Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Farm Goings On

Or going ons? I don't know. Anyhow...

As one of my mother in law's aprons announces, "The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get." That would be the theme of things around here. The chicks are growing like gangbusters. We are at a point where one of three things needs to happen: 1)Hubby needs to build me the chicken tractor he promised so I can keep the jr's away from the sr's a little longer until I get the roosters from last year cleaned (more on that later) 2)I can lock the roo's in the run, and put the babes in with the hens for now until they are big enough to not be bothered much by the roosters, which is what I did last year, but then I have to let the hens and babes out into the yard which means ruined garden beds that I just cleaned up earlier this week 3) to put fire under hubby's butt I let them roam free in the big garage where they are currently housed in pens, so they can poop on everything until he gets the message that I really needed that tractor done when I requested it a month ago. We'll see what I decide on that one.

About the roosters-the plan was to have the Milo Meat Locker butcher and clean for me this year since it takes sooo much time to do it by hand and we have no picker. After asking them several times when they start and other details, I called to set up a time the first day they were available only to be told they had just decided not to take chickens at all this year. Nice. So, there are others out there who can do it, but with kids it is just too much work to try to coordinate times when I can drive THAT far to have it done. So my next option is to buy/make a chicken picker. There is currently a used one on craigslist for $950. I can get simple models new for around $400-but these are manual and though faster, still more work than an all out picker. Then there is the whiz bang model, which can be built for very little money and looks like something my husband could easily do in a weekend. Once again the future of my chickens depends on him. I think I am going to order the whiz bang book so he can look at it and see what he thinks. I would rather spend less money and have the nicer picker than more for a simpler one. With us raising so many chickens this year, it will be a good investment, easily paying for itself in the long run as we won't have to pay to have birds processed any longer.

Our kids are ready that we purchased from Northern Prairie Chevre's provider Nubian Bubbies. The problem is that our fence is not up. The shelter hasn't even been ordered (they put those puppies together in no time, though, I just need to drive out there and DO IT). So, I talked with the wonderful Kathy, the goat mom, and she said she would house them until the fencer can get out here. He has one heck of a job (and will be making a lot of money, at that) when he does. We need the large goat area fenced off, then a gate put in so we can get to the lower fence through the pen, a gate put in that fence so we can more easily access Sonny the horse this year since she likes to hang out in that corner, then a fence running down the middle of the goat pasture so the does can be separate from the bucks, and talks about lower hot wires on the big pasture (though possibly not happening this year-we'll see) for sheep safety. Big order. But we are really getting into more of the bigger farm livestock which takes a little more fence.

As for the house, I am rearranging, cleaning, painting the basement so we can fully use it, and for the possibility of making it a weekend getaway when we are gone for friends. My thought is they get a weekend on a working farm, but away from home and don't have to worry about cleaning, and we get weekend caretakers of my babies. I will blog on a separate post about this later. But, in our economy a cheap weekend inthe country could be just what some folks are looking for. By moving a lot of stuff to the basement I can declutter upstairs making my cleaning efforts more efficient. I cleaned out the laundry room, both the kids's rooms and closets, the main bath, and some of the kitchen cupboards. I still have to work in the living room some and our closet and bedroom will take some time. A really rainy day. That goes for the basement as well. I will probably work more on them as we are huddled down there for storm season.

The gardens are drying up some. I hoped to take a tiller through yesterday, but with Monday's rain, it didn't happen. I will be trying again today. I really needed to get spring veggies in sooner, but nature has a way of displacing the best laid plans. I am going over the garden this year with the hand tiller at this point, which takes a lot longer, but gives a finer till. And is less finnicky in slightly damp soil than the tractor tiller, which fries clutches at the drop of a hat. We have to head to a friend's house to dig rhubarb that they do not want, and transplant it into the top perenniel garden. I pruned trees last week, and have a few to plant today, as well as two grape vines and an arctic kiwi. This year's trees will be a Cinnamon Spice Apple to replace the one I toasted last year in a frustrated mower moment, a cherry tree as NONE that we have planted the last three years have made it-the name escapes me as it was one that was on Stark's sale list, an apricot to add to the couple done by the garden and a paw paw, which I had started from smaller trees several times and also hadn't taken. I have come to the decision to buy around $100 worth of trees from Stark each year, then to peruse the Central Campus garden sale each year to add in with some of the deals they have. The apples and plums we were picking last year were from stock we purchased from them the first year we owned this place. I am excited to see things really starting to look like a farm, instead of the alfalfa field we started with.

That's a quick run through. I will try to take pictures and go over more in detail as I go along. Oh, and for you egg purchasers, I have hens thinking they want to brood, so my supply may be slightly diminished for a few weeks. I may try to let one hen go with a clutch of eggs. I will bring what I have available with me,but may have to limit some peeps to either first come first served or only one dozen at a time. We will see. I think they are also cutting back some since I haven't been letting them into the yard much as they are destroying my herb/flower beds. I may try to take the mower out to a thick area of the yard and cut them some grass for the run. We'll see. Spoiled stinkers.

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