We are busy preparing for fall and winter on the farm. The Ewings recently moved onto the farm property and having many hands available has allowed us to make light work of some projects.
We have taken out the summer garden and are using the remnants for seed storage. We have one more run of meat chickens and then our first round of turkeys to process. Also, on schedule for October is building our first hoop house, planting garlic and other winter hardy plants, and getting a few breeding rabbits as well.
SO much has been going on at the farm! The garden has been producing nicely, the chickens are coming along and the weather is HOT!
Of course, life isn’t good without surprises. Last week when I got home from work, my wife was walking out to the field to check on the chickens. And what does she find instead? A calf! Apparently our youngest cow had been bred back in November of last year when she got out of our field and spent the week with our neighbor’s bull.
Without further ado, I give you…Baby Coco!
So much green has happened since last month! We’re excited to see our seeds turn into plants. We consider ourselves amateurs, so when the plant actually looks like it should, it is time to celebrate! One of the Centerville locals laughed at us and said, “Yes, this is the fun part; just wait until you have buckets of produce to put up!” Well, we think that part sounds pretty fun too, especially with all the mouths we have to feed!
On Mother’s Day, we lost some of our meat chicks to a wild dog or coyote. It was a sad, sad day, but we did have a few survive and we have 100 more fluffy little peepers growing. We also have added adorable little bunnies to the mix of animals this month. For now they are used primarily for their awesome fertilizer-producing skills. Next month, we’re hoping to have pictures of harvest buckets and fully-grown birds!
Things on the farm are shifting into high gear this spring. We have 75 meat chickens that are bulking up and adding real feathers. They are a little over three weeks old and just got moved into the great outdoors. We are using a model similar to Joel Salatin’s chicken tractor, so that the birds are safe but have daily access to pasture land.
We just put in over 100 tomato and pepper seedlings this weekend and have planned out the space for cucumbers, beans, squashes, melons, pumpkins, more carrots, potatoes and corn. While out surveying the garden and watering in the plants, several of us ran into our friendly Speckled King Snake that likes to guard the entrance. We are happy he is there to chase off all the venomous snakes and he may have us cured of our snake fright before this season is over!
The Ewing and Goss families have teamed up again this year for some simple homesteading. Since we Ewings are currently renting here in Tennessee while our house sells in Arkansas, we have the pleasure of helping the Gosses with their land.
March was a busy month preparing for the coming seasons of warmth, and we spent time planning and getting the ground ready. Jeff tilled up a 100 by 100 foot garden space, and then he and Tal fenced it in. We have peas, lettuce, kale, onions, and other green sprouts starting to push their heads up through the dirt already!
Indoors, we have tomatoes, peppers, and some cucumber plants getting big. We cannot wait for the last frost to be in the books so we can plant! We have enjoyed being out with our kids, getting muddy while we plant and plot our garden sections. This winter seemed long, and we had frequent snows towards the end, so we are especially loving being out in the warmth.
In addition to being busy with the garden, we have 75 meat chickens coming our way in about a week! We are working on a few ideas to make raising them more sustainable, and we’re adding fermenting and sprouting their food to our process. We really enjoyed our first round of chickens last year and look forward to learning more about raising poultry this year.
We have chicken! It’s been busy since my last update. The weekend before we went on vacation last month, we all got together on Saturday to process our very first chickens. I think we were all a little anxious starting off, but quickly got into the groove of things as the day progressed. Thankfully, several friends came to help watch the kids, prepare meals and help suppress any other chaos that was going on that day. Also, a good friend of ours that had processed chickens in her childhood days came to lend us a hand and show us any tips she could remember.
Nine hours and fifty chickens later, we were done! It was tiring and there are some things that we will do better next time around, but I can’t complain one bit. I’m so thankful for good like minded friends to help and support us as we figure this stuff out for the first time.
If you have any questions about our process or want any more details about how we raised and processed our chickens, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to help in any way that I can.
I’m so excited, we are one week away from processing our chicks! Actually there is some excitement and there is some anxiety as well. We’ve decided to attempt the processing ourselves so we’ve been reading blog posts and watching YouTube videos for the last week, trying to learn about every aspect of prepping these birds for the freezer.
One of the biggest helps so far is a video by Joel Salatin. While not the best camera angle on whats going on, there is a decent breakdown of the stages, time-frames and so-on that one will only learn from actual experience. Ready or not, we’re giving this a try either later this week or early next week, so wish us luck! I’ll be sure to document as we go and update everyone next time.DAIRY COW:
We have three dairy cows right now. Sarah and Calfeine are Jerseys and Beasley is a Holstein. We were blessed to get milk from Sarah for the last 11 months – her milk production went down enough lately that we have dried her up until she calves again. We are planning to sire her and Beasley in the next month which should give us some late spring/early summer calves! On another note, the grass has pretty much stopped growing around here so the challenge to make it through the winter without buying extra hay has begun! I’ll keep you all updated as we should have some “Mommas-to-be” cows soon!