Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Chicken tractors and transplant trauma

More chickens are hatching this week which requires more houses to hold them.  Yesterday Little Man, his father and I tore apart a couple of pallets and together with some leftover fencing, crafted another chicken tractor.

The boards were pulled from the top and bottom of the pallet.  Eight of them were notched at the ends and nailed together lengthwise to create eight-foot long sides.  Three were cut in half to make the upright supports on the corners and the middle of the eight-foot span.  The 2x4 center pieces of the pallet were ripped in half and created the cross-bracing for the ends of the box.  A couple of pieces of scrap plywood and USB were nailed to the top to create a hinged access point and the whole thing was wrapped in hardware cloth.  Finally some tarp material, salvaged from our wind damaged portable garage, was tacked around the sides to both keep the smallest of the birds in and predators out.  A new waterer was assembled from an extra feed dish and a lidded bucket with a hole drilled in the side.

Three laying birds will be added to the flock of 31 who call the chicken coop home.
50 meat birds will go into the older, large chicken tractor tonight after the hens are removed.
19 pullets were moved from the small chicken tractor to the new, larger one.
15 (and counting) new pullets went into the older brooder box.

This afternoon six holds will be added to the twenty four currently in the garage, to house the new litters of growing meat rabbits.

This morning, in between re-housing critters and regular chores, I have been trying to finish planting the garden with Little Man in tow.  He has been extremely helpful.  For each flat of transplants Momma puts in, Little Man follows behind with his new shovel and rake and pulls one or two back out to give to Momma.  I think I will wait to work in the garden until his father gets home.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Making memories

My stepson's first fish of the
weekend in 2007
Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer for many people.  Summer homes are opened; campers, tents and RVs are awakened from their winter slumber and brought forth into the state parks and campgrounds all around the country.  Here in northwestern Vermont, this weekend marks our family's unofficial family re-union weekend.  Each year extended family returns to the farm and camps out in and around the family camp on the lakeshore.  No invitations are mailed, no reminder phone calls made, no grocery list or meal plan is set forth.  You show up, bring your own food and choice of adult beverage and have a wonderful time.

The same stories are re-told again about lobster boils with the freshest of catch only eight hours out of the ocean when it reached the farm, and new memories are made as the next generation hooks their first perch or cooks their first s'more at the campfire.  This year even the threat of snow didn't keep the family from returning.  No tents were erected on the soggy lawn and the campfire is struggling against the relentless rain, but the family is here making new memories.

As the years pass we remember the best of times and as family members pass, we remember them fondly and the way they always cooked perfect steak on the fire even in the pouring rain.  The newest members of the family play hard inside of camp out of the weather eating their meals sitting on the stairs like I used to do when I was a child.  Conversations of years past and a better way of life seem to pass across everyone's lips at some point throughout the weekend.  Older folks have given up waking in a chilly camp to stoke the wood stove for the necessary warmth and comfort of a hotel room.  The next generation opted for the hard floor and warmth inside of camp instead of braving the weather outside in a tent which may or may not be filled with water in the morning.

Currently Little man is snoozing through the clatter and squawk of the latest batch of chickens hatching in the incubator.  Once our afternoon/evening chores are done, we will return to camp and gather around the campfire, weather be darned, and tell stories - some new and some classic re-runs, enjoy a couple of adult beverages and check off another year of great memories.

Little man, his father and I continue to farm in northwestern Vermont.  I have been remiss, no downright absent - in sharing the goings on here.  Writing this blog is almost a guilty pleasure for me and with so much that needs to happen during the day, I don't make the time to write.  One of the older members of my family said to me this morning that he enjoys reading the goings on of the farm from his home 300 miles away.  Through my words he remembers making some of the same mistakes, cringes at the thought of us taking on another venture and wondering how we can keep up with it all and manage to raise such a wonderful son. 

I will work on sharing more of the story.  Even without my being here for the past month, you still come to visit.  I don't realize how many people's lives I touched by starting this blog.  It is wonderful to have you here with us.  I am back in the saddle!