Thursday, March 31, 2011

Our Homestead Update

It's almost Spring!! Dare I say it? The rain may come back in full force if I actually said it aloud! The kids are begging to go outside each and every day and I've been weeding one of the gardens and pulling up raspberry starts to giveaway. I don't know where all the weeks go. They slip by way too fast. Fast enough for me to have a hard time keeping up with it all!

So here's what we've been up to.... We recently made a family trip down to Calaveras County to visit my grandparents. Or as all of you Mark Twain fans would call it, Jumping Frog Country. It was my grandfather's 85th birthday and we had somewhat of a family reunion for it. Creeks, baseball, shooting, family, food and great fun! Hubby and I have still been debating on when we should get our next hogs. Getting them in April is better, weather wise, but it probably means that we'd have to take them to a butcher in the end since fall is too busy with tree work and hunting season. Taking meat to a butcher and having it actually leave my sight always worries me slightly. Am I really getting all of MY meat back? Is it someone elses? Mixed with someone elses? *shudder*

Getting them in July would mean worse weather for butchering but we can do it ourselves. We'd then end up butchering 1 hog in November (along with the turkeys) and one in December.

Turkey's you say? Yep, they're back. Well, one is. We got one of our turkey chicks this week and the other will be coming early next week. We have them set up in the garage. We've been using this little brooder system for years and it works great. Plus, it's easy and inexpensive to make.


1 Rubbermaid tote
1 heat lamp
Feeder and waterer
a couple pieces of scrap wood
some type of small fencing (we used 1/4" fencing)
small U nails or smaller straight nails that can be bent

With the wood, make 1 box, sized to fit over the top of the Rubbermaid container, similar to if you were making a raised bed box. Cut a piece of fencing to fit over the top. Nail it down securely on all 4 sides using U nails or straight nails that you can pound 3/4 of the way down and then bend over to secure the fencing. Attach another piece of wood, anywhere on the box, to use as a "post" for attaching your heat lamp.

There you have it! We store the top when it's not in use and then wash out the tote and use it as well for other things.

This little brooder works well for maybe 6 chicks or 2 turkeys, since turkeys are larger, until they really feather out. The nice part about using the wood for the top frame is that it's heavy. Not too heavy for a person to lift but much too heavy for any little critter, wanting to make your poultry dinner, to budge.

I'm excited about doing turkeys again this year. It will be nice to compare last year to this one. I've also started a file to keep track of all of our livestock expenses so I'll be able to share just what our animals and the food they produce are costing us!

Wyatt is off to the Portland Swap Meet with his grandpa this morning. They'll be in their element- surrounded by car stuff until Sunday!

I've really been trying to carefully examine our gardens this year and what we are going to grow. With the economy like it is, I want to make our garden as productive as possible. Of things we actually eat. While it's nice to have a beautiful garden full of all kinds of different produce, if we're not eating all of one type of produce then it's a waste of space. I don't need two 10' rows of carrots...we just don't eat them all! If all my garden ends up being this year is full of green beans, then so be it! Trust me, we eat green beans. (That may be a slight exaggeration.) But I do need to realistically think of what are we going to actually consume besides what it is going to be the most aesthetically pleasing.

Guess what I didn't do yesterday? Build a fire. That really hints of spring! It was warm enough not to have any heat going in the house. This morning though I did break down and build one. Even if I let it die off later, it still was nice to have.

I guess that's about it here. Beyond the normal day to day that is.

What have you been up to?


Amanda said...

I love it all!

What a fun time. I really love the first photo:)

It brings warm feelings to me when I see photos with grandparents in them. These are such special times in our lives. Times when we get to get out of the routine of ordinary and enjoy family fun.

Turkeys! How exciting!!!

I checked with our town clerk this week about hogs and the rule is they must be 500 feet away from a residence and keep the odor down.

How do you keep hog odor down?
or do hogs really have a bad odor???

Unknown said...

How exciting. Everything you write about I sure enjoy reading. Thanks for sharing your life.

mphc said...

I just visited your blog for the first time... and I am looking forward to reading it. Thank´s for sharing these great ideas and pictures! Greetings from Germany, Nicole.

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