Saturday, September 28, 2013

I know it sounds silly

I have a problem. I'm indecisive. It doesn't sound like too much of a problem. More like an annoying habit. I seem to take it to a whole new level. My indecisiveness can be crippling, as it has been the last few days. If I'm not sure exactly what the best way to do something is, or if I have a ton of things to do and I'm not sure which I should do first, I mentally shut down. Instead of making a decision and running with it, I just can't seem to bring myself to do anything at all. Something as silly as "should I let the guineas out to free-range today, or should I let Luna off her chain (whole other story) to run for a while, because they both need to get out and exercise" is impossible for me to decide upon sometimes. Needless to say, neither got to run free for a couple of days. Planting beets has been put off for days because I'm not sure where the best place to plant them is, "and should I find something to amend the soil with because nothing else I have planted is doing well because the soil is crap in that area, but what do I amend it with because I have no compost and I don't know where to get any from, so what I really need to do is build a proper compost pile because the chickens just scatter anything I try to compost, but the chicken manure won't give me all the compost I really need... what I really need is a cow". Yep... that's how my mind works. Chaotic, isn't it? And in the meantime nothing gets accomplished. In my own defense, it isn't that bad all of the time. Rather, I'm usually better at controlling it and forcing myself to be more focused. I have ADHD and I don't take medication for it because I have learned to live with it, but when I'm stressed or I have a whole lot on my plate, I lose the ability to function like a normal human being. My brain seems to short out and just go completely haywire.

Today I actually managed to get something accomplished! I let the guineas and turkeys out to free-range for the first time while I let Luna's correction collar charge. Guineas are loud! I have read that they will quiet down after they get used to free ranging. Apparently, they start a ruckus whenever they see something new (which is what makes them such good "watch-dogs"). The thing is, right now EVERYTHING is new. So they weren't quiet the entire time they were out. (I tried to upload a video of them, but blogger was not having any of it tonight.) They stuck pretty close to the turkey coop and were amazingly easy to put up for the night. They seemed to enjoy themselves. Bugs-beware! The guineas are comin'!

The guineas moved in one cohesive group at all times

I love their beautiful feathers! 

Sari, one of the new hens. I thought she was a self blue but she has
a single slate marking on her wing. 

Ari chillin' with Jack . Einstein and Jack had a fight the other day.
Apparently Einy won "Head Roo" position. That means that Jack has no
more ladies so he has been spending his time checking on the turkey
babies and hanging out with the dogs. Hopefully once the 4 cockerels
go to freezer camp Jack will get some of his ladies back. If not I will get
him some more. He seems so lonely! 

"Can I help you?" Last of the original flock all refeathered and beautiful

My handsome fella, Yellow, showing off his new tail feathers. 

I bush-hogged the back and side yard. At least until the mower deck threw half a metal disk out from under it and it started shaking so badly that I was afraid I was going to throw a blade. I swear I didn't do anything rough with it! I was just mowing! Flat ground with nothing but grass! I Promise! It was really rusted and I guess it just decided to give up the ghost at that moment. Either way I managed to break my father in-law's bush hog attachment... thingy. I hate breaking stuff that belongs to other people! I am always so careful with things that don't belong to me! I admit that I am really rough on my stuff though. Ugh... At least it waited until I was pretty much done with the back yard.

I also weed-eated (is that a word??) the pig fence line, the garden fence line and some along the paths between garden rows before I wet through all 3 batteries. Did I mention that Brad got me a battery powered weed-eater? It is a Black and Decker and takes the same batteries that my chainsaw does. It was refurbished but is working like a champ. The real sell? It came with 2 batteries and a charger AND it cost less than a single new battery would have. I had been planning on getting another battery for my chainsaw because it never lasts very long. Now I have 3 batteries and can charge 2 at a time. I think my old battery is having a hard time holding a charge though. I have a bad habit of leaving it on the charger even after it had been charged.... like for weeks. Note to self: DON"T DO THAT!!! Anyway, now I can weed-eat in the garden so I can see where I am walking and don't step on anymore snakes. Hope, hope hope.

While I was in the garden I pulled out all of the sad, mostly dead tomato plants. The aphids and stink bugs finished off what the blight had all but destroyed. Even the green tomatoes I kept trying to bring inside to ripen kept rotting before they could because the aphids compromised them in some way. I started to burn the vines, the stakes, and the ties. Normally I keep the ties and reuse them, but I don't want to spread blight to my plants next year. The plants were still green enough to make them too wet to burn. Hopefully the fire dried them out some. I will try to burn them again tomorrow. Now the only thing left in that row are my pepper plants, which are still doing marvelously and pumping out the peppers, I might add! I also turned the soil and planted a small patch of beets (detroit red). I plan to plant more, but I need to amend the soil... with something. I figured that at least this way, some got planted. Whether they will grow is another story all together.

I cleaned out my in-laws' 3 deep freezers a couple days ago. We needed to make room for all of our future pork! The pigs greatly appreciated it. No... not the freezer space. They got everything that wasn't meat. About 5 trash bags worth of creamed corn, boiled peanuts, okra, bread, peas, and other yummy stuff. I shared the pumpkin, pumpkin pies, bread, berries, and corn with the chickens, turkeys and guineas. They were very grateful for the treat.

The pigs are doing great and are getting so big! I switched them to a locally milled unmedicated mash. They seem to like it. The chickens aren't managing to steal quite as much, and it isn't as big of a deal when they do now that it doesn't contain antibiotics. I have been raking acorns up and feeding them to the pigs, as well as throwing them persimmons as they fall from the tree. Good thing that they are happy with that. I completely forgot that they are out of feed until about 30 minutes after the feed store closed today. I think some days that if if it were up to me to remember to breath, I would have keeled over many years ago... Oh well. Scraps, acorns, and persimmons it will be until monday. And maybe some chicken feed.

I have to say, pigs are the easiest animal on the homestead to take care of. They are such a pleasure! They never cross the fence, or even test it much anymore. A single strand of electric keeps them in their paddock. They aren't into anything. They don't make a ton of noise. They eat all of the scraps, and aren't picky like the poultry. Refill their feeder, check the waterer to make sure it is functional, toss them some scraps (veggie peels and such), and they are content for the day. They may be a permanent addition to the homestead. Not these guys, as they are all male and are all "fixed", but perhaps next year I will get a breeding pair.

Oh, and Luna... She killed one of my chickens the other day. It was "Peggy": My gold and black Easter Egger, as opposed to her sister and counterpart "Sue" who is black with gold markings. She did it while I was at my in-laws' cleaning out the freezers. That correction collar doesn't do any good when I'm not here to push the button. She has been tied during the day for the last few days. I have been letting her off the chain to run and play with Ari and Elliot at night for a few hours. Once it is dark and all of the poultry are safely out of her reach. I need to get her out during the day and spend time with her around the chickens so I can correct her when she gets tempted. She isn't going to get trained tied in the front yard... Tomorrow I am going to start doing that. I'm writing it down so I will hold myself to it. I am holding out hope that she will be a good livestock guardian. She is still young and full of energy. She seems to realize what she did wrong, now. Hopefully I can deter her from making the decision to do it again. My rottie, Cassie, whom I lost a couple years ago at the ripe old age of 15, killed a chicken when we first got them. I trained her not to even look at them and she never touched another one. She was the most brilliant and loyal dog I have ever had the pleasure to see and I was blessed to have been her owner. She, too, was a shelter rescue. Cassie, however, was capable of things that most dogs aren't. Did I mention that she was brilliant? So, just because it worked for Cassie doesn't mean it will work for Luna. Luna seems really smart and receptive though. With enough time spent training her I am hopeful. Only time shall tell.

Now off to start dinner.... super late I know but Keegan is spending the night with a friend so I'm not in a great hurry. I also need to try to find a recipe for pickled banana peppers. I picked a load of them tonight and they wither quickly if not used. I also picked a few jalapenos and lots of bell peppers! Sounds like a good night for Brad's favorite: Tacos! Made with his dad's ground beef raised right down the road on pasture. :) I love eating as locally as possible! It makes me feel good to know how and where my food was raised. Life is Good. And so are tacos :) MmMmMm

Friday, September 20, 2013

We've had a chicken incident...

I was on my way home from picking Keegan up from band practice when I got a call from Brad. He said that he heard Luna outside barking like she was playing. When she didn't stop and he didn't hear the other dogs playing too he decided to check on her. She was indeed playing... with one of my hens. I asked him which one, having named pretty much all of them, and myself and Keegan knowing each one. He replied " I dunno... its one of the pretty ones." Hmmm... Well that didn't help me much because I think all of my chickens are pretty! When I got home he was sitting on the front porch with "Little Bit" on his lap. She is the youngest chick, and only hen, that I hatched out of my emergency egg incubator in March.

I checked her over and she appeared to only have superficial damage done. Missing feathers and some scratches on her back. She was shaking quite hard, breathing loudly, and having a hard time standing. I don't know if it was just because she was, quite understandably, scared and shaken up or if there is more damage that I'm not seeing. Brad had already sprayed her back down with vetericyn. I gave her a small dose of penicillin and she is currently borrowing Ari's dog crate. She is resting comfortably and seems to be much more alert than she was earlier.

I showed Luna the chicken and made is quite clear that her behavior was not acceptable. She seems to be a really smart dog. Hopefully this will be a one time deal and the lesson has been learned. I know it sounds terrible, because I don't want any of my chickens to suffer, but why do the dogs always have to get my favorite birds?! Ugh... well. Poultry are remarkably resilient creatures so hopefully Little Bit will be back out free ranging quickly.

On a happier note, I got my Basil planted. There are very few spots left in the "pig plowed" section of garden. I am still waiting on my order of seeds from Baker Creek. They should be here by now and I'm getting antsy. I want to get my beets in the ground! I also ordered some giant eckendorf beets that are supposed to be good for animal feed. Specifically for the pigs. At this rate they won't be done growing before the pigs are in the freezer!

Speaking of pigs... I realized that the pig feed that I have been giving them is medicated! Argg!!! One of the reasons I decided to raise my own pigs is because I don't want to eat meat that has antibiotics in it! I didn't even think to check, or to specifically ask for unmedicated feed. You know what they say about assuming... They are almost out and I will make sure that mistake isn't made again. Luckily, they haven't been on it for long and antibiotics will leave their systems quickly. The biggest problem is that the chickens are into everything, i.e. they have been eating the pig feed every chance they get. The pigs don't seem to mind at all that the chickens run directly to the feeder every time they walk more than 2 feet away, but I'm not too happy about it. That means that their eggs also contain antibiotics. I have had to start feeding the pigs every single egg laid until we get unmedicated feed. It would be so much easier to keep the great big pigs out of the chicken feed... the chickens and traverse almost anything and the more I attempt to keep them out the more interesting they think it must be. Keeping the chickens out while still enabling the pigs to get in will take some thought. Even after I switch the feed I need to try to find a way to keep the chickens from getting to the pig feed. Pigs are omnivores (as are chickens) and I'd be willing to wager that the feed contains chicken. Not a good thing. I wish I lived close enough to a mill to have my own feed ground so I know exactly what is in it. I will be looking into some kind of way to do that.

Rain is on the horizon! It has been overcast, hence much cooler, for the last couple of days. It is supposed to rain tomorrow! The grass is crunchy and we really need it. A strange thought after having daily monsoons for most of the year. It is amazing how powerful rain is. Too much or too little can be disastrous. Especially for a farmer. I'm so thankful that, while I try to live off of the homestead as much as possible, our livelihood doesn't depend on it. Worst case, we can still get food from the store. It seemed so normal to do that before, and now it seems to foreign to me. I hope that our fall garden doesn't leave us in as bad of shape as our summer garden did.

Well... Like a beautiful lady once said, "Que Sera Sera... Whatever will Be, will Be". One of my favorite quotes, and I can often be heard singing it (quite badly might I say) as I am working around here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

As the days go by...

I'm trying to get things accomplished. I have just had to come to terms with the fact that nothing is getting done mid-day. The animals are fed and cared for, but no heavy lifting or forward momentum occurs until at least 4pm. It isn't possible with this heat and humidity!

Today the hoop tractor containing the 3 turkey poults and guineas was moved from one side of the yard to another. They didn't want to cooperate, but eventually we made it to the finish line. They are next to the permanent chicken and turkey coops, getting used to the surroundings. Soon they will integrate into the turkey coop and will later start free-ranging. Hopefully the 3 grown turkeys will tolerate it. They haven't been very friendly lately. They are always friendly to me, but they have been big bullies to the dogs and my little nephew Jaxon. I hope they settle down soon.

Since that hoop tractor has been moved and that section of the yard thoroughly grazed, I mowed it. It looks so nice! I let the sections of the yard that I move the tractors on grow out to supply the birds with plenty of good greens to graze on. The tractor is moved each day to the next plot over, but nothing is mowed until the entire section has had the tractor on it for a day. I try not to move the tractors over the same area more than once with any given set of birds. That way there is a resting period in which the manure can absorb into the ground, the grass can regenerate, and any parasites that may happen to be there can die off. I have never had a parasite problem with any birds on pasture. There is usually at least a couple of months resting time for each area.

I have been working on getting the garden planted. Thankfully we haven't has any significant rainfall. We really need it (I can't believe I am actually saying that after this summer!!!), but it will turn the freshly turned powdery dirt in that section of garden into muck resembling quicksand, which will promptly dry into a plaster cover over my garden. As I turn a row, I plant it and then cover any area not containing a plant or seed with newspaper and then hay. That way the plant and seed can get to sunlight to grow, but the weeds won't be able to and the rain won't be able to destroy the soil. It will take a while to improve the soil, but the first thing is to keep it from getting in worse shape before I can work to make it better.

So far in the big garden I have wide rows of broccoli and cabbage, half a row of cauliflower, half a row of swiss chard, a wide row of kale (3 kinds), 1/3 row of brussel sprouts, and 1/3 row of rutabagas. In the small above ground beds I have a bed of carrots (2 types), half a bed of lettuce mix, some late pole beans, the few remaining beet seeds I had on hand, and some zucchini planted. I ordered a bunch of seeds from Baker Creek, but they haven't gotten here yet. I hope they come soon because that package contains my beet seeds and I want to get them in the ground! I also still need to plant the basil I have germinated inside, some spinach, and garlic. Onions need to be started soon as well. I will try to get as much done as I can in the morning. I think the rain has held off for about as long as it is going to, so I need to work fast.

Also of note, Brad and I killed a juvenile copperhead this afternoon. We were taking cover during brief shower in the lean-to shed and talking when he saw it slither by my foot. That is the 3rd one I had a brush with this year. Apparently it is a bad year for venomous snakes in this area. I hate killing anything, including snakes, but I'm just not willing to take any more chances with the venomous ones anymore. Those little buggers hurt and result in very expensive hospital bills. Where are all of the kingsnakes when I need them?!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Another Scorcher

 It has been HOT for the last week. In the upper 90's every day, with a heat index over 100 degrees. The piglets enjoyed frolicking in the sprinkler to cool off a bit. They trotted around through the water, grunting and squealing as they pranced back and forth.
 It should be a law that all pigs get to have sprinkler privileges! They are so happy!
 After play time it was time to root around for a bit.
 The are getting so big!
 Miss Luna was looking awfully cute too! She has been running around the yard all day being so very well behaved! She went into the chicken coop earlier to get a drink of water, much to the terror of the hens that were standing around the water cooler gossiping. They flapped about and squawked. It scared Luna and she ducked past them to the water instead of trying to catch them. If that isn't a good dog I dunno what is!

 Mr. Yellow and Ms. Tallow looking striking in their new plumage. It is amazing how fast they have healed after the dog attack!
Last but certainly not least, the newly pig-plowed garden. They did a great job turning all of the soil and getting rid of the weeds that were taking over. The planting started in the back and is working toward the front. Hopefully this will be filled with yummy green veggies soon!

No More Excuses!

I keep putting off writing a blog because I want to take pictures to post with it. I keeping thinking about writing, usually first thing in the morning before I have had a chance to take pictures, or last thing at night when it is too dark to take pictures and I realize that I had forgotten during the day. That, and my camera has been going downhill since the screen got busted a month after getting it. It was brought down by a drunk falling out of a pub in Galway (Ireland). And no, I wasn't the drunk. LOL It was another American tourist that apparently attempted to drink like an Irishman. Perhaps it was the attempt at walking after drinking like an Irishman that got him... and my camera. Anyway, I need to post with or without pictures because I'm getting behind!

 The piglets are getting huge! I brought all three home in 1 medium sized dog crate. I don't think I could fit 1 of them in that dog crate now. They moved out of the garden and onto pasture about a week ago. My garden went from resembling a jungle, to being clear of weeds and tilled without any backbreaking digging or tilling on my part. Pigs make wonderful plows. They are now working on clearing a large section of brush that has been growing up for about 10 years. My brother helped me finally get the fence up around a little over an acre of wooded brushy area with some pasture surrounding it. It is beside the garden so they just had to cross the fence from one side to the other. Moving them out of the garden took a lot of persuading... and about 3 dozen eggs. I unplugged the electric fence, moved the wires down so they could step over, and put eggs on the other side of the fence. Jimmy is very curious and always the first to come when I call. He crossed immediately with no problems. Dean came shortly after. Poor little Link was another story. He knew that fence wire was there and he didn't want any part of it. He paced back and forth, squealing his little piggy squeal for over 10 minutes while the other 2 ate all of the eggs. After reasoning and trying to chase him didn't work, I finally had to raise the wire so he didn't have to step over it before he would cross. I saved him some eggs as a reward when he finally got the courage to run over to the other side. They went from a 3 wire fence, to a single strand run around the pasture. They don't seem to be the least bit interested in crossing it. In fact, Keegan accidentally unplugged it the other day and it was off for at least 24 hours. The pigs didn't even test the fence. I'm amazed! They really are smart.

My brother, who is staying on the property with us for a few weeks, and I have been working on getting the garden planted now that that half is cleared and tilled. So far we have broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, swiss chard, and kale planted. We have been covering all of the planted areas with newspaper and mulching with hay to try to stop the weeds before they start getting out of control again. Hopefully it will do better than the summer garden did. It has stopped raining and I have actually had to start watering the plants and plants-to-be daily because it is so hot and dry! What a change! The pig waterer is taking the use of my long hose, so I have been lugging buckets of water to the garden to water the seedlings and plants. Today I got a new Gorilla Cart, and boy did it make that job much easier! My wheel barrow has been worked hard and has been overdue for a replacement for a while. I love this cart so far. I hope it stands up to the test of time. I am rough on things. Real work gets done around here, and cheap flimsy tools don't last long. I really need to invest in another hose.

Luna, our new farm puppy, is so playful and sweet! She is so full of energy, but that isn't great when there are skittish chickens roaming around. She hasn't hurt any of them but she has been chasing them periodically. I bought a remote controlled shock collar for her. I know, I know... It seems so cruel. I have always hated the thought of those things. I even admit to stealing them off of dogs when I was a teenager and throwing them away... yes I was that pain in the butt animal and environmental activist that would have freed the frogs from the biology lab had they not started using computer programs instead of the real thing. But getting a few zaps seems much better than taking her back to the pound. She is a pitbull, which means that she doesn't have great odds of a happy ending. Also, it doesn't seem much different than using the electric fence. I tried it out today and it is amazing! First a zapped myself. I figure that if I'm going to inflict something on anyone I should know what it feels like. Funnily enough, the shock doesn't seem to bother her at all! The vibration setting is what gets her attention. No pain at all, just a little vibration to get her attention. She is already much less interested in the chickens, even when they run right past her. I'm so happy! I was really worried that she wouldn't work out and I couldn't bear having to take her back to that place!

Tucker, the 2 girls (juvenile turkeys), and the guineas are going to be transitioned to the big hoop coop soon. They are getting big and I think they are ready to have more room. The other small hoop coop of turkeys are doing great and they are getting big too. Both small hoop tractors have been being moved every day and I think that all of the fresh grass and bugs really do them good.

The chickens have been laying like crazy! Yesterday I got 13 eggs and today I got 16! I have 20 hens and 5 roos right now. I really need to get back down to 2 roosters soon because they are making the ladies' lives rough. Now that Brad isn't working (back to school) and selling eggs at the office, I've been trying to find every way imaginable to use eggs. A couple of nights ago a scrambled over 2 dozen with onions and peppers, wrapped them in tortillas, and froze them so my guys have something easy to heat up for breakfast. Thankfully, Keegan has gone through them fast so I can make more soon. I hate wasting eggs! The pigs love whatever we don't use, so I guess it isn't a waste. It may seem strange, but I think a basket full of my green, blue, brown, pink, tan, and white eggs is such a beautiful sight! It makes me smile every time I walk by the kitchen table and see them sitting there. Simple pleasures. Life is good. :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

LGD In-Training

Meet Luna! She is our new Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD). Or, at least, she will be once she is trained up a bit. I know that she isn't a typical LGD breed. Luna is an American Pit Bull Terrier. After doing a lot of reading, I decided that age is more important than breed. Even typical LGD breeds, such as Great Pyrenees, are not necessarily good guardians if they have never been raised and trained to do the job. Being a strong believer in adopting dogs from the shelter, rather than buying, it isn't often that I have access to a GP puppy. I went to the local animal shelter hoping to find a very docile puppy of any breed other than a "bird dog" like a retriever or hound. Luna was the only dog in the whole place not barking, or even interested in all of the people walking around. She is a very sweet girl and I have high hopes for her. She already doesn't appear to be the least bit interested in any of the poultry. Because she is going to be a working dog, she is going to sleep outside, which isn't something I'm used to doing. I've always felt that dogs are supposed to be a part of the family and should be inside. My Chihuahua mix, Elliot, has helped me become much more comfortable with animals being happy outside.

Our hard working farm girls, Ari (left) and Elliot (right) 
Elliot has inserted herself into the role of LGD over the last couple of years. She came from the same shelter as Luna, and was obviously an "apartment dog" when we got her. She didn't act as if she had ever seen grass and despised getting her feet dirty. If it was wet outside she just wouldn't go out. Now, I can't get her to come inside most nights. She will turn and look at me when I call her, and then turn back around and stare at the chicken coop. She takes her job seriously and doesn't want to leave it. She really doesn't care for the chickens or turkeys a whole lot. She doesn't want them near her, and doesn't want them eating anything unless she gets first dibbs, but they her HER chickens and turkeys and she doesn't want anything else near them! Every dog attack we have had has been when she has come inside for the night. Because she is so little (maybe 12 lbs) I fear for her safety and don't like leaving her outside on her own. Ari, our Schnauzer mix, also chases animals from the yard and does a good job, but isn't nearly as intent on keeping the poultry safe as Elliot is, and prefers to sleep inside. I am really hoping that Elliot can help train Luna, and they can keep each other company.

To help get Luna used to being outside and near the chickens, without leaving her unattended around them, I have set up the hog-ring near the chicken coop. She has a dog crate with blankets in it, and of course food and water. It is acting as a "play-pen" of sorts. We get her out and allow her to run around when we are outside (always with a leash until she is more used to the chickens). She comes around with me to do all of the animal feeding chores so she can see them excited over food and get used to the high energy levels that happen from time to time. I always make sure she is in a calm state before doing this. Taking her when she is full of energy and excited already is just asking for trouble. She is doing great so far! She has even started barking at things toward the woods, which I have yet to see, but apparently she isn't happy with. I really hope that she blends in with and adds new assets to the rest of our animal family. This is a functioning homestead so everyone works here, and I think she is already enjoying her job. Along with all of the hugs, kisses, and love, of course! Newest project that needs to be accomplished is to build her a proper dog house near the coops. A hard working dog deserves a nice comfy home to call her own


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Babies!

I have been a complete blog slacker recently! In my defense, I have been busy keeping up after everything here. Current count is 25 chickens, 10 guineas, 3 adult turkeys, 9 turkey poults, 3 juvenile turkeys, 2 dogs, and a partridge in a pear tree! Wait... scratch that last part. As of this year I do have the pear trees though! Along with the normal suspects that roam my property, we have 3 new additions! Well... new-ish. Yes, again I admit that I have been a slacker. The evening I was bitten by the snake I had just gotten them home and situated, so they have been here for a little while.

Meet Link, Jimmy, and Dean!!! I'm loving our new little piglets! Link is the red and black spotted one. Jimmy and Dean are both white, but they have small black spots in different areas so we can tell them apart. I made the executive decision to name them after sausage. I don't want to forget why they are here, but they are still being spoiled until then! They are such curious and energetic little guys! All 3 are boys and they have all been "fixed".

The boys started out in a hog ring, which was moved daily to give them a clean area to burrow in. Let me tell you, they are destructive little buggers! They can tear up everything in the ring within about 20 minutes of being moved. By the next day it looks like a waste-land. They have a little heavy-duty plastic waterer that is hooked up to a hose. When they push a lever with their nose water fills the little tray. I was worried that they wouldn't know how to work it and get dehydrated, but they took to it immediately. Now they push the button just to let it run all over the ground so they can wallow in the mud!

The 3 little pigs are now happily rooting up the overgrown and unused section of my garden. It looked like a jungle when I put them in there a couple days ago, and now it is almost cleared! I ran electric fence from one side to the other to keep them away from what is left of the sad garden that I am still trying to keep alive. They learned not to touch the fence within about 10 minutes. I'm considering only running 1 strand around the area that I am going to move them to because they are already doing so well with the fence. I'm worried that now that they are in the garden and know the fence is there, I won't be able to get them to come out to go into their new area! Luckily, they will do almost anything for eggs! I think I might be able to bribe them.

The piglets are so happy and I love to watch them rooting around, wagging their little tails and grunting their little piggy grunts all the while. No matter where they are, all I have to do it call "PIG PIG PIG" and all three come running over. Brad says that they get excited because they think that "the food lady" is going to give them something awesome to eat. I prefer to think it is because they love me... but yeah, he's probably right. LOL I can't believe I didn't get piggies before now! I'm enjoying them so much!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Update Post-Snakebite

I'm sorry it took so long to get back! The last week has been... well, I'm glad to be back!

Things went well at the hospital. Thankfully my foot and leg stopped swelling before they had to open it. I was really getting worried there for a bit. The whole hospital stay was mostly a haze. I'm not complaining because even with all of the pain meds I was on I was still in quite a bit of pain. It is amazing that such a little creature can pack such a punch! Once the swelling stopped increasing the doctor said that I could put pressure on my foot as soon as I could tolerate the pain and that I could leave as soon as I could manage to walk around the entire hospital ward. He failed to say that I had to use my foot, so I hopped the whole way on crutches. I realized just how out of shape I really am while I was at it! My foot seemed to have quite enough pressure pushing out form the inside without adding external pressure to it. The IDEA of pushing on it was nearly enough to bring me to tears. Just the gravity pulling on it as soon as I lowered it off the side of the bed was excruciating. The people that took care of me at the hospital were amazing. I couldn't be more happy with my stay there and the care that they took of me. I was ready to go home, though.

I got home on Friday evening, just in time to pick Keegan up from band practice after his first day of school. I still can't believe that they made him stay late in his first day, but he didn't seem to mind, so I guess it shouldn't bother me. I hate that I missed dropping him off on his first day of high school! Luckily his Aunt Samantha was amazing and took pictures for me. It was probably much less embarrassing for her to do it than me. I was pretty much on bed rest for the first couple of days, much to my dismay. I tried my best to get up but between Brad and Keegan fussing at me and the pain I didn't get very far. I don't know if it is after effects of the snake bite, side effects from the medication and anti-venin, or that I caught a tummy bug while at the germ infested hospital, but I have been terribly nauseous. It has cut down even more on the amount that I have been accomplishing. My very sweet neighbors and in-laws both brought us food so we didn't have to try to figure that part out. I knew I was blessed before this accident, but I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support we have had through this. People near and far have been helping us out, praying for us, and checking in on me to make sure I'm doing alright. I can't explain how much it has meant to me. I'm a lucky lucky girl.

Every day the swelling has gone down a bit and I have been able to get around a bit better. I started being able to put a little pressure on the outer edge of my foot on Sunday. Every day I have added more pressure to it and used the crutches a little less. Today was my first day crutch free! My foot and leg are almost back to normal size.

I have been feeding the animals since Tuesday. Brad and Keegan both fussed at me. I couldn't stand sitting flat on my butt and feeling useless anymore. Especially while they worked so hard to take care of everything and then take care of me. I also really needed to get outside! I managed to get a tennis shoe around my fat foot (along with long pants) and beat my way through the jungle that my garden has turned into check on things. It is bad... but I will get to that later. The snake was gone though. Apparently I didn't stomp on him quite enough to do him in. Hopefully he has learned to watch where I walk from now on... I have sure learned to watch where I walk! Today I not only managed to feed the animals but I cleaned out the chicken coop and turkey brooder! It was getting pretty nasty in there because I haven't been able to keep up after it properly. It doesn't seem like a whole lot but it took twice as long as usual with me hobbling around at extra low speed. I feel like I have accomplished something for the first time in what seems like forever.

We are short one animal as of yesterday evening. Sam, the turkey massacre'er, was finally picked up by someone willing to foster her until she can be placed with a forever family. She had been tied out front for a week and a half while we called everyone we could think of and begged them to please come get her! She was a very sweet girl, but she needed to be far away from poultry, and she couldn't stay here. Finally a wonderful woman took pity on us and went out of her way to make it happen. I can't thank her enough!

Because the dog was no longer here for me to worry about, the three remaining turkey-heads got to come out of the hoop coop today, for the first time since the attack. They seemed thrilled to be able to take a proper dust bath. The girls, at least. Yellow followed me around, fluffing up as best he could with only half of his feathers remaining, and strutting. He is such a sweet boy. He has gobbled a few times and I'm so happy to see him and the ladies feeling better. They still have some wounds, but they are definitely on the mend. I guess all of us are. Even the sun came out to shine on us today, and chased all of the rain clouds away. Things are getting back on track. Good thing because there is a lot of work to catch up on!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Wear Flip Flops in Overgrown Areas

I learned the hard way. Keegan and I went to the garden to see if there were any tomatoes ripe to have with dinner. While we were out there I was picking caterpillars off of the plants and giving them to him to feed to the turkeys. I picked up my foot to take a step and felt something strike my foot. It only took a glance to realize what had happened. I had stepped on a copperhead and when I moved it bit me. It was only a little over a foot long, but apparently it was big enough to do damage. Keegan ran inside and told Brad, who promptly called 911. Luckily I have a lot of experience with snakes and could not only identify it, but knew not to panic. I walked calmly to the front porch, sat down, and waited patiently for the ambulance to get there. Before I knew it, my yard was filled with paramedics, firefighters, and neighbors checking to make sure everything was alright. Brad and Keegan followed the ambulance to the nearest hospital.

At the local hospital, they kept an eye on me, did blood work, and measured the spread of the swelling. After a couple of hours they decided that it was spreading too much. They administered antivenin, along with pain medicine because it was smarting quite a bit by then. The doctor said that I needed to be at a hospital where they had a surgeon on hand in case the swelling got severe enough to cut off circulation. If that happened my foot would need to be opened. I was transferred about 45 minutes away to a larger hospital. That was Wednesday evening. They haven't released me yet. My foot, ankle, and leg are still swelling and they have me on bed rest until it stops and begins to go down. Thankfully everything seems to be going well. They haven't had to open my foot up, and only gave me 1 dose of antivenin so far. I have an IV in each arm. One for a steady drip of solution and the other for meds. I would think that they only needed 1 but they insist that they want another one ready "just in case". I've been on a steady supply of pain meds, benadryl, and Prevacid (not sure why). I'm hoping that I get to go home tomorrow. Not what I was anticipating when I went to pick tomatoes... Needless to say, there will be some serious mowing going on as soon as I'm up and mobile, and no more walking through overgrown areas in flip flops!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Even On The Stormiest Days, The Sun Peeks Through The Clouds

One of my turkey hens came back yesterday afternoon! It was Tabby, my dark bourbon hen. She had braved the wilderness for 2 days and nights and still managed to make it home! What a fighter! There is nothing behind my property but national forest for miles, so every manner of wild animal is likely to be in very close proximity. I thought that if the wounds from the dog attack didn't claim her, the infection she was very likely to get from them or wild animals would finish her off. She is in really bad shape. She is missing more skin from her back than she has left, and she has some pretty deep lacerations. It is really gruesome. I immediately gave her a shot of penicillin, cleaned her up the best I could without stressing her, and sprayed her down with vetericyn. She is resting in the small hoop coop with Yellow and Tallow.

Yellow and Tallow are looking much better! They still look pretty bad, but they are visibly more alert. Seeing them stand taller and move around more fills my heart with joy. They still aren't eating much, which worries me, but I'm really hopeful that as they start feeling a bit better, that corrects itself. It may be, simply, that the antibiotics are making them nauseous. I know it does that to me.

As it turns out, I was wrong about who owned the dog. From what I am told, the dog has been roaming the neighborhood for about a month, although I had only started seeing it about a week ago. The neighbors that recently moved in on the other side of the neighbor that I thought the dog belonged to had taken it in and been feeding it. They were quick to pay for the replacement of the turkeys. They sent half of the money over with the police officer and said they would pay the rest in about a week. The dog is still here, but the neighbors gave up rights to it and I am working on getting animal control to come pick her up and take her to the shelter. She is still tied up on a run and we have been caring for her until they can get her. She is a good dog, but has a taste for expensive turkeys. I'm hopeful that she will find a good home, far far away from poultry. I work closely with the animal shelter (fostering puppies for transport to areas that don't have overpopulation problems where they can be easily adopted) and all of the dogs I have owned since I became an adult have been shelter dogs. I am confident that she will have a happy ending. Because the neighbors were willing to work with us and gave up rights to the dog, I told them not to worry about the rest of the money. I'm just happy that I don't have to worry about when the next time she will end up in my coops will be.

It has been a rough few days, and was a really bad situation. I am amazed that even with such a bad situation, good things keep happening. If this was going to happen, I can't imagine a better ending to it. We aren't feuding with the neighbors. I don't have to worry about the dog ever coming back to finish my birds off. I thought I had lost all of my birds, but amazingly, I have three left. I have offspring of the others so I can watch them grow and love them. The sun does shine, even on cloudy days. We are blessed.

And in more happy news, tomorrow we welcome our newest homestead babies! It has been a long time in coming and we are very excited!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dog Attack

I woke up this morning to Brad grabbing the gun and yelling at me to go outside "NOW". I walked out to see a huge dog standing in my turkey coop surrounded by carnage. I've caught the dog in the yard a couple of times in the last week. Usually as it was being chased out of the yard by my dogs. I was hoping that it was a friendly dog, or that it wouldn't come back. Apparently, I was wrong. Who knows how long the dog had been in the coop. My dogs were inside for the night. It was in there long enough to do a lot of damage. When I ran out there yelling at the dog, it stopped. It sat down and waited for me to let it out of the coop. We couldn't shoot a dog that listened when I fussed at it. I got her out of the turkey coop and tied her in the front yard and then went back to survey the damage. The dog had climed up the side of the coop and busted through the bird netting at the top. There was a hole in the other side of the coop where some of the turkeys had gotten out.

One turkey was killed and half eaten (RT). Three others (yellow, tawny, and chester) were in really bad shape. The remaining three (tabby, tallow, and tom) were MIA. I grabbed a pot of warm water and the vetericyn and tried to get the three injured turkeys cleaned up. Chester and Tawny were shaking and visibly in severe pain. Yellow was not quite as bad but it still wasn't looking good. To add insult to injury, we only had 2 bullets. They have been nearly impossible to buy recently. Brad went to Walmart in hope that they had some, which they didn't. We had to call all over the neighborhood just to find ammunition to put my turkeys out of their misery.

I went to pick the borrowed ammo up. While I was gone, Brad found Tallow. She was walking around the very back section of the property. She was obviously fearful, but she let me slowly approach her and look her over. She is banged up, but not as badly as the other turkeys. After a few minutes I convinced her to let me pick her up and carry her back to the coop. I looked chester and tawny over once more just to make sure that they were beyond help. I have a hard time convincing myself to put anything out of its misery. I like to give everything a fighting chance instead of deciding that it is beyond help. Chickens and turkeys don't show when they are sick or in pain until they are on death's doorstep. It is a defense mechanism. They don't want to show weakness because they don't want to be picked off by predators. These turkeys were obviously in a lot of pain. They had deep gashes and were missing skin over large areas. The chances that they would survive was not good, and it would be impossible to keep them from getting an infection in wounds that large and deep. After many tears and reasoning with myself, Brad put them down.

I called the police and made out a report. The police officer was very nice and understanding. Apparently he had ducks that had suffered a similar fate. He had to put all of them down. After talking for a while and showing him the damage, he went over to the neighbor's (suspected dog owners) house to talk to them but nobody was home. I assumed that the dog belonged to the same man whose dog killed my turkeys last November because it looked a lot like that dog and appears to be about the right age to have been a puppy right around that time. She is huge, but young. Nobody was home. The police officer told me to hold onto the dog and he would check back in with me before the end of the day.

After he left and the police report was made I took Brad to work. He had already missed half of the day by that point. I went to the feed store and talked to a wonderful women there that is also a vet tech. She helped me find an antibiotic that will hopefully work on the turkeys. I bought them some injectable Penicillin. I gave each of them a shot of 1/2cc into their breast and they will need it every day for the next 7 days. I'm hoping that it will help Yellow and Tallow to fight off the infection and heal. I'm going to be keeping vetericyn on the wounds. They are obviously still very sore, but I hope they will make it. I moved them both from the big hoop coop, to one of the hoop chicken tractors. It is smaller, but they need to be resting. I also wanted to get them on clean grass. I can move them every day this way and it will be more sanitary.

This evening the police officer gave me a call and let me know that he was back at the neighbor's house, but there was still nobody home. He went to the next house over and talked to the people that lived there. They are Hispanic and speak very little english. Apparently, the woman acted like it was actually her and her husband's dog. Not the neighbor that I had though she belonged to. The police officer explained the situation the best he could to her and said he would be back over here in the morning to take pictures of the dog to give them to make sure it was the right dog. He told them that there would be damages that they have to pay. It won't replace my sweet turkey-heads.

I was holding out the hope that maybe when it started to get dark tabby and tom would come back. They didn't. I know that they were probably pretty badly injured by the time they managed to escape. They probably went off somewhere and died. All of my bourbon reds are gone. My 2 blues are in bad shape but I'm hoping that they pull through. Most of Tallow's eggs got smashed in the struggle. I'm assuming that the rest are scrambled. She needs to heal herself before she hatches any eggs anyway. Thankfully I still have some of their sweet babies. I was disappointed because I hadn't sold all of them. It it late in the season for people to be wanting turkey poults. I'm so thankful to have them now. They won't replace their parents but I hope that they will have a lot of their traits. I got so attached to my turkeys over the last year. They were more like pets than anything. It breaks my heart to have lost them and most of all that they had to suffer like they did.

I will spare you the gruesome pics of today and instead share the way that I will try to remember them.  The way Chester would strut for me and then look up at me with those big beautiful brown eyes to make sure that I saw how handsome he was. The way they would move like a school of fish around the yard, following my every move. How sweet, funny, and curious they all were. I will miss my sweet turkey-heads dearly. It has been a really rough day.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Clothes Washing and Lawn Mowing May Now Commence!

I fixed the lawnmower today! Well, I rigged it so that it works for the time being. I found some extra clothes line rope to use as a pull cord. It was a bit too thick to wind back up correctly, but I found a solution that should make it usable until I can get a real pull cord. Swiping it, a few inches at a time, over a candle and then rolling it between by fingers condensed the fibers and made the rope a bit thinner without making it brittle or weak. It worked! It started raining about 10 minutes after I got done, but there is a small patch of yard that looks wonderful! Have I mentioned that I love youtube? They have videos on how to fix virtually everything!

The washing machine part came in today, as well. It only took Brad about 5 minutes to put it in when he got home from work. I've already done a couple of loads and it is working wonderfully. Hopefully tomorrow it won't rain and I can hang some clothes out on the line. I much prefer to line dry than machine dry. The amount of electricity a dryer uses is ridiculous! I also hate that I pay money for the electricity to dry clothes and then have to spend more money on electricity for air conditioning because the dryer puts off so much heat! Its nice during the winter, though.

Earlier today I tied up the tomatoes again. The 2nd planting of tomatoes are over 5 feet tall now. I need to put up another pallet support system for them. I picked several caterpillars off of them. I'm not sure if the Bt didn't work or if it just rained too soon and washed it off. I will try putting some more on and hopefully it won't rain for a couple of days. They are looking beautiful!

Last night I planted some seeds indoors for our autumn crop. I planted lettuce, onions, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, dill, cilantro, parsley, oregano, garlic chives, and LOTS of basil (italian large-leaf and sweet). The parsley, oregano, and chives are to keep inside, but the rest will go outside next month. Soon I need to start some other seeds outside. I'm already looking forward to eating it and it hasn't even germinated yet!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tomatoes... Fighting the Good Fight

The tomatoes are making a come-back! The older amish paste, cherokee purple, and german stripe tomato vines that I thought were hopeless have greened back up some, and grown over a foot! They have new vines covered with new little flowers and baby tomatoes. I have even gotten a few tomatoes off of the cherokee purple, and one off a german stripe plant. They are amazing! They have produced more than that but something keeps getting to them before I do. It is maddening and so disappointing to watch a tomato grow and check on it every day. Watch it start to ripen, and then just when you think its perfect, you realize that the back half has been eaten and is rotten. Well, maybe I get more upset about it than most people... 

The new cherokee purple, german stripe, and brandywine plants have gotten huge! They are showing such promise! I have been checking them over pretty regularly, to try to catch any problems before they get out of hand. I noticed today that there were holes appearing on the leaves. After a careful inspection I spotted caterpillars! No no no! No eating my tomato plants! I suspect that they are also responsible for half eating my ripe tomatoes too. 

Last year they ransacked my tomatoes and left them vulnerable to the blight that finally took them. I decided then that I wasn't going to deal with that again. I ordered Bt, which is a form of organic pest control. It is a bacteria that kills caterpillars. Only caterpillars! That way I don't have to worry about it killing beneficial insects. I don't like using any kind of pesticide, even organic kinds, but if I want to have any hope for garden fresh tomatoes this year, I have to suck it up and give it a try. I sprayed my plants this evening. I will check them tomorrow and see how they are looking. Hopefully this will work! 

Goings On

The game cam caught the chickens settling in at dusk. I think it looks
So pretty in that light
So... the washing machine is broken. It piddled out about a week ago. Luckily, it was immediately after I had washed all of the clothes and my brother threw a few loads in while they were here. I unplugged it to reset it after we got the extra power drain of the camper out of the way. It worked long enough to wash the next 2 loads that we had accumulated over the weekend and went again. For good this time. Brad took it apart and it turns out to be a cheap plastic piece. He said that they use plastic for that specifically so that if something happens it will break the cheap part and save the expensive part that it is attached to. The shipping cost more than the part, so hopefully that is it and we will be back in business! A washer is one of those things that tends to be taken for granted until it isn't there anymore. Then it is painfully apparent how important it is to day to day life! I can't believe our luck, though! If something is going to break, what are the odds that it will work out like that? We are blessed.

I worked on the tractor for over 30 minutes yesterday. It was mostly running around to the battery and making sure there was a good connection, running back and trying to crank it, running back to the battery to check the connection again, back around to crank it, unscrew the solenoid, push the pin in, screw back onto the tractor, try to crank it.... yeah. Good times. After much running back and forth I finally fell back on my tried and true method: coddling, talking to, and pleading with the tractor to start. Finally, she decided to be my friend again and turn over. I spent about 10 minutes dragging heavy things from one side of the yard to the other before I realized that the gas gauge was pointing to the great big E. Maybe I will manage to get some diesel in the fairly near future... hope hope hope! School starts soon and Keegan's birthday is coming up so money is tight and even something as small as a few gallons of diesel or a push mower pull cord, has to be put off for a bit.

We will make it through this like we always do. Faith is an amazing thing and God always finds little ways to make things work out perfectly. It is still frustrating sometimes. Especially when I have SO MUCH that needs to get done and everything seems to be broken, I don't have the money to buy what I need, or I simply don't have the ability to get it without help. For example, I need another bale of hay for the coops and garden. I have a round bale of hay! It is about 3 miles down the road at the back of an overgrown field that my car won't make it through, I don't have a truck, and the "big" tractor (with hay fork) isn't running right now. I'm going to see if I can borrow a truck for a few minutes this weekend and go hand load the bale (handful at a time) like I did the last one. Everywhere I turn is something else that needs to be done and yet another problem standing in my way preventing me from doing it. Have I mentioned that my wheel barrow is broken too? Keegan pulled the axle off for some reason and the last foster puppy we had ran off with it. He tended to do that with a lot of things. I've been moving things by hand as much as possible, but there are some giant logs and piles of dirt that I just can't physically move without my wheelbarrow! It is just frustrating. *Brain scream!* Phew...Sometimes it is so very important when the world seems to be closing in around me, and I think that at any moment my head might just start actually spinning in circles until it explodes, to take a step back. Stop, take a deep breath, and look at the big picture. This too shall pass. It always works out and I have faith that it will work out again. It is amazing how things just seem to pull together at the last minute. In ways that I never would have imagined, at times. Looking at it all, honestly makes me feel even more blessed. How wonderful are problems like this? Simple. Small. Easily fixed. Everyone is still healthy, relatively happy, and I am living my dream.

On to happier things! I got some more brush cut. I know... it is taking forever. I can only work for as long as my chainsaw battery lasts. By the time I finish dragging everything I cut to a burn pile, I really need to stop anyway. The heat down here isn't enjoyable, but the humidity... Well, as it turns out, there is a reason that people down in the deep south are known for taking things slower. People will keel over and die if they don't in this humidity! I think I have gotten much more used to it than I was when I first moved here though. But, the battery times the work period pretty well and gives me no choice but to take a break and cool off. I would love to have an outdoor shower some day! I wouldn't care if it had heated water most of the time. During the summer the cool water would feel better anyway, and I always feel so nasty after working outside, even after a short period of time. Its impossible to take a few steps out the front door without breaking a sweat, and it would be nice to wash all of the ick off before going back inside. Anyway, we are that much closer to being able to put the new fence up.

Miss Tallow left her nest yesterday for a good leg stretch and I took the opportunity to go check on her eggs. I was worried before I even caught sight of them. The smell greeted me first, followed quickly by the soft buzz of flies. Her eggs were rotten and a couple had busted under her. Poor girl. She was trying so hard! I quickly pulled the stink bombs out of the nest and cleaned out the tee-pee. Luckily, I had set up a new tee-pee and filled it with eggs. Tallow happily hopped onto the new, stink-free, clean nest full of shiny new eggs. She decided to move back to her old one this morning, so I moved the eggs over with her. Hopefully she will have better luck with these ones. She is already protective of them. She started hissing at me when I went to check on her. She is all talk, but I was kinda proud.

Tonight I made a mostly local dinner. I do this pretty often, but I would like to keep track and improve on it. I made fried chicken with our very own chicken. I normally never fry anything. I make an exception for chicken and fried green tomatoes a few times a year, simply because Keegan and Brad love the chicken and I love the tomatoes so much. Don't get me wrong. I'm not an angel. I eat fried foods. I just don't fry it myself so that I'm not tempted to eat it more often than I already do. The flour I breaded it with was store bought, but the egg, herbs, and onion powder added to it was 0 mile, coming from our own homestead. We had it with jasmine rice. Not even close to being local, I'm sure, but we buy it in bulk so it helps decrease the fuel used to transport it. Sliced Cherokee purple tomato complimented it amazingly well! Oh I love these tomatoes. They are so good! Being spoiled by these tomatoes has made it impossible for me to buy those tasteless store-bought imitations. There is no comparison! The meal was rounded out by a loaf of Challah bread. None of the ingredients were local, but I have to think that I localized it at least a little by baking it myself. I need to look into buying flour in bulk. I know I'm biased because I cooked it (and grew some of it too), but it is amazing to me that we can eat meals that are this amazing on such a small budget! That was a meal fit for a king.... or Queen! Again I say, we are blessed.
Challah Bread. It ripped a bit taking it off of the baking
sheet. It was delicious though! 

It has been a long day and is late.
In the words of Dr. Seuss
"Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one!"

Hope you have a beautiful day as well!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Productive Days Make Me Happy

When I woke up yesterday to see it overcast, yet again, and checked the weather to see that we were completely surrounded by thunderstorms, I thought that this weekend would be a total wash. Yesterday was, but it was nice to enjoy a day inside with the family. Today I tried to make up for it and I got so much accomplished!

The guineas and 3 turkeys graduated to one of the hoop coop chicken tractors! They were so excited to get to explore the grass! I love introducing babies to grass for the first time. They huddle together for a minute or two, and then one or two venture out to see what all of that green stuff is. Then before you know it, they are all running and flapping all over. The real fun begins when one discovers that bugs live in that green stuff! Tucker didn't waste any time at all. He doesn't seem to be afraid of anything. He is so adorably aloof. The guineas chirped and "Chrrrrrr'd" away as they scratched around in the grass. I got their grown-up feeder and bucket water system cleaned and sterilized and put the tarp back on to give them some shade and shelter.

I also added a new roost. I've been needing to put one in for a while but I wasn't sure how to go about adding one that wouldn't make the coop difficult to move and wouldn't put weight on the wire, but would be sturdy enough to hold the birds once they start getting bigger. I suspended a tree branch from the "spine" of the coop with thick wire. It is a lot like a swing, except that it fits snugly to each side so that it doesn't move around very much. The babies seem to be enjoying it, although they still decided to sleep on the ground in a huddle. Maybe tomorrow.

One of the reasons that the guineas and older turkeys moved to the hoop tractor is because I have had 2 batches of turkeys hatch out in the last 2 weeks! One batch is about 12 days old and the other is 4 days old. I have only sold 3, and still have 13 left (9 older 4 younger). The older babies were getting pretty rambunctious and the indoor brooder just wasn't big enough to give them the wing-room that they felt they needed. They were flapping and jumping everywhere! They knocked the filament loose on 3 light bulbs in one day and insisted on perching on top of the waterer. The funnel I put on top of it merely slowed them down.
The little ones are now happily residing in the "Tank" and my living room seems so much bigger! And quieter! The littlest tid-bits aren't getting knocked about and can rest now.

While I was cleaning out feeders I decided to collect all of the adult chicken and turkey feeders, disassemble them, scrub them out, and sterilize them. It doesn't seem like much, but I feel accomplished. I just realized that some of the pieces come apart. Feed kept getting stuck under the middle piece and molding, which is bad enough, but they were so difficult to clean like that! I took the middle pieces out and threw them away.Hopefully that doesn't come back to bite me in the butt, but I'm pretty happy with them! They are super easy to wipe out now and I feel so much better about them getting fresh quality feed! I left the middle part in the littles' feeder because they are small enough to climb right into it otherwise. Except for sweet Tucker who just steps over it with his giant crane legs.

My last accomplishment was to erect a new turkey tee-pee. Tallow has taken over the other tee-pee and is sitting on eggs. She is being such a good little momma to-be! When I called the turkeys to put them up this evening only the boys came. I found Tabby sitting in my Cosmos near the little garden, and Tawny in her normal nest. Both of them had around 6 eggs each. Heritage turkeys won't be full sized by the holidays at this point, and the spring baby-fever is over, so I have had a difficult time selling the babies I have. My problem is that I have some sort of strange inability to let turkey eggs go to waste. I don't like the consistency of the eggs, so I don't eat them. They are very thick. I need to girls to stop laying! I need to wash the incubator and put it up for the year. I put together a new tee-pee next to the inhabited one, and put all of the eggs I collected into it. Hopefully, one (or both) of the girls will decide to sit. I didn't get pictures because it was dark before I got done. I was working with my head-lamp (one of the handiest things EVER btw!).

It doesn't seem like a whole lot, and in reality, I guess it wasn't. But, I feel so much better after having worked all day doing things that really needed to get done. Better yet, knowing that what I accomplished had meaning. It wasn't just the usual mowing, clearing brush, or tending the garden. Don't get me wrong, those are all very important things. But everything I did today visibly made my animals happy, and I know will make them healthy. That makes me very happy! Maybe before I go to bed I will give the dogs baths too. That way I will have done something nice for all of my animals today. On second thought, I think they would be much more thankful for some left-over turkey and rice instead of their icky dog food.

I love productive days!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Game Cam Catches

I love my game cam! I got it last November when I was having issues with the neighbor's dog and hunting dogs killing my turkeys. It has been aimed at either the chicken or turkey coops since then. The batteries last forever. In fact, I just changed them for the first time since I got the game cam. I just switch the memory card about once a week and then sort through about 700 pictures, on average, that it took throughout the week. I have yet to catch a predator since the last dog attack, knock on wood, but I regularly catch lots of other fun things!

Einstein teasing the turkeys. Now I know why the turkeys chase him around when I let them out to free range! I used to think that they were just big bullies. Now I know who the instigator it!

My sweet Yellow checking things out. 

Chester looking particularly handsome.

"How YOU doin'?!"

This isn't my rooster! I think he belongs to a neighbor. See the broken cord around his leg? Apparently he escaped his tie out (AGAIN) and came to harass my chickens. He got into a fight with Einy a couple of months ago and I had to run him off. I didn't realize that he had been back until I checked my game cam pictures tonight. Did I mention that I LOVE my game cam? :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

2013 Seed Log

In order to keep better track of how certain seeds did I thought it would be best to keep a log of what I planted and how it did. Also, what the conditions were during the year. That way I can decide which seeds I want to try again and which ones I want to switch out for other types. I will update as I plant and/or harvest each thing. I would love comments on how certain things did for them! Some things that don't do well for me may have been because they don't do well in this area, but it could also be a fluke with the weather (like this year being monsoon-like all summer), or even user error. 

-                  --  Florida Speckled Butter Pole Lima Bean - Planted with corn the beginning of May. Grew Kudzu-like vines that took down the corn, but no flowers or beans as of 7/23. Need to try planting on arches next year. Only because I have seed left over and we had crappy conditions this year. 
-         -   Rattlesnake Pole Bean - Planted with corn beginning of May. Soil was very poor. Almost all germinated but grew small scraggly vines. Still produced a few beans. Need to try better soil next year and plant on arches. 

-                  --Premium Lettuce Blend - Planted Fall of 2012 and spring 2013. Germinated and grew well. 

-                   --Bloomsdale Long Standing - Planted late in the spring when it was getting warmer. Not much germinated. 

Swiss Chard
-                 --Oriole - Planted late in spring. Germinated but didn't grow very large. Will replant in fall and try again. 
-                 --  Jack-be-little - Only pumpkin that came up. Grew well. Harvested 5 pumpkins off of around 4 vines as of 7/23. 
-                  --Connecticut Field - Planted but none came up. 
-                  -- Fairytale - Didn't Plant this year because garden was never finished. Need to plant next year. 
-                -- Spaghetti - Planted in shady spot in poor soil. The ones that came up were very small and sick looking. Never produced flowers. 
-                 -- Winter Harvest Mix - Planted with corn and bean in early May. At least 3 came up. 1 is thriving. 
-                  -- Amish Paste- 1st to germinate indoors and grew well while indoors. Sickly plants outdoors with small fruit. Got wilt early. Will try again with better quality seed. 
-                -- Cherokee Purple- Perfect germination. Planted in poor soil. Growing slower than amish paste. As of 7/23 none have wilt but only got 1 ripe fruit which was cracked from overwatering (rain). 
-               -- German Stripe- Good germination. As of 7/23 they are wilt free. 1 is the largest plant in garden. Some others were eaten by something. Replanted and are doing well. Only harvested 1 ripe tomato so far and it was partially eaten and split. 
-               -- Pink Brandywine- Grew well summer 2012 and best tasting fruit, although slow producers. Planted later than the others. As of 7/23 all are doing well and are wilt free. No ripe fruit yet. 
-              -- Yolo Wonder Bell- Doing wonderfully! Most germinated. Producing medium (picking before they get larger) and very thick walled and good tasting fruit. Love these!!!
-              -- Jalapeno - None germinated. I always grow these and they do well. Reordered from Baker's Creek and will try again next summer. 
-              -- Pepperoncini (Italian) - Germinated well indoors. Doing wonderfully! First producer of the garden and are producing constantly. Need to plant more next year so I have enough to pickle. 
-               -- Long Purple - I always have a hard time with cucumber beetles eating the leaves of all eggplant. Germination was fair. Possibly poor seed. One fruit which rotted on plant as of 7/23 but are still flowering. 
-               -- De Cicco - Planted outdoors in October 2012. Germinated and grew well. Huge plants. Not much broccoli, but I didn't harvest like I should have. Will try again. 
Brussel Sprouts
-             -- Long Island Improved - Planted in october 2012. Plants grew well but even by late spring 2013 the sprout heads were loose and unharvestable. They didn't produce well. 
-           -- Charleston Wakefield - Haven't planted yet. Will try fall 2013
-           -- All The Year Round - Haven't planted yet. Will try fall 2013
-     -  Bull’s Blood - Planted fall 2012. Very poor germination. Only 2 came up. I think it was because the soil became dry and formed a crust before they emerged. Will try again this fall. 
-      - Tendersweet - Planted fall 2012. Germinated well and grew well. Very happy with these. 
-             -- Red Creole (short day)- Planted fall 2013. None germinated. Will try again in spring. 
         - Crystal Wax (short day)- same
-          -- American Purple Top- Planted fall 2012. Poor germination and none made it past a leaf or two. Poor soil and chickens were probably the issue. Will try again this year. 
-         - Sugar Snap- Only planted a few and most came up. Planted late and didn't care for properly. Happy with these and will try again. 
-          - Early Siberian- Germinated and did well. Didn't harvest like I should have. Will try again. 
-          - Russian RedGerminated and did well. Didn't harvest like I should have. Will try again.
      - “Premier” Freebie Seeds - Germinated and did well. Didn't harvest like I should have. Will try again.
-         - Sweet Summer Mix- None came up at all. Possibly poor soil but probably bad seed. 
      - Louisiana Sweet- None came up. Good soil and good conditions. Probably poor seed. 
-          - Garrisonvery few came up and haven't grown well or set fruit as of 7/23
       - Lady Finger - None came up despite replanting twice in good soil Probably bad seed. 
       - Trucker’s Favorite Yellow- Great germination and growth in good soil. broke under weight of beans. Developed corn smut. Didn't produce well as of 7/23. 
-          - Delikatesse- Had to replant once. Second time came up well and vines took over. Poor fruit production and have almost fully succumbed to some kind of wilt. 
-         - Skyscraper- Fair germination in fair soil. Only one has grown large as of 7/23. Some are very sickly and small. All developed flowers. 
-           - Maya- Haven't planted yet. 
       - Mardi Gras (mix)- Haven't planted yet. 
Herbs- None of the herbs had good germination. Most failed to germinate at all. Only 2 of each basil and 1 parsley survived to transplant and all died once transplanted. Bad seed and poor weather conditions. Will try again. 
-             - Basil, Sweet
-      - Basil, Italian Long leaf
        - Chives, Garlic
        - Coriander/Cilantro
        - Dill
        - Oregano, Greek
        - Parsley, Italian
        -  Sage