So lots of change in the air on Long Shadow Farm..
Finally, over the weekend, we completed the "harvest" of all of our birds. We did this to eliminate a mycoplasma outbreak that we found on the farm several years ago. You can read more about mycoplasma on the post I wrote here. In a nutshell, it's a bad sinus infection, it reduces egg production and growth in meat birds, and secondary infections can kill young birds. It's been devastating for us emotionally and financially. So this was the year we planned to eliminate all birds, that has been completed. We'll go all winter bird-free in the hopes of not reviving the mycoplasma on the farm.
I plan to start with turkey poults in the spring, watch for signs of the infection, and then continue with a batch of meat chickens once I know we are clean.
It will be a slower ramp up into production than normal. We will be eggless for some time, though I am considering starting with a batch of juvenile birds from a hatchery that is NPIP certified and mycoplasma-free, to get a jump start on egg production.
There is another snag in our plan. The farm work, for the next year, is left to me, as Larry has taken an assignment that will have him out of town most of the time. For now, I am left with the sheep, and 2 llamas (who are looking for a new home.. any takers?) It's not a lot of work at the moment, though it is freakishly quiet around here.
But when spring rolls around, with a full time job, an almost 5 year old, and just me - the amount of time I have towards farm chores may be limited, so I may not be able to handle the same amount of birds that we usually have on the farm. Eggs may have to wait. I refuse to scale back on turkey production, and hope to continue running some meat chickens. But I don't know how much I can handle - which brings me to another plan I have - a volunteer program.
I am hoping to spend part of December researching some ways to structure this, and rolling out an organized volunteer program for the weekends so that folks who want to get farm experience CAN, and I can get a few extra hands to help get projects done. I won't lie, shovelling poop will sometimes be on the agenda, but some fun things will be in there, too - like planting seeds, and setting up brooders for the baby chicks. Keep your eyes open for a new tab up top that says "Volunteer"and the details will go there.
In the meantime, stay warm!