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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

One bucket at a time!

I think Zeb is back there laughing at me!
Many of my posts this year have had to do with how much time and how many issues I have been having here on the farm.  While I don't want to scare someone away who is attempting to homestead, grow their own food, start a market garden, or simply start working towards self-sufficiency, I want to share my experiences so that you are prepared for the work and rewards ahead.  My expectations have changed a lot since I started this journey.  DH's haven't and that leads to a lot of arguments.  

I recently listened to a podcast from John Suscovitch where he let his listeners in on a day where he had crumbled.  Complete and total burnout ending with a meltdown at the kitchen table in the arms of his wife.  I can't tell you how much that resonated with me.  There are days that I just want to crawl under my bed and let the waterworks flow.  What keeps me keeping on is a dream and a sense of humor.  I am fiercely independent and VERY stubborn (don't tell my mother I actually admitted this!).  Each project that I take on on this farm comes with a valuable learning experience, often because I didn't ask for help in the first place.  

One very important thing I have learned - 
Do not start any repair or project 
which involves a necessary part of the household infrastructure 
when the hardware store is closed!

This week's lesson is - always build the door wider than you think you will need it.  In my newly reconstructed greenhouse, I built a people-door.  It works great for keeping out the drafts and keeping in the heat.  Little man and I can walk right through it without any problems.  It has shifted a little over the winter so it will need to be re-hung a little higher, but it works great... until you go to fill your raised beds with fresh soil and compost.  

The wheelbarrow doesn't fit through the door.  I also didn't leave myself any other access to get anything larger than a people through the door.  Now it is a shovel and a five gallon pail to move the yards and yards of dirt from outside, to inside the greenhouse.  The weather has been cooperating and I have managed to fill one raised bed and started mixing and filling my seed pots.  One more raised bed to go and MANY, MANY more cells for transplants.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

First batch - 2016

We started collecting eggs from the girls on the 28th of February.  28 eggs were collected and put into the incubator.  Water was kept at a good level, the eggs were turned twice a day and the temperature stayed constant at 99.5 degrees.

At approximately 10 days, we candled the eggs and found that only 16 of them were probably viable, with two being questionable, but we erred on the side of positive thinking.

On the 21st day we heard cheeping from inside the shells and late that afternoon, the first chick was hatched.  Ten chicks began to emerge from their shells.  One wasn't strong enough and never made it all the way out.  Nine babies stayed in the incubator for two days, then Little man eagerly assisted as they were moved outside to the brooder box.  The following evening I found one that wasn't looking too good, so I brought it inside and put it back in the incubator in hopes that it needed a little warmth.  She made it through the night and ate and drank before I left for my off farm job, but alas, was not well enough to hang with us.

Eight very strong, healthy birds are growing quickly.  A second batch has been started - perhaps it was just too cold at the end of February.  Perhaps the boys have had some spring fever and we will have a better fertilization rate.  For now, water is kept in the incubator, eggs are turned twice per day and the temperature holds steady at 99.5 degrees.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Warm N' Toasty

The incubator was fired up on Friday and got to the constant, correct temperature of 99.5 degrees by Saturday afternoon.  I thought maybe we were jumping the gun, but the forecast for next week includes a couple days in the 50's.  After three days I have 28 eggs in there.  I will try for forty, but can't go much more than four days between first and last egg added.  I was hoping for a couple more but there is an egg eating chicken in the coop and I can't tell which one it is.  

Twice daily egg turning and careful monitoring of water levels along with keeping the cover closed - Little man will just have to watch through the windows - and March 19th will begin chick watch!