Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Harsh question

Have you been following the news?
Shanika S Minor made the 10 most wanted list. She shot and killed a pregnant woman. Now she is charged with two counts of murder, the mother and the unborn baby. I have to ask...if the unborn baby is considered a person that has been Murdered why and how do abortions remain a "medical" procedure and the unborn are not considered a life?

Scott Peterson  was charged and convicted of murdering his wife and unborn son.

Ralph and I have noticed this bizarre twist and it makes us both disturbed and angry.

I had to ask and see what people think and to get people to think about the horrible double standards we have in modern society and the complete lack of value we place on life.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Naming farm animals

I read about people not naming the animals they raise to eat or naming them after foods to remind them where they end up. People who cannot eat animals they raise at all and I used to be somewhat unfeeling toward them. I have read that it is harder to butcher named animals and of course the term graduate is often used for butchering, to soften the imagery I guess.

Well on some of these things I have had a change of heart or at least am sympathetic. The poultry we have raised here has won us over and we love them. I really struggled with butchering the turkey's and was so glad when we found a good slaughter house. Once they are packaged I have no problems with using the meat. We give them a very good life and spend far  more time with them that we probably should.

This brings me to names. We name by circumstance as I call our process. The first example of this is my favorite Chocolate Tom....Trainwreck. He was a survivor of the horrible accident on the road when  a truck hit a group of the turkeys.

This one Chocolate turkey limped off the road and went and lay down in the outer stairwell of the house  in obvious pain.  I have always hated to have animals die from injury so I picked him up and took him to the utility building and set up a hospital pen. Poultry vets are few and far between so I applied cattle knowledge to him. Washed and disinfected a horrible cut and gave him a children's aspirin, and dripped electrolyte into him. It was a slow recovery and he survived, hence the name. He is my turkey and will come to sit by me on his own. He was slow to grow but now is almost as big as Spike.

Trainwreck

Roosters have earned their names so we could tell each other which rooster we were referring too. Shoeless Joe is so named because he has one toe without a claw....I have no idea why that made me think of Shoeless Joe the baseball player but it did and thats what we call him.

 Shoeless Joe


Gentleman Jim....was the smallest Rooster we kept and is just that, a real gentleman.

Mr Attitude....was all attitude and it ended up costing him. He was Hen aggressive and rooster aggressive and then attacked me. It was no problem putting him in the roaster! He was a magnificent Rooster but just plain nasty. It took the hens a week to come out of hiding in the chicken house after we butchered him.
Mr Attitude



Lefty....the Buckeye. He got his name because he was the only Buckeye left, we kept three and one we just found dead and the really good one we had carefully selected was killed by the wild dog. Lefty is turning into a lovely rooster but when he was young "Mr Attitude" was his buddy and Lefty was a bit hen aggressive. The broody and mother hens have taught him a lot of manners!

 Lefty

The Duck flock is generic.....they are all "Duck Duck Go" but the ducklings have been named by circumstance or color.

 Goldwing
Look at that color...it has since changed to a silvery gold and we don't know what its going to look like in the end. He is Khaki X Blue Swedish.


Dusty
What can I say, he is a dusty color!

Underbite
Underbite has had a small underbite of his bill from day one. It has not bothered him eating or drinking and he is growing like a weed.


Niblet
The first home raised duckling and he spent time in the house until he was adopted by a Khaki. He would nibble on anything and especially your fingers or ears!

 There you have it...names for our critters.....we have fun with it and some names make sense and some are just odd but all seem to suit the wearer of said name.

There are others named for circumstance or event....Limpy, who was lame for a bit, Lumpy who had a lump on her head from the horrible roosters, Super 8, the hen who has 8 chicks. Lone Wolf McQuade, the chick who's mother gave up on him.

Blackback the Royal Palm Tom who has black feathers on his back without the white trim.


We still use the term butcher instead of graduate and we will still use our own chicken and birds for our table. We feel quality of life is the key, our poultry has shelter when they want it and freedom to graze, bug hunt or sleep wherever they choose in the heat of the day. Water access in close proximity in this hot weather and lots of places to dust bathe. They love the windfall apples in the orchard and are currently feasting on Japanese beetles.  The ducks can enjoy the wild thunderstorms and all the water from them, drinking from the downspouts of the house is a favorite thing. The turkeys have the tobacco barn to get out of storms in and that big old barn is well used for shade.

Now have fun with your animals and name them if it suits you to. Take the time to enjoy the small things they can offer.

God Bless you all...


video

Little Lord Fluffy Pants!
Attitude and those fluffy Buff feathers.....it was a given!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Chicks Everywhere and Grass Grass Grass

This farm can grow grass. It is quite unreal. We have hayed the big field and it is coming back like crazy and is more than 20 inches tall. Well if the chickens are out there you can only see the tips of their tails in the low spots or you can hear them clucking. Lots of cover and lots of bugs and tender new clover.
Chicken heaven I would say.

video

The hens are teaching their chicks about grass and the older chicks are adventuring out further and further from their Mom's.

We leave shelter belts of grass for cover so they can be safe from over head threats.

video

We have been enjoying new potatoes and our first Broad Windsor Fava beans. Beets and beet greens are daily events and so sweet and tasty. And we spend time wondering how we can keep ahead of the grass.




We are really blessed with bounty and even though the heat is horrible and we go to bed tired and with our old bones aching..... we are as happy as we have ever been.

God Bless you all and grow something to eat...try it, the benefits are beyond belief!




Thursday, June 16, 2016

Chicken Evaluation: Summer

Well the chickens have come full circle. From their arrival as downy fluff balls last fall to brooding and caring for their own downy fluff balls.

All three breeds have been successful at all stages to some degree.

My observations on each breeds mothering follow in no particular order.

#1
The Australorpe's
These hens are the layers of the group. Consistent and steady they supply us with rather long oval shaped pale brown eggs. The first hen to go broody was an Australorpe but she would not stay in one nest and we had to break her. The Australorpe that finally hatched an egg got so excited with her one chick she abandoned her eggs and went right to caring for the chick. She is the hen that adopted and adores her second "child" a duckling. She is a super excitable and very protective mother but does get separated from the two when she chases away other hens. I think she will calm down a bit in a few more days. ( I was wrong about her calming down, she ended up forgetting both the chick and the duckling to chase away the lame duck we have, then she didn't come back to the babies. We put the duckling with the poults and other two ducklings and the hen has settled with her chick a bit. Not such a good mother after all) We think the mothering quality Ralph remembers from his Australorpe flock years ago may have been bred out of them. The roosters make up for the broody deficiency as they are marvelous around us and attentive to the hens.

 The nervous Australorpe



#2
The Buff Orpingtons
These are the cadillac chicken's for mothering and our Buff's are pretty remarkable for young hens. 3 got seriously broody and they have hatched 22 chicks between the three of them. Plus the one adopted several from other sources. One just finished hatching 10 of her own. They are protective mother's but not insane about it and as the chicks age they allow them  more freedom and take them further afield. We have watched "Super 8" the hen with 8 chicks take her chicks all over the place and often only see her with 5 or 6 but she will make a certain call and they all come running. The Buff are gentle with their chicks and will protect them but they do not leave them for any distance and are very vocal to the chicks so the chicks know where 'Mom' is. We love the Buff hens for so many reasons and this is the final hurdle and they cleared it with room to spare. Over all great hens. The jury is still out on the Roosters as the ones we ended up butchering were just to hen aggressive.

The Buff hen with 7 chicks...second day out on grass.


 
"10"

#3
The Buckeyes
These chickens are interesting to watch and learn about. Only one has gone broody so far but she hatched 6 chicks on her own and adapted to us moving her from the chicken house in the tobacco barn to the trophy room where we have been housing the hens and chicks. She is super protective and fearless when it comes to keeping harm from her chicks. All the poultry gives her and her brood a wide berth except for one turkey hen who is like an Aunt to the chicks. She is a good mother but it has been something to watch her teach her chicks to scratch, she scratches vigorously and the chicks run to her...sometimes she flips her chicks back a foot or so as she catches them up in her scratching. Now all 6 scratch the same way....like they are digging a pit! They follow her at top speed and are not as calm as the chicks taught by the Buff hens. She takes them out in the long grass to catch bugs and we can hear the excited chirruping when they get a worm or beetle. She is a very good mother. So the overall evaluation on the Buckeyes is they are a super breed for a small homestead or farm. The hens lay well and mother so far and the Roosters are good meat birds and fairly good roosters for disposition.

Marching out to forage, the Buckeye with her 6 chicks.


 
Aunt Turkey watching out for everyone.


Every day we find something to delight or laugh over while we work the farm, the poultry has been a total success in so many ways. Even the hard parts have taught us to appreciate what we are able to do.

On that note I am off to do laundry and watch fluff balls.  God bless all of you and be safe. Find joy in simple things all around you!

video

Friday, June 10, 2016

Photo Post Due to good planting weather

Well we are dealing with the heat so far and getting a lot done. We decided last fall not to get AC unless we had to and we would try managing the temperature. So far we find going out into heat and humidity much easier than when we had AC running. This upcoming week of high 90's will be a test.

The hens are brooding and chicks are  hatching. I have been finding lots of things to do with eggs.  The house chick keeps us very entertained and does his part by keeping the ants under control!

The garden needs more weeding and the Colorado Potato beetles have found our potatoes so I get to put on the latex gloves and squish them about every second day. In other words life is pretty darned good.

 The turkeys were not successful in hatching turkeys but did hatch chicks and ducklings. We wonder if the Tom's were not mature enough to produce fertile sperm?  This Palm hen loves these chicks and you see the odd little family together all over the place.


 In the heat of the day we do inside chores and I have been sorting out things from the move. I found a Target tote bag FULL of seed packets. It was like Christmas and of course we now have more to plant!



 Our oddest little family, an Australorp hen hatched one chick and adopted this pale colored duckling. We have no idea what color it will be as none of the original ducklings were this color.


 The Oak tree is in full leaf and a joy to see every day!



 Our only Khaki Campbell drake having his morning swim...he has calmed down and is turning into a mentor for our one duckling who is with the ducks.


 Yes they sleep on the gravel and seem to quite enjoy it. Here is a Cayuga drake and his Khaki wife.


And to finish off the tour, one of the sweetest things to see.....chicks in the grass.

They are growing like weeds and run everywhere, the entire flock of all the poultry keeps watch and the other day we heard and amazing ruckus and found the turkeys, guineas and roosters, ducks and hens chasing a stray cat out of the yard while the hens with chicks headed to the trophy room at high speed with chicks in tow.

God Bless all of you and stay safe....


Friday, June 3, 2016

Photo Update for June 3rd

Whew its been busy and the weather  has kept us hopping! Rain, sun, rain sun and then of course super humid. However it has bright moments like the hay getting up without rain on it!

They raked with two rakes hitched together and that made a good heavy windrow for the round baler. 15 bales from the field which was quite good and it is very nice hay.

 The poultry is happy the hay is down as now they can go further out into the field to forage and catch bugs!

 The exciting news is the hens are going broody. Not a large number but enough to give us interesting crossbred chicks. There are three buffs who are seriously broody, one that hatched 5 on her own and adopted 3. One Buckeye hatched 4 of her own and adopted 2 more.

This buff is just snarly if you even look her way....when I took this photo she was making a growly kind of noise the entire process. 


The turkeys have hatched ducks.....this little fellow is a Cayuga X Blue Swedish and the turkey didn't want him so he is in the nursery pen with  a heat lamp and other ducklings and a couple of chicks.

I am not in your flower bed....really....a Cayuga Drake and his Khaki Campbell better half sleep here in the afternoon sun and always act like if they don't move I won't see them.


They are quite funny and don't hurt anything but they do have to hop quite high  to get over the railroad tie border.

 The  Broad Windsor beans are a massive wall and are setting beans everywhere. I suspect with the onset of heat they will not set much more but we should have a good harvest and be eating them fresh next week.

And to finish up this farm tour...our Super Hen. She is a marvel with her 8 babies. They are fearless little things and the miles they put on in a day is surprising. She has taught them where to dust bathe, to sleep in the shade under the steps and to go back to the trophy room/ brooder room at night. They know where the best bugs are and how to scratch like crazy. They even catch earthworms that are bigger than they are. I somehow doubt we will have any issues like pecking with these but of course there are other dangers. The chickens keep an exceptionally close eye on the sky and they just hate helicopters!

There is another Chicken evaluation post in the works. There are some interesting characteristics to these breeds when it comes to motherhood.

Supper sees us eating fresh from the garden, peas, salads, beets and tatsoi. Irish potatoes very soon.

We shut down in the evenings sweaty and tired and watch the fireflies and plan the next day.

Take care and be safe this summer.....