Sunday Homestead Update

It has been a nice week around here, despite the ridiculous amounts of very fast wind we are getting.

Violet, the milk cow, official departed the farm, although she has been sold a couple of weeks and the new owners were milking and caring for her here. Though I miss her, it is a nice change and the barn smells a lot better. It is surprising how the cow smell can soak into anything and everything. No matter how well we clean up, we can still just run up to the barn for less than 5 minutes to collect eggs and our clothes and hair smells like cow. So that is one benefit of her being gone. The sheep smell doesn’t do the same thing to us.

We have been opening Banana’s exterior door everyday and she has been taking the chicks out to interact with all the other chickens through the wire pen wall. I think in a week or so we will probably open up the wire pen and see if she can integrate back into the flock with the chicks. I am hoping to get some pictures of them all soon too. The brooding coop is not the greatest for picture-taking.

Banty, the aggressive cockerel, did end up going to the stew pot. We also had to cull our oldest hen (only 18 months old) that same day. She had been having some health issues and they were getting worse and worse. We did not use her meat though, because her insides were all wierd…she was definitely sick with something.

Boaz’s foot is still healing. I think it is taking so long because it is so darn cold this winter and so it is not getting enough circulation and such in the cold.

We checked fertility in the incubators. The hens up with the two young roos (Blue and Banty) and Pepper in the upper coop had 94% fertility. The hens with Boaz (with his bum foot) has 69% fertility. The weird thing about Boaz’s fertility results were that they were not across the board with all the hens. Some hens gave 100% and some 0%. So yet again, he seems to be choosing not to breed all the hens. Which is frustrating. Goldie, the hen who has been in 2 different incubations, being bred with different roos at each one of those, and never had ANY fertile eggs, all of a sudden on this incubation has 100% fertility. I was convinced she had something wrong with her reproductive tract or something, but I guess not. I don’t know why she never gave a fertile egg before. But I am glad she gave us three this time because she is a beautifully built Buff Orp and we would love to have her genetics in the breeding program. She is also one that has toyed with going broody. I am hoping she will settle down and take it seriously this spring.

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So after taking out the infertiles and one egg lost to early death we now have 22 eggs in each bator for a total of 44 eggs currently. Now we wait. And wait. We are on day 9 of 21. On day 18 I will candle again, removing dead ones, and increase the humidity and start the lock down for hatch. Until then we just monitor the humidity, temp, and turners.

I had the chance to take a class in needle tatting this week. I have done shuttle tatting before and always wanted to try needle tatting to see which I liked better. I was able to get most of this heart done.

3The jury is still out on which method I like better. They both have pros and cons and I enjoy both. I am glad that I was able to learn this one so that I know both.

I worked on plying my Merino/Angora yarn that I have been spinning. I will finish it this week!

photo 4Lastly, we had a visitor arrive this week from a warmer climate and she brought some delicious, fresh, cucumbers with her for me. So I made and canned pickles! Last year I tried the bread and butter pickles recipe in the Ball Blue Book. They were OK, but the kids didn’t like them much. So this year I tried the sweet spear recipe. We will know in about 5 weeks if we like them or not!

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