Really quite beautiful
Really quite beautiful
We finally committed ourselves to getting bees. We put a deposit on two packages of bees through Cache Valley Bee Supply. They should be showing up the middle of April. We’re pretty excited, we’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. From what we have learned, we won’t get much honey the first year as the hive establishes itself but the next year should give us some sweet nectar.
We took our time doing it but we’reofficially members of the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA). I never thought I’d be interested, let alone be excited about. Tattle Tail Farm was available as a herd name and now belongs to us. Now we can register our goats under our herd name and any new goats born this spring will be named “Tattle Tail Farm <Goat Name>”. I guess goats have their surname in the front. Even when we sell the babies they will keep our herd name. We also got our choice of tattoo letters (TTF). When the babies are born, they are usually tattooed in their ears to show the herd name. Unfortunately for our goats, they are Lamanchas and don’t have ample enough of ears to tattoo. They get to have the tattoo in their tail, a little bit more sensitive spot I think.
We’ve really enjoyed having our dairy goat Leila. She’s a sweet animal and we’ve enjoyed the opportunity to milk. I’m not fond of getting up early to milk but once I’m up, I really enjoy the morning with the animals (the furry ones, not the kids even though I enjoy being with them too). We’ve been struggling with Lelia being sick, a cough, since we got her and if you follow her milking records she’s gone from a liter a day to maybe .3 liters a day. We’ve tried some natural herbs that are supposed to encourage milk production and tried feeding her more. All to no avail. With Amber not feeling too well lately, we decided to let her dry up. I’m a little bugged that we spent that time and money to have a milk goat that isn’t giving us any milk but we think in the long term it will be for the best. Not milking Leila will let her body focus and being healthy and getting ready to make a cute new baby goat. We’ll start milking again when the new baby shows up in May.
It’s that time of year to let our very eager billy goat to “hang” out with our dairy goat Leila. Amber really wants to have new baby goat this spring so we’re hoping that these two little lover “goats” get a long. Goat gestation is 155 days so we should see a new baby goat or two about the 5th of May. It’s about time that we could use Puck for his intended purpose. Since he fully matured a few months ago, he’s been stinking himself up really badly. Apparently billy goats don’t think that they’re natural smell is alluring enough so they they pee in their faces to really turn up it up a notch. It really isn’t pleasant but the girls really seem to be pleased.
It’s funny how life is sometimes. You may have the best of intentions in trying to do good things and life just steps in to give you a learning moment. We’ve been trying really hard to live more sustainably and to be better prepared for the future. That’s a lot of the reason we moved to where we are and why we are doing the animal thing and the other efforts that we’re documenting on this site. The hard part is that it takes a little money to do these things. I’ve been doing some side work in the evenings to help pay down debt and pay for some things that we’d like to have for our farm. We are due for a fair size check at the end of the month. We recently paid off our credit card (again) and had decided that we were going to use the money on buying all of our bee equipment, we were pretty excited.
Well, shortly after we made that decision, our truck broke down, both sets of cars need at least two new tires and a broken thermostat upstairs is going to cost $200 to replace. All these lovely life events combine together to zap that extra money that we wanted to use for the bee equipment. We’re grateful that we had the money to cover all these issues, it would have ended up on the credit card if it weren’t for that check. I just wish that working hard could go towards what we planned not trying to fix stuff that shouldn’t be broken in the first place. Sometimes you wonder if life is just against us or that we’re being punished for something. But I know that God doesn’t work that way. He absolutely cares for us and is mindful of us but He’s not going to cause my truck to break and most of the time He’s not going to prevent it from breaking. We need to learn how to make our way in this life without Him having to carry us the whole way. We need to involve Him in our lives and our problems but realize that he expects us to do everything that we can. I also think that He’s very ok with us having bees, we just need to prioritize and make sure that we’re using what He gave us the best way we can.
One thing that I really enjoy about having our own egg laying chickens is the variety of eggs we get. We get really tiny eggs, we get massive double yolker duck eggs. The colors range from white to dark brown to green. It’s nice to see that the Lord does really create us all differently. The world may try to set unnatural standard on us, like eggs having to be white, that doesn’t make it right or healthy. Mostly it’s just boring to be all the same:
We watched the Food Inc. documentary a couple of years ago and we were very impacted by what we saw. We almost stopped eating/buying all preprocessed foods but we decided that we should go with a more measured approach. One of the things that really stuck out in my mind was how poorly the meat chickens were treated. It’s no wonder they have to force feed all those chickens antibiotics, they’d be all dead from disease if they didn’t. We’ve wanted to raise our own meat since then. We’ve had chickens for quite some time but we were a little hesitant to try our hand at the meat chickens.
We had heard about this awesome breed called Cornish Cross that would be ready for the freezer at 7 weeks. We had seen a few people online mention that they can be hard to keep alive and I had a buddy that did them awhile ago and he didn’t seem to think it was a worthwhile project (part of his problem was that he kept them in his basement, eww). The problem with the Cornish Crosses is that they grow so quickly that their bodies seem to struggle to keep up with the growth. They often die of heart attacks or break their legs because they can’t support their own body weight. The forums at BackYardChickens talk about all sorts of ways to help keep them healthy. One thing that helps is having birds that have pretty proven record of doing well.
We found that the Cornish Crosses from Murray McMurray had awesome reviews about the healthiness of their chicks. In the spring of 2012 we finally decided to try our hand at the Cornish Crosses from McMurray. We ordered 25 birds from them to arrive in June. I don’t think I would start with more than 25. There’s a bunch to learn and it’s better to start with a lower amount. You should also think about when you want your little chicks to show up. These guys get pretty big, very fast. If they are their biggest in August, they’re going to be pretty miserable. I think the ideal slaughter times would be when it’s a little cooler like late spring (April/May) and early fall (September/October). The nice thing about this breed is that they don’t need to be under the heat lamps as long as their other feathered cousins because they grow so quickly.
There are three basic stages you have to worry about for Cornish Crosses: Chick, Adult, and Slaughter. The chick stage is from the time you pick up your chickens from the post office until they don’t need a heat lamp anymore (around 4 weeks). The adult stage is from the point that you remove the chickens from the lamp and from the brooder box until it’s time to put them in the fridge. The last stage is pretty short, just long enough to finish them off.
Here’s a list of the items that you’ll need by stage:
I found this YouTube video to be very helpful with the slaughtering step. I forgot to make a video of our own slaughtering. I’ll make one the next time we slaughter in the spring.
I’ll have Amber put a post on how to process these guys and I’ll put the link here. By the time we were done with these guys, I was ready for them to be gone and I really wasn’t sure that I wanted to do it again. Now that is has been a few months, I’ve really enjoyed having the chicken meat in the freezer and look back at the whole process fondly and I am quite pleased that our little family was able to provide this meat for ourselves. It’s quite the feeling to look a meal and 80% of it came from our own little farm.
Feel free to post any questions or comments. If you’re close to my area, I’d be willing to show you a thing or two.
Linking up to HOMESTEAD BARN HOP
Great article discussing the question “Should I Keep Bees?”