Friday, April 30, 2010

a slow waltz

The new farm is starting to fall into old routines. The dust is settling. The place is starting to feel like home. There are some moving pangs, and old ghosts haunting the place, but I'm not worried. I see no point in getting worked up about what is behind me.

And while the place is falling into a slow waltz; we've certainly had our ups and downs. Recently Jazz and Annie broke into the brooder and killed five of the chicks. It was my fault. I was running around cleaning for company, feeding the sheep, and left the laundry room door cracked a little. The dogs snuck in and had a grand time being pro-bono butchers. The other sixteen were spared. (Either they were meat birds living outside, or ran away to safety behind the washing machine.) Never a dull moment.

I can't blame Siberians for being Siberians. I can blame me for being careless. Five birds is a sad loss.

Besides that small massacre every other animal is thriving. The bunnies (seven total) are healthy, and at two weeks old, all have open eyes and new coats. That photo is one of the babes with his poultry cousins on the lawn. In six weeks the bunnies will be ready for harvest, and between them and the chickens... I'll have a heck of a meat supply put up for everything from BBQs to fancy dinner parties. Feels good to cater your own shindigs, I bet.

Food is certainly the name of the game. The chickens are laying nearly 8-12 eggs a day, and the garden survived the cold snap. Thanks to some well placed tarps: there will be salad! and this weekend the potatoes go in, as does my hoe. I'll be out in the sunny weather slinging that beast to make room for more veggies. I already bought a pint of cookie dough ice cream as a Saturday night treat, post sod breaking. It sure will be earned. No doubt about that.

I'm most proud of the meat birds, who have all grown into fat, happy, nuggets and are just a few weeks away from harvest. I think they will be hitting my freezer (and friends' freezers) just in time for the new crop of roasters to come in from the feed store. The pastured poultry is a new thing for me, but so far has been going swimmingly. I hope to finally build them their tractor this weekend. While I don't mind sitting outside and shepherding their grass time, it would be nice to let them in their own pen for a few hours while I painted inside or worked on something else. It'll all happen in time. It always does.

PSA: This Sunday is the Poultry Swap! (Where Finn came from last year.) I'm looking forward to it. I'll take photos and probably come home with something, but wanted to give a heads up for anyone in the area looking for a hell of a farming tailgate party. It's a great event, and a great place to find stock. (Just get there before 7:30. All the good stuff is gone by eight.)


Blogger Snyder's Homestead said...

It's not haunted!!! Or is it? I didn't sense anything but I did hear Madeline talking to herself upstairs...hmmmm. Sorry to hear about the chicks. I can't believe how big the bunnies have gotten!!! Blue and Purple are great and love running around on our porch....oh and your sister stopped was a great day!! Miss ya :)

April 30, 2010 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

nono no. i meant some old ghosts, meaning old issues from the last living situation, are troubling me.

April 30, 2010 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

Sounds like a great weekend. Too bad about the chicks but that's life on the farm, ain't it? We lost two ducklings to something or other out there...hawk, cat, who knows.

All that hard work you got lined up is great for driving away ghosts. Who's got time for 'em?

May 1, 2010 at 12:52 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Ah! You mean in the sense of baggage. Knowing you, you'll eventually write about it and we'll all get to hash it out with and for you. One thing I've learned about this community is that we all seem to care, which is pretty cool, I think.

BTW- that photo was a great shot. I too, am sorry about the chicks, but I'm learning from your mistakes, if that's any consolation....

May 1, 2010 at 1:32 AM  
Blogger RenĂ© said...

I love the goose/bunny showdown going on in the foreground of this photo.

Jenna, one thing I've enjoy about your writing ever since I picked up Made From Scratch is that you don't candy coat your lifestyle. I really appreciate the reverence you have both for the lifestyle and the lives in your care.

May 1, 2010 at 2:15 AM  
Blogger Linzi said...

HI! I just wanted to let you know that I finished your book last night. In one sitting. It was great! I could really understand it and get inspired by your experiences. Even though I grew up in the country most of my life and had tons of chickens(yay!) I realized that I've never made bread before. So I did, last night. I used your recipe, and even though the bread is thicker than I'm used to, I loved it! Thanks for providing such a simple recipe for a start : ) That's what most people need, not step by step how to manuals. Through trial and error, I'll find MY perfect bread recipe! Do you have any plans to write more about your experiences?
And again, thanks for the wonderful book!

May 1, 2010 at 4:47 AM  
Blogger Velma said...

hi jenna, reading your blog reminds me of myself learning animals and plants. i had a lovely siberian, when alpha me was away, she twice helped herself, angora rabbits one time, the next a nubian kid. my decision was to find her another woman to love. now i have a border colllie, my second.

May 1, 2010 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I understand Velma, specially if the dog was taking hoofstock. But Jazz and Annie are 10, and adopted from a shelter in Tennessee. They've been by my side and I would be lost without them. It stinks when something like this happens every few years, but I deal with it, only because without Jazz I may fall apart. And without Annie this would be a very sad place for me.

I hope Gibson fits in, and eats nothing but kibble.

May 1, 2010 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Flartus said...

Strength to you in your sod-busting. It's gonna feel so good looking at all you've accomplished. The ice cream won't hurt either.

So, are you going to dispatch and process your birds and rabbits yourself, or with friends, or have an expert do it? I think I could handle raising my own meat, but changing it from animal to meat myself might be too much.

May 1, 2010 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I have a mentor in the rabbit farming, he'll come to the farm and teach me side by side. There won't be any botchups with him there to help teach me. Maybe someday I could teach others, myself. That's the goal at least.

As for the chickens. I think I'll do a few myself, I've helped with two chicken harvests so far and feel I have the jist. And with hedge clippers it's impossible to "botch" a quick kill like that...

But since there are so many chickens being processed at once, I have the number of a local butcher who processes from live bird to shrink wrap for 3.00 a bird.

May 1, 2010 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

You take such beautiful pictures! How did you get all those animals to pose for you! :)

May 1, 2010 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Tracy said...

I've just recently come across your blog, and an enjoying it immensely. We've always done a big garden, but this year my children are thrilled about helping in it. We have chicks arriving on the week of May 10. New experience for all of us. My children have been reading about rabbits. What breed do you have? and what breed did the man raise whom you went to learn from? We were think New Zealands for meat, but I see that isn't what you have by your photo.

May 1, 2010 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger Patsy said...


It looks like it is either Cyrus or Saro who is upset with you about something.

May 1, 2010 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

Hey Jenna! Congratulations on getting your new place up and running - no small feat. If you need a hand with anything let us know, and I would love to come up and bring you a house warming loaf of bread from the book you introduced me to!

May 1, 2010 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Hi Jenna. I just found your blog in a rather roundabout way...your book is in my book club packet and i plan to order it today, but first i wanted to see what you are about, hence the visit to your blog! I am LOVING your blog...a little confused...idaho, vermont, ny...not sure how it all happened but looking forward to getting the book. I live on a dairy farm so i "get" the chicken loss...we lost a bull yesterday...bad. But what a life huh? oh, and one more thing. Before he died, my dad gave me his dulcimer...her made it (a great woodworker) so is very special and I too am learning to play it! How funny is that? I had a hard time even finding someone to restring it for me so I think it is a rather unusual hobby! Best of luck with what must be your first "owned" farm. I am so looking forward to spending some blog time with you...oh and visit me at anytime you want a peek at my crazy life with the farmer and boys...sharon

May 1, 2010 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Sounds like a fabulous weekend! How many horsepower will that chicken tractor be?

May 1, 2010 at 11:58 AM  
OpenID thatsthelife said...

Jenna, you're going to need another you-tube video soon :) So much has happened since your first book.

Didn't I hear something about a second book in the works?

Something about chickens?

May 1, 2010 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Yeah! chick Days comes out in the winter, it's a beginners guide (absolute beginners guide) to raising your own hens from day one to egg time. It's going to be a beautiful book.... such amazing photography following each day of a chicken's life, plus blog entries about stories CAF folks already know.

May 1, 2010 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Philippa Grey-Gerou said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 1, 2010 at 4:24 PM  
OpenID Stephanie said...

I envy you your poultry swap, Jenna! I'm the wrong side of Quakertown for such useful events. But there's every chance I may come home from Maryland Sheep and Wool with some bunnies...

May 1, 2010 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger RenĂ© said...

Sine Jazz and Annie only go outside on supervised walks, maybe a solution, now that you've got your own place, would be to setup a brooder some where out of the house?

May 1, 2010 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger Snyder's Homestead said...

oh yeah...Kate filled me in...I got all excited for a minute about ghosts lol!!

May 1, 2010 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

That is a great picture! I didn't realize the bunnies would be harvest-ready at 8 weeks, what a fast turn-around. Sorry about the chicks, it happens.

May 2, 2010 at 10:38 AM  

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