Friday, July 24, 2015

Long awaited, Finally This Summer, Always worth the wait

Saturday, July 18th, I went into the coop, there I found an egg shell, Mr. Bootsie following me in was checking the nest also, words from the farm assistant, "Broken egg, not again."  My response was, "No, not again.  This shell has been opened by a chick."  I had already put some starter grain close to the Little Black Hen, so she could eat the grain.  After setting, they are so weak and need something to build up their strength.  You ask why is it difficult to sit on eggs and hatch them.  These hens, when setting, go into a trance and hardly leave the nest.  They eat very little and this takes a toll on them.

I went to prepare the chicken water and place it close so the baby chick could get a drink.  At this time all the proof I had was the shell and I knew it looked as something one had come out of it.  This gets Mr. Wonderful off the hook, as now I know he is not shooting blanks.  I was not sure as to how committed the other Little Black Hen was to setting on the nest when we were away from the coop.  She took some morning dusting breaks which seemed entirely too long to me.  This is the reason I allowed this hen to stay in the nest she had created and hatch the eggs.

It was time for me to continue my chores.  So off I went to make the grain bowls for the goats.  Mr. Bootsie comes for the coop exclaiming, "There are two babies and more eggs under her."  He is quite excited as he was the first one to see the baby chicks.  I decided to see if I could establish whose eggs had hatched.  I found the whole shell from one of the olive eggs, which we hatched last spring.  This will mean if this is a hen, her egg will be much darker in olive color as this is a second generation.  As she collected her eggs for the nest I have no idea as to what may be in this hatch.  This is one time the hen has out smarted me.

We have never worked with babies on the floor of the coop.  I have heard when the rooster is in the coop there could be problems or not.  Sometimes they protect their babies from the hens and other times the responsibility is totally on the momma hen.  I have all of the brooders close by if this is the direction we need to take.  I just am not sure how the Little Black Hen will react to being enclosed in a brooder and I do not want her to dessert the little ones she has worked so hard to produce.

This will be a learning experience for us, but each and every hatching has been a lesson in one way or another.  The little black hen's mother, Aurora was a wonderful momma hen and no one, not even me was able to get near her babies.  She was the smallest hen in the coop, however, when she had babies her size did not matter, the other hens kept their distance.  She would fly up and land on their backs if they bothered her little ones.  We did keep her in the brooder, only when the chicks were out getting sun, the other hens came to see what was going on.  If they came within two feet they had better look out because little Aurora was going to show them they should keep a distance.  I hope some of Aurora's mothering skills has passed on to her girls.  These girls came from eggs laid by Aurora, so only time will tell if this hen will be a good momma hen.

Monday, morning there was not a chick to be found, except the little one who did not make it through the night.  I was ready to break up the nest and then I heard the crunch of an egg, one more was coming.  By the end of the day there were 2 new baby chicks, they were struggling on the floor of the coop and I knew I needed to make a decision.  Wednesday morning there are 3 babies, Momma hen decided to go out and stretch her legs, only to be attack by the dame of the coop.  She ran back in checking on her chicks.

Mr. Bootsie showed up about the same time and I made my decision.  She is going into the brooder, the chicks can move about and we do not have to worry about snakes or the other hens attacking them.  I would find a little peace with this.  You know I always give him the worst job, he reached down and collected momma hen.  Walked over to the brooder, I began to collect the baby chicks and found only 2,  Mr. Bootsie had one baby, finally all together once again.  We knew it was time to get the eggs and see if Momma Hen would take them back, Mr. Bootsie candled all of them and there are 6 more possible chicks.
As Mr. Bootsie put the eggs in front of Momma Hen she pecked him each time and then rolled each egg back into the nest.  There she was setting on the 6 eggs and 3 little chicks hidden in her feathers.  I as not sure she feels as safe in her new home as I feel she is.

I had just about given up on having any chicks this year, but now there are 3 and maybe more.  All of the eggs came from my olive egg laying girls and the  Welsummer rooster.   Excited, yes,  there are babies on the farm.  Life goes on!!!!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Early Summer Update

With spring turning into summer, we have been busy.  The days come to a close much too early and there is always something left undone.  My to do list seems to grow and become longer.  And then it happened, the computer decided to go to computer camp.  After 2 weeks with no computer, I made the decision to just give all of this up.  Knowing with age it is difficult to accomplish everything you think you can in a day, I thought my time would be a little bit freer without spending time in cyber space.  I have no idea this would rattle Mr. Bootise quite like it did.  We need a computer and you have so many special friends who mean so much to you, I don't want you to loose those relationships.  We need to be able to research things and going to the library will take even more time.  The library is 16 miles from our house so I had to give in, start my journey of looking for a new computer.

With a new computer, I changed brands, there is the time of learning once again.  Everything old is everything new and I am struggling along.  I have learned how to load my pictures so I can share with you.  I  am trying to slowly move forward so I can retain what I am learning.  So, please bear with me.  I enjoy the time I share with you and I always have my blog to return to when I need to remember things about my farm.  After all of this, here goes, this is what has been happening!!!

Rain, we have rain, so much rain we now have mushrooms growing everywhere.  Ducks are eating mushrooms, are they safe for us to eat?  I have heard the stories all my life and I am very concerned about collecting and eating wild mushrooms.  But is seems such a waste not to have the knowledge to use this special gift.  If you have the time. the knowledge of how and why we have fungi, is very interesting, read about why they are here.  The farmer came by and she informed me there are mushrooms safe to eat around here.  She has been collecting and preparing them.  She shared a link with me about one she enjoys and we have them everywhere.  I find this so exciting.   link to information about mushrooms

Chicken hatching.  Aurora's daughter set on the nest for 28 days, no chicks, I destroyed the eggs by burying them in the garden,  I heard 3 of them blowup as I covered them with lots of garden soil.  I did not want to smell the rotten eggs.   I worked on getting her to give up the nest which I did accomplish.  About a week later I went into the coop and there was a new nest with a black hen on it, no, no she can't be doing this again, Mr. Bootsie came in later during the day.  He informed me, "She is at it again, what are you going to do?"  Next morning, I realized no she is not at it again, this is the other daughter.  So I decided to leave her on the nest, not moving her to the brooder box and let her have her way.  I need to know if the rooster is shooting blanks or what could have happened with the first hatch.  So only time will tell.

Berry season means I am at it again.  Making wine and framboise, my farm assistant is smiling from ear to ear.  What you have to wait 6 months for the flavor to develop?  Yes, now put that down.  The raspberries and blackberries are used to make these beverages.  I made my first raspberry wine this season, we are really excited about this.  I did not have a recipe and I did a little bit of tasting to see if I thought the sugar was in balance with the fruit.  Tasted good to me so maybe this will work.  Right now, this is bubbling away in the pantry.  I am planning on starting blackberry wine today.

 Crops are coming in, we are harvesting more than we are able to eat.  I have been sharing some and preserving some.  This a new pickle for me.  I was glad the recipe was for 3 pints. Now I will return to some old faithful recipes and make them if we have cucumbers.  And by the way we should wait 4 weeks before eating these pickles.  Flavor development.

Each week Mr. Bootsie drops one tree and the wood yard is filling.  We both spend time in the garden picking and weeding.  New friends on our farm are two fawns born this spring.  They come to see us quite often.  We have really enjoyed having our personal wildlife preserve.Time for me to go, just heard this week's tree hit the ground. I have chicken to grind, as I as going to make chicken salad.  This was one of our birds, they are so good.  Stop by for a chicken salad biscuit with fresh tomato.  You know you are always welcome.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Alliums on our Farm

In October, 2014 I planted the garlic, the row was dug, the garlic broken into cloves was carefully placed in the row and covered with soil.  Last winter was a cold winter but I could always see the garlic foliage growing so I was in hopes we would have a nice crop of garlic.  June of 2015, the foliage begins to fall over, the bottom sets of leaves have turned brown, it is time for me to dig the garlic.  Pulling the first head from the earth I was excited it was a good year.  Nice full heads, they were easy to clean because I pulled them at the correct time, did not dilly dally around and let too much moisture get into the ground.  As of now, all of the garlic is dug, cleaned and on the drying rack in the pole barn.

I find pleasure in setting down, taking the time to braid some of the garlic.  It is with pride I hang it in my pantry and share with others.  This is really the best garlic crop I have had here on this farm.  The land has slowly improved with the adding of all natural ingredients.  I use wood chips, manure and lots of compost.  I am now harvesting sand from our creeks to improve the soil.  

After all the garlic was dug,  it was time to begin harvesting the onions.  It was another good crop.  I have my first onions which look like onions.  There are white onions large enough to slice.  How I have waited for this.  These are my storage onions, I have red salad onions, yellow sweet onions which do not store for a long while.  After loosing quite a large number of the walking onions to the moles in 2014 there were enough left to plant last fall.  I had a good harvest and now I will work on replenishing my walking onions.  

Onions are important to me.  I use quite a large number of onions in our kitchen.  As I look back I understand why I use so many.  My momma would cook a pan of onions anytime she was not feeling well, she felt the onions were healthful for her.  When I was a child we grew potato onions and storage onions.  The onions were braided and hung in the basement.  At was fun to go to the basement and see the braids disappear.  Momma put onions in almost everything she cooked and I do the same thing.  

On our farm, we grow many varieties of the allium family,  the leeks have gone to seed and I am hoping this year they will reseed in the garden saving me the work of replanting the leek bed, the green onions have gone to seed and new plants have been relocated in the green onion pots.  The chives have flowered and their heads removed, seeds planted along with some of the large clumps divided and planted, the garlic chives have reseeded and are coming up all in the bed.

We use all of the alliums we grow and I am always looking for more, the flavors add so much to our meals and I just enjoy watching them grow.