This is one of the Aracauna chicks today. Feathering nicely, and she flew up on top of the brooder.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
We have a friend who raises Arapawa goats. The goats were isolated on the Arapawa islands in New Zealand and evidently there are only 300-400 of these goats that are registered in our great country. This friend who owns these goats is the one that let us have her 2+ year old hens because I couldn't wait 4 months to have fresh eggs. Well, when we came to pick up the hens her Arapawa had just given birth to quads. She talked us into taking 3 of the offspring but we couldn't take them until the barn got fixed up. That was last October.
We finally got around to getting the barn fixed up enough to keep the goats from escaping. So today we went to pick up the goats. We helped Lee put some of the goat ladies in pens with the males and then Lee says--- Hey, do you want 2 more FREE goats? I smiled, knowing full well that Mike would eventually say yes and that Lee just had to wear him down a few minutes. She even left us alone in the barn with them like a good saleswoman to let us talk it out. We now understand the cost of feed and how much work animals can be-- so this was a big decision. Do we take 2 more goats? She is one clever lady. So we figured oh, sure, what's 2 more goats.
The problem is that we didn't plan on 5 goats and how to get them home? Make 2 trips? Oh no, the 5 goats went into the back of the minivan and Mike sat on the floor with them as I drove home very carefully. The camera battery died after a few camera shots so I didn't get one with Mike in back with the goats but it was pretty darn funny.
Goats are funny and spunky--- I'm not sure I knew what to expect but now we have goats. This summer we'll find an area of forest that needs thinning and let the goats do their thing....
btw...the goats were fabulous in the back of the van. They sat down and hung out for the ride.
Pictures and names of goats in future blog....
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Can you find Nicky the Naked Neck Chicken? He is so ugly that he's adorable.
We are finally able to put our cool egg baskets to use! 11 eggs today-- or otherwise known as an Akey Dozen. As the hens ramp up production Mike will be making the rounds and would love you to try a dozen eggs. We were so excited that we had eggs for breakfast and egg salad for lunch.
I started some seeds today. Onions are germinating so that they can be transplanted in another 6 weeks. I am also going to start some butter lettuce heads and some leeks.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
We got 7 eggs today from the Elvez Clan! The days are getting longer and we've been bribing the hens with scraps like lettuce, carrots and spaghetti. They love spaghetti because it looks like worms and they love the tomato sauce.
No eggs yet from the Shirley Joe clan yet but we're hoping to see some little pullet eggs in the next 2 weeks. I'm going to need to bring in some golf balls or a few other eggs from the other ladies and have a little show and tell and informational talk with the Shirley Joe hens this weekend. And I'm not kidding about this- the animals do generally understand you if you talk to them and treat them with respect. They may not understand the words but they get the message.
I will start seedlings this weekend!! I really want to start tomatoes but I know I must wait 2 more weeks. I'll start on onions, leeks, cold weather lettuces and herbs while I remain patient on the other veggies for 2 more weeks. Although I may break down and try just 25 tomato varieties as I did get these red tubes that you fill with water and put around the tomato plants. Supposedly you can start the plants 3 weeks earlier as it keeps them warm at night. In 4-5 weeks it will be time to plant peas, snap peas, snow peas, spinach and the other cold weather seeds directly into the ground! I am very excited because I have some excellent varieties and I can't wait for everyone in the CSA to experience the early season foods. They have their own unique sweetness and the produce looks picture perfect because the insects don't get crazy till it gets warmer.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Lots of visitors to the farm this weekend. Baby Wag'n (I was corrected on the earlier spelling) is still in 'the jug' (slang for the pen) with momma. Wag'n gained 1.5 lbs in 3 days so maybe 3-4 more days and she and momma can go back with the rest of the flock.
Momma has been pretty tolerant of the visitors. I think the extra special food for her is doing the trick.
The Shirley Joe chicken clan is doing well out on pasture with the ducks. Baby Ethan (human baby in picture) enjoyed all the animals as well. I think he liked the big chickens the best.
Naomi and her parents also visited the farm. Naomi liked the baby chicks the best and I think she would have stayed with them for hours. I told her she needs to convince her parents to let her take 15 chicks home with her and after 2-3 weeks when they get too big for her house, she could just bring them back. Naomi also found 2 fresh eggs to take home and eat.....very exciting! Go hens, go....lay more eggs!!
The Shirley Joe clan should start laying eggs in a few weeks. The Elvez clan has picked up laying and we're getting about 3 eggs a day and hoping that this keeps up. We have lots of folks who want egg shares so we're talking to the hens every day and asking politely for some laying action. We have these really cool egg baskets to collect eggs in-- but haven't been able to use them yet!
The 250 chick clan (Soon to be called Nick's clan as I'm sure Nicky the Naked Neck Chicken is a rooster) is doing well and they are moving into phase 2 of brooding and need less heat.
In 2 weeks the broilers arrive. Those are the chickens that will be raised for meat. We'll start with 50 chickens every 2 weeks and see if this is enough to satisfy demand. We've had several calls for Pastured Chicken so who knows what the final demand will be in this area. Pricing will be per bird- $15 per chicken. Some places do a price/lb but we figure we'll keep it simple and charge per chicken. For those who have never tried a chicken that was raised on pasture and had the chance to run around in the sun/wind/rain/etc, send Mike an email and he'll sell you a first chicken for $5 and you can try it out for yourself. The first broilers will be ready for sale end of April/first week of May. I'm partially afraid that they will sell out and I'll be stuck waiting for chicken for myself. Note to self: make sure Mike knows there are only 45 available for sale the first week....
Friday, February 13, 2009
Cuteness that will make you heave.
Waggin the lamb is doing ok. She seems to be nursing fine, she is pooping and peeing a lot. She was 8.5 pounds yesterday morning. I will weigh her tonight to see how she is doing. The only thing wrong that I can tell is that her right front knee seems to be a bit swollen, perhaps she was stepped on. She is walking around fine, no limp, so I dont know. Ill watch her to see if there are any other changes. I suppose that eating and peeing and pooping are what I need to see. Ill take her temp in a few minutes to see how that is going.
This lambing thing could get addictive.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
(pictures by Emily)
Mike picked the kids up from school and was coming up the driveway and saw a little baby lamb! Mom did great but Mike says he then panicked. I think he did a great job given that we thought we'd have another 3 weeks before any babies showed up. He moved the ducks out of their house and gave momma and baby a temporary shelter, filled it with water, hay, etc. and got out the iodine for the umbilical cord stump.
I came home and jumped up and down with excitement and changed clothes as quickly as I could. Baby hadn't found milk yet so I was worried. I quickly skimmed the book "Managing your Ewe and newborn lamb" (will be reading that book tonight in a little more detail) and got even more worried as this is a first year momma and she didn't look like she was figuring out nursing. Mike says they'll be fine, let them be-- but MY momma sense said no way-- 1 hr and we are helping them out. So I made Mike come into the temporary barn with me and he turned mama on her back and sat her in his lap. I wish I had a picture of that. Big momma sheep sitting on her butt in Mike's lap. We trimmed her up as she had lots of wool hanging and baby could confuse wool with an udder and then we got her udders going and got the baby nursing. Oh my goodness. I love this farm and the experiences of life it brings. I will not forget that scene. It's also 60 degrees or so outside so we couldn't have asked for a better day. Margaret named the baby Wagon because she wags her tail when she nurses.
Wow-- what next? Maybe we'll have calves this weekend. Gulp.
Monday, February 9, 2009
This is what 250 or so chicks look like. These will be our egg layers for the summer along with the other 25 Barred Rocks that are about 4 weeks away from laying eggs.
In this bunch are
60 or so Cuckoo Maran (I love the beautiful eggs from this breed)
50 or so Delaware (brown egg layers and a heritage breed)
26 Araucana (they lay the green tinted eggs)
50 or so more Barred Rocks - we like this breed as they are nice and calm and friendly
60 Buff Orpingtons (brown egg layers and a heritage breed)
Then as usual we got 2 free Exotic chicks in the bunch for free. One looks like a naked neck chicken. The kids have named her Nicky and if she is a male he'll be Nicholas.
Nicky the Naked Neck Chicken.... love it.
These pictures are from earlier this afternoon. Now in this same area is also an Ohio Brooder that Mike built this afternoon. He even wired it up with heat lamps and took wire and attached plugs to the wires..... I had forgotten how electrically savvy he is-- all those years in the Marines fixing helicopters is paying off on the farm.
So far the mortality rate is 2%- one was DOA. Typically the rate should be below 6%.
I'm going to have to find Nicky and get a picture of her/him. She's so ugly that she's adorable.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Frank and I watched the ducks on Saturday. Sunday we moved them to a new area that they will share with the Barred Rock Pullets (soon to be hens and a rooster).
We went from 16 ducks in October to 12 ducks now. Two of them are buried in the woods in a place daddy calls the secret duck burial ground. So sad but part of the gig. The other two were sold to 2 nice girls.
The green is hard to catch when they move around so fast, but I love the shimmering green on the Rouen ducks and the Cayuga's. They are soooooo pretty!
It was gorgeous this weekend! I can't wait to start planting. I think next week I start the seedlings. Last year I started about 10 days too soon so I'm trying to avoid the same mistake. My seedlings grew much faster than I expected.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Mariah is my favorite cow. Not only is she a cool color, but she's friendly as well.
Today she came over to me just to say hi. I let her sniff me and she licked my hand. All I could think about as she licked my hand was that one time when I was about 11 years old my grandmother (Busia Lillian) served my brothers and I tongue for dinner. She kept calling it beef, but it sure didn't look like beef to us. We kept saying, this is beef? What part of the cow is it? Is it liver? Mom doesn't cook us beef that looks like this. My grandmother kept insisting it was beef but my grandfather had a goofy look on his face so we weren't falling for the beef story. I don't really remember eating it or if I did it was such a small morsel that it wouldn't have counted anyway.
Ok, now I'm laughing because I have to describe how she prepared it. It wasn't sliced up or disguised in any sneaky way. It was literally the tongue on a rectangle corningware plate and I think it was cooked in the oven- but just a few seasonings and salt on the top. It looked so funny.
Now after being licked for the first time by a cow, I'm pretty sure I'll never eat beef tongue- unless someone tells me it's out of this world and I don't know what I'm missing. But then again, maybe even that won't convince me.
How about you? Anyone know if it actually tastes good?
Check out this link to see a beef tongue--- guess there are lots out there who say it is good.