I think we have more Roosters than Hens

It is still too early to be completely sure, but it looks as though the roosters out number the hens. We knew that it was theoretically possible that we could end up with all roosters, but I figured we would be closer to a 50/50 split in a worst case scenario.

While doing the evening chores last night I separated them based on their size, combs and feathering. The ones with the big flashy combs, shiny neck and tail feathers and big bodies (not to mention aggressive) numbered fifteen. Those ten that remained were definitely smaller, gentler and less impressive looking.

Even with only ten hens we are still expecting between forty and sixty eggs a week as they lay between four and six eggs each. We sill have a couple more months before this happens.

This means we have to learn how to butcher sooner than later, or try to sell some roosters.

In other farming news, the potatoes are finally thriving, the corn is doing well and the onions are taller than the weeds. Our neighbour was kind enough to lend us his lawn tractor. The kids had been push mowing the yard and were doing a good job, but with the acres we have there is not way we could get it all done.

Abigayle is recovering well from her surgery. She is finally talking again and eating. She refused to take anymore Tylenol or Advil after day three (which is when it it supposed to be the most painful). We figure it was upsetting her tummy, and even though we were pushing the medication, she listened to her body and ultimately made a great decision.

It was hard for us though as the doctors and nurses were very insistent that the drugs be administered for seven to ten days consistently or she would be in lots of pain and would have to come back to the hospital. Plus the fact she couldn’t communicate with words to us. I am impressed at her strength as she endured this extremely well. It is so nice to hear her talking again and to see her eating.

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A Blustery Day

I kept waiting for pooh bear to go flying by as it was quite gusty the last couple days. The grey skies and wind made working outside unappealing, and therefore we didn’t get as much done as we had hoped.

This tree fell where we were mowing just a couple hours before. It was one that I had wanted to cut down but couldn’t because it has been windy. Just thankful that it didn’t fall on anyone.

The corn, tomatoes and onions are all doing well. The potatoes are finally coming up too.

The chickens are thriving. They eat like crazy and when they see us coming they flock to the gate and swarm whoever goes in. I have to make sure I wear gloves cause they peck at my hand when I grab the trough.

The third wave of the mosquito-pocalipse has begun. It rains just enough to hatch a new batch and they swarm anything that moves. It sucks.

We are hoping the sun comes out and it warms up sooner than later. The grey skies are wearing us down.

Hope you all have a pleasant week.

Time Flies and Stuff

It has been a while since my last post. Not from a lack of things happening, but because I recently went back to work full time. Trying to fit everything into the day something’s going to fall through the cracks.

The garden work continues although we’ve had some setbacks in the form of frost. The one evening I didn’t check the forecast we woke up to frost. Of course we had just planted our squash, pumpkin and cucumber seedlings a day or so before. We lost most of them and just a couple of the tomato plants. The corn and onions seem to be thriving, however.

The chickens are in the teenager phase already. I am amazed at how fast they grow. One can see the changes daily. They are out in the grass every day decimating the bugs and dandelions. I especially like the fact they seem to have a taste for mosquitoes, which have been terrible this year.

I got the lawn tractor into the shed and pulled the transmission. It was pretty obvious what the issue was.

I opened it up and one of the gears is missing 15 teeth.

A new transmission from John Deere is around $1000. I found the parts on eBay for around two to three hundred.

So much to do, never a dull moment.

Garden Work Continues

Work continues on the garden spaces.  I tilled up the main bed and raked it into rows for planting.  I think this is where we will plant the carrots, lettuce, spinach, beans and peas.

Transplanted the zucchini into a raised bed as they were starting to be too big for the jiffy pots we had started them in.  They look pretty good in there.

I managed to lock myself in the greenhouse (not the first time). The wind blew the door shut behind me as I was watering some plants. Luckily I had my phone and could call for help.  Unfortunately this was of little help as Laurel had left her phone in the house to charge.  She was close enough that I could shout her name and she came to rescue me.

We also prepared the spot for the corn and transplanted the seedlings we started earlier last month.  They were starting to look not so good in the green house so in the dirt they go.

We took a bunch of hay and the garden tiller over to the last garden spot and worked it in as deep as we could.  Trying to get some compost and fluff up the dirt a bit.  We then layered a bunch more hay on top and watered it excessively.  Then a layer of landscape fabric and we transplanted the pumpkins into it.

Rainy Day

Today, after three days of trying, we finally got our bottles to the depot for recycling.  Took them on Monday to find that the depot was closed.  Tried again on Tuesday and the lines were going outside the building (at all three depots in the area) and I didn’t have the patience to stand there for an hour.  So this morning we checked the hours and arrived ten minutes prior to opening…..to be the third person in line.  Sigh.

It was only a 20 minute wait and we walked out with $80.  Not too shabby.

They said on the radio this morning that it would not rain today, but just be overcast.  They lied.  Its been raining, off and on pouring, for most of the day.  We kept the chicks in the shed today as it is just a bit too chilly for them yet.

We made another trip into town to get supplies in order to finish the chickshaw as well as some groceries instead of gardening.  Sun is supposed to be back tomorrow so we will get back to it then.

So instead of the usual update I will get a bit personal with you.  We have had an acreage going on 5 years this August.  However, this year has been a year of first’s for us.  We’ve been talking about getting chickens and big gardens since before we moved here and never really got that vision off the ground.

First we stepped out, and over, our fears of failure.  Realising that failure is just a part of learning and its okay to fail we have grown in a lot of wisdom and confidence thanks to our little (big) journey.  Risks, big or small, can be overwhelming.  Especially if that fear of failure is present.

Second we had to get past the “being ready” phase.  We kept thinking we needed to have everything in place before we could get chickens.  That was a big stumbling block, but we just ordered the chicks and then got ready.  It was motivation to get these things finished and it turns out that they were not that hard to do (and did not have to cost a pile of money either).  Chicken coops from the store start at around $300, but we built the chickshaw mostly out of material we had on hand and spent less than $100 and took very little time.  It forces us to use our skills (some of which we didn’t know we had) and creativity to get things done.

Thirdly we had to work through our tendency to procrastinate.  I am especially bad for this.  My favourite saying is “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”  The sense of accomplishment from a hard (or not so hard) days work is definitely worth it, and really isn’t so bad.  They say you can eat an elephant one bite at a time and that definitely applies if you have a long to do list.

We have come a long way and learned a lot about who we are and what we can do.  There is so much more out there for us and we are eagerly looking forward to what comes next.

Test Drive

We gave the chickshaw a test drive with a temporary roof. We parked it in the main garden and put up the portable fencing. The chicks took to it really easily. We had a couple escapees, but they stayed close and we were right there to shoo them back in.

We also planted a little bit more. I’ve been reading about potato towers and wanted to give it a shot. Essentially a potato tower is a vertical garden. You plant a potato and every time you hill it you add a layer and by the time you harvest, in theory, you could have a 100 pounds of potatoes from a single plant! That would be fantastic.

We moved all the seedlings we started out to the greenhouse to harden. We will plan to plant them in a couple of days.

Yay for spring!!

Wheels Up!

Almost done! Got the wheels installed and just have the roof left on the chickshaw. I’ve scrounged every piece of wood on this thing from around the yard, but I’m going to have to go and buy a few 2×4’s to finish. The only thing I had to buy so far was the hardware cloth for the floor and front sides. So this project is on hold until the next trip to town, or I find something to disassemble.

We did some planting in the main garden. We put some beets and onions in the ground. The beets like cold and are frost resistant. It hit the mid-20’s (Celsius) today and looking at the 14 day forecast we are trending that way.

May have to break tradition and just plant.

Back to Work

Got back to work on the chickshaw today. The side panels and door are installed, so just the wheels and roof are left.

The chicks went out to graze again as well. They seemed pretty pleased about it. I put them in the portable pen made from gazebo parts, much easier than the roll of hog fence we were using before.

It is amazing how fast these birds are changing. New feathers coming in and a noticeable change in size.

I caught one on top of the plastic tub chirping it’s head off. A rooster? Won’t know for a couple of months apparently.

Also roto-tilled the garden space this morning. Put the overgrown grass under and just a mild stirring of the dirt, trying to keep the soil ecosystem intact.

So we are ready to rock and roll!

Dang Wind

We took a day off from outside work yesterday due to windy coldness. There was a fairly steady breeze (30 – 40 km/h) coming from the south east and it had a by of an edge to it. We left the chicks in the shed for the day as well as they are still to young for that kind of weather.

We focused on some inside work and did some planning for the garden instead. The forecast is favourable for getting back outside for the rest of the week.

Every day there is more green and that makes us happy.

The Coop Continues, Plus Ants!

Work continued today on the chickshaw.  We made good progress and if the weather holds I figure another couple of days and it will be ready. I have to put some sides on, the roof and finally the wheels. The chickshaw is a mobile chicken coop. We can move it to where we want them to work, plus it self cleans.

The Chickshaw takes shape.  The milk crates will become the nesting boxes, the door/ramp will be front and center.  The rails on the bottom serve as perches for the chickens.

We put the chicks in the garden spot again today. They are so fun to watch as they scratch around. The small ant hill that was in this particular bed seems to have been vanquished which is great.

Mama Hen feeding his chicks.

I flipped a large decorative stone we have over in the strawberry patch and discovered a large ant nest underneath. Looks like a job for the chicks! I brought four of them over and they went to town. We have no shortage of ants on our property, we may have to get more chickens!

We had to move them inside shed early as the wind was picking up.  We watched a tree fall across the field from our house.  I didn’t have the temporary pen anchored at all so inside they go.

Titus and Abby playing tractor

The kids have been picking up a lot of the cooking responsibilities since we’ve been home.  Lots of cookies and brownies too.  It is great to see them taking these tasks on without complaint.  I wish they would take as much interest in keeping the laundry caught up, but I’ll take what I can get.