Thursday, July 26, 2012

Finally, Some Pictures!

 Here are our new Guinea Keets, in their new brooder with our little duck. The duck is probably warm enough to go on the pond, but too small to fend for himself, so he's staying here until he gets bigger.


 Here's a little  Guinea, with a lavender falling asleep behind him.


 The duck stays with the guineas and helps keep them warm, and protects them. He apparently has something to say!


 Here are some random chickens that I hatched, too...


 This is the interior shot of the structure we call the "love shack". It's where we isolate Rooster Man with his hens to hatch straight run Speckled Sussex chicks.


 Here's the outside of the "Love Shack"


 Here is a 4 week old double breasted turkey. They are so adorable, it's hard to believe they can grow into 30 pound behemoths by Thanksgiving!


This is one of the aforementioned Speckled Sussex chicks at about 6-7 weeks old. I hatched over a dozen of them this year!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Egg Shortage

So, chickens are interesting creatures. We don't artificially attempt to make them lay. We don't put artificial lights on them, which sometimes means we are subject to changes in laying schedule due to the length of the natural day. There are other things that impact laying, really hot weather, really cold weather, incidents with predators that may scare them, as well as illness.

When something changes, there is an obvious step change in egg production. There is a magic daylight length in spring that changes their production up a notch. It gets us into full production, sometimes faster than our customers come to buy them. And months before the farmer's market begins. We typically end up donating eggs to the food bank, because they start to stack up.

OF course, the step change goes in both directions, and one just happened. Our egg production dropped by about 30 eggs per day. That's big. I try to mitigate the winter slow down by bringing in spring birds that start to lay in the fall. They are driven by daylight length, as well as other factors. But I checked our data from last year, and the step change happened at the exact same time - end of July. Days are getting shorter, but not that short, but it's HOT. They won't recover from this, unless my spring birds that start laying in September kick in.

Their production will continue to slow, sometimes due to loss to predators, and age. And they will hit another step change in November - this one is big. They almost shut down. Our highest production this spring was 170 eggs a day. By November, it will be 20 or less.

I can try to time it better next year to have birds laying in July, which means baby chicks in February. I try not to have baby chicks in winter, since it is so hard to keep the brooder warm enough for them at night. But I might need to time my new layers by their natural production shut offs. We're feeding a lot of birds out there for the number of eggs we are now getting. It's likely, after we sell to our restaurant, that we won't have anything left for the market.

I forgot that their first big production drop was right in the heart and heat of the summertime. Live and learn and we'll try to mitigate next year. The only problem being - I can't control when a chicken wants to lay!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Guinea Fowl

Our Guineas arrived today! My fabulous neighbor picked them up from the post office for me and gave them a temporary home until we can get home and set up a brooder for them. We plan on putting them in the "love shack" until they can go outside. But it needs to be cleaned, and new bedding put in.

That reminds me, that I have been very lax at taking pictures lately... pictures of the farm, animals, baby chicks, baby ducks, and everything going on. So I'll get some pictures of these fun new birds and share them with everyone. Hooray! Baby birds!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chicken Processing - July 15 & 22

We will be doing our next batch of birds on July 15. It is likely we are just going to pick the biggest of the bunch, and complete the rest on the 22nd.  Yes, we do bird processing on Sundays, because we are at the farmer's market on Saturdays!

Anyhow, we will part out a few more birds so that we can sell breasts, leg&thigh, and wings as separate packages. Most of the birds will be frozen whole.  If you want a fresh bird or have special requests, come on out on Sunday before noon and we can process some special for you. Hopefully, I'll catch a few roosters so we can put a few stewing birds in the freezer, too.

So if you want fresh chicken, we'll have some the next few weekends. Don't forget that we still have plenty of lamb in our freezer and are hoping to make some space to put some more in! The fresh ones just arrived last week, so you can get some fresh lamb, too.

See you on the weekend!