Innisfree Farm: Day 24 / 25 – what a week

Sorry for no post yesterday – we went to look at a Haflinger mare up near Sidney!  If everything goes as planned, she will be delivered tomorrow morning – pictures will be posted.  Got home and pretty much collapsed. A random sampling of our eggs – compare them to what you see in the egg […]

Sorry for no post yesterday – we went to look at a Haflinger mare up near Sidney!  If everything goes as planned, she will be delivered tomorrow morning – pictures will be posted.  Got home and pretty much collapsed.

025A random sampling of our eggs – compare them to what you see in the egg case next time you’re at your local grocery.  Even the “organic” “cage-free” eggs aren’t this interesting to look at!  Our hens don’t know much about evenly sizing their eggs, or making sure the color is all the same (or that there are no “freckles” on the eggs!), but they do very well in the taste category.

 

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Innisfree Farm: Day 13 – free range

According to the USDA fact sheet on meat and poultry labeling terms, “free range/free roaming” means “Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.” Well, that seems a little vague.  Do the chickens have to actually *go* outside? Is there enough area for all of the chickens to […]

20130111_170100According to the USDA fact sheet on meat and poultry labeling terms, “free range/free roaming” means “Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.”

Well, that seems a little vague.  Do the chickens have to actually *go* outside? Is there enough area for all of the chickens to be outside at the same time, and to peck, scratch, take a dust bath, flap around, and generally be chickens? What is the outside – a grassy field, concrete, a dirt pack? Have the chickens even ever been outside before to know what that little opening in the wall is for?

Here you can see what our “free range/free roaming” chickens look like.  The white building in the background is their coop – nesting boxes, roosts, water, grit, oats, non-medicated laying mash.  The gate is to the official fenced in “chicken yard” (the cow area is to the right of the yard, and our garden is to the left of the yard), but it’s just about always open (and even if it’s shut, the chickens just fly over it!).

We’ll just keep saying it – know your food producer, and you won’t have to wonder whether or not the chickens you bought were truly free range.

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Innisfree Farm: Animals and their games

To the casual observer, animals probably seem pretty simple.  The cows are munching grass in the pasture, the chickens are clucking around the chickenyard looking for bugs and worms.  Once you spend any amount of time around those animals though, … Continue reading

To the casual observer, animals probably seem pretty simple.  The cows are munching grass in the pasture, the chickens are clucking around the chickenyard looking for bugs and worms.  Once you spend any amount of time around those animals though, you start to see their personalities…animalities?

The cows.  Sedate bovines, heads down in the grass, tails swishing.  All true, but when you have black cows who stay in the barn for the coolest parts of the day and head to pasture in the heat of the afternoon, I start to wonder if their brains have been a little overheated.

Chickens contentedly pecking in their yard.  Except when the garden is directly on the other side of that fence and there just *has* to be something better to eat over there.  Like the corn we just planted.  Then replanted.  We have one hen whose routine (has been ever since she could fly over the fence) is fly over that fence, scratch around all day, then fly back over the fence at night.  It’s now a morning game – look out the window, see the hen scratching in the garden, shoo her to the fence, she flies over, repeat later that day.

Goats are great lawnmowers, but, like the chickens, are certain that the grass is greener and tastier on the other side of their pen.  We move them to a new section of grass every week or so, and the first thing they typically do is eat around the perimeter of their new pen, then stick their heads through the panels and eat as far on the other side of the panel as they can.  Then they will deign to eat the rest of the grass in their pen.  As it turns out, goats can push pretty hard and can bend a cattle panel.  That was news to me.

Then there’s the cats, but that’s for another post!

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Innisfree Farm: A farm birthday

Today happens to be my birthday, which isn’t that big of a deal anymore.  Dinner out at LeDoux’s in Troy OH (excellent Cajun food) with the family and in-laws last night, presents, and key lime birthday pie from my mother-in-law. … Continue reading

Today happens to be my birthday, which isn’t that big of a deal anymore.  Dinner out at LeDoux’s in Troy OH (excellent Cajun food) with the family and in-laws last night, presents, and key lime birthday pie from my mother-in-law.  Got home to see that three of the seven eggs incubating had hatched, which was a special treat for my niece.  We put the three in a box under the heat lamp, and retired for the evening.

As happens often in life, things don’t go as planned.  Got up to see that all three of the little peepers had died during the night.  Too much heat, too little heat, internal trauma (the first little peep had been very active, running around in the incubator)?  We just don’t know, but learned a few things for the next batch of eggs we incubate.  First, we will be taking the peeps out as they are born, and not waiting until they are dry (as the incubator instructions advise).  One peep didn’t make it out of the shell except for his beak, and I’m pretty sure it’s because the other peep rolled that shell over so he couldn’t get out.  Second, to eliminate too much/too little heat, we bought a brooder from the company we bought the incubator.  That way, heat will be better regulated and we can remove that variable.

But the day wasn’t all gloomy – it was Garage Sale Day in our town, and we found some good buys.  Had lunch at the Bulldog Diner in West Milton, then came home to hook up the trailer to head off Springfield way to Amanda’s.  Three more goats are now members of the Innisfree family – Rocket (the red one), Molly (white with red head), and Flower (white with black head).  Skittles and Ginny are not quite pleased with this arrangement – there was butting of heads, and much baa-ing.  But it appears that they have all settled in to the business of eating the tasty brush that is in their area (bigger than a pen, but smaller than a pasture – a “pasturette”?).

 

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Innisfree Farm: Human: 25, Chickens: 0

Today was chicken moving day.  The “baby” Rhode Island Reds aren’t so “baby” anymore, so it was time to move them from the peep coop (where there’s a heat lamp to keep chicks warm) across the driveway to the chicken … Continue reading

Today was chicken moving day.  The “baby” Rhode Island Reds aren’t so “baby” anymore, so it was time to move them from the peep coop (where there’s a heat lamp to keep chicks warm) across the driveway to the chicken coop with the rest of our Speckled Sussex hens.  Because the peep coop is a pretty confined space, especially since we have 1/4 of it partitioned off for storage, I thought one human could do the job quicker than two, and with less bumping into each other.

Chickens like to huddle when they are nervous (which is most of the time, I think), so the first load was pretty easy to catch.  Grab by the leg, turn upside down, and you’re ready to go.  Do this 3 times (2 if the chickens are larger) and you have a nice handful of chickens to move.  But after the 3 I was holding started squawking, all bets were off.  Now the game was scatter to wherever the big scary human is not, as fast as your chicken legs can move you.

It really only took abut 20 minutes to move them – mostly 3 at a time, sometimes 2.  Sarah (the dog) only tried to bite at them once (we have been trying to cure her of chicken eating – it’s been mostly successful), and none of them had a chicken heart attack during the move.

They are now checking out their new digs, and I got “what the heck is this” looks from the Sussex hens (they don’t play well with others) during the process.  Hopefully, today the Reds will figure out about going outside/pecking around in the grass, and then in a few months, the eggs start coming.

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