s going to look now. We had originally planned to use cattle panels but after the last month’s varmint massacre, I think cattle panels would be way too dangerous for our little sweeties! Those big openings will be easy for a coon or possum to squeeze through! Our full grown cats can easily slink through them, so I know a predator will. So, it’s back to the drawing board! There is a lot of good information and advice and I think we will figure out something nice. We hope to raise turkeys yearly for both our freezer and that of our farm patrons and family. We’re hoping that maybe we’ll get a tom and two hens out of the three heritage birds but right now, it seems like we might have three hens. If we can, we might get a tom later on and keep for breeding purposes. Turkeys mostly lay eggs in the spring, and that would be awesome to be able to hatch our own birds each year. It’s our plan… hopefully it works!
Well, this last week and it’s medical follies have put a bit of a damper on things but then the heat was a real killer too. It reached 99 degrees one day and 97 the other and it’s just been hard on everyone! We lost one of our little mille fluer banty roosters, and we’re pretty sure it was from the heat. Maggie was outside every hour or two checking on everyone and making sure they were hydrated but it was sure tough on everyone. The sheep were panting and just miserable and all the birds were super laid back and trying to stay cool and relaxed through it all. It was not the week to be doing a bunch of projects and such. We’ve got plenty of summer left, in fact, it just started!!!
That’s what I found this evening on my stroll about the homestead. I can’t wait to get back into the swing of it all, and hopefully I’ll be able to ramp up my outside activities a bit over the next day or two. Am feeling a good deal better today, and hopefully, will continue to as I learn a few new habits and ways of life with the recent lumps on my back pack of life! I like to think that the good Lord only gives us what we can shoulder, so I guess he thinks I can handle a little more at the moment! Just not going to let it all bog me down. I got stuff to do and critters to adore and raise and a garden that needs a little more in it to make me happy!