Sunday, October 24, 2004

Farm Musings

The first batch of hatchlings are not yet getting in the coop by themselves but almost: They roost on a fallen down tree just outside of the coop and when I go down to shut the coop up, they get up from there and walk in the coop. It is two weeks that the coop has been their home. The hatchlings, actually fryer size plus a little, aren't laying yet but we should have a strong flock come spring. It helps that the light is on in there for them now. They have to have so many hours a day of light to lay regularly -- I think it is 14.

We're planning on running electric down to the coop, to run that light but mostly to put an electric fence charger on the fence. It has been powered with a battery powered charger which has worked fine except goats don't much respect it. It cycles slowly and they can anticipate when it will shock and mostly avoid it and still go through. Plus they just don't care all that much. An electric charger delivers a greater powered shock, doesn't weaken its shock over time, and cycles (pops) much faster .

We put up the electric fencing three years ago, almost four now. We used two wires and two tapes. We still like the electric (over woven, barbed, or even high tensile) but we've learned a few things. I wouldn't bother with tape again although it is nice to see it. I know to do much longer free runs of it now and to strongly reinforce the corners and end doo-hickey-thingies. And I'm going to put tighteners on each run of it from now on which I believe altogether will make it much easier to maintain and thus more effective. That's a job that needs to be done soon.

The second batch of chickens are doing well. They get out of their pen in the day to forage and scratch and dust themselves and generally be acclimated to everything, and they get back in at night for their protection. I just have to open and shut it. They could go into the big coop but I'd really like them to be a tad larger -- those older hens can be a bit tough to get along with.

I had to go looking for the horse today. He usually shows up at milkings just to say high but he'd missed two milkings so I had to be sure nothing was wrong with him. He was evidently just being anti-social. I'd like to find the time to ride him and pony the donkey into the woods soon.

We had another kitten die: AnnaBell. She was the spitting image of her mother, and was just fine the day before. She was just dead, in a place she may well have been sleeping, with no marks, no signs sickness, no signs of anything. So she was laid to rest with tears and everything seems rather tenuous after something like that happens, like something could go wrong at any time.

Not many families came to the homeschool meeting this week, which was disappointing. Plus I figured out that I screwed up and didn't forward something I should have to the group. I make mistakes. That isn't exactly new news. I just wish I didn't.

After a light frost I brought the squash that grew on their own (the squash of the "Three Squash Revolution") in. There were more than I had seen before -- enough to fill a 5-gallon bucket. Most are unblemished. We'll eat the blemished ones soon. Also need to search the garden for finished winter squash this weekend and get those in. Squash are such wonderful winter food, very high in nutrients, very delicious too. And any that compromise in storage (or any excess) make wonderful animal feed. I learned a friend didn't know what winter squash were, or how to eat them other than pumpkin pie. I guess a lot of people don't actually eat a very wide variety of foods.

Husband has been working on the hothouses among other things.

We haven't worked on the deck on the house since the day I blogged that. Seems something about doing that has triggered asthma-like symptoms for me so I won't be doing it again myself. I am in the process of thinking myself well.

The pigs are doing well, growing, looking delicious.

We've begun the cutting of wood. We do it all by hand. It is not the onerous task most seem to think when we relate that. What is a problem is actually finding tools, good quality tools, with which to do actual hand labor. We've got to order some Sandvick blades as they are supposed to be really good but we can't seem to find them locally.

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