Freezing this morning, but with clear skies the temperature rapidly shot up. We took advantage of the warm weather to get outside and work on some projects that we’ve been talking about.
Mainly, I ran to the store to buy lumber and soil and compost to create our first raised bed. After not having much luck with the garden over the past few years we thought we’d try something different.
Everybody was out today. Chickens, dogs, and the kid! It was fun in the sun today.
End result? A raised bed. I wrapped a temporary fence around the whole thing to keep the chickens out!
Our new pup Worf is nearly 6 months old now. He sure has grown since we got him in May.
Here he is on the first night at our place, nearly 7 weeks old.
2 weeks later, sitting in Xander’s camping chair.
And now, nearly 6 months old.
He’s really tall, has gazelle legs, and is thin and lanky. Not at all stocky and mastiff shaped like his dad. His feet still look to big for his body so we don’t think he’s reached his full size yet. He has a wonderful temperament, puts up with all Xander’s toddler craziness no problem and gets along well with Poppy Seed and McCoy.
We’ve been really bad about posting on the site, we think about it but don’t always get to it as often as we might like.
Last time we posted about our new chickens and turkeys. The chickens and turkeys have all grown up now. The chickens aren’t quite at the egg-laying stage but the turkeys are big. So big that this last weekend we decided to butcher one of the males.
We didn’t take any pictures.
Ryan grew up with animals and has been around to help pluck and watch when chickens, turkeys, and rabbits were butchered. But we hadn’t done it ourselves. But we got everything together and went out to select the turkey to butcher. Ryan had set up a ‘gallows’ to hang the turkey upside down (reused the sign holder that the real estate agent left on the place when we bought it) and we did what was necessary.
Clearly we’re inexperienced. We had printouts to follow along and the process took longer than it probably would in the future but there were no mishaps. We noted that a mental transformation took place from the ick-factor of butchering, to the point when the turkey was all cleaned up and going into the fridge. Once it looked more like a turkey as we usually see them from the store suddenly it wasn’t so icky anymore and we were able to look forward to the roasting (tomorrow).
At about three months old the turkey weighed in at 13.8 lbs, so not huge (although I’m not sure that our weighing it using the Wii Fit is the most accurate method of weighing, we could use a better scale).
I’ll try to post more soon, maybe some pictures of our new dog, Worf!
Our neighbors (whose dogs killed our chickens) bought us some replacement chicks and when we were at the store picking them out we also picked up 4 turkey poults. They’re all in a brooder box in our living room. So far this time raising birds hasn’t been as messy. We’re using wood shavings instead of the pellet bedding we used last time. That stuff was so dusty!
We have 4 broad breasted white turkeys (I believe that’s what they were), 2 rhode island red pullets, 4 black star sex link pullets. Ren, one of our dog attack survivors is a rhode island red. I was hoping the feed store would have some chicks that will lay blue or green eggs but they sell out of those super fast! We got the birds on May 7th and they’ve grown so much since them. The turkeys are much bigger than the chicks and they keep trying to fly. It’s fun watching them grow and listening to their chirps but I cannot wait to get them out of the house!
We’ve had such a cold and wet spring so our garden has gotten a late start. April 11th was one of our first nice days (that also coincided with Ryan’s days off!) and Xander and Ryan turned over the garden bed.
The problem with doing catch up posts is things are out of order, when we were working in the garden we had the chickens close by hoping for worms and other tasty things. Now only 2 of them are still alive.
The next week, April 17th, we had an even warmer day. Ryan got some seeds started in the garden while Xander helped find rocks.
After the planting that day we went for a walk, all of us.
Unfortunately warm days like that one have been few. Yesterday, Ryan said that some of the seeds he planted have started to sprout. Hopefully it will be sunny or at least not raining this weekend and we’ll be able to get more seeds started. We also need to dig an area for the tomato plants that Ryan’s parents are bringing us at the end of May. Our garden news is up to date!
I was going to title this post Massacre or Tragedy but those seem over the top and Sad and Angry really is what I am feeling. I looked out the window this morning and saw weird things in the yard, at first I thought it was the wood shavings we use for bedding but they didn’t look right. Finally my brain figured it out…
Feathers, lots and lots of feathers. I ran outside and found different piles of feathers.
Then on the far side of the coop I found Peaches.
At the same time I found Peaches I also heard noises in the woods and saw the culprits.
The house on the East side of us is empty most of the time, seems like the owner and his friends only show up on weekends or so. They just leave the dogs with food, no attention whatsoever. We feel really sorry for the dogs, or at least I did until they killed my chickens!
I tried to get the dogs out of our yard but they wouldn’t listen to me at all and they knocked Xander over (not being aggressive just super in your face friendly) and I just freaked out. Called Ryan pretty hysterical, he was on his way to a meeting (pulled over before answering the phone) and came home instead. He was able to hook a leash around the one dog and the other one followed. Then he walked the fence line and found where they had dug under and he filled it in and put rocks there. He buried Peaches and then had to get changed and go to another meeting.
While Ryan was dealing with the dogs and fence and burial, Xander and I were walking around looking for chickens– alive or dead. We found Patty!
I was able to catch Patty and later Ren and put them in the coop. No signs of any other chickens or corpses. Patty is walking around the chicken yard calling out mournful cries, it’s horrible! We’re hoping some of the other chickens are still alive and just hiding but obviously some of them must be dead (from the amount of feathers) and either eaten or dragged into the neighbors property.
I’m keeping our dogs on leash for the next few days. Don’t want them finding injured or dead chickens and getting bad ideas! This day SUCKS!
Spring is here according to the calendar but our weather seems to be confused. This week we’ve had snow and hail and this morning we woke to a layer of frost on everything. Last week we had a dry day, not sunny but at least not raining. We took advantage of it and got some yard work done.
I emptied out some of our Earthboxes and filled them with fresh soil and was able to plant some strawberry and mint plants. I’m planning on getting some seeds started in the other planter. While I was working with the planters, Ryan used our new (electric) lawn mower and got the front yard all mowed.
Yesterday evening the weather was nice for awhile so he went out and mowed the section behind the house. The chickens were very happy with the newly cut grass. Speaking of chickens we never did find any sign of Mango. We trimmed all the other hens wings so they can’t get over the fence.
I haven’t felt good in quite a while. Achy, fatigued, moody, just not all that great. I’ve also been putting on weight, getting up to the heaviest that I’ve ever weighed at 174lbs. I’ve been a fan of going barefoot — made a huge difference for my plantar fasciitis — but I haven’t really been exercising much. After a recent photo, just seeing how much weight I’d gained in my face and body, I decided to look more into some things I’d heard about including more nature-based exercises, and a diet of healthier eating. That all led me to look into folks like Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson, both of who advocate for eating based on what our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have eaten before agriculture developed. Plants and animals, but not grains and sugar. After reading some of the content online we ended up starting with Mr. Sisson’s The Primal Solution. We took the plunge with our shopping and spent most of our money on food from the vegetable/fruit and meat sections of the store. Still lots to learn, but the results in others like the Unconquerable Dave are encouraging.
In other news, one of our yellow chickens “Mango” has gone missing. We thought she might have made a nest in the woods and was sitting on eggs, but after lots of tromping around through the woods we haven’t come across any sign of her in the last few days. If she’s out there she’s really hiding and being quiet. It may have started that way and something with a taste for chickens came across her, or she may have foolishly jumped the fence into the neighbor’s yard with the dogs. It’s too bad.
Our chickens roam around our 1.24 acre property and seem content to remain on our side of the fence. One time a chicken jumped the fence into the neighbor’s yard. He chased her with a big fishing net but couldn’t catch her — when I picked her up and brought her back to our yard I think she was happy!
Anyway, whenever we go outside the chickens tend to come running. Most of the time they aren’t far from the house, often they’ll go around the side yard and in the woods, but not so far that they can’t hear or see us.
This is Ren the Hen, coming out of the woods to see what I was doing (throwing chicken litter onto the compost pile). Later I took a stroll up the hill to go check on one of their nesting sites in the woods, hidden away in the top of an old stump, and they all came running up the hill after me. They’ll follow us all around.
Patti (the leader and the smartest hen) with Mariah (arguably the slowest of the hens), wondering what I’m going to do next.
Projects abound here at Woolly Dragon Farm. The writing business takes up much of my time but I try to find time to get in work on the place too. And I want to post more regularly to this blog. If I could only pack in a few more hours into each day it’d be easier, but I haven’t found a way to compress the local time stream yet.
At the moment there are several projects occupying my mind.
Organization — it’s a constant problem, but I’d like to get things more organized in the house. A two-year-old toddler makes that a difficult task, but I’d like to work on it and clean out some of the clutter. Some of it we brought with us when we moved and it is still sitting around. If it’s still in a box I can’t imagine that it’s anything that we need, but it takes time to get through it all.
Concrete demolition — when we moved in one of the first things we saw that we wanted to change was the concrete slab alongside the house. I’d prefer to have that be an extension of the front yard instead. I’ve actually started on the cutting of the slab along the house but that takes time too. Dusty hard work. After cutting I’ll have a go at it with the sledgehammer and see if I can break it up. The rubble might be used in drainage ditches, or beneath new animal housing for drainage. Or we could use it to create raised beds or flagstones, we’ll just see.
Animal Housing — speaking of animal housing that’s another task. We’ve got an old shed that half is the chicken coop but I’d like to replace that with a better coop for the birds. And then I’ll look at building housing for some Nigerian goats one of these days.
Office Shed — I’d like to build a little office shed building up on the hill, maybe earth-sheltered, but that’s more long term.
Garden — I want to do a lot more work on our garden too. Last year was not our best year for plants, I’m hopeful that this next year we’ll do a better job. Plus more ornamental beds.
Fencing — Along the side with the slab, I’d like to put a taller wood fence and then do a picket sort of fence around the front yard.
Flooring — We’ve actually started on our flooring replacement, taking up the old carpet in the living room. Now we’ve got to get the concrete cleaned, patched, coated and then we’ll do a colored stain.
That’s only a few of the projects that I’d like to tackle. Time and money, those are the biggest constraints. We work on things as we can.