The Tick Crew

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Meet the guinea hens. These little keets will grow into 5 lb birds that will roam the yard. They will roost with the chickens and feast on the seemingly never ending supply of wood ticks and other bugs.

Guinea hens originate from the sub-Sahara region of Africa. They are rather noisy creatures and will raise a fuss if someone new comes in the yard or a predator is looming. Even though these birds can be annoying to say the least they are great to have around.

When they are allowed to range free about the yard they will live on insects they find. This is supposedly going to be a record year for wood tick and tent caterpillars. Having the birds on “tick patrol” will help immensely here! If allowed in the garden they will feast on potato bugs and squash beetles, they may eat a vegetable or two on their way but for the most part they like the bugs. (Make sure the garden is full grown before releasing the birds in it. Like any poultry they do enjoy young plants.) Guineas have also been known to keep mice, rats and snakes out of the yard as well.

Starting with keets or baby guineas you need to have a warm (95 degrees or so) place for them. We keep it pretty simple, a large cardboard box and a heat lamp. Keep the birds quite warm for the first week, then backing the temperature off by about 5 degrees a week. This may vary depending on your situation, so take it as a rough guideline.

Keeping the birds fed and watered is a simple task. Don’t put wood shavings in with the birds of the first while as they can mistake it for food (I do use large shavings against the recommendations). Rather, use flat newspaper for starting. These are probably the cleanest birds to care for. Their droppings are dry unlike the “soup” the comes from the rear end of water fowl. Change the paper (or shavings) regularly. I have my birds in the house so I like their bedding changed daily otherwise it can start to stink in a quick hurry and that’s not a welcoming odor.

A high quality starter feed of roughly 28 percent protein and a drowned proof water container is all you need. I use a small dog dish for water for the birds, it is not downed proof nor is it recommended. I check in on them quite often during the day not that I could save a little guy from drowning but so far it has been working good. For food a small plastic container. They are a couple weeks old now and it’s time for a food container that they can’t play in and dump out and soon a bigger box. Both will come at the same time and soon.

To be continued…

 

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Pounding Posts

We have already accomplished a fair amount this spring; cutting, splitting, hauling stacking firewood, moving the remaining wood pile, raking leaves, removing old fence posts and barbed wire just to name a little. All of which was done with the help of my brother and dad. Thank God for them! We have a few big jobs done for the year and a few more to do. The weather has not cooperated for use to burn one of the fields where the garden and orchard are going to be planted, so that is on hold.

The next big projects are putting up the new fence and I am going crazy looking at the yard! It looks so unkept and in need of a good cleaning. I started raking out the flower beds; I would like to know what they were thinking when they were putting those in. There are random rocks here and there, which could look nice if done differently. Rather than landscape fabric there is a variety of old rugs, soil bags and random plastic. There are trees growing in the middle of a couple that I’m sure looked nice when they were small, however now, they are much larger giving too much shade and robbing the smaller plants of moisture as well. The list goes on with these but I’m sure you get the picture. I have lots of work cut out for me there and I don’t plan to do anything but clean and maintain them this year. Next year will be flower bed overhaul.

The fence line is a big undertaking as well. With posts from the back of the barn and Grandma’s and a bunch my dad and brother found and some salvaged barbed wire off we went.

WildFlowerFarm.orgWell let me back up. First there was a lot of pacing off north to south for a straight line done by me, which I misunderstood the directions and had to be changed. That was a lot of walking but good exercise. The line was again straightened under the direction of my husband. Again more walking up and down the field. Don’t get me wrong I like to walk and appreciate the exercise, but still. The line was moved yet again under the direction of my father which was a good move too. We were all shooting for a straight fence line that would allow enough pasture for the cow and enough field for a winters worth of hay. Just when we thought we had it, we thought about snow. Where will the feet of snow be pushed when the driveway is plowed. Guess what the fence line was moved yet again, only a portion this time though.

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Finally we had our lined together and a fencing we went. With the use of a friends ASV with an auger corner post holes were drilled and posts set. Then was all the in between posts. Each measure to the inch, set in a straight line and stood up perfectly level. Let me tell ya’, we are have the straightest fence line in the Midwest! The original plan was wood corner posts and metal in between posts. But with the scavenging skill of my dad we were able to use all wood posts. They will stand just as long if not longer than the metal posts and look so nice. So I guess a better title for this would have been “Setting Posts”.

After a few long days of drilling holes, dragging posts, setting posts, filling and tamping holes the posts were set. I have to admit one day I missed a fair amount of the work because I had to go to work and deliver a wedding cake (which turned out really nice by the way). Wildflowerfarm.org

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The little boy was such a trooper through the whole thing, all bundled up in the stroller for most of the day. Hanging out, watching the work and napping.

 

Even with a few feet of post in the ground there was enough on top that each post had to be trimmed. Then for the wire.

Of course that wouldn’t be all the fencing that needs to be done. We still had the smaller corral and the garden to do too. But that was the same process (including all the line figuring) as the pasture fence.

To be continued…

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Here comes…

There’s a lot going on at the farm right now be sure to watch for the up coming posts!

The sheep have been sheered and it’s time to turn the fleece to a sweater. (Ok not our sheep, that will come later. But I do have a few fleece to tend to)

The pigs have been butchered. I should talk about the butchering, bacon making, ham curing, chop cutting pig processing,  but then what would I talk about next fall. Fat is being rendered and soap being made this time.

We are also going to talk about hide tanning too! But for now I have some steer hide ready to be tooled.

Cheese is in the works to start aging.

There’s some lace being put into a “built in” in the dining room. (I know it doesn’t sound to interesting but it’s actually kinda neat.)

The barn needs some help and repair.

The summer kitchen plans are getting close and will hopefully be in use by next year.

There’s more to come in the kitchen, the craft room, the garden and the barn yard.  Some things we are starting in the middle of the process, but don’t worry we will circle back to the beginning too!

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