Sunday, December 2, 2012

Harvesting Chickens

If more people were forced to harvest, prepare, and store their own meat I’m sure there would be far more vegetarians in this world. We harvested eight roosters this past weekend and the whole time I thought, “I don’t like meat this much.” It’s a horrible process. I’m glad it is only one time a year. After killing, scalding, plucking, and gutting the chickens both Milly and I felt ill. Hopefully a few Sunday dinners from now we’ll get over our weak stomachs.

None the less, the deed is done. We have found having more than one rooster for twenty hens causes considerable trouble. Our hens were mistreated last year from the increased testosterone abounding so harvesting is a necessary process for us. It also gives us a good source of food from animals that were treated with dignity and respect.

Ringo has a hard time with the harvesting part. The chickens are his responsibilities and he has named most of them. They flock around him as he hands out food. So it is understandably tough to see his friends go.

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He’s good at catching the birds however so his part in the process was to run and grab while I disposed of the animals while he was conveniently away.

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There are many blogs out there about the how to’s of processing chickens. I bet none of them suggest using a basketball hoop as a potential hanging device. This is why I’m so bad at basketball. This was the most use this hoop has seen in a year.

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You can tell we have a heritage breed of chickens and don’t feed them weight gaining food. This is about as skinny as you’ll ever see a six month old chicken. We sacrifice weight for no antibiotic, hormone free meat. There is not much too them but they taste good.

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Here’s another one we plucked. You can see the anatomical  similarity between the bird and the boy.

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It’s December and we are just getting to harvesting. The chicks were late this year thus we put this off as long as we could to give them a little more time to put on weight.

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Here’s a better picture to end off on. This bird is still a little runty. Hopefully he’ll fill out in a year or two and get a little more meat on his bones. He eats a ton of delicious chicken but still hasn’t filled out as he’d like.

Milly and I are still considering vegetarianism but it won’t happen for at least eight more Sundays. It would be sad to put all that past effort to waste.

Anyone else out there wimpy like me?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The big move to The Simple Farm

It is with great pleasure that I announce that we have finally made the move to The Simple Farm. This big move started about two years ago and has been wrought with blood, sweat, and tears. (quite literally all three of those components have been ground into our plywood floors and peeled logs).

I know some of you like to see our crazy moving habits so here is an account of moving our chicken coop once again. This time we hauled it two and a half miles down the middle of main street, across the main highway, and down our gravel road to our house. I’m happy to report no chickens were harmed in this process this time.

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Molly pulled out fence posts. She’s pretty tough.move in 004

Ringo got hot so started tearing off his clothes. It was only –3c so what can you expect from a boy of the North.move in 008

It took us 30 minutes to drag the coop the two and a half miles. I don’t think we passed a single car. It’s not to crowded around here.

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Ringo and Molly wanted to ride in the coop to make sure things were safe for their feathered friends but I told them all the turkeys had to ride with me.

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I’m pretty sure there is nothing left of the skids underneath the coop. Good thing there are no more moving plans for a long time.

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What do you think of this move Tinka? “I don’t see what the big deal is. In fact I can’t see at all.”

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Final load of crap, I mean the final load of our precious property into our place. move in 030

As you can see, it’s a mess. We (me) loaded everything downstairs with the hope of keeping everything there as we still have a long way to go before the place is actually finished. I’ve been warned that we may never finish our house now that we moved in. Quite honestly, I couldn’t care less. This last two years have been torture. I’m not sure if we’d do it again. Hard to give up everything enjoyable in life to focus on building a silly structure. Should have built a small house like the tumbleweed homes. I’m still grumpy about it. I’m sure I’ll recover after a few…years.

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Everyone helped with the move.

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Then all parties involved started doing cart wheels.

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And jumping for joy.

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Little Polly couldn’t help herself. She’s been jumping like this for days. Not sure if that’s excitement or if she has some disorder. It could be genetic. Milly has been doing the same thing since we moved in.

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Our kitchen is functional. That’s about all you can say about it. The cabinets are reclaimed out of Doc’s office and will have to do for a year or so until we save up for proper cabinetry.

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Most of the stuff fit somewhere. Not sure how we did it.

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Guess what we plan on doing this winter now that we’ve made the big move. The kids say I owe them twenty days of skiing since we missed all last year due to our building habits.

I’m just happy to have time to sit and watch the kids try on the new ski gear we got for the coming season. Most are hand me downs but we did sneak into the big city last week and crashed a ski swap. Man it’s nice to have a spare Saturday to do something like that.

It may take 20 years to complete our house but as Ringo told somebody the other day when asked how he likes living in the new place, “anything’s better than how we have been living the past couple of years.” He’s eight years old but wise beyond his years.

I think we’ve scrubbed off most of the blood off the floor and we are going to stain the walls pretty soon so any future sweat won’t stick. We are almost ready for visitors. Feel free to come by and check out the place. I promise we won’t put you to work like we have most of our visitors for the past couple of years. We are hoping for a Long Winter were we do nothing but relax and ski. I hope the spring never comes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

bok, bok, bok, moo

I heard a few chickens screaming outside and thought I had a predator looking for chicken parmesan.

When I got to the chicken coop I couldn’t help but laugh as this is what I saw.

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I think Ferdinand was just lonely and decided to try and persuade some of the ladies to be his friend. move 049

They all high tailed it out of the coop as the friendly intruder was a little on the clumsy stepping side.

However, we do have some chickens that hang out in the cow shed all day and night now so maybe Ferdinand’s little romp in the coop did win over a few foul friends.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cedar ceiling almost done

We’ve been working pretty hard over the past couple of weeks to get our tongue and groove cedar ceiling put up before it gets too cold.

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Don’t think we quite made it. ceiling tongue and groove 028

I just checked the temperature gauge and it’s –12 degrees celcius.ceiling tongue and groove 032I’m thinking it should be done this weekend which is exciting as we only have a bit of drywall to finish putting up and then it’s time for finishing with tung oil.ceiling tongue and groove 034Hope it all works out and looks nice.ceiling tongue and groove 036

What do you think?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Controlling flies on a small farm

Look what happened to fly into our little chicken coop area yesterday.

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We are not sure what they are but think Daisy, Donald, and…whatever another girl ducks name has found a new home on The Simple Farm.

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I’m just kidding about them flying in. We have been really concerned over the last year or so about the number of flies that swarm around our cows. We’ve tried non toxic stuff like making faces at the pests. We’ve tried spraying vinegar over the cows. We’ve even gone so far as to sit as swat the flies in the more horrid times of the day.

One of our farming friends says she controls flies with these beauties. These are Muscovy ducks. They are a duck that lives on land and are quite useful for pest control.

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In our discussion with our friend she sent over this information:

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Here is an article from a study down with large operations from a while back. http://www.entomology.wisc.edu/mbcn/live409.html

This is from another article on the net -

"Another biological control is use of Muscovy ducks—a breed of meat duck that spends its time on land (rather than water) eating insects. Some small farmers claim that four or five ducks per cow virtually eliminates a fly problem. According to Dennis French, DVM (Louisiana State University), in research trials, Muscovy ducks removed adult house flies 30 times faster than fly traps, fly paper rolls or bait cards. Ducks in cages with 100 flies took only 0.6 hours to remove 90 percent of the flies compared to 15.3 hours for the most effective commercial bait devices. “In other studies, the ducks lived for 12 weeks in pens with calves, without injury or any additional feed for the ducks. They ate about 25 house flies per 15 minute observation period when fly populations were low to moderate,” says French."

This is from homesteading today site -

"I've used Muscovy ducks to control flies for several years. It works well. The Muscovies roam widely. They follow the cattle, waiting for manure to hit the ground. Then they scatter it, looking for something edible. The manure dries out and won't hatch flies.
The cattle learned how else the Muscovies can help. They lie down to chew their cuds and let the Muscovies pick flies off of them. That's the best horse fly control. You can often see a cow turn her head or stretch her neck so a duck can reach a biting fly."

I the winter I give them whole grains (wheat and barley) and 2nd cut alfalfa/grass mix hay (small amounts in a box/mini manger) plus water to drink. Care about the same in winter, but less care in summer. In summer I let them roam the yard, set out a 2 1/2 gallon bucket for water, and some screenings or some whole grain for backup feed. They eat a lot less as they eat more insects and vegetation. When first turned out they scout the yard for insects. they also eat grasshoppers, mosquitoes, moths, slugs and whatever else they find.

I lock them up at night for their safety.

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Rosebud’s only comment was:  You had me at “Control Flies.”

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Welcome to the farm our fine feathered friends. Eat up while the bugs are still out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Testing surge capacity for grey water mulch basin

After digging out our mulch basin and building up the sides we decided to test out the capacity of the basin. We first timed how long it took to fill up a 5 gallon (1.5 minutes).

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Then we sat around and read about grey water systems in a cold climate while the basin filled.

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Then we sat around some more.

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After about 45 minutes we were still at this point. We didn’t think the basin was going to fill up any more so we calculated we did over 100 gallons. We figured 50 gallons in 15 minutes so 100 gallons was conservative.

It took about 20 to 30 minutes for the water to disappear completely so hopefully that’s a good sign that the water can seep out.

We are now going to fill the basin with wood chips and mulch to insulate over winter. Also thinking about putting bales on the north to act as a shelter against the strong north wind.

Anyone know where to find wood chips?

Any other ideas on how to insulate this basin?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Electricity in a log home

These pictures are a few weeks old but I wanted to document what we did for putting electricity in our log home.

 

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