A Continuation Of The Farm Tour

Its been awhile since I made the first video tour of the farm.  In this one we go over to the north and walk through everything that is happening over there.  Meet the pigs, the boy goats and the chickens!

Advertisements

Garden Progress

When you have a problem, sit and stare at it for awhile and let your mind come up with the answers.  We have three issues that the eastern flat-landers don’t have:  1. Very dry air and desiccating wind, 2. Hail, and 3. Intense sun.  Last year’s drought really  pissed me off.  We lost virtually everything. Being who I am, I was not about to let that become a recurring theme; at least not without a fight.  So as you have seen with previous posts, we ran a high pressure hydrant to the garden areas which has jump started the drip irrigation.  We also built the hail guards and sun shade cloth on all the beds.  As of today, the hail guards have been successfully tested with inch sized ice and the shade cloth is doing exactly what it should.  None of the gardens looks stressed.  In fact, they are looking very healthy (along with the evil Bindweed).  My green beans have not come up and I think it’s because I used older seeds; so more are on the way and I’ll replant those when they arrive.  Even the frost bit tomatoes have all rebounded.  We are back on track.

Cucumbers:

874E2FC8-CE47-4471-8DFA-C8A3808C8D5B

I even got Spinach to germinate this year!  It’s planted with the Cauliflower.

0286467C-98F8-4882-B994-4C616416E84A

A Bajillion Peppers from Bell to Habanero.

7300A4F9-AEE3-4B21-AECB-0DDF87448F83

Onions Galore

DFEDC8EF-EB79-4EF5-89EB-DDE661F0584B

Our usual forest of Garlic.  Scapes soon for Pesto and the actual harvest around July 4th.  This bed will get replanted with Green Beans.

7C9C71FD-CE8C-46A6-B00C-A32FDE728548

Much to my son’s displeasure, the Broccoli is luvin’ life!

1445E7BF-F589-4362-BA0E-47D4755B39E7

All of the tomatoes have snapped back from the frost.  It looks like we will be making plenty of sauce this year. There are 60 plants plus the cherries.

BF563587-32D5-415B-9604-99B177B42115

The Black Beans are up.

98F71FF0-3ECA-4F0C-8475-80FB2A0E83C7

Future Coleslaw:

8FBF834A-93AC-4E27-A6B8-5FF41350DCF3

 

Farmer Juan taking a break to rough-house with the boys.  They are the sweetest, most rambunctious guys ever.

F3B6A4A4-1CAF-4A68-A5F4-79E24B7501F1

While Folks Try To Escape On The Expressway, We Played The Real Life Version Of Farmville

“Create a life you don’t need a vacation from.”  Good advice.  We went to town today for some barn odds and ends and the parade of RV’s getting out of Dodge for the long weekend was pretty impressive.  Pick-ups pulling trailers, pulling boats or ATVs, going 80 mph with their hair on fire to get to a campground somewhere where they can be closer to their neighbors than they are at home in the ‘burbs and with no fence between them.  The stress levels at the local burger joint were palpable.  We went to the ACE Hardware Store, got what we needed and took the back roads home thanking the creator the whole way that we like living on our homestead.

We were awakened this morning to a call from the Post Office to let us know that a chirping cardboard box was waiting for us.  It was fun because Zina had never done a chick pick up before.  You can hear them in the sorting room and people just grin at you as you leave with a box of peepers.  We got them home and did the usual initiation to the brooder:  Open the box, pick one out at a time, put some Vaseline on their butts to help prevent pasty butt, dip their heads in the waterer so you make sure they know how to drink, set them by the food and heat source, repeat.  Job one completed, check.

Next up, get the turkey grow-out coop operational.  We put the door on the pig hut that is now the turkey shelter, put wood chips down, got out the waterers and feeders, washed them and filled them.  Off to the basement to catch birds and put them in the cat carrier.  For the next week our four little teenage Bourbon reds will be in the hut and not out in the run.  This gives them a chance to settle in before emerging into the big scary world.

Off to the feed store next.  We needed to resupply the basics, but we also ordered a ton of organic pig grower feed.  Now that the little oinkers have proven their heartiness (they didn’t die) we need the higher protein feed to get them up to weight, which takes about 6 months.  Organic feed ain’t cheap and it’s damned near impossible to find by the single bag, so 50, 40 lb. bags of specially mixed feed will be here in a week.  It would be nice to have a fork lift to unload it, but alas, that machine is named Jon.

Prior to getting the chicks, it was also the day to adjust the incubator settings – Up the relative humidity, lower the temperature.  If all goes according to plan, we should have more turkey babies hatching on Memorial Day.  Because of this impending event, son Aaron got the second tank rolled out to the barn for their brooder.  We’ll get the heat lamps, feeders and waterers out there tomorrow so all will be ready.  Ever see a diaper for baby turkeys?  They are really small.

Unexpectedly, the FEDEX guy showed up.  We really didn’t know why he was here.  Surprisingly, the shade cloth sheets I had ordered showed up a week early!  I tied one on to test it and they are  going to work great!  So tomorrow we will be finishing up the turkey brooder, doing critter chores, putting up the shade cloth on the raised beds before settling into a week of planting.  The plants in the greenhouse survived the freak cold snap.  They look a little shocked, but I’ve seen them snap back from worse.  It’s supposed to be in the 70’s and mostly sunny for the next week.  Time to get the roots in the ground.

So that’s what our vacation time looks like.  Now to sit on the beach with my foo-foo drink.  Maybe make some S’mores.

Baby Jersey Giants in their new home:

945A98EE-D920-49EF-996D-ED4DF7EC6430

D5685834-E90F-445F-9110-6C1D7E146C76

Baby turkeys freaked out about their move:

578A539B-4F1D-4E82-9698-0967CA6482DA

The new shade cloth for the garden beds:

BFB1F5AF-0677-45B6-A70E-E96E7EF019D69DDDDB96-8051-4D97-BE80-BE7D0287964D

A boy and his donkeys.  He was happy and relieved to have passed all his engineering exams.  Now for a couple of weeks of recuperation before summer classes begin:

070EBF38-D8A6-4BBD-BC05-EC420145284E

Farmer Engineering

When something works do it a lot!  We were so pleased with how the second turkey coop worked out by using dog kennel panels that we decided to make one for the chickens.  Ya, ya, I know….. so much for the projects being over with.  There’s always something.  After all, there was some empty space…. it had to get used! Because of the “help” the boy goats were being while setting it up, I took a full on jolt from the electric fence!  Thanks boys!  I could feel it run through both arms.  Makes ya jump and cuss!  6700 volts!

We are messing with the idea of having a “by invitation” business here, as well as hatching and raising our own birds for chicken, eggs and turkey.  Because we have so much room, we thought we could include some friends, co-workers and ex-clients (Financial advisor turned chicken rancher!  The lassos are really tiny.).  They get the most awesome meat and eggs organically raised in Colorado, and it, in turn, would pay our feed costs.  Other than a bunch more birds to process (and maybe pigs), along with some general bean counting, it wouldn’t be much more than we are doing now.  Stay tuned!

So the process with these additional coops happen thusly:  Hatch chicks, put the chicks in the warm brooder for 4 weeks until fully feathered, transfer them to the new grow-out coops until they are about 80% the size of the rest of the outdoor flock so they don’t get beaten up too badly, then transfer them to the main coops where the existing grown up birds get processed and sent to freezer camp.  This goes for both the broilers and the layers.  We also have the chicken tractor that we would likely put the “store bought” fast growers in. It can handle up to 30 at a time.

So, we may at some point put together a website/JAZ Farm Facebook page listing times to sign up for the number of birds wanted.  Eggs will be whatever we can provide and ramped up if needed.  Turkeys will be hatched and ordered in the spring for November harvest and we can add to the menu as we go.  A work in progress for sure.  Now that everything here is built and works, I figured I needed something to do with myself.  This might be fun.  If it isn’t…. shift gears.  This is the one result of the spring retreat that resulted from staring at and thinking about something long enough.  After all, it’s not like I don’t know how to run a business.

9A6D8701-6D37-4969-921F-56EF1F37A921

639AF598-AFB8-47EA-A5CF-315FB980BBC1

In memory of Miz Katherine the barn cat.  Got badly bitten by a coyote.  Left her at the vet this morning.  Wherever you are, may there be mice.

Imported Labor Out In The Field

We wanted to be able to let the two little boy goats graze and mow down the garden area where we will be putting in an orchard.  They evidently like the vegetation because they have absolutely mowed down the little pasture they are currently in, goatheads, bind weed and all!  In order to do that we needed to make one part of the fence a bit higher to dissuade the little jumpers from jumping, and mount a gate so they couldn’t push it over and escape.  This is almost a two acre enclosure with all the best salad bar fixin’s so they aren’t likely to want to leave, but the worst things always happen if you leave it to chance.  Luck favors the prepared, so we prepared.  Of course it took most of the day.  The day is done.  Dozer and Tank are loving their new job…. eating anything and everything.  They will be left to their devices throughout the summer.  As the orchard progresses we will just cordon off the areas I don’t want them to be in with portable fences.

BC1ADBC7-D0B4-48B3-AFA6-C3DF4C571B364DAEC0E9-CB39-4274-B6CA-A63C1765A33C7AAD29B1-960E-4CA4-B491-6C0629FE6663446CEF20-A82D-4EBC-8A01-2FE5ABFF84B0

The broiler chickens are coming along well.  They have been pretty easy this year.  We are looking at moving away from the Cornish Crosses (aka Frankenbirds) to start hatching out our own heritage birds.  We have primarily Buff Orpingtons for layers and they would double well as meat birds but we are also going to try Jersey Giants that were bred to be broilers.  They take longer to grow,  but that will free us from having to order chicks anymore.  At this point we have the stock to breed our turkeys and layers.  The heritage broilers will come later this year.

5F7C04D4-BE50-4236-BA52-6EA7761E71E5

AAA92339-B392-4B1E-9D9E-6039A24B7E06Our newly born turkey babies are getting their wing tips and starting to become a bit more sure of their legs.  A couple more weeks and they go out to their grow out pen.  We are incubating about 18 more.  Turkeys lay seasonally and we have seen a marked decline in egg laying.  This last batch in the incubator is probably our last turkey clutch until fall.

2F8D2AAC-DB18-4B82-93A8-C5C1F385E08E

6D753C4A-2921-4E74-AE7F-6CCD3AD04E3BThe little oinkers are getting less and less scared everyday.  Today they came outside the hut to eat and did a few laps around the grounds to see the new big world before running back inside, falling down and taking yet another nap.

67A4057A-627D-488A-8566-012E63EA120987238571-5A03-44DF-BF9F-0B710C8CE26E

So spring is in full tilt.  All of the garden beds are ready for planting.  I need to install the remaining drip irrigation, but that’s pretty easy.  We are expecting cool weather with a chance of rain everyday next week.  I have to teach a tomato growing class next Saturday and that will be the end of my professorial tasks for the year.  Oh ya, we suspect our little doe, Ginger, is with child.  Maybe we will have babies in the fall!

Construction Moratorium While We Farm

Farmer Zina

Tomorrow is May Day.  Only gardening stuff and critter chores til after the first week of June.  If there is a building thing needing doing write it down and take it up with the foreman the second week of June.  Also, the retreat continues for those incapable of taking a hint.

Only tasks related to animals, plants, cooking, weaving, and mostly no contact regarding anything or anyone else are on the agenda.  This will be the longest stretch of no construction work since we bought this adventure. There is more than enough happening just finishing up the new beds and getting them planted that I may not even recognize it as time off from the power tools.

I am friends with the leader of the local beekeeping club.  I made an offer for members needing space to house hives out here.  They seem pretty interested so we may have some literal busy bees out here sometime.  We get pollinators and an education.  They get to keep their pets out in one of our fields.  Everyone wins.

The first round of hatching turkeys went pretty well.  Of the eleven eggs, 4 were infertile, probably because the adults are still pretty young and some of them were laid in pretty cold weather.  We killed two of them because we really couldn’t tell how they were doing when we candled them (Turkey shells are very thick). So we caused two turkey abortions (don’t call the pro-life militant freaks!); but we got to see the embryos up close and personal because of it.  One died trying to hatch (Which is common) leaving us with 4 babies down in the brooder.  Today we cleaned out the incubator and started a new batch of 18.  Somewhere around the end of the month they should start to emerge.

Now We Can Turkey To Out Heart’s Content

As I mentioned previously, it presents some difficulties when trying to introduce new turkeys or chickens to an existing flock.  These birds are a food source for us, but I was NOT going to put up with blood spattered bird fights like we’ve had with our roosters.  So in order to solve the problem, we now have two turkey coops.  One will house our breeding stock:

7CCE5EBC-FBC3-4AEE-9019-88E20CD8C89085A0E9F8-0992-431D-90CB-804600FA676B

The other will house the babies.  The chicks we hatch will grow out in their own fenced in area.  As they will all be destined for freezer camp at some point, we will just not have any out there during the winter – Thanksgiving being the perfect processing time.  The breeders have an indoor coop but the grow-outs have an old pig hut that wouldn’t do much good in a blizzard.

The new pen is made of dog kennel panels from the local stockyard supply place.  I was so happy that this went up easy.  The guy at the supplier laughed when I told him it was going to be a bird cage, as these panels could sequester a bull! (Yes I over build –  but then again nothing breaks now does it?)  My only injury was dropping one of the panels on my foot (Bruised!).  But!  No blood was spilled in the accomplishment of these tasks!  A rarity indeed!

FB271BB2-B3EE-4170-9B2C-B8A8C5C8919097A56C96-DE80-4BC4-A1A4-66C663B80E608E91200C-7EE6-47B0-A066-5D4688B8A6B1E9EF8C55-9E70-4C05-BC48-1167E9A06320