There is so much going on around the homestead this time of year that it makes it hard to fit it all in an update post. Better get right into it.
Oh my goodness, Freya is settled now and she is SUCH a big teddy bear! She loves being pet and scratched. Each morning, when we throw the food, she doesn’t go down to eat with everyone until she has had her morning loving. She first gets Mtn Man to pet and scratch her, then she goes over to find Braveheart as he is leaving the chicken pen and gets him to pet her, then she heads down to eat breakfast. She is so so sweet!
The ducks started laying last Monday! Little Miss ate the first duck egg, since they are her project. She asked me to make her an egg-in-a-frame (egg fried in the center of toast), which is her favorite way to have eggs. She loved it! I took a taste and liked it as well. Some people say duck eggs can taste pond-y, but we didn’t think it did.
The chickens haven’t gotten much press lately on the blog. We have 3 different age groups of chicks that are still in the growing stages. This week we did a shuffle around of the chickens, integrating the 16-week-olds and 13-week-olds in with the main flock. Eve has some 8-week-olds that are not ready to integrate into the big flock yet, but they moved away from their mom (in the bantam pen) up to one of the grow pens to grow out.
We have been butchering cockerels as-needed over the last few months as the different groups have grown up. We also did a trap nesting week this week to find out who is laying well, but also to catch an egg-eating culprit. We have two zero-tolerance policies for chickens at WCF that will get them a one-way ticket to the stew pot: #1 aggressive roosters and #2 egg-eating hens. We caught the hen and now we don’t have to worry about her teaching the habit to others.
One of the younger hens, Dahlia, has decided to set. Since we were planning to butcher our rooster this week, we decided to collect eggs for her while we were trap nesting and let her set so we can get one last batch of chicks out of that rooster. She is a first-time broody hen, so we are hopeful she will stick it out and prove herself to be a good mama. So far, so good.
It has been a very productive chicken year thus far, which is funny because last fall/winter we had said we were focusing on the new dairy sheep and the new garden this year and were not going to do a lot with the chickens. But then Braveheart took over the chickens and he has done very well with managing them, and they have been VERY productive this year – a lot of meat in the freezer and plenty of eggs.
Besides the egg-eating chicken, we caught a different egg thief this week as well. Can you believe that this innocent face had anything to do with it?
Keeping a mixed-livestock barnyard, which includes hoof stock, chickens, and a Livestock Guardian Dog all living together lends itself to the fact that at some point the LGD will get to eat some eggs. We expect it and are not upset about it. Occasionally, a hen will not go to the nest boxes to lay, but will instead find a corner somewhere in the barnyard or sheep stalls to lay an egg. When that happens, our Anatolian Shepherd, finds the egg and eats it. No biggie.
However, we were surprised to learn this week that apparently our 100 lb LGD is a contortionist that can fit through a hole that is 9 x 13 inches. Last spring, we found her able to get through a 12×12 inch hole in the fence and were shocked by that. But this hole is 3 inches narrower! While we were trap nesting, and thus going up to the coop about every 30-60 minutes to check the traps, we caught her INSIDE the coop! She squeezed through TWO tiny chicken doors that are only 9×13 inches. We are pretty shocked. this is a very large dog, but apparently she can twist and bend herself in surprising ways to get through the door.
Mtn Man narrowed the more exterior door with small strips of wood, and hopefully she can’t get through it now but the chickens all can.
The gardens are really hitting their stride now and are full of green. We are still battling rodent pests, but overall they are doing well. The new veggie garden is doing pretty well at keeping up with the old garden, even though it doesn’t have as nice of soil.
We finally got the large refrigerator made into a cheese cave. We had to be quite creative to get the humidity up, but it is up now and I have plenty of space to make more and more cheese. I looked at my records and so far I have made 23 lbs of aged sheep cheese, and 2 lbs of aged goat cheese. Plus all the many soft cheeses and dairy products we are making each week as well. Yippee for raw milk on the farm!
Summertime doesn’t lend itself to much time for heritage arts. But Little Miss was growing faster than I have been knitting on her dress and I knew I better get the thing done so she could wear it before she outgrew it. So I finally finished it this week. It looks so lovely on her, and she loves it!
The pattern is Ribbed Dress for Little Miss (so funny because I made it for my “Little Miss”) by Raimonda Bagdoniene. The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in the colorway Deep Waters.
Since that project is all I have allowed myself to work on for the last couple of months because I wanted to get it done before she outgrew it, getting it off the needles made me excited to cast on some new projects. This week I cast on a hat and some socks, plus I already had the crochet sock yarn scrap afghan and the poncho – both of which have been in progress for a long time but have been ignored so I could finish the dress.