Zina and I were mulling over the past year or so of the JAZ Farm last night. We are tired yet so proud of all of our accomplishments and this place is really starting to look like a farm. JAZ Farm has laying hens, is capable of hatching its own chicken replacements, has meat birds in the brooder, and is going to be able to grow a great deal of the food the birds need throughout the year. We have wheat coming up and are mere days away from hardening off hundreds and hundreds of plants for the organically grown vegetable garden (Cudo’s to friend Mike for coming down and helping to put up the remaining wind break fences…. you saved my lower back some agony!). On top of it all we are going to be sowing Millet and Amaranth on the front 15 acres to help heal and build the soil.
While enjoying a Mother’s Day dinner out while Aaron stayed at the farm and babysat the dog, we talked about the future livestock that may visit the farm. To me horses are nothing but toys. Cows are huge and we don’t really eat much red meat. If you want animals like goats, sheep, or Llamas one needs a barn to house them; especially during the really cold months of winter. What we came up with is pigs: Feeder pigs. Feeder pigs grow to around 250 lbs in about 6 months. If purchased in April, they are ready for the processor in October. They require a pen, a hut, water and food. I have already designed the hut in my head and the pen, after all of this fence building is a no-brainer! So throughout the summer I will be building a pig pen and getting it outfitted for spring 2015.
We figured that with the wheat, the organic garden, the eggs and broilers and pigs, we will likely have all of the meat and vegetables we could ever need. As the pigs are quite big, and they need to be raised in a group of 2-3, we will likely invite friends, neighbors or clients to go in on the cost.
JAZ Farm…. a real…. working…. homestead.
Wouldn’t you know it – Mother’s Day weekend – which is supposed to be our “average” last frost date, was met with a spring blizzard. The mountains got up to 3 feet of snow and the lower elevations around 5000- 6500 feet got around 5 inches to a foot! At the same time, I received a text message from our hatchery that our roasting chicks had shipped! Great. Anticipating warmer weather (because it was in the 80’s the previous week) we set the brooder up in the barn. Now… in the sloppy wet rain and snow it had to be taken down and the 300 gallon watering trough we use as the brooder had to be rolled around to the back of the house and into the basement. It froze my fingers as the tank is made out of steel. Now the brooder is set up in our exercise room. Oh goodie!
I got a call from the post office at 8 am today (Monday) saying the chicks had arrived. I got up there and got the cheeping box of fuzz balls in the rain and sleet. I gave a little boy a thrill though. He was about 3 years old and I let him look into the box before I left. “Look Mommy! CHEEKINZ!” Everyone in line at the post office had a chuckle.
The little puff balls made it to the farm with no trouble and they are now happily eating, drinking, pooping and sleeping in their new 3 – 4 week condo stay. After that they go out into the big coop for 4 – 5 more weeks. It looks like mid-July will be chicken harvesting week. (It came in handy that the truck has heated seats. I had them on the passenger seat and it kept them nice and toasty).
I read a quote once that said, “If you have an animal and it has a name, its a pet. If you have animals and they have no names, they are food.” These ones have no names; except for humorously saying that half are named lunch and the other half, dinner. Aaron said we should name all of them Nuggets.
Now, between the layers in the big coop and the broiler chicks in the brooder we have over 60 birds. Taking care of them will give us something to do until the garden dries out and we can get out to till and plant.