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!

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.

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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!

Goals

What We Want To Do, 2018 Edition

Eleven months ago, we posted an introduction, briefly explaining who we are. So much has changed since then.

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One of our first weeks at the Marshall Area Farmers Market

We purchased our home in December 2016. We are located on a nine acre parcel in Calhoun County, Michigan. In 2017, we acquired many, many chickens and ducks, as well as a trio of geese. We kept several sheep belonging to our friends at Queso Cabeza, and we also had a llama and an alpaca belonging to some other friends. We attempted to grow a garden, but didn’t do well at that.

A decision was made that 2018 would be better, and more organized. We have ordered plastic mulch, irrigation supplies, and are preparing to raise meat birds more economically. We will also be growing nearly an acre of vegetables, fruit and flowers. We are much more prepared this year. We’ve gotten a soil test done, and have added cover crops this winter to help amend the soil. We are looking into getting a couple of beehives on our property to help with pollination. We are working smarter this year, and we are both very excited and driven to succeed.

In the past year, we butchered our jerk of a rooster, Roofus, and turned him into nachos. We’ve also butchered a half dozen ducks with help from a couple friends, and had another dozen or so butchered by some local Amish folks. Nicole has helped with butchering a sheep, and Robert has butchered some of the ducks that were badly injured by a predator. We’ve come a long way from the vegetarians we both were a few years ago.

Some of our goals for this year are as follows:

  • Grow flowers for Robert’s sister’s wedding
  • Raise three batches of meat chickens
  • Grow broom corn for a friend who makes traditional brooms
  • Raise geese for holiday dinners
  • Blog somewhat regularly to keep everyone up to date on what we are up to

We have some other non-farm goals that we are working on as well. So far, we are incredibly excited with what we have going on this year. We hope you are too!