Thursday, February 25, 2016

First Taste of Spring

Can you guess what this is?

Last year I bought these supplies to make an 8' x 10' chicken tractor for broilers and never got a chance to finish/use it. 

Well now it is almost finished, other than the roof, door and wheels which can be added closer to go time. All told, it cost about $130 in supplies. We bought supplies to make a second one, so that we should be able to raise 100 broilers at a time. 

It went up pretty fast, Isaac and I built the frame in about three hours and I spent a couple more hours attaching the wire and cutting pieces of tarp.

And I LOVE the design so far! It is nice and light, but rigid. Compared to the wooden rectangle designs I had in the past or our heavy A-frame, it looks like a good compromise of function and easy moving. We shall see if it stands up to backwoods Willamina conditions... 

...please deer, do not decide it is a trampoline or a bed. You have already not been kind to our new fence, you lazy fleabags.

Here is the website where I found the chicken tractor plans.

Baby broiler chicks will be arriving in just over 3 weeks!

Now please turn to my handsome Hubby here, surveying the weekend's other project...
 ...and my handsome son, helping his Daddy (he was bursting with pride at being allowed to help and use real tools).
 We put up a semi-permanent pen around the calf shelter so they could get some fresh sunshine and a taste of spring grass. They loved it. Tentative at first, then grazing systematically in earnest, then running around kicking up their heels.

I love cows. Wayyyyyy muchly.

In fact, I had a chance to sit outside their pen, cows came over and started licking my offered hand, beautifully feathered chickens curiously came up to me, the sun was warm, grass was green...

... heaven...

I missed these moments intensely the past 4 years, though I tried not to dwell on it.

THIS is the good part of farming. Makes all the effort worthwhile.
I can't wait to put up our electric fence paddock system and get them out there grazing daily, but that baby grass needs to gain a couple more inches or else a first graze will shock them and stunt the rest of the season's growth.

The temperatures have been so warm the past couple weeks, looks like it will only be another week or so until I can move cows out!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Of Calves and Chicks

We got some new chicks! Two dozen golden sex link pullets. They are quite the entertainment around here...

So much fluffy cuteness...

Oh... and did I mention I am a proud cow owner again? Thanks to a quickly and cheaply constructed pallet shelter (my husband hates it, but for a girl it was the best I could manage on my own with the materials available at the time), these 500 lb beef calves are quite comfortable in their deep bedding where they will stay for 1-2 months until the active grass growing season.

It is so neat to see our boys - not even 3 and 2 yet! - surrounded by dogs, chickens, cows, and already learning about caring for animals. I am so grateful to God for providing this wonderful life for my little family.