What a Busy Week!

Wow… well, I’m not totally sure where to begin. I guess a few apologies… I know that when I like to read a blog, I like it when there is a new post everyday! And I try to do that. But sometimes you just have to take a little break and catch up on life and then come back to the blog. I guess, I needed a little break.

We’ve got a lot going on and a lot finishing up and settling in. The sheep are doing fantastically. I just love them to bits! It is so cool to look out a window or drive up to the house, or wake up and go out in the courtyard and there stands our little flock of three. I’ve seen them in the evening when they are laying down under the maples, chewing their cud. I’ve seen them in the early morning mist as they drift across the yard cropping up little blades of grass like a lawn cutting Roomba vac. And I’ve seen them in the moonlight, skittish and frolicing, begging for crackers and pets. It seems like they have been here forever, yet it’s only been like five or six days. Everything here feels that way… Like it’s been in our blood for years and years and we haven’t even hit our official 3rd month in residence! 3 months! Only! Just hard to believe!

We managed to get a little safe paddock area for the ewes, taking over the well house as the new sheep shack. Being Shetland sheep, they probably won’t take up residence unless it’s just dreadfully cold, but at least I know they have a nice safe spot in case we need to corral them up for awhile. Like to given meds, or if any were ever to get sick or injured. Or if we have to have people in the yard to do something and we don’t want the sheep in harms way or getting too involved. I think it will be a good place for them if we have to leave for a full day or something, being in a paddock means that even if they got out of that, they would still have the outer fence to keep them from getting loose or something weird, heck, even someone accidently letting them out through the courtyard gate or heaven forbid, stealing them.

It was funny, though, as we were running fence and pounding posts, the girls were all watching as if they were supervising the effort. Since we ran out of fence and don’t have a gate up yet, it’s hardly confining, but the cool thing is that I’ve seen them out in there several times. One morning, I was making breakfast and looked out and they were all in there laying down, chewing their cud! Haha… I think they approve.

The new chickens are trying to fit in, but for the most part, they just stay together in a little scared gang and hardly ever venture from the barn. I guess they just don’t get it, that they can go out and hunt bugs and all that. We love their eggs… a light green and a pale blue and a dark dark brown… just the color range we were hoping for. Even Bucka has given up on getting them to join his ladies on his field trips. They just don’t want to leave. We keep trying to entice them with crackers and bread and have even tried to just shoo them out, but they resist at every attempt. Oh well! Someday soon!!!

The bunnies are doing well, save the heat… we’re going to be building them an indoor cage so that they can come in the house. We have plenty of room, just have to make sure it’s easy to keep clean and all. We are having a week of really hot temps and high humidity, so I think it would be nice to give them a break from this nasty stuff. It’s really dreadful!

The five little new chicks are growing like weeds!!!! I can’t believe how HUGE they look and how they are not even 2 weeks old and have wing feathers and some tail feathers! We’re going to try and take some cute pictures of them tomorrow, a sort of photo shoot style of pictures! They are all so beautiful and different looking. And with neat little personalities!!! We just want to hatch out more and more!

Our broiler chicks are due to arrive this week… maybe even in a few days! That will be cool. We’re all ready for them! Got a big brooder tub ready and all the supplies. Really curious to see how we do with this new experience of raising our own meat chickens. 25 little guys will be pampered and have a wonderful chicken life here at the little farm and then, in the end, will be humanely processed to give us meat through the winter, I hope. Although we’ve had a lot of people ask if they could get one and try it.. I’m pretty sure once they taste fresh, decently raised chicken, we are going to need to order many more chicks next time! That would be fine. We love raising and dealing with the chickens. It’s never a chore, we love it.

Today, in the heat, I actually started to paint the little chicken coop! It was just sort of dreadfully ucky in it’s white and peeling boards etc. I have a vision of it all completed, and well, it’s started, so that’s a good thing. Not hardly done yet, but hopefully by the end of the week or so. We have to replace the one side’s siding, and I have to get in there and get some good measurements so we can have them cut at the lumber yard. Much easier that way! But I managed to get the front all painted and these great $5 shutters that I got at the Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Defiance. That and a few little country knick knacks and our nursery coop is looking pretty fly. We’re making up a cute sign for the top and we’re going to have flower beds on either side as well, with some nice perennials to color it up nice!

We’ve decided that our livestock acquisition is just about done for awhile. We’re debating over adding another sheep to the pack, but that will just have to see how money is the next week or two. Might have to wait. And we want to add some black copper Maran hens to our collection as well as a couple little banty hens for Brent and Josh. They are picking on Einstein a little bit, so I’m hoping that a few hens would give them something better to entertain themselves with. Right now we’re getting about a dozen eggs a day. Which is not quite enough, as we’ve taken on 3 new egg customers as well as my band families and us and Steve. I was hoping that the new girls would push production up a bit, since just with our original girls we would get between 6 and 10 a day. I think the new girls are still just not too settled and laying good. With 20 chickens, I’m thinking we should see maybe a few more than just 12 a day. But, it’s all good… things take time.

August is going to be yard appearance month here at the farm. We have quite the collection of weeds around the front of the house… haha…. just hasn’t been a huge priority. We mow around them carefully, so they kind of look like we want it that way, but really, it was just that I didn’t want it all barren up there. So we are planning to start in a week or so, carefully weeding out what we don’t want and keeping some of the nicer stuff. And we’ll be mulching and just basically making it all look lovely. That’s the plan!!!

Well, hope you all enjoy the photos! It’s a little collection of the last week!

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The sheep are here!!! The sheep are here!!!

We are finally the proud owners of three fantastic sheep! They are home and we are so excited. They are settling in just wonderfully! I’m so tired after being so wound up last night and then today, so I’m just going to post a few pictures and such. I’ll write much more in detail later on!

You would think that after a half hour car ride in the back of a station wagon, that the girls would want out! However, it took quite a bit of coaxing and such to get them to come out!

I finally got their attention with some animal crackers and a little tugging and pushing! Once they were out, boy, were they excited… their new yard was full of lush green shady grassland and they started eating IMMEDIATELY! We had just weathered a pretty severe storm that knocked the power out at Robin’s house and had flattened corn and knocked down big tree branches around here. So there was a nice wet rain all over the grass and the sheepies were very happy. They were wagging their little tails and doing these little frolics and jumps like lambs!

Now, I asked them to make sure everyone had gone to the bathroom before we got in the car, but of course, not everyone did so, so it was a good thing we had a tarp down and an old blanket! That really did save the day. Of course, Blue does need a REALLY good cleaning out… hay, chicken feathers and sheep poop doesn’t exactly help the resale value of a good station wagon. However, it was such a hoot to be driving down the road with a sheep smelling your hair as you drive. Lilly was very interested in my shampoo apparently!

It is absolutely a dream come true and delight to look out and see our little flock grazing in our middle yard. They look like they’ve been there for years! I have the materials to make them a little paddock area by the well house, but right now, they are safe and content to be in the big middle yard, grazing like crazy. I am watching them carefully to make sure they don’t over do it, and get bloated, but so far, they have been doing a lot of good cud chewing and lots of nibbling all over the place. Our new lawn service has arrived!

We have three watering stations set up in the yard, and have another in the works. I would rather they have four stations that they can get water from, so if any goes dry, they have another three just in case. And we’re trying to set it up so it’s at easy access points, so it’s easy on us! We are lazy farmers for sure! I don’t want to be in situations where we are chained to routines that are hard and too time consuming. I want to enjoy every moment of our chores!

Lilly is very friendly, and she will come when you call for her! She’s already decided that we’re all cool, and I’m sure that animal crackers have given her that decision. She loves to be rubbed and scratched and is very friendly. Her buddy Lilac, she is friendly, but a little hesitant still. However, she likes treats too, and has already been sneaking in little bits of head pats and chin rubs. I suspect it will only be a few days before she’s just as comfy with us. However, baby Mocha, she’s not to thrilled with us at all. Now it could be something to do with having an ear tag put in, a halter on her, dragged from her home, put in an evil moving box and then shoved out into a new place. Just maybe. At least she is still with her mom Lilly, and she’s very happy to stay with her at all times. Mocha will stand off a shoulder or two away and watch, but won’t come in for the rub or a scratch. Not yet at least. She doesn’t even want a cookie. No thanks. We’ll see how she is in a few days. I think she’ll come around eventually.

Lilly is like a dog! She just loves to be petted and all attention. I think I’m going to see if she likes being brushed tomorrow, on her head and neck. I’ll bet she does.

I know it will be a while till everyone settles in… and a good 8 months before we can have fleece, but right now, my heart just smiles so big everytime I see them out in the yard trotting along and grazing. Every time I looked out the window I was just so happy to see them. We’ve been outside about 4 times this afternoon and evening to go and visit the sheep! I spent about an hour just sitting in a comfy chair and visiting and watching them. They are so cool! Bucka and his posse are not totally sure about the big weird dogs, but they were happy to visit with me, too and get crackers! The sheep were pretty puzzled about the little chickens and were following them around very closely for awhile. It was funny to watch. The new hens are still staying close to the barn and not venturing out. I suspect it will be a few days before they catch on to the whole free range thing. But they are helping with the eggs for sure! We actually got 12 today!!!

Well, I am busted tired and SO ready to lay down and sleep! I will write more soon, but suffice to say, the sheep are home and happy and so far, so good! I don’t plan on adding any more mouths to the farm for a good while now! We have to do some more projects and improvements first… like a gas stove and a new bed for Jessy. She was promised a “big girl bed” way back when we bought the farm and she’s finally getting a nice queen mattress and foundation tomorrow… a pillow top comfy bed! It will be another week or so until she get the frame and headboard she wants, but at least the kid will be a happy camper in a nice bed! We have a few little projects that need to be completed so that will be priorities on the agenda for a week or two. That and a little REAL work too, to pay the bills! All in a day’s work!

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Craig’s List Made Me Do It…

I should never be allowed to wander on Craig’s List on a Sunday morning, late and just checking on things like stoves and ponies… and of course, CHICKENS.

Do you think there is a 12 step program for chicken fanciers? How many chickens are too many chickens?

All kidding aside… here’s the funny part. You see, I had decided that the chickens I really want to eventually raise will be either Maran varieties or the Americaunas… both of which lay some pretty cool eggs. Distinctive and a little interesting… the various Marans lay super dark eggs and are just really beautiful birds. And the Americaunas, well, they lay tinted green and blue eggs and that is pretty cool, too!

Now, the chicks we hatch will all be half Marans, because we only intend on keeping Maran roosters. We are waiting to see what the little five chicks will be, most likely Copper is a roo, he just seems like a boy for sure! He’s HUGE compaired to the other chickies… But I digress. We plan on just having the Maran roosters because they are known for their calm nature and well, they are just so cool.

But around here, these birds seem to always be in the $5 to $10 range at least! And usually for chicks. Started pullets or laying hens are usually more! And when I ordered our broiler chicks, I tried to order some of the Maran or Americaunas and they were out until like September or later!!! Ah! What to do?

And then… there is an ad. Just posted. 20 hens… Cuckoo Marans, Americaunas and Leghorns. $2 each. Come get them. So you can imagine my thoughts… $2 each? Only a year old? 20 of them?

(We’re calling this lone white leghorn, Floppy Chicken, in honor of Evee’s favorite toy we call Floppy Puppy. It’s a big floppy stuffed dog that she carries EVERYWHERE around the house and such. And this little hen has a floppy comb… it’s kind of funny looking… )

Well, here’s the catch. The lady is working with her kids on some 4H stuff in the house and I can sure come and get some, but that I have to catch them all, since she’s busy! Haha… oh, well, okay. Thankfully they were in a coop, so that helped keep some of the crazy chicken lady antics a bit on the quiet side… but it was still super hot out and trying to catch chickens was hard work!

But I managed to catch 9 by myself and then her husband came out and caught one and in the end, she asked if we could take one more Americauna which was a little bit ornery towards her young daughter. Sure thing. It actually works out kind of nicely… we now have 20 hens and one rooster. Oh yes, and the 5 chicks. And the 2 banty boys… oh yeah, and Einstein. The turkey. Whom is doing very nicely with his new roommates.

Well, I loaded them up in Blue in a borrowed cage from the neighbors that I used for the Banty Boys and was going to take back today, but then forgot… sorry! (I’ll get it back tomorrow!) And cranked up the air for everyone who had their feathers in a fuss and we tootled back to the farm.

I debated with myself for a little while on the way home. How was I going to introduce these girls to the flock without too much chaos and confusion? It would have been perfect to slip them in at nightfall, when everyone was roosting. However, it was only like 3 in the afternoon and I really didn’t want to leave them all in the cage, waiting for hours, when the girls were already a little stressed and most likely, thirsty.

So, I decided that we would take them to the barn and lock them in there for a few hours, and lock our original flock out for a few hours. They were all hanging out under these trees and bushes by the pig barn anyway, and had water at the pump and such, they would be fine. And then new girls would have a few hours to look around the big barn, scratch a little, get a drink, check out the nest boxes and relax. Then in the later evening, I would open up the fence, feed everyone a half box of crackers and then let them start to settle in and start roosting.

Of course, our peep posse had to come and see what that wagon was hauling and then Bucka Roo was delighted to see a whole cage of lovely hens in his realm! He immediately started to do his little Barry White soul dance for the laaaa-deeeees… and of course they were all, “What the heck?” since apparently they were without a rooster in their previous life. It was pretty funny to watch. He is one silly rooster and we just love him to death!

We brought the wagon up to the barn and of course, all the flock had to follow. They were a little confused when we rolled in the wagon load of hens and then closed up the inner fence. They all lined up to watch us unload 11 chickens in THEIR barn.

And as I predicted, the new girls all huddled in the back of the barn, nervous and unsure, keeping to themselves. Maggie got a little crack corn and scattered it in the hay for them and they soon got a hint of the fact that they were in chicken paradise now… they got to snacking on the corn and scratching in the hay and just pretty much checking the joint out. My original gang got bored and wandered off. Maggie took a little corn out for them and scattered it under the cool trees and they were happy. We left them all alone for awhile and went and did laundry.

This evening, around 8 or so, I went back out with a half a box of crackers and some left over peas from dinner, which they adore, and I called up my posse and opened up the fence to let them all in. At first they were more interested in the treats, which was perfect. I crumbled up crackers for everyone, flinging them about to sort of mix everyone up. Of course, Bucka gets his own crackers, delivered by hand, since he’s the boss. A few of my original ladies were picking out their perch spots on the old ladder and settling in after their bedtime snack. Floppy Chicken was the only new girl to test out the ladder roost and Katherine was not pleased. She cawed and flapped and pecked hard on that little fancy leghorn, and shooed her down to the other end. Most of the new girls were content to huddle in the corner and watch. I did go back a little later and everyone had found a spot. Most of the new hens were sitting on the egg hutch, but one or two were on the end of the ladder in the cheap seats. They will be fine in the morning.

When I went out the first time, to join the two flocks together, I was presented with a little clutch of eggs from the new girls! I couldn’t believe it! How cool! And one of them was GREEN! (not quite as green as the picture seems, I think the flash was a little funny… haha… it almost glows!) But it’s such a lovely light shade of green! I love it… exactly what I wanted these new girls for. And there was two very dark eggs, one very very dark, and I know those are the Maran girls. How cool is that? And the last time I checked, I found another lovely green gem laying in a little new nest in the hay. I think we are going to have a lovely array of beautiful eggs in the coming days.

This is really perfect. We’ve been having a little problem. Our original girls will lay about 5 or 6 a day, with occasionally 8 to 10. That gives us about 3 dozen a week, sometimes 4. We will go through at least a dozen… sometimes two a week. So we are this awkward point. Not quite enough eggs to sell, and too many for just us. And we have had people ask for regular eggs and we’ve given away some to friends and they are always thankful, because we make good eggs here at the Windhaven farm! Talk about your free range, happy chickens!

Since a hen will lay an egg about every 36 to 48 hours depending on her age, I think we will start to see about a dozen a day, occasionally a few more. That should give us about 7 to 9 dozen a week… perfect!

Now I do want to add a few more hens to the mix. I really want 3 or 4 Black Copper Marans. I think those are beautiful hens. Then we will have 2 blues, 4 blacks and 5 cuckoo Marans. And we suspect that one or two of the chicks might actually be pure blue Marans! That will be awesome. There is a fellow that lives just over the border into Michigan that raises the blacks… so maybe next week sometime I will see what he has and how my pocketbook looks! His are more expensive birds for sure, but still, they are very special purebreds. We are watching for a few little banty hens for the boys, but that will be a wait and see thing on Craig’s list…

Well, that is the farm story for the day… never dull around here! We love it so! Tomorrow is going to be one incredibly exciting day… our sheepies are coming home!!!!!!! I know it is going to be hard to sleep tonight… but the great thing is that I will be dreaming of my OWN sheep tonight, as they hop that little fence in my brain!

Only one more sleep!!!

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