It seems like the weather has made a decision and since it’s supposed to hit the high 90’s next week it seems like that decision is that summer is here. I’m happy to say that the rain has slowed down quite a bit and the farm is no longer a quagmire of mud. It definitely makes chores a bit more enjoyable! Homesteading in May has been a time for growing around the homestead. Our baby animals are growing up and moving from the brooders to life outside and the small garden we got set up is coming along nicely.
We have quite a few projects in the works and while hatching egg sales have dropped as the spring hatching season has slowed down there are still a few sales here and there. Focus has turned from hatching eggs to chicks and young livestock for the most part with Quail and Rabbits being our biggest feed bill sponsors for the last little while. By the time this article goes live the kids will be done with school which will give me more time to focus on the blog and hopefully, a farm website. I finally came up with a logo for the farm and while I may tweak it a little bit here and there I’m pretty satisfied with it, Check it out below and let me know what you think in the comments!
Homesteading In May – What We’ve Done This Month
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Moved The Grow-Outs Outside!
I love moving the little’s outside, I think my husband does too since chicks in the garage make for an endlessly dusty vehicle and he does love his truck. Brooding in the garage is something that I would like to change in the future but for now, that’s what we have to work with. In any case, whenever a batch of chicks gets old enough to move outside there is cause for a bit of celebration. There is far less work involved in caring for the birds once they move outside and are no longer making a mess in the brooders!
In the last month we have moved the turkeys, the new ducks and the chicks I held back from the surprise box outside and began integrating them with our current flocks. Introducing new birds to an established flock takes a bit of time but the introduction pen we built earlier in the year works very well and makes the task much easier. The ducks and turkeys have already joined the main flock with no problems. I expect I will be able to let the chicks out of the introduction pen very shortly as well…just in time for the next batch to move in! Sadly a few of the chicks I held back have turned out to be roosters so will have to be sold or processed once they grow up.
Started Weaning Our Second Litter Of Rabbits
With the first batch already gone to their new homes our second litter (only one this time as North didn’t take) is already starting to be weaned. They are a cute little group of eight and they will be our last baby rabbits until the fall. With the temperatures predicted to hit the high 90’s and low 100’s next week, I won’t be breeding the rabbits again until it cools off. That’s fine because by the time fall rolls around DustBunny, MapleShade and SolarFlare will be old enough to join the breeding rotations.
I already have a waiting list of people interested in Hazel’s kits so I don’t expect these eight to stick around very long once they are fully weaned and old enough to leave.
Refreshing the Quail Flock
I am currently growing out a group of our hatched quail with the intention of refreshing our female birds. Quail lifespans are relatively short and some of our older hens will probably start producing fewer eggs over the summer. With that in mind, I held back one of our hatches with the intention of keeping a few females to refresh our laying flock. There are a few really pretty ones that I’m crossing my fingers about but my luck with that has been lackluster this year – all the really pretty quail keep turning out to be males. I guess we will find out in a few weeks!
Picked Up Our Cayuga Ducklings
We ordered 5 Cayuga ducklings at the start of the year and there was quite a waiting list for them, Unfortunately two of the ducklings did not survive shipping so we ended up with only three. If we are really lucky we have two females and one male but it will be a little while before we know for sure. Hopefully we have better shipping luck with the Bourbon red turkey poults that will be arriving in the next week.
Hatched Some Blue/Black/Splash Ameraucana Chicks
As I stated in an earlier monthly report I really wanted to focus on specific chicken breeds and intended to move away from the mixed flock we currently had. We already had a flock of purebred Black Copper Marans so it made sense to continue with them and I currently have several grow outs from new bloodlines to add to that flock.
But I really wanted to have a flock of purebred blue layers as well and after careful consideration, I choose the Ameraucana breed. I’ve always loved our mixed Ameraucana Easter Eggers, they have always had great personalities and have been easy to work with. I am hoping that these purebreds turn out to be the same! Quality purebred Ameraucana’s can be challenging to find as many people sell ‘ameraucana’ chicks that don’t meet color or breed standards however I found a breeder with really nice birds and had some eggs shipped to me.
As I have said before shipped eggs can be kind of a gamble! But I’m happy to report that out of the 14 eggs I was sent 9 of them hatched! It was the best hatch rate that I have had so far for shipped eggs and I’m really happy with how the chicks are growing up. It looks like we got a pretty nice mix of blues and blacks and I can’t wait to see how many roosters and hens we end up with.
Planted A Small Starter Garden
I have managed to move all of my seedlings outside. The garden might not be as large as I wanted it to be or as varied but it’s a start and it’s better than nothing! I’ve never been the greatest of gardeners so perhaps I will do better with a smaller garden and fewer plants to try and keep alive. In the past, my greatest success with plants has been succulents – and really those are pretty hard to kill.
The garden this far consists of some Tomatoes, Broccoli and Potatoes. We’ll see how it goes and maybe I can add some more variety in the fall when I’ve had more time to work on the soil. The plus side to a smaller garden is that it’s easier to block off from the chickens.
Our berry bushes from last year are doing pretty great, the blackberry bush seems to be doing especially well and there are quite a few berries in the process of ripening on the branches. I managed to block them off from the chickens as well. I will need to make a trellis of some sort for our hardy kiwi plants as they’ve taken off lately and are trailing along the ground.
What Do We Have Planned For The Future?
Fence in the Bigger Pasture – This is one of our major focuses over the spring and summer and something we would really like to get finished sooner rather than later. Now that the rabbit hutches and goat pen has been completed we will begin buying the supplies needed for this project next.
Learn to Tan Hides – I have all the materials and it finally not freezing outside so I really have no excuse not to get started on this one.
Build Chicken Breeding Pens – I am still researching the best option for these. With lumber prices being the way they are I am leaning towards a PVC hoop house or an A-frame design. there is also the option of using pallet wood if I can get my hands on enough of them! Thankfully I have some time to figure it out as the younger chickens won’t be ready to start laying or breeding for several months.
Work On The Farm Website – While the blog will always be my main focus the farm requires a website of its own where we can advertise items and animals we have for sale as well as showcase our breeding flocks and hatching eggs.