Monday, December 28, 2009

Frikin' Turkeys

Well, Christmas day has come and gone. My plan for the morning was to sleep in a tiny bit, exercise dogs, and then just laze around and do not much of anything on Christmas. Thanks to the frikin' turkeys, I barely got even that done. When I got up and let the first group of dogs out, they all ran to the neighbours fence and started barking and obsessing on something... it was one of my damn turkeys! It had flown all the way over the trees and the fence, and was squallering in my neighbours yard. Upset that he was separated from the rest of the flock. So, back inside with all the dogs, who needed a big run BAD. I got some food to entice turkey lurkey to the fence. That part worked. He came closer. I knew from experience that he wouldn't be smart enough just to fly back over the fence- for some reason, they always have to go under... I found a stick and propped up a bit of the fence, and put some feed in front of it, then stood back to give the turkey some room. Well, that dork walked up and down the fence for over an hour, squeaking and calling to his turkey brothers, almost going under the fence a thousand times. I was seriously ready to just go get one of my dogs to jump the turkey and put ME out of my misery! It was exhausting, trying to entice him back under that fence!
Meanwhile, the poor doggies are all locked inside, dying to get out for a pee and poo and a good run!

Finally, he scoots under the fence. I couldn't believe it after all that time! I was astounded that he figured it out! Then, of course, he flies into the nearest tree. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at this... I was soooo close to just giving up! I decided to hide myself, so the turkey would feel more free to come near the coop. That worked quite well, and he leaped out of the tree and waddled to the coop, where I then came out of hiding and opened the door and herded the damn thing back in. All told... over 2 hours. No rest time for me that day! I finally got to let the poor dogs out, where they went nuts, venting all their energy. I have pretty much made the decision to get rid of these turkeys, ready or not. They are just too much trouble! I am going to call the processing place right after new years, and get them booked into the first appointment I can. I refuse to be herding escapees all winter long!

The next day, I lost one of my new laying hens. She escaped the coop (which is easy for them to do, they just usually don't, because of the dogs) and a dog got her. She was pretty mangled, but died very, very quickly. No pain for her! I unthinkingly buried her, but now that I think back, maybe I should have put her in the freezer... I am not used to this farming thing, and really, what a waste of a perfectly good chicken! Hopefully, I'll know better next time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chickens and Eggs

I have been procrastinating catching all my new hens and moving them up to the egg laying coop. I was freaked out from trying to catch the males last week, and I no longer have a houseguest, so had to do it all on my own. The younger hens have been starting to give me a few tiny little eggs of late, and are ready to start laying regularly, and I knew I wouldn't be able to procrastinate much longer. So, last night I grabbed the biggest dog crate I had, and went out with much trepidation to move the chickens. My heart was beating a million miles a minute, I was so nervous about doing this!

As it turns out, female chickens are WAY easier to deal with than the males. They just sat there while I gently picked them up and put them in the crate. I didn't even have to close the door behind each one- they just sat there while I gathered up all the hens! No flapping, no screeching, no scarieness at all! I crammed them all into the crate, then dragged them bit by bit up to the permanent coop. I put them in with the older layers from last year, but left them in the crate overnight. Early this morning, I let them all out together. I was expecting alot of fighting and screeching with the two groups, but they seem to be getting along quite well! I have noticed the odd little arguement, but nothing major. What a relief.

Three more days, and winter solstice is here. As the days start to get longer, my hens should start laying more often. I now have 24 layers, so as time goes on, I should get between 1 1/2  and 2 dozen eggs each day. More than enough more myself, and I will be able to start selling them again, and make enough money to pay for their feed. Yay! Something worked out! Can't wait to start collecting my eggs every day!

Damn Turkeys

I was getting ready to let all the dogs out for a really good run this morning, peeked out the door, and what's just outside?? Seven damn turkeys! Somehow, they had burst open the door to their coop, and were happily foraging on my lawn. Looked cool, but somehow I didn't think it would last with 6 or so dogs coming out to play...

Of late, I have become an expert at herding turkeys. If you take it slow and steady, and don't rush them or freak them out, they will walk in the general direction you want them to. It took me about 15 very patient minutes, and amazingly, they all went back into their coop. I am seriously considering not doing turkeys next year. Who know a stupid bird could be such a pain in the ass??? Or, alternatively, I may try some non-heritage variety. I don't like the idea as much, but with my lack of building-a-decent-coop-skills, it may be the way I have to go for now. I spend ALOT of my time rescuing or herding escaped turkeys. Even when I think I have the coop all perfect, they seem to find a way out....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

First Snow

Our first snow arrived 2 days ago. Lasted a day, then rained like crazy and it's all melted already. Typical of the island! Plus, it's the kind of snow I like- doesn't last long! I am hoping like mad that we don't get a repeat of last year where we had 3 feet of snow on the ground for over a month. People back east may think that's wimpy, but I live on the island because of it's typical mild winters... although, we haven't had a true mild winter in quite some time now. I think we are due!! Oh, and we are also due an early spring- last spring bit the big one!

It hasn't stopped raining since the snow the other night- it is torrential again. I am already cabin-feverish. I am just dying to get out into the garden. I am trying to do some indoor projects- Christmas baking, making soup stock from the chickens, and I tried my hand at making my own salsa with the remainder of my Roma tomatoes. The salsa turned out ok- I just made up the recipe- I made 21 jars, and then put them in the freezer. Some will go into my Christmas baskets that I'm making for my family, the rest will feed me for a while. The only thing really missing from the recipe was the fact that I couldn't seem to find any hot peppers... salsa really needs some spice to it!

Kybosh exiting the agility tunnel in the snow. Snow is Fun!!

I have also been going over my seed catalouges making up my orders for the spring. I am ordering WAY too much, but my enthusiasm this time of year is hard to control- I have no outlet for it! I am getting some things in that I have never grown before, so I can hopefully have some surprises for the CSA members in the summer.

Oh! Good news! I applied for my farm to be Certified Naturally Grown, and recieved confirmation last week that I succeeded! The only thing that remains to be done is sometime in the spring/summer, there will be another local farmer coming to check my farm out and do some soil testing, etc. That should be interesting, and hopefully I am doing everything correctly! I decided to go the CNG route instead of the Organic route, as it is WAY more cost efficient (by donation) and WAY less paperwork. With C Organic, you have to document every seed and every crop you grow, which is too much for a small farmer growing multiple crops- it is more for a larger farmer growing one or two crops. Plus, I have to admit, I don't really like anything government regulated- I think it's too much red tape for something that should be relatively simple.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Chickens in the Freezer

I had a harrowing night the other night catching the damn chickens so I could take them to the processing place. Everyone tells me that chickens 'sleep like the dead'. Not mine! Somehow, my chickens are the only ones in the world that stay awake and alert ALL night long!
I tried going out at 10 pm to get them put into the dog crate for transport. I grabbed one, and he squealed so loud it scared the crap out of me and I dropped him and ran. I am SUCH a baby;-) Then, I set my alarm for 1 a.m., and tried again. Luckily, I have a houseguest staying with me, so I got him up to come out and help. The chickens were a bit less anxious, but still squealed and screamed and flapped about. I decided I was absolutely not getting up to try again, it was now or never. My friend held the crate door closed, then opened it quick when I shoved a chicken in there, then closed it again quick so they wouldn't escape while I caught the next one. It took me about 15 minutes to catch 11 roosters. Got up super early the next morning, took them to the plant, and by the end of the day, I had a bunch of yummy roasters in my freezer. At the time, I wondered if it was worth all the effort, but once you taste a home grown chicken, you realize it was soooo worth it! I've roasted one already, then I am going to make some soup stock with a couple more. These chickens will feed me for quite some time!
I do wonder if I should raise a different breed, though... ones that maybe are a little easier to catch??!!

I had also tried to catch one of the turkeys to take in. There is one that isn't looking all that great, and I was going to put him in the freezer, too. No such luck. Turkeys are SCARY. Not sure how I am going to get them all packed when the time comes... EEEEEK!!!

Other than that, I haven't done much around the farm lately, as it has been so freakin' cold, the ground has been frozen, and I haven't been able to do much. It is supposed to warm up later this week, so I hopefully will be able to start working on my projects again.

Flooded Driveway

Flooded Driveway
Too much RAIN!