Heidi, our Nubian goat
This is the busiest time of year on the farm as summer is in full bloom and the heat requires constant watering of babies, bigger animals and grassy pasture. There are lots of arrivals happening here and we are fairly bursting at the barndoor with all sorts of new activity.
In our mountain valley, we have learned that the best time of year to acquire our broiler birds is June. Though they were delayed at the hatchery a week, our little chicks brought the warmer weather which is so important for their survival in those first tenuous days. We must check on them often, to ensure proper heat and sufficient water…but with my three kids, I never have to ask how the chicks are doing as they are fondled a good amount all day long.
Our piglets are looking more robust and they are such happy critters. Their pen is quite huge now and they’ve made their own burrows and secret nooks amongst the brush.
We really try and balance the amount of animals we keep, how we can manage them, and what we can afford. We have learned that what works for our family changes from year to year. And therein lies the challenges and rewards that are apparent by the end of the season. This year, our Nubian doe, Heidi, was not successfully bred. It seems this may be a blessing in disguise as milking a goat is a huge commitment that ties you to the farm for at least once a day. We debated selling Heidi and her companion, Willy, but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. I really want to try milking…and it would save us an enormous amount of money in our dairy needs. My husband has reluctantly agreed, I think. It is safe to say that the goats are his least favourite critter on the farm as they are quite, um, vocal, whenever they see someone close by their pen. (Sometimes we joke that this is Screaming Goat Farm).
We have learned that the amount of broiler birds we keep is a good amount for our families needs with enough to give a few to relatives. We may have gone overboard with the amount of pigs, only because it is such a huge amount of money upfront to feed them. Next year we will scale back to last year’s numbers. As for layers and sheep, we are happy with the amount we have…though if it were up to me, I’d keep a few dozen more sheep for sure!
Because we love our Thanksgiving turkey, we decided to raise a few so we could have a roast once a season. I heard they are finicky to raise and are susceptible to disease, so we erred on the side of caution and have 13 Bronze poults in a separate brooder (read : kiddie pool) in my husband’s shop. We hope to end up with at least 4 by late October.They are ridiculously cute and already look turkey-ish.
the twins, Samson and Delilah
homegrown haying in our upper pasture
my beloved Posey with her son, Yarrow
Our flock of fibre sheep has grown to ten sheep…wow! that happened fast! I have them eat hay in the morning and then we take them to green pasture for the afternoon and early evening. I would love to have them all day on pasture, but we simply don’t have enough fenced in yet. The hard decision of which lamb(s) would stay on the farm was a challenge that had to be made early on. I based it solely on the colour of fleece growing and so Samson and Delilah, Sugaree’s twins, will remain while the other three ram lambs will be re-homed. It will be sad to see them go but such is life on the farm. And it makes room for white lambs next year. As a result, I have decided to sell Romeo the Romney as his offspring are all dark sheep and I was hoping to be able to dye my wool. They say that your ram is half your flock so I did a lot of research about who I wanted to breed to my merinos. I found a Blue Faced Leicester ram who is young and comes from a very good line. It was an auspicious beginning when we learned his name is Skywalker and the owner was Star…too coincidental to pass him up! (He also was transported with anther ram named Luke…I kid you not!) He stepped off the trailer and we were all amazed at his size! He is easily 250lbs, and has a very regal disposition. For now, he resides with the chickens until Romeo leaves…and they were just as curious about him as we were…
With Skywalker’s arrival, I’m so excited about next year’s lambs already!
While all the new arrivals get acquainted and settled on our farm, we continue with the daily chores of watering, moving fences, hauling hay, and a whole lot of petting and loving.