Officially Farming!

How do you know farming has a new role in life?  2 words – tax exempt.  That’s right, today in the mail we received our tax exempt approval from the State of CT.  And it was just in time, because I had a 10% off coupon for Tractor Supply that expired tomorrow.  Well I grabbed that new money-saving sheet and the coupon and an hour later I was home with a truck full of fencing supplies and about 700lbs of feed.  Now if only I had the time to put the fencing up…

Every weekend should be 4 days

2 day weekends are junk.  There is hardly enough time to really get started on anything, let alone complete a project.  If we always had Friday to get ready for the projects, and Monday to wrap them up, we would get a lot more accomplished around here.  Instead, Friday I was at work (all day) and then loaded the barn with hay after I got home.

Anna did some running around on Saturday morning, so I was basically inside watching kids.  I did help with some cleaning in the house.

Saturday night was date night at the Dolphin Scholarship Auction.  It was a lot of fun and we even bought a couple of things for ourselves (including a wine tasting at Jonathon Edwards Winery just around the corner from our house).

We had chicks hatching this weekend, unfortunately, the results were quite poor.  I recently completed build a new hatcher for the chick operations.  This was the first batch to hatch inside, and we discovered some design flaws.  Monday night is overhaul for the hatcher because the next batch will move in for hatching on Tuesday.

2 rabbits had litters on Saturday and we have 9 new additions to the rabbitry.  That’s actually low because 1 doe had 11, but only 2 survived.  We are not sure what the issue was, so we will be monitoring her performance carefully on the next litter.  You know what they say about meat rabbits: you can always eat the mistakes.

Sunday morning was spent working on some chores/cleanup around the farm until Alex and I went to the Blue and Gold Banquet for Cub Scouts where Alex received his Bear rank.  We also had 2 customers over today for buying chicks.  I love having other people who are interested in the self-sustaining movement out to our farm, and while they might show up to buy chicks, we end up talking about goats, rabbits, vegetables, and everything else.

Tonight was project time on the whizbang chicken plucker.  It should be complete in another day or so and then we will give it a test run.  I plan to have video of the first use.

See what I mean? 2 days didn’t hardly get anything done.

Amanda loves her goat milk

It’s a dreary Saturday morning.  Since the morning chores are done and Anna is gone with Vicki for some shopping, I am inside with Alex and Amanda.  I was working on researching some plans on the computer when Amanda came and grabbed my arm, repeating “goat milk Betty.”  Betty is our only doe in milk right now, and at dinner the other night I was talking with Alex and Vicki about how they should appreciate what Betty provides for us.  Apparently Amanda has been listening too.  Well, earlier I had actually already poured Amanda a cup of milk, but she wanted it in a different cup.  In addition, when I simply transferred her milk from one cup to another, she got very upset. She refused to take the cup from me until I actually added some milk out of the container in the fridge so she could see it was “goat milk Betty”.   As soon as I did that, she grabbed the cup and started drinking.  Spoiled kid.

Half marathon PR

This morning I ran my 3rd half marathon in Colchester, CT. The weather was nice in the low 40s, but there were winds of 25-30mph. On the first half of the course, the winds were not too bad. However, the last 2.5 miles was completely exposed, uphill, with a head wind the whole way. Did I mention the hills? Despite the challenge, I finished in 1:43:12 for an average 7:52 min/mile (my previous best was 1:49).
Along the way I burned about 1800 calories and my average heart rate was 188. I think the HR was a little skewed because of a poor connection (not enough sweat) for the first few miles.
Regardless, I’m extremely pleased with the result since I was hoping to run a half marathon in under 1:45 by the end of 2012.

Facing reality

Over the past week, Anna and I have been working hard on the farm and making lots of improvements.  Not investing a lot of money, just tweaking things to make the operations more efficient.  Along the way, we added 11 more hens and 2 more roosters (one is still arriving Tues or Wed), bringing our main flocks up to 47 layers and 6 roosters.  The rabbits are now at 12, but we have some excess bucks that will be dinner shortly, taking us back down to 10.

As I have been working on all the projects, it is difficult to stop and ride my bike, go on long runs, or even ride the horses.  I am definitely still getting plenty of exercise, because I lost 2lbs last week.  I know I can’t do it all, but I want to.  However, I think the time has come to be a little more realistic in some of my personal goals.  I think the half-iron distance triathlon is coming off the schedule for 2012.  I will still race some shorter sprint and olympic races, but I don’t have the 14hrs a week my training plan recommends and I don’t want to just complete the race, I want to race it.  So for now, I think I will continue to focus on horse riding and the farm, and keep the longer triathlons as a bucket list item.

 

How time flys

This afternoon, I finally carved out a little time to relax.  I decided to ride Cinder.  I was actually test riding a new saddle, but it didn’t fit well.  So, I took the saddle off and rode Cinder bareback for a little while.  He was feeling quite frisky from the increased grain ration lately and lack of work, so the bucking and misbehavior was a little more challenging without a saddle.  I only came off once, and it was a controlled dismount (that means I landed on my feet).

Anna and I have decided to take Cinder off the sale market for a while.  I am going to work on riding him more and show him some this summer.  We still might sell him eventually, but not right now.

Earlier this week, I promised to get some more pictures updated on the changes to the rabbitry.  Well, what I expected to be a 4-6hr project became more like a 4 day project.  I ended up working until dark every night and still haven’t taken the pictures.  We only have 1 more cage to relocate and then the rabbits will be settled into their new area.  I also started clearing the area that will become a buck pen for the new goats in May.

I did manage to get a little more than a cord of wood cut into log lengths from the tree I took down in the front yard and 2 other trees I cut at the gun club property.  When you don’t do it every day, it’s amazing how much swinging a chainsaw will wear you out (and carrying 16+” oak logs around).

Our second incubator is now in operation.  We have begun incremental loads in the incubators to have weekly hatches.  Right now we have about 53 chicks growing out in various brooders in the garage and basement.  Since the weather is nice, we are hoping sales will start soon…

Tomorrow morning I am picking up 11 more hens, including Americanas!  We will now have easter eggers and will distribute colored eggs in the sale cartons.  This will bring our active layer flock to 47 hens.  We are also getting another rooster on Monday or Tuesday to ensure we keep the eggs fertile for hatching.

Now it’s time for Anna and I to relax and enjoy a short movie.  Tomorrow is another busy day on the farm.

Taking leave to get some work done

I decided to take 4 days of leave this week to spend some time working on various farm projects.  While the list is never-ending, Anna and I are working hard on a few specific projects before spring gets here.  I did manage to spend a few minutes with Betty and her kids outside in their pen.  You can see all the pictures on the goat page, but here is one doeling getting a quick snack.

By the way, the doelings are for sale.

We spent the afternoon working on cutting down a large oak that was dying and clearing brush from the area that will become the rabbitry.  Since the rabbitry has grown significantly, we have decided to move it away from the chickens and into the opposite side of the yard.  Hopefully the weather will be nice enough tomorrow to allow me to finish clearing and move all the cages.  I’ll add photos when it is finished.

Anna worked with Alex and Vicki to make their Valentine’s cards from scratch, and then made chocolate covered strawberries after they went to bed while I worked in the basement.  I have finished building a new chick hatchery, with the exception of shelves.  Once I get the shelves done tomorrow night, I’ll post pictures of the whole thing.

Some people take leave to go on vacation.  I prefer to work on the farm.

The kids have arrived!

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In January, we added Cedars of Lebanon Betty Ford (Betty) to our goat herd. We specifically bought her because she was due to kid before any of our other does, and therefore we would resume getting milk for the family sooner.
Today, Betty had twin doelings! Both are healthy and doing well. I’ll take some better pictures tomorrow in the light. We haven’t decided on names yet. The 2 legged kids have some ideas, but I am looking for a theme for the year.

But that’s not all we did today. This morning it was snowing, and we were expecting to get about 2.5-3″ of accumulation. However, it warmed up and never even stuck to the roads. By the late afternoon, it was almost all melted.

I had another craigslist find for the weekend. I felt like I was in American Pickers when I went to a farm to look at some rabbit cages. I ended up buying a large double cage for growing young ones, a 16′ quad cage for whatever, 1 transport cage for rabbits, 2 transport cages for mid size animals (maybe young goats or pigs), and a 100 gal Rubbermaid water trough. I spent the afternoon working on one of the cages since we are getting more rabbits tomorrow.

The story of our lives with horses