Saturday, 11 May 2013

Our New Chick House

Rather than building a chick house from scratch this year, we decided to try something we had seen in a few other farming blogs. Reusing a TRAVEL TRAILER. We put the word out on Facebook that we were looking for a travel trailer that was cheap and didn't need to work for people. We were fortunate to have a few offers that fit the bill, so we picked one up from Wells. We brought the travel trailer home and then the work began.

We had picked out a spot in the yard where we wanted the trailer to be based and that had room on three sides to have different yards come out. For our meat birds this year we are using REDBROS and we wanted to make sure that they had enough yard space to simulate pasture and keep them safe from foxes and coyotes. So the trailer was put into place and adjusted so that it was level.

Here's what it looked like when we started:

The first step was to take everything out.  After everything came out we built up the floor so that it was all one level.

After that it was just a matter of getting the feeders and lights hooked up for the chicks. As a travel trailer is already had all the plug-ins so that made lighting easier. Had a great amount of windows and good venting with screens on a number of them.

So far the chicks are doing really well in their new house. We have held off putting in the door to their yard to minimize drafts while they are young. When they are old enough we will cut out the door openings to match up with the yards.

This was a great experience using a travel trailer as our chick coop. We can move it easily to wherever we want on the property. It was cheaper to buy an old trailer and renovate it then build a wood structure and the trailer came with all the windows and was weather-proof already.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Sheep, Sheep and more Sheep

We ended up with over two dozen lambs born in our early spring lambing. We were generally happy with our production, although we did have a handful of ewes that had twins last year and then singles this year. The ram has been fairly consistent for us with twins, but because it was proven breeders that were having singles it does make you wonder.

We also made a trip to Alberta to pick up 18 sheep. We will be using some of these for our pet food order and some we will be keeping for breeding. We have decided to breed back some wool into the flock, having primarily used a Dorper ram for the past few years, we have some excellent hair stock that have wool back 1 or 2 generations. So we are thinking to breed back one season with a wool ram to regenerate that part. In the meantime, I've also picked up some new wool ewes.

And finally, we are trying to arrange to purchase some another 24 ewes and lambs. This should provide us with enough lambs to satisfy current market orders and finally get our breeding ewes number backup to where we are self-sufficient. If that purchase falls through we will continue to be on the lookout for additional ewes.

First Farmers Market of the Season

And I forgot to take pictures!

It was a great market to start the year off! As usual, I forgot to pack an assortment of items - even though I made a list, some items didn't even make it on the list. Like mustard - how could I forget the mustard and plates - so we used napkins instead, and our banner, which I never did find. I did have our pop-up banner so we used that, but our name banner is packed somewhere securely and will require further digging to find.

Despite all that, it was a great market. The weather was perfect, topping out in the mid-20's. The community came out in droves to greet the vendors and welcome us back to another six months of giving up our weekends to make sure that our community has local food.

The new product - llama smokies - went over very well with sales being brisk throughout the day. In fact, we sold a little bit of everything we took - except for the meaty lamb shanks - so that made us happy.

Anyway, a great day and a great market - glad to be back!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Spring has Sprung! - well maybe . .. .

I can't believe that it has been the whole winter since I have last blogged. Part of that is that during winter there is only so many ways to say we did chores in the snow today, and part of the reason is that I was personally busy over the winter having reconciled with my husband after 14 years.

But now spring is working on arriving and things have been gearing up on the ranch for the past couple months - so it is time to update!

Over the past couple months we have had 25 lambs. Normally we would get a couple a week just from the way we breed. This year was a little different, we would have a bunch and then nothing for two weeks and then another bunch. In one week we had 12 lambs born - probably a record for us.

We have over a hundred chicks arriving in early April for our meat chick order. This year we are doing something different for our chick coop - we have purchased a travel trailer and we are renovating it to use as the chick coop. We'll be posting pictures as work progresses on it.

In April we have some sheep arriving that I've purchased from Alberta - some for the pet food order and some for breeding.

In May the Llamas are due and the local Farmers Market starts.

I can hardly wait to get back to it!!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Chicks Have Arrived

So our final batch of meat bird chicks arrived today for this year. We are very excited! We ordered 150 chicks and when we unloaded them into their new coop we were reminded exactly how soft and silky a baby chick really is. It's like trying to catch silky water in your hand.

This is the part of the coop the chicks will be in first while they are small.
We have a special coop for chicks. When they are young for the first week or two we keep most of it blocked off. That keeps them centralized and close to food and water and heat. Once they get their sea legs we start opening it up. In about a month when they have all their feathers and are starting to bulk up we will open the access door to their outside area.

While they are still so young we will be keeping the heat lamp on so we can make sure they are warm and we can monitor the temperature. But since it is their first night, I am like, are they okay, maybe I should go check on them. I am sure they will be fine, but I really want to go peak at them.

This is what a section of the coop looks like filled with chicks,
water, and feed. The glow from overhead is from the heat lamp.
But it doesn't take them long to get going. Within the first half hour they had found their food and water and were checking everything out. It is so cute to watch them scoot around at this age!

Holding them as we move them out. They are so light and
slippery and the softest of the soft!
Resting in the box they arrived in before we take them out.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

SKYFEST - Here We Come!

We are going to try something new this year. Normally we are vendors at our local farmers market from May to October - well, we try to get to as many as possible! This year we have been asked to vend at the local - regional air show - VERY EXCITING!

So next weekend you can find us watching the planes and serving up some of our home grown burgers and pepperoni!

How are the pigs doing?

So the pigs are doing awesome! The three Berkshires are growing really well - the boys are getting chunky in all the right places :)

The 6 piglets, we call them the "Pinkies" are growing okay. We got them when they were five weeks old and it took the first couple weeks for them to really adjust to the new feed. They really seem to prefer having some vegies in with their grain. The transition to the grain feed seemed to take a little longer than normal with these guys, but they are really enjoying the grain now that we have started to add their eggs and vegies to it. As they are getting older their personalities are really starting to show and they are enjoying learning how to dig.

The new pens are going great and I"m looking forward to getting the third one built this fall. But we have some new animals to show off. A couple shots of our new llamas, a couple new ewes came with lambs at side, and we had a baby lamb born a few weeks ago. The smallest lamb we have ever had born. It's now almost a month old and the size of a normal newborn. But she is a determined girl and we named her Rosey.