Friday, March 7, 2008

the results are in!

So the jury is in. After a lot of thought here are the winners of my selection process and why. I’ll be getting just twelve chicks, and a trio of goslings. The chicks will only be 2 breeds I have a lot of experience with and really liked. The Brahma and the Ameraucana. The Brahma’s are a heavy set bird that does great in colder weather and lays brown eggs. They were all over Diana’s farm in Idaho and my Veronica, the calmest and sweetest bird of the entire flock was a Buff Brahma. I’ll be getting Light Brahmas because sadly, the buffs aren’t sexed and I might end up with a bunch of roosters instead of laying hens. So I’ll get getting my white and black speckled chicks in a few weeks, maybe sooner.

The second breed is the Ameraucana. Which, my friends, is awesome. These chickens lay green and blue eggs instead of brown or white ones, and let me tell you, I am pumped about that. I never raised this breed myself, but I’ll get getting six pullet (female) chicks of these are well and they will be sharing the shed outside by the garden as their new home. I have to lay down a bed of straw and pine shavings and install a few vertical 2x4s as roosts, but all is okay with the property owner and the close proximity to my garden means the chickens will have a safe fenced in area to hang out safe from roaming coyotes and fisher kings and in view of the cabin. Right on.

So twelve chickens may sound like a lot, but the sad truth is only about nine of them will survive to laying age, if that. Between drafts, foxes, health problems or what have you – you can almost always count on a quarter loss with your flock. Maybe since these are pets as much as livestock, that won’t happen. I did manage to raise all five Silkie chicks to adulthood easily. Who knows, all I know is my max capacity for laying hens is about 25 and I’d rather have 12 blissful hens than 25 cramped ones.

Oh, and geese. I am getting a trio of Toulouse goslings, which are a dark gray, beautiful breed. I will be having as much contact with them as possible so they are never biters or honkers at people. They’ll share space with the hens and lay their own giant eggs for food for me. I doubt I’ll keep them through the winter, the plan is to sell them at fair time. Since they are such a pretty lot, I doubt I’ll have any trouble selling them all to a nice pond farm near here who would love friendly geese on the premises.

It is going to feel so much more like a home when seedlings are sprouting, chicks are chirping and the cabin starts to mature into a farm and not just a place that keeps the rain off. I can't wait. Come visit in the nest two months and prepare for super cuteness.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I heart lehmans

Lehman’s big non-electric catalog is wonderful. It has gadgets and gizmos you didn’t even know existed. Things like a table top hand crank pressure washing machine (40.00) or a natural peanut butter stirring lid. It has all the homestead essentials you’d expect. Things like oil lamps and woodstoves and propane fridges. But it also has soap and butter molds, single cup coffee presses, and cast iron waffle makers for a stovetop. It has all the gardening stuff you could need for a small operation and backyard poultry supplies too. This catalog has been a staple of the Amish community for years, but for us regular folks it has a lot of clever things that are hard to find old and don’t need to be plugged in to be used.

Check them out here: Lehman’s Goods

Monday, March 3, 2008

and it starts...


This weekend the farm has officially been started, seedlings are incubating indoors for cold season crops, and ones I know I can grow. Peas, broccoli and lettuce are sitting inside under a warm light and in a few days we’ll have the beginnings of a summer of fresh organic food. The cabin has an already huge garden complete with compost, a tin shed (soon to be chicken coop) and a burning barrel for paper and brush. Whoever was here before was pretty serious about living off the land too and I just happened to fall into it. By late April, when the soil is over 45 degrees and not soaking wet I’ll be working in compost and planting the first seeds outdoors. I’m excited.

Besides the garden, chicks and goslings are on their way! I’m getting laying hens (Brahmas and Ameracanas) and some bantams (Mille Fluers!) and a trio of Toulouse goslings, which I will be hand feeding from babes and either sell at fair time or keep if they are good. It sounds like a lot but it’ll be about the same amount of animals as I had in Idaho, with neighbors right next door who already offered to feed and chicken sit for me when I’m away. So, it’s a start. There will be plenty of chick and gosling photos ahead, I’m sure!