We moved the last batch of spring/summer birds to the larger grass area for their final 3-4 weeks. They have a ton of room now and lots of grass and bugs that have been growing since its bring irrigated. The birds had a ton of fun pecking around this morning until Placerville turned into Death Valley around 10 AM. Geez it’s hot. I hope these chickens were crossed with some Central American wild fowl so they can withstand the next several days of 100+ temps. Right now they are hunkered down in the shade doing the spread-wing, open beak panting looking like they’re thinking about how we must have decided to cook them alive or something. Poor babies!
Speaking of poor babies, it seems that the predator(s) that killed a few of our birds a couple weeks ago must have taken off with more than we thought. When we moved the birds we were able to get a solid count and we are down about 7 or 8 more birds than anticipated. What a bummer. When we sell these, we will have to charge a bit more, $5.50/pound, to cover the losses. But they will be worth it, we get compliment after compliment on how our chickens are so delicious.
I really can’t say enough good things about 4H. My kids have learned responsibility, gained confidence and are growing into leaders. Fair week is amazing and exhausting and memorable. Seeing all the great youth of our area showing off their work from the year is inspiring, but more importantly, the way they help each other out and learn to rely on each other instead of just the adults is the best part. Younger and newer members learn from the experienced ones and the experienced ones develop the confidence and competence that comes from teaching what you know.
Here’s some happenings from the last month:
The hugelculture is doing fantastically! I am very happy with our results so far. Here are some photos of it growing and some of my spring harvest:
Nobody ever said farming is boring. Or full of endless hours of high quality sleep. Last night proved both of those points here at Schreck’s Acres. I was woken up shortly after falling asleep around 10:30 to my dog Mitzi busting out with a “someone is invading my territory and I’m not happy about it” bark, which she thankfully reserves for emergencies. And the UPS truck. The tone of her bark got me right on my feet and I cracked the sliding glass door to be greeted with the sound of chickens having a not-so-splendid time. Oh boy, I thought, something jumped the fence to our new pasture and it enjoying chicken tartare free of charge. Well, I actually just come up with that right now, I was not exactly feeling witty at that moment. Armed with my super powered flashlight and semi-scared dog, I bolted out the door like a doomed character in a predictable horror flick. “geez, chick, are you stupid or something? shouldn’t you at lease bring a steak knife with you or icepick or something? don’t you see how this could go???” I headed right back to the meat bird pasture and found everyone pretty chill. Believe it or not, chickens have a fair amount of body language and these ones were saying “we’re fine, mama” so I made my way back to the house thinking perhaps the whole thing was a dream or something.
I pointed my flashlight in the area where Mitzi was focused, near our small egg laying coop. Then I saw this (made even more dramatic when lit by my super powered flashlight):
And this (note the semi-livestock guardian dog keeping watch):
And then this, laying on the ground (well, actually in the jaws of said semi-livestock guardian dog, who is also a bird dog. And is bird hunting dog. She’s going to need therapy later in life, growing up on a chicken farm):
What I didn’t see was this, presumably because he made a quick exit after being scared by my super powered flashlight:
I moved the remaining chickens into a transport crate, tucked as safely as possible behind our six foot pasture fencing. Their body language was saying “OMG, WTH just happened?!” Needless to say, 45 minutes later I was back in bed and it was not easy to sleep. I’m sure the bear will be back, looking for his second course. Ruh-roh.
RIP Scooter, our three year old Rhode Island Red, enjoy your journey to the big pasture in the sky.
I know there’s puppies and kittens and all that, but these goaties are simply precious. I think what makes them so cute is how playful they are, how they climb on each other and leap off anything they can climb up on, doing it over and over again.
Here is Trixie, who has a sister who is similarly marked, but with less white. These two are available in a little over a month, for anyone who is looking for registered Nigerian Dwarf does:
Here’s Pixie, Trixie’s sister, with their mama Glenda, who may be available as a doe in milk:
And here is a shot of Coco mama with her little wether-to-be, S’Mores. Not a great shot of her, but you can see how much alike they look. S’mores is also available as a wether, in late June:
Don’t let their calm look fool you, these ladies are cray-cray. Since we’ve moved pens and pastures regularly over the last two weeks, all the chickens are a bit mixed up. We have quite the integrated flock now, 23 of these young egg layers, 9 big red hens (meat birds), 25 young red birds, 40-something young white birds and one old hen who is escaping the “affections” of the roosters – boy toy, she is not. Anyhow, no one quite knows where to go at bedtime, and the pen swapping rivals any 70’s disco era Saturday Night Fever. So Mark and I get to play chicken sorters each night after dark, finding, counting, moving and tucking in about 100 chickens. And that’s not counting our 100 new chicks, who are safely tucked into the brooder, only about 5 days out of the egg. Hopefully by tonight, the outdoor birds will get a clue and at least go to bed inside, not perched on the raised bed of my potato patch or the 7 foot wire fence of the goat pen in the rain.