Sunday Homestead Update

You know it is busy summer time on a homestead when you only can get around to posting on Sundays.  Sorry for the lack of posts.

Garden

The neem oil is working wonderfully to rid the garden of the aphids and flea beetles.  The plants are also bouncing back from the hail damage.  It is actually starting to look like a garden out there, with green things growing all around.

24 25The pumpkin patch is not worth photo-ing.  The hail did too much damage and we are pretty sure that we will not be harvesting any pumpkins nor squash this year.

We mulched the strawberry patch.  It looks much better!

21The container herb garden is also not photo-worthy at this point.  The hail damaged so much of it it looks bare.  I did buy a new basil plant at the farmer’s market.  And the mint is doing great.

The onion/garlic garden and the potato areas are doing excellent.  Clearly, planting garlic in the fall DOES work despite our very cold climate, so we will continue to do that.

The honeyberries ripened.  There were only a few and they were very small – since this is the first year for the bushes.  But we each got to eat a few of them.  They definitely taste like blueberries.  We are looking forward to the years ahead when we can get a big harvest off all the bushes.

The currants and gooseberries are coming along nicely.  The crandall clove currant is totally covered with unripe berries.  The other two only have a small amount.  I need to look up whether we should thin the clove currants at all so they can grow bigger, because they are all very tiny right now.

In the Kitchen

I made and canned a bunch of chicken stock this week.  We were out and I had some chicken carcasses in the freezer waiting to be made into stock.  I wasn’t feeling well one night so I had a cup of the stock with some crackers to settle my stomach – it was delicious!

Rate – Select – Sort – Butcher

Yesterday was a big chicken day for us.  The chickens from our largest hatch this year reached butcher age.  So we rated them for the breeding program, and while at it we decided to rate the whole flock again.  After rating we were able to select the cockerels down to 4 potential birds to fill the 2 breeding roo spots for next year.  Then we butchered the rest of the cockerels.  It is great to have so much chicken meat again, we had run out.

We decided not to sell any pullets this round, We are going to wait for the next few hatches to grow up a bit before we select the pullets.  We have decided to expand our layer flock a bit to meet the high demand we are having for fresh eggs.  The waiting list for buying our eggs is getting long, and we have the space.  So, while we will still be selecting the best hens and pullets for the breeding program, we will be keeping some of the non-breeders just to lay so we can meet the egg demand better.

After the rating, selecting, and butchering, we moved everyone around and sorted out who needed to live where.  It was nice to get that done because lately, with the big hatch getting older, the housing was getting a bit crowded and we were having to utilize the every single one of our chicken housing areas (6 in all), which means 6 feeders to deal with, 6 waterers, 6 pens to clean, etc.  This sort got rid of the use of the small grow pen, and later this week we will be able to stop using the broody coop too.  So then we will be down to 4 areas.

We are closing in on the end of breeding season.  Eve and Ruth will be the last hatches of this year.  We currently have the adult hens, three 22-week-old pullets (should be laying any day now!), several 15-week-old pullets, four 15-week-old cockerels in line for future breeding roos, four 11-week-old chicks that Eve hatched, five 6-week-old chicks with their mama Banana, and 17 eggs under both Eve and Ruth (Eve has 6 and Ruth has 11).

Ruth and Eve will both be hatching any time now.  We have begun the hovering-near-their-nests-listening-intently-for-cheeping routine.  Once they both hatch and the chicks are eating and drinking well we will move Ruth out of the Broody Coop and into the Mama Hen Pen (where Eve is already living) so they can both raise their chicks there.  Ruth didn’t start her setting there because the MHP had a bunch of pullets in it with Eve and Ruth is a bit anti-social and since it is her first hatch we didn’t want to stress her with that situation and risk her not setting.  But now those pullets have moved so it is just Eve in the MHP, plenty of space for Ruth to move in.

We still need to clip wings on some of the birds we moved into the upper coop (because they can free-range in the barnyard we clip the flight feathers on one wing on each bird so they can’t get out of the fences) and band a few of the young birds as well.  I better stop typing and get back to work!  🙂

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