Happy Sunday Homesteaders! It’s past time for an update!
It has been a busy few weeks both on and off the farm. My apologies for the lack of blogs, but things are settling down and I will make an effort to be more consistent in my blogging. Thank you to everyone who follows our blog and reaches out with your comments and questions. We really enjoy your feedback.
I do not want to make this the all chickens all the time blog, but these girls are keeping me on my toes!
Last week I finally put my foot down and cleared out the coop during the day. I was determined to get the broody hens off of their nests and back out free ranging. The girls have been so broody this spring that egg production is plummeting and they are getting too thin. I have tried closing the access to their nesting boxes. They found a way around that! I have tried to move them and give them chicks. Nope, they were not game for that either! I have tried to give them eggs to hatch. Well they are never in same nesting box two days in a row. They play musical nests and there have been as many as three hens setting on one nest. Just FYI this is not beneficial for hatch rates. After about four days of being exiled from the coop it seems that we have turned the corner and I am glad report that broody season appears to have come to a close. Yay!!!
Chicks, chicks, and oh yeah, more chicks. The last of this seasons chicks are in the brooder. Every year I say no more and my long suffering husband rolls his eyes and smiles, but we have had fifty plus chicks go through and I believe I am done. The first group is integrated into the flock and the second group is out, but in a separate coop. We also have three hens raising chicks plus one more batch to go into the coop once the current occupants have been integrated into the flock. Since I began writing this blog I have another hen setting. UGH!!! I have bruises on my arms from gathering the eggs under her, so the best laid plans…………………….. I’ll let you know what happens.
It is with mixed emotions that I share the news that Blue Belle has been rehomed. She is such a sweet girl, but since plans had changed regarding using her as a milking animal it became apparent that we did not have enough space to maintain her. Since it is summer and we have a good deal of browse I try to let the goats out so that they can help keep down the vegetation, however every time that the goats are out Belle pushes down her pen to join them. The last time she did that I put the terrified goats back in their pen and she grew bored and decided to head for the road. It is not a busy road, but she causes a danger to people who are using the road. So then we tried to move her down with Traeger, but she ran right back up to the goats since they were her peeps. What to do?
Then on Monday she escaped again and we decided that we needed to rehome her. It was a difficult decision to make, but the right one for us at this time. I put her pic and info out on our local homesteader’s classifieds and immediately received inquiries. A young couple came by to see her Monday night and they purchased her on Tuesday morning. She has a barn at their place (total upgrade) and she has a large pasture that she shares with a Hereford Heifer and a goat. They sent us a picture of her at her new home and she is doing great. Although it was very hard to part with her, she went to a great home that has space for her as well as a new goat companion.
Our feeder pigs are growing like weeds. They are getting super friendly and enjoy their mud hole. Since they eat like, well yeah pigs, we have started buying bulk feed. It is really a pretty slick process. We purchased barrels and our local feed mill grinds our order on a set date. On that date we fill our own barrels and get a really good price break. If anyone else out there is raising enough animals to go through a large quantity of feed it is a real savings if your mill offers bulk feed.
The goats are enjoying browsing the upper paddock without wildly kicking, full of energy Belle as their unwanted companion. I have integrated Annie into the group for their daily eating adventures and it has been going very well. It is good for her to be socialized into the herd without a fence in between. There is some head butting going on, but more for show than anything else. They are having too much fun enjoying their freedom to bother with the dominance thing. There is enough room for everyone.
Wally went to a home where he is a pet and a companion to an older goat. A local family lost one of their goats to old age and needed a companion for their remaining goat. The family required a gentle goat as they have four boys who interact with the goats on a daily basis. On our homestead Wally was a single wether in a sea of does and doelings so he got pushed around a bit. At his new home he has a companion to bond with and a group of boys to spoil and play with him. Always tough to let your babies go, but when it is to an environment where they will thrive, it makes it a touch easier.
Traeger is doing well, but picking up bad habits from Hazel. She had pushed in the corner of his pen so that she could come and go as she pleased. Every afternoon she was in his pen eating hay that had fallen out of his feeder and just generally being a pig. One evening I was doing chores and knew she was in there, but went ahead and Traeger his grain. Much to my surprise that pig rose up on her back legs and launched herself into the feeder to eat the grain. I was so startled that I screamed for my husband who came running and was like “Really, I thought something terrible had happened”. Apparently he had witnessed this before. Sorry, I digress; Traeger figured out how to get out of his pen and promptly did so. Since he is fairly grain centric it was easy to coax him back in and repair the fence. So for the moment those two are continuing their friendship through the fence, which is the preferred method from our point of view.
Hazel and Humphrey are doing great! It is the beginning of produce season and they are getting some goodies from our garden and the neighbors. We are particular about what extras they get, so it is lovely when we can provide fresh goodies. We are getting close to mud hole season, but will hold out as long as possible since the aroma is not pleasing. However, since that is the only way that they can cool off we will just hold our noses and make the best of it.
Have a great week!