Animals · Chickens · Ducks · Eggs · Goats · Meat · Production · Sheep

Winter is Coming to the Farm

Now that the rush of summer is gone, we were truly hoping that autumn and winter would be a little easier and calmer. So far, we have been wrong.

Our final batch of chickens for this season was brought to the processor last week. They are now in the freezer awaiting their new homes in the ovens and soup pots of our customers. This batch of chickens finished a little smaller than previous batches. We aren’t sure if it’s due to being later in the year, and the pasture not being quite as nutritious, or something else. That being said, they are just as delicious as the previous birds sent to the processor. We had to acquire an additional freezer to store these birds in. We are hoping to have it emptied out by the end of the year. Or at least have one of the meat freezers emptied out by then.

We have acquired several new animals recently. We have three Jacob sheep that we purchased from Sweetgrass Jacobs back at the end of October. One named Limerick, who is a two horned ram born in April of this year. We also got one two horned female and a four horned female, named Haiku and Tanka respectively. They are all quite skittish, but they are slowly warming up to us.

In addition to the sheep, we’ve acquired five goats. They came from a farm that was downsizing. We have three wethers and two does. The wethers are named Taco, Milkshake and Nugget, and the does are Curry and Fudge. Yes, we named them all after foods that goats can be made into. But we don’t plan on eating these ones any time soon.

Our chickens and ducks have slowed their egg production. We are still getting a dozen or two a day, but that’s a far cry from the overflowing baskets we were getting for most of the summer. It will pick back up in the spring. Everything has a season, and egg season is definitely early summer!

We will be processing our own turkey for Thanksgiving, and we are really looking forward to that. We have two really large males that we will choose between. The second one will be served up at the December holiday dinner. We hope the rest of the turkeys will lay eggs for us to hatch and raise up for next year’s holiday dinners.

All of our tasty products, and some of Nicole’s knitted items will be available at the Marshall Farmers Market at the B.E. Henry building. We hope to see you there! If you can’t make it, feel free to send us a message to make arrangements to get some eggs or chicken. Happy almost-winter!

Alpaca · Animals · Chickens · Llama · Product Review · Video

Watering Plants and Animals: A Review of Fogg-It Watering Nozzles

One of the frustrating things about starting seeds is that many of them need to be babied while they are sprouting. Watering with a regular hose nozzle is too strong of a stream and can disrupt the seeds, or break the fragile stems. We found these amazing misting nozzles on Amazon, and we knew they were a game changer.

foggitwatering

The Fogg-It Watering Nozzles come in a pack of three, or can be purchased individually. We decided to go for the three pack, as it would give us more options for different tasks. We are very glad we did! We use the 1/2 gallon per minute (GPM) nozzle to water our seed starts. The other two are used for watering the animals. A couple weeks ago, it got unseasonably hot for a couple days, and all of our animals were panting and struggling with the heat. We ran a couple hoses out to our chicken tractor, and ran the 1 GPM nozzle over them for almost an hour. They absolutely loved it! It was hilarious watching these meat birds drink the water running down the walls of the tractor. We also sprayed down Faith and Galahad, who seemed to really have fun with the water. They had just gotten their hair cuts a couple days prior which also helped keep them cool.

We also used the 2 GPM nozzle to mist the laying flock. We had it strung up in the tree to mist the shady areas, and the drips filled up a pool we set on the ground under the tree. This is an easy, relatively hands-off way of cooling the flock when it gets way too hot out. The hose can be left like that for a while and we can go and get other things done.

Overall, we are so happy we purchased these nozzles! They have several other sizes available, and they can also be purchased individually. If you get some of these for yourself, let us know what you think!

We purchased these nozzles at full price with our own money. We did not offer to do a review of this item, but we seriously love them so much we had to share them. The links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through them, we get a small amount of money in return. Thank you for supporting our farm.

Animals · Chickens · Collaboration · Green Gardens Community Farm · Meat · Production

Raising Meat Birds

Something super exciting is happening at Frontière Farm House very soon! Our first batch of meat birds is going to the processor tomorrow, and we can’t wait to share them with all of you.

IMG_0100
The meat flock lining up for breakfast.

Back at the end of March, we received a shipment of Red Ranger and Husky Ranger chicks from The Chick Hatchery. They were so tiny when they first arrived! We struggled a little at first, and a few didn’t survive, but since that initial issue (which we’ve worked out for future batches) they haven’t had any health troubles. When we first got them, they grew so quickly. In fact, if one of us didn’t see them for a couple days, we noticed their growth very easily.

We are getting close to processing time, and we wanted to share more information about these soon-to-be delicious birds. As said previously, they are Red Ranger and Husky Ranger. These are both chicken breed crosses that have been selectively bred to grow fairly quickly. They are slightly slower growing and have far fewer health problems than the traditional Cornish cross, which was very important to us. In addition, the Ranger types are better for free range/pasture raising (hence the name). We have our birds in a mobile chicken coop, often called a chicken tractor, which we move to fresh grass every single day, and sometimes twice a day. They can eat all the grass, weeds, bugs and dirt they want. More than once we have seen them chase flying insects in the tractor and eagerly gobble them up. This is what chickens are meant to do! In addition, we feed them a high-quality meat bird grower feed which is blended at a local mill. It doesn’t contain any hormones or antibiotics and is made from grains grown local to us. Supporting local farmers is something that we do as often as possible!

Red Rangers and Husky Rangers mature in ten to twelve weeks. It is a short life, but our birds are very happy every single day they spend on our farm. We have a goal of making sure none of our animals have more than one bad day. We will be bringing them to a USDA inspected facility where they will be processed. We have heard nothing but good things about this processor, and we are confident that they will do a great job of minimizing suffering for our birds. Once they are killed, plucked, and cleaned, they will be wrapped, weighed, labeled, and we will bring them home in coolers. We will have them available fresh for the first day at the market, and then we will freeze them shortly after. We are taking pre-orders for the birds. For just $5, you secure your whole bird. That will go towards the total cost. They are $4.50 a pound for the whole birds, and if we end up doing halves or eight pieces, the price will be slightly more.

In addition to picking them up from us, we will have chicken available through our friends at Green Gardens Community Farm! The pricing will be the same, but pre-orders will not be available.

We already have our second batch of birds started, and these will also be ready in ten to twelve weeks. If you miss out on this first round, you don’t have too long to wait for more!

IMG_0134
Sixty birds for the next batch
Animals · Chickens · Ducks · Eggs · geese · Goals · Meat · Production · Video

New Kids In The Flock: Recent Additions to Our Farm

We’ve been told that spring is coming, but we beg to differ. We’ve had alternating days of wonderful weather, with clear skies and reasonable temperatures, and complete garbage. This morning, I woke up to snow dusting the entire yard. Luna wasn’t super impressed with it when I took her out to do her business and care for the animals.

First thing every morning, we let the flock out of the coop. The chickens, ducks and muscovies spend the night in the coop, and the geese stay outside. They are too large, and just too mean to keep in with the rest of the flock overnight. Plus, we have them as “guard dogs” so we want them to make noise if something is amiss. This is what “Unleashing the Feather Beasts” looked like back in the fall.

In the last month or so, we’ve added several birds to our flock. The first were a pair of male muscovies. We got a white, as well as a lavender. Shortly after, we got a trio of females to go with them. We plan on breeding them to raise babies for both egg and meat production. We also acquired three female Toulouse geese, which seem to have bonded with the trio of American Buff geese we have. The plan for those is also raising babies for meat production. Plus, we’ll enjoy some eggs while we wait for the ladies to go broody.

Screenshot 2018-03-08 at 10.55.58 AM.png
Our two handsome Muscovy boys

We have also ordered more layers, as well as our first batch of meat birds. The layers are going to be Easter Eggers, to add a little color to our cartons for the market. The meat birds are Red Rangers as well as Husky Rangers. The Easter Eggers will be added to our laying flock after brooding in the barn for a few weeks. The Rangers will be put into tractors to be moved around our pasture. We have several reasons we’ve chosen Rangers as opposed to the usual Cornish Cross meat birds, which we will go into more detail in a future post. Keep an eye out for that one!

Animals · Chickens · Ducks · Video

Our Birds Love Cheerios

Chickens and ducks have a wide variety of foods they enjoy eating. There are several human foods that are given to them because they are higher in certain vitamins or minerals. Ducks need extra niacin (or vitamin B3) when compared to chickens. Cheerios and green peas both have higher levels of niacin, and they are easy to find. We give them a few handfuls of one or the other every few days, which gives them something to do, and helps them develop correctly.

Here is what they did today.

Animals · Chickens · Ducks

A Brief Introduction

Hello and welcome to Frontière Farm House! We are Robert and Nicole Goetz, and we’re happy to have you here. There is still a lot of work going on behind the scenes with the website, but it’s coming along. We wanted to introduce ourselves and share a little of the work we’ve done at the farm lately. Our first wedding anniversary seemed like the right day to start.

We closed on our house on December 23, 2016. Being that the holidays were right after that, not a lot of work was done in the beginning. The warm Christmas weather caused much of the snow to melt, which led to the discovery of a cow carcass in our horse pen. This slowed us down on the progress we were making, and is an entire post for another day. In addition to the cow carcass, the previous homeowners left a freezer full of trash in the barn, piles and piles of rotting straw and hay all over the property, and piles of random junk. We’ve cleaned up half the junk so far, but there is still a lot left to do.

FullSizeRender
Roofus (the Doofus), White Chicken, and Black Chicken, on the day we brought them home.

In the last three weeks, we’ve acquired three grown chickens, and the two hens have started laying. They’ve also escaped their yard a couple times. We need to repair some fencing, and build up the soil beneath it to close all the gaps. Hopefully, that will stop all the escape attempts.

 

We have also acquired many other birds. The first purchase was twelve day-old buff orpington chicks. We unfortunately lost one shortly after bringing them home. The stress of the cool weather, being moved in a vehicle, and then put into a new enclosure was just too much for it. The good news is, the remaining eleven are doing great!

IMG_4565We prefer using mason jars to hold their food and water, especially in the heated areas. It’s easier to see if they need to be refilled, and we have TONS of them. We can also clean them in super hot water. The outside birds have a Harris Farms galvanized steel drinker, as well as a plastic feeder from the same company. The steel drinker is double walled and will stay cooler in the summer, and is less likely to freeze in the winter.

Just this past weekend, we purchased another two dozen day-old chicks, as well as six ducklings. In addition, we received seven week-old ducklings from a gentleman who didn’t realize his ducks were incubating some eggs. They are all pekin/rouen crosses, and are incredibly cute.

IMG_4661
This is when they were first brought to us. They were moved into a large plastic tote bin, where they will be staying until we adjust the housing for all the birds.

So for those doing math, we have two humans, a cat and a puppy (who haven’t even been mentioned), three big chickens, eleven medium chickens, twenty four small chickens, seven big ducks, and six small ducks. Fifty five mouths to feed. Luckily, the majority of them are content eating bugs and weeds. And a large number will earn their keep in five to six months, when they start laying.

We will be back soon with more information about our animals, some tutorials, recipes, and lots more!