Sorry I am a day late on this update. We stayed pretty busy this weekend and I didn’t get to it.
One more hen started laying. It is one of the Black Australorps, named Daisy. I also saw the rooster breeding one of the Ameraucanas, named Cheeky, so I am expecting her to start soon too. So that makes 7 (hopefully soon to be 8) hens laying out of 15. Hopefully the others will slowly trickle into laying over the next few weeks. We are getting plenty of eggs for our own use, so I am glad for that.
Because of our climate, and very very short growing season, we usually plant our garlic in the early spring and it does well. But this year, it didn’t do well at all. Granted we were late in planting and had the soil mess, but we decided to try something different for us this next year. We decided to try doing what everyone else does…planting garlic in the fall. We are planting it this week in our little onion & garlic patch. Next year we will find out how it does. I am definitely worried about what our very cold winters will do to it. But the only way to find out is to try. So on with the experiment!
We decided that while the sheep and cows are still evacuated we should do some work on their stalls. It is much easier to do the work without them underfoot and messing with the tools. So this weekend my husband insulated and did the interior board and batten walls on the two exterior walls of the cow stall. They look very nice, and, more importantly, we can feel the difference just standing in the stall. They have definitely stopped the wind that was eeking in the cracks, and are insulating the stall well.
Here are the before and after pictures. The before picture was taken awhile ago to show the calf night stall, but in it you can see what the wall used to look like:
The wood he used is beetle kill pine. It is “reclaimed” wood. He knows a cabinet-maker who calls him whenever his scrap pile gets big and my husband goes and loads it all up and brings it home. We then sort it into piles of which can be used for projects around here, and which is no good and needs to be cut for firewood. This last load was full of “one by” beetle kill pine. Just what we needed!
He will be working to get the sheep stall walls done this week.
Moving the Cockerels
Now that the chicks are 10 weeks old, the growing out pen was starting to get crowded with the 23 chicks in it. So we decided it was time to split them up. The small lower coop has been empty since we integrated the Brahma teens in with the adults. We decided to put the cockerels down in the smaller coop and leave the pullets in the growing out pen. We have a pretty good idea which are which at this point, although there are a few that are still questionable. But for the most part, I think we figured them out.
We decided to do a bit of winterizing on the small lower coop as well. We insulated the ceiling and put boards over it. Then we insulated and boarded over two of the 3 walls (one wall is mostly door, and the other we didn’t do because it has the feeder on it as well as the small chicken door so it was too complicated to deal with in a hurry). The boards we used were leftovers from a different project and were already painted white, so the inside of the coop has a nice bright feel now.
Once we winterized it, we moved the 9 cockerels down and put them in. We opened the chicken door out to the pen and gave them their first chance at going outside. They were pretty quick to begin exploring and seemed happy in their new home. They even figured out how to walk back up the ramp and into the coop without help (the other times we have put young birds in there it took them awhile to figure out how to go back up).
We had our first hard freeze. It was 17 degrees in the morning and all the animal waters were frozen. Thus begins the season of rotating water bottles, and thawing them by the fire. My husband is working to figure out a way to use a fish tank heater to heat the 5 gallon buckets we use for the chicken waterers with the chicken water spouts on them. Then we wont have to worry about those freezing.
We got a small dusting of snow along with the freeze. It was really pretty because everything was covered with ice crystals.
I am waiting to cover the strawberry plants with straw for the winter. From what I understand, I am not supposed to do it until about half the leaves have turned red and brown. So far, they are still very green, as you can see above. So I am keeping an eye on them. We have never done a strawberry patch before.
The squash that I picked to save them from frost and then set in the window to ripen are coming along quite well. I have removed the two pumpkins and a couple of the acorn squash already because they were done. The ones that are left look good. I am surprised that even the small acorns that seemed too immature are turning dark green and ripening. Of course, we wont know if those ones actually turned out until we open them up, but they are looking promising. Here are the before and current photos.