Friday, March 31, 2017

Turkey Time-Out!

Welcome back!

I hope you had a good week.

We've had a little trouble keeping our turkey in the yard. I don't know why. He usually stays around the chickens and the goats. He usually sleeps on the fence by the goats in the winter, and he sleeps on the fence by the chickens when the weather is nicer in spring and summer.

We had a few neighbors see him in their yard. Yesterday before we started to milk we got a call from a neighbor who saw him across the street. I love our good neighbors! This time Mr. Turkey was two blocks away!

I wish there had been another person with Matt and me to take a video of us catching the turkey. Our neighbor was there, but he was helping us catch the turkey, too.

It took three of us to corner the turkey, catch him, and get him into a dog crate to bring him home. We followed him through four back yards and down the street for a little while. We don't usually run after animals that we're trying to catch because that scares them and they run faster. We usually follow them and try to get them into a corner where it's easier to catch them.

Mr. Turkey doesn't fit very well in the dog crate.
It's big enough to bring him back to the farm in the back of the car.

This is big enough for him to live in for a few days.
We call it "Turkey Time-out!"

Maybe I should call it "Turkey Think Time."
Hopefully after spending a few days inside the big cage he'll decide it's better to stay close to home instead of wandering the neighborhood.

If he decides to wander off again he may end up as Turkey Dinner. Our neighbors are nice, but they don't want a turkey wandering around in their yard digging up their flowers and gardens.

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I was able to catch and hold the new hen that hasn't grown her feathers yet.
I thought you might like to see what it looks like a little closer.
Do you see those small black 'sticks' coming out of her skin?
Those are new feathers.
I'm not sure why she hasn't grown her feathers back yet.

This is another one of the new hens.
Her feathers have almost all filled in. There is only one small bald spot by her tail.
All the small shiny feathers on her back are the new feathers.

These two hens are 'broody.' That means they want to sit on a nest and hatch out eggs. They are in the same nest every morning and every night. They won't leave.

I keep taking their eggs, anyway.

I may put some eggs under them next week and let them hatch.

This hen is a banty. She's a mini-chicken. She can hatch out 2-3 large eggs.
She's small so she can't keep very many eggs warm.

This hen is a regular size hen.
She can sit on 5-6 eggs and keep them warm.

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I haven't collected any duck eggs lately. I thought one of the ducks was broody and sitting on a nest that she had hidden somewhere. Ducks get broody, too. 

The ducks aren't broody.
They were hiding their eggs.

How many eggs do you see?
They are a little dirty.
I gathered up the eggs and floated them to see if any were nasty. None of them floated so I washed them and checked them with my special flashlight to make sure they were still good to eat.

It's been chilly enough outside that the eggs are all still good to use!

All clean!
Next month I'll send a bunch of eggs so you can see and feel the difference between duck eggs, chicken eggs, and turkey eggs.

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Matt and I needed to work on the bucks (boy goats) last week. We don't do much with them because bucks are stinky in the winter! 

They all needed their hooves trimmed.
Curly needed the 'tags' cut off, too.
'Tags' are mud and stuff stuck to his curly hair.

He didn't want to stand properly in the milk stand so I trimmed him while his front feet were up on the stand and his back feet were on the ground.

After a while he decided that was uncomfortable so he got up on the stand so I could finish.
It took about an hour to trim and clean up all three bucks. Now they are ready to sell! We're ready for some new bucks this fall. We'll miss Curly, Zeek, and Thor. We know they will be happy where ever they go!
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I hope you have a great Spring Break!

There will be baby goats when you get back. We've kept an eye on Serenity, River, and Misty. They are ready to have their babies any day!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Lots of Questions!

Welcome back!

I hope you had a nice week!

Thank you for all the questions. I have a few answers for you today. I also want to remind you that questions start with a capital letter and end with a question mark. It's close to the end of March and I think your teachers have taught you all how use capitals and question marks. From now on I'll only answer your question if you can use both! I think your teachers are wonderful and I want to make sure I help them when I can.

We have a few parties with friends every year.
We also have a lot of visitors in the spring because we have baby animals.
This is what our back yard looks like when we're ready for a party.

This is a picture from one of the pre-schools that visited last year.
We often have families that visit, as well as cub scout groups and Activity Day girls. This year we'll also have a field trip from a school that is close by.

No, our sheep doesn't have lambs.
Our sheep is a boy.
Stew is a boy, boys don't have babies.
When we visit schools we borrow lambs from our friend who has a herd of sheep and lots of lambs.

Yes, Ellie, we have bugs.
We don't have as many bugs as homes without chickens and ducks.
Our chickens, ducks, and turkeys eat most of the bugs in the pasture and in the yard.

That's a good question!
I think you must be wondering where we got all the apples when we made cider for Johnny Appleseed Day.

Our neighbor has apple trees.
She was very kind and shared her apples with us so we could make cider for you.

No, we don't have any ice cream sandwiches.
We like to make ice cream in the summer when Echo has a lot of milk!
We also make cheese and butter with all of Echo's milk.
This is what the milk refrigerator looks like during the summer.
That's why we make cheese, ice cream, and butter.

Payton, you'll have to be patient.
The baby animals won't be born until the end of next week.
Don't worry, I'll post lots of pictures of them when they are born!

Are you curious about the seeds we planted a few weeks ago?
These are the lettuce seeds we planted.

These are the other seeds we planted.
Some of the seeds sprouted, but some didn't.
We'll probably replant some of the little soil packets with new seeds to see if they sprout.

Are you curious about the chickens with no feathers?
This one has a lot of new feathers coming in.
One chicken has feathers all over so she looks like a healthy chicken.
One chicken still has bald spots, but she's got new feathers starting.

What are you planning on doing this weekend? We'll be getting more hay for the animals, and we'll be cleaning up the barn yard. It gets messy during the winter. We want to make sure everything is in great shape when our baby animals start getting born. We want to make sure the barn yard is safe for the animals and for all the visitors that will come this spring.

I hope you have a great week!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Stuck Under the Feeder

Welcome back!

Sometimes animals get themselves in a bad spot.

Thor pulled the feeder over on top of himself yesterday.

He looks like he's in jail.

He doesn't look very happy, does he.
I'm not sure how long he was there before Bryon found him. He was very happy when we let him out.

*     *     *     *     *

This hen is just starting to get a few new feathers along her back.
You can see a few little black stick-like feathers starting to come through her skin.

This chicken has a lot of new feathers coming in!
You can see all the little stick-like feathers.
It's a good thing she's growing feathers.
They will keep her from getting sun burned this spring!

*     *     *     *     *

We found a nest of eggs that the chickens had been hiding.
That's a lot of eggs! We weren't sure how long they had been there so we put them in a pail of water. None of the eggs floated so we are pretty sure they are ok to eat.

Heather put a "T" on every egg from the nest because I haven't had time to candle them all yet. If the eggs have a mark then we know we have to break them into a bowl to check them before we put them in dough or another recipe.

I use a special high powered flashlight with a small collar to 'candle' the eggs. 

The light is so bright that it lets you see what's inside the egg.
I can tell that this egg is good to eat.
There is a dark yellow area at the top,
the bottom of the egg looks clear.

This is a duck egg.
You can see the yolk at the top of the egg.
This one is good to use, too.
If an egg isn't good the yellow yolk is a dark color, and it fills at least half the egg. We bury them in the garden because if you crack them open they usually smell bad. They aren't good to eat, either.

*     *     *     *     *

River is on the left, Misty is on the right.

She has chubby cheeks because she's chewing her cud.
 These three goats are going to have their babies soon. They are due to kid any time after March 30.
We don't know how many babies they will have, and we aren't always sure of the exact date they will have their babies.

You can guess how many kids each goat will have! You can count how many days until March 30 to find out how long it will be before they are ready to kid.

*     *     *     *     *
All of these photos have something that I'm thankful for. Something that makes our life easier on the farm, and in the house. You use it every day, too.

Can you guess what it is?

It's plastic!

Plastic makes our life so much easier on the farm. We have plastic buckets to carry water in, or to hold feed. We have plastic dog houses that are sturdy and keep kid goats safe and warm. There is a plastic coating on electrical wires and extension cords to keep the electricity from hurting people or animals. Baling twine is made from plastic, it hold the bales of hay together so they are easy to store, and to move from the field to the barn. Wood shavings come in plastic bags so we can store them easily before we put them in the stalls for the goats and the cow to sleep on. We use plastic hoses on the milker when we milk Echo. We use rubber hoses on the milker, too. I buy flowers and other plants that are grown in plastic pots. We start our seeds in plastic containers, too. We use plastic barrels to store food in. We use a plastic cover the keep the water and snow off the connection between the heated water bucket and the extension cord.

Look around and see all the wonderful things made out of plastic that you use every day. I am very grateful for plastic!

Do you know when plastic was invented? There are many different types of plastic, but the first plastic was invented by a man named Alexander Parkes in 1862. That's a long time ago! Sometimes an invention takes a long time before it is used in our every day life.

Some people think that plastic is bad, but it has made our life much easier and much nicer. If you are interested in learning more about plastic, when it was invented, what types of plastic there are, and how plastic is used you can use this link.

Have a great week!

Friday, March 10, 2017

New Hens

Welcome back!

Fern hopes you had a fun Dr. Seuss Day last Friday.
She is really a Polish chicken, not a Dr. Seuss chicken,
but she reminds me of the birds I see in Dr. Seuss books.

We got 5 new hens last week.
They looked terrible!
The family that gave them to us didn't have time to take care of them anymore. These chickens were always fed well, given plenty of food and water, and had a nice coop to live in.

You can see the new hens near some of our older hens.
Do you see only 4 new hens in the photos? One of the new black hens died because she was so sick.

Why were they so sick when they had good food, water, and shelter?

They were sick because there were too many chickens in such a small space. The family had over 20 chickens in a space that was only big enough for 10 chickens. Each chicken needs 2 - 3 square feet of room to live. 

If you look at the tile floor in your classroom you can find a spot that is 3 tiles tall by 3 tiles long. That's enough space for one chicken to live and be healthy.

Our chicken coop is almost big enough for all our chickens. Why do ours look healthy?

They are allowed out of their coop every day. They have a nice pasture and a barn to roam around. They have plenty of room. We only lock them in the coop at night to protect them from other animals that might hurt them or eat them while they are sleeping.

*     *     *     *     *

I don't see many birds besides chickens in the spring because my bird feeder blew out of a tree last fall and broke.
I tried to fix it, but it fell apart and I threw it away.

Sometimes I see sparrows, chickadees, and a lot of doves. We also have magpies. I don't have photos because they don't come close to the house.

We have a beautiful raven that comes by once in a while. There is a hawk that comes, too. While those birds are beautiful, I don't encourage them to stay around on the farm because they are predators and will eat the chickens.

We usually get two duck eggs a day.
Some days we only get one duck egg.

Today I found one duck egg in the corner of the stall.....

and one duck egg in with a few chicken eggs.
Can you tell which one is the duck egg?

We love to bring the animals to visit at the end of school.
If you are well-behaved then you also get to pet them.
If you aren't well-behaved then you only get to look at them.
I hope that you will learn how to be respectful and kind to the other children in your class, and to your teachers before the end of school. Last year the children got to pet a calf, a chicken, some goat kids, Clover, and a few baby lambs.

If I hear from your teachers that you don't know how to treat others kindly and with respect then I won't bring lambs at all. I'll bring a few other animals, but you won't be able to pet them because I won't be able to trust you around them.

*    *     *     *     *

Today I am planting more seeds.
I want to have some plants ready to go in the garden when the weather gets warm.
Quin and Xander are coming to help this afternoon.

See how big the herbs have grown!
Do you think it looks funny to have the light tilted? When seeds are started indoors the light should only be about 1" away from the seeds, or the top of the plants. The plants on the right are taller so the light has to be higher on that side. If the light is too far away the plants get 'leggy'. They get tall and scrawny and don't have enough strength in their stem to hold up the leaves very well.

*    *     *     *     *

Annie and Misty love to get pets in the morning.
I love petting them when I come out.

I hope you have a great week!