Summer homesteading this year has been hot and rainy, for a while it seemed like the weather was taking turns, one week it would be hot and dry, the next endless thunderstorms. At least the dry weeks kept everything from turning into a mud pit as it did earlier in the year. Now, at the tail end of summer, the mornings and nights are getting cooler and I can practically see the animals sighing in relief. Summer heat is hard on some livestock and there isn’t much we can do to help them out besides making sure they have shaded shelter, fresh cool water, and the odd frozen treat.
While some homesteaders I know had some losses this year due to the heat we were thankfully lucky in that regard. I attribute that mainly to our highly shaded property, it’s several degrees cooler under all these trees. Despite the heat and the weather we were able to get a few things done over the last few months, so without further rambling – here’s what we’ve been up to!
Summer Homesteading, What We’ve Been Up To Lately!
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Summer Homesteading Means Lots of Growing!
For the animals that is! Our first four turkeys are now almost the same size as the goats. We ended up with three males and one female out of that group and while I didn’t expect the female to start laying, as they are seasonal layers, she has started to grace us with a large nicely speckled egg about every other day.
Since these turkeys are broad-breasted turkeys and designed to live short lives and grow quickly it’s unlikely they will be kept for breeding purposes, it’s more likely that they will be sold or end up in our freezer. However, because ours spend most of the day foraging in the pasture and are fed only in the evenings with the free-ranging chickens they seem to be doing pretty well! There haven’t been any signs of leg and weight problems yet. They are big but overall seem pretty healthy.
Our Cayuga ducks have also joined the main duck flock and are busy growing in their beautiful iridescent adult feathering. Unfortunately, all three of them turned out to be female. It’s kind of funny because normally I want mostly females but I really needed at least one male in this group. This puts my plans on hold for purebred Cayuga ducks until I can source a male – in the meantime, they are living with the Pekins because Cayuga/Pekin crosses are seriously adorable.
With our Rouen duck group, we wound up with 3 males and 3 females. We will take two of the male Rouens out of the breeding group (either rehomed or freezer bound) and be able to offer purebred Rouen next spring!
I hatched out and raised quite a few chickens last spring! Out of the 5 Orpingtons I got as part of an egg trade I wound up with 1 rooster and 4 hens. All were grown out as a summer homesteading project and successfully sold to new homes for enough to cover a good portion of the feed bill. I also worked on my Black Copper Marans but only ended up with two hens worth keeping, the extra roosters were also sold along with a lone Lavender Ameraucana rooster that I was really hoping was female for a long time.
I’m still sorting through my Blue/Black/Splash Ameraucana which was another of my chicken summer homesteading projects and we ended up with 4 roosters (2 black, 2 blue) and 5 hens(2 blue, 3 black) out of the batch. I will be keeping all of the hens to start my breeding program and just recently managed to choose which 2 roosters to keep. I’ll post their pictures below and maybe you can guess which ones I ended up choosing!
All the goats are doing great! Mar’s is about the same size as his lady friends now and I’ve seen them doing their thing a time or two so I’m really hoping for little goats this fall. He is still quite a young boy so it could be a bit longer. Overall he has a great temperament and while he’s not as sweet as the girls he’s not rough or aggressive either and that’s fine with me! Male goats can be a bit stinky so if he doesn’t want to endlessly seek my attention and rub all over me like the girls I’m okay with that, as long as he’s happy!
Started Building Breeding Pens
The lumber prices around us are starting to go down (thankfully) but they are still a bit high as our summer homesteading goals wrap up. Since I needed these pens sorted out before fall so I can separate my breeding groups I finally settled on some prefabricated coops. It’s not ideal and I will likely have to extend the run space over time but they will work for the number of chickens I will be using right now.
Hopefully, by the time I am ready to expand these flocks, I can build something better. On the plus side, these prefabricated coops will then turn out to be beautiful grow-out pens in the future. I’ve already put one together and am pretty impressed with the construction, no flimsy thin wooden panels, and easy-to-break wire here, which is great! Sometimes we have to settle for ‘it will work’ rather than ‘this is what I really want’ and that’s okay!
Added Some New Girls To The Quail Flocks
As our starter flocks will soon be entering their second fall it was time to start adding some younger blood to the mix. I hatched out several batches of quail chicks over the summer and picked out a few females from each to add to the flock. I will likely hatch out a few more and pick out some nice gentle males in the coming months as well. Our original birds have served us well and will be allowed to live out the remainder of their lives in retirement.
Summer Homesteading – Things I Still Need To Do!
Fence in the Bigger Pasture – This was supposed to be one of our major focuses over the spring and summer and something we would really like to get finished sooner rather than later but things didn’t quite work out. Fencing and post prices are still crazy high. We are hoping things come down a bit come fall and honestly, digging fence post holes in the fall sounds better than doing it in the summer anyway! It’ll happen eventually!
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.
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. I’m considering working this into the blog somehow, as a separate page rather than a whole new domain. We’ll have to see how it goes! I’m still toying with designs and backend stuff, however, so progress was made over the summer homesteading months and hopefully will continue as we move into fall.
Redo My Brooding Area – Since we are currently in a hatching and brooding lull I would really like to redo the area so that’s it’s more convenient to move around in and clean. What we have now works fine but it’s more time-consuming than it has to be and I know I can make it better. I have already started pricing materials!