Sunday, July 14, 2013

Things are a Brewing, mean while we are Carrying On

It has again been too long since my last blog post. We have been working on making a massive change in our farming operation, that being said it is not a done deal and I would rather not let the cat out of the bag until there is more clarity about this change. I hope to be able to share this change with you in the next week.

Our egg production is down a bit. We had a hard spring with a persistent fox that I struggled to deal with. He would strike in the middle of the day and use the cover of pasture, road, ditch, or even the draw behind the house as cover on the approach. We might have lost as many as 20 birds to the fox, but I finally got the darn thing with the last three bullets I had in my 22. I have found it hard to locate .22 mm rounds. All of the local shops are out. I presume that is associated with the threat of gun control legislation this spring. This does not make a great deal of sense to me, because there was no real threat about restrictions to the common .22 round, but then ardent gun advocates and I don't always see eye to eye on things.

For the time being I will try to share some of the more mundane things going on. The turkeys arrived back in late April. I got 82 in the mail, and I have something like 65 (enough of them die that I tend to lose count) that made it into early adulthood. That was higher mortality then I was going for, but I will have to live with it. I tried to run them earlier to avoid the warm weather of June and July we had last year. This year was quite cold for most of the spring. Many of the crops did not get planted in surrounding areas because of the cool wet spring, and even then some of them got flooded out. This year has been the diametric opposite of last year. I can honestly say that right now is the first time this growing season where it is getting pretty dry out. We are taking orders for Turkeys so let us know if you are looking for a Thanksgiving bird. Our birds should be ready for October delivery, and might be ready for September delivery.

We did not raise chickens this spring. It turns out with the cold spring that this was not a bad idea. Fall chickens should be arriving within the next week and I think we will have birds by September deliveries.

Cattle are doing well. We did just drop a beef off at the locker so beef will be ready for distribution by late July or early August. I love having grass-fed beef in stock and I eagerly look forward to having some available for customers again.

Cattle on Spring Pasture

Around the farm, we have been chipping on projects. We fixed the shop front, which had been damaged in a wind storm several years ago, we did finish putting the eave spouts on the chicken house, and we have been working on cleaning out buildings, and getting our scrap piles cleaned up. Jim, our super helper from Pella, has been a big help through this process.

I did take a weekend to pick berries around the farm. With the unusually wet weather this spring, the berry crop was amazing this year. I picked 15 pounds of berries in one morning with our daughter helping me. Our haul included mulberries, sour cherries, and Juneberries. In the photo below, I left our the cherries, but you can see the Juneberries on the left and the mulberries on the right. We have a variety of mulberries on this farm. We have the white and the dark purple ones, as well as their hybrid light purple to pink ones.

Juneberry and Mulberries fresh from Picking

I would like to take the opportunity to put a plug in for the Juneberry (Serviceberry or Shadush). It is an underrated small tree. Janice did not understand my enthusiasm when I planted them four years ago, but she is been eating her words this year. They are a lot like a blueberry grown on a carefree native small tree verses a temperamental little bush. They have been good in oatmeal, in cobblers, or just eaten straight. 

Juneberry Tree

JuneBerry Close-up, those are perfectly ripe.

Our little boy has been crawling since the middle of May, but he has never really felt like crawling was enough for him. After all he does have a toddler sister to keep up with. So he has been trying to pull himself up and move along surfaces with the occasional few seconds of free standing.  He remains as calm and as mellow as ever. Usually the only time he really protests is when he sister is interrupting his standing by dragging him around or when he tumbles hard.

Our Little Guy working his way along the Sofa

Our daughter has been, well, a toddler. She got a haircut about a month ago, which can be seen in the photos below. We have been working on toilet training. It is still a work in progress. She has a massive bladder, like her dad, and so we don't get very many chances to practice in a given day. She is getting better at being outside, but her fear of chickens, born about by a bad encounter with a rooster, still makes it hard to work with her outside.

Painting Time
Perhaps a little over-equipped to go Check Cows