Week in Review: Dec. 20/15

We’ve been enjoying the extraordinarily mild weather here at The Welcome Homestead and appreciating the lack of frozen water bottles and jugs which makes chores a lot easier. It’s giving the baby chicks a bit more of a running start and the compost piles are still steaming. We are enjoying the green grass but not the flies, which seem to be hanging around longer than normal along with the ladybugs. As we enjoy the warmth we are aware that there may be consequences down the line as farmers depend on a thick layer of snow to insulate the ground and the spring melting of snow to soak the land in preparation of seeding the crops. Deep cold also kills bacteria and viruses so that may also have consequences in the coming year.

We have caught three more rats in the last two weeks and the ground under the coop and turkey shed are laced with tunnels. The turkey shed has large mounds of dirt in it being brought up from the tunnelling operation and the amount of dirt piles indicates that the rats must be about halfway to China by now. The dirt piles have come in handy, though, allowing us to fill in some low spots on the ground and level out the floor of the shed so as they say: lemons into lemonade. Hopefully we can keep the rat population in check although it would be better to eradicate them completely however they can be a real challenge to get rid of once they’re established. We are now starting to protect the feed better by using plastic totes and may enclose the shelf with the feed bags on it in wire mesh from some of the older cages we have lying around here.

The three winter chicks are now two. The smaller yellow one is gone, presumably killed and eaten by the other chickens. It was a bit smaller than the others and looked a bit frail so it might be a case of it simply being the weaker one that didn’t make it. It was fine at chore time Thursday morning but was gone a couple hours later when the water was topped up. It was seen being stepped on by a rooster and while the rooster was shooed away and the chick seemed fine there may have been an unknown injury to it and it may have died. Mama Hen was doing a fine job being feisty and protecting her little charges but if one got significantly weaker or injured it would have been vulnerable to the other birds. The rest of Thursdays chores were done with a heavy heart as we tend to get attached to the beasties around here and it’s always difficult to see Nature take its course in a very harsh way.

We have started feeding the chickens fermented feed, basically soaking scratch grains in water until it starts fermenting. It usually start to show bubbles in the first day and we are feeding it to them on the third day as this has been recommended by several sources as an optimal time in the fermenting process. Fermenting has a few benefits including producing healthy probiotics which are beneficial to the birds digestive system as well as producing some beneficial vitamins and bacteria. It also serves the purpose of softening the outer shell of the grains making them easier to digest and the grains absorb water which helps to keep them hydrated. This should also result in the birds eating less food due to the higher nutrition and easier digestibility and is also supposed to increase the egg production and size of the eggs and yolks. As we just started there is not much in the way of results yet although they are eating a fair bit less pellets after only a week on this feed plan so it is encouraging from that standpoint. Humans have been eating fermented foods for a long time, such as yogurt and sauerkraut which are known to have high levels of probiotics in them. Fermentation has also been used for centuries for preserving food.

Here are the little vultures attacking the fermented feed buffet:

We wish everyone a happy and productive week and a safe and very Merry Christmas!

Peace

Week in Review: Dec. 6/15

It’s been an amazing stretch of weather here on The Welcome Homestead with only a couple of nights in the last week or so dipping down cold enough to freeze the rabbit’s water bottles. Actually, it’s only the ball and tube on the bottles that has frozen, not the entire bottle. Chores are much easier not having to deal with the frozen water and we’re looking forward to this weather lasting as long as possible.

Dawn hatched out three chicks from the original ten eggs. Two mysteriously disappeared during the course of her sitting and two partially hatched but were crushed and died, likely from other hens trying to squeeze in to lay an egg in the nest, despite the fact that there are eight other perfectly good nests basically begging to have eggs deposited in them. Three formed but did not hatch and were laid to rest in Mr. Compost Pile. The three chicks seem to be doing well and are active and learning from Mom how to scratch for food and do chicken stuff. There are two brownish chicks and one yellow one and Momma hen has turned into Momma Bear. She’s aggressively chasing away any other hen who gets too close to the chicks and pecks the crap out of my hand when I reach in to pick the chicks up to check them. She has hatched out two batches of eggs so far this year so her mothering instincts seem to be in full gear. The warmer than usual weather should help her raise the chicks in the coop and they will be starting to grow feathers soon so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Three more rats were caught this week which makes about eight this year so far. It’s the first year with rats here and we’re hoping we can keep up with the population or even get ahead of it but apparently rats are very difficult to get rid of once they’re established. The ground under the chicken coop and feed shed is laced with tunnels and there is evidence of fresh digging most mornings with a fresh pile of dirt here and there. There also looks like there is a tunnel entrance/exit in the rabbit colony so we’re a little concerned about that. We will continue to put out traps and will buy more if necessary and hopefully we can keep from getting over run.

Lucille Bunnyrabbit continues to maintain a lovely deep nest full of fur but no little ones. It’s very disappointing but there are renovations due on the colony so we hope the updated facilities will help her get settled down if we can start working on it now due to the great weather. Future plans may include the purchase of a new doe to introduce some new blood into the mix since we have been “keeping it in the family” since the first rabbits were purchased in Feb. 2008. Fred is the son of Adam, our first buck, so we hope we can continue the lineage down the bucks side of the family and have one of Fred’s sons available for when he reaches The Big Sleep.

Once again, we wish everyone a safe and productive week.

Peace

Week in Review: Nov. 29/15

As November draws to a close and the nights fall below freezing water is becoming more of an issue. Due to the lack of power out in the coops and the colony it’s becoming necessary to replace the water jugs and bottles regularly. The animals drink their fill when the fresh water is put out and usually eat a belly full of feed while they’re at it. The fear of fire is the main reason we don’t run electricity out to the animal housing and the amount of dry straw and shavings that is used for bedding. The chicken coops are directly under some giant evergreens which provide shade and protection from airborne predators in the summer but present a substantial fire hazard. The animals have done fine under the current system with nursing does successfully raising litters in the winter and the chickens having no apparent issues.

The last turkey boarded the bus to Freezer Camp on Wednesday. The turkeys have been a very successful project this year with over 360 lbs net weight of turkey being processed. Next year should prove to be less work and stress due to the infrastructure now being in place and the processing procedure under our belt. There will be a few design improvements incorporated into the system over the winter and the processing area redone in the spring. At this point it’s likely that we will raise a larger number of turkeys next year and keep a better eye on their weights so as to provide a bird in a more acceptable weight range for the table.

Dawn is hatching her eggs now. She started off with ten and there were eight as of a couple days ago. One seemed to have been crushed, likely with another bonehead hen trying to lay eggs in Dawn’s nest. It was partially hatched but did not survive. At last check tonight there were seven eggs left with a couple of breaches and some tiny peeping sounds. Hopefully she will take care of these chicks with the gusto that she has raised the last two batches this year and we hope the weather holds out with the temperatures not dipping too lo for at least a couple of weeks so the chicks ill have a chance to grow some feathers and get stronger. They will likely spend most of their time under their mother so we hope it won’t be a problem.

We passed the 2000 egg mark this week since keeping official records of the egg count in July. Some smaller eggs have started making an appearance in the nests now so the chicks that were hatched in the spring are starting to lay. This is a good thing since some of the regular layers are molting now and they stop laying when they molt. We are down to an average of less than ten a day at the moment but are continuing to keep the solar lights on in the coop until at least nine o’clock to give the birds the illusion of longer days. Some renovations of the coop including relocation of a few of the nest boxes and the addition of new roosts should help sort some things out. The flock has basically doubled in size this summer from the chicks that were hatched in the coop and the incubator. There will be no need to buy new chickens next year, in fact there will likely be more hatched next year so the flock seems to be self-sustaining at this point which is one of the basic steps on the path to self-sufficiency. Now we just have to work on the expensive food issue…

Lucille Bunnyrabbit continues to renovate her fancy nest but still no kits yet. It is built pretty deep with straw and lots of fur so it seems she is expecting something but nothing yet. Fred Bunnyrabbit is still going strong at age seven, the poor guy is molting right now and looks like he has a serious case of bed head all over his body and enjoys a good hard back scratch as he is probably itchy as hell. Some renovations and redesign will be coming for the colony to update and reinforce things and make it easier to measure the food so as to keep an eye on expenses.

Poor Fred looking kind of ratty:

We here at The Welcome Homestead wish everyone a happy and productive week!

Peace

Week in Review: Nov. 22/15

Well, we missed last week’s Week in Review due to web site changeover and actually there wasn’t really anything exciting that happened that week anyway. We hope something exciting happens here every week but the reality is that it doesn’t. It could be a good thing, though, as it could indicate everything is going along without a hitch, however, we prefer some happy excitement!

We’ve now entered the season of frozen water and foggy glasses. Last night was the first night we have had to deal with frozen water bottles, more specifically the ball and tube assembly on the bottle freezes. The chicken water jugs aren’t as vulnerable to cold due to the larger volume of the jug and the greater number of tiny beaks that constantly drink out of them and keep the water stirred up. Of course, under a certain temperature they will freeze solid in a short amount of time so will have to be replaced three or four times a day.

Dawn is still setting on her eggs, down now from ten to eight, likely due to other dummy hens still trying to lay eggs in her nest and stirring things up. Hens have been removed from her nest after being found squeezed in with her while trying to lay their egg. There are eight other nest boxes available but the stubborn birds seem to really like a certain nest box. This completes the second week of setting for her so if we’re lucky we should start to see some chicks sometime next weekend. They will have to be closely monitored and if there is a problem they will have to be brought into the house and raised inside until they are fully feathered. Hopefully Dawn will take good care of them and they will be feathered by the time the dog days of winter set in.

On Monday two more turkeys were processed, 25 and 28 pounds respectively, bringing the total processed weight of the turkeys this year so far to 321 pounds with one big tom left. The turkeys have been very successful this year, more than expected actually, so we hope with better weight monitoring next year they can all be processed at an optimal weight of about 16-18 pounds. That first tom that went on the scales at 44 pounds sure was a real shocker. The meat grinder and vacuum packager worked overtime for a while there and we should be set up for meat until the next batch of birds is processed next year.

Here’s the last man standing. He’ll likely be on the bus to Freezer Camp this week.

Lucille Bunnyrabbit built a beautiful nest, deep in straw and liberally mixed with fur but no popples as of yet. It’s not certain what the problem is as she has had litters of 11 last winter and is still a young doe but we’ll keep going with her for now. It’s been very disheartening to see two nests built in the last couple of months and no kits but it is a part of nature so we just have to go with it. There have been many highs and lows as we continue along our Homesteading path and that contributes to the sense of satisfaction when things seem to work out in the end somehow.

With winter now on us there will be less work outside besides the normal cleaning and maintenance of the colony and coop. The last tom should be processed this week so that will be one less facility to clean out and one less water jug and feed pail. This winter will be one of planning for the spring and deciding what the new project will be for the coming year. We’re hoping for a mild winter this year on The Homestead but there is no real way to know until we wake up each morning and look out the window.

All of the critters at The Welcome Homestead wish everybody a productive and safe week.

Peace

Week in Review; Nov. 8/15

The weather was great this week at The Welcome Homestead, temperatures generally nice and warm which enabled some outside work to get done. Winter predictions have run the gamut from a short, warm winter with little snow to a long, cold, snowy winter due to El Nino. We try to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

One project that has been a long time in coming is the compost screener. This was completed on Tuesday and now allows for the screening of compost to ensure a consistent product and remove any bones and unfinished material. The beautiful black compost that is the end result is amazing and fluffy and is easy to spread out on the gardens. A couple of screws and small pieces of metal were also removed in the screening process so there is a bit of a safety aspect to it too. Oh, we’re also keeping an eye out for a paddle for the bread maker that a certain Grumpy Truck Driver left in a loaf of bread that ended up in the compost so we can use the bread maker again.

Another project that got underway was the pop can solar collector. It was finished and installed on Friday. Saturday was partly cloudy so a test wasn’t able to be completed but Sunday was mostly sunny so a test was done for part of the day but the results were inconclusive. It was constructed quickly and poorly so some more work needs to be done to seal it better. This will likely be covered in it’s own post at a later date.

A couple more worm bins were harvested and new bins started with the worms that resulted. Due to a couple of years of neglect by the above mentioned Grumpy Truck Driver the worms are mostly small and unhealthy but when introduced to a properly maintained bin with fresh food and bedding they should grow into large, mostly pink healthy worms.  Worm compost is a very healthy addition to any soil and can also be made into a tea to spray on the plants to add beneficial bacteria and nutrients.

Fred and Lucille Bunnyrabbit still haven’t had a litter yet but we’re keeping our fingers crossed. There is a black doe out there, Lucille’s sister who had the chewed up litters that we might give another chance to, since discovering the rats here this summer may have absolved her of the blame for the chewed up kits.

Dawn has gone broody again for the third time this year. After taking eggs out from under her for the last two weeks and having to put up with a cranky hen it was decided to give her some eggs and see what happens. She is now sitting on about eight eggs and appears to be a lot happier. It’s very late in the season for the hens to be hatching chicks out in the coop but if the temperatures continue to be mild it may help. It will be interesting to see if her behavior toward the chicks would be any different in the colder weather and if she pays more attention to keeping them warm. It’s quite possible that we could have chicks in the house over the winter however we’re curious to find out about hatching chicks in the winter and hoping it will work out.

Three turkeys are still left out there but we’re almost finished our last bag of feed so they will be gone soon. Freezer space was made this week so they will fit in there if necessary. We are currently at 268 pounds of turkey processed from the nine birds done so far with three to go.

There are two young roosters that will be invited for dinner soon along with a hen that has a leg injury. It looked like it was getting better and, from a quick examination, didn’t appear to be broken but she can’t seem to put any weight on it at the moment so it’s best if she gets the dinner invitation too. One very small egg was collected on Saturday so the hens that were hatched in the Spring appear to be starting to lay which is a good thing as a lot of them are molting now and hens usually stop laying when they molt.

We wish everyone a safe and productive week.

Peace

Week in Review: Nov 1/15

The autumn winds are blowing now and most of the leaves are gone, the naked trees pointing their bony fingers to the sky as if they’re flipping off the coming winter. The chipmunks are busy scurrying around gathering their winter stores and sternly scolding anyone or anything that gets in their way. The hedge along the back of the property is temporary home to a flock of birds gathering for the trip south and feasting greedily on the chicken feed whenever I turn my back. The sun seems tired, it’s daily travels lower in the sky as if it doesn’t have the energy to climb higher than that. The evenings are longer and the shadows reach and stretch across the countryside, ushering in the night with long ghostly arms. The weather is supposed to be good this coming week, possibly record warmth according to the weather guy on TV but we all know winter is just around the corner.

The Welcome Homestead is doing our best to prepare for winter. The gas cans were filled this week so the snow blower will have enough to drink until spring. The winter straw has been brought in and tucked away in the straw bunker so the rabbits will have snug warm bedding to get them through the winter blast.

Firewood is piled neatly and ready for the winter bonfires. The garden hoses will have to have the water drained out of them, be coiled up and stored away for the winter. The grass was cut for the final time and the lawn mower and the snow blower traded spots in the shed for the season, the mower having worked hard all summer and quite deserving of a rest.

The Welcome Homestead joined Twitter this past week and is working hard to catch up to the 21st century’s technology. It’s a big learning curve because the Grumpy Truck Driver is not a technological whiz and each new phase is a big learning step but we’re getting through it with some help from our friends and family.

Thirty pounds of turkey breast was processed on Wednesday, 23 pounds was ground and 7 pounds was cubed, all were vacuum packed in one pound lots and frozen. This is in addition to the turkey legs, wings and necks that were vacuumed packed and frozen. All of it was all from the two tom turkeys that were processed on Sunday. There are three birds left, one tom and two hens, who will all likely be boarding the bus to Freezer Camp this week. We are on our last bag of turkey feed and the weather will be getting pretty freezy soon so it’s perfect timing to wrap it all up. We have enjoyed the turkeys this year and are looking forward to doing it all again next year. The infrastructure is already in place and there is a year of knowledge behind us now so hopefully it will make next year easier and even more enjoyable.

Fred and Lucille Rabbit still haven’t produced a litter going on a couple of months now. The rabbits have not been getting the attention they should have this year due to the due to the goings on with the turkeys and having a busy year with the chickens. There are a few things to mull over this winter and the rabbit housing is one of them. There may have to be additional housing built to accommodate the grow out time of the litters so the does can have a new litter in peace. All in all it was a busy summer and we’re fairly satisfied with the progress that has been made here and looking forward to more growth next summer.

Everyone have a safe and productive week.

Peace

Week in Review: Oct 25/15

As fall gets colder and Winter waits impatiently around the corner The Welcome Homestead is well into preparations for Winter’s arrival. The gardens were all cleared out this past week and all the plants were put into the compost bins. The final carrots and beets were pulled out of the ground, the sunflower stalks were dug out and piled on top of the compost bins for drying which will make it easier to cut into pieces for composting. This coming week the compost from the finished bins will be spread out on the gardens in preparation for the Spring planting.

Andre and the other remaining two chicks were put out into the coop this week so there are no more chicks in the basement. They were a little young to be introduced to the flock but there are quite a few younger birds out there and they seem to be doing ok so they should eventually be able to find their place in the flock and be fine. One hen was found dead in the nest box, cause of death unknown, but it happens from time to time so she is now resting comfortably in the compost which is the final resting place for anything organic here.

Three turkeys were processed here this week and the butcher weight greatly passed our expectations. The final processed weight of the three were 44, 41 and 44 pounds respectively. The legs on these turkeysauruses weighed about 5 lbs 10 oz and each breast weighed about eight pounds. Most of the meat on these big birds will be ground or cut into small steaks and frozen. There easily should be enough meat to last the rest of the year until next year’s turkeys are processed. The turkey project was very successful and we look forward to doing it all over again next year.

Egg production has fallen as anticipated but a little lower than expected. It has fallen quickly in the last couple of weeks from a high of around 19 a day at the beginning of August to an average of 12 a day currently. There were only nine eggs gathered on Thursday. Shorter days and lower temperatures will affect a laying hen as Nature determines it’s not very wise to hatch and raise a chick in the harsh effects of Winter. The lights in the chicken coop are currently being left on until about 9pm to give the chickens the illusion of longer daylight but whether they are buying it doesn’t seem likely in light of the drop in egg production. There has been an influx of young chicks into the flock so that might have something to do with it. We pretty much doubled the flock here at The Homestead this summer with nearly 20 chicks hatched between the laying hens and the incubator. It was a bonus when the eggs from the refrigerator hatched although only seven out of 36 hatched, which is to be expected. A few of the new chicks are roosters so they will be invited for dinner at some point which will reduce the flock a little. Currently they are eating like food will go out of style tomorrow so a reduction in mouths to feed will be a good thing.

We wish peace and prosperity to all and hope everyone has a good week!

Peace

Week in Review Oct 18/15

It wasn’t an overly exciting week at The Welcome Homestead but with Summer winding down and Autumn taking over there is a lot of work to do to prepare for winter’s coming wrath. There have been many conflicting forecasts for this winter due to an extra powerful El Niño and the forecasters seem to be at a loss as to which way the weather will go. Forecasts range from a long, cold, snowy winter to a short, warm winter as predicted within the last couple of days. The Homestead would, of course, prefer the latter which would make the Grumpy Truck Driver’s chores a lot easier but we would be prudent to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

Today the air conditioners were removed from the windows and the storm windows installed. The yard was cleaned up and water barrels emptied so the valves won’t freeze. The outside water tap was closed from the inside and the outside valve left open so the tap outside would not have water in it. Garden hoses will have to be blown out to make sure they’re clear and the gas cans filled so there is fuel for the snow blower.

Pidgey was put into the coop on Thursday, along with the seven chicks who were hatched from the refrigerated eggs and the chick that was found with it’s head caught between a nest box and the side of the coop who, happily, made a full recovery and seems fine. They have been having a terribly hard time of it since then which seems to be standard procedure when introducing new birds to an established flock. After a few days they will sort it all out and, aside from some constant pecking reminders, will have found their place in the coop. It’s called a pecking order for a reason! The first night some of the younger chicks had to be retrieved from under the coop and put inside but the last two nights all were inside by dark so that relieves the Grumpy Truck Driver from crawling about in the chicken poo under the coop. This leaves Andre and two other chicks in the basement for another couple of weeks until they’re a bit bigger and then it’s their turn to run the gauntlet as their initiation into the flock. Here’s Pidgey looking kind of forlorn on the INSIDE of the fence:

RATS! Yup, still catching them. Rat number seven was caught this week in the feed shed. This is the first year since moving here 11 years ago that rats have been part of the equation and that’s not a good thing. From all accounts they are difficult to completely eradicate so some more intense effort may have to be made to take care of the problem. Maybe a doggie would be part of some future plan.

The rabbits are not behaving like… well, rabbits. Lucille started off with back to back litters of 11 last Spring, then another litter of 11 of which only five survived due to her apparent negligence in the first couple of days then a few weeks ago she had a litter of three of which two survived, the runt only lasting a couple of days. Last week she was due for another, pulled fur and built a nest but no babies. Fingers crossed and hoping something will happen in the next few weeks or other plans may have to be made. There is still a black doe available but hasn’t been bred due to her having chewed up babies but, with the addition of the rats the possibility is that it was the rats that chewed the babies and not her. She may yet get another chance.

We wish everyone a safe and happy week and hope everyone can get out to watch the Fall colours explode in their fiery glory as Nature prepares the land for the sleep of Winter. The days get shorter as the shadows lengthen, gripping the countryside with their long dark fingers and the trees lay a colourful leafy blanket on the ground in preparation for Winter’s snowy comforter. The land will rest from a busy summer bringing forth Nature’s bounty and wake again in the Spring, refreshed and ready to give life to the land once again.

Peace

Week in Review: Oct 12/15

This Week in Review is late due to the amazing Thanksgiving turkey dinner last night which, by all accounts, was a raging success. It was described many times as the best turkey dinner we’ve ever had and it absolutely was delicious. The turkey was brined in salt water for 12 hours and the breast meat turned out to be very moist and tender. Turkeys are definitely in the plans again for next year! There are still six out back waiting to board the bus to Freezer Camp and will likely be done before the snow hits.

We passed the 1500 egg mark since keeping official records on July 10. Egg production is starting to vary wildly these days, from a peak of around 17-18 eggs a day back in July to anywhere from 10-16 eggs a day now in October, not unexpected with the shorter days and colder temperatures. There is one hen that went broody more than three weeks ago who still insists on sitting in an empty nest. She changes from one of two nests that are side by side, likely if there are eggs laid in that particular nest, but any eggs she happens to be sitting on are taken out from under her. It’s a bit late in the year to be hatching chicks out in the coop as they would still be very small when the snow and freezing temperatures hit. Hopefully her broodiness will break at some point or more drastic steps will have to be taken.

Rats are new to The Homestead this year, not the kind that are raised inside and make good pets but the wild ones that live outside and apparently have the feed shed under siege. This is not a good development as rats can carry disease and will eat baby rabbits and likely eggs and small chicks, not to mention the mess they’re making with the torn open feed bags. Rat traps are used here, exactly the same as the snap mouse traps but about three times the size. They also catch the odd unlucky chipmunk that happens to have the misfortune to wander into the shed. Chipmunks are generally welcome here but we can’t have them getting into the feed. There are plans in the future to secure all the feed in bins instead of the bags and maybe build a cage wire protection area for them so the traps may not be necessary but, for the time being, traps will have to be the way to go. At that point live traps may be used so there is a choice about which critters to release or destroy. It’s always a disappointment to see a chipmunk in the trap but quite satisfying when another rat is eliminated.

We had a large mountain ash tree fall on Wednesday, it fell over the north fence and into the field which, fortunately, already had the crop of soybeans harvested a couple of days before. It’s not the best wood in the world but it will be cut up and stacked and will make great wood for the fire pit out back next year.

All the animals are doing fine although the rabbits seem to be having difficulty breeding. Lucille built what looked like the beginnings of a nest, pulling some fur and digging out a hollow in the straw inside a nest box but no kits next. It’s quite puzzling because she started off with two litters of 11 back in the winter, followed by one of nine and then a litter of three of which only two survived. Hopefully she can get back into solid production soon.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Week in Review: Oct 4/15

Well, I suppose that since this is the very first Week in Review for The Homestead we’ll have to go back a bit. This was a pretty good summer for the chickens. There were about 19 chicks hatched in the coop of which four had to be raised in the house. In addition to that seven were hatched in the incubator from spare eggs that had been in the fridge far a couple of weeks. There were 36 eggs put in the incubator with the expectation that perhaps none would hatch but if some did the hatch rate would be very low. These were eggs that would have been scrambled and fed to the birds anyway so there was no loss if none hatched. Those that didn’t germinate at all would be scrambled and fed to the birds anyway and those that germinated but did not hatch would go in the compost.
Pidgey is starting to turn into a chicken. It’s looking more like it’s a hen so it will now be referred to as “she”.

We reached that 1000 egg mark on September 5 after starting to keep official track of them on July 10. The hens have been laying well this summer although the numbers have dropped off a bit lately which is to be expected with the shorter days and cooler temperatures.
The rabbits have tailed off production this year for some reason. Fred and Lucille started off running with back to back litters of 11, then one of 9 followed by one litter of three, one of which didn’t make it. Hopefully she has a litter pending. Fred turned seven years old in August and looking a little tired lately but is getting around fine and still siring litters.
The turkeys have done well and grown past expectation. The weights will have to be monitored closer next year as the hens have a processed weight of 24-28 lbs. The tom’s weight is anybody’s guess at the moment as none have been processed yet. The turkey flock this year ended up with four toms and eight hens. Luck of the draw.
This week was a bit of a down week with the discovery of a chick with wry neck. It was put on strict chick feed and vitamin E was put in it’s water but there was no improvement and the decision was made Saturday to put it down. Later on Saturday a chick was found with it’s head wedged in between a nestbox and the side of the coop. It was a sibling of the chick with wry neck and it was in rough shape, very little movement and weak peeps. It was brought inside and took a little water from an eye dropper but looked pretty bad with it’s head drooping down. It was more alert in the morning and ate a bit of food but seemed to have a bit of trouble getting it down. It’s possible there may be some neck damage but we’ll keep an eye on it. Currently it is standing, alert and somewhat feisty and resides with the chicks from the refrigerated eggs who are still in the basement and roughly the same age.
The compost bins have all been turned over this week and there are now three empty for the winter. At least two bins are needed to take the waste from the rabbits and chickens as the full bins freeze rock solid and can’t be turned. The final bin is full to the top with some beautiful black compost that will be spread on the garden once the garden is cleared out for the winter.
As for the garden itself, it was more or less a bust this year. The tomatoes got blight again this year and the corn wasn’t very sweet. The sunflowers grow far past expectation, reaching eight or nine feet tall. The heads are currently in the house drying and we’ll see what the final amount of seeds we get. Plans are in the works to plant a lot more sunflowers next year.
Well, onward and upward. Hope everyone has a good week coming up.