Monday, March 31, 2014

Let There Be Building

Spring is trying to get started as the weather struggles to yield nice days and the grass just begins to color the hills green in places. We are starting to to make plans for this year, by finally ordering chicks.  The uncertainty regarding the farm move is a nagging shadow over the plans. Facilities at the new place still require a lot of work. We need to fill in gaps in the fencing, replace rotten posts in existing fencing, get power hooked-up, and bring in water and get a water source hooked-up.

The new farm building just went up this past week. We have a number of photos below showing its construction. I am pleased to have the building finally available to us. So much of our equipment spent the winter outside, including the new tractor. Of course, now the tractor is running sluggish and will likely need filters changed and possibly the oil changed as well, but at least it started after this winter. I am just glad to have it out of the elements.

Farm Building Going Up

Framing Nears Completion

Steel Starts to Go Up

Our Daughter Investigating the Structure

Building Complete from a Distance

Building Complete Close-up

The first batch of broilers will arrive from a new source in Iowa the fourth week in April. That is two weeks later then I would have liked, but I was late to place the order and there seems to be a general shortage of hatching eggs at the moment. I also placed an order for turkeys, much earlier than I normally would. We will start turkeys the first week of June and see how things go.

Stay tuned as we try to pull things together and begin our production season soon. I hope to launch our new website, get our customer newsletter released, and send a survey out to our customers by the end of April. Considering the number of things that need attention because we have made almost no progress this winter on things, and how busy all of our weekends are in April, it will be a significant feat if we accomplish most of what we set out to do.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Awakening From A Long Winter Slumber

This winter has been something else. The cold weather has been unrelenting with dozens of days  below zero. It has been hard on the animals, it has made it harder to sell our home, and it has been very draining on our family. I will admit that I am tired of spending two hours a day out in this weather. Add in my Mother's passing, and the uncertainty about our 2014 production season, and you have very demoralizing conditions. Despite all of these challenges, we are determined to press forward. 

Winter Sunset From The House Yard

It is now March, and the Sun's power is far more noticeable. We are finally melting snow off the ground rapidly. Unfortunately, the ground is still very much frozen so almost all of the snow melt is runoff. Our forecast finally sports highs in the 40's and 50's. I think the -13 degrees temperatures of early in the week are finally behind us and we can look forward to more seasonable weather setting in. 

Stream Across the Yard

Following the Stream

The weather has made things hard for lambing season. We lost one lamb to exposure and the cold weather contributed to the death of another lamb, and forced me to make a bottle lamb of another. I have a little flock of two bottle lambs that follow me all over the place and often try to trip me. 
I have only have eight surviving lambs in the barn. We last three lambs and have seen many more single births this year.  I do have two ewes left to lamb, and I have my fingers crossed that we might yet see more twins. 

Some of Our Ewes and Lambs

Flock of Two Bottle Lambs

With the rough weather, we have been unable to do much of anything outside except keep the livestock fed. I am looking forward to that changing. Our new 50' by 50' building was delivered to our building site this morning. I am hopeful that the crew can start on it soon as I don't really want the building sitting on the ground for an extended period of time. 

Marked Site for New Building

The farm move does give us the chance to reevaluate things. A friend is rebuilding our website at the moment. I think we could use an update as our website has become pretty dated. Janice did a great job building our original site, but that was nearly 8 years ago. We are also considering looking into playing with our poultry feed ration to use a Non-GMO soybean meal. We are evaluating if it is even possible and what it might cost. 

This biggest change we are debating is weather or not we will phase out lamb as a product we will sell.   Right now, our sheep herd generates very limited income. The sheep do break-up cattle parasite loads, but we only run sheep on a limited part of the farm. Hair sheep also browse weeds and brushy vegetation quite well on our farm, but our future farm is much more open. Hair sheep also require considerable fencing to contain them, and I am concerned that predator pressure and the number of neighborhood dogs is much higher at the new place. I am not sure that sheep make as much sense on the new farm. To help us find answers to this questions and a few others about delivery scheduling, we are working on a survey that we will send out to our customers in the coming weeks.

The children have been a bit cooped up this winter as it has been too cold to play outside much. That being said, they have remained quite healthy this winter. Our Son's ears have really improved a lot; our family doctor credits not going to daycare all winter. The little guy is such a cuddly fellow and is quite a bit of fun to play with. Our daughter continues to be more independent and is much better at expressing herself since she started school last fall. All and all, we are all doing pretty good. Hopefully, we can continue to remain healthy and get to spend more time outside in the coming weeks. 

Little Shriek Fan

Inside Beach Day