Chickens

Happenings Around the Homestead- Life, Death and a New Goat

I really shouldn’t wait so long in between posts. There is so much I want to share about what’s been happening at the Fair Weathers Ranch. If I did write about all of it this post would never end. That’s how much has been going on around here. So, I am going just jump right in.

The Garden

It’s a-growin. Garden Area 1 is now full of growing onions, strawberries, garlic, peas, chard, bok choy and kale. This is the first year I have had a active garden so early in the season. Garden Area 2 is all planted and slowly growing. The first couple of weeks after transplanting are usually slow and uneventful. But, I got everything in and I am happy about that. I had been battling a pesky ground squirrel that was determined to eat all of my lettuce. Fortunetly that particular squirrel is not a problem anymore thanks to the Squirrelinator. The Squirrelinator is so awesome. I have caught 7 at one time. I usually catch around 20-30 in during the spring season. I think once the trap caught 14 in one day! If you have a ground squirrel problem, you need the Squirrelinator.

Gophers on the other had are a bit trickier to catch. My best defense against gophers is my cat, Nick. He thinks gophers are delicacies because he loves to catch them. Unfortunately, sometimes the gophers do damage before he finds them. Garden Area 1 lost several onions and a couple of garlic before we were able to get the gopher. I am trying out a gopher deterant that I hope will work. One of my neighbors uses it and say it works well in small areas. It’s called the Sweeney’s Mole & Gopher Sonic Spikes. It’s supposed to drive moles and gophers away by sending a sonic pulse into the ground. It claims that 2 spikes can cover up to 15,000 sq. ft. I highly doubt it works that well but I am hopeful that when I place it in an area where I know there is gopher activity they will leave my plants alone. We will see.

The Farm Critters

We have had lots of baby birds hatching this past month. So far we have 9 Chukar, 5 ducklings and 5 poults (turkey babies). I actually hoped for more chicks but sadly something went terribly wrong during incubation. And I hate to say it was probably my fault that 7 unhatched baby ducklings and 5 poults died. I don’t know for sure if all of them were my fault but I think most. I got confused about the humidity levels and I think they didn’t have enough air for hatching :(. It’s sad. After all the hatching was said and done I decided to do a egg autopsy on the remaining unhatched eggs. That’s when I discovered the 13 of my 15 eggs had dead chicks in them. Some were fully developed and others seemed to have died earlier on. So that’s the life and death part of the happenings around our homestead.

We still have the 5 chicks that I hatched for the purpose of meat. I am not sure if I mention this already but we purchased 11 chicks from a hatchery a month and a half ago. Two of the hatchery chicks died so now we only have 9. These chicks are now in the shed outside but all the other baby birds are inside. Well, the baby ducks spend the day outside and then we bring them in at night. On top of that, we have 16 chickens, 2 turkeys and 2 bunnies we taking care of for our friends while they are away for the summer. The bunnies are fun since we don’t have any of our own. My little girls is loving holding and feeding little bunnies.

I also  have more turkey and duck eggs in the incubator. I think this time things will go a lot smoother. At least, I hope so. Especially since I have 14 Muscovy ducks eggs that I bought off ebay in the incubator as well. I am really excited about these ducks because they are very useful for the homestead. They are excellent foragers. They eat FLIES! That’s enough reason for me but they also grow very fast and I have heard they taste like veal. One of our female Ancona ducks went broody so we may even have more chicks running around here too. 😉

Now about the new goat. We got a new LaMancha dairy goat and her name is Sweetheart. She really is a sweetheart too. Our BoPeep is giving us a consistent 1/2 gallon a day but we found ourselves in need of more milk so we bought a new goat. We were actually thinking about some how getting a Dexter cow but that didn’t work out. We may end up buying one next year but for now the goats are working out just fine. With our new Sweetheart we are getting 1 1/2 gallons of milk a day. Yes, that is a lot of milk but with my desire to make cheese, kefir and yogurt it is the perfect amount. Any extra milk we have we give to the animals. The chickens, ducks, cats and dogs love the extra milk.

Kids, Family and Such

Our eldest daughter will be away living in the mountains for a few months at a summer job. She seems to be really enjoying herself. I do miss being able to call her though. Our son is being a teenage boy :). He still  loves listening to and playing music. We decided to keep him home at least part of the year next year. He was struggling in some of his classes. Not sure if it was the teachers, class sizes or laziness on his part but we have decided that he needs more one on one attention.  And little munchkin has been keeping me busy. We live in an area were there are few children her age so she is constantly asking me to play with her. Trying to come up with activities for her to do is going to be challenging. At least she has the animals to keep her  company ;).

Well, I think that’s all I will share for now. I have much more to share but I don’t want to “talk” your ear off  ;).

How are things at your homestead? Are you enjoying the summer?

A day in the life :)

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Headline: Broody Hens Turn Eggs Into Chicks!

Mama Hen with 2 Chicks

Yes, it’s true. If you let a broody hen set on fertile eggs, 21 days later, chicks appear :).

So far this chick season I have bought chicks, incubated chicks (well, Amy did it for me) and I have had broody hens hatch them into chicks. I didn’t know when I started this year’s chick venture I was going to use all three methods of egg hatching but I am glad I did. I was able to compare the different methods, all in a short period of time.

The two easiest methods were the purchasing of chicks and letting the broody hen do it. I really can’t say much about the incubating because I didn’t do that myself. I can say I found much pleasure in knowing the incubated eggs were from my hens and roosters. Even better was watching the broody hens hatch their own eggs. Read the rest of this entry »

Ducks are Definitely Bigger…and Messier

Mini-Farm Pic of the Day

2 week old Rhode Island Red Pullet and Ancona Duckling.

I still can’t believe how fast the ducklings are growing.

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