September 22, 2009

eggmobile II

 This is the new Eggmobile that Nate lovingly built for our new flock of laying hens. Just like the other Eggmobile, this one is parked out in the pasture and we move it every few days to a new spot so the girls have access to all of the fresh grass and bugs they want. We just moved them outside a few weeks ago and they are loving it.

 That lucky guy in the middle is our rooster, Mr. Blonde. He has his hands full. He's in charge of keeping all 100 hens in line. One of his jobs is to get all of the girls inside at night. That's actually why they're called roosters, because they get the hens to go inside and get up on the roosts at night. This keep them safe from predators.

 And our new girls have started laying! That means lots of tiny eggs for a month or so before they get bigger. Below is a regular sized egg next to a new egg. People LOVE our eggs. They are a huge draw at markets and we can never have enough. We have several different breeds of hens that lay different colored eggs; green, blue, white,pink, brown. At farmers markets, people line up at my table waiting for the market to start and I sell out of eggs in the first half hour. And for good reason...they are absolutely delicious. I could never eat a grocery store egg again....ever.

 So, what do we do with all of these tiny eggs when we have more than we can handle?? Well, we hard boil them and feed them to the turkeys, of course! Our turkeys are still growing and they need extra protein. They have to stay in the brooder building for a few more weeks and then they can move out to pasture. They LOVE hard boiled eggs and go CRAZY for them. Working on uploading a video of the egg-feeding mayhem but sadly, I think the file is too big. Maybe another post.

September 7, 2009

life, simplified.

Wow. So much has happened and I really should have been blogging about it as we went along but alas....there was no time.

A little background... I mentioned before that we are 'borrowing' space on this farm. We were given the opportunity to use the land, tools and equipment. This was an amazing way for us to see if we liked farming without making the huge commitment of buying a farm. We knew our time on this farm was temporary from the beginning as the owners had purchased a bigger farm and put this place on the market. They still live here while waiting for it to sell and their cattle reside on the new farm. We have spent our time here contemplating what would be next for us and considering all options. After almost 2 seasons as farmers, we are now sure that we want to continue farming and we have been searching for a new location to move to over the winter so we could be ready to start up again in the spring.

I also mentioned before that we were able to rent a house just 400 feet from the farm to live in. This house has a separate owner from the farm. A few weeks ago, on the day before my birthday, our landlord informed us that he was kicking us out. He said he wants to do some remodeling on the house so he can put it on the market and told us that we have to leave. We have no lease, just an informal rental agreement so our rights are limited. We told him that we currently have 700 animals who need our daily care and that we can't just leave. See, our last batch of meat chickens will be finished for the season in mid October and our turkeys will be finished before Thanksgiving. The lambs should be gone by then as well. So that would leave the 200 laying hens that we keep over the winter. We asked our landlord if he could hold off until the end of November to help us out but he wasn't in the 'helping' mood. We had 3 weeks to figure out what to do.

We had 2 options....move our entire operation plus 700 animals somewhere or find a place close to the farm to live for 3 months. We could have rented a place nearby but that would have cost money that we didn't have and would have required a commute back and forth throughout every day to collect eggs, feed and water animals and work on other farm projects.

Enter my Dad. He and his wife have a 27 ft travel trailer which they generously offered us. We had to clear it with the farm owners as we would need to park it on the farm and hook into their water and electric. They allowed us to do it and here we are. This is our new home for the next few months...

 The one on the left, that is. That structure on the right is the new Eggmobile that Nate just finished for our new flock of hens. More on that to follow...

So the last 3 weeks have been spent processing 240 chickens, moving 200 chickens out to pasture, getting 260 new chicks, packing up a house, deciding what will fit in the camper with us, what we need to have access to and can store in the barn, what will go into the storage POD, building a new Eggmobile, doing 3 different farmers markets a week, moving into said camper, daily farm chores, etc. In addition, our van which we heavily depend on for getting our product to market and for hauling things around is now broken beyond repair. Stress has been felt in indescribable ways and I questioned whether one or both of us would survive. However, we're still here.

I will say that being free of a house is quite liberating. It feels good to simplify to just the essentials. I will also say that our new living space is...small.

For now, at this moment, we are more than fortunate to have a free roof over our heads with heat and running water. We also have the ability to pick up the wireless internet from the barn office, however spotty the connection may least we have it and it's free.

We are working on planning our next move. The universe was very cooperative in facilitating our entrance into farming as things just sort of fell into place. Things have been challenging lately, to say the least. We have had to work really hard and make many, many sacrifices to continue to follow our dream. It's heartbreaking to think that things could not work out for us. Farming is our life and we are determined to make this work.

Where will we go in December? Well, we'll just have to see...