Monday, November 7, 2016

Fall is Upon Us

First things first, you remember how excited I was to have 8 pullets who would be laying for us, well, things have changed.  I have 8 pullets but now only 2 are laying.  They were doing so good, I had eggs, more eggs than I could use and boom, it all stopped.  At this point I am blaming myself, because I changed their feed a bit and I am not sure they were happy with the change.  We have had more cloudy days than we need and maybe that has had an effect on the girls, but whatever, I am not collecting eggs.  One day we get 2 eggs and the next day 1 egg.  I am working hard to get them to laying again but I am not sure it will happen.

We made a change in the feed for all of the pasture crew, we were gifted a bag of new feed and all seemed to like it.  I decided to try using this feed and with my first bag I saw a problem.  When the fermented feed was opened it was very clumpy but I had been told I need to break it up.  The gift bag broke up easily so I knew there was a problem.  I read on the bag and it said it was good for some time, however, this stuff just did not smell like the first bag.  Digging down into the bag of feed I found the problem, there was mold.  I threw the mold clumps into the chicken yard to see what would happen.  After 2.3 inches if rain from the hurricane, Matthew, this stuff was still clumps, and a week later it is still clumps, The chickens have no interest in it and it is heading into the compost pile and I am not sure about that.

Mr. Bootsie filed a complaint with me from the barn crew, I was told they were not eating and trying to pick through their food bowls, decision, we will return to the way we were feeding.  New is not always good.  I was thinking it may be a good time to try something different as we are no longer milking Belle and the little ones are growing but my choice was bad and now I must pay the price by not having eggs as the feed doesn't seem to be of value to my chickens.  I told the person who supplied me with the feed, I could stop feeding layer grain but I knew to keep them laying they need the layer grain.  The new feed may have lowered the ratio too low to keep the girls laying.  Lesson learned and now I must pay the price.  At this time I will be surprised if any of the girls return to laying during to winter but I am hoping a couple of them will.  I know chickens do not like change and I was in question about making this change from the time it was suggested to me.  My mind was telling me no but I have respect for the person advising.  I shall keep you posted on this, as I would not want any of you to make this mistake,  learn from my being influenced by others and not sticking to what I knew I should do.

The last weekend in September we went up to Rappahannock County and did the farm tour.  It was a very interesting day.  We found an orchard which sold the not so perfect apples at a great price reduction.  I came home with a bushel of Grime's Golden Apples for $12.00.  This was a super deal for me.  I simply adore Grime's Golden Apples.  I remember them from my childhood.  There were fried, stewed or baked apples in the kitchen most of the time.  There was a tree of summer apples which was the first we harvested and I would love to find someone growing these summer apples, but I have no idea as to the name of them.  When I saw the Grime's Golden at the orchard I was excited.  Mr. Bootsie sometimes looks at me as if I have fallen out of the trees and this was one of those days.  After a few days I peeled and made stewed apples, no longer does he look at me that way, he picks up his knife and helps me peel the apples.  We have been eating  stewed apples and making apple butter.  Best twelve dollars I have ever spent.  6 pints of apple butter in the pantry, one has been eaten,  so many pots of stewed apples and dehydrated two quarts.  I am so pleased to say the ugly apple tastes as wonderful as the pretty apple.

It seems these past few weeks have been an adventure for me, I am just so excited to have over 4 quarts of lard rendered in my kitchen.   If you missed the blog about "Lard Rendering Day" just click here for the link,  I know I will enjoy making pie pastry with this lard as I feel lard is the best type of shortening to use when making pie crust. I also use lard in the quiche crusts I make. 

We have been working on planting the tunnel for the fall.  The last week in October the cover went over the tunnel, the weather has been so mild, the ends remain to be put in place.  There are turnips, lettuce and leafy greens  planted, I am hoping for a good crop this season.  Planted collards in the garden, did not cover with row cover and someone had dinner.  I had a few to replant and then covered with the row cover.  I am planning to remove the row cover when the plants become large as the winter cold is good for the collards.  

You can tell the night time temperature is starting to drop and with the change in the weather we add the chore of wood for the wood stove to our chore list.  I found a couple of dead large oak trees in our woods and Mr. Bootsie has felled them.  They are being added to our wood racks, with our supply of wood they will have time to dry.  The way our wood rack looks we should have enough wood for the winter.  These oak trees were just a nice addition to our supply.  

The brisk air seems to have a bounce in my step.  Our garlic crop is in the ground and growing.  We are mulching the garlic with wood chips, we have old chips and they are excellent mulch for the garlic.  The walking onions need to be weeded, some replanted where I have harvested,  I will be using a goat manure mixed with chips for the mulch.  This way I will be adding some richness to the soil as well as preventing weeds from growing.  Speaking of weeds, the chickweed is growing, Mr. Bootsie pulls the chickens a bucket full quite often.  I gather some of the chickweed to go into our winter salads, it is so healthy for you and I have plenty to share with all of us.  I will plant a couple of pots for the hard winter and put in the greenhouse.

Fall is in the air, leaves are falling, we went for a look around the property, hearing the crunch of the leaves under our feet was such a nice sound.  I enjoy the woods during this season of the year.  The winter wild flowers are starting to bloom and the woods are calling me.  Running cedar is greening and reminding me of days gone by when Momma would send us out to gather running cedar to decorate for the holidays.

Many chores are on my list and I must be on my way,   Thanks for stopping by our little farm.