Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rain, wet and our Poultry

We are getting rain. Lots of rain. Today though there is a bit of a lull and the poultry is taking full advantage of it. They are every where. Scratching and pecking, running to the roosters, running away from the roosters.

The ducks are playing in their water troughs, splashing like maniacs. We are sure they splash out four times more water than we put in!

The turkeys are wandering around the yard looking resigned to the gray weather. The young turkey hens occasionally fly up into the old Oak tree and see how high they can get. Its a happy scene. So here are some photos of our crazy poultry.

 A group of the young hens, they look so nice, no pecking problems so they all have beautiful full feathers. They are sassy girls and very talkative and curious.

 Two of the three amazing poults. I still marvel at them, being hatched during a cold spell in December. You that a Black poult? Yes it is, we were quite surprised but found out that the Blue Slate turkeys have a Black Phase, we have one Blue Slate hen, Lilac, this poult is her baby.
The Turkey hen moulted just after hatching and looked dreadful, she is starting to get her new feathers. She had her children out and about today.  She is very watchful.

 Here is the little family, the poults have feathered up quickly and are stocky things. They have loud strident peeps and cause the hen a lot of stress as they learn the ropes of going outside.

 Our winter chicks are growing  like weeds, there are 10 of them and the hen is really super protective. Beware anyone who gets too close. This Australorpe hatched chicks in the first run of brood hens. We leg band any hen that has chicks. When Ralph put this girl in the nest box to set on the eggs, we found her to be banded. She is a wonderful hen.

 I took this photo as a cat walked down the driveway about 10 feet from the poults. The turkey was ready for battle!

 The chicks came in a wide range of colors, we did not expect white! We have no white chickens. Now though we have two, a pullet and this handsome young fellow.

 Turkey Talk....they congregate in font of the deck and talk about everything.

Two of our first hatchings. The Rooster is Henry, he is an Australorp X Buckeye.  The hen is one of our very favorites, we call her 'Copper'. She is laying lovely eggs and is a Buckeye X Buff Orpington.

So there you have it, scenes from our yard during a rain free few hours. It has started to drizzle again and if you look out now...there is not a bird in sight.

God Bless you all and keep safe and well.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Light From The Son Is Wonderful!

To evoke the sympathy of “Southern” readers, It is COLD this morning. It was five degrees F. That is cold! For you “Northerners”, we’re tough, just like you. It has cooled off a little, but it is nothing. We’re getting by just fine. And, eat your hearts out! It is supposed to go up to 29 F. today! Tomorrow is 40 F. and Thursday is 61 F. There, take that! It is all perspective.

As we have said before, We have a woodburning cookstove. It is centrally located. It heats the entire house well. Sometimes, too well. These “cool” temperatures are nice, in that respect. They enable us to run at the lowest settings. That is with the dampers and vents for air intake closed way down.

Overnight, we may have cooled off to about 65 F. in the house. In the mornings, I may leave the grate door open a crack for a while. We have been up for three hours now. I leave the door cracked while I go out to take care of the animals. Fiona usually closes it while I am out. In the office here, it says it is 79 F. In the living room (at head height), it is 77 F. In the back rooms, it will be a little cooler. Outside, it says it has warmed up to 22 F. The sun is strong today!

I will have to go get some wood to put on the fire shortly. I will probably leave the door open while I am loading the fire. That is just to cool things off some. We have trouble getting it cooler in here. When it is in the twenties and thirties outside, we have been known to open the front and back doors to cool things off some. I guess I am complaining somewhat, but I am also thankful for the bounty.

I am sure the cookstove is not “airtight”. But with it cut down, we have only a simmering fire. But that is enough to keep things toasty in here. It stays around 77 F. to 80 F. It is nice to come in from outside to a nice, warm house. We fill the firebox about half full or a little less. That will burn down in about three to four hours. Then I reload it. To me, it doesn’t seem hard on wood usage.

As an aside: We have lots of five gallon buckets. I drilled holes in them down around the bottom for drainage. I filled them with potting soil and planted tomatoes, herbs, etc. in them for the summer. We line the back deck with these buckets. The tomatoes go up and over the deck railing and hang down. We harvest from the deck and from the ground. A lot of these never make it into the house. We eat them on the spot. The back edge of the deck is about six feet off the ground. This gives us a nice curtain of tomato vines (and fruit). By the end of summer, the vines will be near or touching the ground.

After frost, we empty the buckets and wash them. Over winter, we make new use of the buckets. I take empty buckets back to the woodshed. I fill the buckets with firewood and carry the buckets up to the house. I set the buckets of firewood on the porch out of the weather. When I need to add wood to the fire, I go out to the porch and get a bucket of wood and bring it in. I put about half of it on the fire. I take the bucket back out to the porch. The next time, the bucket will be empty. I take the empty bucket back out to the porch. When I have several buckets empty, I make another trip to the woodshed and refill them. These buckets are so nice for carrying the wood to the house and in to the fire. I usually have twelve to fifteen buckets of wood on the porch. One is kindling. two to four is large oak pieces for overnight fire. The rest is poplar, some pine, hickory, cherry, etc. in smaller sizes for daytime burning. The buckets have it separated. This system is working great for us.

We had a dump truck load of dry wood delivered before CHRISTmas. With what we already had cut and stacked, I think we can make it through the rest of winter. That was $125.00. Thursday, he brought a dump truck load of green wood. That will be cut and stacked for next winter. We intend to get four or five more loads (or more). This is to work on the needs of the coming years. It should dry good for the out years. We will try to get another load of dry wood soon for next year to go with this wood we got before CHRISTmas. We’re laying up for future needs.

Wood heating is a dry heat!!! Ask our long haired cat! She looks like a lighting storm at night when all the lights are out. Static discharge gives her away as she walks across the room. We have a cast iron tea kettle sitting on the stove. It holds about four quarts of water. We try to not let it go dry. Usually, when I add wood, I have to add water. We fill it back up two to four times a day. It is about two quarts low right now (I looked). We fill it before going to bed. We fill it again the first thing in the morning. And then two to four times during the day. That adds up to a gallon or two a day (depending on how cold it is and how hard we are running the fire). We see no mold problems. Yesterday, Fiona said the house must be dry. Picassa was having a bad hair day. Static was in full force in her.

Wow! Did I ever get off track. I only wanted to mention the poultry. As I said, it is a beautiful day. The sun is bright and strong! But the temperature is low. At daybreak, they all came running out of their houses when I let them out. They were anxious to greet the new day. I put their feed and water out first. When I let them out, they went all different directions. Some went to this feeder, some to that one, and some to that other one, etc. They were everywhere. I think the ducks were more interested in the water than the feed. They didn’t even seem to notice the temperature.

God does provide. We have mentioned before about the turkeys sleeping on the back deck. Numerous mornings, I have watched them start their day with a white coating on their backs. They have a 101 F body temperature, but their feathers insulate them so well that frost can settle on their backs. The wild birds help clean up spilled/missed feed from the poultry. They will even fly into the barn to get something to eat. We don’t complain. We are happy for them to get what may have been just wasted. There is enough to go around. Our birds have shelter. The wild birds only have what God has given them. As with us, it is sufficient.

I feed the barn cats last. I fed them and was doing my final walk around to make sure everything was fine. On the east side of the barn, the doors stand open. The morning sun was shining in. It was strong and bright. As I walked over there, I was blessed. The sun is way south at this time of the year, so it is coming in at an angle compared to the barn. It didn’t shine straight in the door, but at an angle. It was casting that strong, bright light into the end of bay one. There is a roll of hay there. I have put a couple of boards across from the roll of hay to the fence at the end of bay one. There were five or six of the swarm laying up against the roll of hay (in the sun, out of the wind). Several more of the swarm, several of the hoard, and some of the old girls were standing on or around the roll of hay. All of them had a position that was in the light from God and out of the wind (the troubles of this world?). There were a couple of turkeys on the boards, in the sun. They were in the light of God and at peace with and in the world! It was idyllic. Oh! That we could so be, also.

May you see God’s light on you and may you find shelter from the winds of this world.

Ralph and Fiona

Closing with These photos from around the farm

 The Amazing Turkey hens poult #1 a Chocolate. Proud pappy...Spike.

 Poult #2  Proud Pappy, Spike and we think the Mother is "Lilac" the only Blue Slate Hen we had. The Blue Slate occasionally have Black phases, so this sweet little Black turkey with pink toes must be hers.  Baby Number three has a collection of blurry photos..I have yet to find it standing still.
They are doing really well and are independent and growing quickly.

 Turkey's roosting for the night....nice perches in the big barn, under a roof and out of the wind. NOPE....they want to be where they can see!

 Spike is well grown now and weighs 35 pounds. Maybe more, he flies less gracefully than the smaller Royal Palms...this is his landing pattern in the first snow, from when he flies off the deck rail in the morning.

 Yes Little Lady Fluffy Pants....she is a smart little tyrant. Since the cold weather she will look out the door but she will not GO out the door. She loves to stand near the wood stove and preen. She lays six eggs a week now and tells us loudly every time!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The New Year and an Apology

2017 has started in a rather trying way. We have been evaluating 2016 and are working on the plans for a new season of gardening. I am not sure why but it just seems difficult to get motivated. Ralph has his plans for all sorts of things and I keep thinking of the overwhelming Weed problem we ran in to last summer.

It was discouraging to get only a third of the Irish potatoes out of the ground before the weeds took over and the ground simply got too hard to dig. We had great success with the corn and herbs, the peanuts and the squash were wonderful. Carrots and peas...something I really need to have in our food stocks were both dismal failures.

The chickens were and are doing even better than we had hoped. The Turkeys are a mix of success and tragedy, however the ones we butchered are the best eating I have ever had. The ducks...well they are the comic releif in the barnyard. We have never quite got around to actually butchering any but I love their eggs for baking.

I have been terribly bad at getting a blog post together.  I am sure the sunny good nature of my dear house Chicken....Little Lady Fluffy Pants will tide me through the doldrums of the past holiday season. [She has mysteriously gone off to lay her egg.]

I have yet to figure out how to add photos to the blog from this IPad so bear with me on that.

I apologize for the lack of posts and I know I will get back to it. I have some wonderful photos of our Turkeys roosting and the snow marks from Spike flying of the deck rail in the morning. Now be well and God Bless all of you.

May 2017 be a year of renewed hope.