It’s been a frigid week here. We had a few days of single digit highs and lows in the -20s at night. Everyone has survived it with no problems.
It definitely seems like the hot mash, scratch, and heat lamps are helping the chickens – when we had a cold snap like this in December we had all sorts of frost bite problems with the chickens. But this time there have been none.
We are happy to be heading back into the 30s for highs this week and teens for lows. And we also are supposed to get some more snow. It has definitely been an abnormally harsh winter as far as the weather is concerned.
We took advantage of a break in the weather and butchered the bull calf yesterday (in between the days of frigid temps and the incoming snow). It went smoothly and we are very happy to have all that healthy beef in the freezer. I will post the yield stats later this week.
The butchering came just in time, because I only have 2 jars of beef broth left. So I started a batch and will be making and canning that throughout the next few days.
Yesterday was our last milking of Violet. It was SO nice to sleep in this morning and not have to be up at 5:30. She is still on the property for a few days because the weather prevented the new owners from getting the fence finished at their place. But they will be coming every morning to milk her, feed her, and clean her stall until they move her to their place later this week. We will definitely miss having a dairy cow, but this is the right decision for us in this season of our life.
Today we started collecting eggs for the 2nd incubation of 2014. They will go in the bators in 10 days. We are using two different incubators to see if one performs better here than the other. Each will have eggs from each hen so it is fair and even.
This round we are breeding Boaz (Dark Brahma rooster) to Sophie (Easter Egger), Ruth (CochinX), Rachel, & Dixie (Light and Dark Brahmas) in the lower coop. We are very hopeful his foot issues wont effect his ability to breed the hens. And we are breeding the two young cockerels, Blue and Banty (mixed breeds), and our top roo Pepper (mix), to Daisy (Black Australorp), Goldie (Buff Orp), Bindi & Matilda (Easter Eggers), 3 Dark Brahmas and a couple of Barred Rock hens in the upper pen.
We are testing out Goldie one last time. She has been bred twice now and has never produced a fertile egg. If she doesn’t produce one this time we are assuming there is something wrong with her repro tract and she will be given until spring to go broody. If she doesn’t go broody she is out.
Due to the high percentage of feathered legs in the last hatch, even from the upper coop, we are pretty sure that Pepper was infertile from his frostbite and the two cockerels were the ones who bred all the hens last hatch. Because of that, we have kept Blue (cockerel) around for this breeding even though he attacked our son a few weeks ago. We want to ensure good fertility. There are 15 hens in that pen, even though we are only collecting eggs from 9 of them there is no way to separate them out, so the three roos will be covering 15 hens. We figure with three of them, even if one is infertile from frostbite we should get good fertility. As soon as we are done collecting eggs we will butcher Blue because we don’t keep aggressive roosters.
It is time to start making plans for the garden and building a greenhouse. I am surprised that I haven’t started planning already. Usually, by this time of year the plans are all but done. But we have been so busy with the kitchen remodel, and the cold weather (more work to keep animals cared for), that I haven’t even thought about it. Hopefully, with the butchering of the bull calf done, and no other projects except the kitchen going right now, we can get the plans made and finalized before the end of the month.