Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring is here!

Lookie there, it's our first egg! Finally! That batch of chicks I bought back in October... the ones that were picked off one by one by weasels and raccoons... they're finally being productive. Of that batch, we have 4 hens and one rooster left that we're keeping, so it's really great to not only hear that rooster crow each morning, but actually see an egg finally. Of course, we have that second batch of chicks from the end of January that are on their way to becoming chickens themselves, but they still have a long way to go. And most of those will be freezer jockeys soon anyway

The weather has been amazing this week, and I'm always in much higher spirits when I can leave the windows open all day and all night. Of course, with these old drafty doors and windows, that means we're dealing with some wasps in the house as they scramble to find the best nesting areas for the spring, but we're staying on top of that.

I've also started a little make-shift greenhouse in the pump house for the vegetable seeds I got from Gurney's last month. I've been saving yogurt containers all winter and am planting a few seeds in each to get them started for planting the ground in a week or two. Planting season doesn't officially start until mid April here, but I'm trying to get myself ready. Of course I still have to till the ground in the new garden area, but I'm hoping to do that this Sunday. Along with finishing the chicken coop and installing a new back door.

Yep! I'm almost done with a new chicken coop I'm building within one of the larger rooms of the barn, and it will be using the old back door we have on the house now. Instead of buying a new one for the coop, I figured I'd buy a new one for the house, instead. It sure can use it.

Sarah and I are also discussing our summer plans more practically, considering I work 80-ish hours a week and watch the baby 11 hours a day while she's gone. It makes farm projects only possible for about a 7-hour window on Sundays, and we know that trying to set up a milking schedule for the goats would just not be possible. So we're going to let these baby goats drink all the milk they can from their momma and eventually sell them and buy some unrelated does once we have a plan in place for our busy work situation. There's a plan A, B, and C, but it depends on a few factors that should be playing out in the next few months. We'd like to eventually make farming our job, reduce our bills and live more off the land, but in the mean time, we're willing to do all we can to save up some money and get ourselves established and learning how to do this effectively.

So that's it for now!


  1. Fresh backyard produced eggs, hard to beat! I can not recall what state you live in but does it restrict your selling of self produced dairy products? I know several states restrict the selling of raw goats milk and even eggs.. which is just insane. I live in Maryland, home of Perdue Chicken and their fully automated chicken plants.. now that is some scary stuff! I will take my chances with a local farmer that I can talk over a multinational chicken plant any day.

    I have to ask though, 80 hours a week... is that all from massively? You are really bursting my bubble of online writing as an income source! I so envy your move of getting away from the city and still being gainfully employed, everywhere I look for land the one factor always missing are jobs!

  2. Yeah, I mean it's not physical labor 80 hours a week, but it's a constant scheduling, editing, rewriting, answering the phone/IMs/email, writing, managing staff, etc etc. PR companies are global, so they're demanding my attention from 6am (in Europe) to 10-11pm EDT every day, and weekends are used to catch up on work uninterrupted.

    I'm certainly not complaining because I still get to work from home and see my daughter grow up, but it's not really something a person can do for a long time. Especially if you sit down and figure out that the pay per hour is way less than minimum wage :) That's why I'd like to eventually get into organic farming full time. It's a dream.

  3. I would rather work a hard 40 or 50 hours of labor then constantly having to be available like that... I did that when I was ran a medical courier service and it was not fun.

    I know I have recommended several articles or posts from The Survival Podcast, but they had a great show the other day about a family that raises chickens, goats, guinea hogs and even jersey cows all on a small 1.5 acre homestead. It was a great episode about building a fully integrated and self sufficient homestead or farm.

    You mentioned that your land was far to rocky for aquaponics but have you considered a bee colony for pollination... and not to mention the gift of honey!

  4. Bees would be awesome, but I look at it as too much investment (plus my wife is not going for the idea of having little stingy things all over) :)

    The local feed store sells honey from the guy who owns the store, so it's local (made by him), cheap, and really really good.

    But yeah, I've thought about it, mainly for pollination and increasing the crop yield. It's not completely written off, just not any time soon. Pigs are next! And more goats.

    I'll give that podcast a listen! Your suggestion for that farm-dreams website was spot on. I love that site so much.

  5. My brother-in-law (Ed Leddy) directed me to your website. My family and I live in rural Ohio as of last summer, and like you, before that, always lived in cities (me in LA then Philly, my husband in Boston)! We've also got a small homestead farm... rabbits, goats, ducks, chickens, geese, and pigs! I'm gonna start reading your blog. I don't keep one of my own, but I'll enjoy reading and commenting on yours. p.s. We had our first DUCK EGGS yesterday! They are all yolk! I would post a picture here if I could figure out how.

  6. Oh! I just saw that you want to get pigs next! Let's definitely talk! We have Berkshires and Gloucester Old Spots. Our goats are Kinders (a cross between a pygmy and a nubian).

  7. Nice! We just recently got geese ourselves (which I need to write about!) and pigs are still on the agenda. I'm looking locally for some farmers who want to sell some feeder pigs, and then if we like that, we might look into breeding them some other time.

  8. We have some young geese, too. They are roaming with our ducks (who we will eat in 2 more weeks; sad, they are so cute). We got them to guard the chickens etc... we got 3 Africans and 3 American Buffs (the websites say you want 2 geese and 1 gander, but they're straight run, so we figure we'll keep three of the right genders and eat the rest). Baby geese crack me up, by the way. The ducks look all youthful and cherubic, but the geese look like old men with wrinkly noses.

    Where are you guys located? We are in NE Ohio.

    I recently ordered a pair of runner ducks. Google it. They are the silliest looking farm animals ever.

  9. About feeder pigs:

    I would strongly encourage you to get a trailer before you get feeder pigs. It's all fun and games when they're piglets and you're bringing them home in your arms, but it is a HUGE pain to get our pigs into the truck when it's slaughter time. We had to build a ramp, which they do not want to go up AT ALL, and they are too big (250+ lbs) at that point to force them to do anything. It's a huge time suck, and not one that we had anticipated at all.

    Also, I highly recommend automatic waterers. We started out with buckets and their water gets disgusting the second they drink from it (their noses are nasty, and all that nast gets into the water), and yet they don't LIKE dirty water. You end up dumping a lot of water and making mud around the pen. Also, pigs get really, really angry when they are thirsty and have no water. They get destructive and try to get out of their pens. An angry pig can do a lot of damage both to their pen and to their feeder. The automatic waterers do freeze in the winter, but freezing water is an issue no matter what you do.

    End of unsolicited advice. Let me know if this is obnoxious and I will stop (no hurt feelings).

  10. Oh! Good advice. We've thought about getting a horse trailer at some point. As for slaughtering them, I'm actually thinking of doing it myself. My father has been a butcher all his life (and my uncle, and my grandfather), so he can teach me a few things here and there.

    And thanks for the tips about automatic waterers. That's something I'm actually looking into now for our barn, as soon as I set up a tank system in there to be fed from our well. I actually just bought the parts for that 2 days ago, so it's on my ever-growing to-do list.

    And no way is your advice unsolicited! I need to take all the advice my brain can hold, so bring it on!

  11. We actually do our waterers via a hose! Easy peasy. We just have a hose run to each pen and connect it to a PVC pipe with a few nipple drinkers sticking out. I make it sound primitive because my understanding is primitive, but hopefully you know what I mean, and if not, I can ask my husband, as he builds all of this stuff.

    The main reason we don't slaughter ourselves is because we sell some of our pork, and in order to do that legally, it has to be slaughtered and butchered at a USDA facility, which we are not and will never be. And since they're Berkshires, we fetch a pretty good price when we can manage to get it sold.

    OH! This is important. If you ever do decide to sell feeder pigs yourself, be sure to get a breed that has light skin. We got Berkshires, thinking "ooh, fancy, Berkshire meat!" but then we discovered that USDA facilities (at least in Ohio) won't kill a black-skinned pig without skinning it. It's for the dumbest reason, too. Anyway, half the people who want to buy whole hogs from us want to keep the pig whole and do a hog roast, and since it's illegal for us to sell a pig we butchered ourselves, we can't give them squat. It's a bummer.