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.
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.
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.
It was in the 40s this afternoon, so Alex and I took Precious and King on a trail ride. Our basic loop from the house takes about 40 min at a walk. It’s nice to have a riding partner.
While I was the Engineer on USS Annapolis, Howard Craig was the Weapons Officer. We didn’t always agree on leadership techniques, but we were able to respect each other, and have healthy debates about life subjects. In fact, Clark Scharman (Navigator) and Matt Curitti (Supply Officer) used to join Howard and I in religious debates/discussions during private department head meetings.
Throughout my tour, Howard always said something that stuck with me. “Everyone has something to offer. You just have to figure out what it is.” His point was, make a living doing what you love. In fact, he was constantly pushing me that our horses were what we had to offer, and we should be making money on our passion.
Thanks for the inspiration Weps.
Friends frequently ask us how we do so much on the farm. I usually answer, it’s just what we do. Everyone makes choices in life on how to spend your time. We don’t watch sports. We don’t watch much tv – in fact I think most shows glorify behaviors we are opposed to. We don’t go on big vacations to resorts.
We do go outside every day. So do the kids. We teach our family about responsibility through chores. If the kids want to watch tv or play a video game, they usually have to work for the reward. Our kids understand where the chicken on their plate came from, they know rabbits in the cages, while fun to play with, will eventually be dinner. It doesn’t traumatize them; it educates them.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully support everyone’s choice to live their own lives. In fact, if everyone had farms, we wouldn’t have customers. I’m just explaining our choice.
Don’t ask how we do so much. Look at what you could have done instead.
A couple of years ago, my sister-in-law Rebekah got us thinking about making bread at home. The were buying the wheat berries, grinding the wheat, and baking fresh bread. At the time we thought it was neat, but overly time consuming and cumbersome. Besides, what was wrong with the bread at the store? That was then.
Now we have containers of red wheat and white wheat berries in the kitchen. Anna grinds the wheat and bakes bread. While she doesn’t bake 100% of our bread needs, she does try to make as much as possible. Last night we had pulled pork sandwiches on fresh buns Anna cooked right before dinner. This morning, we had banana nut muffins (with chocolate chips). Earlier in the week, we had cookies. We are able to control the ingredients, and know exactly what we are feeding our family. Not to mention, fresh bread makes the house smell great and tastes better!
Thanks Rebekah for getting us started!
Thanks Anna for baking!
While we love to expand the farm, we try to do it on a budget. We have been focusing on recycling materials as much as possible. Why buy new, when you can find it used? Why buy used, if you can recycle something for free? Anna watches freecycle and I watch craigslist. Last weekend, I picked up 28 sheets of 1/2″ OSB for $100 from CL. I have found sources for 55 gal plastic barrels that just need to be washed out. There is a moving company that loves to give me a full truck load of pallets. Using pallets as the base for projects allows me to use the tractor with forks to move things around the farm. If you aren’t picky about paint colors, check the OOPS paint at Lowe’s or Home Depot for $5 gallons of exterior paint.
This 4×6 goat shelter cost me less than $10 which was the paint and 3 new 2x4s that I needed. Everything else was free (except the nails that I already had). This took about 8 hours to build. The entire series of pictures can be seen here:
Here is the main shelter for our goats. It is a 10’x10′ Shelter Logic garage. I made a floor and walls out of recycled pallets.
Finally, goats have to eat hay. Here is a hay feeder that I built using left over pieces of fence panels and a free plastic barrel.
We have decided that we need a web page for our farm. It will take a while to transfer all the vision in my head to a computer, but we will get started. I expect most of the blogging will be done by me (Rob) but Anna will probably sit next to me and tell me what to write. Our main intent is to capture life on a modern, family farm. Also, we want to share what we learn to encourage others who want to do the same thing.
Feel free to leave us comments and suggestions.