KW Homestead

Emma & Jason's pasture raised poultry, homesteading thoughts, and wild adventures.

Month: February 2015 (page 1 of 2)

Wind and Winter Weather: Repairs and Shocks!

This has been an intense winter, as many of you know from first-hand experience!

We’ve had to make a few fence repairs from the wind, and “pick up the pieces” after winter storms came through and dropped inches of snow.

Here’s our adventure in picture form:

A few weeks ago we had a wind storm that blew gusts around 50 or 60 miles per hour. We never, in our wildest dreams, would have thought that the chicken fence would act like a sail and fold up onto itself like a fan:

fence

Where’d the square-shaped fence go?

fence

An airborne fence? Whoa!

Stupidly, for the most recent winter storm we didn’t prepare for a power outage at all. We over-prepared (is there really such a thing?) for the one before this last one, but not for this one!

Since we get our water from a well, our water doesn’t work when the power doesn’t. We utterly forgot to worry about this, and so when we woke up yesterday to find that our power was out, we realized that we had to find a way to get water for our ducks to drink. We decided that melting snow next to the wood stove was the best bet…

snow

Jason scooping snow into “the bathtub” to put by the wood stove.

And we also forgot to remove the netting from the chicken pen to keep the snow from sticking to it…

snow

The netting became so heavy with snow that it deformed the fence!

Luckily none of the netting ripped!

snow

Yes, that’s a blanket of snow on top of our bird netting!

Even after all the cleanup and repairs we had to do, it still is lovely to have a blanket of snow on the ground. I’m still not sick of winter yet, not when we have views like this…

snow

snow

And of course, the geese were not phased by the situation at all and continued to bathe throughout the freezing temperatures!

geese

geese

They don’t look quite as white as they used to, do they?

.:.

 

Duck Nipple Waterers

One major difference between raising ducklings and raising chicks is their water preferences. Ducks drink a lot of water, way more than chickens, and they love to splash, play around, and make a mess.

We manage our ducklings water use by allowing them limited bath time in deeper water to play and clean themselves, and with “nipple” waterers for drinking. These are the same devices we used for our last batch of chickens, and they work just as well for ducks.

duck nipple water

They are kind of shy.

One addition that we put in place for the ducks is a raised platform that’s covered in 1/2 inch hardware cloth. Under this platform is a drip pan to catch the water that our messy ducklings still manage to waste. This keeps their entire area drier which helps with odors, and means less changing of bedding.

 

duck nipples

The hardware cloth lets any wasted water fall through to the drip pan.

 

We are already brainstorming an expanded version of this system for when we increase our flock size and use an old outbuilding as our new brood house/farrowing pen.

For now though, we dump the pan of water about once a day, and swap out waterers whenever they are empty. Next up, a protected outdoor brooder where we can acclimatize these guys to outside life! We want to get them out there much quicker than the chickens!

*Don’t forget to pre-order your GMO-Free Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving!

Chicks (Now Teenage Chickens) Enter the Real World!

Last weekend we finally felt comfortable enough with the weather to kick the teenager chickens out of the house and make them grow up!!!

We have an empty nest now! Except, not really because we have the new ducklings to take care of!

Anyway, we decided to put the female teenagers in with the adult standards and add the bantams in with them. The teenage boys are in the old bantam tractor and Gimpsy gets to live in his own cage in the carport (except during cold weather).

Getting them out of their basement home was simple since they are so used to me picking them up and petting them.

chickens

Teenage boys waiting in the cage to be moved to the bantam tractor.

The boys have adjusted just fine in their tractor (likely because they don’t have any other chickens picking on them).

The girls… Not so much.

chickens

Some teenage girls trying to find their way in their new home.

When we first put them in the yard with the other chickens, they acted catatonic and really confused about life. Since that day, most of them are more well-adjusted. Others still run from all other contact with chickens and hide in the corner of the fence or the house. We think that given time, all of the teenage girls will integrate just fine with the rest of the flock (i.e. their mothers and father).

Gimpsy is doing fine in his cage, and has become more vocal since feeling like he is the king of his castle (that is, except when Bolt sticks his big, ugly mug up next to his cage).

chicken

King of his castle!

More updates to come!

.:.

“On The Anatomy of Thrift”: An Inspirational Video Series from the Farmstead Meatsmith

I want to share some amazing videos that Emma and I watched the other night. It’s a mini web series from the Farmstead Meatsmith, an artisanal butcher shop that focuses on the long lost traditions of home butchery, charcuterie and real food.

On the Anatomy of Thrift is a collection of 3 informational yet inspirational videos on pork butchery. It covers (and shows in detail) every part of a hog harvest, from killing to cooking. Brandon Sheard, the farmstead meatsmith, takes the viewer on a mesmerizing trip with stops at evisceration, cooking offal (the perishable organs like hearts, livers, lungs and kidneys), identifying and parting out specific cuts, making old fashioned delicacies (pate, blood sausage, and rilletes), and preserving pork flesh by curing hams and making bacon.

If you, like me, have carnivorous tendencies (and aren’t too squeamish) than I highly suggest you check out these videos. They really are stunning. The production is great, and Brandon’s passion is extremely contagious. Emma and I immediately started day dreaming about making bacon, prosciutto, lard and pate from our future pig production.

I can assure you that we will take Brandon’s techniques and philosophies to heart, and utilize every part of every pig we butcher. To do anything else would be a disservice to the animal, a waste.

*Don’t forget to pre-order your GMO Free Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving!

Bath Time!

Our new Khaki Campbell Ducklings sure love water! They have been drinking so much that it’s been hard to keep up. Ducklings need more water than chicks and turkey poults, for both drinking and for bathing. It’s important that they be able to “duck” their heads in the water to stay clean and healthy.

One problem here is that this makes a big mess in their brooder with all the splashing and playing that accompanies their impromptu bath times with their drinking water.

Our solution is to give them plenty of drinking water in the brooder with “nipple waterers”, which limit spillage, but then provide them with a separate bath time outside the brooder.

This should keep the brooder cleaner and dryer, but also make sure our future duck egg layers are healthy and clean. Bathing for them is not only hygienic, but the water also stimulates the oil production that will eventually lead to their “waterproofness”.

It’s also quite adorable and fun to watch!

*Don’t forget to pre-order your GMO Free Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving!

A Big Pig, Turkey, Duck, and Chicken Update!

This year we’re hitting the ground running with a lot of new ideas and plans being put into action!

Pigs

You might have already read about our new potbellied pigs and their new weather-proofed pen! Here is the lowdown on our pigs: We have…

  • One adult male who is about 3 years old. His name is Gandalf and he is our breeding male. He still has his tusks, which makes him more dangerous than the other adults. Even though he is generally friendly (his old owner told us that Gandalf thinks he is a dog), he can still push up against you or rub up against you affectionately with his face and hurt you. We have to be sure that when we are near him, we wear thick pants and gloves.
  • Two adult females who are about 2 1/2 years old. They are sisters and we haven’t named them yet. They look very similar but one has yellow at the end of her tail and the other does not. We’re just calling them The Sisters for now. They are less interested in human contact than Gandalf is but are not unfriendly. They just have not been socialized as much as Gandalf, but I have noticed that they have become more interested in us when we come over to their pen.
  • Four piglets. Three of them are from one litter and are 2 1/2 months old and the fourth one is from another litter and is 1 1/2 months old. Half are males and half are females.

Our long-term plans for the pigs are to keep the breeding trio as just that, and to allow each mother to have 2 litters per year. Their litters will be humanely harvested as meat once they have grown up.

Turkeys

You might have read our most recent post about beginning our turkey operation and raising birds for this year’s Thanksgiving!

We just ordered our turkeys the other day: 50 Bourbon Red Heritage Turkeys and 20  Heritage Turkeys that will be a mix-and-match of 6 heritage breeds. We plan to keep a couple  breeding groups so we can hatch our own eggs in subsequent years. We also plan to eat many of them ourselves! Yum!

poult

A baby turkey (called a poult).

Ducks

Around the time that we get our baby turkeys in April, we will also be getting some ducks to start a laying operation. We haven’t ordered these guys yet, but it looks like we’re going to be getting Cayuga ducks which are a beautiful black/green color, lay gray or even black eggs, and are very personable. We’ll also be getting another breed as well, to be determined.

duck

A beautiful cayuga duck! We can’t wait for those gray eggs!

Chickens

Since the winter weather has shut down a lot of our outside chores except for feeding and watering the animals, some of our ideas and projects have shut down too. For example, the chicken tractor that we began building a few weeks ago is covered in snow right now and still incomplete. Since our chickens have gotten even larger since we began the chicken tractor, we realized that we can simply add them to the adult flock in a few days once the weather gets a bit warmer. The bantams will leave their bantam tractor and live with the standards for a while, and the younger female chickens will leave their basement home and join the others. The tractor can then house the younger male chickens until we butcher them (leaving one barred rock and one hybrid male for breeding).

And, in three more months the new hens should start laying eggs, adding to how many eggs we’ll get!

.:.

Heritage Turkeys for Thanksgiving 2015

The information below was last updated February 2015. If you are interested in ordering a Heritage Thanksgiving Turkey for this year’s Thanksgiving, please refer to our Heritage Turkeys page for more up-to-date information!

What? Thanksgiving turkeys? There’s snow outside!

I know, I know, but Spring is coming and we at Kuska Wiñasun Homestead are going to be raising pastured, GMO free, heritage turkeys this year. We are in the planning stages right now, and in order to more accurately prepare for next Thanksgiving we want to gauge your interest in ordering your family’s turkey from our small farmstead in North Carolina’s Triad.

heritage turkey pasture

This could be your Thanksgiving turkey!

 

These birds will be raised OUTSIDE, on pasture, where they will act like turkeys, forage and eat insects, acorns and non-GMO grains. They will breath fresh air, drink fresh water, and live a happy life free of antibiotics and hormones. They will be humanely harvested, with dignity, and will make a one of kind centerpiece on your Thanksgiving table.

Heritage turkeys are different than your typical turkey from the supermarket. They have more dark meat, more flavor, and take longer to grow. They are not bland, but instead have a rich flavor more like their wild ancestors than like chicken.

We expect to have birds available weighing 8-16 lbs. in November.

heritage turkeys 2015

Reserve your Heritage Turkey Today!

Ordering Information

If you would like to reserve your turkey now, which is recommended, email us at ourochreway@gmail.com and let us know!!!

If you reserve now, there will be a $15 deposit. This locks in the price of your bird at $4.99/lb. The rest is due when you pick up your turkey in November.

For example: You reserve a turkey for $15. You then pick up your 10 pound turkey. 10 lb. @ $ 4.99/lb = $49.99. $49.99 – $15 = $34.99 due at pickup.

If there are any turkeys available in November that have not been reserved, we will sell them at $6-$8/lb. By ordering and reserving your turkey in advance, you not only help us order the correct number of birds, but you experience significant savings as well!

Think of it like a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), only with turkeys. A CST… Community Supported Turkeys!

You will be able to pick up your turkey in Greensboro, at times and places to be determined, or at our homestead in Stokes County, by appointment.

If you have any questions, feel free to send an email to ourochreway@gmail.com, or better yet, leave a comment if you think your question might be relevant to other people.

Soon we will be setting up an email list specifically for Thanksgiving turkey orders. This email list will allow you to keep tabs on your turkey through updates and pictures!

We will also be updating you soon via our website and facebook.

 

Pigs in a Blanket (and Hay)!

Yesterday and today have been pig-filled days… Tonight we ate pigs-in-a-blanket while watching an awesome video about butchering pigs, but not until after we finished creating the wind-and-snow-proof, new pig hideaway. Our original fence was working just fine for mild weather, but we knew that we need something a lot sturdier and weather proof considering the incoming 6+ inches of snow!

The side of the shelter

The side of the shelter. Old doors we found in the barn are lashed down for sturdy wind breaks… Emma’s idea! The 2 perpendicular sides of the shelter are situated like this.

The 3rd side of their shelter... A partial cattle panel with a tarp wrapped around it for blocking the wind.

The 3rd side of their shelter… A partial cattle panel with a tarp wrapped around it for blocking the wind. This side runs diagonally across one corner of their pen… This was Jason’s idea!

The one small opening they have for getting in and out… This minimizes the wind and snow that can fly in!

Hello pigs!!!

pigs

Looking in at the pigs from a little peep hole in the opposite corner from their entrance… We’ve stuffed it with hay so they can fully bury themselves if desired (since they love this so much!).

Pigs in the hay! Stay warm tonight!

.:.

 

 

 

 

 

Pigs!

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the newest members of Kuska Wiñasun Homestead! The Pigs!

pot bellied pigs homestead

New Pigs on the homestead

This weekend we jumped on an offer to buy a breeding trio of Asian Heritage Hogs (aka Pot Bellied Pigs) and 4 piglets. The two beautiful ladies above are sisters, and they are mated to Gandalf. According to their previous owner they are proficient procreaters and have been successful at raising litters of 7-11 piglets multiple times per year.

Now, we were so excited to get these guys that we kind of underestimated what it took to load, transport and unload a passel of pigs. Our original plan was to load the big guys into our small trailer, and the little guys in the back of our pickup. Well, to keep a long story short, all hell broke lose.

At first, we tried to guide/cajole the pigs up a ramp and into the trailer. This resulted in all of the pigs escaping as they barreled through walls, and over and under the makeshift fences we tried to use as chutes.

So then after about 20 minutes of chasing down pigs, we tried again. The idea this time was to manhandle the sisters into the trailer by grabbing their back legs and walking them up wheelbarrow style.

Yeah, that didn’t work either. Instead, we were treated to the loudest most horrifying squeals of bloody-pig-murder, and when we finally got 1 onto the trailer, she immediately barreled through our lame attempts to keep her there, and again, we had to chase pigs.

I don’t know how we finally got them on the trailer. But we did. The two girls that is. Gandalf, tusks and all, was still waiting. We decided not to risk letting the other ladies out and opted to load Gandalf into the back of our enclosed pickup truck.

Yet again, we concocted a plan that involved ramps, chutes, and makeshift walls out of plywood, pallets, and bales of straw. For some reason we thought that if we let him out near the back of truck we could use wooden shields to guide him up the ramp and into the back of the truck. Ha.

This turned out to be a pretty exhilarating 5 minutes of life. I feel like I combined my years playing shortstop, with some unbeknownst to me skill as a rodeo clown, to somewhat successfully not get gored and block Gandalf’s attempted escapes. But escape he did, and after another round of chasing pigs, we eventually pinned him down, grabbed him by the legs and flipped him into the truck like a sack of potatoes.

3 down, 4 to go.

Again, not wanting to risk any escapes, we decided to transport the piglets in the back of our SUV. The plan was to catch them, one at a time, and carry them to the car to be loaded through the hatchback window. I’m sure you can guess how this turned out.

Squeals of bloody-pig-murder and chasing escaped pigs? You betcha!

permaculture pot bellied pigs

Pigs on a blanket

We finally got them all, and after 1 hurdled over the back seat and almost got loose, we headed home, all 7 pigs in tow.

We got home fine, set up a temporary pig house made out of cattle panels and chicken wire, and successfully unloaded all of the pigs with a shade less hilarity and emotion.

pot belly pigs homestead

Gandalf and his buddies

They are currently enjoying a nice patch of yard where they are helping to eradicate some poison oak and happily munching on acorns, old apples, and cull sweet potatoes while they plot their escape.

 

 

First Planting of 2015!

We’re really excited to have finally planted our first crops for the new year!

They have a temporary, cozy home… Set up in our guest bedroom with the chicks’ old heat lamp pointing at them, willing them into existence through the warmth and wetness that is their damp, soil filled tray! So poetic (can you tell we’re excited?)!

heat lamp

Our two trays of cabbage varieties, basking in the warmth!

The first crops we’ve planted are both cabbages! Sauerkraut is not only one of our most favorite side dishes, is also super good for your body. Filled with plenty of healthy bacteria that promotes your digestive and intestinal health, it’s a “medicine” worth having around during all time of the year (especially during hot dog season).

We decide to great started right on time this year, since last year we waited too long to get some of our crops started. Planted a few days ago, the seeds have not yet sprouted, but it’s just a matter of time! We’ll allow them to grow in the their trays until they get a few leaves and/or until we think the threat of freezing has passes. Cabbage can take some chilly temperatures, but we want to be sure they grow up into large and delicious (multiple) cabbage heads!

The two varieties that we’ve planted are the Early Jersey and the Golden Acre. We’ll keep you posted about when these great varieties finally sprout!

.:.

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