Monday, September 30, 2013

Family pics

Waiting for dada to come home

 Chicken Farmer

 No question as to why she calls it 'lego dada'!!

 She is holding an antler.  
I won't divulge whether or not she licked it.


 We finally planted Paisley's placenta tree.  
We buried her long frozen placenta under this saucer magnolia.  
Saucer magnolias are the first to bloom in the spring here.  
They are quite beautiful!

Monday, September 23, 2013


A few months ago, we went to a friend's farm.  Amy taught me to milk a cow and we bought milk from her a few times.  Her kids are just beautiful, sweet, helpful, kind, bright people.  Amy and Dan are hardworking people who love to share their farm knowledge.  Anyhow, when we went out to their farm for a cheese tasting, one of her CSA customers took some amazing pictures of Paisley.  These pictures were taken just before it started pouring rain.  Amy has a dirt dig patch for the kids and Paisley left completely covered in mud.  I've never seen her so happy in my life!  

This is her Clint Eastwood face.

Dan and John


Follow the leader...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Baby Slider!!!

MMMMMMMMMM!!!!!! Mini cheese burgers!!!!  

Nothing better than a slider with cheese and just about any kind of sauce you can dream up! 

So, given that Maybelle gives us twice as much milk as we need, we invested in our own future slider.  

We bought a Jersey (dairy breed) bull calf from our local dairy for $100.  Dairy beef is some of t he most tender, juicy, and delicious you will ever have.  Or so I have been told.   The only 'drawback' is that the marbling is yellow instead of white due to the increased beta carotene content of the fat in a dairy cow.  Consumers in a grocery store wouldn't like it, but I think it will suit us just fine!  

I have scoped out a local butcher and their prices are very fair.  I think we will bring home about 350lbs of meat when Slider is about 16 months old.  Including the purchase price and butchering fees, we will be paying just under $1/lb.  Seriously.  For grass fed beef.  Chickens don't really save you any money, but I can see how beef really will.  With Maybelle's next lactation, we may end up raising two beef cows.  One for sale and one for our freezer.  Now THAT sounds like a good deal to me!  

Maybelle smelled him as we drove up and immediately went into mama cow mode.  
She loved him so much that she started hiding him from me and holding up her milk at milk time.  
So, they sadly were separated and I give slider two bottles a day.  

We totally brought him home in a dog crate tied down in the back of the truck.
Yee Haw!!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Meat Chickies!!!

John and I were quite intimidated by the prospect of butchering chickens. 

When we originally ordered our first batch, we got 15 because the company requires at least 15 birds to be shipped together for body heat.  We only wanted 7 or 8 and intended to sell the rest on craigslist.  Then John suggested we just keep them for meat.  I found a semi-local butcher.  They charged $3/bird. That, plus gas driving there and back would have been something like $150 just for 8 chickens.  Not to mention the initial purchase price, feed, and heating costs while in the brooder.  

So, we started researching doing it ourselves.  

And we just... DID... it.  It was actually not a difficult process at all.  John had the tough job of being at the business end of a hatchet.  I feel grateful and amazed to have a husband that can man up to a task like that.  

For the record, farming is MY hobby.  Not John's.  He plays along because he loves me.  

He has hunted small game and processed fish and rabbit, but this was a little different.  

He did a fine job and I was really proud of him.  

So, John beheaded, we dipped in hot water, hung by a foot, picked feathers, eviscerated, and bagged 'em up.  Took about 20 minutes per bird.  

The cost break down was really high for the first batch.  We brooded them in our basement for 6 weeks and had 3 heat lamps going 24/7.  Heating alone was $150 for 6 weeks.  

Per bird costs
Heat- $10
Food- $10
Initial cost- $3
TOTAL- $23/bird

Those were NOT cheap chickens.  

So, we decided to do things differently for our second round.  We ordered more birds.  We ordered in the heat of the summer, and ordered the cheapest bird available.  Its sort of funny, we got what Cackle Hatchery called the "Fry Pan Special".  It is all roosters from egg laying breeds, so the cast off chicks from people who order all hens.  They were $1.60/bird.  
We kept them in the garage for only 2.5 weeks and only ran a single heat lamp for a total of about 24 hours.  
Food costs will be a little lower as we found a less expensive food and these chickens will be butchered earlier than the others.  Can you imagine 26 roosters crowing at 5:20 in the morning???  Plus, these chicks are in a moveable coop that allows them to free range and eat bugs and grass.  

Anticipated costs are going to be something like $5/bird for food and $1.60 purchase price...  So, less than $7/bird.  That is MUCH more comparable to what you pay in the grocery store!  

So, the meat tractor (movable chicken coop) was pretty easy to build.  I actually did all of it myself except putting on the sheet metal.  John wanted to do that as it is a little scary to work with.  It is 10x6 feet and has a chain so we an pull it to a new spot every day!  

Day old chicks!  Cute every time!

They had only been outside a short time before catching a bug and playing keep away!
I already think these chicks have an advantage over our first batch who lived indoors for a month longer than these babies.

John pulling the tractor to Slider's pasture.

Slider, checking out his new friends.  
We hope that he provides a little security from predators.  
He hangs out with the chickies ALL of the time.  
They are totally BFFs!  

 John did a great job applying the sheet metal and making sure there were no exposed edges.
I designed and built the whole thing.  Paisley helped me by handing me screws, etc.
I framed it out, hung the hardware cloth, and framed and hung the door.
It was my first time building a door and I'm really proud of it!
Just to brag a *little*- John was surprised and impressed with how sturdy it was! I hadn't told him I was going to build it by myself and when he saw it, He was impressed!
I never knew I could be handy, but it turns out I really enjoy woodworking! 

Here is a cute video of Paisley telling Slider to go lay down and not to eat the chickens.  

We plan to butcher this batch as soon as they start to crow, or just before.  Probably sometime in mid or late October.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

So Corny!!!

My corn was a bit... lackluster... so, I yoinked the ears and took a look at what we had grown. We had only one 'mature' ear.  Of course, Paise got to eat that one!  Charley got an immature ear, and Maybelle got the rest, shuck, stalk, and all!

My loves...

Can you believe the sky?!  Beautiful!!!