Chickens, Eggs and Breakfast Meats

This little girl just loves animals! Cats, chickens, what have you, her little hands go out and she “calls” them to her, in the chicken’s case a little grain brings them running.

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The boys are excitedly locating nests that the chickens have tucked away here and there. Finding an egg is like finding treasure! If you are lucky, you’ll find one of Sunbeam’s eggs (the only chicken who lays blueish green eggs). Then, you just might have to cook it up immediately (!) lest anyone else eats it first. Supposedly they tastes better.  We’re still in the enjoying stage of having “lots” of eggs. Scrambled, poached, hard boiled…you’d be amazed how many eggs these guys go through, and at how good Noah and Ezra have gotten at cooking eggs!  We even made up a new way to cook an egg in a nest with out bread: make a circle out of sausage and add the egg in the middle.

   

While we’re on the subject of chicken and breakfast meats, if you haven’t tried  bacon wrapped chicken you need to… tonight.  We prefer smaller pieces of chicken which need about a 1/2 of a slice of bacon wrapped around it. Place in an oven safe dish and roast till done. Don’t be afraid to chop up some veggies and cook them up in the rendered bacon fat. Just don’t count on leftovers.

 

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{this moment} A.M.

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Joining Soulemama in {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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Because We Like To Eat

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After a long winter I’m still feeling a bit spoiled when I gather our daily harvest: a half-gallon of goats milk and almost a dozen eggs. Now I can make a huge (9 eggs!) omelet for the whole family and not think twice about whether or not I’ll have enough eggs for the rest of the week.  Since the snow is gone the chickens are free ranging, upping the vitamin content of their eggs, and finding a good bit of their own food. Plus, they always get a pailful of kitchen scraps. The chickens see us coming and gather ’round for their treats.

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Indoors we have only a few types of seeds started. This is mostly due to the lack of space, or a least space that has decent lighting and is where little kids can’t (inevitably) spill the containers. We did start some sweet peppers (man, do we have some pepper eating fiends around here!) as well as cauliflower, a couple of cucumbers, and some melon.

To maximize our growing season, and space, I made a cold frame out of an old wood box and some windows that came out of the barn.  I filled it with composted bedding and a good inch thick layer of worm castings (plus worms) from our worm bin. We have mostly lettuce in there for now.

DSCN6270Then we have the old pig pens. I like planting in these because they’re well fertilized, fenced off from the goats and No Grass!

DSCN6224 So far we’ve started planting our cold tolerant plants: peas, spinach (or were those sprouting broccoli seeds?), kale and radishes. We’re still 3-4 weeks out from our last frost date so I don’t want to get too carried away.

Here’s hoping the garden will start producing before we’re completely sick and tired of eggs!

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Winter Around the Homestead

It’s been a while since we last had an “around the homestead” update. Freezing temperatures and snow is here to stay. The piles of winter coats, boots and drying mittens are growing. As is my collection of empty milk jugs to tote water out to the animals.

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The goats never seem to enjoy the snow. Already their tracks are mainly confined to a path between their shelter and the waterer. Manson has been taking his job very seriously so we should be expecting a new kid or two in the coming months. Nonetheless he still chases all the does around- just to be sure.

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Now that the snow is sticking the chickens are glad to stay in their camper. A week or two ago I gave the camper one last good mucking out and a deep bed of new shavings. As long as the cold temps are here the deep bedding shouldn’t get too gross and it acts as a layer of insulation. I stir it around every few days and add additional shavings when needed. The camper has a handy hatch in the back that makes mucking out the old shaving that much easier.

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Sad news- my bees have already succumbed to the harshness of winter. I checked on them a while back while I was prepping the hive for winter and they had already devoured their store of honey. I didn’t have my camera with me but they were positioned headfirst in their comb, in what my resources say is a classic starvation position. They had plenty of natural food around them and I had been supplementally feeding them. I didn’t take any honey nor is there another hive nearby (that I know of anyways) that could have robbed them. My thought is that perhaps our warm season is too short for a package of bees to really have time to get established and really produce enough for our long cold winters. If I can convince struggling_along I think our best bet would be to purchase a nuc, or two. Of course with bees there are no guarantees.

On a happier note: PUPPIES!

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They are all doing well and growing plump. They’re quite fun to have around but… 9 dogs! The very thought makes me glad the puppies are being spoken for left and right. Still for now we can take advantage of all the puppy snuggle time we can get, right?!

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Winter Around the Homestead

Snow, snow and more snow! This is what it’s looking like around here:

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I believe Manson’s expression sums up!

DSCN9190On the bright side the huge snow banks provide plenty of fun for the little guys. All that climbing, digging, sliding down. And taking a hike is quite the undertaking. Only Struggling_along, Noah and Megan have made it up into the woods – and that required snowshoes. They reported back that there’s easily 3 feet deep of snow back there.

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This isn’t Ishi’s first winter but this year he’s old enough to explore what this winter season and snow is all about.

DSCN9171He’s been quite the helper; joining me everyday (well except for those -10 below days) to go and feed and water the animals. I believe the chickens are his favorite. Likely because they’re not very bright birds and we have no roosters right now so they’ll squat there and they’re easy to pick up (or if you’re a pig – eat. And that’s why we have 6 chickens left).

DSCN8626The chickens are back to laying well though – 5 or 6 eggs a day.

DSCN9084The pigs (Mercedes and Lexus) have taken up camper remodeling and have thus far striped a large part of their section; after all that hard work they enjoy a fresh chicken. Chevy hangs out in his dog shed full of hay but readily comes out for a scratch and some scraps.

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DSCN8731I make many trips like this. Ah the days of hoses, grass and not spending a half hour putting on layers will soon be here (relatively speaking).

DSCN9071I’m thinking more and more that Manson did his job and Ellie will be kidding this spring! Milk again! Rita isn’t pregnant as Lenin has continued to nurse. He’s getting quite big and has beautiful colors as Rita is 3/4 Oberhasli and has color variations too.

I have to feed Manson separately or he’ll just ram everyone else away and eat it all himself.

DSCN9059Since the goats can be a little pushy before they get their grain I have Ishmael wait a second before we water and hay the goats. He just loves this part because he gets to sit and pretend to steer.

DSCN9199Winter around the homestead also means a lot of snow removal. Thank goodness for Struggling_along! He works the snow plow and shovels bits by hand.

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Fred’s Campa

Meet our two newest additions to Fried Farm: Mercedes (the all white one) and Lexus.

We’re very happy to have pigs again! We miss Rosalie (our previous sow) and especially  Sanchez (our big red boar- see photo below) and all the subsequent little piglets. Of course there were many hours of frustrated pig chasing/fence fixing with the little ones in tow or as in the case of our youngest, strapped in the baby wrap and I sincerely hope not to repeat those adventures.

So far we seem to be off to a great start. Since the big barn will be coming down in the spring we needed a different place to shelter the animals- ideally mobile so we can move their housing about to new pastures. Struggling_along found just the thing: a pull behind camper.

He stripped it out (saving the stove for a future outdoor kitchen!!) and partitioned an area for the chickens on one end:

The hatch struggling_along is looking thru is for easy cleaning out the coop. The Freds also  have a small door for access to an outdoor run and the old storage cabinets are now laying boxes. The Freds are laying very well! I don’t know if it’s the breed (Gold star sex-links) but compared to other chicks we have gotten in the years prior these have started laying sooner and are very consistent. Right now we have 11 freds and we usually gather 9 eggs everyday. All the boys LOVE the chickens but I think Ishmael does most of all. He just can’t wait to go feed them in the morning or visit them any chance he gets to wander over there. Give him 30 seconds and he’ll have one in his arms.

On the other side of the camper- after leaving a spot for grain and shaving storage-is an L-shape stall for, right now, the piglets but struggling-along built the walls high enough we could but the goats in there too.

Just have to slap a little tin on the roof and we’ll be ready for winter. The best part is that this campa project only cost us 150 dollars. Scratch that- the best part is that we’ll be having Fried eggs and bacon.

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We’re Here!

We’re here! On our new farm!

Ah Vermont, I had forgotten how much I love your green mountains!

View from the back porch

So what’s going on now that we’re here? Well if you pulled into our driveway (you can’t miss it just look for the HUGE old barn) you’d likely be greeted by a child (or two or three) and a dog coming to see if you’ve got anything good. The goats are ever hopeful too.

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The boys will excitedly tell you (after showing you how fast they can run/ far they can jump etc.) that we have a new baby goat. Our new farm’s first birth! So, of course we’ll have to show you just how cute he his and give them all a few handfuls of freshly picked grass to munch on.

One day old.

Then the boys will want you to admire the Freds. They certainly have grown a lot. All of our chickens, despite the fact they are ALL hens, are named Fred. The older two boys will likely catch a Fred (or at least chase the Freds around) which take us back out toward the hayfield.

The hayfield will lead a)to an invitation to play soccer, b)an invitation to check out the chicken campa, c) an invitation to make the rounds and check on all the apple trees and pick some blackberries and/or d) let’s chase some turkeys.

It’s sure to be a long busy day but at the end of it – it’s good to be home.

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Vermicomposting

(thanks for the photo Noah)

You wouldn’t believe how excited I am to finally get my hands on some red worms!
I plan to put them to work composting manure, paper products and any food scraps our livestock doesn’t eat . Then, when their population builds, we’ll have some great protein to feed the chickens.

I need to build a larger bin for them but for now we have them in a fish bowl which makes for a handy worm farm to study.

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New Additions

When we moved to Vermont we had to reduce the number of animals we needed to house. So off went the pigs, 3 of the goats, all of the chickens and a few of the rabbits.  But we still had to pick up the chicks we had ordered earlier in the year. And aren’t they loved!

I can’t even count the number of times a day we rush out to check on the chicks! And of course everyone needs to hold one. They’re certainly well cared for!

I can’t wait till they start laying.

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