Second clutch!

Way to go Diane! Despite angry broody chickens fighting you over prime nesting space and fowl (bahdumtss) weather, you successfully brooded your eggs! Four out already, two pipped, three unknown status. If you hatch all nine, I’ll be super happy. 

Amazingly, this time I actually caught the hatching itself in progress! That one hanging out of the shell in the lower right of the second photo, I actually watched it fling itself out of the shell the rest of the way!

This went down just before 20:00 (8:00pm) on Monday evening. Going to leave her be for a while, I’ll check the totals tomorrow before I leave for work. Hopefully she also hatches those three Bielefelder eggs. If not, I’ve got to split them up between the two broody hens. 

We’ve got enough turkeys already, so these ones will be for sale locally. Look at that face!

Watching my corn pop up in rows. 

The corn, wheat, and sunflowers are doing quite nicely. I’ll probably remove the bird netting this weekend. 

While the corn is partly for us (popcorn) and partly for chicken food, the wheat is mainly for the birds. 

The sunflowers, well this batch anyway, will be a bit of an experiment. We should be able to make our own sunflower oil, but it’ll also be good for the birds. 

We also have some other sunflowers, I just need to clear a place to plant them. Those are mainly for snacking and decoration. 

But in other news, Vasi definitely did her duty last night. The two older turkey poults are roughly seven weeks old (judging by the bird pattern baldness) and have been spending a few days and nights outside. Last night got chilly and they decided to sleep on the coop floor instead of a roost. Unfortunately, that meant that when a rat got in looking for chicken food, it found vulnerable birds. 

Vasi went ballistic and while she couldn’t get to them, she did alert Lady McFarmFace so fast that the rat wasn’t able to do too much damage. We think the turkey will pull through. In the meantime, I’ve got some work to do figuring out how to keep rodents out, and we have to make sure they don’t sleep on the ground again. They’re back inside until the bird heals up. 

Good dog!

Hatching!!!

The turkey eggs are hatching!

Chipmunk has done such a good job incubating them for us. We are really proud of that tiny little chicken. 

Unfortunately I’m at work tonight! So I will have more pictures of the turklets and a count of how many hatched tomorrow. In the meantime, check out our integrated brooder and see what happens when a pregnant lady McFarmFace brings home a baby bird!

Honkies

Yeah that’s right. Honkies. Yay geese!

We got our American buff goslings! This was not the most economical way to get geese. We could have gone down to wilco and picked some up, and we still might (just to have a goose for Christmas) but we ordered these two because no one locally seemed to have them. 

The American buff goose was considered critically endangered (they are now at “watch” status) so we are helping to save a bit of American poultry heritage. Also, they seem to be considered the best parents of domestic geese. That’s important to us because we can basically have a self sustaining flock with minimal intervention. One less thing for us to do!

Heritage breeds are where it’s at. And if you doubt the economical decision of having geese, just go to the store and see what they cost, then consider that after these two start laying, they cost us almost nothing because they eat almost entirely grass. 

In the meantime, they’re super cute!

More than just a fence 

I already showed you how the area between the rabbit pen and the driveway is being used for grain and seed crops, but there’s still a lot of fence line and still a lot of stuff we are wanting to grow. 

The corn is taking its time. So while the wheat and sunflowers are coming up nicely, let’s talk grapes. 

I have two varieties of grape. Gewurtztraminer for wine, and a green table grape. The gewurtztraminer is older and will take a bit more work to train. Grapes need support to grow properly, because as a woody vine if you don’t train them up and out, they just sprawl outwards and that means grapes on the ground. No one wants that. Except the bugs, perhaps. Enter the fence. 

By planting the grapes right next to the fence, in spots that get enough sun, we don’t need a dedicated grape trellis. Sure, the bunnies and any other animals inside the fence might take a few grapes, but I figure that’s just free animal food and they certainly won’t take all of them. If it gets bad, I can just attack hardware cloth to the inside of the fence to prevent grape theft. 

Right next to the gate, I used a shovel to cut a line into the grass and stuck peas in. So far they’re germinating nicely even through the turf, so hoping for a nice long line of them. 

We also grabbed two varieties of pear (for cross pollination), Bosc and Bartlett. Most of our fruits will be suitable for making our own baby food. After all, why pay a couple bucks for a half cup when we can pick them by the pound and just mash and can them ourselves for pennies on the dollar?

Aside from all that, the huckleberry flowers are starting to drop so berries soon!

Elderberries are in full bloom. 

Strawberries just starting to bloom. The top of the pocket pot is an everbearing variety, but the pockets are two varieties of native strawberry. They’re sending runners out and as soon as that area is established, we will move the pot and let them colonize another patch. 

The salal and black cap raspberries are also budding out. Getting into the tasty time of the year soon!

Busy Saturday!

Even though I didn’t get home from work until after 5 am and didn’t get a lot of sleep, I had a rather productive day! First, after more than a week of hardening off, I got the veggies transplanted to the garden!

That’s a lot of tomatoes and peppers! Also got the Brussels sprouts and broccoli out. To be honest, I think I started all of these a couple weeks too soon. Some of them were pretty leggy. They’d have gone out sooner but the weather has not been particularly cooperative and I’ve been pretty busy with the fence. 

Speaking of the fence, I got a bit done between the driveway and rabbit pen. The closest patch is black oil sunflower seed. These are the small black sunflower seeds you see in bird seed mixes. They’re also where we get sunflower oil. The soil was pretty bad. I think the gravel driveway used to be much wider. 

The next plot is wheat. Not sure what variety, we got it from the feed store. But a germination test was very promising! 

After working in some rabbit poop, I broadcast by hand and then covered with a light sprinkle of soil. 

Finally, corn! Specifically, calico popcorn. So pretty!

It’s a good corn for popping, but also a good one for mixing homemade chicken feed. On limited space, I just did six rows. Hopefully I’ll get good fertilization. Next year I’ll have larger plots for all of these. Next year I hope to not be tilling rocky soil by hand!

I covered it all with bird netting (held in place by the fence to keep it up off the soil) because previous attempts were essentially just exercises in feeding songbirds. 

When that was all done, my sister dropped by with a couple friends to socialize the rabbits. This involved basically snuggling and squealing at how cute they were. 

Tomorrow is an us day for me and the lady McFarmFace. But Monday I hope to get started on the rabbit barn. But other than that, I got everything on my list for the weekend done today!

They look so much bigger in the wild…

So first off, I am so sorry I didn’t get a picture. Scratch that, I’m mad I didn’t get a picture. 

About a mile and a half from home, I see something on the side of the road. I always watch for shapes and movement because deer can be pretty active here. But this was like a big shadow. 

So naturally I slowed down to be sure. And that’s when the black bear turned to look at my car. 

I think my exact words were “holy sh*t that’s a f***ing bear!” I came to a complete stop and tried to get my phone out to take a picture but it sauntered across the road and into the bushes. 

I’d like to repeat that this was less than a mile and a half from home. I’d have to guess this thing was 350-400 pounds. I’ve seen them in zoos before, but that was impressive. 

DIY livestock gate! Or the fence thing part two. 

While I had the materials to build the gate last weekend, what I did not have was the time. So the yard sat almost ready for the dog for a week. Poor Vasi. If she knew what I was doing back there, she might have been less of a pill. 

Anywho, the ground between the two gate posts was not level because I didn’t think ahead enough so some minor earthwork was in order. Once I had a relatively level area between them, it was time to build the gate itself. 

So, measure between the two posts and accounts for the hinges. The latch will be on the outside so not a big deal. I wanted a different style latch, but it seems most gate latches assume either square posts or chain link. Oh well. 

The gate is constructed out of 2×4, which makes it pretty heavy. Over time, it will sag. To counter this, the diagonal brace takes the weight from the top of the gate opposite the hinge and distributes it to the bottom right next to a hinge. Also, I placed a brick below the gate that it can rest on. Let’s hope that’s enough!

Obviously, two triangles with a nine foot span won’t keep the dog in, so the woven wire fencing was stapled to it.

 It’s tied to itself on the sides much like with the wooden fence posts. All in all, I think it blends with the fence quite nicely!

It’s stapled once up top and twice on the bottom, which stretches the wire down, then up, then down again. So it’s pretty tight. 

Basic gate hinges. Held down by gravity. You do want to make sure they’re plumb to each other, and measure very carefully, as the pilot holes make it very difficult to adjust the huge placement!

A little tidying up and it was time to let the puppy lose! She definitely enjoys the space! But until I can be sure the garden is completely secured, she only gets supervised time outside. 

Upcoming: using the fenceline as support for peas and grapes, planting the areas just outside the fence with grain crops among other things, and using pumpkins as weed control!

A day in the life of a baby bunny

Eat, sleep, eat again. 

And grow! Saturday afternoon we went down and counted the babies. Litter one, 9 days old, has ten kits!

Litter two, 6 days old, has seven kits. Smaller litter, but still gives us seventeen total. 

There’s such a size difference between the two litters, and even just since I checked Friday night, that this is a two day post. Above is a Saturday afternoon pic of one 9 day old kit. Below is one day later.

Not a huge difference between the two, but half of that is that they aren’t all the same size. 

I almost got the gate done before it got dark, but not quite. So the fence and gate post part two might have to wait. Depends how bad it rains tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy some baby bunnies!