Up until this year, we have depended on a local auction for laying hens.
We decided to be purposeful about what we wanted and order them as chicks.
AJ was thrilled to receive the call from the post office that our chicks were ready for pickup.
He immediately ran to the coop he and Dave prepared yesterday, removed the door, switched on the heat lights and filled the water jars.
When he returned from the post office, he was beaming.
3 Turkens (Naked Necks)
3 Rhode Island Reds
3 Buff Rocks
12 Black Australorps
AJ is the chicken man.
He has taken on the responsibility of caring for these birds and will receive payment for each one that reaches laying age.
He’s one proud boy today.
In August, we eagerly look for the elderberries to ripen.
If we are quick, we can harvest before the birds.
I made more than a gallon of Elderberry Syrup from last summer’s crop and gave some of it as gifts. When we are running low on this tonic I go to my freezer for another 1/2 lb of berries and cook up a batch.
When my kids came down with fevers recently, I knew it was time to make some more.
Here’s to the end of flu season!
Some of our pigs go off to a USDA inspected facility to be butchered, and this past week we sent four away. Our regular butcher slaughters on farm, so we don’t usually need to bother with transporting pigs. When we do, we like to have the process go as smoothly as possible.
After several (not so) humorous and time-consuming loads, Dave built a loading system that seems too easy now. He brings the trailer into position and lifts the ramp into the side door.
With a bucket of grain, we lure the chosen, and a few others, into a holding pen where we run them through a chute with a sorting gate we can open or close, depending on whether or not the right pig is coming up.
Once the pig is through the gate, Dave comes behind with a simple panel to block the pig from retreating.
The pig walks up the ramp and into the trailer
where he finds a hinged door that opens in front and closes behind and a bit of grain to munch while the rest are loaded.
Like all the other old homes in the area, our place has an old apple orchard.
I am surprised our trees produce fruit since they have hollow cores. How many generations of the previous owners enjoyed apples from these trees I can only guess.
While I like apples, I want to expand our fruit options.
We received some babies in the mail this week.
The kids were enthusiastic at first.
AJ stuck with it.
We now have
two Cherry trees,
and three Kiwis.
Maybe by my 4oth birthday, we’ll be harvesting fruit!
Around the farm we have a nice variety of fowl. Let me introduce a few to you.
Smack is our only remaining duck.
I’m afraid the coyotes carried off the rest of his family. He sticks around and beautifies the place, but he is lonely for a lady. I may try to pick up one at an auction for him.
Our guineas are funny little things. Noisy, too. Have you ever heard them chattering together? They are a flighty group, but always stick together.
We have far fewer bugs because of them, and we always know when something is out of the ordinary. Last summer when we had turkeys who strayed out of the field up to our house, it was the guineas’ tattling that alerted us to the danger.
The big turks didn’t understand the dangers of our 55mph road, so we needed to walk them back to safety.
Wild Woman was one of our first chickens here. We thought she wouldn’t last long or be much use because she was small and wild, but it turns out she is our favorite.
Not only is she a good layer, but she is broody at the right times and has produced three clutches of chicks.
Right now, she is teaching her newest clutch where to get the best food.
Peck Wilcocks is her son and rooster to his mother and two sisters. He is also father and uncle to the new batch of chicks.
His father was a Buff Orpington who did not take the 55mph road seriously and got stewed for his mistake.
We needed more layers, so we picked up some sex linked hens last fall. They have produced eggs well this Spring and follow their own rooster who came to us through another auction last summer.
The two roosters compete in the morning to see who gets to wake up the rest of the farm. Wilcocks roosts in a tree by the house while his competitor roosts behind the house in the coop. They start in every morning around 4am. They respect each other and their altercations have never led to blows.
All the birds enjoy sharing the pigs’ grain.
Hope you enjoyed meeting these fowl.
Next week we are hoping to get in our batch of meat chicks and some layer chicks too.
Occasionally one of the pigs will develop a problem that requires us to harvest the meat prematurely.
We keep a close eye on them so we can act quickly.
Last week, we had a pig with a rectal prolapse. Ugly and painful, but not infected.
Once the meat was cooled, we needed to find a way to prepare it–but what fun is there in eating a whole pig by yourself?
So DP cut it up, I made pulled pork and we took it to a
What delightful people they are! We especially enjoyed the song, I Heard the Voice of the Pork Chop Calling.
Larry demonstrated his Jew’s Harp for the kids.
We left before the impromtu jam session since the kids were hours past their bedtime.
Last year we raised 100 or so Freedom Rangers on about two acres.
Each day we moved their coop to a new spot and opened the door to give them the run of the place.
At the end of the season we gave them a short ride to the butcher and the next night bagged and froze them.
So when I handle a chicken I get from the freezer, I remember how they all did their chicken run to the feeder when I came out to the pasture last summer.
I remember all the water I poured out for them during the dry spell.
I remember scanning the sky for hawks and picking up the carcasses of the ones they carried off.
And I enjoy the crispy skin and moist insides at the table.
How about some leftovers for a picnic lunch in the backyard?
That is satisfying.
Since the cold weather has prohibited gardening, and since I have a request from a reader,
I’ll write about an electrolyte drink I make for us in the summer as well as a tea we learned to make this winter.
In 2011, I visited Essex Farm for a farm tour and an introduction to using draft horses in farming.
Mark introduced me to a great alternative to a sports drink. He filled a quart jar with water and added
2 T apple cider vinegar,
1T real maple syrup,
1/2t ginger powder,
It was spot hitting and has become a staple around our house. All the electrolyte goodness without all the unhealthy additives. Of course he didn’t measure the ingredients and neither do I, so you may find your own balance of ingredients to suit your taste.
A couple of months ago, my sister sent a link my way with a delicious tea recipe. It is a yummy way to calm reflux. It calls for bay leaves, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and raw honey.
The recipe is explained in detail with beautiful illustrations, so enjoy looking at it here.