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Homestead Journal 3/18/18

Spring is on the way! Lots of melting going on at the homestead. We still have a good coating of snow on the ground, some spots still have over a foot. The geese, swans and song birds are back in the area. We had a flock of 10 geese fly over the house yesterday! I love when the birds start coming back. It means that spring is not far away.

The snow is almost completely melted off the driveway now. We have a few patches here and there that were difficult to shovel this winter so never got done when it would snow.

This was is what the driveway looked like two days ago and now its dry.

Chickens:

We put some blu kote on the cut that rooster has on his leg. It had healed to a very small scab so we thought that with some blu kote he we be good to go back with the flock. He made it about 10 minutes before the hens busted it open, so back into is kennel he went. Now we will keep him in there until it is 100% healed. Good news is that he can walk on it and has gained the feeling and use back in his foot.

Our fodder is getting better every day. Right now the only seed option we have from our local supplier is wheat. We would like to try some other types of seed but need to find a supplier that is not too far from home.

Ideally, there should be very little seed remaining in the pan. As you can see in the pictures we still have quite a bit of seed in the pans. It is not bad for the chickens to eat the seed it just doesn’t create as much volume of feed supplement when the seed doesn’t completely sprout. The seed should form a root mat with the green sprouts on top.

We are still working on way to water the fodder without disrupting the seeds so much. Our current method for watering the fodder is pouring a gallon jug over the top pan then letting the water drip from pan to pan so that all of the pans get water. When we pour the water in the top pan it makes all of the seeds in that pan move around. We are going to try a garden watering can and see if that makes a difference.

The one on the left is the finished fodder from Wednesday and the right is finished from Sunday. Looking fuller every day.
The chickens all rush outside to get the fodder during chores time.

The girls have been laying about 3 dozen eggs a day for us. They are loving the warmer weather for sure! This weekend we cleaned out the nesting boxes and as always had some help from the chickens.

Chicken jumped into the clean straw bin and started digging around. I turned around and found her in there.

Ducks:

Planning for the ducks is in full swing. We have selected the types of ducks that we are planning to get this year. Since we like to have a variety, we are planning to get some Buff, Pekin, Caygua, Golden layer, Khaki Campbell, and one White Crested male. The ducks will be used for eggs and meat. Most of the breeds that we chose are good combination egg/meat ducks. The White Crested is simply just for looks and my own entertainment.

We did some measuring and have a coop plan ready to start as soon as the ground thaws. The ducks will go into the open space in the chicken coop. The chickens will be on one end and the ducks will be on the other end. Our duck enclosure will be able to house as many as 40 ducks. We plan to start with 15 ducks this year as sort of a test run to see how we like them. The duck enclosure will be about the last animal that we can fit in that shed. We could possibly squeeze some quail cages in there at a later time if we decide that we want to raise quail.

Chicken coops on right side of shed.
Indoor duck enclosure will be in this space on the left side of shed.
Outdoor duck run and pond will be added to this area.

Rabbits:

The rabbit hutches have all been cleaned out underneath. We started doing a couple hutches a day instead of doing them all at once. It won’t be long until we start the clean out rotation again.

With the ever expanding rabbitry and trying to get the breed mixes that we want, we are in need of some more rabbit hutches. This weekend we started our first of 5 hutches that need to be completed by May 1st. The hutch that we started this weekend is almost complete, we just need to put the doors on the front. This will be Willow’s permanent home.

Some of our does that are not at breeding age yet, are need of a diet. We have 4 does that we will start measuring food for this week. It is not healthy to let them be over weight and we don’t want unhealthy rabbits.

Lucy is one of the does that will be going a diet this week. The picture doesn’t show it well, but she is definitely over weight.

Projects/General:

The smoker was up and running again this weekend. We smoked another 2 rabbits. One was an older breeding doe that we had and the other was young meat rabbit. We wanted to do both of them at the same time so that we could compare. The older rabbits tend to dry out and the meat is usually tougher when its cooked. I thought that both rabbits turned out really good. There was definitely a difference in the two rabbits but the older one did not seem to dry out in the smoker and stayed pretty tender.

We also smoked some bacon from the pig that we purchased from a local Amish man. It was like candy! I cannot wait until we grill some of the pork chops that we got from the pig. After having the pork chops last year from his pig, I could not eat them from the grocery store.

Smoked Bacon. Delicious!

This week we met with the local USDA food processor. We are going to get some of our rabbits and most of our meat chickens processed there this year so that we can sell them at farmers markets and have other sales outlets. There are so many regulations on food sales that we had to figure out what our best route was going to be. We will still be processing all of the animals that are for our own consumption ourselves, plus some for onsite sales.

I will end this of post with a couple of my favorite pictures from the week.

We chopped the ice on the hill to the barn so that the water could flow down easier.
This is “Chicken Little”. She got that name because one of her wings in much smaller than normal.
Beautiful sunset last Sunday evening.