Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pinky is Missing

Our agoraphobic barn cat (who only recently discovered the joy of the sun and the sky) is now missing. She started coming out of the barn for the first time this spring, peaking out through the door. Eventually, she started coming out to the yard. I would find her at night by the grain bins, meowing at me for attention. She loves being petted, but watch out, she likes to give love bites on your chin.

We couldn't find her last night, and no sight of her this morning.  She's spayed, so she isn't off somewhere having kittens. I just hope she didn't get too adventurous one night and meet our coyote friends. I'll give her a week to show back up, and then we might have to find a new barn cat.

Aside from Boo, who is a great hunter and kills all sorts of things, Pinky was a sweety, and so pretty. She kept the barn clean of mice, and didn't hurt the baby chicks, which is pretty darn important!  So I am thinking happy thoughts today and hoping that Pinky just went off on an adventure and that she'll be back tonight.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Surprise Chicks!

Friend Bird is one of my favorite chickens. I named her Friend Bird because she always comes out to say hi. She has moved from the truck to the barn to the turkey shed. We've been trying to get everyone to the truck, but chickens are stubborn. So I hadn't noticed she wasn't greeting me. She apparently found shelter somewhere else, about 3 weeks ago, apparently. She brought out her baby chicks for breakfast this morning! WOW! I would have thought if she was hiding somewhere that the coyotes or skunks would have gotten her by now. I am so glad they didn't! She's my favorite chicken! And now she has babies. Can't wait to see them grow up to try and figure out who their papa is...

We've never had chickens brood their own chicks before. I have some broody girls, but was always afraid if they hatched their chicks in the egg boxes in their house, that the other chickens might be mean to the eggs or the hatchlings. So I am glad we had an opportunity for nature to take its course. We'll see how these guys all grow up together!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Blog is Fancy All of a Sudden!

I got tired of waiting for our real website to get completed. Larry has to show me how to log into the Linux machine that hosts it (as well as tell me what my password is!)  And at the end of the day, after cooking dinner, collecting eggs, rounding up animals, watering the gardens, pulling some weeds and spending time with our 2 year old, not only do I not have time for the website (and the server is in the basement, and it's creepy down there)  I don't even have time for fun things I like to do for myself, like biking ro playing guitar.

SO, until we get the time to put the website together, I took advantage of all the tools available here on the blog. Dig it.

Free free to send us feedback, or let us know what's missing from the site!  And someday, we'll launch a real website, and we'll probably throw a party because of it!  It will be hosted at http://www.longshadowfarm.com/, which, right now, points back to this blog.  :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bird Processing

We recently discovered that the poultry processing plant in Fort Collins recently closed its doors. For folks who raised their own birds, but didn't have the time or the stomach to process them on their own, could take them to Rocky Mountain and bring home birds ready to eat.

Now, with the being gone, and the almost year ago closure of another facility in Wellington - leaves no facilities in Colorado for small poultry producers.

Because of this, our phone has been ringing. Which is fine. We bought our own processing equipment for our own birds. We use it 4 - 5 times a year. The rest of the time, it hangs around the farm, looking pretty (well, maybe not pretty)

We got a call this past weekend from a gentleman that raises ducks for a high end restaurant. He needed help. He brought them to us and we helped him process over 100 ducks over a weekend. Ducks are difficult - because they are waterfowl, they don't pluck as easily. Commercial operations use hot wax (that sounds gross, and messy) We didn't have that capability, but with a crew of help - we got them all done. Still, I don't want to raise ducks for meat!!

We've started getting other phone calls - can you help us process our birds, can you process them for us, etc. Yes, the answer is yes. We have also decided that we may rent our equipment to those experienced in processing. It's not cheap equipment (which is why backyard growers don't have the set up) and we need to protect that investment. But we've always been happy to teach people how to process their own birds. If we teach you how, and let you practice on some of our birds - we'll let you rent the equipment. If you bring your birds to us, we'll process them for a fee. If you help process, that fee will be less. If you drop them off and pick them up when we are done - the fee will be a little more.

This was a business decision for us, but an easy one. We have the skills, we have the equipment, we'll make the time. It's a community decision. We know why people raise their own birds, and we encourage that. It's the same reasons why We raise our own birds! We want to build that community of people who grow their own food. We want to support and encourage that community.

We are too small to be USDA inspected, but we are looking at getting CDA approval (that's Colorado Department of Agriculture). The law states that if you fall under the USDA minimum, that you don't need USDA inspection, but you do need CDA approval. So we are looking into that. We are also going to get a sales tax license, since this service requires us to collect sales tax. We want to stay on the up and up, and do things right. We think this will be a viable add-on to our farm business, and we don't want to get shut down for not following the right laws. We'll keep everyone posted.

I see a lot of knife sharpening in my future - but I love seeing people raise their own food and be able to eat high quality, fresh food raised in a happy, healthy and caring environment.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Farm is Going to the Birds!

There is much more going on with the farm right now than just birds, but they seem to take up most of our time! Our garden seems to be a bit successful this year, though maybe a bit slow on the uptake. But we have had several salads with lettuce and radishes from the garden. I manage to be able to grow the heck out of lettuce, not bad! Really hoping the tomatoes continue to grow. They look great. I should take some pictures.

But until I do, here are some bird pictures!

I have a whole mess of birds, all different breeds. And I have several different roosters, including 4 that are mixed from straight breeds. So when I hatch, who knows what I get, like this little creamsicle looking chick. Isn't she pretty?

My new incubator? Well... it works! out of 86 eggs, I had 54 successful hatches, 3 partial hatches that didn't survive, 11 duds, and the rest didn't hatch. I need to look into why I had such a great fertility rate and so many chicks that developed, but just didn't get out of the egg.

I've had 3 turkey eggs hatch. Here's the first, outside keeping the littler turkeys company. The other two didn't survive. One was born with a very disfigured leg and couldn't move, the other was handled by my 2 year old. Yes, people, 2 year olds can squeeze little animals too tight.

I have 7 eggs in my incubator that should have hatched on Sunday. They haven't, and I don't know why. SO I am struggling to actually hatch turkeys, of course, since my hens aren't laying much, that doesn't help either.
We hatched some birds a while ago, and most of them are black. One turned out to be orange, she intially looked like an Araucana, but she came from a brown egg. WE used to call her the Non-Araucana Araucana, now I call her Special Orange.
And since it is NOT all about the birds, here is Pinky, our barn cat. She used to be terribly agoraphobic, but she now comes outside the barn on her own. She hates all the birds in the barn, and aside from chicks in the brooder, we are working to get all the adult birds out of the barn! She'll appreciate that for sure.