Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chores & Grafting

Ryan went out of town last weekend on a much-needed break, so that meant I covered farm chores for him. Contrary to popular belief, I don't usually do much with farm chores. Just when necessary. Ryan is Mr. Farm Chores. 
I realized we don't usually blog about the day-to-day, so here is "How to do farm chores," Janice style:

1. Get oats from the shop. A staple bucket is about the right size and handy. Keep an eye out for the skunk, he lives there and is currently too smart to be caught. But he stays on the other side of the building...

2. Get a sled of hay. If you're lucky and you're just covering one night, the hay fairy already got you a sled. If you're unlucky, pull apart a big round bale or a small square bale until you have a sled of hay. 

3. Offer the oats to the sheep. This is a distraction. They will try to knock you over to get to the oats. Be strong! Stand firm! This is the sheep version of the "feeder rage" we see in broiler chickens.

4. Pour the oats into an old chicken feeder. Deploy distraction!

5. Go get sled full of hay and dump it into the feeder. The feeder is a farrowing crate turned upside down, and it works really well. Lamb babies are already getting big!

6. Watch lambs eat. This year was much better than last year for lambs, we have around 20 and our mortality rate was closer to 10% instead of last year's 50%+. I'm not sure what happened last year, but either way this year was better. 

7. Roll eyes at the building chicken. All other chickens were moved to the new building, but this one stayed behind. She cleans up oats the sheep leave behind and generally has decided she doesn't want to leave. She doesn't like change. 

8. Get water for the sheep. Carry it back, cursing its weight, and try not to spill it on yourself. 

9. Fail.

10. Go up to the brooder and get the laying hen chicks some feed. Unfortunately, none came out so that you could coo at their cuteness. Laying hens stay cute MUCH longer than broilers. This year we have Black Australorps. We've shown this brooder hood design before, but I have to say it is AWESOME! We are not checking the brooder temperature every couple hours with this thing, they can regulate themselves. 

11. Close the door for the adult laying hens. 

12. Check on the adult laying hens. This is our new building in service, and it's been quite nice. Check that they have water and food, since we now collect eggs in the morning. 

13. Hello gals! We mostly have buff orpingtons right now, with some red stars and other miscellany mixed in. 
And then chores are done! Ryan worked very hard to make it easy for me; the cows have a hay bale in a bale ring and access to a waterer that is hooked to the well and manages itself. They'll be grazing soon, but spring has been late this year so they are still eating hay. 

Ryan also took a grafting class recently, which has been a new experiment. 
We have a couple of grafted apple trees hanging out in the bathroom where they can get light, but not direct light. That pretty, healthy growth you see on the one in the foreground? That's the root stock growing. Sigh. The graft does appear to be taking as well, though. Have you noticed I can't seem to take a picture of the interior of our house without a kid toy showing up somewhere? I have. 

I have been productive quilting-wise, but it is currently all for gifts that have yet to be given and so I can't share yet! I will share after I give the gifts.

As for the kidlets, little Z is growing well and as he should. In this picture, he has recently discovered the joy that is feet. I just LOVE the moment when babies find their feet; H did this too. It is the world's greatest toy! And it's right there, at the end of my leg! Whoa!!
Z can now reliably roll over front to back and back to front, his next step is crawling and he is determined to be mobile as soon as he can manage it.

H is still doing really well as a big sister, although she's trying to find ways to play with her little brother. Here, she is adorning him with post-it notes while he ignores her. She is almost three, and is full of all the drama and discovery that comes with being a three-year-old girl. 
And so, life goes on!

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