Thursday, June 6, 2013

Easy Summer Radish Salad Recipes

I found this recipe online at and knew I had to try it. Now, I am sharing it with you. Radishes are often used in the united states as garnish or in salads. I love that this recipe gives them a place on center stage. I am sure I will be making this one a lot over the summer months. ♥

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to Help Hatch a Chick

It is our opinion that nature knows best. In our experience, allowing the hens to incubate and hatch their eggs gives us a better hatch rate and usually one that requires no assistance from us. (I'm not against using an incubator, we just have not had as good results from them.) Sometimes, interference is necessary and can be life saving. When it's a choice between certain death by suffocation or a slim chance at life, we make that call on a case by case basis and hope that we make the right one.

Last year, we chose to assist 2 ducklings in hatching and happily, they both survived and are still thriving here on the homestead. On the other hand, on two separate occasions, we felt the need to assist a couple chicks to hatch and only one of them lived. What about the chicks that died in their shells and never pipped or pipped and never progressed? Early on, we made the decision to not interfere with a hatching chick and it died in its shell. Could we have saved it? Was there something fatally wrong with that chick, something that helping it to hatch would not fix?

If you plan on hatching chicks (using an incubator or a broody hen), it is prudent to have a basic understanding of how it is supposed to work; what is "normal", what is not. With time and experience, you may be able to help when things don't go as they should. I wrote a post last year titled, "Marvelous Creation" that explains a bit about the changes that must take place within an egg for a chick to hatch.

A Buff Cochin newborn chick peeking out from
under Niecy's wing. Niecy is not the bio-hen, but adopted
10 eggs without complaint. Good lass. ♥
This topic came up in my mind because we had a bit of worry over the weekend. Two clutches of eggs, incubating in nesting boxes, were due to hatch on June 1st. Right on schedule, we saw some pips in the eggs of one nest. The other nest had none. Because we knew that the hen sitting on the second clutch was new to hatching and had been on and off the nest frequently, we were prepared to find that few or none of those eggs would hatch any chicks. We were excited to see the pips and anticipated the arrival of some new chicks.

We watched the progress through the day. Two feather-footed cochins hatched first. We were surprised, while checking the eggs at mid-morning, to find a third egg sitting in the nest with its outer shell almost completely gone and the membranes still intact. The membrane was noticeably dry, so Sean and I made the decision to carefully mist it with water to see if that would help the chick to be able to hatch. We returned the membrane clad chick to the nest box and its broody hen.

When evening came and the chick had still made no further progress, we decided to intervene.

I am the first to admit that I am not an expert on hatching chicks. Last year was our first year hatching our own. The 40 or so chicks we hatched gave us some experience, but we are always learning. This post is not to tell you what to do, but to share what we are doing- what has worked for us and what hasn't.

I hope you found it useful. Thanks for visiting with us this evening, friends. We hope you enjoy your night.

Sean & Sonja ♥

Update: 8 of the 10 eggs hatched under Niecy. The other nest has begun to pip and so far, we have welcomed 3 new chicks from it. Also, remember the nest box full of duck eggs a chicken was sitting on? Well, 2 of them have hatched, too! (And, also, required some help! In their case, we think their shell was too dry because there was no wet Momma duck sitting on them, but rather a very dry hen. We're keeping an eye on the others for signs of hatching. If there are no more pips in a couple days, we'll candle them and discard any that are not living.

Shared with The Backyard Farming Connection #35 & The HomeAcre Hop #22

Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's a Snapper!

Look what Sean discovered Friday morning!

The geese were making a huge ruckus when Sean went outside to get the does ready for milking, so he paused to see what the fuss was all about and discovered a snapping turtle trying frantically to escape the geese pen. How did it get there? Either Sean inadvertently fenced it inside the new goose area or the poor thing swam under the fencing and then couldn't figure out how to get back out!

However it got in, it was not pleased with Sean's helping to get it back out. That did not stop Sean... though it certainly made him rethink carrying the large, aggressive, angry snapping reptile bent on removing several of Sean's fingers to the stream with his bare hands.

Rescue completed, we were ready to get back to our day.

Thanks for visiting.
Sean & Sonja

This post also shared with HomeAcre Blog Hop #22

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Just an Average Saturday

Sean and I were so looking forward to a few days off together- four of them- all in a row. We had a list of things to do and (finally!!!) the time to tackle some of them. Mother Nature had vastly different ideas.

It rained hard on Friday and our girls were off with friends, so we took the opportunity to spend some time with each other. We spent almost the entire day doing nothing special. We watched a movie on Netflix, even!
We woke Saturday morning to more rain. Despite this, we drove to our local Tractor Supply Company for our 2 week load of grains. Miss Meaghan was home and went with us. With so many vendors braving the rain that was beginning to be a recurring theme to these "Farm Swaps", we had it in mind to search for a pair of unrelated, baby angora bunnies with which to begin our breeding stock. Meaghan is in charge of this venture. She'll be breeding her pair twice a year and selling the kits, in addition to learning how to spin fiber into usable angora yarns.

Ironically, we purchased a handsome, 12 week old, English
Angora buck, at the swap, from a neighbor who used to occasionally supply us with round bales of hay last year and lives about 5 minutes from us. And, in a handy turn of events, she is going to be able to breed us a tawny English Angora doe for him. We'll purchase her in about 3 months. We spent the ride home deciding on names. I was hoping for Abraham and Sarah, but Meaghan vetoed them immediately. She spent several hours debating the merits of the names Boaz and Zechariah, finally choosing to use them both. Boaz Zechariah Sanders does not exactly flow off the tongue, but since we all call him Bo, I suppose it will do. Meg's doe is going to be named Ruth.
Kristen has been asking for a mini lop-eared bunny for months. When we saw a friendly, young buck for only $15.00, we bought him for her. She named him Leo. Though he is not earning his keep monetarily, he is making Kristen very happy with his company. And, thankfully, bunnies are fairly inexpensive to keep.

On Sunday, unsatisfied with the previous nine consecutive days of hard rain, Mother Nature continued her deluge. Frustration compounded and frayed all our nerves. So much to do and the hours passing void of anything resembling accomplishment. A week's worth of clothing sat dirty and waiting. We washed one load during the week, but it was still damp days later. There is no point in washing laundry when it cannot be dried efficiently. The stalls were a sodden mess and both chickens and goats waited miserably in them, casting accusatory eyes at us when we ventured in to replace hay or collect eggs. In the face of unrelenting rain, there was really nothing that can be done other than to try to make everyone as comfortable as possible and pray it for it to pass.

On Monday morning, we woke to a welcomed sight. The SUN! We snapped into action and attempted to fit four days worth of work into one. We set to milking and then moved the goats to the back yard, where they cheerfully spent the day grazing in the brush or napping in the sun. While I processed and recorded the milk and then fed the piggies, Jasmine, and the chickens in the main coop yard and tractors, Sean filled all the water buckets and then, fiddled with the riding mower in an effort to coax it back to life after its winter rest. Within minutes, the rider roared to a start and I was able to mow for the first time. Mowing is one of my favorite chores. There is almost nothing I like better (work wise) than to stick in my ear buds and spend a couple hours riding in circles, creating neat piles of grass clippings to rake up. I set to work immediately.

We have been wanting and NEEDING to move the big geese from the duck yard. Ever since Caitlin ruined a perfectly good nest, her days were numbered. Sean took a couple hours to sink 9-10 metal posts around the edge of where the lower part of the front lawn was holding over a foot of water. He engineered it so that the geese have a place to settle in the grass and also a place to paddle about. We still plan to have a proper pond dug for them at some point in the future, but in light of all the rain, it was a good time to move them.

That project complete, it was time to move on to adding more soil to our garden beds and to begin to transplant tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and watermelon into them. It feels so good to see the garden we planned on paper come to life with the plants we grew from seeds. I can only imagine how it will feel when they are all producing. To prepare the area where the raised beds will live, we staked a 30 foot square blue utility tarp on the ground. Then, we screwed the 2x6's in place. Sean cut out the tarp from the inside area of the beds. I laid a good layer of newspaper to cover the ground and we covered it with good garden soil. In some of the beds, we used cardboard instead of newspaper. Both will decay nicely in time and serve the purpose of being a great weed barrier now.

We took the baby geese and our lone duckling to the front "pond" to splash about, too. They took to it like, well, ducks to water. At this age, they have to be watched carefully since the oils that will allow them to be buoyant and float as adults have not been distributed properly, yet. We watched them play, catch and eat little water bugs and instinctively preen themselves.

It took me all week to find the time to sit and catch you all up with what is happening around here. I am hoping to write more frequently, but I fear that finding the time to do so, will be hard. I am taking lots of pictures so that when I can sit for a bit, I'll have them ready. Please, bear with us as summer gears up and we get used to our schedule change.

We appreciate your taking the time to visit with us tonight. We're sure glad you're here.
Sean & Sonja ♥