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Fair Weathers “mini” Ranch- Farm Animal Update

So much time has passed since I last gave an update on the happenings around our homestead. I’ve decided to split the updates between a few posts. Today I am going to give the farm animal update.

The Chickens

I really have no idea how many chickens we have on the farm. At one time I knew but I haven’t counted in a while. I know I have more than 40. One of the last batches of chickens we raised are the Dark Cornish bantams. As of now, we have eight of them. Four roosters and four hens. The smallest of these bantams is affectionately called Tiny. She is really cute. We will likely keep the four hens and one of the roosters. The roosters are beautiful little birds and their little crowing is so cute. Every time I hear them crow it makes me smile. Unfortunately, I have to have the bantams caged all the time. We had a either a small hawk or larger falcon kill one of them a few months ago. My husband made a nice little nesting box for the hens. And those little girls have started laying their tiny little eggs. These bantams will be our 8 yr old’s 4H birds.

The Ducks

We currently have sixteen ducks. Thirteen are Anconas and the other three are Pekins. I now have parents of the female Pekin we raised earlier this year. The three Pekins will be my breeding stock for next year. We also had our first duck meal last month from two male Anconas we butchered. They didn’t have much meat but the flavor was great. My family and I thought they tasted similar to beef. I can’t wait to try different recipes. I used every part of the carcass. The bones were made into stock and the fat was used for frying. Duck fat is great for frying! The plan is to raise more ducks for meat next year. The Pekins and male Anconas will be for meat and the female Anconas will be our egg layers.

 

The Chukar Partridge

 

I probably should have done more researched on raising chukar before we decided to venture into it ourselves. It appears that when chukar reach breeding age they become very violent. The are very pretty birds but very mean to each other. The oldest one of the group was responsible for at least one death. As of now we have four of the nine we hatched out. I guess I expected them to be more like quail but they are NOT. My husband is building a very nice chukar cage so we will probably keep them for a while but I’m not sure if they will be a good bird to raise. We have yet to have a chukar meal. If chukar meat is amazing then we will likely figure out a way to keep them.

The Turkeys

Our mean tom turkey is on death row. We will be butchering him for Thanksgiving dinner. We have five turkey plouts that we hatched out from our breeding stock this year and  a total of six young turkeys altogether. The extra one is a Heritage Bronze. Our neighbor gave us  a couple of fertile eggs from their turkeys and we hatched out one with our Royal Palm eggs. I’m really happy with the Royal Palm turkeys. Their smaller size means less feed and our year old females were great egg layers. I was getting almost an egg a day from each of them.
The Goats

Two of our four LaMancha does have been bred to a nice looking buck with very nice breed lines. The breeder says that he will likely produce some flashy kids with a very dairy conformation. Our other two does will be bred this month and come spring we will have a lot of babies running around here. And LOTS of milk! I will have to let you know about our plans with all the goat milk on a future post.

The Horses

We added a new horse to the “farm”. She’s a 15 hand, 15 year old registered Quarter horse named Cheyenne. She’s a real nice mare but unfortunately went lame a few weeks after we got her. She is on the mend and will likely heal completely but I am taking it slow with her. I don’t want her to reinjure herself. The other two horse are doing fine. Though the two mares are biting at each other a lot. Both of them have bare spots on the manes. I’m not happy about that because this means they will probably need to be kept apart all the time. I’m hoping to get more riding time in these next few weeks before the cold sets in.

So, that’s it. I’m sure I could share much more but this blog post would never end. Next post will be an update on the garden. Lots of stuff to share about the garden.

The Farm Animal Count
  • A bazillion chickens (somewhere over 40)
  • 13 ducks
  • 4 chukar
  • 9 turkeys
  • 5 goats
  • 3 horses
  • 2 dogs
  • 2 cats

How are things at your homestead?

Let Me Introduce Myself

My name is Mona Weathers and I am the author of this blog.  I have been away too long and thought you all might need me to reintroduce myself. 🙂

Anyway, things have been busy around here and finding time to blog has been a challenge. My husband came up with the idea to schedule 2 hours each week for writing. So, the plan is for me to write while my husband is home on Fridays. I am very hopeful. It’s a very frustrating thing when you have so much to write about and so little time to do it.

I have been able to keep the Healthy Homesteading Facebook page updated pretty regularly. We have over 1200 likes! If you haven’t already, like the page :).

Now all I have to do is organize my thoughts. That’s a challenge for me. Anyone else having difficulty finding time to blog or is it just me? 😉

Hopefully, your will be hearing more from me soon.

A Photo Update

I hope all has been well with you. I have been a bit busy over here at Fair Weathers Ranch and have not had time to update. I decided a photo update was better than nothing. So here goes 🙂

 

Our yellow Dahlia’s are beginning to bloom 🙂

Our first batch of ducklings are growing fast. The Pekin is huge now. So huge that it’s have difficulty walking. Not sure if it’s the accelerated growth or lack of nutrients but it’s not doing to well.

We decided the duck needed to exercise it’s leg muscles in water. So, I have it swim in this tub a few times a day. It seems to be much happier with the weight off it’s legs but the tub is quite small so it tries to get out after a few minutes.

 

Miss Munchkin and I have been riding our horses more often lately. Here she is with her horse Captain at our front door. He probably would have come in the house if she had let him. 🙂

 

What’s been going on with you all lately?

 

Friendly Predators- Gopher Snakes

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I know this might freak some people out but snakes can be wonderful additions to your homestead. In our area there are two types of snakes that are the “good guys” to have around. The California King Snake and the Pacific Gopher Snake. Both are good for hunting mice and gophers but the king snake is my favorite because they also will deter and eat rattlesnakes. Since we also have rattlesnakes in our area, I welcome king snakes on our homestead. In fact, if we find a gopher snake or a king snake on the road somewhere we will catch it and bring it home to our property. Both of these snakes are usually docile. I have never met a mean King snake but I have encountered angry Gopher snakes.

I have always had a love for snakes. Yes, I am that strange girl that always jumped at the chance at holding the snake at the zoo field trip. I am not sure why I like them so much. They are easy pets to take care of and they don’t require much attention.  Growing up I had a gopher snake I named Gilbert. He was a nice snake. He ended up getting lost in our house once. I was so upset. Then my sister found him, caught him and put him back in his cage. It was very daring of her since she did not like snakes. I was so happy but Gilbert wasn’t. He turned mean for some reason. He would strike at me when I went to pick him up. I thought maybe he had gotten a taste of freedom and just didn’t want to be in captivity anymore. My mom and I took little Gilbert to a nice spot in the desert  and let him go. A few weeks later, I find another snake in my house and it was Gilbert! Turns out that snake my sister so bravely picked up wasn’t even my snake…lol. I love that memory. We lived across the street from a vacant field and sometimes critters would get into the house. Maybe Gilbert was really a Juliet and her Romeo was trying to find her :).

A few days ago my husband was mowing and nearly ran over this guy.

 

I am still that strange girl that jumps at the chance at holding snakes. While my husband starred at him from a distance, I grabbed him carefully out the hole he was trying to escape in to. My husband thinks I am strange too. I picked this guy up by the head because even though Gopher snakes are usually docile, I didn’t want to take a chance. A bite from him would have hurt. This is biggest Gopher snake we have seen in our area. A definite keeper for the homestead. I expect he can eat a lot of gophers, mice, squirrels and rabbits.

After taking a few pictures, explaining to our youngest the difference between a gopher snake and a rattle snake (reminding her to never pick up any wild snake because they can still bite) we measured him and let him go on our property. I hope he stays close by.

What are your feelings on helpful predators such as the gopher snake? 

 

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