What are you doing to get ready for Spring?

Up here in Iowa, we have been surrounded by massive quantities of white fluffy stuff for so long, it’s hard to imagine that it will ever change! But this weekend our temp should be above freezing for multiple days in a row!

So for spring -> We’re taking a humongous paycut as my husband beomes the fulltime pastor at our church and is no longer supplementing our income with the field that pays lots better of Informational Technologies Consulting. We want to be producing half of our food from our farm.

GARDEN-

We’ll be doubling the size of our garden. Our garden has had both productive years and non-productive years and because it’s always supplemented our eating, it hasn’t been a concern. This year we’ll be looking at ways to increase supply. We’re also adding another area to our garden that we hope won’t be impacted by flooding. Iowa’s flooding makes national news and it makes garden news here at our farm. We’re moving to another part of the acreage in an attempt to bring it to higher ground. Good news – no flooding, bad news – in that area, we’re starting from scratch!

CHICKENS
This year, we will again by doing chickens. We do layers for eggs and meatbirds as well.

Layers: We are local to to the McMurray Hatchery and Welp’s is fairly close by as well. We also have ordered from Cackle Hatchery in Missouri. There is something extra fun for the kids about going to pick up the new chickens right from the hatchery and they certainly don’t suffer the trauma of being mailed for a couple of days.
As far as chickens go – our favorite layers are Buff Orpingtons.

We’ll see how it goes.
Blessings

The Chickens are coming the Chickens are coming

 

Well Spring has finally sprung on the FamilyPlusHomestead and we’re in full swing.  Every year we come out of the gate ready to hit the road hard and fast.  I’m hoping we can maintain the momentum this year.  We’ve already done our trash pickup, stick pickup and general toy pickup.  In addition, we’ve made the preparation for our chickens and turkeys to arrive.   As I mentioned in a previous post, we had some issues with some high flying chickens and a curious dog.  We’ve decided to restock the layer and meat chickne base as well as add some turkeys to the mix.   Recently, we were staying with friends on the way back from a trip out East.  He mentioned that old refrigerators make great storage for animal feed and why don’t I use them for putting the baby chickens in.  They are already insulated and are quite large so that’s what we did.  Here’s his idea in action.

 

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We removed the doors off of each Fridge or Freezer and then laid them down.   You may be asking yourself, where did you get all those Freezers?  We have been frequent contributors/shoppers on Freecycle.   Those appliances usually only have a little life left in them.  When they died, we moved them our to our machine shed….until now.  Rather than paying $40 per appliance to have them hauled away, we’ve been able to use them for a good purpose.  

 

Our chickens are doing great! 

Rhode Island Reds

Rhode Island Reds

 

Buff Orpingtons

Buff Orpingtons

 

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And last but not least our Broad-Breasted Bronze Turkeys

Broad Breasted Bronze Turkey

Broad Breasted Bronze Turkey

 

Glad to report all are doing well and we haven’t lost any of them 2 weeks into it.   I’m also keeping a log book this year so I can keep better track of food/water consumption as well as growth and production.   We have about 4 meat chickens that never made it to the butcher block last year as well as 4 layers.  These are continuing to produce good eggs, pictured here with some happy egg harvesters.

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Upgrades on the homestead

Part 1 of the homestead upgrades – The Chicken Yard.  We were consistently having issues with our chickens getting out of the yard.  The first 4 yrs we lived here, we did not have issues with the chickens getting out.  Then we added some new breeds and tripled in size.  Parts of our fence were small enough that some of the chicks got out and the rooster decided he needed to protect them as well and flew over.  Once he did that the some of the other hens decided they weren’t going to be unprotected and next thing you know I had a host of free ranging chickens everywhere.  The problem with that is that most of them hung out in the horse barn, eating the grain, dog food, cat food, whatever they could find; not to mention the presents they left behind (if you know what I mean)  I see why dogs are meant to eat dog food.  Anyway, I thought if my son would just put them all back and we block off the fence to keep the chicks in we’d be fine.  Unfortunately, the taste of freedom was too much for them and they begin flying over our fence and then I found out also, that my son had been throwing them back over the fence (further boosting their flying confidence).  I know you can clip/pull out the flying feathers.  Just seemed a little inhuman to me.  We’re trying to keep everything as much as possible as God designed it.   Here’s the finished product after the 3rd snowfall:

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Egg yields were good this year.  Here’s a sampling of the differences in Egg sizes as compared to a white store-bought XL egg.  The far left is a double-yolker.  We had a chicken that was always laying double-yokes.  The middle one is a normal single yolk and the far right is the white store-bought egg (obviously)

Fresh (non-caged) Benefits

Fresh (non-caged) Benefits