Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Looking Up

These are some happy farm dogs. It looks like I photoshopped Ryan's smile but no...that's just his face.

We went to take some photos in the orchard and found Amelia (the ewe) tangled in the electronetting. That wasn't so happy. She is fine but we'll have to be more careful about consistently testing the fence. I think the battery died and Oprah made a clean escape, then Amelia tried to follow and her escape ended in near disaster. An animal getting tangled in live electric fence could end pretty badly.

After leaving the orchard, we found all of the chickens huddled together under a clump of trees, which we've never seen before. We were wandering around trying to figure out what had spooked them when a hawk suddenly flew out of one of the trees. Ack! We've been so lucky about no predators so far with the free ranging chickens - I would hate for that to change. I met a woman the other day who has lost 30 chickens this summer to ravens. I never even thought about ravens going after the chickens - the dogs do a good job of chasing them away whenever they spot them. 

Then the owner of the horses and cows showed up to give them some treats. As the horses, dogs, cows and chickens were all going nuts for any crumbs, 2 large ravens landed amongst them all and started eating the crumbs, too. I encouraged the dogs to chase them but Abby and Ryan were too busy looking for scraps...when suddenly Speckles raced up to the ravens and chased them away! They tried to land again and she did the same thing. That's Speckles in the bottom left corner. She's one tough chicken!

Abby looks tiny next to Fred.

Mac and Molly (the other two Belgians) went to a retirement home a few weeks ago so it's just the 3 big guys left. Barney and Sam don't always seem to get along too well - today we saw them backing up towards each other and kicking each other with those huge, powerful legs. I'm constantly making sure that Abby and Ryan stay away from those feet! I hate to think about what could happen with even one small kick...

Barney (I rode him around the farm the other day- he was so good!):

Sam - the biggest horse I've ever seen:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thomas the Ramming Ram

 Nathan got published!
Look at how fast SoZH is growing! I guess it's to be expected based on the size of his he is snoozing on my knee in the sun:

He still isn't quite fully feathered and he likes to stay warm however he can.

I think Squishy is getting tired of having him cramp her style...I took over chick warming duties for a bit.

The dogs have been very helpful with chores lately.

Rearranging the wood chip pile:

Speckles helped, too. Her foot is finally looking much better! Took long enough...

Abby helping to clean the chick coop.

The goats have been helpful, too. 

Cleaning some fall brush.

Looking hopeful as I walked by with a handful of kale for dinner (our dinner...but they love it).

I noticed that they need their hooves trimmed so we'd better do that soon. I would hate to start having hoof problems with them! Oprah and Amelia (previously "no name")'s feet are looking good. They're in the electronetting paddock that we've been moving around the orchard so they can eat the nice grass there. Once they've spent another week or so back there, it's date time with Thomas! 

Thomas has been getting antsy. First he escaped from his paddock through a gate that he's always pushed on (we've since fixed it). Nathan came out of the greenhouse and found Thomas just standing loose out there, looking a bit confused. Thomas converts any emotion into the same action: ramming. Hungry? Ram. Thirsty? Ram. Curious? Ram. Annoyed? Definitely ram. I ran to get some grain while Nathan distracted Thomas to keep him away from Nathan's mum and grandma who were sitting nearby. You have one guess as to what Thomas did when he saw me coming with a bucket of grain. Yep....I dropped the bucket and hopped over the fence into the horse paddock. Luckily Nathan is braver (we'll call it brave) than I am and he managed to call Thomas back into his paddock.

Then, yesterday evening, while Nathan was at work, we noticed that the horses and cows were all in with Thomas and Zeb. Our landlord noticed first and commented that it was nice that we were letting the animals all intermingle. Nope, not on purpose...the fence at the back had come down. I started running around the outside of the paddock so that I could get to the opening to try and call the horses and cows through. Our landlord headed right into Thomas' paddock. I warned him that Thomas has been pretty 'ram-my' lately but he said that he'd gone in recently without any problems. He got to the broken fence first and Nathan's dad and I started pushing the horses and cows that way (we were along the edges of the paddock - easy escape from Thomas plus he doesn't seem to notice that you're in there if you stay on the edge), so that after they went through, the fence could be patched up behind them. At first, Thomas and Zeb just stayed off to the side away from the action....but suddenly Thomas must have felt some emotion and you can guess what happened next. For a big ram on stick legs he sure can move...he took off right towards our landlord, who was holding the fence open in the middle of the field. I have never seen someone climb an 8 foot deer fence so quickly. I wouldn't even call it was more like his legs became springs. One second he was on the ground and the next he was up the fence, straddling the brace. I'm pretty sure I heard a shriek first, but in case he reads this blog we'll say that he jumped in manly silence. Even though I realize that Thomas could really hurt someone...I was laughing too hard to do much and wondering whether filming with my phone would be appropriate. Eventually we got it all sorted out but is worth having a ram just for the life-endangering entertainment value.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Island Hopping and our Feast

We've been so busy relaxing with Nathan's parents and grandmother that I haven't had a chance to update the blog! They got here last Wednesday and my parents and sister arrived on Friday for a big belated thanksgiving feast. 

Bright green home grown beans and brussels sprouts - boiling before getting put into this recipe:

My thanksgiving plate. I have a lot of practice at piling my thanksgiving plate for a maximum 1st helping...but I think this one took the cake. Turkey was from Nathan's work, yams, potatoes and buns were from the supermarket and pretty much everything else was grown on the farm.

After a day of recovery from stuffing ourselves, we left for a trip to the San Juan islands. On the ferry, I kept saying how I really wanted to see a fox for the first time....and look who appeared within the first half hour!

Then I said that I wanted to see a grey fox...and look who was posing in the leaves by the road:

The million dollars and orca sightings that I hoped for next didn't appear...but this unimpressed baby alpaca did.

Possibly unimpressed because his wool went towards this:

Some more fall in the San Juans:

360 degree ipad photos:

Now we're back on the farm for some more fall sun. 
Relaxing with the chickens:

Saul is growing into a gorgeous rooster.

SoZH is huge! He takes after his dad.

Zebra Head got stepped on accidentally by one of the goats when I was scaring them away from the chicken food. He wasn't putting any weight on his leg at first and we were carrying him in and out of the coop. Now he's getting around well but still limping. It seems to be his foot that's injured but it's hard to tell. Hopefully it will keep healing.

Garlic is all planted:

Magpie hanging out on my car. I decided to move it off the farm before the goats hopped up on the roof.

We made the tough decision a few weeks ago to bring Ewean in to be slaughtered. After treating her feet diligently (and since we've had her!), she started limping again on a different foot than the two that had already had issues. We checked her again and another hoof was infected...she seems to be an animal that is chronically susceptible to foot problems and we were worried that she'd continually infect the other sheep. It was hard to do since I'd let myself get a bit attached to her, but we brought her to the butcher this morning. Hard lesson learned to be very careful where you purchase livestock from!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Family Day

Squishy's been getting pretty antsy in her pen so I let her and SoZH come out for a sunny afternoon. I was worried that the other chickens would pick on the chick and that Squishy wouldn't protect him - I kept a close eye on them the whole time. 

The other chickens were very interested at first but Squishy is a good mom; she chased everyone away - except for the baby daddy himself. I think it's unlikely that roosters know when a chick is theirs, but ZH was sure nice with his son.

After scratching around and eating some cucumbers, it was time for a dust bath.

SoZH wasn't sure what was going on at first.

He kept trying to cuddle up to mom and she'd shove him away with her feet. 
Adults only in the spa.

Then he suddenly caught on to how good a sunny dust bath feels.

Pure dusty bliss.

A little splintery, but mostly blissful.

Family at the spa.

Meanwhile, goats were hanging out in their favourite spot.

They go up on that table to sun themselves, chew their cud, groom themselves, wrestle each other...

Abby used to think she was the only table hopper on the farm.



Speaking of "what??". 
Little Brown (probably the chicken with the most original name of all) seems to be going full kamikaze on Ryan.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Six Months Later

We've been farming for 6 months now! I can't even put into words how much we've both learned. I think that going into this with no experience has been one of the best things about it. We've made some mistakes, but without experience we had no expectations and we were able to jump into it without the pressure of knowing how things should be.

We went from never having even touched a chicken to owning over 20 of them, building coops and runs, eating and selling eggs, slaughtering chickens ourselves and hatching a chick from our own stock (Squishy did most of that).

The chicks in April - too scared to walk around on grass for the first time.

The chickens now - too spoiled to want to walk around on grass in the rain.

We went from never having grown anything to growing a greenhouse full of organic vegetables and eating, storing and selling them.

Little basil seedling in April.

The herb garden now...

We went from never having owned livestock to owning sheep, goats and a llama - and building fencing, gates, shelters, stalls and a barn.

April - just the horses and cows on the leased paddock here.

Now: Goats and sheep enjoying the grass - Thomas and Zeb were just off to the left behind that gate.

We went from knowing nothing but the definition of "aquaponics" to setting up a fully functioning system complete with Tilapia and a bunch of vegetables (Nathan gets full credit for this one). 

Aquaponics system at the beginning:

Grow bed #3 last month - I'll have to take an updated photo. Nathan also just finished building a compost pile next to it (with polypipe running through it) to hopefully heat the water over winter.

We went from never having bees to....having a hive ready and still never having bees. Oh well. It may have been a little bit much to handle in the first 6 months, anyway. We got a ton of wasps, instead. 

I leave you with...Flying Goat!