Rubberband, rubberband man. . .

Today was such a privilege to me.  Bill came knocking, I answered the door and he and Brian were out front asking if I wanted to help with the calves. . .YES!  I told them to give me a few minutes to change clothes. . .I ran through the house and was out front in bibs and bogs ready to go in what Brian described as not even a minute.  True, I ran!

We herded the cows and calves around the property and into the corral.  Then we separated the bull calves one at a time.  Brian and I hold the calf and Bill applying the rubberband to them.  It went smooth and easy!  Nice.

What a great blessing and privilege for me, a city kid.  Where else am I going to see, learn and do these things firsthand?  I am in the right place at the right time.

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Calving!

It’s calving time!  Valentine’s Day saw the first calf of the season.  She was named. . . Valentine.  We are up to five calves as of today.  So fun.  In just a day they dry out and turn fuzzier and fuzzier!  The last one this afternoon is a lively one!  He isn’t even an hour old and he is running and jumping around his mom.

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First seeds sown!

Yay, this afternoon we sowed the first seeds of the year!  It’s a “Sassy Salad Mix” from Botanicals.  I had to replace some seed for the kitchen garden and ran out to Farmington for them.  Sounds like a good baby salad green mix.

Also the Rapunzel I direct seeded last Fall for OverWintering is ready for the eating!  We’re both eager to harvest and enjoy some of that in a nice Feldsalat!

The last of the Over-Wintered greens

The last of the Over-Wintered greens. One tub of Rapunzel, one tub of mixed Kale varieties.

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Ethel takes on lodgers. . .

Last night I went out at sunset to lock up the various flocks.  Ethel and the household flock are nearest to the house so they were first.  They were already inside up on the roosting bar.  All I needed to do was put up the ramp, open the main door, reach down and lock the ramp.  As I did I heard the sound of scratching?  My first thought was “Rodents!”  I was bent over doing the locking at the time. . .  As I stood up and focused on the source of the scratching I saw it was a group of quail above the chicken’s nest boxes.  I closed the door, went and got my phone and here is the pic.  Most likely they had been helping themselves to some Scratch and Peck from the feeder when the hens decided it was time for bed.

Three young quail, scrunched up above the nextboxes in Ethel's coop.

Three young quail, two males and a female up above the next boxes in Ethel’s coop.  Notice the intense level of molting on Goldie, the Buff Orptingon hen in the foreground.

I did close and lock the door afterward.  The quail had a safe if not strange nights sleep in the coop with Ethel and her girls.  I opened the coop this morning, and then checked on them later.  They were still trapped up in their “room’ due to the hens eating from the feeder on the floor of the coop.  Care is needed, because Buffers does not like quail.  In her molty state she would put a beating on them.

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Owls

It’s 726pm, I’ve just finished evening chores.

  • Locked up Ethel and her household flock.
  • Chased one of the turkey munchkins until I caught it, it was out of the fence you see. Locked up the turkeys in their mobile.
  • Locked up the egg mobile, fed and put the gonkers to bed.
  • Set a sprinkler on the pasture for the night.

All the while I could hear the pair of owls hooting in the forest.  As I was feeding the gonkers and getting them inside, I saw one.  It was sitting on the top of a fir tree where the forest meets the golf course.  As it hooted to the other owl, I could see it move.  I started hooting and they both answered me back.  I did it for a few minutes before walking back toward the house.

Nice.

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The Instagram Distraction

Well now. . .we started using Instagram.  It’s fun, easy and we post daily Monday through Saturday.  And that’s the problem, we have been posting there consistently, but not on the blog! Time to fix that.

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Friday night improv at the farm

2015_07_21_sunsetgirl

We bought a batch of “barnyard mix” chickens earlier this year, meaning there were a few different breeds of roosters mixing with a few different breeds of hens, and you can probably guess the rest of the story.  We are processing the boys on Monday for the freezer, and the girls out of that group will round out our first eggmobile to 50 hens.

In the group, we have some pullets with coppery feathers on their heads that blend into a darker brown on their bodies, and black speckles thrown in for good looks.  Since they’re not “pure-bred,” they’re not a specific chicken breed, so we call them “Sunset Girls.”

It’s amazing how often farm animals make us want to burst into song, often making one up as we go.  Before chores last night, we went shopping, which means we may have heard Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl in the grocery store.

At any rate, when I saw these pretty little almost-hens, I started singing,

Sunset Girl. You’ve been living in a pasture world.

Lots of forage and some special treats,

(And Greer broke in with) And a baby mouse to eat.

Because the chickens have found several tiny mice in the pasture recently, which have caused lots of chasing and joy.  Apparently the mice are tasty. Ew. (But the practical side of me thinks “less feed to buy!”)

Next time you see us, ask us to sing the “gooser” songs!  (We have two.)

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The Broiler Boys

One more week to go for the broiler boys.  Then they are off to Mineral Springs Poultry and back home in bags for the freezer. . .

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New raptors

They birds were a bit upset about these raptors that kept flying around the pasture. . .It is Hillsboro International Airshow time again.  The Blue Angels started practice and then performed their shows, each time flying out and around us!  We sat in the pasture, sometimes stood in awe, and watched them in twos, fours and all six fly around us.  Wow!

 

 

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Eggmobile #1: It’s hip to be square…

2015_03_21_eggmobile.jpg

… and even hipper to be cubed!  Our laying flock now has a 6′ x 6′ x 6′ eggmobile so they can be out on pasture and get fresh grass.

Our plan is to rotate them on the pasture, inside electric fence, like Joel Salatin does.  In fact, the reason the eggmobile has a flat roof is because of Joel Salatin.  We heard him say that having a flat roof makes easier construction, and you are never really level enough to cause an issue for the roof in the rain; you’re always at an angle on pasture.  Having a flat roof certainly saved us a lot of construction time!

Our eggmobile is not as big as Joel Salatin’s because we don’t have a tractor to move it.  We wanted the largest possible moveable housing for them that I could still move by myself.  And I can… with a towing strap!  Makes me feel like a donkey, but it gets the job done. :)

The wheels got a bit wonky in the move from our construction area to the pasture because we used scrap wood for them.  We will reinforce that area with pressure treated lumber to make it strong.

The hens really seem to like the new eggmobile.  We left them locked in the structure one day (with food and water), so that they would learn where to sleep and lay eggs (there are 10 nesting boxes with access from the outside).  After we let them out the following day, we weren’t sure if they’d all know where to go to bed that night, but they were all snuggled in on the roosting bars, waiting for us to lock them in!

They only take up one roosting bar, and part of another one, out of five roosting bars total.  The structure was designed for 50 hens total.  We currently have 18, but will fill out the flock this year and have plans for eggmobile #2.  Next step… turkey mobile!

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