August 28, 2011

nursing turkeys and falling in love with ducks

This past week has been a whirlwind. The turkeys have arrived! They arrived, however, with a bad bacterial 'thing' which originated at the hatchery and we've lost quite a few of them.

We have always had excellent luck with turkeys and have always ordered from the same hatchery . . . until this year. For several reasons we chose, against our instincts, to try a different hatchery. Needless to say, we are not impressed. The bacterial thing seems to have run it's course and everyone is now on the mend. We pulled out all of the tools in our natural animal care toolbox but time really seemed to be what they needed. The strong ones survived, the weak ones did not. We've seen our fair share of death on the farm but it never gets easier and certainly not when it's occurring on a daily basis. That sort of thing tends to wear on a person - especially a very emotional mama-to-be.

We are taking a deep breath and moving on. We're disappointed that we wont be able to raise the number of birds we ordered but we're feeling grateful for the turkeys we do have. We had a few other exciting new arrivals along with our turkeys. A small batch of . . .


These are not for production but for fly control and fun and entertainment on the farm. Though they are a little skittish around us still, we're finding ourselves falling more in love with them by the day. I have visions of our children playing with them someday. They have been a breath of fresh air as we've dealt with the turkey losses. You just can't help but smile when you see them. Who would've thought that what we really needed were a few ducks in our lives.

August 18, 2011


The baby is slowing me down but the growth of my belly is not slowing at all. I'm big enough that I'm beginning to have doubts about how the last months of pregnancy will be on the farm. I've decided, however, to just take a deep breath and go with it. I'll deal with it as it comes.

We have 4 week old chicks in the brooder who are ready to move out to pasture to make room for new turkeys and a handful of ducks coming next week. (Oh my goodness, how are we going to feed all of these birds!!) These are Freedom Ranger chicks and we're loving them. We've raised them years ago and liked them a lot then but ended up sticking with the Cornish Crosses. They were also our first ever batch of broilers so we didn't know much. We have never had chicks this happy, healthy, hardy and active. So active, it's hard to capture them in photos.

For my animal notes:
There are 2 chicks that are tiny compared to the rest. Usually, we just see what happens. Sometimes they make it. I have a great book that has become my animal care bible called "Homeopathy in Organic Livestock Production" and I've just tried, for the first time, a remedy for 'runts' or those who don't seem to be growing. I've been using homeopathy on our animals for several years now with great results. I must say though, I have never had such trouble catching chicks like this. They're so darn fast I even had to use a net! I got one and gave it the remedy but quickly decided it wasn't worth putting the other one through the stress of chasing it down and catching it. But you know? I do believe the remedy has worked. I thought this one was on it's way out for sure. It had that look they we've come to know as a sure sign of imminent death and I've never seen one bounce back from that. Ever. I also gave it a bit of egg yolk and raw milk from a syringe but I'm thinking the remedy is largely responsible. Amazing.

The young hens continue to do well and are laying like crazy. They're happy and healthy. One flock is still in training in their eggmobile. Usually, in our experience, the rooster has helped them learn to go inside just before dark and get up on the roosts to sleep. This rooster, however, is not the sharpest tool in the shed. It even took him a few nights to get the hang of going in at dark and since the girls look to him as the example of what to do, we had some fun nights of rounding up and carrying 100 hens into the eggmobile and setting them on the roosts. They're all going inside on their own now but we still have some sleeping on the floor instead of on the roosts. These issues are a first for us. We've never had a flock with such trouble getting the hang of it but we're patiently working with them. They sure are laying well so we're happy.


Black Australorp

What? Haven't you ever seen a red leghorn eating fennel?

Barred Rock

More Araucanas

And the most favorite Araucana of all, Miss. Lucille (and the baby bump)

As I've mentioned, grain prices have risen this year making raising poultry a bit more difficult and unfortunately, our reliable source is not working out as the wet, wet Spring has made it impossible for a decent grain crop. There is much worry around here about where the next batch of grain will come from but we're trying to stay positive that all will be well.

On the vegetable side of the farm . . . we are approaching week 10 of the CSA which marks the halfway point. How did that happen? We are knee deep, no - make that elbow deep in beautiful heirloom tomatoes. I hope we still see them as beautiful in another few weeks. Last year we sleepily canned tomatoes until the wee hours but are finding that with 2 pregnant mamas in the mix, we just don't have the energy this year so we're having a harder time keeping on top of things. Luckily the rest of the gang has stepped in to help.

The CSA shares are bountiful and just beautiful right now, overflowing with greens, herbs, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, beets, tomatoes and more.

August, in all it's craziness, hard work and 14 hour days, is a beautiful month.

August 10, 2011

23 weeks

This is me and my favorite girl, Lucille, taken a week or so ago. I'm 23 weeks pregnant and completely overwhelmed with life. It is, of course, August, the craziest month on the farm and I'm a little preoccupied with this whole 'preforming the miracle of life' thing. I wish I had time and energy to tell you more . . .