Friday, August 28, 2009

A New Day...

The most exciting thing happened while I was sleeping last night... the first baby Dorking chick was born on the Crazy Dog Farm! Yesterday, I told mama bird that she had two more days, and I was taking her off the nest. I guess she believed me! The baby is a female, I'm pretty sure. Hopefully, more will be born in the next few days! I put out a saucer of water and some chick starter, for when the baby starts feeding.

I have sooooo many questions, though. Like, do I leave the babies with mama for her to raise them? Or will the other chickens try to hurt the babies? Should I be removing Bully from the coop? Will he leave them alone? I guess all I can do is try it. I'd just hate to lose the baby now that she's actually here!

Will post pics later today.

I learned some things about turkeys last night. With chickens, they put themselves to bed at dusk, and then I can go close the coop, and keep them safe from 'coons and such. I just assumed turkeys would do the same. When I went to close the coop last nite, it took me several minutes to find them, all bundled in a pile in the grass. I got worried that a 'coon would get them, so waited until I thought they would be asleep, and tried to catch them. I caught the first few ok, and put them in the coop, but then one of the Bourbon Reds attacked me! Flew, screaming into my face. It was terrifying. I screamed like a little girl. EEEEKKK!!! At that point, I decided that if the 'coons got them, it wouldn't be so bad.... I ended up with 5 birds inside the coop, all safe and sound, and 3 outside all night. Dumb birds. Tonight, I will just leave them where they are, and hope for the best. I wonder if this is normal behaviour? I thought they would want to go into the coop and roost up high. Now I am REALLY worried about catching them for when they go into the freezer. Chickens sleep like the dead, and are easy to catch in the middle of the night. If turkeys are not... I could be in deep, deep trouble.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Homemade Stuff

For the first time in my life yesterday, I made a pie. From scratch. Actually, I made two pies! A blackberry, and an apple. Both picked from my own back yard. I'm not sure if it was because of all the effort that went into these pies, but they were seriously the BEST I've ever had. Maybe because the fruit was picked just an hour or two before baking? Who knows! Now that I've made them, I'm really not sure how to eat them myself. I think I am going to pawn some off on a friend tomorrow, who is helping me out. Pies are good for all sorts of things! Next time, I am just going to make tarts. They are little, and I can just take one out at a time for dessert, and won't have to worry about the rest of the pie going to waste.
I would like to thank my new friend Amanda, who came over and taught me how to make a pie. Kind of sad when a young 20 year old knows more about homesteading projects than you do.... lol! Anyway, thanks to her the pies turned out lovely, with a nice crust. The blackberry pie was a bit on the sweet side, so a little less sugar next time. I am going to try to make some apple/blackberry tarts in a few days... an experiment. Sounds good...

I also made my first-ever blackberry jam a couple of weeks ago. I did the freezer type, so I wouldn't botch it, and it turned out great! I am just now trying to finish off the store-bought jam I have, so I can get started on the home made stuff. I will never have to buy jam again! I've already found a huge difference in my grocery bill. It's gone down by about $150 a month. Imagine what will happen when I really get things going!!

Turkeys Day Out

Well, I FINALLY finished the turkey coop today. It really shouldn't have taken me so long, but it always goes back to my old problem... not enough moulah! I just needed a few more supplies, but needed to get paid first to do that. Anyway, it got done, netted roof and all! The little turkeys are so happy, having dust baths, and foraging in the weeds. They have been cheep-cheeping all day. It is almost 8:30 at night now, and they are still cheeping away! They are way louder than the chickens.

I have taken pics of the turkeys and chickens. They are both about 6 weeks old now, and doing fantastic. I have been talking to other people about their chicken and turkey experiences, and the more I hear about the losses and troubles people have with their hybrids, the more I am glad I chose to do heritage breeds. The one and only downside to a heritage is the fact that they take a bit longer to mature. Big whoop. I think it makes up for it just by having no fatalities to speak of. Hybrids seem to die on people left and right.

I am still trying to plant a few crops for fall. It is getting a bit late now, but if we have an indian summer, I will still get some veggies out of it! I am hand watering every day. STILL no freakin' rain. I am getting tired of watering! I just do a few beds everyday, so I don't put too much pressure on the well. I've now planted a bed of spinach, and one of beets. Worst case senario... I lose a few seeds that I planted.

Now that my turkey coop project is finished, I am working on my next projects. Today, I outlined an 8 x 10' space where I want a root cellar. I will probably be digging that out for the next century or so! I can't start digging until we get rain, and if it proves too hard, I will be forced to hire a back hoe to help me. I really want to do it the old fashioned way, though! More satisfying that way! I am going to do a hybrid type cellar, dig down as far as I can, then build it up a bit above ground with hay bales, and cob it. I've seen similar projects, but no one seems to report on if they work well or not... I guess we'll see! If nothing else, I'll have a new funky tool shed, I guess!! It's funny how on the farm, even if something doesn't work out, you find a use for it anyway!!
I also have plans to build a funky fence around my garden beds, and then plant lots of lavender around it. I am hoping that this may help to deter the deer, but if not, it will look pretty regardless! With the added benefit of helping to keep the naughty dogs out of it. Maybe. I hope. We'll see. !!!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Busy, busy, busy

I had my first day off in a long, long time yesterday. It was much needed, and I had tons of fun!

I was all rejuvenated, so I got to work today. Over the last few days, since we had that little bit of rain, I was able to crack the surface of the soil, and have been working on digging post holes for the turkey run. It has been a long, slow process. One foot down is a clay hard pan. I was trying to dig holes 2' deep. I would have to pour some rainwater down each hole, and wait for hours and hours for it to perk down and moisten the clay. Then, I would scrape off a bit of it, millimetre by millemetre. Felt like it took forever. Then, a surprise. About 16" down, I hit something. At first, I thought I misjudged, and hit my electical cable. I can't imagine how awful that would have been! But no, it was TIRES. I'm not sure if they are down there for some purpose, or if my property was built on a landfill... scary thought! Anyway, needless to say, my holes didn't get any deeper! I got the fence posts in (these are 10' tall- I wanted to build this coop 8' high). Then, a trip to Rona. I swear, I keep the local store in business all by myself, I have spent so much money there! I got a roll of stucco wire, and hinges and a latch, and a few other sundries. Came home, and got the bottom 4' of wire up. The amazing thing is that when I came home, the fence posts were still standing! I thought for sure they would've toppled over;-)
I built the door, and hope to hang it tomorrow, and get up the top 4' of wire. I will probably have to buy a second roll to get this totally finished. Then, I just have to put netting up over the top (which I think will be tricky), and I'm done! The turkeys should be able to start coming outside in the next day or two.
These heritage breed turkeys FLY. When I was at the breeder's, there were turkeys 60' up in the trees, roosting. It's amazing, really. You always think of turkeys as too fat to fly!

The chicken poults came outside for the first time today! They only came out a few feet- they are still to 'chicken' to explore much yet. A few more days or a week, and they will be all over that run, foraging like crazy. Hopefully, I won't have to feed them as much, as they will have alot of bugs and weeds to eat.

My hens stopped laying for me a couple of weeks ago. I miss my eggs like crazy. Funny, before the farm, I almost never bought eggs. Now, I feel like I can't live without them! One of the hens is broody again, and I'm just leaving her there. Maybe she'll give me babies. The eggs I put in the incubator didn't do anything... AGAIN. I though there was a couple that might hatch. I have to admit, I am quite disappointed by this. I don't want to have to buy more poults every year! It would be nice to get some of my own going.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Farm Dogs

Currently, I have three farm dogs. They definitely did NOT start out that way. When I bought the place, none of the dogs had ever seen a chicken, goat, horse, or any livestock for that matter. They all have quite high prey drives, and I couldn't see how this was going to work...

For the first month or so living here, the dogs went nuts. The youngest, Reckless, had never had a back yard, and the two older girls, Maggie and Boom-boom, hadn't had a back yard for about 6 years... since Boom was a puppy. They couldn't contain themselves. They were wild children. I had to mostly keep them on a leash, because they would run so far and so fast, I never could tell where they would end up! Reckless obsessed on the goats, and thought they would be great fun to chase, and he's so little, he could scoot under the fence whenever he pleased. I despaired regularly, wondering how to make them into proper farmdogs that wouldn't chase the livestock, and make my life hell.

All of a sudden, one day, they settled. Maggie and Boom were first, being older and wiser. They now just trot around the farm with me, 'helping' me plant, and feed the chickens. I never have to worry about them anymore. I am no longer worried about them leaving to go exploring- they know this is their home, and no longer want to leave. I never have to have them on a leash anymore.
Reckless has calmed alot. He is not perfect yet, but is getting close to it! He still has the occasional escapade, when he gets into the chicken coop, and almost kills a chicken, or gets into the horse and goat field. The good news is that he is no longer interested in chasing the horse and the goats, he just wants to eat poo. And, he only gets into trouble once in a while when I have not been able to spend enough time with him.

Maggie is my little helper. She is part Lab, and loves to retrieve. If I drop a tool or something, she will run over and pick it up and hand to to me. It is very cute, and she loves to feel useful!


Well, it is trying to rain again today, in fits and starts. It is a real rain this time, and if it lasts more than five minutes, it may actually do some good. This is the last rain we will get for at least a week, so I hope it rains good while it lasts! It is giving me a bit of hope...
Maybe I will be able to do laundry and dishes again one day...!!

I was so excited to pick my very first canteloupe from my garden today! Who says you can't grow melons in the Pacific Northwest? To all you naysayers out there... na na na na na!! It was delicious, and I have a bunch more coming! I bought a little plant start on a whim this spring, and put it in one of my tires. The heat from the tire really made it grow like stink! This winter, I have GOT to figure out where to get a bunch more tires. There are so many things I want to grow that way... watermelon, honeydew, zucchini, more squash varieties, and pumpkins. What I can't eat or sell can go to feed for chickens, turkeys, and pigs. I can just see in about 3 years time, I will be so self-sufficient here, and my fruit trees and berries will be starting to bear fruit. I just keep thinking of how to build that root cellar... I have some ideas, just not sure if it will work until it's done!

I bought my fenceposts for the turkey coop yesterday, in anticipation of the ground softening up soon. The turkeys are doing very well, and the first 3 I got are pretty much ready to start coming outside. There will be alot of work to be done around here in the next week or so!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Well, fellow followers, I am getting trouble already, because it's been two whole days since I posted last. Well, to be honest, it was my sister who complained, (thanks for the support, sis!!), BUT as she signed the post in our famous family tradition - by calling me a name that should not be published on a public forum - I have chosen not to publish the complaint. Everyone else out there might get the wrong idea. Regardless, I decided I'd better get off my butt and let you all in on what is happening around this crazy farm.

It's been trying to rain here since yesterday. The operative word is TRY. We've been getting that crappy, misty drizzle that really does no one any good whatsoever. After it rained for 4 hours yesterday, I decided to start my fall planting, in the hopes that we will get a good rain very, very soon. Plus, if I don't do it now, I will lose my window of opportunity, and nothing will mature before it gets cold. When I dug into the soil, the rain had only penatrated about a millimetre into the ground. NOT an exaggeration. We need a REAL rain!! A torrential downpour, to make any sort of difference.

I turned the beds over, and planted one bed of walla walla onions (which I just read somewhere do better and are sweeter if you let them overwinter- this will be a total experiment), and 4 beds of little marvel peas, one bed of little sweetie peas (these are the snap variety) and a bed of mesculin mix. This should give me fresh salad almost all winter. When it gets cold, I will put a garden cloche over it, to extend the season.
I still have some more beds I want to plant over the next week, but there's only so much a gal can do in one day;-)

Tomorrow, I plan on introducing you to the farm dogs, of which there are 3 (currently, anyway!). There is a story I need to share about one of them, though.
Recently Boom-boom, my husky-collie mix was coming in with a stained green face. For 3 days in a row, her muzzle and around her eyes was green, green, green. I couldn't figure out what was doing this. What was she getting into that would stain her green? She is a very quiet, sneaky girl, so I had to spy on her to figure it out.
As it turns out, she has been going into the garden, and helping herself to all my tomatoes while they are still green! No wonder I haven't been getting many tomatoes! And I was blaming the deer! My dogs all have learned to harvest themselves- they pick their own blackberries, peas, and strawberries. Little did I suspect they would like green tomatoes! Naughty girl!

I picked myself enough blackberries the other day to make myself my first ever batch of jam. I am just going to do the freezer jam this time, because from what I can tell, it is pretty difficult to botch that up! When more berries are ready, I am going to try making some 'real' jam, with the canner. I've never canned before, so this should be interesting! I'll let you know how it turns out!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Well, the turkeys and Chicken Little both got introduced to their respective flocks last night. Everything went very, very smoothly, and no one got beat up! I now have 3 Bourbon Red Turkeys and 5 Slate turkeys. 3 of the Slate are about 3 weeks old now, the new ones and the BR's are about 2 weeks old.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fruit Trees and Berry Plants

I have also started an orchard. So far, I have 5 fruit trees and 1 hazelnut tree. When I am done, I want to end up with 4 trees each of cherries, apples, plums, pears, and at least 4-6 hazelnuts. Right now, I have 2 cherries- an Aaron, and a Sweetheart
1 apple- Shamrock
1 plum- Peach Plum
1 pear- Highland
1 unknown hazelnut
These poor fruit trees I bought at a closing out sale about 3 years ago, and have been in pots for all that time, moving from place to place with me. I planted them before winter set in last fall, so by next year, I am hoping to get a bit of fruit from them! I had 7 cherries off the Aaron this year... VERY yummy. I had a few cherries off the Sweetheart, too, but I am not too crazy about them.

I am also starting a berry patch. Right now, it is very small, but I am going to add to it every year. I have 10 Blue Crop blueberries, 1 Elliot blueberry, 1 Black Satin thornless blackberry, and planted underneath are Quinalt and Totem strawberries. My hope is in the next few years, I can expand this to 100 blueberries, 60 blackberries, and 60 raspberries. Oh! I almost forgot... a friend gave me some Cascade berries to try. Out of 10 transplants, I ended up with just 3. I don't really know what these are, but am willing to try something new! Plus, I've never met a berry I didn't like!

You may wonder why I am doing the berries, fruit trees, and all gardens in raised beds. First of all, the drainage in the winter around here sucks. If I didn't use raised beds, I would lose everything I planted. I also like the fact that the raised beds warm up earlier in the spring, and are a bit easier to weed. The only downside is the cost of putting them in. But, I guess once they are in, I will never have to do them again, so that's not too bad.

More Crazy Days...

Well, the day started out pretty funny. I had a client coming to pick up his dog this morning, and he got so distracted looking at the goats and the horse that his car ended up in my ditch! He had to call a tow truck to get him out.

Yesterday, I worked very hard, and got the turkey coop all shingled and guttered, and put a rain barrel under the gutter for water (STILL waiting for that first rain in over two months...). I also finished dog proofing the second chicken coop, the 30 Dorkings I have in there are almost ready to start coming outside. Maybe another week or so?
Then, I harvested all my onions. I know it is too early to do this, but with my water situation, I am trying to harvest what I can before it goes rotten. This saves me from watering it, too. Next, I will have to do my potatoes. I am putting off harvesting those as long as possible, as I want a decent sized potato, if at all possible! Now I need a root cellar...

A root cellar will be one of my major projects for next spring. I will probably get it dug out at the same time as I get a grey water tank put in the ground. That way, next year, I won't have to worry about water as much. I will save all the rain water from the roof of the house for the garden.

I started getting my first little Early Girl tomatoes this week. And sweet million tomatoes. I just eat those like candy. I am still hand-watering these, as I hope to continue to harvest off those for 2 or 3 months still. The weatherman keeps promising me rain, but he never delivers!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thinking up a title is too hard for me today...

I got my little turkeys yesterday. That was fun! I got to see the farm where they are raised, and was introduced to 4 different heritage turkey varieties. I saw Narragansett, Ridley Bronze, Bourbon Red, and the Blue Slate. Funny, I realized when I got there, that I had NEVER seen a grown up turkey before. Just in books and on the internet...
The breeder, Margaret, is a world of information. I just love the farming community. Everyone is so helpful, and more than willing to share their knowledge with others, and they don't even charge you a consultation fee!
I only ended up getting 5 more birds. That makes a total of 8. Two less than I'd hoped for, but it will give me the experience I need to do more next year.
I really, really need to get the run built SOON. The poults are going to be ready to go outside any minute now, but if it doesn't rain soon, I won't be able to get the fence posts in.... not sure what my plan B is, but I think I'd better come up with one soon!

I have been absolutely exhausted the last few days. Partly because of blood loss from the quadrillion mosquitoes that have erupted from nowhere the last week or so, and partly because my business is booming right now. This is definitely a GOOD thing, but I didn't know keeping 9 or 10 dogs all happy and exercised was going to take it all out of me! I have had my share of challenging dogs lately. Then again, there is nothing I would rather be doing, so I guess I should stop whinning about it!

When it cools down tonight, I am determined to finish my turkey coop- I just have to put a gutter on, and shingle it, so if/when it does rain, my little turkey-lurkeys won't get all wet. I have put the new ones in a dog crate in the coop to begin with for a day or two. I am hoping I can get them all introduced without any fights going on.

Chicken Little is also making his way back to the flock today. I couldn't stand his stinkiness inside the house anymore, so I put him in the chicken coop, still inside his dog crate this morning. I will keep him there for a day or two, as well, then put him in with the flock at night when they are sleeping, and see how it goes. Wish Chicken Little luck! I don't want him to get beat up again.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Workin' workin' workin'

Today was MUCH cooler, so I worked on scooping up all the horse poo in the field, and put it into my garden beds. I am putting in 3 wheelbarrows full of poo into each bed. Today, I got two beds done. That's alot of poo!! The weatherman is promising me rain in a few days, and if it really does rain, I want to be ready to turn the soil in my gardens, and get to planting my fall crops. I still have 8 more beds to add poo into, but will have to wait until the horse gives me more. Never enough poo to go around;-)

Tomorrow, I get to go to Saltspring Island to pick up the rest of my little turkey poults. My first three are still doing very, very well. I will take some pics when I get the whole brood together. The breeder said she also has 4 Bourbon Reds for me! So, I guess I will be doing 2 types of heritage breeds. That is exciting! Then I can see if there is a difference in taste and meat quality. And size.

I also need it to rain to soften up the soil so I can dig some fence posts in for the turkey run. I haven't been able to do that yet, the ground is like cement. The way those little turkeys are growing, I will need to get this done sooner than later!

Chicken Little

Well, Chicken Little is surprising me! I thought for sure he would die the other night, I stressed him out so bad, and he was bleeding so much. He was quiet the first night, but by the next morning, he was cheeping away, and eating and drinking. He seems quite active, too. I checked out his neck this morning, and you can barely tell anything happened. I am going to give him a couple more days to recouperate, and then see what I can do about reintroducing him to the flock. I will have to do this very carefully! Maybe now that he has exclusive access to his food and water, he will grow big and strong. I'm not sure why the others were picking on him, if he was weaker, or if he had a little injury to begin with. I'll probably never know.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Adventures and MisAdventures

So, big adventure on the farm today. Once, I read that the word 'adventure' meant something bad that happened to someone else, but seemed exciting to you. Yep, that about sums it up.
First, a little background. Last week, I took in a dog to board- I'll call him Timmie to protect the innocent. He is from the ministry of children and family services. I said I would care for him until his family could get sorted out, or until they could find a new home for him. This dog obviously comes from a home where he had the run of the place. He thought he was King. The first couple of days I had him, he tried to bite me when I put on his leash, refused to sit, and basically acted like a bad-ass. I wouldn't back down, and have been working hard on earning his trust and respect.
He is the only dog I have boarded so far that I keep on a leash outside in the yard. Most of the dogs I board love it here, and love and respect me, and therefore get alot of freedom. Not Timmie. So, everytime we go out, he is on a 20' lead.
I'm out with my two girls, and 3 other regulars, and Timmie. We are exercising, and having a good time. Suddenly, I hear a terrible commotion from the chicken coup with all my new little poults in it. I tie Timmie up quickly, and rush in to see what was going on. Well, all the chickens are beating up on one little chicken. I know if this continues, he will die. He has a big hole in his neck. I get in there, and after alot of flapping about and squacking, I catch the little guy. I come out of the coup.... and notice Timmie is GONE. Crap is the first word I say. Then, when I spy him bootin' it down the driveway to the gate, I said a whole lot of other bad, bad words.
This guy is DETERMINED to go. I can tell. I tried the happy calling, to see if I could cajole him into coming back. Nope, not a hope in hell. So, I start running. My gate is pretty secure. I haven't had anyone escape yet. But, this is a little dog hell-bent on running. He tries 3 times to squeeze under the gate, meanwhile, I am running as fast as I can down the driveway. Have I mentioned my driveway is really, really, really long???? And I don't run that fast....
He gets out. Some more really bad words come out of my mouth. I have 5 other dogs trotting around me, so happy that we are running! I get out the gate, lock it behind me, and tell the dogs to STAY, and hope that they will....

Now, I am running, running down the road, WITH A LITTLE CHICKEN STILL IN MY HAND, trying to get this damn little dog. He turns around, looks at me coming, and scoots into the woods in my neighbours yard. I tear down the driveway, and cut him off. I am sure the only reason I caught this dog is the fact that his 20' lead got caught on a branch. My lucky day. Hahaha. I get the dog, and he, with this poor little bleeding chicken still in my hand, walk back to the yard. You can't imagine my relief to see all my wonderful dogs and boarded dogs just sitting there, waiting patiently for me to get back.

By this time I literally have sweat pouring into my eyes. It is hot, about 30 c or so, plus the adrenaline rush, plus the running. I can barely see. The dogs are all inside the yard, and notice I have a chicken in my hand. Yummy! Stumbling down the drive, making sure all the dogs listen to me, and don't try to rip this little chicken out of my hand, well, that was another adventure. I found an empty dog crate, and put Chicken Little into it, then Timmie goes into his crate. He needs a time out.

I have just set up the poor chicken with feed and water. I have no idea if he will survive or not. You can't say I didn't try....

I am going to drink a gallon of water now, and put all the dogs away for an hour, so I can recouperate. I need a moment.

Timmie will have a leash on every day until the day he goes home.
Which I hope is soon. I don't need another heart attack.

The Goats

When I bought my farm, it came with two goats and a goose. The goats were a male and a female, named Burley and Thistle. The goose was just Goose. I wasn't sure about the histories or anything about these goats, but found out they were rescues, and were at least 10 years old. Not sure how long a goat lives??? Anyway, Thistle died that first winter, just before the Big Snow came. Unfortuately, I have no idea how or why she passed.

Anyway, soon after, the Goose became VERY territorial, and wouldn't let anyone near 'his' goat, Burley. I knew that goats need to have a little friend to play with, and figured I would have to get a new goat at one point. Somewhere in here, I rented out my pasture for a horse, Review. I seriously couldn't have found a better horse for the property than him! He is friendly, and extraordinarily tolerant of all the dogs that are in and out of here on a regular basis. Even if one barks at him, he just stands there and gives it the 'look'.
The owner of the horse helped me to find a new little goat for a friend for Burley. This little guy is about a year old, and came with the name of Franklin, or Frankie. She also helped me to find a new home for the terrorist Goose, after he bit her husband in the back. That was scary! The goose went to a really nice home, with a girlfriend goose, and a big pond, and is apparently very happy there. It took a while, but now Burley, Frankie and Review are all best buddies. Frankie is a brat, and very cheeky, and you can quite often see him climbing on Review's back. Review is the boss of the field, though, and is quite good at keeping them all in line.

It is a huge bonus to me that I now have access to all the horse manure Review can give me... wonderful stuff for the gardens!!

Flooded Driveway

Flooded Driveway
Too much RAIN!