I’ve decided to to keep a diary of my day-to-day happenings on the farm this summer. I’ll try to post an entry every day, but we all know how farm life can be!
The pictures in these posts will be from my iPhone…just things I snap and mostly use to put on Instagram or in my own personal keepsake folders.
Homesteading can be magical, tough, rewarding, and challenging. I hope you enjoy this journal of mine this summer! Make sure you are subscribed to my emails. I’ll be sending out reminders once a week to check the blog and catch up on the barnyard happenins!
Monday, July 25, 2016, 2pm
A few days ago I set hatching eggs under 2 broody hens. I tried doing this a few weeks ago, and I didn’t have success. When I tried to move the broody hen to a safer spot, she stopped sitting on the eggs and left them. I didn’t have any other broody hens at the time, so the eggs were thrown in the trash. You can’t eat half-developed eggs, and I’m adamant about mama hen raising them and not mama Jackie.
So, this time I let the broody hens stay up in the nesting boxes and so far, they are still there! I selected 8 eggs to put under each of them and wrote the date on the eggs with pencil, “July 20.” Once I caught broody hen #1 (Wilma) in another nesting box and another hen on her eggs. This happens when the broody jumps down to get some food and water and loses her spot.
So, I took the thief off the eggs (there were 9 now!) and moved the broody hen back into her spot. The 16 eggs should hatch in 21 days…so August 10. They will be barnyard mutts mostly since we have a mixed breed chicken yard! It’s ok…barnyard mutts still lay just as many eggs.
I added in 7 Black Australorp pullets to the flock yesterday. I’ve been wanting to add this breed to the barnyard but didn’t want to raise more chicks. However, in my search for a Jersey milk cow, I saw a lady on Craigslist selling 3-month-old Black Australorp pullets (that means young hens).
I quickly contacted her and picked them up yesterday, and now I’m on the search of a Black Australorp rooster. I am interested in this breed because they lay 4 eggs a week, but also grow out big! So, if you have a few roosters in your flock, at 16 weeks old, you can butcher than for meat.
I’m taking it easy today…this weekend was full of gardening and preserving. I had way too many yellow squash and zucchini and made 8 quarts of lacto-fermented squash pickles. I used onions that I had been curing in the garage, yellow squash, zucchini, some garlic, and a sprinkle of black tea. Tea keeps it crunchy…or so we shall see.
My tomatoes are doing great! I had so many I needed to do something with them, and I decided to make 17 pints of salsa. I had to pick up some bell peppers at the store, since mine didn’t really grow too well, but I was able to use jalapeños, cilantro, onions, and tomatoes from the garden.
Boy—did that take forever! Thankfully, the hubby helped me cut the tomatoes and I gave them all a dunk in the canner for 15 minutes.
Tomorrow is the day I’ve waited for for a long time. I get to meet a potential new member of the farm…a Jersey Milk Cow! We have decided to sell our small dairy goat herd and purchase a milk cow instead. I’m going to miss my goats, and this has been a very hard decision for me.
We started with goats because we only had 2 acres, but now that we have 10 acres, we want a cow, because there is more you can do with the milk. With goat milk, I can’t make butter, and I have to buy my cream. Goat milk is amazing for your body because it’s naturally homogenized. The only downside of that is you don’t have much cream to make butter and other things with like cream fraiche!
It seems with this life, you are always re-evaluating what you need, what you use most, what you don’t really like, and what annoys the junk out of you.
We sold our 2 Dexter cows this weekend too. They couldn’t get pregnant, and the seller purchased them back from us. We still have our 2 Dexter steers we are raising for meat.
And then we got a new bred sow this weekend! Hahah, you all must be thinking we are crazy with all this buying and selling. It’s just how it is! This new sow is an American Guinea pig, which we love. We already have 3: 1 boar, 1 sow, and 1 we are raising for meat. We want 2 sows so we can have a continual supply of bacon!
Well, that’s it for now. I need to go make sure my new 3-month-old hens aren’t getting pecked at by the older hens. We separated them last night so there wouldn’t be any fights, and I’m comfortable with them all being together today because we free range them. They can run away if the older hens are being bullies.
Also, the kids are begging me to watch another episode of Little House on the Prairie. I love that they love that show as much as I do. I was just chatting with a friend on how that show is, most likely, responsible for planting those seeds of homesteading in my heart. And if you haven’t gone back and watched (or read) it as an adult…then you need to. You will fully appreciate the hard work homesteaders used to do back then. I also LOVE seeing the foods they ate and all the butter they used!
There’s always something to do, someone to feed. Today, we were exhausted…we always are. No rest in the evening till the evening chores are done. Tonight we started earlier and since I’m moving the milk goat to once-a-day milking, the chores were on the lighter side. Poor Snowflake couldn’t figure out why we weren’t going to spend our 5 minutes together during milking. I hope she is ok this first night of not being milked. In the morning, I’m sure she will be about to explode! She usually gives me just under a half gallon at each milking and we always have extra to feed the pigs.
I collapsed on the couch tonight. Exhausted but so fulfilled. The farm is coming along just the way we want it to and after 3 years of doing this homestead thing, I feel confident in what we are doing. We’ve learned what animals fit best and how to manage them in a way where they manage our farm and do most the work.
Chickens should free range and forage most their own food. Ducks should be able to swim in the creek. Turkeys roost wherever. Cows spend all day and night on the pasture. We should just be conductors of the beautiful music the farm makes.
Ciao for now!