Growing Up

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The pullets have been moved out to the chicken tractor, which gets moved around our yard everyday to get fresh grass.  These chickens will be our new layers.  Our old layers, 5 of them left now, could use some support in the laying department.  A fox took all of last year’s pullets, so we are making sure these little girls don’t wander free until they are absolutely full grown.  Last year the fox stole the pullets when Missy was tied up.  The full grown hens ran to Missy’s protection, but the little ones didn’t.

So now these new chicks (now pullets) have outgrown their brooder in the barn, they get to hang out in the chicken tractor where our meat birds usually fatten up.  Our meat chicks haven’t arrived yet this year.

The avian flu is becoming a big issue in our area.  The large turkey factories near us have it, which is very deadly to their birds.  USDA inspectors came by our place a few days ago to test our flock.  They were going from farm to farm, checking for backyard poultry.  We were told we will only hear from them again if they get a positive test, and we haven’t heard.  I’m not worried.  I am eager for these girls to start laying.  I’m sick of buying eggs.  5 old hens don’t provide nearly enough for our family.

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Growth

So, our baby chicks are getting big.  We are still figuring out what breeds we ended up being left with after several of them didn’t make the journey to our house.  I think I’ve identified at least 1 of the chicks as a rooster.  This was to be our first year of keeping a rooster, and we had ordered 5 to choose from.  Now we don’t know how many are roosters because so many died.  The one that I identified as a rooster already we will not keep long term.  He charges me whenever I go visit them.  I have a feeling that’s not a good sign.

We have been talking about getting turkeys for a few years, but about 2 weeks ago, Knut out of the blue said, “Oh, just order some turkeys.  Do it quick so they will be ready for Thanksgiving.”  So I ordered 15, since that’s the minimum order, of Bourbon Red Turkeys.  We picked that one because we may or may not decide to overwinter a breeding pair, and hatch our own turkeys next year.  However, not all turkey breeds can reproduce naturally.  In fact, most breeding on conventional meat turkeys is done artificially so that when the birds are mature, they have more breast meet.  However, this makes them so top-heavy, they can’t breed.  Don’t laugh.  So we got breed able turkeys.  From what we hear, they are fairly dumb birds, and will die if you look funny at them.  The kids must have made funny faces at 2 of them because we are down to 13 now.

After the debacle of the chicks coming in a day late a few weeks ago, the post office made extra sure that the turkeys got to us ASAP.  I woke up at 5:00am to my phone ringing.  (It was still dark out people.  That’s not morning.  That’s night.)  I croaked out a “Hello” and they apologized for waking me, but said they had some live birds for me to come pick up.  I said “Thank you,” hung up the phone, and went back to sleep.  Well, I tried to, but Knut said, “are you going to pick them up?”  I said, “in an hour.” Then he said, “You better set an alarm.”  I said, “You’re right.”  And then I did.  You really can get a better idea of the conversation if you put about a couple minutes of dozing between each sentence we each said.  The whole conversation took about 15 minutes between him and me.

So I pried myself out of bed a few minutes after 6.  Miraculously no one else in the house was up yet, so I snuck downstairs grabbed the car keys and drove the van to town.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever picked up packages at the back door of the post office.  They didn’t give me instructions this time because I’ve gotten used to it now.  The whole thing is terrifying.  When the front doors are still locked, and they are not open for business, but they really want you to pick up your live animal, they tell you to come to the back door.

First you drive into the “restricted” portion of the parking lot.  Not only does it tell you that you will be towed, it tells you that you are breaking the law if you are going back there unauthorized and you will be arrested.  You pull the car up to where semi trucks usually park, and where there are cameras, and perhaps rifles pointed at you for all you know.  As you ascend the stairs there are signs proclaiming that you are committing high treason if you take another step towards the sacred and secure packages.

OK, so maybe they don’t say that, but there’s an overkill of warnings and it freaks me out.

So I rang the buzzer, and the door immediately unlocked, and I go into a room full of packages but no people.  Actually I’m relieved as soon as I get inside because the owner of the yarn store that used to be in town actually works at the post office too and sometimes I can see her and chat for a minute or two.  It’s hard to go anywhere in town without seeing a familiar, friendly face.

The ride home from picking up birds is much louder than then the ride into town.  Their little chirps are so much fun.

The kids were delighted when they were eating breakfast with Knut, to find that I came home with a noisy package.

The strawberry plants are starting to green up and stretch out. I got some gardening done yesterday, but mostly clearing away dead stuff, and spreading some compost, which really should have been done last Fall.  Silje and David very willingly filled the wheelbarrow for me over and over again.  I’ll take their enthusiasm as long as I can, since I know it will dwindle around June.  We got some rain last night, which we weren’t expecting as the chances on the forecast were so slim.  So that has adjusted our gardening plans for the week.  I’m actually fine with that.

Harvest Begins

Soy bean harvest started this week.  So far everything is going very well.  Knut’s long hours have begun, and we’re bringing food out to him at least once a day.  I’m having a tough time managing the enormous feat of getting food on the table, as we are so often in town these days, and when we are home, I’m working on harvesting my own little garden, and preserving what I can for the winter.  It leaves very little time for cooking…or laundry.  We’re headed into birthday season in our house too, so I don’t see any sign of catching up with some freezer meals put away anytime soon.

So what ends up happening is I spend several hours canning tomato sauce, only to serve macaroni and cheese from a box for supper.  I spent a lot of time yesterday just going through my recipes and finding all the ones I could that could be prepared in 30 minutes either in the morning (crock pot) or evening.

We did some driving today to pick up a pig at a butcher about an hour away.  Another homeschooling family in our circle has a 10 year old that raises pigs as a side project, and we bought half of one from him, and went to pick it up.  My freezers are now full of hams and bacon, and sausages, ribs, roast, etc.  We actually had to borrow freezer space from a neighbor.  I think in 3-4 weeks my freezers should be clear enough to get it back.  Sooner if I can find some time to clean one of the little ones out better.

There is such an enormity of things going on behind the scenes in our lives right now.  I went for a walk outside last night to take some pictures.  When decisions are to be made, and a lot is on my mind, I find that taking pictures is a great way to capture the beauty of the moment.  It allows me to take my mind off of things, and just see what God has given me for just that time.  It’s just beautiful.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!  We’ll be celebrating David’s birthday, as well as one of my nephew’s birthdays.  We’ll have some company over, and keep plugging away at this garden produce. Don’t forget to look for the beauty in each moment.