Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Farm Castoffs

There's a truth to farming that's hard to ignore...boys.  Even on our tiny farm, boys are something that we have to deal with.

When we ordered our first set of chicks, we ordered girls for layers and heavy breed boys for meat.  We could have just ordered Cornish X, which is what most people eat when they eat chicken, but we were trying to do the responsible thing and eat birds that would have likely been thrown away.  I'm not actually sure what the hatchery we ordered from does with their castoffs but most of them put them into a grinder, trash bag or some other awful fate for a living being to experience on their first day of life.  I'm not squeamish about death at all, but I do have a deep respect for living creatures and I don't want them to suffer.  If it's alive it should live until it hopefully finds a quick death.

Now that we have many of our breeding animals in place, we have the reality of male animals.  This year we hatched and/or raised 12 roosters.  For a flock of 20+ hens, we only need 2 roosters for fertile eggs.  So we cull (kill) the extra birds for meat.  Five of those roosters were leghorns.  One of them I culled ahead of the rest of them to try out.  Chicken noodles.  It was awful, the bird was so tough it was pretty much inedible.  Nothing wrong with the taste, just too tough.  So the rest of them I ground; I keep plenty of taco and sausage seasonings on hand for just such meats.

I know a few vegetarians who eat eggs and drink milk, but the reality is that both products require some solution for male animals.  If you drink milk, the cow must birth a calf first.  That calf has a 50% chance of being male.  It used to be that dairy bull calves were the source of veal, but now veal has become unpopular and I've heard stories of bull calves being shot shortly after birth so no expense is wasted on an unwanted animal.  Dairy goats have the same odds of having male kids, also in the US, goat meat is not very popular.  I have yet to try goat meat, so I'm really no exception.  I'm actually looking quite forward to trying it though.  Personally I've not been able eat some of the fattier meats like beef and lamb so the lean goat meat will probably work out great.

Just like you can't have leather or fur without the death of an animal, you can't have eggs or milk without considering the fate of the boys.  To me, it would seem the most responsible thing to do would be to give them a good life and end it quickly when the time is right.  You could keep the boys for pets, but anyone who's heard of cockfighting will quickly make the connection as to why too many boys are a bad idea.

This has been what's been on my mind lately.  We finished up our season by culling the extra boys, girls and one injured girl who we didn't think should hurt another day.  We are down to around 25 chickens, 5 ducks, 3 geese, 3 turkeys and 2 goats.

A few pics.
Blue Slate Turkey hens.  10lbs and 8lbs dressed

PekinX double duck egg, PekinX duck egg, 2 olive chicken eggs

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Farm log 10/20/12

This post is more for me than you.  I've tried to keep a log book before but I end up looking up old FB or blog posts anyhow to figure out what I did when.

Sonny- weight taped at 105lbs, dosed with ivermectin (wormer), given CD/T vaccine, BoSe shot, hooves trimmed and iodined.  Sonny has a goiter we noticed a week ago that has been shrinking with the addition of Thorvin kelp free choice every evening.  In a week, I want to reworm him and see if I can give him some RedCell (I'm slightly concerned his "goiter" is actually bottle jaw so I'm treating for both just in case).  In a month he needs hoof trimming and his second CD/T as well as copper bolus.

York- weight taped at 180, dosed with ivermectin and CD/T.  Hooves trimmed and iodined.  I'll probably reworm him along with Sonny and he also needs hoof trimming and his second CD/T as well as copper bolus.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pictures 10/7/12

'I only have eyes.....for yoouuuuu'  Sonny, now a year old and currently in rut

"Angel"- our currently broody Ameracuana x Wyandotte cross from last fall's hatch. Ironically she's quite mean and will peck your hand off.

The boys, Sonny and York.  Poor York has to deal with stinky Sonny.

The blue slate turkeys....1 jake and 4 hens (are they called something different at this age?)  

Free range hens.  They really like to roost in the pine trees.

duck duck duck goose goose :)  The gosling girls are about 3/4 of our grown gander's size now

this rooster is one of the "school" leghorns, he's just a white leghorn but LOOK at that tail! I've never seen a leghorn with such a fancy tail and none of the other roos have it.  Too bad we aren't trying to keep leghorn roos.

Early Fall.  From my dining room window.

Monday, October 1, 2012

October '12 update

It feels like fall!  We had such a hot, dry summer that I'm not ashamed to say that I was glad to see it go.

I'd love to tell you that so much has happened in the last month, but really it's nothing too exciting.  We lost a duck, one of the girls from the spring hatch.  She disappeared one evening without a trace and we still have not seen any sign of her.  She may have went broody and we'll see her later this month with a bunch of ducklings of her own.  She may have been picked up by a predator, however this theory puzzles me since the only airborne predator I've seen lately is too small to carry away a duck of her size.

Which brings me to the airborne predator in question, the Cooper's hawk.  For a few days we had a Cooper's hawk scoping out our flock and our African geese were so kind as to alert every living creature around that it was nearby.  I believe that hawk has moved on and I don't think it caught a meal here.  Have I mentioned how much I love our geese?  Low maintenance, easy keepers, hearty flock protection.  I can't wait to see the goslings next year.  We've never had goose meat but we are looking forward to trying it.  I was browsing around for prices on goose...wow!  I mean the low end I found was $8/lb and the high end nearing $12/lb for whole goose.  If we weren't raising it, I can't imagine we'd ever afford it.

The goats.  Well, they stink to high heaven right now.  Sonny is in rutt and if we are lucky they he didn't just pee all over his head just before we have to handle him.  Boy goats are gross!

The human kids are doing great.  The new baby was 10lbs, 9.5 oz today at the doc's office :)  My son has taken a liking to jigsaw puzzles.  I have no idea what skill level he should be at with puzzles but the last couple puzzles were probably too easy at 24 pcs.

With all these animals we raise for meat, it had me thinking about our menu.  If we grew all of our own meats our menu would include: chicken, duck, turkey, goose, goat, with rabbit and pork as later additions.  I don't know about you but I grew up with the typical beef, pork, chicken, fish, turkey diet....none of which were grown on pasture like we're doing here.  So it really is going to require me to branch out my cooking skills.  I've never cooked goat or goose or rabbit.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

September update

This might be the only update I get to this month.  I've been happily busy with this cutie pie.  She might be the prettiest newborn I've ever laid eyes on.....but then again, I'm biased.  She arrived August 1st so now she's officially a month old.

I had a c-section, which normally I recover fast and easily from surgery and I started out that way, but I developed a seroma which reopened my incision so this recovery has been quite hard.  I'm still recovering and I have a feeling I'm still weeks away from normal.  I also have a nerve in my leg that's making me crazy that I have to get looked at so when you combine the two....I'm just not quite up to being myself yet.  Luckily I have this snuggly, warm newborn to keep me anchored in a seat so it's easy to take it easy.  

So let me share one more picture of my kiddos before I move on to the barnyard.  My son loves her so much.  He's always asking to hold her, kiss her, and he always wants to be near her.  Wasn't exactly what I expected him to do.  I really thought he'd be so jealous he'd have a hard time adjusting but really he's done well.  

So the barnyard, honestly...not much new has happened.  All the spring babies look like mini-adults.  They all have done so well, they forage well and we've been getting a steady stream of eggs from the girls (albeit a smaller amount of eggs than we probably should be getting).  We have about 10 roosters and 3 ducks that need to find their way into our freezer, but with everything going on around here we haven't gotten to it.

Our nubian buck, Sonny, is now registered as Wyatt's Pride Sun King *B and he just turned a year old.  He's a handsome boy but he is beginning to feel his testosterone so we use a pretty reasonable amount of caution with him.  Now, we just need a few good does to breed to him :)

So for now, that's my update.  I know it's not much but we've really been quite wrapped up with the new baby and a lot of our outdoor activities have been on hold.  This farming thing is much easier with two people.

Gobble, Gobble! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fire! (Luckily, not a bad one)

I like to think of us a being prepared to deal with almost anything.  So when something comes up I'm not prepared for, after things have died down I replay everything in my head.  Where could I have done better?  What could I do to prepare better next time?  Yesterday we had a brooder/barn fire.  Nothing terribly serious, actually I think I may have personally gotten the worst of it.

We had a brooder lamp set up to keep the barn babies warm (goslings, ducklings and chicks) while they get their feathers.  The chicks are nearly old enough to go without it but the waterbabies aren't....although they don't need it much.  Anyhow, the lamp fell into the bedding and started a fire....I'm guessing by the damage it was a pretty slow fire.  The babies were all huddled under the open barn window away from the fire, which probably saved them.  The fire damaged the adjoining stall wall and a portion of the brooder wall, some dishes and of course some bedding.  We were out on a church picnic, when we got home, I went to the barn to let the goats out.  Of course I find smoke and fire so I got the goats out right away to  the pasture, when I returned I could hear the barn babies (I'd pretty much at first assumed they were lost) so I grabbed a water hose and aimed through the barn window to put the fire out.  Once I thought it was out I ran in and unplugged the lamp at the outlet and ran back outside to get some air....very smoky!  The neighbor's daughter was out so I recruited her to help me run the babies out....the fire was mostly out but it was still pretty smokey.  Once everyone was out I used the hose some more and went to grab my husband (why didn't I get him first?  I don't know....in the moment I just wanted to get everyone out)  He helped me get the rest of the smolders out, water everyone and evaluate the damage.

I ended up inhaling some smoke, nothing life threatening but it was enough to trigger some asthma so I went the ER for a breathing treatment.  I probably wouldn't have went if I weren't pregnant but better safe than sorry right?  Anyhow, I felt a lot better after that and other than I was beat when it was all said and done....really no one was hurt.

I'm trying to think of something nice to do for our neighbor's daughter....I want to say she's 16 or 17, maybe a Starbucks card and a Thank You note?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Getting ready for baby (some personal notes on baby stuff)

This one obviously isn't farm-y related, it's baby/parenting related.  I know, and you probably thought all I cared about were critters.

I'm starting to get really excited about this baby.  I'm nearly 30 weeks along, complete with all the discomforts and fetal movements that seem to dictate a lot of my life right now.  My body just doesn't feel much like my own right now.  I'm not trying to complain, but being pregnant is just weird.  I am though really grateful that we've had an easier go at it this time than in times past.  I'm still on my feet, which is amazing since I was on bedrest starting 23 weeks along with my son.  So far my worst complications have been deficiencies (iron and calcium mostly) and cellulitis from my injection sites so I'm hoping that things will stay pretty smooth for the duration.

We thought we had her named, but now we are having second thoughts on our chosen name.  So I have a couple of really good names and chances are we'll have to look at her to know what her name is.  That wasn't the case with my son but we found such a great name for him it made it easy....girl names are sooooo much harder if you ask me.

Speaking of my son, he has a lot of changes ahead too.  I'm so very aware of this right now.  Not just the baby coming but we still need to get him transitioned to a toddler bed and he's been kind of sort of potty training himself....I'm not pushing the potty training since I keep hearing that he'll regress when the new baby arrives.  We'll see.

Lately I've been seeing a lot of posts on Facebook about breastfeeding and vaccines and all the other hot topics when it comes to babies.  Geesh!  I'll just say I'm going to do what works for us, vaccinate (*gasp* on schedule) and nurse the baby and I don't expect anyone to give me grief about it, nor do I dole out grief to anyone else for their choices.  It just seems like no matter what you do, someone has something to say about how to raise kids.  The Time magazine article recently on attachment parenting was a good example of how fired up people get about this stuff.  I'm not an attachment parent, however I do love a good sling....talk about convenient!

So that's what was on my mind.  We have around 10 weeks remaining until we get to meet the new little one so it's very exciting.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Babies on the farm

My favorite baby, my now 3 year old son :)

Blue Slate turkey poults- just a few days old

a closer look at the turkey poult
3 week old mutt ducklings (pekin x crested mutt)

11 2 week old leghorn chicks + 1 mystery black chick = cute pile of sleepy fluff

a few days old African gosling with Rouen ducklings of the same age

Dinner time!  (they are all in the same brooder)

mingling around the water cooler

Sonny at 9 months old

Freya at 4 months old
The pictures tell the story right?  On May 4th we received a bunch of chicks from a local school; leghorns, a barred rock and a mystery black chick with black legs and puffed cheeks.  There were some rare breed bantams in the bunch too but we were able to pass those babies along to someone who really wanted them, rather than us who have no use for them.  Then this week the ducklings and goslings arrived as well as the turkey poults, so they are all less than a week old.  

My son turned 3 this month.  Where did the time go?  He's getting so big!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April happenings

Hmm...I've been neglecting this blog so let me try to catch everyone up.

Sonny (the new buckling) is getting along well with York.  We aren't really sure if we are bringing home another milker (or two) this fall.  I hope so but right now that's a very gray area for us.  I do know that the plan is to bring home at least a doeling in the spring...probably reserve one this winter from a very reputable breeder.  I have a few good ones in mind: Bryrpatch, Hoanbu, Risin Creek, all come to mind.   There are a couple breeders further away that I've been admiring too so it's hard to say where our next girls will come from.  Once I get Sonny registered I might put him up to stud this fall to CAE neg, CL neg local herds.  Of course I have yet to find any of those around here locally so he might just stay a virgin until we bring in some girls for him.

Chickens, Goose, and Ducks
The chickens are laying in almost full capacity right now.  I have a couple girls molting so that has been keeping us to about 12-15 eggs a day if you include the duck egg.   One of my broody buff hens hatched out a couple chicks for us and now that they are a couple weeks old I think likely 2 are boys and 1 is a girl.  The girl will join the flock, the boys will be dinners.  I have a second broody who is sitting on 4 duck eggs, these would be crested/pekin cross so they could be very interesting little ducklings.  I'm not exactly sure if the hen will raise them or not.  She's raised chicks for us before but these won't quite look like the chicks she's used to seeing.  I have Rouen ducklings coming from McMurray hatchery soon so I may just put the two bunches together to raise, they shouldn't be more than a couple weeks apart.  Also in that order I have two female African geese coming to keep Bruce company and 7-8 blue slate turkeys (splitting that order with a friend).  If that wasn't enough, the local school had contacted my neighbor regarding 120 mixed breeds, straight run chicks they are hatching.  Why they are hatching so many?  I don't know.  I hear that some of them will be bantam breeds so those we plan to rehome as soon as we can since for our uses they just aren't worth the trouble.  My neighbor is passing them on to us, and we are raising the boys (and perhaps some girls) as freezer meat.

So the plan is to fill the freezer with the school chicks, the mixed breed ducklings and about 4-5 of the slate turkeys.  The rest will be retained as layers and breeding stock.  I think for the next year or two our goals will be to get our breeding stock in place and strong so that in the following years we don't have to source chicks/ducklings/poults.

I don't know if we are adding rabbits this year.  It was part of our original plan but likely it's getting put off until next year.  After reading some forums it seems like a New Zealand white x Californian mix is a pretty hearty meat rabbit to raise.  So I think we may have a Californian buck coming this year, NZ does will either wait till next spring or this fall at the earliest.

The human one that is.  I'm now 24 weeks along, pretty happy to report that I'm not on any unusual restrictions yet.  It's a girl so the ultrasound lady says so we've picked a name for her that we love, with a backup boy name just in case.  I actually have another ultrasound on Monday so likely that will confirm the gender.  She's kicking like crazy in there, even with a anterior placenta, I'm getting lots of little kicks and bumps from her.

Lots of seedling sprouts in the garden, no transplants yet.  We are doing the garden by hand this year since our tiller is broken.  Hoping to get that fixed soon so we can start some new garden spaces but in the mean time we are hand turning the already existing garden with the wheeled hoe, hand weeders, shovels and spades.  About half of the garden has been planted already in garlic, onions, lettuce, beets, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and much more.  My husband managed to remove a couple cubic YARDS of stone by hand to make way for a strawberry bed.  I planted that this evening with 83 plants- I ordered 125 plants total so I think I'll be putting some in planter boxes, maybe plant some in random spots for the chickens to enjoy and give a few to friends.

Finally, ALL of our orchard transplants from the property have put out leaves.  I had two, a cherry and a pear, I was really worried about but they came though and should manage to pull through this year fine....I'll just have to baby them if we get a drought.  The existing apples here were pretty badly damaged by frost so I'm not expecting any fruit, same with the grapes, possibly the apricots.  It's ok.  It will give us a chance to concentrate on other parts of the yard.  The blueberries all made it but one.  I have pink lemonade blueberries to add to and replace that one so it will work out fine.  All of the raspberries from the property transplanted fine too.  Might see some black raspberry fruit but I'm not expecting any of the others to do so.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pics from today 3/20/12

apricot blossoms

apricot in bloom

Raspberries leafing out

Meet Sonny, our new "herdsire".  Of course he still needs some girlfriends .

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Meet Freya....or at least I think that's what we are naming her

She's our new Great Pyrenees puppy, 8 weeks old and what a doll.  She has big shoes to fill as she gets older....right now, she's our puppy and getting to know us.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

30 days of hell.

Sorry to be so blunt and I'm going to try not to get too lengthy.  Our last 30 days has really sucked.  We as people are fine.....nothing bad in that sense.

So February, we found our dog one morning with a very swollen face.  So naturally we were concerned and off to the vet he went.  Every lymph node in his body was swollen.  They put him on steroids and antibiotics right away.  When the lab results returned a week later, it revealed he had malignant lymphoma.  So about a week after those results we had him put to sleep.  It was the kindest way to let him go really.  We've been missing him terribly.  Ashe had been our dog for 10 years, he was our first "kid" if you will.  He's always been my buddy and he wanted to be a really good dog even when he didn't know how.

Fast forward to a couple days ago.  Kissee at night time feeding got away from me.  She got caught up between the tube gate the my husband just removed to create her kidding stall and slid around on some scrap wood.  Well she got out of that with a limp and the next day we started her on half doses of an anti-inflammatory medicine called Banamine.  The next morning she started losing fluid and blood as if she was urinating.  She was straining and in obvious pain.  We thought she might have a kidney infection so we started to call vets in the area....anyone for help.  We took a break from our search because I had a scheduled cheese class.....I'll create a new post for that since I don't want to mix the bad and good together here....something gets lost in it all.  Anyhow when I went to check on her afterwards she was in a lot of distress, moaning, not getting up so we started calling around for vets again.  Finally, we broke down and called our neighbor.  Our neighbor used to raise goats and had a contact for a local vet.  So late that evening we had a vet out and by that time she was crashing.  Toxemia, also known in goats as hypocalcemia.  Her blood calcium levels were low enough to put her into shock.  So the vet threw everything in his arsenal at her trying to help her come out of it.  CMPK, cortisone, A&D vitamins, B vitamins......in the end though she's gone.  She apparently got up at some point, walked a short bit and fell straight over.  I think that part was likely quick, she still had her eyes open when I found her.  The babies are gone too.   We've been rehearsing it over and over so we can learn and make a plan from this event in case it comes up again.  This sucks!

Well and as if we needed more to happen wrong, our broody hen who had been sitting on eggs apparently got egg envy (I had moved some fresh eggs into an empty nest for collection later) and switched nests so her eggs that were just days from hatching are now dead.

Well to wrap this up, we are feeling pretty defeated right now.  There are good things coming up so this is just a big stumbling block.  We aren't giving up or anything like that.  We are going to sell York so we can have a break from the goats and concentrate on the tiny human that should be appearing in August.  It's a difficult but I'm sure it's the right choice for right now.  Hopefully next spring, we'll start again with goats.....just better prepared.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kissee's Belly pics- about 3 months in

Kissee's goofy smile.  Oh how we love her goofy smile (even if its a flaw)

OH and then there are these :)  These are mine.  I'm about 9 weeks and there's just one in there.  I'll probably start a new tab of pregnancy posts so those interested in the farm don't get bored of hearing about human baby stuff