Monday, July 28, 2014

Easy Come, Easy Go and Other Farm Updates

A few weeks ago, we had a windfall of good luck when a neighbor offered up his old shed if we would move it. We were glad to do it, as we had been sourcing a new shelter for our summer flock of turkeys and planning ahead for our Thanksgiving batch. We decided to use the Farmall A, our flatbed trailer and a whole lot of gumption to get it back down to the farm. The shed was relatively light, and our neighbors helped us get it loaded and we literally screwed it down to the wooden flat bed. Then, we slowly puttered down the road to get it back here. It all went smoothly, remarkable so.

We were pretty happy to upgrade our temporary turkey shelter (built from a cattle panel) to a nicer model, and it made locking up the birds at a night a bit easier. We positioned the open side away from the direction we most often get winds, and for added measure secured it to the ground. Then, last Wednesday we headed out for our latest addition of the East Greenbush Farmer's Market and our regular Albany delivery. We both got drenched that night, and made it home at dusk, still damp. I was getting the heat lamps positioned for the new turkeys still brooding when I glanced out the back window of the barn and saw the big flock of summer birds standing, drenched, shivering, in the rain. But the shed was nowhere to be found. Literally, the 300ish lb shed was just gone.

We had branches down in the yard, and some storm damage, but the pallet coops and other infrastructure seemed fine. Finally, in the low light of a setting sun, I spotted the shed, at least an acre up the hill, totally crushed like a soda can.

Nature always wins. We'll get something figured out to house the turkeys for the fall season, and in the meantime the rest of the summer flock have take residence in the run-in shed, where they are quite comfortable. 

In less dramatic news, we have finally hatched our first little ducklings. Well, we didn't do much to make it happen, the call ducks did all the work. We have three little ducklings marching about, causing a ruckus, and they are as adorable as you'd imagine, though they spend much of the day in the barn splashing in their water dish and creating the worst kind of mud indoors you'll ever find. Their mama is constantly teaching them new duck things, so it won't be long until they can spend more time outdoors and in the streams/marsh. 

The pasture is at it's fullest now too. We don't mow, which sometimes gives the farm more of a meadow look then the organized madness we're going for. But it's really a growing strategy. We only have a limited amount of pasture, and we need it all to keep our animals fed and healthy. We let it get a little long for added shade, and as much feed as we can get from it for the amount of livestock we run. We've gone through about half of it, and have plenty of meat left to grow on the second half through the fall. By the end of the year the animals will have cleared all the acreage, and it will be well fertilized for the winter.  The sea of green, brown, and red smells fresh and sweet- and will do a better job of feeding the animals then the milled grains we use alone. Plus, it helps keep the water log down, especially with the amount of thunderstorms we've had. 

It's definitely summer. The humidity, the storms, the work load. Each day is packed with chores, and we are hustling to keep up with all of the tasks. We've gotten a bit behind with some of the things we like to have done (mowing the lawn, for example)- but are happy with the quality of life for the livestock. In between storms today I hauled a full bale of shavings out to the field, for feathered and porcine bedding. Keeping everyone dry is a challenge, but the pigs don't seem to mind the mud, as long as their beds stay dry. The mud keeps the sun off pale skin, and apparently is also good for snacking. We'll just take their word for it though, as the garden is prolific and we eat to match the work load!

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