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New Layers

We now have Black Australorp chickens! We currently have 9 hens and a Barred Rock rooster (Rocky) and they have just started laying. The Black Australorps are beautiful with their feathers so black and they have a green tint to them when the sun shines off of them. We built a chicken shed that was originally planned to sit on a small trailer, but the small trailer was not stable enough, so we moved the shed to a regular wagon running gear. The setup has a slant roof that pours rainwater into a gutter that funnels it into a five gallon bucket that gravity feeds the waterer. It also has shade / hawk cover and a dog feeder attached to keep the pyrenees close by. The range feeder is on the ground behind the wagon. It can be moved by hand on relatively level ground, and the 4 wheeler helps out when it’s heading uphill. We got two little eggs yesterday!

RIP “Red”

During the moving process, our last laying hen, a Rhode Island Red, “Red”, as she was affectionately called by our neighbor, was taken by a predator. She was over three years old and was still producing an egg a week. Yes this would be considered a “welfare” chicken, not producing as much as she was consuming, but she was a lot of fun to watch!

Finally, beef is available

After a lengthy process of finding and working out details with a new processor, C&F Meats in College Grove, and going through the permitting process with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to be able to sell meat by the piece here at the farm, we’re finally open for business with regards to beef! I’m just a little tardy in getting this post up, but we’re already sold out of stew meat and rump roasts. We still have lots of ground beef and ribeyes and several other cuts. We even have organ meats of heart, kidney, liver and tongue (ok, maybe tongue is not an organ, but it’s an odd cut) for all you Weston A. Price folks out there. We’re open on Saturdays from Noon ’till 4PM and other times by appointment. Generally we’re home in the evenings, so come on down and check it out!

So far, Judith and I have tried the burgers with nothing added but a little bit of salt and pepper and they were GREAT! Some of the folks we shared with said “best burger ever!” They were a little biased since they were our parents, but seriously, the burgers are very good. We’ve also had a ribeye and a fillet. The fillet was out of this world and the ribeye was very good, but my cooking of it could have been better. We’ll most certainly be trying it again 🙂

Beef!

The Belties will be ready for harvest next year (2013), but we have customers that want beef sooner.  So to fill the gap we purchased three steers this spring (2012) to grow up to harvest size and be available near the first of November.  This is going as planned, and we will have beef available by the whole, half, quarter and piece available soon.

 

No honey for me :(

This post got lost somewhere and I just found it!

Well, we did another inspection on Oct 6 and were very disappointed to find that during the continual weeks of rain, the bees have consumed quite a bit of what I was hoping to extract.  I was really expecting at least 5 frames and optimistically hoping for a whole super, but it was not to be.  Judith and I went through the whole thing and re-arranged things to get them ready for winter since some of the nights have been in the mid to low 30’s.  I restructured the bottom two supers to have 9 frames each, so now all the boxes have 9 frames.  I know most people don’t do this, but after reading some of Walt Wright’s stuff, ok, well all of it, I’m changing some of my practices starting with 9 frames in all boxes.  Anyway the inspection led to a discovery of about 4 frames of brood, total, and the rest was empty or honey.  There was very little uncapped nectar, and there was a bit of pollen.  All of the nectar that was previously uncapped and occupying several frames and almost one entire super was gone.  Here’s the structure as it stands now:

box 1 (counting from the bottom) has some brood and pollen
box 2 has honey on the outside 4 frames and a little brood and empty comb in the middle
box 3 has honey except two middle frames
box 4 is 1/3 full of honey and the rest empty or nectar
box 5 is empty drawn comb
box 6 is empty mostly drawn comb, but poorly drawn comb

The next step I think is to put the inner cover down with the bee escape, or catch them on a really cool (not cold) day and yank box 5&6 off for the winter. After that, put down the entrance reducer to keep the mice out for the winter and cross our fingers and hope to see the little gals again in February or so.

Grapes

This past weekend I was able to finish planting all the stuff in the back of the truck. There were several (maybe 12 or so?) forsythia and two Concord grapes. We also got the retaining wall built that will contain the cover for the water line that was exposed during some of the heavy rains. Dad was able to get the last of the concrete in it to complete the filling and it’s now ready for dirt!

More plants…

Plants, plants everywhere and there’s still more to do. I got the Brighwell blueberry plant in the ground, so we now officially have 31 blueberry bushes. I’ve also planted several more forsythia bushes along the property line between us and our front neighbor. I’ve got a pot with several more in it, I just need to take the time to break them all apart and get them in the ground. I’ve also started the small retaining wall that is necessary to get the water line covered up before winter. We’ll see what Saturday brings in the way of progress with plants and progress on covering the water line.

Even More Blueberries

Well, after having blueberries on the brain after planting the ones from early last week, and circumstances being favorable (read: I had a long day at the farm on Saturday), we planted 9 more plants yesterday, and still have one more to plant! We purchased 4 more Tifblue plants, a Brighwell plant and Mrs. Betty wanted her blueberry plants thinned out, so I dug the ones up that she wanted gone and was able to get 5 plants out of them. 9 of them made it in the ground before dark leaving only the Brighwell to get planted tomorrow. This will make a grand total of 31 blueberry plants! I think we’re done with the blueberry plants for now, finally 🙂 I also have two more concord grape plants to get in the ground along with a huge list of other things to plant. You’ve gotta love the never ending farm “to-do” list!

More Blueberries

Yesterday we planted 7 more blueberry plants to bring us to a grand total of 21! We still have spaces for a few more to completely fill out the patch, but we’re cheering for these 21 to take off and produce copiously! Hooray for another item marked off the “Farm To Do” list!