Getting Away From the Farm
We love our little homestead and our farm lifestyle, but it is hard work. Getaways from the farm, especially with a dairy cow in milk, are few and far between. They are precious. With Charlotte gone and Violet on the way soon (see below), this weekend was our only chance for a family mini-vacation until we dry off Violet next year before she calves. So we took our very precious opportunity and hit the road for a fun family getaway.
We decided to go to Grand Lake, Colorado. We also went to Granby, Colorado. The scenery was beautiful. Walking around the little shops in Grand Lake was fun. And we were very pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to find restaurants that were Gluten-Free friendly. We found a tiny pizza joint that offered GF Pizzas, and a great breakfast place in Granby that not only had some GF options (like eggs and the stuff you would expect) but also served GF blueberry pancakes and French toast!
We saw these two handsome fellows during the trip:
It was a wonderful mini-vacation and we really enjoyed the break from the hard work of the farm life. And we took our chance just in time too, because…
Our new cow that we are in the process of buying, Violet, calved Saturday morning. The current owners want to keep the calf, so we had to wait until she calved before we could officially buy her and bring her home. They will keep her a few days to get the colostrum off her for the calf, which they are bottling, and then she will move to our place. So exciting! So it looks like she will be headed our way sometime before the end of this week. We can’t wait to get her here and start to get to know her.
We picked up our “high altitude” eggs and have started incubation #3. It includes 22 of our eggs from our selected breeding stock, as well as 26 eggs we purchased from a successful high altitude breeder. For a grand total of 48 eggs! We have never put that many in there. I had originally planned to just put in 40 again, like the last batch, so that there was only 5 in each section and we would for sure get optimum turning. But, with the size of these eggs being on average smaller than the last batch, I decided to go ahead with 6 per section and have watched and seen good turning.
This is an exciting and tense hatch. It is tense because our first two failed miserably and we aren’t sure if we will have better results, though based on the advice of a successful high-altitude hatcher we should have a better go of it. And it is exciting because it contains our first eggs from purposefully chosen breeding of our selected flock for our breeding program!
So the countdown has begun! 21 days feels SO long, and yet it is SO short. I am excited to candle them on Wednesday and see what kind of fertility our rooster had.
My least favorite part of the breeding program is moving birds around from this pen to that pen. It is just part of how it goes when you are selecting out birds for the breeding pen(s) and then moving them again after breeding season. Plus there is all the adding in of new stock that you grow up out of your breedings. I’d like to someday speak with a seasoned breeder and find out how they handle it. We do our best to minimize the chance of serious injuries, but there is still quite a bit of fighting each time we have to shuffle birds around. It isn’t called a “pecking order” for no reason.
Now that our eggs are in the incubator that marks the end of this breeding season for us. During breeding season we had the selected breeders in the lower coop with the rooster, and we had all the rest of the hens in the upper coop (and now free ranging in the barnyard). The chicks that we currently have, which range in age from 6 weeks to 8 weeks of age were in the growing-out pen in the barn. They were quickly growing out of the growing-out pen, and with the breeding season over we wanted to consolidate the adult flock into one flock again. So today we moved the breeders up to live in the upper coop and barnyard with the other adult hens, and we moved the chicks into the lower coop.
We were moving 6 hens and 1 rooster in with 11 hens. We had them all out free-ranging in the barnyard during the introduction to help with space. The 6 hens and 1 rooster had never free-ranged before. Man oh man there were some battles. The rooster kept trying to break up the fights and make peace, which at times was funny because he would try to court them the second he broke them up. It was like he was saying “Can’t we all just get along!? There is no reason to fight, look how handsome I am!!!”
After a few hours things had settled and there was only a couple of small injuries to combs. Then we decided to introduce rooster to farm dog, who is normally out in the barnyard protecting everyone but was closed away during the flock integration. We let him loose in the barnyard with the whole flock and watched carefully. We were a bit nervous, but it didn’t seem like it was necessary. They both seem to regard one another with respect, and there were no altercations.
The rooster seemed especially pleased with the free-ranging situation, and enjoyed playing king of the hill on the top of the compost pile (the highest spot in the barnyard).
That move left the lower coop empty and ready for the chicks to move in. We put them in there, closed inside, this afternoon. In the morning the chicks will get their first experience in the outdoors as we will open them up to the pen in the morning. I can’t wait to see how they like it!
I got some individual pictures to share as we were moving them. They are changing so much!