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.