Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bought the farm.....

We've finally "bought the farm" so to speak. Well, bought a farm. Well, some land that will be a farm. :) 

About 3 weeks ago we moved into our new house, on 5 acres, at the foothills of the Cascades.  In a very small town of 1,400 people. Actually, we aren't even "in" the town, but a few miles outside of city limits.

The first few weeks have been busy, labor intensive, and exhausting.  The remaining chickens, coop, and bees are moved. There is an old chicken coop on the property that needs some work.  We plan on using our handmade coop for turkeys or other animals. 

The property has 4 outbuildings, which I am discovering the joys of maintaining. 2 days after moving in, we have a large windstorm that knocked out power. Some people were out for days, luckily we were out just overnight.  I cleared off the roofs of the garage, shed, woodshed. The chicken coop (with attached shed) didnt need it.  But does need a new roof soon. 

We've added 12 hens and a Rooster (my first!) to our flock. We'd like to get a pair of turkeys. 

The front acre is cleared pasture with fruit trees and bushes. The back 4 acres are dense woods.  We have a whole new set of problems here. Predators for one. I've seen 2 bear on the property already. And hear coyote packs in the neighboring woods at night. Neighbors have reported Mountain lion pretty regularly.

The new farm is called Woodlark Farm.  The website is: www.facebook.com/woodlarkfarmWA.  We have some pics up from the move, and around the property.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Busy as bees!

Last weekend we harvested 23lbs honey off of our hives.  The initial hive is failing (high mite load and older queen). The split hive is looking strong going into winter. 

We've recently culled our older laying hens, our first 4 birds.  They were 3yo and not laying well. I can't justify feeding them all winter when they lay poorly. So were are down to 3 layers right now (Chicken Little, as well as the two White Leghorns).

Lastly, the biggest news of all. We purchased a house on 5 acres! We've been looking for a while, and finally found something. This will allow us to expand what animals we try keeping.  Instead of being an urban farm, we will be a true hobby farm. We are both very excited, and somewhat scared.  Maintaining a larger house in the wet PNW woods is somewhat of a scarey endeavor.  The front half of the land is clear pasture (and gardens), the back is wooded. 

We plan to take the winter to get settled in, fence in what we can of the property, and in the spring we'd like to start with a few weaner pigs in the back woods.  Then at some point, once we feel ready, we'd like to try a few Katahdin sheep.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer Fun!

Well it certainly has been an eventful summer!

We processed the meat birds in two different batches. We weighted them all, and picked the 4 heaviest to do first. There was a large weight difference between the bigger and smaller birds, more than we were expecting.  We also had to cull one bird due to illness. So we ended up harvesting 8 meat birds total.

Then, my good friend who I raised the meat birds with, encountered a good opportunity. A farmer about an hour away was getting rid of his certified organic laying flock of 14mo birds for a rock bottom price. We purchased 10, and advertised a slaughter class where we would teach people to kill, pluck, and process the birds. We had a full class!  The only thing that went "awry", aside from a few escapee chickens, was the day of the class was incredibly hot (and my backyard provides little shade). We agreed no more slaughtering for a while. :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Meat chicks update

Our first endeavor into raising a meat animal is well underway!

The meat chicks arrived March 27th. We ordered 10, day old Red Rangers. Half are ours, half are a friends. We plan on keeping them at my friends in her heated garage til they are feathered out, then when they are ready for outside life, they are going into my old chicken tractor.  I've been bothered by having it sit unused, so am glad to put it to use.

Here are a pics of the chicks when they were little.

They are currently growing quickly at my place. Here is a pic from within the last week or two.

So far, I am happy to report we only lost one chick!  They are so happy to be outside. The boys are pretty obvious, and there are a few that are HUGE compared to the others. I'll post another update after harvesting!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

New compost structure

This morning we built a new compost structure. I use the term "building" loosley here, because it was more like "throw together some scraps".  We had some old metal poles the previous owner left us under the shed.  Last week we got several rolls of chicken wire for free.  We drove 3 poles into the ground, and wrapped chicken wire around it, leaving it open in the front so I could add material and turn the pile as needed.

A few weeks ago I cleaned out the winter muck from the chicken coop (I use the deep litter method where it gets cleaned out 1-2x per year).  However, I need to compost the chicken manure and it wouldn't all fit in my current compost bins.

My current composters are large galvanized trash cans, with holes drilled in them, submerged into the ground about 2/3 of the way. This allows worms in, but deters scavengers (racoons, mice, rats) who may be attracted to food items.  So the "new" compost pile is for chicken manure and lawn clippings only - since it isn't scavenger proof.

You can see the new structure on the left, and the old "scavenger proof" one on the right. And of course the girls love digging around in the open pile, there was a good amount of red worms in it already - the manure had been sitting in a pile covered in a tarp for about a month.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mountain of mulch...

Monday I got a free dump truck load of arborist mulch. About time! My chicken run was down to mud and dirt! I had been emailing local arborists for months.  This is the second time I've gotten a load for free. Unfortunately, it came 2 days after I got garden soil delivered, and still hadn't cleared all of that out of the driveway. I think it was about 11 cubic yards of mulch.  I used most of it in the chicken run and bee yard, a few neighbors took some as well.

 The mountain of mulch

The chicken run before the mulch
I had to jack up the coop onto blocks, so I could have the coop sit on the new layer of mulch

All done! 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Plans for spring

This spring and summer I will be trying something new. A friend and I ordered a batch of meat birds to raise/butcher together.  It will be both of our first time raising meat birds. We ordered 10 chicks, and as usual expect to loose one or two. She has a good brooder set up, and I have our old chicken tractor sitting unused to put the birds in when they get older.  We ordered "Red Rangers", aka "Freedom Rangers", and will be ready for butcher at about 9-11 weeks.  The arrive late March/early April, so mid summer our freezers will be full. It's so nice to have a friend help you get through new adventures together!

It got me to thinking though, I hate my old chicken tractor sitting unused the majority of them time. It seems like there got to be an animal I can use it to house. So Im going to be researching how feasible it is to use it for some other type of bird.

Also for spring, I'd like to build a few more raised beds. I built one last week, and will be keeping my eye out at the hardware store for discounted lumber.