Thursday, June 12, 2014

around the homestead...



Thankful for a bouquet of daisies from a friend, Scripture that encourages, land to till, a flock of laying hens, a flock of meat chickens, an afternoon spent weeding, seed leftover from last year that sprouted, freshly-picked strawberries and lettuces, and a sunny day in which to enjoy it all. :)

The meat birds are Cornish Cross -- I know, I know, they don't look very cute. Ours are about six weeks old, and butchering day is less than two weeks away. Cornish Cross is a breed designed to grow quickly and produce a lot of meat. We start ours off in a brooder and then move them out onto field grass once they're a couple weeks old. Our homemade poultry pen keeps them safe from predators (mostly -- read on) and is moved at least once each day to a fresh spot of grass where our chickens can peck away at the bugs, grass, and weeds. Our method was inspired by Joel Salatin, although we don't have beef grazing our small acreage like he does.

Living surrounded by miles and miles of forest is a wonderful thing, but one of the realities we face in raising chickens here is the abundance of predators eager for a quick snack at our expense. We do all we can to ensure the safety of our flocks, but sometimes our best just isn't enough. A couple weeks ago I woke to the sound of something out in the field. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my glasses, and because we keep a heat lamp in the meat bird pen, I could clearly see what we're sure was a raccoon racing back and forth INSIDE the poultry pen. I screamed (yes, I screamed) at Dan, "Somethings in the meat birds!" He flew out of bed, down the stairs, and out the door, but by the time he reached the pen, the critter has escaped. It was 3 a.m. and Dan was out in the field until 4:30 using random scraps of this and that to secure the meat birds since the raccoon had done some serious damage. We've raised meat birds several times over the past few years and have never had anything like this happen. So discouraging. In the end, we think we lost four or five birds that night. Crazy! Thankful we didn't lose them all!

The garden is growing well. We've had a pleasant spring with plenty of sunshine and just enough rainy days to keep things watered. So thankful. :)  Friends are helping us with some landscaping around the house which I'm eager to have finished. I'm taking lots of pictures and will share when it's all wrapped up.

Blessings,

~Lisa

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14 comments:

  1. The strawberries look yummy and your garden looks great.
    Two of the birds look like rappers that have dreadlocks! :-)
    Instead of Dan maybe you could grab the rifle and handle it while he is fumbling around trying to find his brain. :-) Racoon patties for breakfast?

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    1. Mike, there was more to the story, but I didn't feel that sharing all the details in this format would be the best. :) Do folks eat raccoon? I suppose if hungry enough, perhaps... Ewww!

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    2. I did receive your e-mail and understand.
      I do know of a couple who really live off the land as much as possible, he's also a hunting/fishing guide. A very interesting couple. They also eat armadillo, rattlesnake and possum.
      You are correct with animals never forgeting where the easy food was.

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  2. oh, how horrible about the meat chicken pen :( do hope it never happens again! always nice to read of your updates, no matter what! :) blessed weekend to you! may you and all on your land be well and safe!

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  3. Sorry to hear about the chickens. Raccoons may look cute, but when it comes to chickens they are just nasty!

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  4. your garden looks lovely and very yummy!
    may you much abundance this year
    Karen

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  5. I noticed 'Dan the Electric Man' used some thinwall for the support of what looks to be pole beans? Did he have a permit for that? :-) That should do the job nicely for years to come.

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    1. You are correct, Mike. Good eyes! We've had them up for a few years now and are extremely happy with the structural integrity of them even when bearing the weight of our long rows of green beans and cukes as well as other fruit bearing vines. No permit required! :)

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  6. Yes, folks do eat raccoons. One of my son's has a very good business in the fall selling raccoons for Thanksgiving dinners to New Year's Eve parties. Yuck!
    Sorry about your birds Lisa.

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    1. Oh my, Tracey! What people will eat amazes me, but then, I supposed if I were really hungry, I might not turn up my nose at a bowl of raccoon. :)

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  7. Oh that is sad about the raccoon we have lots of coyote and foxes and raccoons, we live near the woods so I'm hesitant to have birds. Lovely bowl of lettuce (yum!)

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    1. Lovely bowl of lettuce indeed! One of my most favorite things about gardening is picking a fresh salad every single day! :)

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  8. Sorry about the bird loss, Lisa...but good job screaming! ;-) So far we've not had any predator losses. SO FAR. Our birds free range during the day outside of the mobile chicken tractors, but we have some 8,000 volts of "greetings" awaiting any critter who tries to get inside the electrified woven wire fencing that surrounds the pens. We have about 97 or 98 (messed up on our count when we put them in the crates) 4 week olds running around out there, we'll see how many make it to processing day! This will be, due to the slow build up of the business, the last chicken batch for the year. We are getting turkeys in early July, and need the brooder for them for a couple of months. Planning to do 25 turkeys for this first season. Fun adventures!

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    1. Sounds like you've got an amazing defense system, Lori! If you didn't live so far away, I'd buy a turkey from you. :) I tried talking Dan into raising a couple this year, but I was vetoed. Blessings to you and your first year of meat birds! We process in 12 days. I hope you post about it when you do. Blessings to you, my friend, Lisa :)

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