Homestead Updates, May 2016
It’s almost the end of the month, so I thought it was a good time for a homestead update. Like any farm or homestead, spring time is a busy time around here. Add to that working full time jobs, work and school schedules changing, and having to fix up our old house and get it rented — well, there’s a lot on our plates these days! Just the same, we’re enjoying the warmer weather and sunshine, and we’re finding a balance between work and play.
Mid-April when the younger chickens hit the 18-week mark, we integrated the two flocks. It went surprisingly uneventfully. We did see a temporary decline in egg production from the year-old hens until they sorted out the new pecking order, but now they’re back to normal and in the last few days the new hens have started laying too. I’m so excited to see blue and green eggs in the nest boxes now!
I just added two more nest boxes to the coop and I’ll be deep-cleaning everything this weekend. I’m also considering hanging their feeders because with 17 chickens swarming them, they get tipped over a lot more frequently these days.
Seeing a huge flock of mixed colors and patterns free ranging outside the window has really been making me smile.
Like I mentioned in my last post, we decided to get meat chickens this year. Today, they are two weeks old, and their growth rate is incredible! They outgrew the brooder box already and I moved them to a stall in our barn to give them more space.
They are voracious little eaters. We fill their feeder twice a day, and when you put it down for them, they swarm it and you can hardly get your hand out of the way fast enough! It’s amazing how different they are than the egg laying chicks we’ve raised in the past.
The plan is to keep them there another week or two, and if the weather cooperates, they’ll go into their own outside coop after that so they can forage and finish growing out.
Due to no one’s fault but my own, Candy dried up on us earlier than I’d hoped. I was struggling with milking her and decided to give her a break for a couple days, to let Reese just nurse. A couple days turned into a couple weeks… and soon Reese was weaned and Candy’s milk dried up. –SIGH.– So for now they’re adorable pets and weed-eaters till we can have them bred. (I can’t wait for adorable baby goats next spring!)
Our major project in the next couple of weeks is putting up new fencing for the goats. We’re getting posts and cattle panels this weekend and will be putting up our paddock after that. In the years to come and as budget allows, I’m hoping to fence the whole pasture, section by section so we can rotate our animals.
Right now our rabbitry has total of six bunnies — Bucky and Mama, two grown kits from our first litter, and two from our second litter. One grown kit (the black one from the first litter) will be sticking around, as Ben has claimed him for a pet and named him “Thunder”. Mama is due to kindle again this week, so we’ll have more baby bunnies soon too.
We’ve been doing a lot of rearranging with our rabbits and we’re working on adding more grow-out cages because the rabbits are multiplying like — well — rabbits.
I’ve already mentioned that we decided not to put in a garden this year. However, we are running our meat chickens in our fenced garden area to let them till it up, permaculture-style. So hopefully next year we’ll have a beautiful garden bed to start with.
I did toss a few extra lettuce seeds into a semi-shaded flower bed in our front yard. Not much grows there except hosta, so I’m hoping it will be a good spot to grow a few greens before the hottest days of summer. Fingers-crossed something sprouts!
Amanda lives with her family on a little red farmstead in northwestern Pennsylvania. By day she's a web developer specializing in WordPress and in her off time she enjoys working with goats and other livestock on the farm, canning, knitting, and crocheting.