A good day

It has been quite a weekend so far.  I have been knocked down by allergies and allergic rash and not really been myself this past week.  The antihistamine my dr. says will help turned me into a zombie with a cotton brain.  Today is the first day I am out from under the effects (after having stopped the pills) and I feel like I can think, but of course I now itch all over again.  There just isn’t any winning.  Sigh.

The weather was a total winner today.  We did a lot of outside farm type things.  Rounded up some runaway guinea keets and got ready for 2 of our lambs to go to a new home.  John took care of some compost orders and reorganized the piles so we can drive past them.  Quite a job!

Ram lamb and ewe lamb waiting

The sheep spent most of the day loafing and cudding as good sheep are supposed to do in the heat of the day.  The girls and the lambs rest in the shade of the greenhouse in the top picture.  It’s getting difficult to tell the lambs from the adult ewes these days, they have grown so fast.  I always forget how that happens!  Our two lambs wait in a pen for their new owners to arrive from western Maine (bottom picture).

Our ewes are not very happy with us right now, however, as weaning is nigh.  We have been cutting down their grain rations and giving them first cut hay… not tops in their book!  But it’s time.  In another week or so I would like to have them down on pasture (without their lambs) so this is the way it goes.  Sorry girls!  You’ve done a great job, now it’s time to refresh yourselves on grass and get ready for breeding in the autumn.  Thinking about the seasons from the point of view of the sheep year always stops me in my tracks… it’s not quite June and I am thinking about October and breeding already!  I hope this summer is a nice one that we can enjoy without getting washed away.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

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More chickens!

Chicken palace

The roasters, guinea fowl and layer chicks are all having a grand time in their greenhouse. Feathers are busting out all over, and they are not needing the lights on as much during the day since it’s been so much warmer.

Roasters with one laying hen peeking

The roasters are heads taller than the laying hens now since they’re hard-wired to grow much more quickly.  In the picture below, a few roasters are lined up with one golden-laced Wyandotte hen peeking out from between.

John is already counting the days until eggs!

Chicken real estate

Hen chicks

Even more chicks have come to the farm.  We have not had any laying hens for quite a few years now, and even though we have friends who always have fresh eggs available, we really missed having our own.  Since we are brooding the guinea keets and the roasters, our friend Pam at Hatchtown suggested that we just brood a few more and get that taken care of!  Not wanting to order 15 or 25 hen chicks from a hatchery, we were able to get some from a local farm.  Pam knew that they would be approximately the same size at this point.  We *think* we have:  2 Araucanas, 2 Golden Laced Wyandottes, 1 Black Sexlink and 1 Barred Rock.

We brought them home and placed the box they were in on it’s side so that they could make their own decisions on when to step out into the hopping mass of roasters and keets.  The Black Sexlink shot right out of the box and immediately blended in with the big bunch, but the others were less anxious.  Finally one or two more took the plunge, but 3 remained in the corner, having a little nap.  Two of the roasters decided that the box looked like a cozy place in which to take up residence and set themselves to ousting the three hens.  John and I stood there laughing as the big bully kept trying to put his head under the hens and push.  We really think it was a roaster rooster, because every once in awhile he would come out of the box,  spread his legs apart, fluff himself up, flap a bit and stretch his neck out.  A lot of posturing, and then he would turn back to the job at hand.  While we stood there, he never did get the hens out of the box.  They sat there together with their eyes closed tightly, ignoring the whole onslaught.  Every once in awhile, another roaster would come along and goose the roaster-rooster who was busily at work, and he would get all upset and have to start over.  Later on in the afternoon when we checked on them again, there were a few hens and a few roasters napping in the box.  I guess they have made their peace and they are willing to share the chicken world’s  newest prime real estate!

Animal update

Banjo keeps close track of us

We have had a lot of inquiries about how some of the animals are coming along, especially Banjo the bottle goat.  He is now over a month old and doing very well.  He is down to two bottles/day, but he is eating up a storm at the hay feeder.  I kept offering him that late night bottle, but this past week he only played with it when I went out, so I decided just to give him the two.  He really is a sweet boy, and just follows us around while we do chores.  I have to make sure to remember to get him back inside as we get so used to having him running about!

Then there are those adorable piggies!  They are really growing like crazy.  Not as friendly as some of the pigs we have had in the past, but they are getting used to us little by little.

3 Not-So-Little piggies

And the real eye-popper is always the chickens.  They just grow so fast you can almost see it happen.  This breed of roaster acts so much more like egg-layers than the CornishX we usually get that I am totally amazed.  They are active little foragers which hopefully will keep their legs strong so as they grow they won’t weaken and keel over dead as their body mass increases.  Their feathers are popping out, and it’s lovely to see the range of buff and reddish coloration.  The guinea keets are growing fast as well (boy are they fast little buggers!).

Roasters doing their chicken thing
John holds 3 of the chicks
A roaster showing off his or her new feathers

And so it goes.

It can always be worse

Another crazy week.  On Saturday the rain was incredibly nasty and the temperature plummeted.  John got a wonderful fire going in the fireplace and I was feeling down with a cold, so I gave myself permission to sit in front of the fire with a few good books and the chihuahua and jack russell on my lap.  How bad could it be?

Spring birches

On Sunday the weather was beautiful but blustery.  So John kept the fire going and we had a warm spot to come in to.  My cold got worse.  The mouse on our home computer got flaky and stopped working.  The dishwasher was loaded and ready to go and didn’t.  Josie the Jack Rusell found a runaway guinea keet and ate it before I could stop her.  It just didn’t seem to be my day.  Mother’s Day at that.  Or my weekend!

But I got some lovely cards and had a chance to spend some time with the family.  And this week I have finally gotten to Staples to get a new mouse (wireless this time); hopefully we have the roasters and the guinea fowl more tightly tucked up in their enclosure after a mass breakout on Monday;  it’s almost the end of the work week; 2 of our beautiful ram lambs went to live as 4-H lambs with friends of ours; and I hear the weather might actually be getting warmer and more spring-like again!  Or as the folktale says: “it could always be worse!”  (Of course, my cold actually has gotten worse and gone into my chest and taken my voice with it, but, well, you can’t have everything!)

Chickens have landed!

Roaster and guinea keet chicks make themselves at home

It’s been another crazy week here at Ruit Farm.  The weather has been very variable, and it seems as though I have extra time in the afternoons only on days when it’s raining.  But we put aside the bad weather to get ready for our poultry brooding.  Friday our meat birds and our little guinea keets arrived.  Our friends at Hatchtown kept them warm and got them started with their water and food until we got home from work.  We put them in the back end of one of our greenhouses with two heat lights on them.  Plenty of food and water and they are doing well.  The problem is, it’s another invitation to stand around and not get anything done, they are so mesmerizing to watch.  Very busy little fellows!

This year we are trying a new breed of roaster:  the ones that are considered “range” meat birds, so that we will be pasturing them when they get bigger.  It’s an experiment, but so far they are acting and looking hardier than the cornish crosses that we usually raise for meat.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that things will work out well with these guys.  We will keep them a few weeks longer than the others, but I am hopeful that they will be much more mobile, stronger on their legs, and even more delicious than our others!  And boy are they cute; not a white feather in sight :*)