Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reflections on my Year and a Half as a Farm Chick

In some ways I look back to when we moved in to our little white house on the bog and think, Has it really only been 18 months since we jumped head first into this adventure?

Then there are the days where I see the stacks of boxes in the basement, and the pictureless walls of our living room and think, Well we did just move in. There hasn't been time to get to ALL of the odds and ends!

In a weird way, both things are true. It has been a year and a half since we started down the build-a-farm-from-scratch path, but it has been an intense 18 months.

We've gone from 13 chickens, down to 5, then back up to an all time high of 40+ chickens (I don't plan on doing that again anytime soon). We started with two "female" bunnies who turned out to be a boy and girl, and whom had litters of babies like clockwork until we were able to get Papa bunny neutered.

We entered the world of livestock ownership with three goats, Spike, Archie & Gertie, and presently have 9 goats with more on the horizon in the near future.

We've crashed and burned hard, in our first year of gardening, but have lived and learned about what we did wrong and hope to build a garden this Spring that will feed us until next Spring.

I've also acquired a few bits of folksy wisdom and farm chick tricks along the way that have borne themselves out as true and useful for me-

*Foxes come out in force at the full moon. If the moon is full and nightfall sneaks up on you before you've had a chance to lock up the chickens, you've all but handed Mr. Fox his supper.

*The groundhog gets it wrong, but the frogs are always right. Phil says 6 more weeks of Winter, but the chorus of Pacific Tree Frogs who call my bog and pasture home say otherwise. This (times about 100) is what it sounds like at my house 3 weeks or so before Spring starts sneaking in.

*Critters escape, pipes burst and tires go flat at the worst possible time, always. And mostly when your hunky farm hand is away on a business trip.

*Goats will NOT eat anything. In fact, they're rather picky eaters. They will mouth just about anything to determine whether or not it is edible, which is probably where they got their unearned reputation as eaters of tin cans.

*To keep your chickens healthy and laying during the Winter months, supplement them with a carbohydrate (cracked corn, grain, day old bread) twice a day; once when you first turn them out in the morning and again right before they roost up for the night. The morning feed gives their body a little burst of calories that keep the eggs coming, the evening feed gives them a belly full of heat-generating carbohydrates that keep them sufficiently warm through the night without needing supplemental heat sources.

*A good pair of muck boots are worth their weight in gold. Spring for quality - they're an investment in your health and comfort!

I'm learning more little bits and pieces every day, and even though this place is still kicking my butt on a daily basis, I have an evolving vision of what it will be someday and that keeps me putting on my old jeans and my holey sweatshirt and getting back out there every day. Chipping away, S-L-O-W-L-Y but surely enough, we'll get there.

The little red shed, probably the closest thing we'll have to a proper barn for a while yet. ;)

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