Turkeys

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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Striving For a Healthier Thanksgiving Feast – Our Holiday Menu

There are some things people prefer you don’t mess with. You don’t rearrange someone’s sock draw. You don’t add spices to someone else’s spaghetti sauce. And you don’t change the traditional Thanksgiving menu everyone is used to. Well, this year I plan to make some changes to our Thanksgiving menu. I hope I can do this successfully without picketing and rioting from my family members.

My plan is to turn many of our favorite dishes into healthier versions. I have become much better at substituting lifeless, void of nutrients ingredients with flavorful, healthy and nutrient dense alternatives. So I think with some help of some of my favorite healthy cooking bloggers and some of my own knowledge, everything will work successfully with happy faces and full tummies. Don’t get me wrong, even if my family hated my food they would still be very thankful for the meal. But, let’s just hope they don’t hate it.

A few weeks ago my husband and a few of our friends butchered our Thanksgiving turkeys and a few of our other chickens. I chose to butcher only one of the three of my Royal Palm toms. Since Royal Palm’s are not a large breed we ended up with a small bird for cooking. It’s just the right size though for the small group we will be having for dinner. I would say he’s probably around 12- 14 lbs.

I did have to compromise some with this meal planning so I wouldn’t call the entire menu healthy but it’s much healthier than last year. My oldest daughter loves ham, so even though it’s not a grassfed-nitrate-free ham, this is one compromise I was willing to make. A healthier version of the grocery store ham is far too expensive.

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
Main Dishes

Homegrown Roast Turkey

Ham

Side Dishes

Mashed Potatoes

Green Bean Casserole

Sweet Yams

Dressing

Whole Wheat Bread Rolls

Sauces

Cranberry Sauce

Gravy

Desserts
Pumpkin Pie

Apple Pie

Vanilla Ice Cream

Drinks

Eggnog

Apple Cider

Iced Tea

I will be making the mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, yams, dressing and rolls from scratch. The green bean casserole will include homemade mushroom soup and homemade french fried onions. The cranberry sauce and gravy will also be from scratch, as well as the apple and pumpkin pies, apple cider, iced tea and possibly the eggnog. Another compromise I will probably allow is the pie crusts being made from white flour and I will be buying store bought ice cream.

I am hoping everyone will enjoy the healthier versions of their favorite meal. Next year I hope to make even more changes if everything goes well this year.

What does your Thanksgiving menu include? Have you made any healthy changes to this year’s holiday menu? Please share :).

Have a Wonderfully Blessed Thanksgiving!

The Royal Palm Turkey – A Beauty and A Beast

It’s interesting to me that a bird can be so magnificent and so unattractive all at the same time. This only seems to be true of the beautiful turkey called the Royal Palm. Never have I seen a turkey so strikingly beautiful as the Royal Palm. Currently we have five Royal Palms, three males and two females. I talked a little bit about my plan for these turkeys in my Poultry Plan but I am going to share more of the turkey raising plan today.

5 month old Royal Palm tom.

The reason we chose to raise these turkeys was to have a sustainable meat source. Our plan is to keep one of the three males and both females for breeding. Their eggs and offspring will become a food source for our family.  The reason I chose the Royal Palm turkey over the other breeds of turkeys was mainly for two reasons. One, the Royal Palm is a gorgeous bird. I thought if I was going to have turkeys roaming my homestead they might as well be nice looking birds. Two, the Royal Palm is a small breed of turkey. Unlike the Large Whites and Bronze Breasted, the Royal Palm is not known to reach an enormous 40+ pounds making it economical to feed and better foragers. The smaller size is also appealing to me because it’s means a more manageable size bird to prepare during the non-holiday cooking season. I am not interested in having to figure out what do with with 25 + lbs of meat several times a year. Read the rest of this entry »

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