Monday, December 31, 2012

Fencing 101

Well, for a family that has never done anything like this before, I must say, we did pretty good.  Grama, Taylor and Uncle Johnny came for a Christmas visit, and they got put to work!  From start to finish, with 22 hard working hands, it took 3 full days of labor.  Here's what had to be done:

Dig corner post and gate post holes.
Cementing those posts.
Clearing out underbrush for the fence line.
Measuring equal distances between metal posts.
Pounding in metal posts.
Leveling the metal posts.
Redoing some metal posts.
Redoing some more metal posts...ugh.
Running fencing around the acre.
Securing the fencing to the posts.
Securing the fencing to the ground.
Installing 2 gates.
And finally...bringing our goats home!!

Lighthearted Cait always has a way to make things fun :)  and it's freezing outside!  Not sure why she's in a short sleeve shirt!

All our kids, from 15 to 3, took part in every piece of the process so that all young hands learned each skill it took to do this.  I love owning a farm because of what I'm watching my kids learn TOGETHER...
Hard work.
More hard work.
Following through.
More hard work.
Having fun while working (that's huge for all of us!).
Being an encouragement to others.
And more hard work.
I think the animals are just an added bonus! 

Great work everyone, and thanks Grama, Taylor and Johnny for helping out while you were here!!!
 Our goats are home :)
 There are 2 babies in that big belly!!

Graycie insisted that Ellie wear her Christmas dress to go welcome our goats darn cute!

 "Chewing cud isn't so bad, mom!"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Farm/Family Activity

A few days before we moved we started letting our young barred rock hens out of their protection.  They are 3 months old now.  They are large enough, and they have to get used to the other hens and roosters before we move since they will all be living together in the eggmobile.

 They were kept in the eggmobile at night to roost for the last 2 nights at our rental home to become familiar with their new "home"...chickens are creatures of habit and they return to the same place every night to sleep.  Here they are at our new farm being let out on the first morning!!

No feed supplement needed here!!  They have so much to scratch and peck for...a whole 6 acres!
Thankfully, the previous owners of our new home gave us the keys to the barn before closing to move everything over slowly...that was a blessing to take our time!  We got it done in a couple of days.
Christian turned 7 on the 19th!!  He is a fun-loving, adventure-seeking, weapon-loving, sister-protecting, always-giving boy!  We are so blessed to have him in our family.
Bowie knife is the present of the year it seems...he is very excited to have the same knife as his big brothers!  Don't you just love that sweet face?! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Eggmobile

We put the boys' plans together, purchased a used boat trailor with a makeshift box on it, added a bunch of hardwork and sweat and got a wonderful result!

Here is the trailor as we bought it.  Just a plywood box with shelving inside.  It already has the perfect doors to allow the hens to go in and out of.  
Jason sawed the top off, and we saved that piece of wood to reused for the top of the eggmobile.  We cut the frontend off and fastened a laying coop in its place...pretty smart! (and frugal!!) 
We will have easy access to the eggs as you can see!  Just flip up the piece of tin and there they are!
Nate got busy building the ladder for the hens' access to the eggmoblie.
 Even Gracyn helped! (atleast she thinks she did, and that's what's important!!)
Jason fastened some posts, 2 foot high, to allow air and sunshine in.  Then you can see the original top piece of wood with tin added to make for more protection from the elements.  That's my girl using powertools! (she's going to be a great helpmeet one day :))
 And there you have it!!  We put 5 beams from side to side for the hens to roost on at night, but I didn't capture a picture of that finished.
 Locked, loaded and ready to go! 

 And there you have it friends!  A moveable chicken house for our free ranging hens.  We will hook it up to our future tractor, or 4wheeler, or lawn mower, or...ooh, so many toys to get!! and move it around our property so our hens are never caged in to one area.  Once they are settled in a place to lay eggs and roost at night, they don't stray very far from it so they will automatically go where this thing goes!!  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Making Butter

I have always wanted to make my own butter...always.  But for some reason, in my industrialized mind I thought it took special equipment...even if it was an old fashioned churn.  I don't have many kitchen gadgets, not even a food processor, which is what I thought you had to have.  Thanks to some wisdom from my awesome friend Kim we found out all it takes is a jar and a willing helper!!  (duh, Chris!)

We started with a quart size jar and 2 cups of cream.  Whatever size jar you use just be sure to leave enough air space for the skake-shake-shaking!
Ben was the official shaker...he has dubbed himself the Butter Boy!  Love that kid!
 After about 5 minutes of continuous shaking it started to thicken...very neat to watch this happen!
 About 10 more minutes of shaking and you could see the complete separation.
 15 minutes total shaking and it's ready!
 We poured it into a glass jar covered with a cotton t-shirt to strain the liquid out.
Then I had Ben hold it up for a few minutes to be sure all the liquid was run out.  He probably didn't have to do this, we could've just left it sitting, but I wanted him to be actively participating in this part of the process...he's one of those boys who learns better by doing!
 Voila!!  We have butter! I'm sure you could use store bought cream, but we used raw cream from our milkman.  I would encourage you all to seek out raw dairy products.  Here in SC it's legal to buy so we have easy access to it.  It's so much better for you than store bought!!!
 2 cups of cream gave us 1/2 cup of butter and 1 1/2 cups of liquid...I hesitate to call it buttermilk because it didn't have that sour smell.  It tasted to me like skim milk, honestly.  Need to do more reasearch on that part!
Give it a was so easy and super fun!!  And thanks, Kim!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Farm Activity

We had a barred rock hen go broody about 3 weeks ago...she dilligently sat on 14 eggs.  2 hatched last week, and both died the next from the cold and one was found laying in the middle of the yard when we returned from the library (we think the cat did it!)  So the hen called it quits and left the rest of the eggs!  Megan, Cait and I candled them to find that the remaining 12 were growing as well!  So we put them in the incubator and yesterday we got a surprise!

This cute little one!  We left it in the incubator for over 24 hours...we're pretty sure our last baby chick that incubated a few months ago was killed by us handling it too much, too soon.  So far, so good with this one!  Hopefully the other 11 eggs will hatch as well.  We have lost 7 barred rock hens total so far(that's a loss of 6,300 eggs!!!...they each lay 300+ a year and they lay for 3 years!) So to have them replaced, by nature, without having to buy more, would be a huge blessing!
 Here are our 25 chicks that we recieved in September.  They are almost ready to join our other flock of barred rocks.  We have kept them seperate due to their size difference.  They will start laying eggs in February-March.

And here are our barred rocks that we have had since Easter.  The hens faithfully lay for us every day.  Although their production has slowed down a bit due to the shorter sunshiny days.  

We cleaned out the garden boxes today to ready them to move (next week!!) and they all had a hayday pecking for grubs and such.  Then they all got comfy and took a nap.  

The puppies are a month old today! The kids LOVE to play with them.  They are going to be hard to give up!!

Have a wonderful weekend!!