Animals · Chickens · Goals · Sheep

New Beginnings: Life And Death On The Farm

As of March 31st, I quit my off-farm job, in order to pursue farming full time. Robert is still working as an engineer full time, and he is enjoying his job. But with the way things have been growing at home, we figured having me available more often would be best for the business, and our animals.

Way back on March 18th, our Jacob ewe Haiku gave birth to a happy little ewe lamb which we named Verse. This little lass is quick on her feet, and loves running around with the goats and the chickens. She has learned that the geese are to be avoided, and if anyone gets in her way, she can easily dart around them.

We’ve been waiting since then for our other ewe, Tanka, to have her baby. We came home last night from Fiber Expo, and visiting family, and she had done just that. She gave birth to a beautifully marked ram lamb, who unfortunately was born too early and didn’t make it. If it hadn’t been so cold and wet last night, or if he’d had just a little more time in the womb, things may have been different. However, we cannot dwell on things we cannot change. We can learn from them, and hopefully be better prepared for next year. We talked to our sheep mentors, and after a lot of reassurance, we will have better plans in place the next time around.

This whole ordeal was a huge blow to my confidence. I want everything to be perfect this year, since this is the way I will be contributing to our household. But the only thing I can control is the way I react to things. I am trying to be really objective with everything, but it’s difficult. We have made a decision on what to do with the baby that didn’t make it, and hopefully that will work out. Either way, we will be sharing it here.

We have so many projects planned for the next few months, and we are looking forward to pushing forward and gaining momentum. Our first batch of meat birds is arriving this week. We have thirty brown leghorns in a brooder that are due to head outside any day now. Keep an eye out for more regular blog posts now that I am home more!

Alpaca · Animals · Chickens · garden · Goats · Llama · Sheep

The Day to Day of Winter Farming

This time of year, there isn’t a whole lot going on here, but that doesn’t mean we are sitting around all day. Our fifteen fuzzy hay eating animals still need hay and snacks brought out to them at least once a day, and the birds still need their feed and water taken care of.

We have shifted the way we do our chores slightly this winter. We were both getting home after dark some days, so we moved all of our poultry feeding to the mornings. One fifty pound sack of feed is divvied up between several feeders, and they seem to be fine with that. If one of us is home, we will go out a couple times with Luna and throw some “snackies” out for the birds. Snackies are scratch, kitchen scraps, or whatever else we might have for them. This keeps them entertained, and allows us to check on them periodically.

As for the fuzzy hay eating animals, we still occasionally feed them twice. They get at least one full bale of hay in the morning, which is sometimes brought out in a wheelbarrow. The smaller goats seem to enjoy when that happens. If they eat most of that, we give them another half bale of hay in the evening. We don’t like to give them all of it at once, because they just like to make a mess of it, and leave it all over the ground.

Taco is being very helpful in the wheelbarrow.

The nice part about them making a mess is that it’s great for them to bed down in. This works well for us, until the hay and poop piles up. We have been managing to stay on top of things, and we scoop out the spent hay pretty regularly.

This is a completely different day, and that is Milkshake in the wheelbarrow, and Betty eyeballing him, with Nugget on the left supervising.

The wheelbarrow loads of dirty hay get hauled around the pastures and are dumped into low spots in the ground. These holes are mostly caused by chickens taking excessively aggressive dust baths. I don’t know what their issue is, but they apparently think bathing for 45 minutes and tossing every speck of dirt three feet away is absolutely required. Filling the holes means we fall less frequently, which is always a good thing. We also toss some of the hay into the bird yard for them to scratch through. It soaks up some of the gross mud we have been dealing with for a while, and gives them a little more traction when the ground freezes. If we have any hay left after, it gets piled on top of our compost pile.

This is the bulk of what we have been doing all winter. Soon, we will begin ordering our seeds for the vegetable and flower gardens, as well as ordering chicks to raise. We are looking forward to working back into our daily routines.

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!