In just two weeks school starts again. It’s hard to believe. It feels like summer just got started, especially with the rainy start the season got. May and June brought nothing but rain, with around 47 out of 50 days straight having rain. But the weather finally broke, and July has been sunny and hot. Here’s a quick round-up of what we have been up-to lately.
Ten day-old baby chicks arrived in the mail from My Pet Chicken on Tuesday. The pepping box contained a variety of breeds, all considered to be the best egg layers: two Speckled Sussexes, two Rhode Island Reds, two Easter Eggers, two Golden Buffs, an Australorp and a White Leghorn. Once these chickens mature they will join our current flock. The chicks are now about five days old and going well.
Our little ducklings are a week old and over the weekend we upgraded their brooder. We have ten day-old chicks shipping Monday, so we needed to get their brooder in order as well, so we took the time this weekend to get all the supplies we needed to make two very nice brooders.
We purchased two galvanized water troughs about 2-feet wide by 4-feet long in size. They measure about a foot tall which will be perfect for the ducklings and chicks when they are very young, but will likely required some netting over the top as they get a little bigger to keep them from hoping out. In the old brooder we were using towels for bedding, which proved to hold moisture and odor, so for the new brooders we are using pine wood shavings for bedding.
We placed a heat lamp to one side of the trough, which keeps the area about 90-degrees. I also purchased a Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder, which we placed in the opposite side of the trough for extra warm. The ducklings have plenty of options and can move around the space to find the warmth they need. A thermometer placed in the trough helps us keep an eye on the brooder conditions.
A chick feeder and waterer completed the setup. The ducklings even get to try out the ceramic waterer made by Rock Bottom Pottery that I purchased for my sister for Christmas. I have to say it looks great and has actual proved pretty practical since it holds a lot of water and the shape keeps the ducklings from splashing around in it and dirtying the water.
The ducklings seem to be very satisfied with their new residence and next week they will have ten pepping neighbors to keep them company.
Just over a month ago, my uncle gave us three fertilized ducks eggs from his farm. Twenty-seven days later two of the eggs hatched! Our newest additions Obi-Wan and Kenobi (so lovingly named by Tanner) are doing well. They seem to be very satisfied to spend their time waddling around the brooder and splashing in their water dish.
On Monday, our order of baby chicks will ship so the ducklings will have some chirping neighbors to keep them entertained.
Mr Fox is brave. Even with the sun high over the mountains and all the activity around the homestead, he isn’t afraid to make his presence know to us. After cleaning up from dinner a few nights ago, we went outside to stroll around and check on the animals. From just below us in the field, he shrieked. The chilling “YOW” echoed along the tree line and down towards the creek before ceasing.
Just a few days later, again after dinner as the kids where taking their bathes, he made an encore. The evening calm was broken by the sound of furious clucking and flapping wings as the flock flew up in all directions. I grabbed a sopping wet toddler from the tub and ran to let our salt and pepper black lab outside. He bolted towards the lower side of the hill to the massive brush pile that the fox was so slyly using for cover as he stalked his feathery prey. In seconds, Asterisk had flushed him out and a streak of rusty orange fur raced through our wooded lot, topping over the hilltop and disappearing. Although rustled, all our hens were accounted for. The havahart has been set and now it’s a game of cat and mouse.
As of today, two of our hens have gone missing during the daylight hours without a feather of evidence left behind. I suspect Mr. Fox has had something to do with it, picking off the girls one by one while we are away from the homestead. I suppose this increases the urgency to get our chicken run built and the hens secured away.
While our lab has earned his keep, alerting us of and pursuing predators, he has become a bit of a chicken nuisance himself. As the hens are free to roam during the day, they have taken to laying their eggs anywhere but the coop, and we only find about half of them each day. The ones which are laid where I can find them are being snatched up for a mid-evening snack by Asterisk. I’ve caught him more than half-dozen times, gingerly sneaking through the yard with a delicate, freshly laid egg between his sharp canines.
The days continue to get longer, which means the girls are laying more and more eggs each day. Our flock consists of thirteen hens and one naughty, pain-in-the-butt rooster. We are consistently getting a dozen eggs a day and needless to say, I’m overrun. I counted almost six dozen eggs in my fridge, and we are eating eggs breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Please send your best egg recipe…
Spring has finally arrived. For the last couple of weeks, the mercury has slowly been rising. However, this morning was a throw back to colder days, as the temperature hung in the upper 40s and the wind was wicked. Cora and I strolled up the garden this morning, and I was ecstatic to discover dark green and purple spears of asparagus shooting up through the overgrown bed. Even though I was only able to harvest a handful, it was a welcome and delicious addition to our dinner tonight. I can’t wait to enjoy pounds and pounds of asparagus over the next few weeks!
Finally, winter seems to be on it’s way out. The mercury climbed into the mids-40s today and rain is forecasted all week. In fact, many parts of the county are under a flood warning today and into early tomorrow as snow melt and precipitation are expected to cause the rivers and streams to crest about a foot above flood stage. On our property we have traded the snow and ice or mud… lots of mud.
I’m feeling somewhat worn out from a long, dreary winter and slightly energized by the promise of spring. I’m ready to spend less time locked in my office at work and more time on homesteading projects. I’ve got serious plans for the next three seasons. I’m thinking gardening, harvesting, canning, painting, fence building, soap making, and hoping to expand our livestock.
I might cry at the sight of the first bright yellow daffodil punching up through the soggy spring crust. Winter, please go out like a lamb.
It was a bit contrived. They wait alongside a driveway for the humans they know will give them food. Nonetheless, it’s always magical to come so close to nature.
The mountain was blanketed with several inches of fresh, white snow this morning. It insulated everything, making the world quiet. I got out of the truck, rustled a bag of Rainbow Goldfish and several sets of ears perked with curiosity. As I threw the treats on the ground, they came closer. Curiosity overcame fear and they tiptoed closer to retrieve their treat.
Getting this close to does around the resort isn’t hard to do. They know they will get fed. But I was surprised to see, just inside the tree line, a six-point buck bedded down in the snow. His coat was a perfect camouflage among the slender trees and branches and not until he rose to flee did I spot him. He paused for only a brief moment. As intrigued by me as I was of him, we stood there, feet apart in the still of the snowy morning. He then turned, silently trotted away and carried on his way.
Mother Nature pounded the hillside with sleet last night. For hours it poured as the temperatures hung just below freezing, leaving the paths down or up to the animals’ pins almost impassable. The icy ground was topped off this morning with a couple inches of sticky snow and we are expecting another one to three inches over the next couple of days.
We are taking it slow this morning. The kids were up before dawn this morning, feeling a little under the weather. We enjoyed a big breakfast – eggs straight from the chicken, bacon and a Saturday morning favorite, from-scratch pancakes topped with a little butter and warm maple syrup from Frostmore Farm. Delicious!
Not sure what we are going to get into today. I’m hoping to get out of the house for just a bit; both the kids and I need a little fresh air and space today. Spring just can’t come soon enough. I’m might even start some sprouts.
Happy Saturday everyone.