Monday, June 27, 2011

1003 Eggs!?!??

The egg count for the year passed the 1000 mark today, I just can't believe it. Somehow this family has found a way to either eat or cook or sell (a few dozen) over 1000 eggs (not counting Guinea eggs), and it isn't even July yet.

I tried to figure out how many eggs we could have possible eaten last year but gave up, my egg use has changed so dramatically that I can't even remember what it was like to not have a few dozen just laying around.

Since I am taking a statistics course this summer OFG noted that I should throw in a few mathematical facts concerning eggs, so here goes. A rough count of the number of days up to July 1st is 180, so 180 goes into 1000 approximately 5.5 times. I have 8 hens who as a group are laying on average 5.5 eggs per day, or 125 eggs per hen so far this year! Each hen is laying .694 eggs per day...whew.

Here is the part that just has me mystified, if I subtract the eggs currently in the fridge and the ones I sold we still average eating/cooking over 4 eggs per day! How is that possible?

Have you ever thought about how many eggs you use per year? Did you realize what a difference raising chickens has had on your diet? One thing is for certain, keeping these chickens has been fun AND profitable.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Never Say Never!

After raising 9 chickens and 10 guineas in the garage last year I knew that experience was something I never wanted to repeat again. Cleaning out the chicken poo and trampled mash/water was not very enjoyable.

Unfortunately the local owl's decided to eat 5 of my hard grown guineas so I needed some replacements. The guineas weren't building nests and the chickens haven't gotten broody so I found myself with 6 store bought baby keats in the garage. Things were going well until yesterday when 1 of the seemingly healthy keats died, no reason, just died.

The guineas that currently patrol the yard have done a fantastic job of clearing out the tick population and have proven to be more than adequate watch dogs. I really like these silly looking birds and can't wait for them to grow up and get out of the garage to join the rest of the flock - for several different reasons of course.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Too Busy to Blog!

I have been so busy this past week that I haven't had any time to blog! I had a Statistics quiz and test, I have been milking two goats twice a day, my mother and another one of my nieces came to visit, and I had my daughters normal cheer leading and soccer practices/games....whew!

Things have been busy here on the ole Homestead as well. I decided to let the chickens free range at least once a week, they really enjoy it.

Leopold keeps a close watch on all his girls, calling out whenever he has a special treat to share. While they free range he doesn't even try to attack me like when he is in the coop. I will take small blessings where ever I can find them, it offsets the ridiculous. Twice this week the rams somehow got their horns stuck in the wire fences. I can't believe we were able to get them out as they seemed to do flips to tangle their horns in impossible positions.

The girls love to wander about in the underbrush and flowers, I'm sure this is where some of the egg production has been deposited and lost.

Leopold sticks to the lawn mostly, calling the girls to him when ever he gets spooked are they stray off a bit too far. He does a good job, and he needs to as I had to chase a fox off the property today! One of the Guinea breeding pairs was screaming extra loud today and when I looked outside I saw them on top of the garage roof. This wasn't normal, even for birds as crazy as the Guineas so I grabbed my handy shepherds crook and ran out to check on the situation. Sara had taken up position by the goat barn, she was going to be no help, so I crashed into the underbrush to see what I could flush out. I caught a good look at an orange red fox as it raced off, ugh, this I don't need.

I had the Commander take the goats out behind the garage to eat down the brush, and I told him to "mark his territory" while he was there. Hopefully this will give the fox second thoughts about hanging around my place.

The chickens seem to have so much fun playing in the flowers, too bad for them there will be no free ranging for a while as I think over the fox situation.

I have one Guinea boy who doesn't have a mate so he spends his time with the chickens. At least he isn't sad and lonely. Off to soccer and to do Stat's homework!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Getting in Tune......

One of the themes that Peri from Mud on the Tracks weaves in and out of her farm blogging deals with how as a farmer she began to become more in-tune with the seasons and how differently time marches on through each of them. I thought I knew what she meant at the time, I mean isn't it obvious what happens in each of the seasons?

After now having farmed (sort of) for over a year I think I see a deeper and truer meaning to what Peri was talking about. I now notice more things going on in the farm world around me and sense the ticking clock of natures' cycles. When do I plant and how long till it can be harvested? How long does it take to replenish the grass in an area grazed by sheep? Goats? When do I introduce the breeding groups? How much hay do I need?

All these things reveal the interaction of time, life, and seasonal weather. I can feel time marching on, I have to peer into the future to establish my goals. I don't mean 'in a taping of a Wednesday weekly TV show way', but in a deeper 'feel the force of life way'. Every season has it's own special joy and excitement. Spring brings birthing, planting, and cleansing rains. I love watching the forest and pastures explode in a lush green Summer growth spurt under the hot sun, and this last Fall I enjoyed the harvest and establishing the breeding groups. Even the Winter had its own unique charm, providing a break from the daily grind and yet allowing for a growing anticipation of new life. I so enjoyed watching the pregnant ewe's and doe's bellies slowly grow, imagining the fuzzy little ones to come.

Have you ever looked, I mean really looked at the miracle that we call an egg? Danni over at Critter Farm often discusses how unique each egg really is, I have learned a lot from her musings. Egg production, size, and color ebbs and flows with the season, another previously unnoticed function of time.

I find it interesting to read about time being measured from paycheck to paycheck - really? That seems like a totally foreign way of life. I understand the rationale, but I now see so much more. I think in terms of seasons, of harvests, of genetics and new life, of feed stores and living. Todays culture celebrates youth and living for the moment, but why is it that I can't wait to eat my ripe tomatoes? I can't wait for the Commander to finish clearing the side woods so I can see next years pastures, shouldn't I mourn the lost time? I am so excited to breed Gidgit and see her kids next year, yet won't I be older?

I hope Peri chimes in with her thoughts, what are yours?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Azalea is Polled

The lambs got their CDT booster shots today and Ronda will be interested to hear that Azalea is polled! Azalea is the prodigy of Killarney and Gardenia. When I lost Katydid last year (my only polled ewe) I decided to use Killarney as one of the breeding rams because he carried the polled gene - it worked. As a rule Cascade Sheep have beautiful horns but I think the polled girls are very pretty, Azalea may just be one of my favorites.

I had my first Statistics class today so this post will be short as I have homework to get to.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Where Are The Eggs?

Still waiting for the pasture fences, so while the girls eat the back yard grass the Rams enjoy the front.

Alder (Wildman) has very wide horns and is healthy and muscular. I can' wait to move them to their new barn so I can give him his shots and roo his wool.

Killarney has partially shed some of his wool and is showing off his underneath black wool. He is the king of the rams and shows little fear of people, the Commander is the only one who can handle him.

I have been letting the chickens free range for the past few days and they seem to really enjoy it. The Commander has been going out at around 6 pm and just kind of scoots them all, led by Leopold, back into the coop area. The egg production on Friday and Saturday was fine but today I only got three eggs (out of 8 hens), what happened?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Awards and a Tragedy

I would like to thank Debbie over at SwampBilly Ranch for the Stylish Blogger Award. Nothing says stylish more than a transplanted West Virginian hanging out in the swamps of Florida!

How's this for Stylish! Can you identify me?

How about now?

I found this laying in the grass in the yard one evening and had to get a picture of it.

I don't know what kind of a moth it is but it is beautiful!

I would like to thank Perri from Mud on the Tracks for the So Sweet Award. Perri was the inspiration for the start of this blog and she has accomplished great things on her farm in Massachusetts.

What could be sweeter than a four year old holding farm fresh eggs!

Or a drink of Kahlua mixed with fresh goats milk! Yes OFG, I drank it and I liked it!

Both awards require me to list seven things that folks don't know about me, so here goes.

1. I once dyed my hair blond. I didn't really have more fun either.
2. I once dyed my hair red. Everyone thought I had a temper, I didn't.
3. I absolutely love Holly Hobbie and Friends.
4. I still have my childhood collection of the Little House on the Prairie Books.
5. I want warm Vernors when I have an upset stomach. You may have to be from Michigan to understand that one.
6. I was not very good at sports as a kid, but once I learned to laugh at myself I loved playing them. For example, I was in a bowling league with an average of 54 - they loved me for my handicap(s).
7. I'm going back to school this summer after a 16 year hiatus. I am taking a College Statistics course starting next week with one of my son's - I wonder if he will let me copy?

Wednesday morning Orchid died giving birth, it was horrible. Tuesday evening I had noticed that she was very puffy and bagged up, I thought something was wrong but wasn't sure what to do. Orchid stayed close to the barn so I thought she was going to lamb at any time. The next morning when I checked on her I noticed a hoof was hanging out, this was a ominous sign. Things went downhill quickly from this point. The baby was stuck and dead, the only thing I could do was get my gloves and see if I could remove it. I tried and tried, it was horrible and Orchid was in pain. I called all the local vets and received no call backs. I finally called the Commander at work and told him to come home as Orchid needed to be put down. I went back out to be with her and decided to give it one more try - I was able to get the poor baby out!

At this point Orchid was in bad shape so I emailed Pipestone Vet Clinic and one of their Vets emailed me back! How wonderful, he answered from his blackberry and provided me with some detailed advice.

I gave Orchid the recommended medications (I was amazed I had them all) but she didn't look good. I decided to bring the rest of the sheep into the barn with her while I picked my daughter up from school so that if she died she wouldn't be alone, I couldn't allow that to happen. The Commander found her dead before I could get back, I was heartbroken. When I examined her later she appeared to have a ruptured uterus, she never had a chance. Orchid was such a character, she so loved her cookies. I will miss her and her baby that wasn't to be.

Our first year as shepherds was a tough one, we lost two ewes out of the five we started with. The three remaining ewes gave us three female lambs and one ram lamb. I love them all but I will never forget Orchid, I hope she liked living here.