Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On the wing

The back door of the barn has been left open for my birdies to range. So far my remaining guinea is happily exploring the back pen, the rest of my chicken chickens are hanging out next to the door looking at it but not taking the leap.
In other news I recently attended the great lakes fiber show. It was quite nice and I hot some great prices on alpaca fiber. This new mom smiled for the camera!

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How to catch a guinea hen 101

So my guinea fowl are here. I think they are a boy/ girl pair. One has bigger cheeks and one makes different sounds than the other so here's hoping.
It doesn't bode well that everytime I get new animals at least one gets loose in my garage.

Notice her friend still neatly tucked in his cage. Silly me opened the cage up to get a better look at them.
Here's how you catch a guinea hen when you're in an enclosed space:
Wait till it gets dark. Turn off all the lights except for one, hung low. Put a box behind the light. When the bird runs towards the light, scoop it into the box and put the lid on fast. Tada! Wish I had figured that out BEFORE I chased it for two hours!
-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Barn is clean!

That was hands down the grossest thing I've ever had to do, and I've done some pretty gross stuff. Dead mice, dirt, grease, poo, old tractor parts, old animal medicine, a desk, a broken dehumidifier, all of it covered in layers of mouse poo. Everything dumped and burned and the inside sprayed out with water and a little touch of bleach (I hate bleach but I'm not eating eggs from that place without a little sanitizing first, know what I mean?). I feel proud to now cover it in wood shavings and chicken poo heehee!

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gardening and pest control

My gardening experiment, phase one, seems to have worked. When I brushed away the cedar chips to plant seeds I found no grubs, and lots of worms. Yay! I now have a long row each of yellow squash, zucchini, cataloupe, watermelon, and radishes. I also planted a sunflower house for the boys. While doing that I excitedly discovered a large patch of sorrel as well.

Operation pest control is complete. Sadly I wound up killing the snake. The repellant proved useless and despite my best efforts to coax it out gently it decided to bite my stick and I decided it needed to meet with the business end of a shovel.
I'm very sad, it's the first thing bigger than a spider I've ever killed. I understand I'll have to kill farm animals if we want meat but this seemed different.

Tomorrow I clean out the rest of the barn, hopefully with no more incident. The guineas come wednesday and my little chickies are all grown up. It's time to move them into their new home!

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy mothers day!

May your kisses be juicy and taste like watermelon!

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I've been dyeing to tell you...

I have two firsts! My first very own raised by me and my own fiber animals yarn. And, my first dye project! I got 106 yards of Princess, slightly over spun for texture. Soaked 3 hours in the crock pot with 1 cup vinegar, 3 cups water, and a pack of generic $0.15 black cherry powdered drink mix. I am amzed how well this works. It was so easy it makes me question the legality of it. The results were totally colorfast and not a bit leached out in the rinsing. Another interesting note- because of the over spin, when I plied it to 53 yards it gave it a tie dyed effect. The twisty parts didn't take the dye.
Results, and orangey red super soft two ply:

Coming soon- the Nougat shawl.

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ah the joy of nature.

I smushed a brown recluse in my garage today. A BIG one. (sorry I didn't take the time to snap a picture of this one!)
I called pest control. I want to take care of our problems as organically as possible but now that there are carpenter bees, wasps, ants, ticks, snakes, AND giant poisonous spiders, I at least need some advice. I'm hoping the chickens will take care of the insect issues and if not I'm investigating guinea hens. The snake definitely needs out.
What I don't want is mass spraying- it is unhealthy and possibly deadly for my animals and all beneficial insects on the lot, pesticides affect me very badly, and frankly with six acres to cover i just don't think we can spray enough to get it all. So, off to find another way.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Coming soon

I love multipurpose animals. My rabbits provide wool, manure, and are ultimately my pets. They have wonderful personalities and are just a joy to be around. My birds are dual purpose, heavy breeds and prolific layers. The barred rocks are my favorite so far and I think I will invest in more of them come spring.
However, my ultimate vision for this farm is to have an ancient rare breed which happens to be the best darn multipurpose beast ever. The Icelandic sheep. They make two types of wool, for three types if yarn. Good milkers and are known for gourmet cheeses. Lean, tasty meat. Economic feeders who will feed themselves all summer on green pasture. Their pelts are thick and great for people with poor circulation. And of course they provide another source of manure.
I've put a payment down on these two fine wethers for wool. I'm hoping to add an ewe very soon as well for milk and breeding.
This little black lamb:

And this sweet big guy (I'm in love with this colorway):

Come July when you pull up into my farm you will be greeted with a resounding: baaaa!
-- Post From My iPhone

New additions

In the interest of trying to find a meat bird for my carnivore five year old we picked up two new chicks hoping at least one is a rooster. (yes I know you can eat hens but I don't want to eat the layers yet!)


And Broiler:

-- Post From My iPhone

Picking up chicks

I wanted to introduce my hens here. They are nearly fully feathered and once I can get rid of the snake they are about ready to hang in the barn.



And Wormeater:

I am almost giddy at the thought of having by own free range brown eggs!
-- Post From My iPhone

Not all wildlife is creepy

I didn't take this picture (if you know who did please help extend credit), but couldn't help sharing this glorious animal that shares my yard. Known as a northern flicker, despite it's preference for ants, is actually a type of woodpecker and is absolutely stunning.

-- Post From My iPhone

Plucking season is over!

And wouldn't be complete without before and after pictures! The French girls look pretty much the same, just lighter, but check out my new satins!
Now first my gorgeous little red guy who we've named Peter went from:

Cute, but a little non descript, to:

I apologize for the blur as he's an active little guy but check out that gorgeous color!

Next my new agouti, Nougat, gave me two full grocery bags of amazing wool.

Now looking a little like a naked mole rat with mukluks on...

Cheer up little guy it will grow back soon!
-- Post From My iPhone

No coop for you!

So I went to clean out my little barn and found...

Nothing like four feet of black snake to keep your chicks in the brooder just a little longer!
-- Post From My iPhone