If you haven’t noticed… I love a good build. A project just makes me come alive. I like the planning and the plotting and the changes and the buying of material and how it all comes together through sweat and effort and sometimes a little swearing and some tears. Haha… not much, but still… I just love standing back and saying… we did that. And it’s works.

And we’re getting so much better at it all! That is so encouraging! Less Clampett-esque… a little more Norm.

And I love that my girls are getting better and better with power tools, planning and on site changes. We are growing into this pretty awesome team that can put up a coop or make a bridge or a bunny hutch without fancy engineer drawn plans. By the seat of our pants!

Our mistakes are becoming less and less. We can look at a dream and figure it out on a piece of scrap paper and get started without too much fuss and extra lumber at the end! That is so cool!

It’s amazing to me how the right tools, like the table saw, are helping us as well, making the job more professional, and easier. Such blessings… I’m glad that we are able to find decent bargains through various resale options like Craigslist and Facebook, it’s really two fold delight for us… good tools to keep us safe and work more efficiently at a reasonable price, and folks making a little cash for stuff they aren’t using.

This week our focus has been to finish the fancy egg empire coop in the poultry barn. Maggie’s new egg flock has been settling in admist the hammering and sawdust and has laid about 2 dozen eggs so far. Just 98 more dozen to go till we capitalize the investment!!! She sold 6 lovely heritage chicks we had hatched ourselves yesterday and that bought the last element… the outside run fencing! So now, we have all the parts and hope to have it all finished for them by the weekend.

But Monday, we built their nest boxes so the ladies would have proper places to lay their lovely blue eggs! With nine Ameracunas in the flock, there are a high percentage of beautiful blue eggs being laid! It’s like an Easter egg hunt every morning! We built a lovely three nest box, 18 inches up off the floor with outside coop access to the eggs once they are laid. We would like to keep human intrusion in the coop to a minimum, just to keep the hens happy since they were not home grown and are still flighty at our close presence, and to just keep the whole production easy. It was so cute… the minute we had it in there, one of the hens was up and working on making nest box hole #1 her own. And she laid an egg about a half hour after she settled in. Apparently, she had been WAITING for a perfect place to lay! And she found it!

It wasn’t long after that the rooster boys, Argent and Flipper, were both stuffed in one box, checking it out and playing in there. They are big teenager goofs and funny to watch. The ladies seem to like them, happy that they are not being aggressively mated with like older roosters might do. These boys, once they figure out how love works, will be a gradual introduction to like with a rooster. I think that is a bit more pleasant for them at the moment.

Domino, the mean roo, is still with us. If you were wondering. He’s actually settling down a little bit in his solitary confinement status out in the big barn, in the holding coop. Perhaps he’s learning that there is a rhyme and reason to our farm, or perhaps he’s just plotting his revenge in a cold smoldering bit of chicken anger. I’m not sure. I do know that he has stopped attacking my hands when I give him food and water. I’ve been taking out a bit of bread or an old donut, some sort of treat and offering it to him by hand and he has refused it for the last couple days until this morning. He finally took it. A bit of old bread. It was a good start to possibly saving his life. Since we don’t have any meat chicks ready for processing, I figure he has a short lease on life. He has about 6 to 8 weeks to shape up or he’ll be going in with the others. Bucka Roo walks by the little pen and gives Domino a real talking to. He’s teaching the bratty boy what goes around his barn. Thank goodness someone de-spurred Domino… I would not want such an aggressive bird with spurs attacking my sweet roos. I doubt that he will ever be free range around here, but I think that a good month of gentle, quiet care might change him a bit. Once he grows his tail feathers and plumage back, I’ll see, I will probably offer him on Craigslist with the proper warnings. He’s a beautiful young roo… if someone wanted to raise Dominiques, I’m sure he would be an asset to their breeding program. So it’s a wait and see situation on his fate.

But I digress! We are doing so nicely on the coop build! It’s been fun to hang out in the poultry barn and give that huge building new life! I can’t help but think that the previous family did the same… you can see their pride and joy in the fun signatures and such in the once wet concrete, back in 1964. It’s nice and cool, even in the last couple days of high 80’s temps here! Once we open up either side a bit and add a little screening and a breeze, it’s going to be even nicer, probably even in the high 90’s. That’s nice. The birds will love hanging out in here instead of being outside when it’s really hot. Chickens around here really like the temps in the 70’s and 80’s, but once it gets up past 90, I find they seek out the shady spots and do a lot of laying about. Just something I noticed last summer.

We also moved the brooder out to the poultry barn. We want most of the production bird resources out there. It’s a perfect building with plenty of room for chicks, hens, and storage. We moved about half the chicks out there as well, they are nicely feathered now and it’s really very nice and warm. We have a heat lamp for them at night and Maggie checks on them at least once in the late evening to make sure they are doing fine. We got 250 pounds of feed delivered on Thursday and it’s a perfect place for the extra sacks, up off the ground and hopefully away from little mousies! We have big galvanized pails at each flocks headquarters, but that much feed filled up all three right away! We only have one bag left outside, so as soon as the girls chew through a bit, we’ll be able to divy that up and keep it safer. Considered getting 500, but I’m glad that we split the order with our neighbors! I think it works better that way, less to get potentially damaged. We saved 30% over just buying it by the single bag! I hope that we can always buy it this way, it’s a lot more convenient then having to pick up a bag every week. This should last us a good month or more, especially now that the flocks are eating a lot more bugs and grass now!

Today, we finished the two access doors to the coop, so that is much nicer than the flap of weird chicken wire that we were using. And Maggie moved a roost from the big barn into the new coop since all the chickens in that barn were not using it. They prefer to roost high up in the rafters! It’s funny to go out there at night, you feel a little weird seeing 20 some chickens all up above you, watching like silent chicken ninjas…. They still like their ladder, and use that as well, but most are way up and nice and safe from anything that might try and bother them. Of course, when we move the sheep in there soon, we might have to rig up a little bit of a drop cloth so that the hens above do not leave a bunch of poop below on the sheepies! That would be yucky! It’s always something!

Tomorrow, we will start with the outside phase two of the build. We are making them a 8 foot wide by 40 foot long outside run. Complete with a habitrail tube for them to go outside. Should be interesting. We have 6 posts to dig and set in concrete and then a nice strong roll of fencing to keep them safe. I promise to take more pictures of the process… I have been a bit remiss in that category! I got to working with the girls and we just forgot. And then it gets dark and well, no photos. No many at least.
We got our first batch of meat chicks on Wednesday! They are so cute. The little nuggets are all doing fine, bunking with 6 of our last hatched heirloom hen chicks. The slightly older chicks really help to teach the nuggets how to be chickens. Within a few hours of introduction, they had all the babies up and scratching and running about, being little silly peeps. They will be inside for another week or two, and then move out to the big brooder.
What’s special to us about this batch of chicks, is that over half of them belong to our friends! Several of them loved our tasty special roasting birds that we grew last year and said they wanted some for their own this year! So 20 of the 35 are for others! We are raising them for free, but they are paying for the birds, their share of feed and finishing. I really like that. We’re helping other families to learn that meat chickens can have a wonderful farm life and grow gently and humanely and in the end, taste deliciously and without all the meds and nasty stuff they have to do to keep factory farm raised birds alive. If we could raise tons more for friends and family we would, but right now, we’re just taking on a few more at a time. We’ll probably order another batch in about a month or so. It’s just that we have a hog coming to us soon and that is going to really fill up our freezers!!! (More on that in a bit…)
It’s been SO nice out, the last week… sunshine, fair weather, warm temperatures… it’s just crazy to think that we really should be worried still about snow! Yet all the world seems ready for this early spring, the grass is growing like nuts and the trees are all flowering. We have lovely daffodils all over up and blooming. Even a few stray tulips! And our peonies are already 6 inches up outta the ground! I think spring is here for sure. The hoofies are all eating the new grass like crack addicts with a tax refund in their little hands. I rarely see them with their heads up, they are always nose to the ground and nibbling away. I’ve been watching Cody pony to make sure he’s not foundering on the new grass, ponies can occasionally get a little weird with too much fresh green feed, but so far, he’s just fine. Since they get locked up in the evening and not let out at the crack of dawn, he’s doing fine with his hay in the mornings. It’s been a nice gradual introduction to the new rich green grass for everyone, and I haven’t noticed anyone in distress over it. Keeping them in the middle yard has been good, since they are all grazing, it’s not that high yet. Now in the front yard? Oh, we are going to be mowing soon! It’s starting to get a little shaggy! I like to let the grass get good and long the first time, so it can really store up some good sunshine energy and grow nicely. Just don’t want it to get to be a jungle, though…

When we haven’t been working on the poultry barn project, we’ve been just working on cleaning up and getting the place looking good after a long winter! Jessy has been working on the screen porch and mud room, and it’s really coming along! After we moved the brooder and all that winter’s bedding out, that really opened up the place. She swept and scraped and moved stuff, filling up three big trash bags! The bunnies all got a good cleaning out, and the chickens were happy to go through all the bunny litter out in the courtyard flower beds. They are the best little gardeners helpers! Can’t wait to get a few bags of topsoil to cover up all the bunny compost that has been put out in the beds over the winter and plant tons of flowers out there this year!!! Got bigs plans for sure!

We got our new to us grill out and after getting a new tank of gas, we have grilled out twice this week! Hot dogs one night and some little ribeye steaks another! We are getting spoiled! It’s so nice to be out there and smell that grill going. I want to do some BBQ chicken and potato and onion packs this weekend. That will be delightful.

She got all our patio furniture out and cleaned and set up in the screen porch, and taken down about half of the plastic so far. She didn’t want to remove all of it, because of Gwendolyn’s babies and the fact that it could be a little rainy and cold this weekend. She left the plastic on the sides up, where all the weather really comes from. But the back part, that is more sheltered, she took that down and the kitties have been enjoying their new lounging spots in the sunshine.

We have plans to paint the walls in the mudroom and organize the supply cupboard and shelves in there much more efficiently, and also to do a little more work on the bunny hutch. However, we don’t want to do too much at the moment to disturb Gwen and her little babies. They are doing so nicely! We still have the original five babies and they are growing every hour bigger!!! She is being an awesome momma and is very comfortable with us peeking in on them once a day. In fact, if you pass by and don’t stop to ooowww and awwww, she gets up in the cage and stands on the door, waiting for you to return with her goodies. She is spoiled like all our beasts! I believe she likes for us to check on them, because she know she’s going to get a handful of hay or a carrot or her favorite… little papaya bits that help keep the angora bunnies regular with all the hair they can consume from grooming. She loves those!

Our plans at the moment are to keep one or two of the bunnies for our own flock and sell the others. Waiting to see how they grow up and their sex, as we would like to keep a couple does for future breeding. We’re not positive of Gwendolyn’s age and don’t intend to breed her again. She’s doing fine and her babies are beautiful. But since she is not a pedigreed bun, we’d like to just let her have a nice life in our fiber flock without endangering her from too many breedings. We’re hoping that we might be able to add a lovely pedigreed girl French angora to our flock this weekend! There is a bunny show at the William County Fairgrounds on Saturday and we’re going! There are very few angora breeders in our area, so we’re hoping that there might be a few at the show and we can hunt out our perfect little doe. We really would like a red or carmel girl to breed with our pedigreed black and white buck so that we might have a little color to our litters! We’ll see!

In the meanwhile, Gwendolyn’s litter is half pedigreed! Well, their daddy is, and that’s not too bad, especially for lovely fiber pets. And I’m pretty certain we will have no problem finding homes for them. I see lots of people wanting Angoras in our area and no one breeds them. We’ve had to go pretty far afield to get ours. So, it will be interesting to see how our first litter finds their wonderful homes. They will be beautiful, and you know they will be very tame and spoiled pets with Jessy!!!

Velvet bunny is doing fine, and is so sweet and tame already. She hops all over Jessy’s desk, and has learned to sit up and beg for froot loops! Haha… it’s funny to watch.

Well, that’s about all that has been going on… just tons of work and beautiful weather! I know it could still turn a little wet and wild on us, and remembering last year… oh my! But we have decided that as long as the sun is shining and it’s nice, we are going to work hard and use those rainy days to relax! You know they are coming, in fact this weekend is supposed to be a little gloomy and wet. We’re getting a jump on spring here, so we are going to take advantage of all the time and get a head start. Still need to rake up the yard good, there are sticks all over the place! And we have 4 barns to dig out of their winter bedding… and all our straw bale beds to fill up with compost! And the new outside run to build. And the poultry barn rock and old wood rubble needs to get brought out and disposed of… and the pallet fence has to go up… and… and… and… haha… our list of cards is a HUGE stack at the moment, but that’s okay… it’s delightful to feel the ache of muscles that worked hard and wipe the brow of sweat equity with your sleeve. It’s wonderful!!!!

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Crazy Day and Crazy Week!

This week is going to be a full one for sure!

But today, we’ve got a pretty full plate… just need to get some things done sooner than later!

We need to….

Take care of some client website edits…

Call and hopefully get some straw and hay today…

Move the rest of the pallets in the courtyard to the field for their intending use…

Move the brooder from the screen porch and open it up in there…

Make lovely nest boxes for the new flock…

Order some stock for the rock biz…

Ship out a bunch of orders…

Clean up my messy kitchen!

And hopefully… have a little Cody Pony grooming session…. he’s shedding his winter coat like nuts!

So, what’s on your plate today???

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Jessy is a Grandma!!!!

Gwendolyn, our French angora rabbit just had her first litter!!! They were born about 11 PM and just barely made the St. Patrick’s Day deadline there! Five little babies! Four look like daddy and one is a gray baby.

She started pulling out hair this morning, so we were keeping a good watch and then around 8 when we came in from doing chores and projects, she had pulled out a TON of hair! She was even pulling it off Ozzy! So we put the cage divider up (She was living with Ozzy and Grizzelda, in the big top cage, 8 foot by 3 foot in size… but we were worried that the other two might be a little too rough on the babies. So we seperated Gwendolyn from the other two and then went in and got to our evening.

Well, we go out there around 10:30 and she has had them! Of course, NOT IN THE NEST. Silly mom. They were just laying on the cage floor! She was really calm, so Jessy just put them into the nest box carefully and Gwen seemed fine with it. Five little babies! Not too bad for what we assume is her first litter. First with us, that’s for sure. She seem really calm and that’s great.

As we have read and know from our hamster rescue days, the first couple days are really the most dangerous for small critters and rabbits especially can be a little weird. They can abandon them, or even… ugh.. eat them. So, we’re holding our breath and letting her have some nice quiet time. Thank goodness it’s really nice and balmy outside tonight. I don’t think the cold will be an issue. Now they are in the nest box, it’s nice and super soft in there. Hopefully they will stick together and keep each other warm. Mom bunnies don’t spend a ton of time with their babies. They nurse a few moments and then leave. It’s a little weird. She was fussing over them a bit, licking them and seemed content enough to go and eat and drink with them tucked away. We’re hoping she will be a good mommie and that we will have 5 beautiful little bunnies grow up this spring!!!

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