Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hot Off the Needles

Our county fair is coming up and I am getting projects ready to enter! I am going to be entering a few knitted things, and I figured I'd knit a hat since they're pretty quick and easy. I'm really excited about this hat because I did a MUCH better job than my last hat. It's the same pattern. I only got off track once when I accidently managed to pick up an extra stitch, but I managed to undo the damage and get back on track!

The yarn is Nashua Handknits Wooly Stripes and the color is "Jungle Green." I love this yarn. I love how the colors just melt into one another! This yarn was given to me by either my Aunt Linda or her friend Debbie when we had our Knitting Weekend. I can't remember who gave it to me, but I love it! I think I even have enough to do a matching pair of mittens, or maybe fingerless gloves. I just found this yarn on sale for a really great price if you're interested!

I can't wait to see how it does at the fair. Even if I don't get a ribbon, I'll love wearing it this winter!

Monday, July 26, 2010

2 Broodies and a Last-Minute Fix

Remember Wanda? She hatched a chick in March after a long period of not-so-successful brooding attempts. Well, I found her secret nest a couple weeks ago (it looked like a community nest), and let her sit on them. I figured it's easier to let her hatch eggs than it is to fight her broodiness. This is her calling. Who am I to crush her dreams of motherhood?

I noticed Friday night that her eggs were starting to hatch. I took 2 of her eggs that had pipped and gave them to a Barred Rock hen that recently went broody.

As of Sunday, 4 of Wanda's eggs had hatched. See the little black one on the left with the yellow spot on its head?
This Barred Rock hen has been broody for a few weeks now. She's pretty vicious. She pecks my hand when I reach under her, and if I even peek through the coop window at the nesting boxes she'd let out a big growl (beak open wide) and puff up. Hateful thing! I gave her 2 of Wanda's eggs and they both hatched out. Hopefully she'll enjoy being a mom and won't go broody again for a while.

So Sunday morning I decided to put the ram and Theo in the bachelor pen since it was finished. I realized that there was no shade in the early morning hours because the sun was so low in the sky, so I needed a quick fix! I found 2 scrap pieces of lumber to screw to the front of the shelter. It doesn't look pretty, but it solved the shade problem.

I went out a couple hours later and saw the ram lamb had squeezed his body into the one little patch of shade from the trees. Luckily the pen has a ton of shade from mid morning to evening.

Theo took advantage of the shelter almost immediately. Well, after he'd scratched himself.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Yard Birds

A former coworker of mine always called chickens yard birds. I guess it's a common term, but he's the only one I know who said it. It give me a small chuckle when I hear it. It doesn't take much to amuse me.

It's been a while since I've done a broiler update , so I wanted to show you a few pictures I took last night. I'm sorry they're slightly blurry, but it was getting dark. These are the broilers I'm raising for my sister. They're now 9 weeks old. They're going to be about 10.5 weeks when they're processed, which is a little older than normal for broilers (who are usually processed between 6 and 8 weeks). Becky is coming for a visit soon, so we wanted to time her visit with their processing date so she can help out. I think I'm more excited about it than she is, but I'm sure she'll do fine.

The broilers are still doing really well, despite their large size. Many people think these Cornish X broilers always get lame or keel over and die at the drop of a hat, but it's really not true if they have proper management. I started letting these birds free range when they were about 4-5 weeks old. I started them in a brooder pen in the barn, then moved them to a 'tractor' when they were 4 weeks (and completely feathered out). I left them in that pen for about a week, then let them free-range- partly because it was so hot out (and I wanted them to have shade in the woods) and partly to keep them strong and healthy, so they could run around and build muscles. I'm also not feeding them 24/7 like some people do. They get fed in the morning and in the afternoons, and they gobble up all the feed and then free-range the rest of the day. I wanted to make sure they didn't grow too fast, since they'll be living longer than they're "supposed to".

I lost a few of them during shipping and 1 day later, and only lost 1 when they were "grown" to what I suspect was a respiratory issue combined with abnormally high temps. I did have a close call with 2 of them when it was over 100* out. They were not doing well at all, so I put them in a bucket of cold water to bring their body temps down. The next day they were fine and I couldn't even tell which ones were sick. Since then, they've all been great!

The bird above is the biggest one. I call him Chickenzilla. He's large and in charge.

My biggest problem with the broilers now is they see me as the "food lady" and they mob me whenever I walk out into the yard! I can hardly walk to feed them because they swarm around me. They also like to peck at my ankles. That hurts!

And they try to follow me when I walk away!
Oh yeah, and the turkeys are getting big too!! They're starting to strut more now, and the other day I had to break up a fight. They grab each other's wattles and hang on tight! Ouch. And the funniest thing....yesterday when I was screwing the lumber together for the bachelor pen shelter, the screws were making a screaching noise in the wood, and a few of the turkeys gobbled!

And check out that guinea (on the right)! She's one of the babies I bought at the Auction in April. I wound up getting a male and female. That's lucky!

Weekend Project Part 2

David and I got about 95% of the bachelor pen done! All that's left to do is put a wood rail up at the top of the fence (just above the chain link, so we can staple the chain link to the board for more stability), and cut the tops of the post off. I'd also like to make a hay feeder to attach to the barn wall under the shelter.

Do you see that left front corner post? The darn post is bowed! I used the level when I put it in, but I didn't even realize how bowed it was when I used it. Maybe it won't look so bad when the top is cut off?

So the chain link is mis-matched, but I don't think the boys will care. And hey, it was free, so I can live with it too!

We built a little 4'x8' shelter. It's a little more shallow than I'd typically build, but they're going to get a TON of afternoon shade, so it'll just need to give a little shade for the morning and block the rain, which I think it will do just fine.

I'm excited to get them in here. I just hope that Theo (buck) doesn't squeeze his way between the tubes of the gate! If he does, I'll have to put some wire mesh fence on it, but I already have that so it won't cost any extra.

So here's the budget of the pen:

hand-me-down gate=$25
chain link fencing=free
landscape timber posts=$31.76
3 new 2x4s=$8
2 lag screws to hang gate=$11.50
3 small bags of concrete=$8.31
2 large bags of concrete=already had
staples=we already had them
"leg" posts for shelter=scrap lumber
top board of shelter=scrap lumber

total cost=$76.57

Not bad! Plus, I didn't use any of "our" money...it all came from the farm! I saved from eggs, veggies, and "other" sales (let's just say June helped out). It feels good to be able to do projects on a budget!

I'll post better pictures another day. It was getting dark and I ran out to snap these few!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Greeters

I'll get around to posting part 2 of the Weekend Project soon....like as soon as I get around to finishing it! I'm happy to say we've been delayed by rain both Monday and Tuesday evenings!

I wanted to show you I am greeted with in the mornings when I go out to feed the animals.

The turkeys have figured out I come out of the side door, and now they come up onto the deck in the mornings so they can wait for me and be sure I don't forget to feed them.

And they've found my potted herbs...

"Hmm, let's have a look at this. Is there enough perlite in this potting soil?"

And more exciting turkey news....

I was on the phone with my mom the other day and I happened to look out the kitchen window into the back yard. I saw a turkey near the hedgerow, and thought that it looked awfully big. Then I realized it was a wild turkey!! I kept watching and soon about 3 or 4 adult turkeys and several poults filed out of the hedgerow and into the yard! They were interested in my turkeys, who are on the right side of the picture below. If you click on it, you'll probably be able to see the wild ones on the left. How cool!! I've never seen wild turkeys on our property before.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend Project: Part 1

This weekend I started tackling a project I've been wanting to do for a while now. The ram lamb and buck kid are getting more mature, and I don't want to risk any unplanned breedings, so they need their own bachelor pad.

I saved up some money from sales from the "farm" (eggs, veggies, etc), and used it to buy all the supplies I needed. I managed to find some chain link fencing for free, so that really helped the budget! I'll give the price breakdown in the next installment.

I picked an area behind the barn because it gets nice afternoon shade and is a convenient area to have a pen located. Plus, putting the pen directly adjacent to the barn means I only need to fence 3 sides, and the shelter will also share a wall with the barn. I measured out an area that is approximately 21' long and 14' wide. The two of them won't be staying here year round, so I don't need a huge area.

Luckily our dry spell has ended (we got 5" of rain last weekend and another 1-2" during the week!), so digging the post holes was very easy! I dug them all 24" down and used cement on all of the corner posts and the gate post.

I used a string to make sure all of the posts were in line.

For some reason the posts look slightly crooked in this picture, but I used the level to make sure they were straight.

We also attached the fencing to the posts this evening, but I didn't get any pictures of that. Tomorrow I'll pick up the gate and hopefully finish this project!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This Year's Turkeys

Last year I lost both of my turkeys to what I suspect was Blackhead Disease. Blackhead is carried by chickens and earthworms, and turkeys are affected by it. About 6 weeks ago, two of my turkeys started acting unthrifty, and I thought they might have Blackhead. I got some Metronidazole and treated their water, and they were fine two days later. Knock on wood, they've been fine ever since. I have 12 of them now, 5 broad-breasted whites, and 7 broad-breasted bronzes.

When it got really hot a few weeks ago, I let the broilers and the turkeys out of their mobile pens and let them free-range. It's easier for them to stay cool that way, because they can roam into the hedgerow. Now the turkeys are free-ranging fools!

They really enjoy being able to wander all over and find tasty treats.

They're growing very tall and lanky, but aren't filling out as fast. They remind me of footballs on stilts.

Turkeys are my favorite poultry I think. They're very calm, and seem like they're just observing everything and taking notes. They like to stand near me, and most times will let me pet them for just a second before they slowly move just out of reach. I've you've never raised turkeys you should!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Mid-Summer Garden

It's been a crazy year for gardening. We had almost no spring at all. The hot weather started in early and has hardly let up. We also are in the worst drought this early in the year, according to farmers in the area. I've been struggling to keep the garden productive. My broccoli and cauliflower didn't produce at all. My onions bolted. My broccoli raab bolted. Ack! I was also falling behind on my gardening chores because, well, who wants to work in that oppressive heat? I took a day off last week to take advantage of the cool temps (only around 85 degrees) so I could get some garden work done.

Here is the section of the garden that I attempted to plant no-till this spring, simply because I didn't have access to a tiller before it was time to plant. The bermuda and crab grass had completely taken over. I tilled the area (with our "new" tiller that was generously given to us by a friend) and planted a row of green beans, a row of beans for drying (pinto beans I think) and some flowers.

Here is the "after" picture. My cabbages are hanging in there. I've got 2 heads of red cabbage ready to pick, and the regular cabbage isn't too far behind.

I weeded out all the bolted broccoli raab and now it's actually possible to see the carrots!!

My eggplant is blooming and growing pretty well.

Sorry for these next few pictures. I uploaded them from the flash drive, and apparently you can't flip them right side up once you put them on the flash drive!

There are a few celery plants growing well, and some are hanging in there.

The beans have been giving us a fairly decent harvest. I'm not getting as many from this variety (Jade) as I did from last year's (Blue Lake), but that could be because of the weather.

My squash and zucchini have been producing like gangbusters, but they're starting to slow down.

The popcorn isn't doing so well. This heat is just beating it down. I've been watering every day and this is still what it looks like! I'm hoping I'll at least get some popcorn from it.

My potatoes are just about dead. I'm not sure why. It's either the heat, or it could be a disease. I've read about Early Wilt Disease, but I'm not sure if that's what it is. Hopefully there are still some taters under ground.

On to the second garden....

This is how the cucumbers look every day, despite being watered regularly.

The tomatoes are producing lots of fruit, but I've only gotten a few red ones. There has been some blossom end rot too. I put some calcitic lime in the hole when I planted the plants, hoping the extra calcium would prevent blossom end rot. I'm thinking this case is caused by the lack of regularly moist soil. Hopefully they'll pull out of it soon.

C'mon little babies....ripen!

Is anyone else having gardening troubles this year?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It's Only Already Tuesday

The title may not make sense to you, so I'll explain it. Today is Tuesday, the second day of the work week, but it may as well be Monday. You see, Tuesdays after holiday weekends are just as miserable as Mondays. On one hand, I have the attitude of "It's already Tuesday!", but on the other hand, I have the attitude of "It's only Tuesday." Does that make sense?

I don't have the pictures for the blog post I want to do. I wanted to do a post on the garden and on the animals, but our home computer has been having issues. We have started transferring our hundreds and hundreds of pictures onto a flash drive so we can wipe our computer out and reload it to restore it to how it was when we first bought it. Sounds like a fairly simple task, but when the computer runs slowly, it transfers pictures slowly. This may take a while...

I'll leave you with this picture I took the other day. We've had hotter than normal temps lately, but we got a few days of really nice low-80's weather last week. I took the opportunity to take Elmer for a walk. This is the farm next door to us. Our property is on the other side of the hedgerow on the left of the picture. The sky was so beautiful I just had to take a picture. Not too shabby for a cell phone!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...