Friday, November 28, 2008

Sheep in the Front Yard

OK, so I am never going to mow the lawn ever again. The pasture is pretty much done for the year, and the sheepies are hungry. We have hay that we bought that we will feed them with through the winter. But while there is still some real green stuff in the ground, we might as well let them eat it. So today, I sat on the front porch and baby sat the sheep while they grazed on our front lawn. You have to keep an eye on them, or they end up in someone else's garden.

Charlie Brown, Pretty Princess Penelope, Laverne and Shirley

A close up of Charlie Brown

Jean Claude Van Ramme and Jan

Laverne (background), Lucy and Shirley

This is the most boring movie ever. But this is what the sheep do all day. Granted, they rarely do it in the front yard where I have the pleasure of sitting on the front porch and just watching them. I do like them. Lucy came up close to investigate before I could get the camera turned on.

OH, and here at Atlas and Goliath. They are trying to convince me what good dogs they are. That they should get to stay in the house more often and see how nicely they can sit on the stairs, and see how well they get along? Please let us stay inside today? please? OK! darn it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Day

Turkey Day has a different meaning on Long Shadow Farm. Sure, we still celebrate Thanksgiving, and looking forward to it. But Turkey Day (actually a weekend) is when we process all the turkeys FOR Thanksgiving.

Things to be thankful for on Turkey day? Wonderful weather, friends, family and neighbors to come help out and learn about the farm, relatively cooperative birds, customers coming just in time to take the birds home as our freezer space is limited, and can I say how much I appreciate my scalder and my plucker? (best money I ever spent!)

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! Here are some pictures from Turkey Day

The Turkey King. Fully processed, he came out to 32 pounds! Carrie and I had to carry him together, each holding one leg to get him to the scalder, to the plucker and then to the table. We didn't weigh him with his feathers on, and didn't weigh him with his feathers wet, I can just imagine!

We can't neglect the sheep on Turkey Day. They are hungry girls, as the pasture is full of dying grass. We let them into the back yard and garden to find some green stuff. I found some good tall green stuff in the strawberry patch. I would have let them in, but they would have eaten the strawberry plants, too.

Farmer Larry hard at work at the scalder. Some of these birds were too big for me to scald on my own, so Larry had to pick up some of my Turkey Day duties.

The Turkeys got to wander around all day in the yard with us. NOW I can see in the background, who knocked over my box of clips that I had to dig through the leaves to find. Silly turkeys.

Here are the Turkeys in front of the house. The Bronze Toms just won't quit when it comes to strutting their stuff. I didn't get a picture, but the Bronze Hen flew up into the bushes for a little nap - probably to get away from these Adonises.

Goodbye turkeys! You'll fill many bellies tomorrow, and the barn is a much quieter place at night without you. Until next year!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

November Picture update

Just some photos I took today. Here are our Thanksgiving turkeys. I was trying to get them in the barn, since, despite the clear blue skies, it was rather cold today. Instead, they decided to follow me.

Atlas decided to sit for a pose. But don't be fooled, he has his eyes on his sheep! And a nice new scar under his eye from Goliath. I am pretty sure he deserved it.

An even more rare opportunity to shoot a portrait of Goliath sitting still. That rarely happens outside!

Here is one of my Anconas, with a mystery bird. At first we thought it was an Araucana, or an Americana, but now I am trying to sleuth this out. I completely forgot that McMurray Hatchery gives you the option of one free, rare chick with each order. How could I say no? So this is my rare breed chick, I don't think it's an Aracauna - it doesn't have the tufty ears. So now I am looking ... Dominique? Silver Penciled Rock? Silver Pencilled Wyandotte? I don't know! As a baby chick it looked so much like an Araucana.. but not anymore... She's a shy one, though.

This is an Ancona Rooster. What a comb on this little guy! They are starting to really feather out well. They had little black specks as chicks, and started getting more and more black. Eventually, they will be mostly black, with just white specs, and they turn more every day! Fortunately, the hunter in the barn (could be Marie and Natasha) can't seem to catch these guys, like zebra stripes, it makes it hard for a predator to see shapes. My Buff Minorcas, all yellow, aren't as lucky. I don't even think there are any left, if there is, it is only one, and she is hiding under the manger.

I am going to keep the Anconas separated from the rest of the chickens and get myself a small incubator and try my hand at breeding them. I hope they are good layers, like the production Reds and Black Sex Links... But they have one thing going for them - their coloring seems to protect them from predators, so THAT I really like!

Here are Charlie Brown and Linus at a little buffet. They are so cute, and getting SO big. They are more flightly than their ancestors... Lenny and Squiggy. These guys don't want me near them, when Lenny and Squiggy loved attention and playing games. These two are just as goofy... and like to jump into the manger, too.

Since it was a windy, cold day, and we still have some green green grass in the yard, I managed to get all the sheep into our backyard for a little treat. They really liked some of the tall grass that I could never get to mow, and had some extra green stuff to chew on today.

OK, I found the video I took of our funny Bantam Cochin rooster trying to crow. All the production Red roosters are gone, so this little guy gets to make all the noise, but he still sounds like he is going through puberty... ENJOY!

Sometimes we just get lucky

And it's great.

Larry dropped off eggs last night to the Wayside Inn, they are our only commercial customer, and probably our favorite. They love our eggs, and are patient with us when production goes down, like it is now that winter has hit and the girls are laying less and less every day. We gave them a big trash bin to collect compost in - they are giving us all their food prep scraps - like potato and carrot peelings and egg shells. That stuff will make the best compost ever. And it's a big happy circle - they give us the food scraps, we compost it, put it in our garden, and sell the produce back to the restaurant. They LOVED my lettuce, and I am dedicating a large part of our new greenhouse JUST for lettuce, JUST for them!

We meet interesting folks at the Wayside when we sit at the bar and wait for Deb to have a moment to pay us for our delivery. We met a fishing enthusiast named Mike, who hand carves ice fishing poles made from wood, in the shape of a duck. It balances, so you can set it on the ice, and if you catch a fish, the wings from the duck keep the pole from being yanked down the hole. Genius.

We also met Dan, who taught us about burping our turkeys. Yup. They burp. All the time, if you know what to listen for. He also does a great impression of strutting like a tom. He is full of stories and wisdom from his years of being around agriculture and safety (we had a long chat about industrial safety, he takes it as seriously as I do)

Last night, Larry met the owner of the Berthoud Bed and Breakfast. Jeremy cracked an egg for him, and he ate it raw. I guess he liked it. He wants to buy eggs from us too. He will also be a seasonal customer - in a good way - he wants more eggs in the spring, summer and fall - when the girls are laying like mad. Perfect.

So we need to finish our greenhouse ASAP and get our chickens in it. Because we are going to have baby chicks this winter. Having baby animals in winter is hard. It didn't work too well last year - but if we get all the adult chickens out to the greenhouse, process all the turkeys (next weekend!) and hopefully let those kittens know that baby chicks are NOT chicken mcnuggets - we'll have 125 MORE baby birds for the winter, so we can be ready to supply 2 commercial customers by spring, plus our regular individual customers. Boy, this is all shaping up for a successful future in farming. So... when do I get to quit my day job?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Greenhouse in Process

We won't talk much about the plumbing, except to say, I am calling a plumber tomorrow. But here is a fun picture of the trench I got to dig. I know it isn't straight, that was intentional. We have a new hydrant near the greenhouse, and a teeny little tunnel that will eventually get filled in as soon as we fix whatever is leaking. Oops, I wasn't supposed to talk about it.

Here is the greenhouse as a skeleton, just in time for Halloween weekend. We got the posts pounded in last weekend or so. Larry had a couple of the ladies from the Boulder Rugby team come out on Sunday and they put up the bows, purlins, and started the baseboards. We will need the baseboards to be finished, and the hip boards, and we are on our way to having a green house.

Now, I was mistakenly informed that we didn't need a permit for this, as it is not a permanent structure. No foundation, no concrete in the posts - but I guess I was wrong. Our asshole neighbor took the liberty of calling the authorities on us. Fine, I'll take care of the permit, but isn't it fun to have asshole neighbors who have to watch everything you do and get into your shit all the time? Anyhow, I think the greenhouse looks cool and I can't wait to see it finished (and full of chickens)