Thursday, December 18, 2014

Photos from the Farm #15

Welcome Back!

Your teacher gave me some of your questions. I hope that one day you will start writing the questions for me instead of your teacher. If you do, I'll take a photo of the best questions with the best handwriting and post them here for everyone to see!

Question 1: How big of a bite do goats take?

Answer: Not very big!


Question 2: Can the light you use to keep the chicks warm get hot enough to start a fire?

Answer: Yes, but there is a metal shade around the hot light that keeps the light from touching things around it. We also make sure that the light doesn't hang down and touch something below it that could catch fire. 

See the shade around the light? See how we hang the light so it doesn't touch anything that might catch fire?
Question 3 and 4: How big can cows get? How much do cows weigh?

Answer: It depends on the type of cow. Our new steer, Remi, will probably weigh about 900 pounds when he is full grown. Our old steer dinner weighed 798 pounds. Our new cow, Echo, will probably weigh about 450 pounds. We don't usually talk about the weight of a cow (female cow) we explain 'how big' they are by measuring how tall they are. Echo will probably not be any taller than 40" tall. We don't measure them from the ground to their head, we measure them from the ground to the top of their shoulder.



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Did you notice how big the chick got in the photo? They are getting their feathers and are beginning to look like chickens instead of chicks.

This chick has pretty feathers. I hope she is a hen, but I can't tell yet.

Here are the two that look very much alike. They are hard to tell apart, aren't they?
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I sent your teacher some eggs. Can you guess which eggs belong to chickens? Can you guess which eggs belong to ducks? Can you guess which eggs belong to turkeys?

Here is another look at the eggs side by side. 
Did you make a good guess?
When you get to touch the eggs notice how they feel. The duck eggs are very smooth. The shell is thicker and a little harder than the chicken eggs. The turkey egg has bumps all over it. The Silkie chicken egg is smaller than the other eggs. 

We are so excited that our ducks are laying again! We love to use duck eggs in bread, pancakes, cookies, and all sorts of baked goods. They make baked goods taste delicious!

We don't have a turkey that lays eggs. Our friend raised a turkey hen for Thanksgiving. She layed eggs and our friend gave some to me because she likes to read this blog, too. She thought you would like to see and feel a turkey egg.

Next time you visit I'll show you a little more about chickens. 

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I have a little bit of fun for you before you leave.

Our barn cat, Midnight, likes to find warm places in the barn. I thought you might like to see some of the places we find her when we go out to feed the animals.


Sometimes I find her in the nesting boxes where the chickens lay their eggs.

Sometimes I find her in one of the feeders in a stall. She likes the middle stall the best.

Sometimes we see her in her cat house. She likes to watch what is going on in the barn. In the winter she likes to be in the bottom. In the summer she likes to sit on top and act like she is the queen of the barn!

I may post a few times while you are on Christmas break. I will post Mountain Monday so you can see what the mountains look like every week even when you aren't in school.

Keep asking good questions!

I hope you have a Wonderful Christmas!




Friday, December 12, 2014

Photos from the Farm #14

Welcome back!

It has been a strange winter so far. It hasn't been as cold as it usually is in December.
It is colder than spring or fall so we have the water heaters in the buckets, and we put our coats and boots on when we go outside. But we don't have to dress quite as warmly as we usually do in December.

You asked very good questions last week. I'm sorry I didn't have time to answer them this week. I promise to answer them next week.

After I give you an update on the chicks, I'll show you how we keep the water from freezing overnight.

Good morning, chicks! You can see how much they have grown this week. It's almost time to move them into a bigger brooder.

Since the chicks are in a brooder, it's easy to pick them up and let you see them.
This is the chick that has a Ameraucana mother and Charlie, the Buff Cochin rooster for a father.

Here is the Buff Cochin chick. Her mother is a Buff Cochin and  Charlie, the Buff Cochin rooster is it's father.
The next two chicks look almost the same! They look like twins. They both have
 Charlie, the Buff Cochin rooster for a father and their mother is a Barred Rock.

If you can tell some differences between this chick and the one in the picture above, you are very smart! The only difference I can see right now is that the chick in this picture has a few fluffy feathers behind it's neck.

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 I thought you might like to see the chickens as they come out of the coop in the morning. Can you count how many come out? Can you see Charlie, the rooster, come out?

I counted 17 chickens as they come out of the coop.

Guess what? Three chickens didn't want to come out yet. Maybe they are afraid of the camera. Don't worry, they came out later and ate breakfast with the rest of the chickens.
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Even though it's warmer than usual it still freezes overnight so we need to keep the water heaters in the buckets. This is what our water heaters look like.

Do you see the funny piece of metal that is sitting on the bottom of the water barrel? That is a water heater for farms. This one keeps the chicken water from freezing. Some mornings as you come to school or on the playground you probably find puddles that have frozen. Animals need water every day, just like you do! If their water is frozen they can't get a drink.

Here are two barrels that have water for the cows (on the right) and the goats (on the left). They plug into an outlet on the post behind. You can't see the heater, it's covered in plastic at the bottom of the barrel.
Oh, no! Something is wrong with our water barrel! Can you see the ice on top? It's time for Matt to fix this barrel because the plug was broken. Animals are big and rough. Sometimes they pull on things that they shouldn't pull on. This time they pulled on the electrical cord and broke the end off.

Here is the other type of water heater we use. It is like the one we use in the chicken water, but this one is flat. I like this one better than the one in the chicken water because it lays flat along the bottom. The ducks like to get in and have a bath once in a while and this one stays out of the way.

Did you notice that the duck and the chicken waters are on top of some wood pallets? When they drink they make a mess, especially the ducks. Having the water on top of a pallet keeps a puddle from forming under the water. We don't want the chickens and ducks to slip on the ice or get cold feet while they are getting their drink. Farm animals don't wear shoes to keep their feet warm like you do!

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Here are The Twins! This is their favorite spot in the morning. They aren't really twins. They aren't even brother and sister. They are the same color and they go everywhere together so we call them The Twins. The one in the back is Scout. The one in the front is JJ. JJ loves to put her nose through the stall door and watch the animals.

The Twins and Miles get brushed every morning. They have their winter coats now. That means they have more hair to keep themselves warm when they are outside. It also means that they shed their hair in the house, too!
If Matt or I brush them every day we have a lot less hair in the house so I don't have to vacuum as often. One of the reason most moms don't want a dog in the house is because of all the hair! It's a lot of work for moms if the children don't help. 

Next week I'll be sending some eggs from our chickens for you to look at! I have some duck eggs and turkey eggs to send, too!

I'll also answer the questions you sent in last week. I'm sorry I didn't have time to answer them this week, it's been a very busy week getting ready for Christmas.

Have a great week!




Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mountain Monday * 8 December 2014


I may have to start taking pictures of a different mountain. The sun comes up right over these mountains and it is very difficult to get a good picture in the morning!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Photos from the Farm #13

Welcome back!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving break. I hope you had a fun with your family, too!

The chicks are 7 weeks old. They are starting to get their feathers. I thought this photo was funny even though the chick  in the front is a little bit fuzzy! This chick looked as if he was asking me what I was doing.

Here is a better photo of the chicks. It looks like one chick is a Buff Cochin, one is part Ameraucana, and two chicks are Barred Rock. What do you think?
We'll have to watch them grow over the next few months and see who they look like when they have all their feathers.

This is where the chicks are living since they don't have a mother hen to keep them warm. They don't need much space, they just need food, water, shelter, and warmth. Matt and I make sure they have water and chick food. We clean out their barrel when it gets dirty.
This is called a 'chick brooder.'
 Chick brooders come in many shapes and sizes. They all give the chicks a place to be safe from other animals, and a place to stay warm. We use a special light that keeps the chicks warm. The next time you are near a lamp at home, put your hand underneath it and see if you can feel how warm it is.


We cover most of the barrel with a towel and a warm blanket to make sure they stay warm. They are in a spot in the barn that is as warm as we can make it.
Are some of you asking your teacher why we don't keep the chicks in the house where it's warmer?

It wouldn't be a very good idea for the chicks.

They need to stay warm, but they also need to slowly get used to the cold and the outside. If we kept them in the house while they grow, we couldn't put them outside until May. They won't grow their winter feathers if they are kept some place really warm, like our house.

The other reason we don't keep them in the house is that they will keep growing, and we will have to put them in a bigger barrel. The last barrel we will put them in is very, very big and it wouldn't fit in our house!

I thought you would like to see what the goats eat their food out of.
They each have their own bucket.
The bucket on the left is for the cows. I dump that food in a bigger feeder outside.
The purple bucket is Clover's bucket.
The white bucket behind the purple bucket is Misty's bucket.
The blue bucket is Annie's bucket.
The green bucket is Sandy's bucket.
I fill everyone's bucket, then I put the buckets in the right spot. Do you have a spot at your kitchen counter? Does each person in your family have their own spot at the table for dinner? Do you have your own desk in the classroom?

The goats each have their own special spot, too!

After I put their buckets in the right spot, I open the stall door and the goats run in right to their special spot! 

Do you get upset if someone sits in your spot? 

The goats aren't happy when someone else starts to eat their food. They use their head to push the other goat out of the way. Do you get upset if someone starts eating your breakfast or your lunch?
 
This is where each of the goats eats their breakfast.
The brown one on the left is Clover.
Behind Clover's head is Annie. Annie is on a milk stand.
Sandy is standing to the right of Annie. She is on a milk stand, too.
Misty is the goat near the blue garbage pail.
After all the goats are in their places I take the other bucket of food out to the cows. Stew and Penny eat with the cows. As Penny grows up I'll bring her into the barn and give her a special spot to eat, too.

After I feed the cows I come back into the barn and milk the goats.

That's all for today! Are you sad that I don't have any new animals?

I'm not! I don't think I can take care of any more animals!

Next week I'll show you what we do to keep the animal's water from freezing. Animals need water to drink every day, just like you do. When the temperature drops below 32˚ we have to do something to keep their water from turning to ice.

Have a great week!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mountain Monday * 1 Dec 2014

One of the things that First Graders are working on is watching seasons change. Each Monday I'll take a photo of the mountains we see from our backyard so they can watch the mountains through the seasons.

1 December 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Turkey Processing Set-up

No graphic description of how to process the turkeys, just photos of what how we set up to get ready.

This is a 55 gallon drum that Myles cut in half with a sawsall. It's filled part of the way with water and then heated.
After it was heated we were able to skim off all the paint.

We should have started the water heating sooner than we did. It took a long time to heat that much water when it was 37˚ outside.

Myles screwed the restraining cone into an old shelf to give it some stability and portability. There were other families that wanted to borrow it when we were done.
We don't want to leave it outside in the weather, this way we can store it in the barn the rest of the year.

The garbage can is lined with an empty shavings bag to catch the blood. We have dogs so we wanted to be able to remove anything that would attract the dogs or other animals.

We bought our cone through Amazon (here). It arrived in less than a week. We were so busy with other things that we decided it was best to buy one instead of trying to build one. At a little under $53, it was worth it. Even better because I had some Swagbucks credits on Amazon so it was less than that!


A 4 x 4 post was placed between two ladders with a bucket located below an eye bolt. The garbage pail is for the feathers from plucking.

We knew our turkeys would be big. The 4 x 4 post and the big eye bolt were just what was needed.

Myles brought an old card table to do the final processing and picking out more feathers.
There were stools covered in garbage bags for everyone to sit on, they just didn't make it into the photo.
I rinsed off the turkeys and picked off the last few bits of feathers in the kitchen sink. We were planning on placing them in turkey roasting bags, but the turkeys were too big for the bags, so we used regular kitchen bags to store two overnight. The large turkey was double wrapped and placed in a freezer.

Are you wondering how big the turkeys were?

We had two that weighed in a little over 40 lbs, and one that weighed 47 lbs. They were just about 6 months old when we processed them.

The biggest one is in the freezer waiting for summer. We'll cook him in a pit.

We started cooking one of the 40 lb turkeys on Wednesday afternoon, he was ready to eat about 11:30 on Thanksgiving Day.

Home grown turkey is delicious!