It was bound to happen sooner or later

It was merely a matter of time before the Mistress and I had a little spat. I had a little more time off and decided that I needed to get our upper fields disced up and weed free. I hooked the disc set up directly onto the 2.5 inch ball setup on the back of the mistress. I had been going around in circles for about an hour, when I decided I needed to get the ditch area. The right side of the ditch is elevated and I had the tractor bucket way up in the air with 300# of tractor weights in it. I started up the ditch then felt the tractor tipping to the left side. I knew it was going to go over onto its side and there was nothing I could do. I had enough time to consider bailing off of it but I had the seatbelt on and cinched down. I could have released it and attempted a dismount. I decided against it then started reaching for the dirt as it approached before realizing that I just needed to ride it out. I pulled my hands up and just held onto the steering wheel until the roll bar smacked into the ground. I was not hurt and now had to figure out how to get the tractor upright.

I hoofed it down to the house and grabbed the pickup. I had two chains with the Mistress and I was hoping the pickup could pull the tractor upright. I hooked onto a bar by the front tire and onto the roll bar with separate chains and then pulled them tight and hooked them to the stinger on the pickup. The pickup had no trouble uprighting the Mistress. I kept the tractor chained to the pickup and jockeyed the tractor back and forth using the chains to move forward in an arc and not tip back over until I got out of the ditch. I then spent another six hours knocking down weeds. The mistress and I no worse for the wear.

The baby chickens are going to lay green eggs, we had ten in the coop over the last four days. I need to get about 8 green ones a day to truly justify their expense. Let’s hope it actually happens.

Raccoonageddon

We had a plan last night for predator control and we stuck with it. Around 2130 Annmarie heard raccoons chittering on the back porch. We started breaking out the weapons and the Border Collies started looking for places to hide. They are not real big on loud noises. Our ankle biter Brussels Griffin was all excited and wanted to go outside with us and chase stuff. We had to be careful when we let Annmarie out the front door that he didn’t slip past her. He is pretty sneaky. I gave her time to get to the other side of the old house and then I flipped the outside light on, popped the back door open and started blazing away with my Walther P22 pistol. The laser sight makes shooting in low light situations amazingly easy. I had to spread the wealth though as it was a target rich environment. There were four raccoons and I only had 11 shots when I started. So after two rounds in an animal I switched to another. Two 22 rounds typically does not kill a raccoon immediately unless you are head shooting them. I am not a bad shot but I am not head shot on four moving targets going all directions at once good. I had managed to hit three and was trying for a fourth when Annmarie started blazing away. I never did see what animal she was shooting at so I am afraid there may be five raccoons not four. I had time to slam another clip in and run to the fence to look over for more raccoons after Annmarie hollered it was clear. We looked in the trees and did not find anything. I came back, finished off one and we ended up with three dead raccoons. I usually deal with bodies in the morning as I was going to have to wash off blood from the sidewalk. So we went to bed and in the morning I went out to move the carcasses before going to work. There was only one carcass! The other two were gone. Now before I have any doubters they were all dead. As in finish them off dead before we left the porch. I have made that mistake in the past and don’t do it any more. We are unclear how two of the carcasses vanished. All the cat food was gone also. We will leave out cat food again tonight but I would be surprised if they came back again anytime soon.

The club wheat is ready to harvest and should be cut next week. It is probably the best crop we have had in years. It seems to get better every year.

As I was stepping out of the pickup to take pictures of the wheat two little deer fawn twins jumped out from under a rose bush and ran out into the wheat. If you look at the picture below closely you can see one ear. Both fawns were right there in the wheat field. They are little and still spotted, momma leaves them all over the farm. I have spotted them at both ends of the place. We also have a few bucks coming in at night and early morning. This is good as my nephew and I both have buck tags this year.

I picked up a 260 gallon water trough for the bull area today and 500# of wood pellets for the chicken coop. Bubba just about has the coop done and the pellets will be needed. He shoveled out the old sawdust and bleached the walls today. He just needs to lay down some new pellets after moving old ones. The nest boxes need to be cleaned out and the back room needs to be vacuumed up. He got the milking area of the barn cleaned out today also and under the stairs. Just the momma area, the feeders and the sorting chute need to be completed.

I looked at a set of discs today. It will cost $1000. I am going to have to break down and get them next week so we can finish prepping the fields for alfalfa.

We also got a quote for two miles of fiber optic cable to be strung out to the house. It’s not cheap but it is doable. We would rather have high speed internet than a boat, RV, four wheeler, new vehicle, motorcycle or snowmobile. So we should know by next week hopefully if it is possible and when it can be done.

Barn teenager done

As I slept on the cough today trying to get better Bubba “finished” the barn. I say this because Bubba did a teenager finish. I now really understand my father as he was always getting on me about the minutiae. I learned by the time I was a teenager that the job had to be perfect. Yet every teenager I have ever had out to the farm uses a different measuring stick of completion. Bubba is correct, this section is clean of poop and straw. Yet for the barn to be functional we have to have all the sorting pen that was removed reinstalled and all of the feeders put back out.

This doesn’t include the two smaller areas where we keep the new mommas. It still needs to be cleaned out and under the stairs needs to be cleaned out. I went out and talked to Bubba to give him clearer directions and then we went over how to clean out the chicken coop. He started working on the coop after that and I went back to the couch for another several hour nap. We should have all the buildings cleaned out by Monday. I am super stoked. I need about 8 more hours on the bull enclosure and then its onto the next project. I need to trim the alpaca feet and fix the machine shed overhead beams I broke last year with the tractor. I will call on Monday and get some custom beams cut for the repair.

We need to clean out the milking area also. Meathead is coming out on Tuesday to finish moving all the straw and poop from the barn over into the compost pile. She can grab the extra compost from the alley way and front barn lot at the same time. There are four big rocks in the milking area I would like to take out. They were used as support for floor beams but they just get in the way now. I have tried to get them out with the tractor but there is no room to move the tractor around in this tight space. I am just going to have to use a breaker bar, shovel and fulcrum to get them out. Last night I went to bed early due to an illness. I was dead asleep when I was woken up by the dogs just raising a ruckus outside. It sounded like they were tearing something up and it was vicious. This went on for a little while then I heard Annmarie slap the side of the house loudly to shut them up and I fell back asleep. When she came to bed she told me that the dogs were at the back garden gate barking and trying to get at the four raccoons on our back porch. They were helping themselves to the cat food. She had flipped on the light and took a shot at them with the 30-30. She missed as they were almost gone by the time she got back with a weapon. So we have baited the back porch with more cat food tonight. I didn’t feed the cats in the barn and we are going to send Annmarie out to the chicken coop area and I will come out the back door blazing. Last night the raccoons ran toward the chicken coop. Annmarie will be waiting for them. As soon as I start shooting she will turn on her flashlight. I will not leave the back yard so she can shoot at anything that comes her way, no crossing of fire lanes. This is a stupid problem to have but they cannot get at my chickens! My babies should be laying next month and I do not want to wait another 8 months before getting more eggs.

Yard fence

I came home early on Friday just so I could work on the Gizmo fence. He has learned the many splendors of the snack potential in the barn and surrounding area. As soon as we let them out to potty he is running for the fence and squirts through the 4×4 hole. Once he is out of the yard he will not come back. It does not matter if you can see him and call him. He pretends he doesn’t hear you hollering “I can see you!”. So I will be installing a 2′ chicken wire fence using hog wire clips. It was cold, windy and rainy that afternoon. I used 1500 clips before I got cold. I only have a few hundred clips left and will have to order a few thousand more to finish the job.

I went to Bimart to get bagged dirt for our elevated trough beds in the back yard. It was a wonderful sunny day so I grabbed a bunch of different herbs with the intention of planting them outside. Once I had all the dirt unloaded and planters ready I opted to actually check the weather on my phone. No go on the herbs, its supposed to snow three days out of the next week. So I took them up to the breezeporch to survive another two weeks. Annmarie wants to create planters that go inside a tin can on our 3D printer so that all the herbs can go in the kitchen windowsill. I am afraid the herbs won’t get big enough if we keep them inside. We are starting to really like cooking with fresh herbs. I am really starting to like the idea of an underground greenhouse 10×20 feet long. I want to grow a few citrus trees, tomatoes year round, herbs year round and greens year round. I think it will be very cool. Water will be the real issue but I think I can store a few hundred gallons in 50 gallon barrels that will get us through the winter. Annmarie has agreed to listen to the plan and it is on the list for next year. I am sure it will cost $2-4K. Our wood trim arrived on Friday. Everything stained and finished I just have to cut it and install it. This is everything for our entire house. All the doors, all the windows, all the floor trim and the trim necessary to complete the stairway. It of course started raining and wind blowing on Saturday that caused me to finish covering the trim. I had covered it up after delivery but I had left open the left end and a few garbage bags with some tape closed it all off. I cannot install any of this until I finish painting so on Saturday I started to paint the downstairs. My goal is to finish all painting this week. So hopefully I can start installing the trim next week. My plan is to bring in the air compressor and then setup the chop saw on the front porch.

We had another set of twins born this week! The babies just keep coming. Next weekend we will have to tag and band the babies that have not been touched yet. This mother was so crazy we felt the need to lock her up with the twins in the momma area. She jumped out over the back wall! I am now going to have to raise that wall by 18 inches and raise the height of both gates just to keep these crazy mommas inside the pen. We locked her in the barn alone with her twins for four days so they could gain some strength to be able to keep up with the herd. Our internet sucks and is slow. I have discovered a way to speed up my picture uploads to the blog. I climb up the ladder 24 feet in the air and use my cellular data plan. Instead of each picture taking me 2-4 minutes they only take 10 seconds. This is a farmer update that most people will understand.

Internet hotspot at the top of the ladder!.

Chicken Financials 2017

These are the financials for all of 2017. I want to preface theses numbers with a disclaimer. I have not even reviewed the numbers prior to writing this blog entry so as to not be influenced by its results. While inputting all the chicken egg financials I noticed one disturbing trend, the chickens kept getting more and more unproductive as the year progressed. They were laying machines at the beginning of the year. When we went on vacation the chickens started getting eaten by a raccoon and we lost seven while being gone 16 days. We went from 23 hens down to 15 then I bought 10 grown hens in December in the hopes that they would lay better. This was a bad deal as most were just freeloaders which is probably why someone else was getting rid of them.

On average I had 20.1 laying hens (A decrease of 4.3 from 2016) giving me 8 eggs/day(increase 0.6eggs/day) for a productivity rate of 39% (9% increase). Again, they were laying gangbusters the first half of the year. I am feeding on average 154.2chicken feed/month(decrease 12.5#/month) for a grand total of 1850# for 2017 (150#decrease). My monthly feed bill is $32.32/month (decrease $6.37/month). My feed costs are $2.00/doz (decrease of $0.28/doz)with my total cost of production at $2.32/doz (includes feed and bedding and ten adult hens). My chickens are consuming 0.64 lbs food/egg produced (decrease 0.10 lbs/egg). I believe a large part of this is the decrease in number of chickens but one could assume fewer chickens eat less food but it doesn’t really work that way. It is costing me $0.13/egg (decrease of 0.03/egg) in feed. This feed decrease will go away this year. I had horrible problems with mice last year and they destroyed about 400# of chicken feed. I had bought in bulk to save on feed expenses but I am unwilling to have the mice destroy that much food and they lower the quality of the feed. So we are combating this problem by importing cats. We have homed three fixed cats that are still kicking and have two more in a kennel as I write this acclimatizing themselves to the barn before we let them out. We are going for four more barn cats. When we can see one or two throughout the day we have enough. It had gotten to the point were you could go days without seeing a cat. That causes a lot of mice problems. It also causes raccoon, skunk and possum problems. The cats won’t fight those animals but they do pressure them to not stay. I have collected 2912 eggs to date (increase in 217eggs). My total feed costs are $425.64 (decrease of $37.75).

In summary my income was $792 and my total expenses were $424.88. In 2017 I made a profit of $367.12!

This will be my best year for a while. I expect to pay out an extra $150 in feed costs due to not buying in bulk. So I made $30/month for the year for approximately 6 hours a month. So $5/hour, seems fair. This for the BEST eggs you will ever eat. Ours are true free range that have access to running water year round, bugs, grass, animal poop and all the bugs they can eat. All that protein makes a huge difference to how the eggs taste and the variety of their diet makes for some amazing flavor. Annmarie does product testing and infection control by eating a raw egg in her smoothy almost every morning with nary a side effect. Buy them from us, first dozen is free!

Multiple irons

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I have been playing catch up last week.  I am trying to do multiple things at once.  This is not working well for me. I just keep flitting from one thing to the next. I had to put the baby chickens outside. I wanted to paint and they are so dusty I needed to dust every day. I called it quits when they started sitting on top of the water dish. They are growing like weeds out in the baby area of the chicken coop. I have also managed to not catch the coop on fire this time with the heat lamp. I have enough concrete board to line the baby area this summer so it is fire proof.

I am currently trying to convince a coworker to raise two geese for me past the gosling stage or about 2 months old. I want to try keeping them up at the spring head and see if they cannot keep the waterway clean. If they can then I will move them to different sections of the waterway to keep it clean versus me having to pitchfork it clean three times a year. I am trying to let some livestock work for me. I hope it works. img_5553

I have one wall in the dining room done and the kitchen done. Next up is to get the color on the wall near all the windows. Our trim is stained and ready. I just need to get it delivered and then start installing it. That will be a big job. I figure it will take about 2-3 weeks to get it all in.

Chicks are here

Annmarie and I were commiserating about our lackluster effort by our chickens on Thursday night. We came to the conclusion that we were going to have to start pullets instead of trying to buy adults. Pullets take a minimum of six months before they start laying. It was decided that sooner rather than later was good timing.

She called me on Friday morning to say that she had purchased 18 Easter Eggers! The local feed and supply store had just gotten them in and she snapped up half the easter egger pullets. They let her pick her 18 and she paid for them so they held them all day for her. I knew the brooder needed to be bleached out but figured I would have time after I got off work. I got off late and was bleaching the brooder, lid, waterer and feeder when she got home. I had pine shavings down in the root cellar so I figured all was good. I dried it all off and filled up the brooder with pine shavings from the root cellar. Cedar shavings are bad for chickens. I placed all this in the library downstairs and somehow managed to do it without Annmarie noticing then went out to do chores. She smelled the brooder and said it smelled like chemicals. I told her I used bleach only and it should be gone by now. It was then that Annmarie asked me if I was still storing herbicides in the root cellar and how long had the pine shavings been down there? After killing off most of my chicks one year by using varethane inside the house at the same time they were present we are more cognizant of chemicals. So I had to throw out the bedding and used a cardboard box and newspaper to get us through the night until I could go back to the store and get fresh bedding.

This also put the kabash on any painting dreams I had. I tell myself that I was going to tear it up and finish the entire house over this weekend but now we will never know because I was thwarted by baby chickens.

We like the easter eggers as they are very calm. They lay multicolored eggs and have been the best breed in longevity, laying habits and non broody.