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!

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Coop Deville

 

Ya baby!  It all fit and with inches to spare!  That oughta hold a bird or two.  Of course now Zina wants me to build one for the dogs.  Maybe in the fall.  This one is for our chickens, but we put 17 new turkey eggs in the incubator today.  We have to clip the flight feathers on the teenagers tomorrow.  They’ve found out how to escape the pen.  Free ranging is fine…… right up until the hawk flies away with you.

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Fustercluck Nation

I’m trying to stay ahead of our baby chicks.  The Jersey Giants we ordered are 2 weeks old now.  After about 4 weeks they need to come out of the brooder as they will be fully feathered and about a third of their adult size.  We have a dozen or so Red Rangers in the broiler coop and they are pretty big birds.  Putting young’ns in with them would be an ugly thing to witness.  So in order to accommodate said providers of growing future dinners, I got busy making the little coop for them that will go into our chicken grow out coop.  We keep the turkeys on opposite sides of the farm from the chickens because turkeys can be susceptible to a disease called “Blackhead”.  Chickens carry it but don’t get it, but it can be fatal for turkeys.  So the chickens need their own world and the turkeys need theirs.

I thought the shelter turned out pretty cute.  We don’t have a source for old barn wood so I used cedar pickets for the cover which will weather gray over time.  I think it almost looks like a building you’d see in “Tombstone.”  I have some sheet metal left over from our barn construction that I’ll put on tomorrow for the roof.  I’m going to put on a flip up door in case we get wind (guaranteed) or nasty rain and hail (also guaranteed).  It doesn’t need any fancy ventilation or insulation as the big coops have it, and we don’t anticipate anyone occupying either turkey or chicken grow out pens in the winter.  I’ll post the completed project when it’s all finished.

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This hut will go inside of the fencing below.  We also have shade cloth to bungee over the top so they won’t get roasted in our searing sun.

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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:

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Baby turkeys freaked out about their move:

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The new shade cloth for the garden beds:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Weeds and Groceries

The outdoor planting hath begun.  It’s cool weather crop time and the Onions, Spinach, Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli, Cauliflower and a bunch of herbs are all going in.  It’s nice having the new hail covers on knowing that there will be at least a little protection from Hell month, er, HAIL month in May.  It’s fun to just be sitting on my little garden scooter planting stuff in. I didn’t even contemplate another building project except for figuring out how I’ll mount the shade cloth on these beds.  It’s the first time that the garden feels like “my own”.  I’m not being torn in a zillion other directions; just doing the farming thing.  Spent the day planting about 400 onions and listening to an audiobook.  It’s brand spankin’ new dirt so they should do well.  Having respectable water pressure from our new hydrants doesn’t hurt either.

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With the onset of spring though, and it being considerably wetter than last year, everything wild and invasive is coming up too.  I’m not really missing the old garden as it could rob you of your soul trying to keep it weeded.   Boxed beds are so much easier to work with.  But with the wet has come the weeds.  Many of them now, unfortunately, are becoming herbicide resistant, Red Root Amaranth being the biggest culprit.  It grows like mad and it sets down a super hero tap root.  Fortunately, the chickens like the seeds and the goats like the plant.  I’m thinking that even if our little dairy adventure doesn’t pan out, just having our little goat sweeties to mow down weed fields earns them their keep.  As soon as I get a needed gate mounted, the bucks are being turned loose in the big garden to eat to their heart’s content.

Another weed that no one seems to like, I think, because it is super smelly with pollen, is something the locals call “Purple Cap”.  Colorado State Extension Service calls it Purple Mustard.  It likes disturbed soil and boy has it found its home out there this year.  It’s everywhere.  So looking at the bright side, my son isn’t here having his allergies knock him flat, and it’s actually kind of pretty.  If you can believe it, this is our back wheat field.  The wheat is doing fine, but because it is still short, the purple mustard has temporarily overtaken it.  I’ll be happy when it is done blooming…..stinky,

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The baby pigs still stay pretty buried in their straw out in the hut.  They are soooo tiny.  Zina has been coaxing them out from time to time but they are still pretty freaked about not being with momma.  Our meat birds are doing what they do best: eating and crapping.  Half will go to freezer camp the middle of next month.  The other breed takes a bit longer.

We are in hatching mode with the turkey eggs.  I stopped the egg turner today, decreased the temperature and ramped up the humidity.  If all goes well, and the candling shows movement in quite a few, we should have some hatchlings somewhere around Sunday.  I ran to the stockyard supply place yesterday and got the kennel panels to make a grow out pen.  Birds is stoooopid.  If we put smaller birds in with the bigger ones, they will likely get pecked to death.  Chickens too.  So after all is said and done, we will have 5 different coops: A brooder, 2 turkey pens and two chicken coops.  Dats a lot oh feathers and fertilizer!

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So if there is one constant to this grand experiment it’s that it is all a big adventure.  From surgery, legs that seem to not want to work right anymore, to growing your own Pizza, Salsa and Carnitas, it’s never predictable.  Problem solving becomes priority number one.