Saturday, September 15, 2018

Longest Belated Update EVER

I think this is my longest lapse to date. But we are still here!

I will be working to update my web page in the coming weeks.

So how on earth do I sum up the last.... let me check......... year and 6 months???

Well, I'm not sure I can sufficiently, but I will do my best.

Most of this past year has been spent recovering from a mono infection (I am almost 100% recovered), and the subsequent catch up.

I've been trying to get back on track with my Etsy page, and moving forward with our farm goals.

Ian is 4, quickly approaching 5 years old, and is still an intelligent, inquisitive ball of energy.

We are still planning to home school and are making some progress on that front.

We still have our two goats, Nutmeg and Cinnamon, still with no immediate plans to expand our herd.

We did manage to finally get them moved to our side of the yard, however. We used the old rabbit shed to build them a barn.

We also got our first section of portable electric netting so we can put them to work on our back field.

We still have our rabbits, but I am wanting to scale way back, or even get out of them completely. I really enjoy them, but there was absolutely ZERO interest this past spring for rabbit sales, and I am wanting to make more room in our budget and facilities to expand our bird flocks.

Our Silver Appleyard flock is up to 13 and doing well.

I feel really good about our breeding stock, even though again, interest was next to nil for ducklings and hatching eggs this spring.

Our Tufted American Buff trio successfully hatched 2 eggs and raised them beautifully.

Only one of them is breeding quality, and unfortunately I think it is a gander.

Which leaves me with TWO extra ganders. I'm hoping I can find another breeder fairly local that I can exchange one of them for a goose and start a second breeding flock.

I still don't really have a breed focus in the chicken flock, even though I did find a few Salmon Faverolle hens last season. I love our rooster, but the hens are such poor quality, I'm not sure it's even worth it to hatch eggs from them. At this point I'm thinking about just ordering a rare breed assortment from McMurray Hatchery and not even bothering with a specific breed, at least for now.

We did add guineas to our farm last year. I hatched a nice variety of keets from them this spring, and retained 11, giving us a total of 17. I'm not sure I want to have many more than that.

Even though overall farm sales have been a bit of a bust this season, my feather sales on Etsy have picked up. I've been working hard to fill my shop and keep the momentum going, after my 6 month lull from being ill.

I've also reached out to some fellow farmers with different birds and have been bartering for their feathers.

Increasing the variety of chickens will supply even more diversity in feathers I can sell in my shop, and I would like to add Cayuga ducks to our farm.

We haven't been able to afford much in the way of further house improvements, but we have at least planted a few trees and shrubs.

Yesterday we bought a second Celeste Fig (since the first one has done so well) and a Bald Cypress. We honestly don't know where the cypress will go, but we just had to get it because we have always wanted one!

Gardening has been at a minimum this year, since I've needed to keep the work load low. 

I am at least planning to plant garlic this fall, and have plans to experiment with some new veggies next spring.

I have helped out some with mom's garden this season, which has done quite well.

I definitely can't promise that I will be making blog posts too often, but I am very active on instagram if you want to follow us there:

Summer is winding down, and we are really looking forward to cooler weather! Let's just hope this winter is better than the last one.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Hatching Season has Begun!

I've been keeping our facebook page up-to-date, but I thought it was time to write a blog post...

We set our first batches of eggs last week!

11 goose eggs and 35 (yes, THIRTY-FIVE) duck eggs.

I candled today, and it's looking like 50% fertility for the goose eggs and 90% for the duck eggs.

That isn't too bad for early season eggs, but it could be better. (I'm sure that has more to do with incubation/handling than breeding/nutrition issues).

We invested in a second incubator, and I'm starting to wish we had a third!

If we bought a third incubator and designated it as a hatcher, I could keep batches of eggs going all of the time, and just move them to third one for hatching.

Hand turning 35 duck eggs three times a day is a bit of a chore, but I was iffy about the automatic turner designed for this model. There were a lot of complaints about the motor heating up and causing temperature spikes.

There isn't much room for turning, so I came up with a system that allows me to turn the eggs efficiently.

I simply remove the upper row, gently roll each row up, and then add back in the final row.

Maybe one day we will invest in a totally automated system, but for now we need to start small.

That said, if all goes well, this will be our largest hatch to date!

We will be ready!

Now that I've filled the incubators, I'm going to have some hatching eggs available for purchase.

Unfortunately, due to import state laws, I cannot ship outside of TN until we are NPIP certified.

The county agent was scheduled to come out yesterday, but he got called away to an avian flu outbreak in Lincoln county. So it will be a few weeks.

Not much to report on house and property improvements, since we're on a very tight budget right now.

We just work on things as we can. Mostly little things. The biggest little accomplishment was tearing down that god-awful basketball net (or what was left of it).

Now I see a great place for a farm sign! 😍

Although the barn could really use a new coat of paint first..........

So while we eagerly await our first hatchlings, we are enjoying the first signs of spring appearing around us.

This will be our first spring at the new homestead, after all!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Homestead Update 2.16.17

What a wacky winter, is all I have to say!

We have had a few cold nights where we were able to really fire up our new wood stove, but by and large it's continued to be exceptionally mild.

The eggs are starting to trickle in, with the ducks in the front lines.

Four out of seven hens are now laying, and we got our first goose egg this morning!

Freyja was acting broody, so I knew it was only a matter of time.

I won't begin collecting duck eggs for hatching until all of them are producing, and preferably after my dilute gander is out of the mix. I still haven't had the heart to cull him, since he's such a beauty. I'd rather him go to somebody who could use him for their breeding program.

I did finally catch the last two Muscovy drakes and sell them off over the weekend, and as soon as I can catch the wayward hen she will also be sold.

We will probably be hatching goose eggs first, as soon as both females are laying. I would also like to order at least a pair of goslings from Metzer farms to add to my flock for more genetic diversity.

I made the realization that Worth It Farms (where I've been wanting to order Ancona ducks from) is just 30 odd miles outside of Atlanta. It would make either a nice day trip to pick up hatching eggs, or I could get my sister and her fiance to pick them up for me, since they live in Atlanta.

But one thing at a time.

The rabbitry is overflowing at the moment - literally!

I ran out of cage space (need to hang more cages) so I turned the grow outs loose on the floor.

Which they (and Ian) enjoy immensely.

One of the benefits of having an enclosed rabbitry.

We have had a few escapees, however. Most of the time they turn right back around and run inside, but one has decided he wants to be a yard rabbit.

He (or she) has been surviving quite well on foraged greens and taking shelter in our giant woodpile for the past 2 weeks. We have thus far been unable to catch him (nor has our rabbit killing dog, Mika). Oh well. I am impressed with its resourcefulness!

As for the rest of the rabbits, we have some very colorful litters currently, and I'm excited to finally have some lightly marked broken reds.

I'm seeing a lot of gold-tipped steels as well, primarily thrown by Ace the broken black New Zealand.

It's such a pretty color, I definitely want to keep it in my rabbitry.

The goats have finally been moved out of the soggy garden.

We added some more kennel panels to expand their pen, and used an extra privacy fence panel as a deck to prop their camper top barn up on.

They even have a nice little porch to lounge on.

Nothing fancy, but it works.

It's nice because it keeps them higher and drier, which is a good thing for a goat. They've both been having some skin and foot issues this winter, especially Nutmeg. Luckily I've been able to address them with natural remedies, and hopefully I can head off these problems sooner by next winter.

Luckily, I finally bought the perfect tool to help me with this extra maintenance.......

While goat stands aren't terribly complicated to build, we opted to buy one due to time constraints.

It is very well built from solid oak, and I'm sure it will last us a very long time.

Ian had to give it a try. :)

We bought it from a local goat dairy, which offered both mini and standard sizes. We decided the mini would probably fit them better, but the keyhole was a bit too small.

But it was easy enough to fix by moving the hook and eye.

I've made a couple of trial runs with it, and it's obvious they have both been trained to the stand before. I'm so happy to have it!

Ultimately, of course, it will serve as a milking stand. But that will be awhile......

For now we are still learning about them and enjoying their company.

Mild days have been great for outside play and exploration.

... and not just for the kid!

We had the best fishing float on the Caney that we can remember - probably because of the full moon.

Spring is so close we can taste it......

....... although it has kind of felt like spring all winter!