Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Saturday Farmer's Market

Starts this weekend in Berthoud! We'll see you there!

Monday, June 22, 2009

New Animals - Chicks and Kitties

So, we got some new animals this month - 2 new barn cats (we still miss you, Marie and Natasha - come home anytime!), Silver Lakenvelder chicks and more Cornish Rock Cross meat chickens!

First - Meet Radley. He is one of our new barn cats. We rescued him from the Longmont Humane Society. He's a very friendly kitty, as you can see here.

And he met the chickens today. I don't think he really cared one way or another....

Our other new kitty is Boo. She came to us from a nice lady who couldn't keep her, and knew she was skittish around strangers, and used to being outside. She is definitly shy, and hides in the cat carrier when she hears us coming. I know she doens't spend all day in here, I can hear her run for it, when I open the barn door! She's really just shy, I can reach in here and pet her. She just prefers things on her own terms. OK, Boo!

We also got some new chicks. The fluffy yellow ones are Cornish Rock Crosses - your typical meat chicken. YUMMY!

The black and white ones are Silver Lakenvelders, egg layers that I have been wanting to get for a while! I can't wait to breed these guys!

In the meantime, I will keep trying to breed the Anconas. This little chick in the middle is sure confusing me... it came from a white egg (or so i thought) so it must have had an Ancona as a mom - and the only roosters we have are Anconas, and one little Buff Cochin? So why does this little chick look so much like a Red Sex Link? We'll have to see what it grows into!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New baby chick!

We got our second chick from the incubator last night. WAHOO! The night before, when I put in the protective tray, I swore I saw eggs moving when I put them back in. I thought that two of the eggs were jiggling on their own. Looks like I was right on one of them. In the picture below, you can barely see where the chick first started pecking a hole through its shell. It's a very dirty egg, but I can't wash them before I try to hatch them, because I might make the egg too cold when I wash it, and stop the growth process.

I woke up the next morning to find this - a wet little baby bird just emerged from its shell! I was surprised at how dark the bird was. Granted, its momma is an Ancona - I know this because it came from a pure white egg. Its poppa was probably also an Ancona, but COULD have been a buff cochin bantam (highly unlikely) or that Buff Minorca rooster that I have. Either way, it would be a yellow chick, or a yellow chick with black spots? So we'll just have to see how this one surprises me as it grows up.

Here is is again in the incubator, trying to dry its feathers before we put it out in the world. Apparently, it is admiring Larry's diploma...

Here it is sleeping in the brooder all by itself. Poor birdy. We put it out in the greenhouse during the day with the baby turkeys, but it isn't warm enough in there at night for a day old chick. it'll have to stay with the heat lamps for a few weeks - and by then, our next batch of meat birds and my Silver Lakenvelders will be here, so it won't be alone.

This one should be safe by itself. We don't have cats anymore (come home kitties!) and we build a chicken wire mesh lid for the brooder pen - so no cats can eat them, no birds can swoop off with them, and no hens can peck at them and steal their food!

I will probably name the little rascal Tweety Too!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Greenhouse Fun

Things are moving along smoothly - just another summer on the farm. The meat chickens are out in their pens. These ones are about 4 or 5 weeks old...

The egg layers are back out on the pasture.

And this year, we have a greenhouse. We moved the turkeys to the greenhouse while they are still small. There are only 7 left (from 25 to start!) as the cats kept eating them. Bad kitties! But turkey babies are good for eating bugs, and these are slow growers, so they can stay in the greenhouse for a while - Midget Whites and Bourbon Reds!

Here is some of my celery. I've never been successful growing celery in the past, so this is exciting!

I also have lettuce, which I have shown a propensity for in the past. I must make a salad tonight.

We also have carrots, kale, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, bok choy and one little pea plant growing in the greenhouse. I have planted many other things, but some of the seeds just haven't sprouted. We live and we learn! We'll only get more successful each year.

OK, off to the humane society to look at kitties!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Too many goodbyes, sometimes

I have moments where farming is just too hard. Saying goodbye to our little lambs when it is time to eat them, spending entire weekends processing chickens, having skunks eat our young chicks, and all sorts of things.

We've said good goodbyes (Ditka is an example) and we've said bad goodbyes (Ethel, Carol and Pretty Princess Penelope), and we have pre-destined goodbyes (turkeys, chickens and lambs).

This goodbye is sort of hard, because we really don't know if it's goodbye, but we suspect it is.
Miss Natasha, one of our barn cats, hasn't been seen in over a week. There has been a very destructive skunk on the prowl, as well as our family of coyotes that live near by, as well as foxes that have been seen in the area. The kitties usually get locked in the barn at night, but when they started eating all the baby chicks, we let them sleep where they wanted - under the shed, under bushes - wherever. Natasha has even been known to spend a cold night on the roof of the barn - not by my choice!! We've gone several days without seeing her, only for her to pop back up on the front porch in the morning. But now, not only have we not seen her to over a week - but her sister Marie started acting very lonely. She would dance in circles around Hobbes looking for a playmate, or talk to Larry and I hoping for some cuddles and attention. She has even spent time in the house with us.

Now we haven't seen her since Sunday - but I hope she will be back. Regardless, we will be making a trip to the humane society to see what types of barn cats they have available. If Marie comes back, that's great - but she'll need a companion in the winter to help keep her warm in the barn. If she doesn't, we still desperately need mousers in the barn and around the house.

I keep telling Marie (when I see her) and the dogs to tell Natasha to come home. Since we haven't found her, dead or alive, I still hope she just wandered off. Even though she was the shy one, she's never been gone this long. And if the skunk got her and left her under the shed, or by some bushes, the dogs would have certainly found her body by now. So she's clearly not here. But I don't know where she is. We had both of them for about a year, and we figured if they were going to actually run away, they would have done it by now. I love them very much and hope they come back. But the reality is that there are wild animals around here - and they are hungry too. If they don't come back - it's easy to replace a cat. There are always hundreds of them in shelters looking for homes, we'll get more and hopefully do a better job of keeping them safe. It's not to say that Natasha and Marie are replaceable - every animal has a special place in my heart - but there can always be more cats to bring home.

Sleep tight Natasha and Marie. We hope you both come home. If you don't - I hope you can rest peacefully wherever you are and know that you are loved.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Little Killdeer Family

FSee anything in this photo? OK OK, beside the WEEDs..... yeah, me neither.

We've spent weeks planting things next to the greenhouse, being screamed at by a little bird, I think is a Starling. (Margaret corrected me, it's a KillDeer - I knew she would know what type of bird it really is!) This little bird - there are tons of them in our pasture - plays the broken wing game. You can sort of see it in the picture below. I holds a wing out and hops around, crying like it is injured. It tries to trick the animals into thinking it is hurt, so they will come after it. Then it flies away once it gets the animals on it's trail.

What it is doing is leading them away from its nest. I kept playing it's little game to see which direction it was trying to lead me, so I could go the other way and find out where it's nest is.

Once we found it, we couldn't believe how CLOSE to our tomatoes it was. We couldn't believe we hadn't stepped on its nest! It was so close. And we found 4 little spotted eggs in the nest. Thankfully, this spot is fenced off with electric netting, so the dogs can't get to it, or the sheep. Now that we knew where the nest was, we avoided stepping on it.

And yesterday, Larry found these! Little baby birds! Of course, our electric netting can't protect them from hawks and falcons and eagles - but Goliath usually never lets them land near our pasture. So hopefully these little birdies will stand a chance. Just don't eat my cherries!!