Friday, May 17, 2013

Clearing the Camera...

Wow. How can it be 11 days since my last post? What could we have been doing all that while that took us away from writing? I think I can explain...

It started with our planting and tending these:

We sold 4 shares this year in our farm's first CSA offering. While it is exhilarating to know these folks believe in us and want to share in our dream, it is also a bit terrifying. We take this responsibility to sow, cultivate, reap, and provide very seriously. So, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, broccoli and watermelon have been carefully planted and grown in our little greenhouse. Garlic, peas, kale, scallions, radishes, beets, carrots and spinach were sown into cultivated, raised garden beds. New garden spots were prepared for transplanting as soon as the danger of frost has passed.

Rusty, Charles, George, and an un-named Partridge Cochin Rooster all found new homes since I last posted about them. This still leaves us nine young roos in need of new homes, but we are hopeful of placing them soon. While they wait, our resident roster of roosters were moved from their 10x10 stall inside the barn to a portable, fenced yard where they could stretch their legs and roam. Being cooped up is no life for them. Sean worked for several hours driving metal stakes and stretching 6 foot tall wire to secure a safe pen for them. With these new arrangements, they can dig and scratch and stretch their wings to their heart's content, which they appreciate. We placed them in the tall grass in the backyard where next year's raised beds will live. While they are busy digging and scratching, they are turning over the ground and providing some soil enhancement via their own brand of  all-natural fertilizer, which we appreciate. As they do their job, we'll move them to a new section of grass to work. I call this a win-win.

The roos taken care of, we turned our attention to removing both the 6 week old and 10 week old pullets from their brooder in our living room into their new yard outside. And, for a total of 2 days, our home was poultry-free.

And, then, Broody Wyandotte's clutch of 10 eggs began to hatch. We were gifted with 2 chicks on Saturday, 2 more on Sunday, 2 more on Monday, and another on Tuesday. The final 3 eggs in her clutch were candled when no more chicks appeared Wednesday. One was undeveloped and discarded, but the other 2 were alive. By Thursday evening one of them hatched. We are hopeful that the last little chick will emerge sometime tomorrow or Saturday.

Two of last year's pullets have also gone broody. Since the other breeding groups have been separated since before this clutch was placed under our willing hen, it was time begin collecting and marking eggs to set. If all goes to plan, we'll welcome 14 feather-footed Cochins and 5 new Easter Eggers to the farm in time for the next farm swap.

The hens are not alone in wanting to hatch out some young. Caitlin has been guarding her nest of 6 eggs vigilantly. Yesterday, she was rewarded for her effort with the hatching of 2 perfect yellow gosling chicks. We won't be keeping these little ones. To help tame them for their new family, Sean and I brought them inside and settled them into the duckling/gosling brooder. We'll spend a lot of time handling and loving them before they find their new home.

Five ducks have joined the ranks of the broody, built nests and are collectively sitting on approximately 60 eggs. We are hopeful to welcome these little ones to our farm any time now.

Something finally had to be done with the dog's yard. It was too small for 3 dogs to romp and play in. Fenn bored with his kingdom ripped large holes through the wire and escaped regularly which led us to have to chase him all over town. Huskies run. Angus and Buster escaped, too, but they usually managed to find their way to the front door to scratch to be let back in. Sean's manager offered us a 40 ft x 16 ft chain link yard that they were removing from their yard and we jumped at it. It took us a solid couple of evenings working on it, but finally, the pups had a suitable yard for running and playing in and the best part? Fenn has not escaped... yet.

It has been especially nice that the weather has been favorable (for the most part). The goats have been able to run free with us to graze in the woody part of our land and in the back yard brush. They love to eat the dandelions which makes our back yard quite attractive and if it keeps them out of the freshly planted veggie beds, I won't complain. They are usually satisfied with remaining with us. At least, until one of them discovers (or makes) a hole in our fencing that they can exploit to meander to areas off limits. Then, they all get into the game and abandon us in favor of naughtiness. Hadassah is by far the worst of the lot. She spends more time in the buck pasture climbing their logs and enticing Salome to join her badness than any of the other kids. She has also been found grazing with the horse in her pasture one day and quietly munching greens on the front yard when we returned home from some errand another day. Sean has spent a significant bit of time reinforcing the fencing with smaller gauge wire to prevent her escape, but has been unsuccessful at thwarting her thirst for freedom. At least, she does not want to be apart from her Mother for long and puts herself back where she is supposed to be when she tires of her adventures.

We are milking the does, Rachel, Leah & Ruby each morning. I milk Leah who is the most docile and least likely to step in her bucket, but produces the least amount of milk. Ruby is easy to milk and rarely misbehaves. Sean milks her on his stand at the same time as I milk Leah. Then comes Rachel, who takes a person at her head to distract her with a variety of grains and one person milking as fast as they can. I distract. Sean milks. She may be bad mannered on the milk stand, but she is neck and neck with Ruby for milk supply. Rachel currently holds this month's record for the highest milk collected in a single milking at 44 oz one morning.

I am putting the milk to good and delicious use. It is a very good thing that our family really likes cheese. In the past 10 days, I have made three 10 oz tubs of garlic and chive chevre, one 10 oz tub of garlic dill ricotta, one 10 oz tub of plain ricotta, 5 pounds of feta cheese (I followed this recipe HERE), and 2.5 pounds of farmers cheddar cheese.(This was a press-less, raw mild cheddar I found the recipe for HERE.) I have 7 bags of milk frozen for soap making purposes. And, we still have 11 quarts of fresh goats milk in the fridge waiting to be made into something. Maybe yogurt?

I know I have been a little absent here this week and I hope you'll bear with me as our season winds up. I have three other half-written posts needing photography and polish and I will try to find the time to post them and keep updating you all to the happenings round the farm. One of the posts will feature our experiment with making our own home-made organic hair shampoo and conditioner. Another is a post about looking forward. I think you'll enjoy them both. I appreciate your patience and your taking time out of your busy day to visit with us.

Thanks for visiting today. We're sure glad you're here.
Sean and Sonja ♥


  1. Congrats on selling shares of your CSA! That is very exciting, but also stressful I'd imagine trying to make sure you have a good harvest and can meet the demands.

    I love that you are giving the roosters a good place to live while they are waiting to be rehomed. I'm sure they appreciate Sean's hard work on the fence so they can stretch a little bit :)

  2. How exciting that you are doing a CSA for others. I can see how that would be intimidating.

    We're still dreaming of goats here, although we decided it will be fall before we take any plunge. :)

  3. That is awesome about the CSA's! Ya'll are such good chicken parents!

  4. I'm so happy for the dogs and their new running space. And the roosters must be happy, too. Yes, you guys have been awfully busy!