Monday, March 29, 2010

Is it true that it has been this long?

For some reason some of my images are missing. I suppose that has something to do with the fact that it's been about a year since I posted. If you know me well you'll know hat me saying "it's been about a year since..." is not an unusual thing. Time flies for everyone, I suppose, but for just seems to zing by. This is not a GOOD thing, as my children are getting older, I'm also getting older...and people who like to read blogs like to read updates more than once a year.

Well, I'll try to get better...I promise.

The farmette here has expanded. Though the two goats I mentioned earlier were decidedly not pregnant (and we've been feeding them for a year, I might add), about a month ago, while scouring the classifieds (for what, I'm not sure) I noticed some goats that needed homes. For a *really* good price. So, I loaded up the Reluctant Farmhusband, who by now wants to accompany me on any trips that might involve "just looking" at animals, and we went to see these goats. When I spoke to the woman on the phone, she mentioned that she also had some ducks. I've wanted ducks for awhile to control ticks on the property since my middle son seems to be a tick magnet. Ducks and guinea hens are apparently really good for that. At least, that's what they tell me. I'm hoping that they might also make a dent in the horrendous horseflies that plague our property. I know I've spoken of them before.

I'm hoping.

So, we put a small dog crate in the car "just in case" and head out to meet the lady and her animals. We found the property no problem and the nice lady has goats and ponies *everywhere*. But she tells me that "this" goat was the one she was thinking of selling. Her name happens to be Pineapple and she is a 1 year old Alpine.

Pineapple is a small Alpine, possibly a Nigerian Dwarf/Alpine cross, but she's a darling Alpine, so we said that we'd take her, plus two Rouen ducks, who look just like Mallards, which are my favorites (I also want Muscovys, but we'll get there soon enough). Pineapple was NOT supposed to be pregnant. But as we loaded her into the Pilot, we noticed that she was quite bagged up. She's a first freshener (e.g. as a 1 year old, she wouldn't have had kids before), so she wouldn't have had a residual bag, but...yea.

4 days later, Pineapple had her kids, a darling little buckling that we named Banana (because he has these light yellow spots) and a darling little doeling named Apple.

Yea, she was pregnant. That picture is of Banana and Apple at several hours old. They are just the cutest darned things you've ever seen.

This is a video of them at about a week old. Aren't they just the cutest thing you've ever seen?

This excited me greatly because *now* I can milk. And I have been. I'm using Fiasco Farm's technique of milking once a day. So at night, the babies go into the crate, and during the day they drink as much as they want. This little goat is providing us with 3/4 of a quart of milk per day and it's SO sweet - doesn't taste goaty at all.

We also, this year, got chickens. If you've never "gotten chickens", you'll find the process a bit strange, so I'll explain it. There are a few ways to "get chickens". If you already *have* chickens, and you also *have* a rooster, one of your hens will invariably decide to sit on her eggs, and you will have baby chicks.

I did not have chickens previously, so this method was out for me.

You can also get fertilized eggs, put them in an incubator and turn them often until they hatch. This method is time consuming and requires things like an, there's not a very good rate necessarily of hatching (e.g. you get some duds). So...this was out for me as well.

You can buy chicks from a farmer, but the problem with chickens in general is that until maturity it is VERY difficult to tell which ones are male and which are female. Since I didn't want to futz with a rooster (unless I chose him) and wanted all females...this method was out for me. Plus, they wanted WAY too much money locally.

So, the last option is to order chicks from a hatchery. The process goes like this - you decide what type of chicks you want (we picked Black Sexlinks - which are a special hybrid between a Rhode Island Red and a Barred Rock - the special thing about these is that you can tell by looking at them which ones are hens and which are roos), you specify how many you want, and they hatch them and mail them to you.

That's right, through the post office.

I ordered from Mt. Healthy Hatchery, because I had read really good reviews on their hatchery. This is important, because you want to make sure you get healthy chicks. Plenty of things can go wrong with chickens, you want to start them out right.

The post office called me at 5:30 in the morning once they arrived. I'm not sure what I said to the lady, and I hope I didn't tell her I loved her or anything goofy like that. So, before school I packed up the kids, we ran to the post office, and picked up the chicks.

I ordered 25, because I was a bit worried about attrition. I figured we needed about 15, to supply our families' needs well. So you know, figuring that chickens are delicate creatures...

I got 26.

It's 4 weeks later...I still have 26.

Each hen will lay 1 egg per day, approximately. Which means I'll have more than 2 dozen eggs per day. Which means that I'd better start spreading the word about having eggs for sale. Because I'm going to have a horrible lot of them.

Here are the chicks at 1 day old:

More on all of this later...

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