KW Homestead

Pasture Raised Poultry from Our Family to Yours

Month: April 2015

Meet the Baby Turkeys!

We recorded this video today… The turkeys are doing very well and are the friendliest birds that we’ve ever had! They even try to follow you out of their pen!

Check it out…

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Turning the Shed Into Our New Broodhouse (Upstairs)

Finishing up the upstairs portion of the shed was much less time consuming than predator-proofing the structure and completing the downstairs. I was able to finish this up by myself, which was nice because the drill gun and I got some time to ourselves!

The first thing I did was frame in the area that was going to be the gate inside the upstairs. I did this with old lumber we had lying around and some old tobacco sticks that we found while cleaning out the shed!

wire

Framing and adding wire.

Then I tacked chicken wire on the outside of the frame, essentially walling in the upstairs so the turkeys won’t fall off the ledge!

Then I climbed on up there and used 1 foot chicken wire to cover the gaps in the wooden walls. We decided to do this so that no baby turkeys could climb up on the ledge between the wood and get stuck.

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The last (and most fun) thing that I did was make the gate/door out of a cut-up cattle panel that I wrapped in chicken wire.

gate

A gate, what fun!

I made sure that all overlapping wire was tight or woven together, just to be sure that the babies don’t fall through of get stuck.

What a successful day!

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Fixing Up the Chicken House!

It felt wonderful last week to have more time to devote to my homestead to-do list, and I felt super productive!

One of the things that I had been meaning to do for a long time, was fix up some things in the chicken house.  The chicken netting floor was caving in and holes were forming that were big enough for bantams to escape and potential predators to get in (altough none had yet), the walls of the nest boxes were caving in, and the roost bars were sliding around and making 3 roost bars bunch up into 2.

caving

The caving floor of the house.

 

holes

Lots of holes!

I decided to start with the floor. After some brainstorming I realized that it would be too hard to replace the netting on the floor since when Jason and my dad made it, they had the entire coop upside down so they could get to the best spots to drill. Instead I opted for a removable frame that fit the dimensions of the floor perfectly but had extra support so that when the chickens walked on it, it didn’t cave in so badly.

I was lucky that the dimensions of the floor frame would allow it to fit in and out of the door to the house perfectly (with a little squeezing).

I made a frame outside of the house and attached chicken wire to it, using washers and screws to grab the holey netting better.

floor

The new floor!

Then I fit in the floor!

floor

A perfect fit!

Next I rescrewed the walls of the nest boxes into the base so that  the. Hens wouldn’t knock them over and replaced those and added straw.

Last, I cut some tobacco sticks into short spaces to place between the roout bars so they wouldn’t slide towards each other. This will really help the teenagers learn to roost! Since there wasn’t room up there for them before, they were sleepin on top of the nest boxes. Now they should learn how to sleep like a real chicken!

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Turning the Shed Into Our New Broodhouse (Downstairs)

A few weeks ago, Jason and I were really excited to complete the first big step in getting our old, junk-filled shed emptied out and fixed up for our ducklings and our turkey poults.  Before we were able to start the construction on our grand idea, we enlisted the help of my dad so we could clean out the shed and get all of the crazy junk moved out!

After all of the heavy lifting, sweeping, and cleaning we finally had an empty shed made from old- fashioned pine poles and aluminum siding.

When we peeled the old, stained cardboardish material from the inside of the walls, we found a squirrel’s nest, with 2 babies inside. The mother ran just as I peeled off the cardboard that covered her nest, and darted out of a hole in the roof. We decided to ignore the nest while we worked and to leave it intact, and sure enough, the mother came back overnight and relocated her family.

Baby squirrels!

Baby squirrels!

Once the squirrel family moved out, we could start on our construction. We used 2 heavy, pine poles that were made to fit the shed as supports, and added 6 of the  10 foot x 10 inch boards that we covered in cloth and used as seats for our wedding. On top of these supports, we layed down heavy plywood and a couple other miscellaneous pieces of wood to make sure the floor would be solid.

pine poles

Pine pole supports!

 

boards

Emma removing fabric from the boards.

 

boards

The boards go on the pine poles…

 

The second story!

 

2nd story

The second story!

 

boards

A view from below!

A view from below!

This created a second story in the shed, about 4 feet high, that will be the turkey loft!

More about the downstairs and about predator-proofing the shed…

Jason attached pieces of hardware cloth to the natural openings near the top of the building, so they could still provide ventilation and light, but so that no racoons or oppossoms could get in. This took a really long time and lots of energy!

fixing

Jason attaches hardware cloth.

While he did this, I patched holes or gaps in the floor, sometimes with skinny tobacco sticks and sometimes with hardware cloth.

 

 

I also made the gate that would keep the ducks from having the entire downstairs area for themselves. The gate blocks off one half of the front, walk-in space so that we can store feed there and have access to the turkey space above.

gate

The duck-free space beyond!

patching

Patching holes.

We used the old, cardboardish material to line the floor and on top of that we put a layer of plastic with “skirts” that ran up the walls to protect the wood from duck poop. A third layer was added: more plastic! This way we can be more certain that the duck poop and bedding will be easy to drag out and clean!

plastic

Adding plastic “skirts.”

 

plastic

Dodger helps with the last layer of plastic.

 

straw

One must duck in the house!

When we were finally done with  the predator-proofing and the downstairs area, we ready for dinner!

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A Shiittake Update!

After a very cold winter and some log negligence on my part, I was worried that the many shiitake mushrooms logs that we inoculated last March would not fruit this year. But I was wrong!

Last week I soaked them again to be sure to kick start them into spring, and stacked them, log cabin style, so that I could keep watering them periodically with the hose. This week, the logs have started to fruit!

None of the mushrooms are quite ripe for the picking yet, but I will be checking them everyday and I imagine that in a few days we will have our first shiitake mushroom meal! Stay tuned for more!

logs

Our “log cabin” stacking technique.

 

Shiitakes!

Shiitakes!

 

mushrooms

Mushrooms!

 

yummy

Yummy!

.:.

 

Baby Ducks On An Outdoor Adventure!

Our newest addition to the homestead, our Hybrid Layer and Cayuga ducklings, finally got to explore the outside world for the first time! When they are a little bit older, we plan to keep them in their newly finished shed/house during the night, and every morning usher them out to a pen so they can enjoy the world and the sun!

We tried our hand at herding them for the first time the other day, to see if they would be easier to herd than our Khaki Campbell ducks. They did super well, and were so excited to leave their cage and find new bugs to eat and rocks to peck at!

We herded them to a small, exposed space with one of the kiddie pools inside. It was filled with water, and the ones that could figure out how to get inside had a great time… Diving under and splashing water everywhere.

Check out this video for the full experience… Beginning with their first glimpse of beyond the cage and ending with wet and sloppy babies!

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Cabbage = Yummy Sauerkraut!

This week we transplanted our two cabbage varieties from their pans and into the ground. The great thing about cabbages is that they are cold hardy, which means that during the early spring when there is still a risk of frosty weather they generally do just fine. A true freeze can harm them, of course, but cabbages usually do really well starting their growing journey in the early spring!

cabbages

Cabbages in their pans!

In addition to transplanting the cabbages (we chose the best 50 or 60 plants to put in the beds), we also started some other seeds, like:

  • slicing and paste tomatoes
  • spicy and slicing peppers
  • lettuces
  • herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, and many others
  • tomatillos
  • and more!

This year we haven’t yet gotten behind with planting (like we did last year because of all the wedding planning), which is encouraging news for us. For now, we await the cabbages and the delicious and nutritious sauerkraut this will result!

cabbages

Cabbages transplanted in their beds.

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Farm Food Friday: Rooster, Potato, and Tomato Soup!

The great thing about this soup, is that we raised almost all of the the ingredients!

Let me start by saying that the photographs do not do it justice… And you are going to need either a huge pot or two pots!

Ingredients:

  • Bones and the partial meat of 3 teenage roosters
  • Lots of sweet potatoes
  • Lots of Irish potatoes
  • About 25 garlic cloves
  • 2 quarts of cubed tomatoes
  • 2 Large onions
  • Celery
  • 1 pint of corn
  • Basil, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, jalapeños

Directions:

The first thing we did was butcher our roosters, and since that would take forever to explain, we’ll save that story for another time. We roasted and ate some of the roosters and left part of the meat on the bones for our soup.

We cooked the roosters in a large pot with water and a little salt to make the broth. We included all of the bones, even the feet (which had already been peeled). The next day is when we had planned to start the soup, and when we removed the pot from the fridge to de-bone the meat, we found that the entire concoction was gelatinous! Talk about good, healthy, fat! Even though these roosters were not fully matured and they are not a breed that is bred just for their meat, they had so much delicious fat on them!

soup

Yummy, fatty, chicken!

 

broth

Best broth ever!

I de-boned the meat and placed the bones in the crockpot so we could cook these down further and make bone broth.

Then we sauteed diced onions, the garlic cloves, and celery in some of the fat. The onions and the garlics were from my dad’s garden!

The rest of the fat/meat/broth jelly was added to the pot and it started to melt and become true broth again. We added some of our diced and frozen basil, parsley, and jalapeño from the garden and let this melt and mix together.

Next in was  the corn.

potatoes

A lovely potato medley!

Then we added the potatoes (all from our garden) and once the soup was up to temperature again, we added the tomatoes. The tomato mix we used was a frozen bunch of cubed Cherokee Purples, San Marzanos, and Black Plums.

Then we added more basil, some oregano,salt, and garlic powder and continued to let it cook until the potatoes proved to be done!

soup

The finished product!

And then we ate it! Last night for dinner and today for lunch and tonight for dinner… This soups is one of our favorites so far!

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Clipping Goose Wings (and a Big Honking Update)

A couple new goose updates here on the homestead:

1.  First of all, we decided that utterly free-ranging geese was no longer something we wanted. Too much goose poop in random places (i.e. the carport or even the front porch) that always made me want to scream and then chase them around the yard in frustration. Also, the quartet was often found standing in the road and I don’t need to explain to you just how dangerous that is!

2.  We started incubating 14 goose eggs a few weeks ago, but we’re not sure how things will go with them… (Explanation of why we’re unsure is below)

3.  The goose nest that we once discovered was abandoned by all of the geese, so that’s a no-go!

4.  We’ve built a new fence for keeping the geese confined. The fence moves every few days (just like their old home that now houses the pigs) and is lower (about 2.5 feet tall). The fence is made of cut cattle panels, that are able to be “stepped in” to the ground so we can change the shape and layout of their area whenever we come across any garden beds or plants that we need to avoid having in their space.

5.  During the beginning of their renewed confinement, Audo somehow learned how to climb/fly over the short fence (which was weird since he is the heaviest one) and would escape any time he wanted. After clearing a couple of their favorite yard-nest spots of eggs, and after a few days of only Audo roaming around outside the fence, we discovered that Audo was laying eggs!!!!!!!!!

Which, of course, means that Audo is a female!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, we’ve been operating with the information that Audo was male this entire time, understanding that the rest were females.And now it seem that we might not even have a male at all! There are ways to tell that I will not go into here, but Google it and prepare to be freaked out if you are interested in knowing more about sexing a goose (yes, I did just write those words).

Audo’s femaleness might mean that all of our incubating is for naught, unless another goose has been a male all along!

6.  The last goose update was actually meant to be the sole subject of this post, but I got a little bit carried away…

In order to keep Audo inside the fence, we had to clip her wings so she can’t catch enough wind to lift herself over the wire. Clipping a bird’s wings of is not what it might sound like to you (a horrible inhumane act that hurts the bird). Instead, it only involves catching the bird and trimming her feathers, not hurting her at all.

This video is a bit funny, actually, since we hadn’t clipped goose feathers before and we weren’t sure how Audo would respond. Watch and see how we did it…

Jason held her and I did the clipping of just one wing to keep her off balance and to make sure that her flying would be crooked if she ever tried to fly over the fence again. If you try this yourself, be sure to have tin snips to use as scissors, since the heavy duty shears and scissors I used really weren’t tough enough for goose wings!

.:.

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