Sunday, July 24, 2011

Catch up....

Soooo Happy Sunday!

All is well on Shelley Hill Farm.  The chicks are growing and getting more and more feathers.  I do believe we have at least two roosters, as they have been play/sparring with each other.  Also, on Delaware chickens, you can tell the roosters sooner as their combs are more prominent before the hens are.  

The turkeys poults are growing, growing, growing.  I believe we have two toms as they were doing their "tom" dance today, feathers down at the sides and tail feathers up, slowly strutting sideways at each other.  The other two seemed totally uninterested, however they are younger, so we will just have to wait and see.  

Liam played in a street hockey tournament this weekend with a couple kids from his team last year.  They will get tickets to the opening game of the Silvertips this year.  They competed in the 13 to 17-year-old age group and the other three teams were 16 and 17-year-olds and played on AAA teams, so they did not fair too well, but had a great time, and Liam even got to be the goalie for the last two games.  His coach from last year, Coach Green, was there also and gave Liam a few pointers on being the goalie, as the short video below demonstrates.  

Liam also made a bat house.  He printed off the instructions from the web and Rob showed him how to cut the wood and put it together and then he painted it.  Rob then installed it on the south side of the house above the roof.  According to the article Rob used, it should house 30 to 50 bats.  Would love that as there are lots of mosquitos this year.  

And, last but certainly not least, I picked up a double stainless steel sink in Everett (found on Craigslist for $35) and Rob built a holder for it with a side shelf for us to use in the garden so that we can rinse off the veggies there and not bring in so much dirt and slugs into the house.  I think we might put a container underneath to catch the water that we can either dump to water the garden with or perhaps hook a hose up to to do the same thing.  It works fabulously.  Rob took a chicken feed bag, cut it in half and stapled it to the front so the water wouldn't splash back at us.  We may get a faucet to hook the hose up to or just a short hose and a splitter so the short hose is for the sink.  Right now we are just using the long hose.

Goats are doing well, and Mr. Marty is doing great, loves the watermelon rind and anything from the garden that we toss over the fence.

The tomatoes on the end of the house are loving the warmth there and doing great and all the sunflower seeds have sprouted and also the artichokes I started from seed have sprouted.  

Mom and I took the kids to Lake Goodwin this afternoon and packed a picnic lunch.  Wow was it busy, but the kids had fun, each brought a friend, and mom and I sat and chatted.  What a wonderful sunny day!  Too bad Rob had to work, but you know how it is.  


Friday, July 15, 2011

Construction begins and so many projects!

So the work has started on the septic for Mom and Ray.  Forgot how much black plastic we had just sort of moved aside and then got covered by blackberries and also how many tires (which we had used for potato plants in the garden when it was down there) we put aside also.

This would be the mound for their septic.  About 10 dump truck loads of sand, then pipes in the middle, then drainage gravel over the pipes, then weed block over the drainage rocks, then dirt over all that, which Mom and I seeded with grass seed this morning.

Also pictured here are the septic tanks which were sunk by where the house, excuse me "cottage" as mom puts it, goes.  hahahaha

This is Mom and Ray's "cottage" or at least where it will be placed on the property.  hahahaha  They are sitting on the "front porch."  haha

You can see the chickens love to help "move" the dirt around.  Always looking for bugs.  Mrs. Weasley was doing a great job keeping her chicks in tow as there were a couple of hawks and eagles out and about over the yard today.  They all hid underneath her when Dumbledore sounded the alarm. The chicks are starting to get some tail feathers also and are definitely growing.  They just follow Mrs. Weasley around the yard, with her clucking the whole time to keep them moving and in line.  There always seems to be one straggler in the bunch, but he/she always catches up.

We lost one turkey, not sure what happened, but he/she passed away, so we have four left which seem to be doing great.  We let them out about twice a day to roam the yard, while keeping a close eye on them in case of hawks or eagles.  Don't want to lose any more.  They are starting to get cute little tail feathers  and are trying to fly, which is hysterical as they don't get very far off the ground, but give it a good effort.  These midget white turkeys are about 13 pounds full grown, compared to the Naragansetts which are 23 pounds when full grown.

Here is the video of the turkey's "flying."  hahaha

We sold the last baby, P2, the all red buck, to our neighbor so we will be able to see him quite often hopefully.   That means that he won't be able to "steal" milk from Phoebe anymore when they are both next to the fence.  haha

Just planted the last tomato plants on the end of the house and then planted some sunflowers right next to the house and 6 artichoke plants.  Finished replanting the mangels for the chickens and pigs for this winter feed.  When Gus was getting out, he managed to uproot quite a few so had to replant.  Also, ended up with two (2) corn plants growing.  I think the chickens managed to scratch out the rest of the seeds I planted as nothing else came up.  Will have to try next year.

And, Pig has returned, only in three boxes of wrapped goodies, all but the bacon and hams which are still smoking.  I just finished rendering lard for the first time from the back fat and leaf fat from Pig.  I did one batch on the stove and and in the crockpot.  I have decided that the stovetop is the one I like best, less sediment and a clearer lard when finished. 

This was the bag of backfat from Pig.  I got two bags and they were 8.5 pounds each which made 7 pint jars of lard, so I should be good for a while.

I am thinking this doesn't really fit right, does it.  lol

Those are the cracklings on the right and I put them in the oven to crisp up and then feed to the chickens who love them.

Cracklings in the oven.

The finished lard.  I ended up with the 14 jars of lard, which I have put all but one in the freezer and they will keep for 2 months in the fridge and 6 to 8 months in the freezer.

Mom and I were up until midnight making strawberry jam, strawberry/rhubarb jam, strawberry/cherry jam and cherry/rhubarb jam.  We have found a new pectin that we both really like which allows us to use less sugar.  Pomona pectin lets you use less sugar but still sets up really well.  We also purchased some Tattler reusable canning lids and rings which are BPA free and can be reused many times.  They worked fabulous.  

July 15, 2011

So today, I worked in the garden and harvested snap peas, shelling peas, carrots, parsnip (only one they need to grow more), beets, lettuce, and our first raspberries, which are taking off.

We had a couple of potato plants die off, so Mom dug them up and here is what we got.  They are German butterball and yellow Finn.  Hopefully more later on this summer (really, not summer, but gotta call it something. :) )

And for the last project today before having a glass of wine and watching Friends with Liam, we started over from the beginning again, I harvested the rhubarb for the second time this year, the last was in May, and got 7 freezer bags of 8 cups each full.  Then had to make a batch of rhubarb curd which turned out fabulous.  Need to make some vanilla ice cream tomorrow and then add the rhubarb curd to the top of it.  Yummy yum yum.  

It should set up and be thicker when it cools off in the fridge.  I got 3 half-pint jars and one partial half-pint jar from this recipe.

Have a wonderful evening!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday News

Okay, so I believe we have decided to name our farm Shelley Hill Farm.  Has a nice ring to it, don't ya think?  :)

Here is the clothes line in action (if you can really call it "action" cuz it really doesn't move hahahahahaha).  We definitely need another one, cuz this is only one load of whites, so one more same size has been ordered.

We picked up 5 baby Midget White Turkey chicks yesterday.  They are camped out in an extra dog crate with chicken wire run around the inside, as they are small enough to just walk right through the regular wires of the dog crate.  They have a cardboard box with pine shavings and a heat lamp, a chicken feeder for food and a waterer.  They are very loud, like turkeys can be lol, and look a lot like the baby chickens.

Isn't he/she cute?!!  They totally fall asleep standing up and then waver there until they either fall over or end up leaning on one another in a big swaying bunch.  Turkeys are not the smartest birds around as Rob put a flat lid with just a little water in it for them and one them promptly fell asleep with his beak in the water, so yes, they can drown themselves.  He is okay, though, did not drown and all is well.

The baby chicks (chickens, not turkeys) were busy outside with momma (Mrs. Weasley) and could scoot right through the fence of the goats, so the goats were busy trying to figure out what these little things were.  They would get their noses pretty close then the chicks would scurry off to momma again.  It was pretty funny!

Here was our take from the garden last night, along with about 20 strawberries!!!  We made a salad, with lettuce we had already picked, cut up the carrots, snap peas and shelled some peas, cut up the beets and voila, yummy, yummy homegrown salad!!!  The strawberries were eaten for dessert with scones and whipped cream!!  Talk about a fabulous dinner/dessert for the evening!!

We are off to the Highland Games in Mount Vernon today.  Should be great fun!  Later.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

More chick happenings

Here's Mrs. Weasley (Momma) above and below with her seven chicks out for the first time showing them how to take a dust bath and scratch.  They followed her around everywhere with little wings out running when they got left behind.  haha

After putting her back in the tractor, she had chicks under and on top of her.  There were two chicks on her back at one time, but of course, I didn't take the picture quick enough.

Rob got our clothesline installed yesterday, which we promptly decided would not be enough so we will get another one the same length (25 feet) and use one of the same poles to mount it to.  Now if it can just be sunny so we can dry our clothes, that would be wonderful.  Won't hold my breath this summer, though.

Have a super weekend!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th and Baby Chicks!

So Rob has been at it again, building a new "broody" then to be used for "meat" chicken tractor.  Momma hen (I believe she shall from now on be known as Mrs. Weasley, only because Dumbledore is the Rooster, so it seemed fitting to continue on with the Harry Potter theme, and no the chicks do not have red hair.  lol)

This way the chicks can run around without being bothered by the other hens and rooster until they are big enough to fend for themselves.  Two eggs hatched last Thursday and since then, more have hatched, we did lose one, but now are up to 8 chicks.  They are so cute, fluffy and love to peep.

These were the first two.

Then we were up to five.

Still at five and then the next day (today)...

Three plus...

two plus...

three equals eight.  Still three eggs left, not sure if they will hatch or not, but will give it a couple more days.  Rob did put a heat lamp in there this morning which the chicks really seemed to like as they all promptly sat under it.

I got the new raspberry starts I picked up from Rick, as he was kind enough to share some with me, planted this morning.  Got the garden weeded, mowed the lawn in between the garden beds and picked up the clippings, which I then used to mulch the potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes.  I have one small broccoli head growing, so now I know which is broccoli and which is cauliflower (haha, they kinda look the same.)  Then finished making the yogurt (pretty much took it out of the oven and put it in the fridge, haha if you can call that "making" it.)  :)  Then had to do something with the rest of the strawberries I purchased the other day before they went bad.  Had already made strawberry/rhubarb jam, strawberry jam, and Kara made a strawberry pie that was yummy, so I went for the strawberry pie filling to make this morning, as it was quick and easy and is now in the fridge chilling.  Headed off to the beach to celebrate the 4th with family and friends.

Have a wonderful independence day!!!