Wow, for the first time since I started the Sunday Homestead updates I don’t really have much extra going on that we didn’t talk about in other posts throughout the week. Weird.
We have spent the last 18 months since we moved to the farm going full blast on one project after another building the farm into what we want it to be; adding new buildings, new pens, new animals, breeding animals, learning new skills. And now, as we
patiently wait for flood recovery progress to be made, and our resources are being diverted into getting the generator to finish making our home self-sustaining off-grid, all the projects we had planned before have taken a back seat. The large animals aren’t on the farm, so that takes away a bunch of the activity as well. Also, this time of year I am usually beginning to plan a huge Thanksgiving feast, as we almost always host Thanksgiving for our local relatives and some friends. But we don’t know if we can/will host this year.
So it is very quiet around here. Not much going on. And yet, we are kind of enjoying this calmness after 18 months of constant projects and farm building. There is a season for everything, and this is clearly our season to rest, heal, and reset ourselves.
So all I have to talk about in this update are some chicken happenings, and some knitting.
The hens are kind of starting to get their systems revved up again. They laid 5 eggs on two different days this week. The other days they laid 1-3 eggs. I am glad some of them are going, and hope the others follow soon. We normally get 9-11 eggs from them every day. We are happy that the ones who have started back up are all hens that have been chosen for our breeding program, only one of them is a production birds. So we feel like maybe this indicates that the traits we are selecting for are working to get us breeding stock that are well-built birds, and, based on this situation, will bounce back into laying from stress quicker than other birds. A trait we didn’t even know we wanted ;-).
Unfortunately, the rating of the 8 week old chicks that we did yesterday, tends to prove otherwise on our breeding selections. We definitely have a couple cockerels and several hens that are standing apart from the rest as what we are wanting in our flock, but unfortunately, none of the best birds are from our breedings, they are all from the high-altitude hatching eggs we bought. 😦
We definitely expected the high-altitude chicks to be better since that breeder has been selectively breeding for over 10 years, and we are glad to add that good stock into our breeding program. But we are not happy that the pairings we chose made such sub-standard chicks. Granted, we have found that the ratings at 8 weeks don’t always hold true, and there are a lot of birds that do get better as they mature, so we can’t totally base everything on some 8-week ratings. We will, of course, continue to rate them every 4 weeks. And we won’t have any for-sure answers until January/February as to who turned out well and who did not. But the 8 week ratings on these chicks compared to the 8 week ratings of the chicks from last January and the Brahma chicks are showing that these birds from our breedings are not looking very good at all.
We are leaning towards the fact that it might be Pepper, our rooster, that is the problem. So we are contemplating doing another round of breeding this winter, using the new Dark Brahma rooster, Boaz, and using the same hens we chose as breeders last round with Pepper and see what happens. It would definitely answer the question of whether it is the rooster or whether our selection process is just not working at all and the birds from hatcheries are hard to work with. And if we end up with all sub-standard chicks again we will have plenty of meat to go in the freezer and we will know that our first attempts at our own breeding program didn’t work and that we really need to figure out a new plan. This “test breeding” will really help us know better what we are doing and get set up for next spring/summer breeding season so that we can hopefully have a good, productive breeding season.
Boaz is just now 18 weeks old, so we will wait another 4-6 weeks or more and let him fully mature (and get all the hens laying well – hopefully), and then we will probably put him and our favorite breeding hens in the lower coop and run a batch of eggs in the incubator. I really hope all the breeding hens start laying well by then, so that we can do this little “experiment.”
I have finished the first Christmas present! A pair of socks for my oldest daughter.
The pattern is called Chevron Lace from the book Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd (that is the book I used to teach myself how to knit socks 5 years ago, I love that book!). I am very happy with the pattern and how it turned out. The pictures aren’t the greatest, but the chevrons continue down each side of the foot in one little strip and it looks really neat (if you click on the pictures you can get a better view of them).
The yarn is Sock Ease, by Lion Brand and the color is called cotton candy. This is my first time working with the Sock Ease yarn. I love the color, it is just right for my boisterous, bubbly, energetic daughter. But I wasn’t super happy with the texture of the yarn. Normally, I buy yarn after touching it. But for the first time ever, I bought this yarn off the internet, without having touched it first. It is rougher than I had hoped. Maybe it will soften a bit after the first wearing and washing, we will see. But I don’t think I will use this brand again.
One present down, four to go! I have started in on the poncho for my youngest daughter. It is a big piece and I tend to get bored easily working on big pieces. It is worked in four sections which are then sewn together. So I started with that and finished one section, then I made these socks, now I am back at doing the second section of the poncho, then I will do another pair of socks, and so forth. That is how I keep myself interested enough to finish a big project ;-).