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My basement is filled with all the stuff I’ve moved 3 times before landing in this house. Clearly, not necessary in my world. So it needs to go. Thoughtfully, but it needs to go.

In light of that, I built a wall to create a storage nook. I put shelves along the walls that were there and the new one, will go through all the items on the shelves, to determine what stays and goes, then go through the stuff not on the shelves for the same purpose. Hopefully this leaves only stuff that fits on the shelves, but we’ll see how that plays out.

I threw away 7 bags of trash (shhhhh…that is embarrassing…especially since I doubt I’m done), and have the wall built, shelves in place and feeling rather accomplished. No pictures for now, because it’s not at that point yet, but when it is I’ll show the finished project.

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My first blog post is up!

Love Where You Live Through Foraging

I’m working on my follow up post for August which will be a how to of foraging piece.  So, please, go check out the post, and comment!  Thank you!

As for what is happening here…

We had something like 64 muscovy ducklings hatch last month.  I was really amazed at the ability of these 6 girls, sharing 3 nests.  Halloween weekend will be processing days for this lot!  I’m glad I have freezer space available!

Nellie is not pregnant.  So we are trying to figure that out.  She’s still giving us a bit over 1/2 gallon a day, which is just fine for our needs, but she does need to be re-bred.

The rabbits are doing well…not as well as the Ducks did, but we did a full round of breeding our first timers and have assessed who is staying and who is not, so that will help us get all the breeders into one area.

It’s quieter here on the farm, but it’s a good quiet.  It’s a regrouping year and a time to determine where we want to put our efforts.

 

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It’s been quite some time since I blogged in this space, and even longer since I was regularly blogging here.  I started out using this a sort of a journal, and then found myself overwhelmed by unblog worthy things, so let it fall away.  I appreciate the little notes of encouragement that I have received over the past few months.  Thank you for missing me, and thank you for letting me know you’d like to hear more from me.

A friend, and reader of the blog pointed out that if I’m going to be posting over there, with a link to here, I really should start writing over here a bit more often…good point.  I’m not sure if I’ll be as regular as I once was, but I’m going to try to be more regular.  Part of the catalyst for that…well I recently applied to be a contributing blogger with Gnowfglins.  Out of something like 130 applicants I was selected!  I’m very excited.  I have a fun list of blog post ideas for my gig at Gnowfglins.  I hope you come over to read them.  I will post when I have a contribution posted over there!

 

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A few months ago I was diagnosed with Lyme disease.  I was kind of relieved with the diagnosis, because something was clearly wrong, and my energy level and ability to function was very diminished.  I was having a hard time accomplishing anything, and all I wanted to do was sleep, which was negatively impacting my overall mood, adding to the issues.  The diagnosis came with it some food restrictions, like sugar, chocolate, and milk.  But after getting on the treatment (not an antibiotic), sticking to the food restrictions amazingly well, I am happy to report that I was told yesterday I no longer have Lyme.  My energy level has greatly improved, and as a happy side bonus I have lost over 20 pounds.  Oh, and my clean bill of health means I can drink Nellie Milk!!  I’ve been milking that cow for almost 3 weeks and have only ‘tasted’ the milk, not really enjoyed it.

After arriving home late last night, I found my husband desperately trying to clean out the chicken growing pen…where he had pulled 30 dead chicks out of a cold wet huddled mess.  Evidently, the torrential downpour I drove through to go to my appointment, had gotten in the pen, and had soaked the poor little chicks who had enough lights for the temperature, but not for the wet on top of it!  Many more than 30 survived, but to lose 30 chicks in one night is very upsetting.  We worked together to put up more lights, change shavings and put up more plastic.  Now, if we could get back to more seasonable weather, that would be good.

But, not all was lost.  This morning, after milking Nellie, I popped over to see if Edna had started nesting.  She had, which was perfect.  But then I looked in Isabelle’s space, to see a dead bunny… who had jumped out of the nestbox, and gotten too cold!  I picked the little thing up and sensed some life left in him (could be a her, but I’m going with him).  I popped him in the incubator, hoping he was just cold, and came back a half hour later to find he had moved, curled up and was happily sleeping!!  Bunny saved, cozy in the hands of our resident princess!

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Nellie calved 7 days ago, and this is the first day we got milk!  Declan is not a little cow, he’s a little piggie.  He has been taking it all, every last drop.  So last night we made a little corral for him in the barn.  He can see, smell, and touch his mama, and she him, but he can not nurse all night.  Both mama and son were very vocal all night, but they were okay, and no one seemed stressed, just chatty.

This morning we went out to milk, and Nellie had a nice letdown, and gave a bit over 3 pints of milk.  We are hoping to see this increase over time, but for now it’s milk!

We all had small glasses of Nellie Milk with dinner tonight.  One of the things I love about drinking milk from a specific cow is the fact it’s different.  We buy milk from another great farm, Wild Miller Gardens, and it’s been from their Jersey Cow, Meadow.  Her milk tastes different than Nellie’s. Both good, but different.  I think that is so cool, since  most of my life milk all tasted the same…it was all a big mix of milk from many different cows, pasteurized and homogenized into one flavor white, no longer real milk, substance.

No pictures of the first milk because we drank it before I thought to take any, but it was yummy!

 

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We tried moving the pigs a couple weeks ago, and it went horribly.  We regrouped.  We consulted a friend who very successfully moves her own pigs.  She agreed to join us for the event and be our pig moving maestro.  I called 3 other friends, along with my dad and my husband.

After the events of the past week, my trying new things emotional stores are spent.  Between the physicality of building the chicken coop, the excitement and emotional ups and downs of having a cow, with a calf, milking, possible start of mastitis, and now the prospect of 5 runaway pigs, I was shaky.  I can usually rally, but my good friends could see that despite my attempts to breath, it was a lot.  So, I was told to let them take care of it, and just watch…

I tried, and almost did that, until they couldn’t convince the pigs to come out of their current pen.  I calmly went in, talked to the pigs and coaxed them into the makeshift hog panel walking crate we had fashioned.  I held onto a back panel, and together, quietly and calmly we walked all 5 pigs across the driveway, along the back of the house, through the side lawn and into the new pasture area.  Not a hitch.  It was as perfect as if we’d done this all the time.

I wanted to cry a little, with the relief that overwhelmed me upon looking out and seeing 5 happy pigs, a new coop full of happy chicks, and a happy mama cow, with a happy suckling calf.  Yes, things felt better, and I was so glad to be in the place of looking back on a good, but hard week.

To end they day, I took a trip to the ocean.  I find the ocean calming and relaxing, and I wanted to pick up seaweed anyway, so the perfect last minute head clearing trip was made.  I have four 5 gallon buckets of seaweed, and about 3 gallons of ocean water to use on my plants.  Our New England soils are so depleted of nutrients, that adding seaweed and sea water to the beds gives back many of the trace minerals the soils lack, and in turn ads the trace minerals to the plants, making them more nutrient dense.

You can purchase products like sea-90, which is a bagged version of the trace minerals, extracted from the sea, and I may get some of that at some point, but I’m sure the added benefit of sun, sand and beach air on my psyche tonight was worth the trip, and picking up a bag from the store doesn’t have the same side benefit, I’m sure.

I’m tired, but much more content tonight.

Nellie and Declan are doing well.  He’s a heavy eater and there has not been need to milk her out, so we decided to give them a day with no prodding.  Just Nellie and her boy, hanging out, resting, nursing, and calm.  I think it’s just what she needed.  We will start milking soon enough.  He’s a clever little guy.  She likes to let him nurse on her left side, but not her right.  The right is the side we were concerned for mastitis, but he figured out a solution.  If he nurses on the right, she kicks him out of the way.  If he nurses the right teats from the left side, she still kicks with her right foot, but he’s not on her right, so he keeps on nursing, while she kicks at the calf that isn’t there.  It’s pretty funny, and he is pretty happy.  It seems to be keeping her milked down on both sides, now.  He’s cute and clever!

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I mentioned before I’ve been hatching in earnest this year.  I decided to breed the Ancona chickens heavy, so I will have a nice selection of good birds to pick from this year.  I want to get them closer to the standard of perfection, as outlined by the APA (American Poultry Association).  Many of my current flock have funky combs, some even have single comb, rather that my preferred rose comb.  Their bodies are okay, but not quite right in size and egg capacity.  So, they are okay,  but not stellar examples of the breed.

The only way to make them stellar…in a reasonable amount of time, is to hatch heavy.  So I did.  So far, and I have 4more weeks of hatching left, I have over 129 Ancona chicks!   My goal was 200.  I’m not sure if I’ll make it, but I’ll be close.  With the “rule of 10’s”, which indicates that for every 10 chickens hatched, one will be outstanding, I should have in the range of 20 birds that should really be something.  We’ll see, and really I only need 12-14, to have a good flock, with a good rooster, and a back up rooster.

To house all those birds, I needed to build a growing pen.  I used plans for the one that my friends at Yellow House Farm have been using, and works well for them.  They have several of these at their place.  I have the one, and am likely going to need another, but I’m going to bask in the glory of the one for now…it is by far the biggest building project I’ve ever done, and for the most part I did it alone.

It measures 11 feet by 16 feet and the walls are 6 feet high.  It has a tarp roof, over poultry wire, which may be replaced by a metal roof at some point.  It can hold 60 full grown birds, and since many of the birds will be harvested along the way, it allows me as many as 60 birds to hold, select from, and sell as breeders.  I’m excited!

Hoping to stain it this week.

While I was working, one of the Ancona decided to keep me company, and nested down near when I was cutting lumber.  She layed her eggs, as did 2 other hens.  Silly birds.

Here is Nellie and her son out for a bit of sun.  We have named him Declan (Deck-lin).  He’s a super sweet little guy, and those eyes!

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