This time of year can get chaotic with all of the new arrivals on the farm. Between the dozen lambs, 100 meat chickens that have been here for a month or so, 100 turkeys coming this week, 100 meat chicks coming next week, and an unknown number of turkey poults, chicks, and ducklings recently hatched by broody moms, there will soon be more babies here than we will know what to do with!
We have several broody birds right now, most notably a turkey and a muscovy co-nesting under our front porch. Just over a week ago, they hatched seven sweet little turkey poults. They are mostly black, but we have one pretty little blue bird as well. These will grow up and either be added to our flock, or become delicious holiday dinners. Heritage birds are different than broad breasted in many ways. One of which is that they grow slower, and develop more even muscling. If you are a fan of dark meat, heritage is what you want to eat. They still have quite a bit of breast meat, but it isn’t as huge as what you’d find in the store.
Over the last couple days, the porch moms and the barn muscovy have hatched over 15 ducklings. We don’t even remember the actual number! Every morning, one of our additional chores is checking in the nest for more little puffy babies. It was really cool that they started hatching the majority of their clutches on the same day!
This is such a fun and exciting part of farming that we didn’t really expect to enjoy so much. All of the moms have easy access to food and water, so this extended broody period is not an issue for them. The next time we catch them off their nests, we will be candling the eggs and making sure we don’t have to worry about any exploding.
This post has been rolling around my brain for some time. But there have been many other things rolling around up there, and it’s been hard to string together coherent sentences. Finally, I have found myself at a point in Coronatine where I feel like I can adequately describe what we have planned for this year! And it’s a lot!
Up first, we will be raising MORE pastured chicken! We have 100 chicks arriving this week, and an additional 100 arriving in May. We are modifying how we will be raising them ever so slightly, so they will have more space to roam and find tasty snacks. This will result in more flavorful meat, and happier, healthier birds. We will do at least one more batch of 100 birds before the end of the season, possibly two.
We will also be raising more duck! We have a muscovy hen setting a nest in the barn, and we are pretty sure there is one under one of the coops (the same one who set a nest under there back at the end of summer 2019). We will raise these ducklings in the barn to start, and then move them outside with the rest of the flock once feathered. This gives them the best start on our farm. Because of our mixed flock, little babies can’t really keep up with mom amongst all the turkeys and geese and other bigger birds. The girls will join the ranks of the layers, and the boys will be destined for the freezer. We will also be getting some pekins to raise for meat.
In July, we will welcome 100 turkey poults. These will be a broad breasted breed, which is the same as what we raised last year. We are also hoping to have a handful of heritage turkeys to put on the table. Our friend Alyssa, from Tall Grass Farm, is incubating some turkey eggs for us, and so far they are developing well. We will have a post soon about how to order turkey for this year. It will be similar to last year, but with a few modifications based on things we’ve learned from our driveway mini market. They will be processed a little bit before Thanksgiving, and frozen so they can be served for other holidays as well.
It’s lambing season, and as of when I’m sitting down to write this, two of eight ewes have lambed. Janus gave us a sweet, beautiful ewe lamb. Tanka gave us a pair of robust 4 horn rams, one a gorgeous dark lilac, and one a lively black. And both those boys have the prettiest blue eyes. We will hopefully have lamb available before the winter holidays. It will depend on if the lambs grow fast enough to make it profitable to send them to the butcher at that point in time. We are planning on giving them minimal grain, and allowing them to grow on the rich pasture that grows here.
Finally, the thing SO MANY people have been asking about: PORK! We will be working with our friends at Ham Sweet Farm and starting with some American Guinea Hogs. For at least this first year, we will be raising them as feeders, and not breeding them. These are a delicious lard breed that is known for rich red meat, and melt in your mouth lard. Depending on their growth, we are hoping to process some before the winter holidays, and perhaps grow a couple of them out longer to allow for the most flavor to develop. We will be working with a couple local produce farms, getting their scraps regularly to enrich the diet of the pigs, as well as the rest of our animals.
In addition to all of this, we are going to hopefully have our yarn back from the mill in the next couple months. And we have the wool from this year’s shearing in the barn, waiting to be processed. Plus, we have our usual eggs and meat happening. If you want to buy into all this goodness, we have our Farm Share CSA available here.
Finding inspiration from a bunch of other blogs, we decided to work on an “Uberlist” for Frontière Farm House. These are mostly my (Nicole) goals, with some that are for both of us to accomplish together. I am hoping that by sharing them with all of you, I will keep myself more accountable, and follow through on them. I may not update about the progress on each one, especially the more personal ones, but I will do my best to keep everyone updated on the ones that are farming related
My four categories are Self, Farm, Fiber, and Home. Those are four areas that I would like to see more personal growth this year. I will give more information on why we chose a goal, or what exactly it means, when we start updating. So, without further adieu, here is our 2020 Uberlist:
SELF get a drivers license
FARM blog 2x/mo for the farm
FIBER share another free knitting pattern
SELF/FIBER/HOME get her office functional
HOME put up closet door curtains in her office
HOME get his office functional
FARM get all the rest of the business licensing squared away for selling other meats
FARM get lamb in the freezer
FARM get another meat consignor
FIBER keep one Jacob fleece to play with
FIBER start playing with a spinning wheel
FIBER knit something for me with OUR YARN!!!
FIBER knit something for Bob with OUR YARN!!!
FIBER get other fleeces processed in a timely manner
FIBER make dryer balls
HOME get all the freezers organized
HOME get rid of upright freezer and replace with chest freezer
SELF go on at least one good walk with Luna weekly
FARM get to ??? posts on Instagram
FARM continue Tomorrow At The Market posts every week
FIBER finish up as many unfinished knits as I possibly can
FIBER frog any unfinished knitting projects that don’t spark joy/lost their needles/etc
FIBER knit enough items to do shows in the fall/winter
FIBER do at least two non-farmers market shows
FIBER consign knitted stuff somewhere
HOME get garage park-able
HOME get saws back to Todd
HOME organize spare barn stall
HOME/FARM get shelving in barn organized
SELF get eyes examine
SELF get teeth cleaned
SELF get tea cupboard under control
SELF drink tea at least once a week
SELF make cold brew coffee at least a handful of times in the warm months
FARM sell gravity wagon
FARM sell hoop house OR put it up
FARM get birds in movable layer coops
FARM re-seed south pasture
FARM/HOME build raised beds for personal gardening
FARM/HOME grow herbs on front porch in pots
FARM build new shelters for fuzzy beasts
HOME clean all the crap out of the attic
HOME insulate the attic
HOME fix moldy spot in ceiling from leaky roof
HOME finish painting the spots we never finished
HOME acquire baseboards and install them
HOME get all the art framed/mounted
HOME get all the art on the walls
HOME investigate new trash collector options
FARM get round pen cleaned up
HOME get two stupid trees in front of house cut down
HOME get junk pile at end of driveway cleaned up
HOME use gravel to repair driveway
HOME get new mailbox
FARM raise 20+ meat ducks
FARM raise 80+ meat turkeys
FARM raise 200+ meat chickens
FARM raise 5+ meat geese
SELF earn $1000+ through Amazon Affiliate marketing
FARM do another CustomInk campaign
FARM order another batch of StickerMule stickers
FARM figure out how to package and sell smoking wood bundles
FIBER attend two or more fiber festivals
FIBER vend/co-vend at one or more fiber festivals
FARM add at least three videos to YouTube
HOME get garbage disposal wired in
HOME get outlet on kitchen island fixed
HOME get kitchen wood shelf cleaned off and organized
SELF go on a date once a month and pay attention to each other instead of our phones
SELF see a therapist at least 4 times
FARM run some sort of giveaway on Facebook
HOME get thresholds installed throughout house
HOME get that stupid piece of trim attached to the kitchen island thing
HOME get dining table cleared off consistently
HOME/SELF eat dinner at the dining table 2x monthly
HOME/FIBER empty out current yarn storage
HOME sell/donate all the current yarn storage I don’t need
HOME make 1+ bread pudding a month while we are overwhelmed with eggs
FARM find a business to work with regularly to collect food scraps for the chickens
FARM/HOME organize all the egg cartons
HOME get vent grate for dining room
HOME get hutch into office if it fits/works with layout
FIBER knit at least five items with scraps
FARM get all the animal’s profiles up on the website
SELF get a tattoo
SELF go on a mini vacation (at least one night away from home)
FARM plant garlic
FARM/HOME harvest raspberries from patch/property perimeter
HOME/SELF make something with those raspberries
HOME can tomato sauce
HOME can apple stuff
HOME make five+ batches of sauerkraut
FARM investigate camelid acquisition
FARM have Doctor Walker out to the farm at least twice for general herd health
FARM/SELF write at least one article to be published elsewhere
HOME sell lawn sweeper
HOME clean all the windowsills/windows
FARM get gate wheels under gates that need it
FARM put welded wire on gates that need it
FARM figure out pasture rotation and stick with it
SELF join Jodi in some creative endeavor
SELF get personal email inbox under control
FARM/FIBER register the farm with JSBA
FARM register original three sheep
FARM register this year’s offspring
HOME clean out lazy Susan and re-organize it
SELF attend ??? DCFC matches
SELF intentionally hang out with a friend at least 10 times
SELF bake bread at least once
SELF ride a horse
HOME fill all the holes in the baseboards and trim
HOME fully organize master closet
FIBER make 5+ things on the weaving looms
HOME repair/replace downspouts as needed
FARM get Facebook page to 2000 likes
FARM get Instagram to 1700 follows
SELF take Luna to a pool/lake at least once
SELF read 10+ books
FARM/SELF milk a sheep/goat/cow by hand
FARM/SELF make soap/candles/something similar at least once
These goals may be removed, replaced, or modified at any time. If a goal will no longer assist in moving us forward, we will make adjustments as needed.
As you can see with goal number 2, we plan on blogging more in 2020. I already have a loose idea of what I want to share more of, and I am working on a posting calendar. We look forward to sharing this progress with all of you! And I would love to see your goals for 2020, please leave a link in the comments!
We raise our animals as livestock, but we still enjoy spoiling them with tasty treats now and then. Recently, we were asked to review Bugs for Birds! and our flock was more than happy to oblige.
First thing’s first: Do you know how hard it is to photograph a bunch of birds? I swear this is 80% luck, 15% skills, and 5% avoiding all the beaks and bills. For every photo I share on the blog, Instagram, Facebook page, or elsewhere, I have probably taken an additional 15. I am picky when it comes to the photos I share. When I have fistfuls of treats, this makes it more difficult, because everyone wants to be all up in my business even more than usual. These snacks were no different. The birds seemed especially aggressive once they all got a taste for them.
First off, I started with the whole bag, hoping to get this awesome photo of the birds surrounding it. Something Instagrammable, you know? And then the turkeys did what turkeys seem to do best… acted dumber than I thought possible. “What’s this? Can I eat it?” to literally everything. And the cute logo didn’t stand a chance.
So I quickly gave up on that idea. Thought I should put them in a feed pan. Maybe I’d get something nice of a few of them pecking from outside the bowl… That was a big nope. They actually ended up flipping this onto themselves, and freaked out. I left the pan there for a minute while I put the bag down on the outside of the fence. By the time I got back, the two birds that were trapped under it had eaten every last crumb!
Fine, I will just throw them on the ground and let the birds go to town. Well, you can barely see them in the grass. And I didn’t want to waste these treats. They’re too precious! That concern was pretty much pointless as the birds scratched and pecked to find every last morsel of these weird little bug larvae.
Finally, I settled on dumping some out on the dirt. The turkeys went ballistic, and squeezed out most of the chickens. This was fine, because I could make a second pile for the rest of the birds. We wanted to make sure the layers got some, as these little snacks have a TON of calcium and protein to help produce delicious, healthy eggs. They also have added probiotics which help keep birds healthy. And clearly, the birds loved them, considering I was concerned I would lose some fingers at certain points.
Overall, we really liked these treats. They come in compostable packaging, ship quickly, are affordable, and the birds love them. If you have pet chickens, a flock of layers, or any other birds, these are a great way to spoil them and give them extra nutrition. You can learn more about Bugs for Birds on their Facebook page. If you order some, be sure to let us know what your birds think!
The four pound bag of Bugs for Birds! BSFL was provided to us in exchange for a review. This is our honest opinion of the product, and we were not compensated beyond the cost of the product. This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through that link, we make a small percentage of the sale which helps us keep a roof over our heads. Thank you for supporting a small farm.
Spring is finally starting to show up, and everyone on the farm is very happy. Grass is sprouting, wild turkeys are roaming through the yard, and the birds are ramping up their egg production. We have started getting several goose eggs a day, and a turkey egg every couple days. But, we are dealing with mud city pretty much everywhere, especially in the bird yard. We knew we had to do something about it, and Robert found the perfect solution.
Two round bales of oat hay/straw. The farmer had an issue with getting the field harvested, and the seed heads ripened a little too much. This is PERFECT for our situation! The straw will soak up some of the muck, and make it less slippery, and the seeds will become food for the flock. And then any seeds they embed into the muck will sprout, providing food in the future.
Rolling the first bale out was hilarious. We cut the net wrap off, and just started pushing and hoped for the best. Luckily, we had it in the right direction, and it worked for us on the first try. I ran ahead shooing chickens and getting feed pans out of the way as Robert continued unrolling the bale like a giant roll of toilet paper. So far, the birds have thoroughly enjoyed every moment. They immediately took to scratching through it, looking for all the yummy oat seeds, and bugs. They have also really helped with spreading out the straw itself.
We also threw a few piles over the fence for the geese and ruminants to snack on. They were pretty excited with this new source of entertainment.
Overall, we are quite satisfied with this purchase. It was a small investment which will definitely pay off. Happy birds with full bellies and busy scratching feet make us very happy farmers.
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!
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.
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!