Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I know that this post is late, but the thoughts and sentiments were on time.

We had a wonderful Christmas.  Very good friends of our family came over and spent Christmas eve at the Homestead eating finger foods and hanging out.  Then we went to their house and enjoyed a wonderful meal with their family.

Sadly, on Christmas eve, something/someone got into the chicken house and we lost 3 of our girls.  We had lost one of our Roosters (Muffin) earlier in the week.  So as the Man had said, God was "right-sizing" the flock.  We are now at a nice round 50 chickens. 

This week we are looking at rabbits.....and goats.....and did I mention I found a cow in Kentucky that I'd like to ad to the farm????

Also, I received no less that 5 seed catalogs in the last week so I am spending all my free time figuring out what to get for spring.

I will be posting, hopefully, more newsy type stuff...and getting some of my other friends and readers back on after having to shut down due to Cyber Creeps.

Here are my Christmas Farmer Boys!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Coming up with 2010's plan..

Well I'm working on my overly ambitious plan for the homestead for the coming year.  I'm sure I won't be able to do half of the list, but it's better to shoot for the stars, eh?

January will start 4H.  And enters in our Just.One.More. bird.  Boy has to have one that is less than a year old, and also have a certified form from a hatchery, etc of health and purebreed standard.  I've found someone locally that breeds JAVA birds.  These birds are endangered, and were one single flock away from extinction.  They are from the 1800's and are the basis of at least 3 of the big breeds of today.  I think I will get a Java for Boy to use in 4H.  There is a part of me that wants 6  (That would bring the flock up to 60-a round number!!) that way we can breed them as well and get on the list to be a provider and help bring this heritage breed back.  This is still something we are thinking and considering.  And we will add a guinea to the flock in the spring...only for tick control.  They are not cute and noisy so they are not my favorite choice, but they will decimate the tick population and that is very necessary.  About March-April, we'll add 25-40 broiler chickens that will NOT have names to grow for "Freezer Camp".  It only takes about 9 weeks to get them to butcher size.  I have a friend (actually two) that enjoy processing the birds, so I'll have one or both of them teach me how and give them some meat in exchange for the help!

The next critter to join the homestead is likely to be meat rabbits.  We are not quite ready to butcher rabbits and chickens for food, but likely by the end of summer we will.  But we need to get the starts to our herd.  Plus we can use the droppings all winter in the garden. 

Man has already had the 1/2 acre garden plot plowed up.  The chickens run on it most day pulling up the grubs.  This is GOOD.  We have moles that are tearing up the yard and garden plot.  If there are no grubs for them to eat they will go away.  The tiller man will be back in April for the spring plowing so we can get the garden going nice and early. 

Deciding on the gardens has been a challenge but fun!  I think we will add a few apple trees, and a replacement peach tree.  We have one apple and a pear.  There is a nice area already trellis for grapes that we need to add.  There is a great asparagus bed already.  I think I'd like to add some other trees also.  A good line of maples along the back property line to be used in the future to sap for syrup.  A stand of firewood timber...as we are having to buy the wood we are using to heat the house.  And another walnut or two to go with the one we have.  These are investments in the future as it will be 3-7 years before we see the fruit from them.

I need to get the strawvberries and raspberries from the house is W'ville if I am able to replant.  There is a spot on the back of the pump house that looks as though it would make a great cold frame with just a few pieces of glass (I need to find someone throwing out a set of old shower doors!!)  Eventually, I'd also like to add a greenhouse leanto on the south side of the house (Same side as the pumphouse and orchard).  The side door from the kitchen would open into it and the one living room window as well.  That would add needed heat to the house in the winter.  And even further down the road, that will be replaced with an addition onto the house that will be our bedroom, because as we get older, going up the stairs may not be as easy as it is now.

Also this spring, I will add 2 bee hives along the side pasture line between the orchard fence and the south pasture.  This will help both with the orchard and the garden.  Then also adding honey and beeswax to the homestead.  Also in the spring (Feb/Mar) timeframe, I have debated about goats.  I haven't yet come to a decision on them yet.  I know by summer, I would like to add a jersey cow.  Jersey's are great for milk and they have the highest percentage of milk fat, so it's great for butter, cheese and icecream.  So I'd like to find a heifer or cow that will calf in the late spring so it will be fresh with milk.  Then the calf will be raised for freezer beef.  (Names already chosen for these critters: Mama will be Butter, Baby will be Hamburger.)  Back to the goats though. I'm not crazy about goat's milk, but I do like goat cheese.  Some of the best soap is made from goats milk, and it is the best replacement milk for man and beast.  Downsides is that it is difficult to keep them in the pasture and out of trouble.  And you need at least 2 as they are herd animals.

Man has been opposed to pigs (as I am a bit as well) but the more I read on them, the more I think they have a place on the homestead....so that may be a fall addition...that's not yet on the radar to be decided.

Then the summer will be consumed with the garden and canning.  Building a tree house.  weeding the garden, canning......the fair for 4H. Getting the grazing pastures under control, Haying. Long about August, I will be thinking of getting a few more chicks to replace the layers that have slowed down in the egg production.  That way they will be grown, feathered, and in the hen house before the cold, and will not have to live in the house or cellar.  Summer will also be for converting the pump house to the "cold cellar".  It has been used for storage in the past and already has labeled shelves for all that is canned.  There are also netted shelves for potato storage, etc. The potato storage racks are falling apart so they need torn out and replaced. August will also start the harvest of not only the gardens, but also starting the firewood piles.

So, this is what is going through my head currently.  There are other "non-homestead" plans as well such as a No-Buy January.  Using grocery game and coupons to start stocking up the pantry as cheaply as possible.  Finally getting the house in W'ville empty of the 'stuff' we have left there. Faithbooking, scrapbooking.  Getting the homeschool room finally finished. Address the "scrap barn" situation.

Getting caught up...chicken details..PICS ADDED!!

I haven't been on in awhile...cybercreeps!  I had decided that I wasn't going to blog anymore, but then discovered that I missed it even if no one else is reading.

Last I left it, we had added our new Rooster Boo and his little Americauna friend Dora.  Then Man brought be Brownie, Wyan, Dotts and the other Americauna. 


So, I responded to a lady on Craigslist that had been told by the Poultry Police (zoning folks) that if she didn't get rid of her girls then she was going to be fined $100 per day.  I graciously offered to pay $3 a bird to give them a new home....29 birds later....I don't have names for them all but we have a few with names and really neat breeds.  She had just bought 6 from the Poultry Nationals in the Capital the week before.  There are Gibby and Gabby, the Spangled Hambergs, more Wyandotts, Some Dominiques, a Delaware hen, some Red Stars.

Our current girls checking out the boxes full of our "new friends"

Then another lady who lives down the road a short piece, offered her 3 as she is very sick and can no longer care for them.  From her we received (for free) a beautiful Delaware Rooster with the biggest comb and wattles I've ever seen.  About a 2 inch high comb!!! (breed of the Kelloggs cornflakes rooster) and his Delaware mate, Bertha.  And they have a mixed breed friend named, My Girl.  So for those of you keeping count at home...yes....47 birds in less than 3 weeks.

Alright and heres the fun part....47 birds and I had to buy eggs this week as ALL of them have stopped laying....grrrr.

Fast forward to this past weekend....we had 11 degree weather, and 40 mph sustained winds with 70 mph gusts.  Chickens do NOT like wind.  So I went out and tried to shore up the house a bit more with plastic sheeting...of course the roof kept lifting off so it wasn't really warm in there.  Came in to find one of the white leghorns laying dead in the middle of the hen house.  Next day, I found the gray Aracuana lethargic and on the floor.  And at the same time, I see blood all over the back of the Delaware rooster (whose name is Muffin, btw,  his previous owner named him Stud Muffin).  So I took the gray bird into the house, put her in a box and put it behind the wood burner.  She seemed to be breathing fine.  Then went to go get Muffin.  Stood in the middle of the kitchen with this rooster, holding on to his comb with a rag to try to stop the bleeding...sitting on the internet...holding the rooster, trying to figure out what happened and how to fix it.  He had frostbite on his comb.  After about an hour of trying to stop the bleeding, I let him go back out with his girls.  Boy and I had a playdate at a new friend's house.

We came home 3 hours later....Gray was gone, Muffin was still bleeding, and now my precious Brownie was laying lethargic on the floor of the coop.  Gray was dispatched to the compost heap,  Brownie was put into a nest box and surrounded by sawdust to keep her warm.

Fast forward to Saturday morning.  Now we have lost Brownie too.  Muffin's comb is somewhat better, but the whole edge is black from frostbite.  It does not look very nice or impressive as it did.  I wish I had gotten a picture of him before the bite.  Luckily, now everyone else seems to be well, no lethargic birds, etc....still no eggs though.

Then today.....the lady that I bought the 29 birds from had 12 hatch from her homemade incubator!!!  10 have survived...and she brought them over for us to raise.  So now we are back up.  Now to 54...still not a round number so we need..Just.One.More.

Boy and his bird, SUMMER:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Working on the chicken house...PICS

3rd day on the chicken house and yard.  Spent the first day clearing out the yard.  I've decided that pergatory is not filled with fire but with Burdock Burrs!  Man alinve what a nuisance!!  I've read that goats will both eat them/ or absolutely will NOT eat them....so I just pulled and pulled and burned.  The yard is basically cleared.


Yesterday onto the house...I found some plywood in the little barn, and then with cut offs from the Man's business and inherited wood.  Also discovered that I am very.allergic.to.poison.oak!!  So much so that I ended up on steriods. UG!

Man came out after I struggled for the three days and still did not feel like I had made progress.  He came out with power tools and "hill-billied" the house together for me.

AFTER: (Not Completely done...but the yard...)

The structure on the right has been torn out now too.