February 2017

A few new things for this year, good and bad.

We purchased 80 little pullet chicks in mid-Feb.  Normally we don’t get pullets until April or May.  The big difference is these new birds will start laying in July, during farmers market season.  Waiting until April or May means they won’t start laying until October, exactly when we want to see a decrease in eggs.  The weather was mild for the first week, getting them off to a strong start.  Of course then it got cold, down to about 10 F.  Certainly the coldest temps I have ever contended with while brooding, but it worked fine.  Here is what our high tech brooder looks like:

On the bad end of things, lice on our cattle has been a problem this year.  It’s always something!  I’ve never had to contend with cattle lice before, and I don’t use synthetic drugs on any of my animals.  So I’ve been dusting them with diatomaceous earth and not seeing great results.  Next was a dust containing small amounts of pyrethrin.  This is a natural pesticide made from chrysanthemum flowers.  Still, I don’t like using it.  Not good results yet.  Luckily lice in cattle is a winter problem, so it’s just about over.  Now I know in the fall to give the cattle a good delousing with whatever natural methods I find work best.  Never stop learning, right?

A winter break

I am not selling at the Montrose Farmer’s Market for the remainder of the winter; I will be back in May.  But we still have plenty of pasture raised, non-GMO fed hens providing us with lots of eggs.  Please come on by the farm to get yours.  I work from home, so I’m usually here.  We also have several amazing beef roasts from our grass finished cattle.

October 2015

He’s still here; the bull that is.

What a pain. And of course a nice school of hard knocks lesson for us. I didn’t grow up with cows, everything I learn I get by reading. But there comes a time when experience is better. For that I turn to my local cowgirl, Helen Rutherford. We bought our cows from her in 2014, and we want to buy more calves from her. But we have to get rid of this bull first. We might just buy the bull and happily butcher him in 2016 if we can’t get rid of him.

Helen brought us her stock trailer, it’s sitting in our pasture now. Her advice is to get the animals used to going in there, feed them in there, let them rub on the sides and get used to it’s metallic noises. When the bull goes in shut the door and he’s trapped. Guess what. He knows it’s a trap. Our cows and steer go in there no problem, even if I’m already in there. He seems to know better, again, what a pain! He was supposed to be gone in mid-Sept.

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Small bull, big pain. But I do think he was successful in breeding the cows.

The change in the seasons is here. Gardens are being put to bed, and since it’s not as hot and the grass is going dormant things stay muddy for longer. So our eggmobile is stuck in the mud. The joys of farming! I might need to move it with my pickup truck to get it where I need it to be.  On a side note, we do have lots of eggs for sale.

We did a 5-day family trip to Bend, OR! Friends of ours got married and we went for the reception. All of our friends got to meet Jemma for the first time. Our neighbors took care of the farm while we were away and did a great job.

Right before this trip to Bend I butchered all of the turkeys. Turkeys were much better for us this year than in years previous, but still we had 33% mortality. Is that a success? This is our third year raising turkeys, in the first 2 years we had a total of 20 birds and wound up with 2 in the freezer. The issue was predators, mink and fox. Mink!? This year we started with 15 and wound up with 10 in the freezer. 4 died in the brooder when they were little, 1 died outside from some sort of illness. But no predators! Again, is that a success? Turkeys are pretty simple once they go outside, but they’re much more fragile when they’re young. At least that’s their reputation- and it’s mostly true if they behave. The first 2 yrs what happened was the birds would fly outside their enclosure at sunset and couldn’t figure out how to get back in. Fox bait.

The summer farmers market is winding down, transitioning in to the indoor winter market.  This was our first season at the Montrose Farmers Market, and it was pretty good.  However my goal has always been to not do any farmers market.  It ties up every Saturday morning which makes things like camping difficult.  But I like it, talking with new people all of the time and telling our story.  I will be at the farmers market through 2015, taking the winter off, and will be back at it in May 2016.  I will have eggs for sale direct off the farm all winter long, hopefully I get enough traffic this winter to keep up with the egg supply!

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Anyway, farming like anything in life, is full of lessons.