Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Little Story from the Coop

Chickens are fascinating creatures - at least I think so.

You may recall from a previous post that we have a broody hen.  The first week went as usual and she stoically rested on those eggs, puffing up and glaring indignantly when I entered the room to replenish the food and water for her and for the chicks that also populate the room.  All was going just fine until Friday morning chores.  When I entered the room and added some feed to the feeders, she got off the nest and began clucking to the chicks ... for those of you who may not be that familiar with hens, they have a certain way of talking to their young.  The chicks were terrified and began racing round the room while she followed like she was trying to round them up and get them to listen... chaos! 

Now I was worried.  Would she go back to her nest, or had she abandoned it for these chicks?  Should I take the eggs and fire up the incubator, or just let nature take it's course?  Well, I needed to get to work, so I left the eggs to their fate. 

Back at home in the evening- all was fine.  She was back on the nest - but then hopped off again and the scene of the morning was repeated.   Now Sunday evening, the situation is pretty much the same except instead of all of the chicks being terrified when she gets off the nest, two of them have decided she is their mom and hang out with her and one even climbs right in the nest with her.

So now I should really have a picture of the hen and the chicks for you... but I don't.  I just can't get a decent picture in the low light of that room so goat pictures will have to suffice for this week!

Here's Violet!  Such a pretty little thing!

If you scroll down to last week's  post and look at the picture of Ranger, you will see that his scurs (quasi horns) have really grown.  It was time for a trim so today we tackled that.  Usually we trim them with a hacksaw but this is really hard work for the guy doing the sawing and takes a while making it an even more unpleasant experience for Ranger.  This time Kevin used the sawzall and it went quite well.  Still unpleasant but much faster!  Here is the after picture - yep, a little blood but not anything to worry about.  He is just fine.

That's quite enough for this week I think - I am not sure if there will be good news from the coop next week or not - if the eggs are going to hatch, it should be Saturday or Sunday I would think.  Until then, be well friends.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Sweet Smell of June

Today, we had some much needed rain.  We've had a dry spell at Ole Lake Farm.  Earlier in the week storms went through to the north and to the south of us but missed our place completely - it was really disappointing.  We have been moving the sprinkler tower around the pumpkin patch and the corn area as well as spot watering but now we are good - for a little while at least.

I finally cornered the turkey poults long enough to get a photo.  I think they are a pretty unique looking cross.  They are getting along with the older chicken chicks just fine.  On the other side of the coop, the younger chicks are getting their feathers.

The lad's shelter and paddock gets moved regularly. Today while Kevin was working on moving the fence panels he had them tethered to one of the hay wagons.  They did not miss the opportunity to gain some elevation.

Out in the garden, I have scaled down on what I'm planting this year but things are coming along.  This is the first year in a long time that I have not lost any tomato plants to cut worms - I am attributing this to letting the chickens run in the garden in the fall and again in the spring.

Now is the sweet spot of June when the roses are blooming but the rose chafers have not arrived.  The blossoms are all very fragrant and it is a treat to spend time out there.  Pretty soon those nasties will find them - I have tried various weapons on them but have not had success against them so they just get to munch away while I look the other way - for now though, the roses are such a treat.

So that is the update for this week. Stop by again next week and until then, be well friends!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Critter Update, Part I

It's Sunday evening, 9:30 PMish.  My back is sunburned and I am pretty darn tired.  That means this blog is not going to be as complete as I had planned in my head while out digging in the garden this afternoon.  My plan was a complete and detailed account of how each and every farm animal is doing these days.  Hmmm.  Not happening.  Here is what I do have.

Earlier in the week (Monday evening?) we had the most AMAZING rainbow - so vibrant - awesome in the most literal meaning of the word.

The turkeys have finally ventured outdoors but are extremely shy of me.  This photo is the best I could do and it's pretty bad.  They have some very interesting feather patterns so I hope to do better as summer rolls along.

The latest chicks moved out of the bathtub (1 week old now) today and out to the chick room of the Winter Coop (Thank You Kori!).  To make room for them, the 4 week old chicks moved in with the turkeys (despite the dire warnings that turkeys and chicken should not be housed together, we did not have a problem last year so I am going for it!).  AND we have a broody hen.  I moved her back to the Winter Coop too and she is sitting on 10 eggs.  

I thought it was about time to update you on how the pigs are growing.  Kevin reports that they are much friendlier now and allow (and sometimes demand) back scratches.  They tunneled out of their paddock one time this week but followed Kevin back in like Mary's little lambs.  Anyway, when I went out there to take their picture today, they kept crowding the fence so this is all I got.

Anyway, that is it for tonight.  I'll be back next week with some more.  Until til then, be well y'all.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Long Weekend? Doesn't seem like it!

There is so much going on here we are just going all the time.  If I told you all about everything you would get tired of reading and fall asleep!  So, a short recap here.

Loaner goat Mitzi has settled down a bit but continues to voice her general displeasure and dis-contentedness anytime she thinks anyone is out and about to listen.  She has a very loud voice and reminds me very much of Daisy in many ways. I am still working out the best milking positions that will work for both of us but we manage and haven't lost a pail of milk yet (she does kick a little bit).  Vinca retains her Herd Queen crown despite the horn differential. 

The kids are still with us however we have put them up for sale.  They certainly are entertaining and people love to stop in to visit them and the pigs.  For some reason I get more good pictures of Garrus than Violet - it seems like he is posing all the time - wants to be a cover goat I guess!

I have been opening up the coop for the turks every day but they have yet to venture out into the coop-yard.  At night they have taken to snuggling into one of the nests!

The 3-week old chicks are doing just great and there is a new batch of 19 in the bathtub again, hatched yesterday and today.  I am not putting any pictures of them here because they look pretty much just like the last ones - how would you know the difference?

I put in some time clearing the really untidy (okay, disgustingly weedy) garden beds.  I work the beds by hand.  Some people might wonder why I do not use a tiller.  We do have one but it is a big beast and it is a real wrestling match to turn it - these 4 beds are each only about 22 x 22 feet so... I will concede that using the tiller would probably be faster but I do prefer to prep the beds with my tools- broadfork, hoe, and garden fork.  It's good exercise for mind and body and easier on the soil as well.  I have a picture here of what it looked like when I was partly through the worst of the beds.  Later some of the hens came by to help. 

The last of the grain planting is done. Kevin rented a no-till planter from the Aitkin SWCA to plant the spring wheat and he is trying some buckwheat this year. Not sure if the buckwheat will be a cover crop or if he plans to combine it, maybe both, who knows.  All the current thinking is that no-till is the most beneficial for the soil so we are trying a small patch and see how it goes.

We were at the Farmers Market in Aitkin on Saturday.  Thank you everyone who stopped by; there was a good turnout and it was nice to connect with all the farmer friends and customers from last year, and some meet some new vendors.  If you happen to be in Aitkin on Saturdays, stop by and see us! 

So enough for this weekend.  Enjoy and honor the day tomorrow; be well friends.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Goat Solution

We are at the point that we just have to face the fact:  Echo is not going to have a kid or kids this year.  We are beyond the last possible date - just not happening.  So I have been wrestling with some options on what to do about this.  The obvious thing to do is nothing, and just be content with the milk that Vinca provides.  Less cheese that way  - disappointing.  Less time making cheese - well, that wouldn't be so bad as I do manage to keep pretty busy.  There was a possibility of acquiring back a daughter of Vinca & Ranger's who is in milk already - but then we would have a buck problem come fall.  I've been mulling on this and having a hard time deciding what to do.

The solution came from an unexpected query in the mailroom at work.  My co-worker Deb asked if I had any tips for getting a doe to dry up when she wasn't ready to.... well, not really but I know of a good place she can go to summer camp!

So Mitzi arrived this afternoon (don't know if that is how her name is spelled but that's my best guess).
She has impressive headgear and even more impressive but unfortunate jumping skills.  I think she may actually be a squirrel cleverly disguised as a goat.  Some very quick modifications had to be made to the board fence in the shed.

The does are getting along as well as can be expected under the circumstances.  She's pretty unhappy about the situation, as you can imagine, but she just needs a little time.  We had our first milking together this evening - kind of different for both of us as she is used to a milking machine and for me, her udder is quite different from my goats.  We will adapt.

I will share this week's view from the milking stand - very green!  It's been rainy and chilly all week so we are all ready to see the sun again.

One last thing.  When I got home from work and the store on Friday, I had to leave the grocieries for a few minutes and get out the camera.  Kevin was out tilling near the house.  Across the road were behemoth tractors doing their thing.  Quite a contrast, and not just in size.

Stop by again next week - we will have our first farmer's market of the year behind us, and should have a new bunch of chicks.  Until then, be well friends.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day, Moving Day

Today's post is brought to you by parentheses.  

Happy Day to all moms and non-moms out there! 

This Sunday evening is hopefully a little different than the last – no trips to the ER I hope (so far, so good!).  To finish off the tick story, what happened was that I found this nasty little beast partially embedded in my arm when I went to the shower around 8 PM.  The area was swollen, red, and sore.  We thought about what to do as we were pretty certain Kevin would not be able to remove it intact.  We called our hospital's nurse line (worthless, they were a thousand miles away) and decided we would just go in.  It was a bit of a wait as the ER had been very busy that evening (the TV was on in the waiting room, a useful reminder of why we don't have that anymore!).  When we were seen, the doc just removed the critter with tweezers, piece by piece just like Kevin would have done.  We found out they do not automatically dose a person with doxycycline anymore for these things - now we wait for symptoms first.  That is just fine with me  We also found out that they don't go cutting if they don't get the whole thing out  like they used to do - that just isn't necessary and if there is a bit left behind it isn't a big deal.  So a learning experience and I think it was just as well we went as I probably would have gone in the next day anyway.  Want to see a picture of it?  I will put it at the bottom so the folks who would be revolted by it don't have too look.

So today, besides having a get together for Mother's Day we moved animals.

The pigs moved to new ground.

Julio and the hens moved from the Winter Coop to join the rest of the gals in the Summer Coop.& pasture.  Then the turks moved from the chick room to the bigger room of the Winter Coop.  

The chicks vacated the bathtub and moved out to the luxury accommodations of the chick room in the Winter Coop.  Thank you Kori - Poultry Catcher Extraordinaire for your help with the chicks!

How is that for a bucket of chicken?
And the lads moved out of their winter quarters to a much greener paddock.
Check out the trees and the wheat field in the background!  Gotta love the green of spring!
Speaking of chicks - my new incubator had a wiring melt-down!  I found it before it had cooled down too much and Kevin, being such a handy fellow did a quick Jerry-rigged (had to look up Jury-rigged vs Jerry-rigged - turns out they are both a thing!  So educational, this blogging!)  wiring job and got it going. Crisis narrowly averted (I hope)!  I will be in touch with the nice folks at Incubator Warehouse tomorrow.

Managed to get in some garden tasks too - digging out the compost pile, transplanting tomatoes in the greenhouse, and torching the asparagus (well, Kevin did the torching, I just stood by with the water).  That should haven been done earlier, but it wasn't.  I picked a few spears and some were missed but I'm not too concerned -more will come. 
Roasted Asparagus...  I actually ate a couple of these - they were good!
The oats planting is done, thanks to the hired help.  The last thing will be the spring wheat.  Spring wheat is very frost intolerant, so Kevin is waiting a week before planting, but now looking at the forecast it probably could have been, but oh well. 

And now I will wish you all a pleasant and healthy week - be well.  And here is the tick picture: 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Deepening Spring

We have a great gift from Mother Nature this weekend - beautiful weather!  Kind of makes a person think - Oh yeah, that's why we live here!

Above is a new view from the milking stand.  This morning it was especially beautiful but the picture was taken later in the day.

New life is everywhere, including in the bathtub again.  The chicks began hatching on Friday evening and #14 hatched Saturday late in the afternoon.  This was a better yield than I  anticipated - about 50%.  I fell that is pretty good considering the 30:1 Hen:Rooster ratio.  The incubator has been reloaded with 27 more eggs, this time from just the 16 Hens that are still in the Winter Coop with Julio.  It will be interesting (to me anyway) to see how many of those turn out to be fertile.

Cute, Cute, Cute!  The little ones will stay in the tub about a week.  We didn't get Julio and the hens moved out to the Summer Coop to join the other hens yet, therefor could not move the little turkeys out of the chick room.  I don't mind them in the house actually, we just have to be careful when the dogs are in the house to put a gate up as an extra safety measure.  Sorry Hoover, no chicken nuggets for you!
Violet and Garrus are growing quickly!

The lettuce is looking pretty good in the greenhouse bed.  Some of the leaves are edible size but I am leaving it alone for now.

Meanwhile out in the garden, the weeds are flourishing ... They are pretty though!

Kevin and Rollie are out planting something... 

Oops - we interrupt this post for a trip to the ER.  Don't worry, I am fine but have a nasty tick.  More on that next time.  Until then, you be well, and I will be too.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

On May Day Eve

Don't really need to say much about the weather...

When you see something like that in the forecast and you have oats to plant, you get busy. Kevin's Grandpa Ruben always wanted to have his oats planted so it could get snowed on, something about the snow bringing nitrogen down with it. Kevin remembers Rollie and Ruben working the fields with lights on the tractors to get the field ready. When Kevin saw this snow coming he decided he wanted his oats snowed on also, so down to the long field; that is where he planned on planting the oats this year.  Back he came a hour later; that field was just too wet, so change of plans.  Off to a couple other fields, smaller and with less low areas and with the help of Rollie, Kurt and Kori the hull-less oats and 1/3 of the regular oats is planted - bring on that snow! Now we get to do a science experiment to see if makes any difference, since it looks like rest of the oats will not be planted for a couple weeks, if we really get all this moisture.

Kevin took this picture by accident of Kori riding the back of the planter  - too bad about the angle but it shows her beautiful smile so I am using it!

Here is an updated turkey photo - more feathers and they are out of the brooder now and have the entire chick room to roam around in.  They do still like it very warm in there and when I turn off the heat lamp (100 degrees just doesn't seem necessary) they respond by huddling into a pile and looking chilled (kind of like me when it's less than 75 in the house). All of my pictures so far feature them from the backside as they try to get as far as possible from me.  That's gratitude for you!

The eggs in the incubator have a week to go, so next post I should have some more chick pix.  I candled them this morning and there may be as many as 14 of them developing, which is better than I initially thought.  In order to ensure a better hatch rate for the next round, we split the flock yesterday evening.  It was handy that Kori had joined us for part of the day
since she is such an expert chicken catcher.  I could not decide which hens to leave with Julio to concentrate his efforts on - the oldest?  Youngest?  The most red?  Most congenial?  In the end, I didn't give any direction and we just moved the first 14 that Kori laid hands on - this could mean the we are selecting for "hardest to catch' for breeding stock.... Anyway, we will see how that comes out. 

And the new piggys - the little brown one seems to be about half the size of the black ones, but is oh so cute!  They are becoming less shy now that they know us, and more importantly (to them) our food.

Out in the goat pen - just the 2 kids still.  The idea that Echo just might not be pregnant at all is growing... Checking the calendar for when the lads moved out of the does quarters, she would really have to be due by mid-May at the latest.  Stay tuned.    Speaking of goats, did you know that they enjoy banana peels?  Love them!

So, enough for now I guess.  Stop by again next week - until then, be well friends!