We have continued to have (mostly) warm weather in the 40sF with sun, and have worked outdoors on the homestead as much as we can, but have also been busy off the homestead this week and thus could not get done as much as we hoped.
Autumn’s stanchion training has gone great and she is ready to be milked once she lambs.
Her udder is beginning to build now.
We are about 3 weeks from her due date and the start of lambing season. Very exciting!
A year or two ago we decided that the lower coop would permanently be the bantam coop. Our roosters are generally very large, and we were worried about them in their interactions with the bantam hens. We are not keeping the bantams for breeding, they are actually for setting, they are our broody girls. So we don’t need them to be in with the roosters. Making the small lower coop their home worked out well.
But there was a benefit that we would get from that decision that we didn’t see until more recently. The bantam hens are very kind and gentle with new arrivals to their coop. We have been able to put several hens in there over the last year or so that were injured by aerial predators, or were outcasts in the upper coop being bullied and picked on and the bantam hens accepted them with open arms (…er, uh, wings?). Additionally, we can put the young pullets in with them to grow until they are big enough to join the regular flock and they are all very nice to them.
So this week we moved over our latest bunch of young pullets. They are about 8 weeks old now, and wont be able to join the big flock until they are at least 14 weeks of age. The bantam hens were fine with their new roommates and accepted them without incident. Of the 10 chicks we hatched in January, we are guessing at this point that 5 are pullets and 5 are cockerels based on feather coloring, size, and comb color. Right around 9 weeks the males combs are much pinker than the females. So we left the (suspected) cockerels in the grow pen in the barn, and brought the (suspected) pullets down into the bantam hen coop.
We got the entire compost pile moved over to the new garden last weekend. Then we were able to purchase soil to finish filling the boxes for this year. There will be a lot of settling and we will need to add more next year, but this is what we will work with for now.
We also got the posts up for the new garden fence, and took some branches off the tree that is hanging over the garden. We went back and forth about whether to just remove the whole tree, or whether we should just branch it. We decided to branch it and see if that is enough. Hoping to get the rest of the fence up this week before the snow flies again.
It has been 3 months since our stirred-curd cheddar went into the cheese cave! We brought it out and tried it. It was VERY good!
How exciting to get to try our first-ever cheddar after waiting 3-months and find it to have been a success. We put two quarters of it back into the cave (after waxing over the cut sections) to try the flavor at 5 mos, and then 7 mos. The flavor was definitely a mild cheddar, and we are interested to see how it tastes after some more aging.
Anya has found that the new compost heap we made by cleaning out the stalls and scraping the barnyard with the tractor is a nice warm place to lay in the sun.