The Farm*Homestead*Garden Blog

All things farm, garden, homestead related from the Catsndogs4us family.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Blooming and Brooding

Spring is here, the fruit trees and plants are blooming. Lots more blooms than usual on some of the peach trees, I'm hoping for a great harvest! The apple trees and plum and pear trees are just getting going.

The strawberry plants are blooming too and blueberry plants look almost ready to bloom. Rhubarb is coming along. Fiddleheads, which are usually our first plant crop of the season, are doing well and that season is already in full swing. We've had fiddleheads with dinner a few times. Some remaining plants are too big to pick from now but more are coming along.


Strawberry plants


Vegetable and flower seeds have been started and some potatoes, asparagus and leeks have been put in the ground.

As for the birds many are getting that broody feeling and want to hatch out chicks. At the moment our coop is pretty full though so I've been taking the eggs (mean mom!). We may let one do a very small hatch at some point.

Blue Belle the cochin wants babies.

Snow White the cochin wants babies.

Fuzzydot the silkie wants babies.

Usually it's just the chickens here who go broody but lately a couple of the ducks have been trying to start sneaky nests. I always find the eggs they hide outside (so far). Angel seems to have decided to try a chicken nesting box instead!

That's what all the ruckus in the coop was about.

Angel the duck wants to use the chicken's nest box. She did lay her egg there!

That's the blooming and brooding update for now and spring is well underway. Hopefully the chickens will un-brood and the trees and plants will bloom, blossom and produce great yields.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Asparagus planting, flock watermelon party and fiddleheads!

It's spring, finally, finally no more snow and ice. It was a long winter and we're glad for spring. Over the past week I've planted a new asparagus bed, cleaned the coop, worked on getting garden areas ready for planting, continued getting the baby chicks outdoors and in view of the flock for some time each day, removed the weatherproof wrap on the covered run and picked the first fiddleheads of the season. The flock has been glad for the warmer days, bugs and worms to find and longer pleasant days outdoors. They celebrated the start of the warm weather with a watermelon party.

Planting a new asparagus bed, with a little help.

Baby chicks are now 3-5 weeks old.
 Baby chicks enjoy some time outside most days now. 

They have a fenced area next to the main flock's yard.

 The frizzled tolbunt Polish is so pretty.

Finally time to unwrap the covered run.
 Coop cleaning time too.

 Some of the smaller baby chicks.

Fiddlehead Ferns!

The January chicks will be laying soon, their combs and wattles are getting red. 

This will be the baby chicks cage within the coop soon. For now they're still in the brooder in the house at night.

Some time in the run with the big birds.

A chicken and duck watermelon party to celebrate spring!

Baby chicks first time integrating with older chickens and ducks.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Where oh where are the duck eggs today.

Now that spring is finally in full swing all the female ducks are laying regularly. Some days we get 9 duck eggs from 9 female ducks. Most days one of the other takes a day off so average is 7 eggs a day. Or sometimes the count goes down and I know to look for a nest. Several times mama Duck has started nests and the Rouens, Jemima and Pebbles, are also a bit prone to laying outdoors. I think Angel has done this a few times too. We need no more ducks and have room for no more so we are definitely not encouraging them to keep nests! 

Sometimes all he duck eggs are in their pen in the morning.

Other days I have to search for a nest.

Since the ducks are well trained to go into their pen at night they haven't been sitting on these started nests anyway but they do persist in starting more when I find and collect existing nests. I guess they think I need these mysteries to solve sometimes. Their fenced area is large so their are many hiding places for eggs!
The ducks are enjoying all their little paddling pools now that everything had finally stopped freezing over. I refill the pools for them a lot but they soon manage to get them very muddy again. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Newest flock members growing fast, brooder upgrades, outdoor time and getting to know the adult flock

The growing chicks graduated from their first brooder into a larger cage/brooder about a week ago. The upgrades give them more space and some sticks for perches. We have two cages going so I can swap them back and forth now to give the chicks more to do and have a place to put them when I'm cleaning one brooder. I've also started bringing them outside on the nicer days just for an hour or so in a sunny spot. They're slowly getting to know the flock they will join as well as getting natural grit and finding a few bugs here and there. The chicks range from 4 weeks down to not quite 2 weeks now since we added two more littles. The two littles are supposed to be Black Marans but I think they're actual bantams and the store made a mistake. They're definitely not Marans. Oh well next year for a couple more Black Copper marans and those super dark eggs. Before long this group will move out to the coop, in a separate area. That way the flock will see them for several weeks before they are able to touch them. When we transition new chicks they usually sleep in a dog kennel cage within the coop and then have their own run area sectioned off outside for daytime. This works well and after several weeks I can let all the birds mingle without any trouble because they have lived together and seen each other for awhile.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Another Maple Season Complete

Maple season was long and productive for us this year. I finished the season with 10.5 gallons of maple syrup and 2 good sized batches of maple sugar candy. The sap was just about finished running on April 14 so I pulled most of the taps. A couple taps were still running a bit so I left them for another week and pulled the final taps on April 22. To make that much syrup and candy took about $60 of propane and I would guess more than that in electricity, possibly as much as $100 in electric but it's hard to tell for sure. Next year I'll be able to work it all out better since we didn't get the new propane burner until halfway through the season this year. Next year I plan to do all but the finishing with the propane burner. Our electric costs tend to be very high here ($400-$500 plus a month) so hopefully next year using more propane we will spend less for our maple. This is why pure maple syrup costs so much! It's good to be all stocked up on sweetener for another year. In addition to pouring it on pancakes maple can be used in place of cane sugar in many recipes and for sweetening drinks and more.