Winter storm Nemo is just starting to arrive. The ducks don’t seem to mind.
Well, one of them might mind a little bit…
Winter storm Nemo is just starting to arrive. The ducks don’t seem to mind.
Well, one of them might mind a little bit…
The chicks are doing well for the most part. We lost two barred rock chicks in the first few days, but the others are thriving. We’ve already removed 2 sides of the smaller enclosure to allow the chicks a bit more room. They grow pretty quickly, and for those of you participating (or desiring) to compete in the contest, here are some updated photos. Feel free to change your answers at any time as the chicks become more recognizable.
Feel free to join in! Just click here to read the details and submit an entry.
Our first contest… Be the first to identify (correctly) the breeds and genders of our mystery chicks and win our grand prize!
As a surprise for David, we added 3 hatchery-choice “mystery chicks” to his order of Barred Rocks without his knowing it. They are supposed to be 3 different breeds of brown egg layers. The kids have made guesses on their breeds, and I think they’re definitely right on two of the three, but I’ll keep their guesses secret for now.
1) To enter, simply post a comment with ONE guess for each chick’s identity. Something like:
2) We’ll keep the blog posted with pics as the chicks mature, and announce our findings when we’re really sure.
3) Any disagreements on the breed will be settled by Judy, “the Chicken Lady,” at Clark’s Grain Store.
4) Winner will be the first (based on the time/date stamp of the comment) with all three breeds and genders correctly identified.
5) Make sure there’s some way for me to get in touch with you – if your sign-in name doesn’t have a way to do that, you can shoot us an email (our contact info is on our farm website: http://www.flyingtnh.com). Just make sure to identify yourself and your post.
The prize? Public recognition on our blog, bragging rights, and (if you desire) a guest-post on your blog acknowledging your chicken identification expertise!
1) They should all be breeds that lay brown eggs.
2) They are supposed to be females.
3) Hatcheries make mistakes from time to time, so the above hints might not apply.
So, without further ado, I present the lineup of our dastardly suspects:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” - Jeremiah 29:11-13
His plans, not ours…
It’s so tempting to believe we can plan our lives completely. To decide what we will do and when we will do it, and to forget that our loving Creator has plans that are so much better. Yet, “In his Heart, a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” (Prov 16:9). As we step into this next chapter, we know that the Lord has wonderful plans for us, and pray that we trust in His faithfulness and place our feet in the steps He has determined.
Hope and a future…
It’s not an empty hope we hold, but onebased on His demonstrated goodness, promises He has made and fulfilled in so many tangible ways, and especially through the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of His Son. And that hope includes our knowledge that our ultimate future is eternity with our loving Father.
Seek with all your heart.
Expectantly is how we are to seek. Not knowing what lies around the corner, but excited that whatever it is, it is good and brings Him glory!
Here we are. Send us!
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” – Isaiah 6:8
All of us here at the Flying T wish you a very merry Christmas, and God’s continued blessings for you in the new year!
It’s been a long time since we posted, simply because this Fall has been pretty overwhelmingly busy! To give you an idea of some of the things going on these past couple months at the Flying T…
Fall was spectacular this year, and though we got a light dusting, we didn’t have a repeat of the Halloween snowstorm of 2011. Here’s a pic of the Flying T in late fall from the air.
The beginning of Fall also brought some new additions to the Flying T. One is “Rocky,” our new black labrador puppy.
He’s growing fast, and has made friends with just about everybody except the house cat.
Fall is a wonderful time of year in New Hampshire – the temperatures are perfect for us, and get us out and moving even more than in summer. Here’s our son showing off some moves on his bike and a makeshift ramp he put together.
Our younger daughter had a “coming of age” milestone – reaching the age we have determined is the minimum to be allowed to operate the tractor solo. She’s been very proud of her newfound freedom and ability to pitch in to some of the heavier-duty chores.
The ducks hatched their last clutches of the season. They were much smaller than earlier in the year. We believe this is due of the loss of our prime drake to a predator a bit before they started setting.
With the new arrivals, we also had a few departures. Another duck to a predator, and a hen to a mishap. And then another departure due to sheer meanness. One of the roosters, “Big Daddy Rooster,” attacked the kids one too many times, so he is now at freezer camp.
Of course, the big news for the region was Hurricane Sandy. We escaped most of its wrath, though we did lose power for long enough for us to get the PTO-driven generator running. Our biggest need for power is to run the well – the horses alone go through about 30-40 gallons a day.
We found by running it only a few hours a day, we could replenish water supplies, get the family through the showers, and run a load of laundry. Thanks to all the linesmen and emergency workers who got power back up and running so quickly!
The power company also did us a huge favor this summer by cutting down some of the trees that had been threatening the lines (and thus our road and driveway also), so we had little cleanup to do post-Hurricane. However, since I was told to stay home from work, the chainsaw still got some work as we got back to clearing more of the back pasture.
I also ended up flying a few Hurricane response missions for FEMA with Civil Air Patrol. You can take a look at some of the 175,000 damage assessment photos we took at this link:
http://fema.apps.esri.com/checkyourhome/ (Zoom in about 3 clicks until you start seeing green dots around the NYC area. Each of those is a photo).
And so, as the fall winds up and the winter starts to move our way, we’re finishing up our preparations… just like this snapping turtle who two of our ducks escorted off the premises on her way to hibernation.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can post again! Blessings to all of you as we approach this season of Thanksgiving (though every day ought to be a time to be thankful)!
When we bought the Flying T, we knew that one of our two pastures was “rough.”
OK, it’s really rough. Half-forested, largely with poisonous [to livestock] pin cherry trees. Not much growing in it but rocks and goldenrod. Fence falling down. Steep slopes on a good portion of it. Rutted with holes to the point that it was unsafe to let the horses loose. Rough.
The book answer for a pasture that had been let go for that long would be to call in the bulldozer, then truckloads of loam, but that went against two principles we’re trying to follow on the Flying T: 1) go as natural as possible and 2) don’t go broke.
One of the principles I’ve learned from flying is that there are three competing characteristics in designing airplanes (or other machines, for that matter): light, cheap, and strong. You can build something that has two of those characteristics, but it’s pretty much impossible to get all three. So, you can make a wing that’s light and cheap, but it won’t be strong. Light and strong? It won’t be cheap. Cheap and strong? It won’t be light.
We’re finding similar principles at work in farming, one of which is the “natural, cheap, and fast” law. So, when it comes to our pasture, while we’ve been doing OK with staying natural and cheap (relatively), it sure hasn’t been fast. I’d been hoping to have the pasture cleared of trees by winter’s end – we got halfway there.
We’ve moved a good passel of rocks from that half to the growing rock wall, but there’s still quite a bit to go. The holes we filled with a mixture of dirt and composted manure. Our attempt at strangling the weeds with a cover crop of Winter Rye has been partly successful (and partly not).
It’s all taken a lot longer than we’d hoped, and we still haven’t gotten around to the fence.
So now, we’re well-into the summer, and the weeds are starting to come back, competing against the Rye and other forage species we’ve planted here and there. It’s time to release the goats on the pasture to get it eaten down, but goats without fence go feral almost as quickly as hogs. The pasture is still too uneven to accept our portable electric net fence.
Then my wife says, “Well, when we lived in Greece, Dimitri [our local shepherd] just walked through the fields with them and didn’t have a problem.” Well, that’s right. He did. And what’s more, we even have an official Greek shepherd’s cane in the house that we bought as a souvenir.
So, this evening after dinner, we played shepherd. It was a bit of work getting them out to the pasture – goats don’t like new things – but once they were there, they seemed pretty happy!
Since they’ve been on a pretty well-grazed area for a while, we couldn’t leave them out too long the first day. That’s an easy way to get into a bad case of bloat. But, in the short time we did have them out, they got a pretty good start.
We even brought the horses out to graze with them for a while. Zip and Jasper are pickier than goats and weren’t nearly as impressed with the available eats, but they found the largest stand of Rye acceptable.
What surprised us was how easy it was to get them back. My oldest daughter just started back to the barn while I carried up the rear with the shepherd’s crook, and they followed her home. I wish I’d gotten a clearer pic, but this is the best I could do as I jogged along.
Is this going to be a quick process? Nope. But it looks like it might be relatively natural and cheap!
Yesterday, at our request, a representative from the Department of Agriculture came out to visit and test our chickens in conjunction with the National Poultry Improvement Program. NPIP is a voluntary program that provides testing for common ailments in home and commercial flocks. NPIP helps us to ensure a safe food supply and avoid the transfer of disease through other means (after all, taking care of chickens is not a hands-off activity here at the Flying T). In addition, it allows those who raise chickens to avoid unnecessary medicines and antibiotics. Finally, by working exclusively with NPIP-certified hatcheries and home producers, we can reduce the chances that our healthy flock is infected by birds or chicks we purchase as replacement stock.
Some of the NPIP tests are required for 4H and other shows.
The actual process is quite simple for a relatively small flock like ours (23 birds)… or at least it should be. First, you need to make sure they’re contained. To accomplish this, we simply turned off the coop’s automatic door after the chickens had gone to roost for the night. Simple, right?
However, about an hour before the NPIP representative arrived, our son went to change the chickens’ water, and six of them slipped out the door. The three kids and I had a heck of a time chasing them down. Free range means no fences, and lots of places for them to hide, squeeze under, and run through. It also means that trying to entice them back into the coop with grain doesn’t work well, because there are lots of other, more tasty things to sample out in the woods. However, after a bit of running, diving, and even climbing the compost pile, we managed to get our escapees back into the coop. Unfortunately, I hadn’t anticipated the exercise, and so I have no pictures to share. They would’ve been worth sharing!
OK, it is a simple process, once you’ve got the chickens back in the coop!
We enlisted the kids to help, and they crammed into the grain room along with the NPIP tester, Tara. One kid would go into the coop and pick up a chicken, then bring it out to Tara, who would start by banding their legs with a numbered tag (for our older chickens, this also required removing their previous NPIP tags).
Then, she turned them onto their backs, and plucked the feathers from a small area under the wing.
A quick scratch with a scalpel to draw blood, a few drops in a plastic vial, and the chickens were released to go .
Within about an hour and a half, the vials were filled and the process was complete. Tara said that she recently did a flock of 250 birds, and that took all day (with several helpers).
The chickens were none the worse for wear (though they were a bit indignant).
We should get our NPIP renewal certificate in the mail in a few weeks!
Spring is in the air here at the Flying T.
Our resident Boer Goats, Jessie and Gracie, are off at another farm for a month or so in the hopes that they make very close friends with the buck there. That would bring us kids in September. In their place, we welcomed two more 4-month-old full-blood Boer does, Ruby and Samy (Samantha).
The Muscovy ducks started laying a few weeks ago, but weren’t sitting, so we ended up collecting a lot of them. They’re not bad eating and very good for cooking. On Monday, however, Midnight got the urge and has been faithfully attending a nesting box full of eggs ever since. If all goes well, we should be seeing our first batch of ducklings mid-May.
One thing that hasn’t been here at the farm is much in the way of rain. That, and a dearth of snow this year, means the ground is a lot dryer than normal. We’ve done some improvement to the soil – lime in the fall and manure in the spring. But the grass isn’t growing very quickly yet up here or anywhere in our neighborhood up here on the hill.
I overseeded the pasture with with a mix of Orchardgrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, hybrid Fescue, and White Clover right before what was supposed to be a pretty good rain, but it never happened. Instead, the chickens have had a bit of a feast – an expensive one. Hopefully we get some rain tonight.
The Winter Rye we planted as a cover crop in the vegetable garden, on the other hand, is quite healthy and ready to be tilled under so we can plant our lettuce, broccoli, and the like.
The drought hasn’t seemed to bug the apples or the peaches, though. And so far it looks like they survived both our 1st attempt at pruning and some voracious Ruffed Grouse.
The berry bushes are starting to sprout as well, and if we can keep the chickens and goats out of them, hopefully we’ll have another plentiful harvest like last year.
And back in the house, our seed starter setup is working just peachy, with the tomato plants just about ready to transplant into 4″ pots. They’ve actually done so well that we’ll probably end up selling some of them because we can’t use half of them.
So, all is well here on the farm, but we sure are praying for rain!
We can tell Spring is here because both the jobs that keep the bills paid and the jobs around the farm have really gotten busy! Almost a month since my last post tells that story.
One of the things that we’ve been working on is getting our garden ready. Though the weather has been unseasonably warm the past few weeks, we still have some frost in the forecast and we even woke up to a light dusting of snow this morning. Last year, we got hit with a snowstorm on April Fools day.
But, that doesn’t mean we can’t start planting, especially because my parents didn’t need their seed starter this year, so they gave it to us. My dad made it, and if you’re looking for a relatively simple project, you might consider building one yourselves.
Dad took the galvanized sheet metal, folded the short edges to keep them from cutting hands (the long edges were already folded for the joints), overlapped each pair to make the center double-strength, and bent the sides down to form two simple reflectors. He then mounted a pair of florescent lights on each.
They’re suspended from the shelf above by four chains, allowing you to move them upwards as the plants grow. He spliced the cords for each set of lights into a single plug just for convenience (you could also use a second power strip).
The soil-warming wire is fastened in loops to the chicken wire grids with zip ties.
The simple lamp timer saves a small bit of electricity – we’ve got it set to be off during the day later in the growing cycle when the plants should be getting some natural light through the windows.
That’s “it.” The soil warming grids fit nicely into our 10×20 seed planting trays. We’ve currently got a flat of tomatoes, a half of peppers, 4 basil plants taking up a corner, and a few “empties” waiting for some seeds we need to start in a week or so. We’ll start two more flats a bit later.
Hopefully, we’ll get a good jump on the garden this year, since last year’s was a bit of a bust until very late in the season.
Some recent pics from around the farm: