Winter time Farm chores

Back in the fall I decided to start feeding the chickens and the rabbits only once a day, in the morning, to make the early evening chores (since the sun sets earlier this time of year) easier. One thing that makes this possible is using large enough water and feed dispensers so they have enough to last.

At some point I also made it so that the rams and ewes could re-enter their respective barns whenever they want so that if we are late getting home, they can go into their barns, if they want to, when it gets dark. This has worked out pretty well. The littlest changes can make the routines and responsibilities so much easier!

I also try to divvy out the hay in the evenings when I have time, because it’s warmer in the evening and the mornings are often very, very cold. I have to be sure to wear something over my mouth and nose while I’m outside in the cold. It helps my sinuses and lungs and maybe keeps out some of the cedar pollen. I bundle myself up but I always get too warm before I’m done with my rounds and take everything off.

Just last Sunday we re-attached the wall panels in the barn. We had taken them down last spring to increase air circulation for the summer. It worked really well, although the panels were a bit harder to re-install, than they were to remove. But we put them back up just in time for the lambs to be born and have a nice warm space to be. And we had two lambs born this week,, unexpectedly early,, which means I’m not quite sure who their sires are.. But they are healthy and adorable just the same.

Sybil and Duke
Ariel and Darla

How does the change of seasons change your routines? What things do you do to keep in manageable?

Morning Meditations-Early Fall

This morning it was cool, cool enough for me to wear a jacket and my big rubber (neoprene) boots.

I start by feeding the rabbits. They don’t need a refill on thier water. Now that it’s cooler, they don’t go through thier water as quickly. I admire the work I did on the entryway to the garden. The Hackberry trees work perfectly to create an arch to hold up the fencing and loofah vine trailing over the entry to the garden, it’s a pretty flexible wood. I think I read somewhere that Hackberry was used by Native Americans for hunting bows, because of it’s flexibility.

I work my way to the yellow chicken coop that’s stationary and leads to the chicken run that wraps all the way around the garden. They have two blue eggs, they probably laid them yesterday. I refill one of the two waterers for them and secure the latches on thier doors. I place the eggs in my jacket pocket…hoping I don’t forget about them and crack them in my pocket.

I check on the lavender Orpingtons in the blue mobile chicken coop. No eggs in there and they don’t need any refills on food or water. The three young lavenders in there are looking good. I hatched them in the incubator at the end of August. I think they’re all roosters but not certain just yet. The three older lavendar orpingtons are looking good too. One of the hens looks like she’s getting new feathers. She must be molting, they do that late summer or early fall usually.

Lastly I head to the barn to feed the dogs. After I feed the dogs in thier respective corners of the barn and check to make sure that thier wireless fence collars are charged, I ask Titus to sit and let the ewes out. I keep him at my side, with a handful of treats, all the way down the sheep run and close the gate.

I need to switch the water hose from the donkeys water trough to the ewes water trough. The spicket for the donkeys water had broken last week when the shade shelter blew over, with the water trough attached to the it, it snapped off above the shut off.

My hand i slippery from Titus slobber feeding him treats as we walked down the to the gate. I wipe my hands off on my pants. I also grab a piece of cedar bark to scrub out the water trough before I refill it. It gets full of this redish bound scum all around it. In the summer it’s a green algea, but in the fall it’s more brown. I scrub it out, switch out the hoses and leave it to fill up.

I go back towards the barn and close the gate to the sheep run that leads to pastures 2 and 3, and open the gate to pasture 4. I go over the the ram shack where the rams, and wether are and ask Titus to sit behind the door, with bits of dog food as motivation. I open the ram shack door and let the rams and wether out. I ask Titus to stay until they have gotten through the gate to pasture 4 and the release him and close the gate.

I turn off the water from the rain barrel, grab 4 dog treats and head out of the main barn gate. Titus comes with me and the other dogs stay in. I ask all four of them to sit and give each a treat. They love the dried beef lung treats.

It is nice weather. It’s cool but the wind isn’t biting. I take a peak at our youngest chicks. I think they’re about 7 wks old now. They have thier feathers in but I’m not going to put them with the big chickens until they’re a little bigger. We lost two of the last batch shortly after I moved them and I think it’s because they got picked on too much but I’m not sure. I hope to avoid any more losses with the next transition.

I head back in the house to get the boys breakfast. I take off my boots and slip them under the bench in the garage.. I take the eggs out if my pocket (still inact, thank you). I tell Titus that he’s too dirty to come in. When the grass is heavy with dew in the morning he just gets filthy and I wait to let him back inside until he’s dry and the dirt has a chance to fall off of him, usually after lunch.

Soon the time will change. I’m not sure how that will change my morning routine. It has been raining regularly so I don’t have to worry about watering any plants accept the ones on the porch, infact it’s rained enough that I need to find time to mow soon.

Morning meditations

I am thinking of starting a new series of posts about mornings on the farm. I am thinking this may be enjoyable for our readers. I also think that I will enjoy reading my own thoughts about farm life, at a later date, another season of life, when routines and schedules are different than they are now.

This morning I awoke early, a little after 5 and couldn’t fall back asleep. I was a little anxious about a few suggestions I had made last night but for the most part I was at peace and felt rested. I concluded that I must have slept soundly last night. I read a chapter of James in The Message translation (a different translation just for a change) and got dressed and then read a little in the latest novel that I’m reading.

My husband asked if I could scramble some eggs for him, so I did (he likes my egg scrambling technique lol) and then I folded the boys laundry. The next thing, which is part of my current routine, is to get Titus our Aussie, into the laundry room and close the door, and feed him his breakfast. He doesn’t really like when I close him in the laundry room, it used to be easier to get him in there. I started using his training collar with the vibrating and beep signals, along with treats to re-train him to go in there without so much trouble. I like to close the door in the morning so that the sound of putting his food in the bowl, and the sound of him eating, don’t wake the toddler lol.

Once Titus was done eating we went into the garage and refilled the 3 week old chicks food. There are 12 of them and they are getting big. I was excited to sell 5 of our Lavender Orpington chicks on Sunday. I love watching each of thier unique colors emerge as thier fuzzy soft down is replaced with thier first feathers. I held my current two favorites and cooed and petted Tham and them put them back and closed thier cage.

Titus wanted to stay with me as I trekked to each part of the farm this morning, sometimes he is off doing his own thing. I liked him staying close to me.

Next we went into the garden to feed the rabbits. In order to open the garden gate, I currently have to lift the fence I arched over the gate in the spring, to open the door because the loofah has done very well this year. I need to use some Hackberry branches to create more support to keep the archway up, Hackberry branches are pretty flexible so I think they’ll work well for this. I went in to feed the bunnies, they had plenty of water. And then I decides not to worry about water or food for the two bigger chicken coops, since I know I filled them up last evening.

At this point I started walking from the garden to the barn. I looked at our fruit and nut trees and was thankful that they didn’t need to be watered because it actually rained most of the day yesterday. I was also thankful that I was able to determine that two of my 3 young pecan trees are alive and have new growth, after they had been looking dried out and dead for the last month. On my way I also noticed trash blown over the grass in the back of the house, so I picked it up and put it all back in the trash cans and put the one that blew away back, and closed the lid securely.

As I got to the barn gate I enjoyed the greetings of the 3 dogs at the barn, Daisy, Looloo and Rusty. They are such sweet dogs. I remembered next that I needes to let Wade’s breeding group nibble on the mineral block for a little while so I took that into thier area first. Then I turned on the water from the rain barrel to fill the water troughs through hoses and pipes we installed recently. I was thankful to have that convenience.

Next I fed the dogs. I have learned that if I feed them too close to each other, they end up growling at each other and sometimes fighting, so I put thier full food bowls in separate corners of the barn and then leave them to eat.

While they were eating I asked Titus to sit beside me, away from the gate to the pen in the ewe barn and I opened the pen to let that group of sheep out. I asked him to stay beside me as we treck down the sheep run. I noticed that the far gate, to the pasture the sheep need to get into, is closed. I usually leave it open at night so that I don’t have to open it in the morning. So I asked Titus to sit, some ways from the gate, as I got up in front of the sheep, to open the gate. Titus knew I had the remote to his training collar and he statyed put, I didn’t even have to use it. This helped the sheep not to start running in the opposite direction, and they soon are in their pasture and I can close the gate behind them.

When Titus listens, he really is a big help.

After that, I walked back to the sheep that were in the ram shack and asked Titus to sit behind the door. I opened the door and let the sheep out and continued to ask Titus to sit and stay with me so he wouldn’t chase the sheep. They know where to go and when he chases them, they get scared and go the wrong way. Titus listened. I closed the gate to the pasture those sheep went into, pasture 4 and I closed the gate to the sheep run. Then I turned off the water tank and opened up the gate to the sheep in Wade’s group and put the mineral block away.

I was done.

The breezes were nice this morning the air cool and humid and everything was wet and smelled sweet. During this season I enjoy doing the farm chores in the morning before the boys wake up. It is quiet and cool in the mornings. This has been my routine all summer and now into the fall. It is working well right now.

Hatching chicks!

We bought a Farm Innovators Pro Series 4250 from our local farm store about 4 weeks ago and started incubating eggs for the first time. After diligently watching temperature and humidity and adding water as needed, we are so excited so see the first chicks hatching today! Check out our YouTube channel for short videos of them hatching.

https://youtube.com/shorts/YKI9mjafDmI?feature=share

https://youtube.com/shorts/kzrqUVeFel8?feature=share

After a week in a rubbermaid tub, in the laundry room, our chicks graduated to the chick coop in the garage.

Shearing and skirting done in 1 day!

Rainbow while we were sorting fleeces.

Whenever our shearers come I usually just focus on getting shearing done. But this year, there were people coming. People who wanted to watch and people who wanted help so..I updated the wool sorting table and made a second one.

I wanted them to fold up for easy storage and be big enough for for the whole fleece. So I took apart the existing wool sorting table that we had made several years ago and cut each piece of wood in half, length wise to make two tables and put hinges on them so they can fold together.

Table folded up.
Some view of folded wool sorting table.

And then I made another one.

Wool sorting table after assembling legs, upside down.
Kelsey at the wool sorting table.

They worked beautifully and with the help of our Fiber To Spin Exchange contact Kelsey we got all of the fleeces weighed skirted and bagged. What a blessing to have that all done in one day! And the sheep are white and clean and cool and lean for the summer.

We Have a Shearing Date!

We Have a Shearing Date!

Ah the time has come for sheep to get thier annual haircut.. they have grown beautiful fleeces for us and they are ready to give them up.

Its a win win transaction, they get relief from the heat and weight of thier fleeces and we get gorgeous light, silky, soft, springy wool to make yarn with.

For those who are waiting for fleeces and those that have expressed interest in coming to watch the shearing process; we have our shearing date. May 21st! Mark you calendars.

If the weather changes and if our shearers get behind schedule, this could change. But our shearing team (Right Choice Shearing) is pretty good about sticking to thier schedule.

If you’d like to come or you’d like a fleece please send us a message.

A gentle rooster

No it’s not an oxymoron. There are gentle roosters. Roosters that don’t attack you every time you enter thier space. We have two True Greens that are great. But unfortunately the free Lavender Orpington rooster we adopted got really aggressive once we put him with his hens. Someone suggested that it was because he was the only rooster in that coop but I’m not convinced. He is so aggressive that every single time we go in to fill the water or the food he tries to attack us. We have to use a stick to keep him back.

Lavendar Orpingtons, one Buff and one Australorp- mean rooster in front

Since we got the Lavender Orpingtons to raise and sell as multi purpose birds, we do need a rooster.

So we started looking for another rooster.

Through Craigslist we found a place called Forked Farms in Rogers that has English Orpingtons and they had a Lavender Orpington rooster we could buy.

We met the owner at her gate a handled the rooster a bit and he seemed fine.

-What we should have done though was inspect the roots of the feathers. But we didn’t.-

We noticed that evening that he had mites crawling on him and put some diatomaceous earth in a big bowl for him to bathe in. (Chickens like to take a dust bath in ashes which helps keep mites away)

Unfortunately a few days later we found him falling over and almost dead. Good thing we had him isolated. It’s always a good idea to keep new animals isolated at least 2 weeks before introducing them to your other animals.

We inspected him carefully and and found mites, fleas and some other bug crawling all over him. The mite eggs on his feather stems were so encrusted that some of them were two inches across!

So we mixed up some permetherin and sprayed him down really well.

We hand fed him meal worms and molasses water with a dropper as well as b12, every few hours.

After two days he was looking a little better but he had this gross mucus in his beak. So we started him on penicillin g injections to treat the infection.

He is still a bit light on his feet but he is standing and pecking and eating and drinking on his own. I’m not thrilled with the price I paid for such a sick rooster. But if he makes it, hopefully it will all be worth it! Would I recommend Forked Farms…I would say yes (she did communicate with me some) but inspect your birds very carefully *first*, all the way down to the roots of the feathers. I would NOT recommend using diatomaceous earth to treat an infestation. It didn’t work for us, that’s for sure.

Smokey the English Orpington from Forked Farms

Spring business on the farm

It has been an incredibly busy spring on the farm. We have had 5 of our ewes lamb. Giving us THREE sets of twins and a total of 8 little lambs and of those 8 only two were ram lambs. They have all done great accept that one of our older ewes, that’s never had twins before, rejected one of her twins. Thankfully there was a lovely woman that came driving from 3 hours away to rescue and bottle feed our little guy just before the winter storm hit. I was very thankful not to have a bottle baby to feed.

Our next spring venture was finishing the garden beds in our food garden. We had fenced in a 30′ x 50′ area several years ago and never finished all of the garden beds. So we worked daily with the help of everyone in the family and even a nephew, to get it done. We then planned out where to plant everything using companion planting reccomendations, recorded where everything was planted and began watering every day. It looks like most everything has come up. We are hopeful that insects and gophers won’t devour it lol.

Panoramic of the garden 4-2021

Another exciting thing that happened this spring was that we had a Veterinary Student come help us out for a week. It really was such a blessing to have the help and really fun to share our farm with someone who loves animals as much as we do. She also helped us figure out a solution for one of our over enthusiastic dogs. She suggested a training collar. It has a vibrate and beep setting and although it has a electric shock option we didn’t install that feature. It has been working very well to keep our Aussie from nipping and biting our sheep. I highly recommend!

And finally we acquired some rex rabbits and bred them. Now we have these tiny little bunny wabbits that we just adore!

2 wk old bunnies from Betty bunny 4-2021

Now we are getting ready for the Texas Yarn Festival at Blue Mule Winery in Fayetteville TX on April 24th. We won’t have new fleeces yet but we’ll have some roving and some handspun yarn, crocheted items and other goodies. We hope to see you there!

Heart quilt

I bought the pink colored fabrics for this quilt probably about …12 years ago.

At the time, I had planned to make a few potholders to give away or maybe a small quilt. I cut out squares and hearts and sewed….one… heart onto a square using the blind stitch and put it down…for… 12 years!

In December I built (with help) a chicken coop and crocheted almost non stop. And on top of hoisting (square) bales of hay and lifting, diapering and dressing a two year old, I ended up with tendinitis in my right thumb AND my left elbow…soo I had to find a project that I could do, without further straining those.

I started looking at an applique quilt pattern that I bought last year to make a farm themed quilt. Since Valentines Day was coming up I decided to make some heart quilts, using the applique method described in the pattern, to get some practice in, before doing the big farm quilt project.

First I made one for my living room that suits my current decor and it turned out really nice!

So..I went ahead and finally finished what I had started 12 years ago. I think the applique method is much easier and much less painful on the fingers than hand stitching and it turned our beautiful.

I bought the red and white floral and the white fabric to go with the fabric I already had cut, and designed, put together, and quilted the whole thing on my very plain, no bells or whistles, Singer sewing machine.

I did have to redo some of the quilting a few times and it is still not perfect, but I’m very happy with it and I think it will make a great baby quilt or wall hanging.

I am offering it for sale on our Whirld Works Wares page. I only wish I had made it 4 years ago when my baby girl cousin was born in February! It will make some baby very happy!

Farm Chores in the cold

I just finished up doing the farm chores in this uncharacteristicly cold central Texas weather and I did manage to keep *most* of my body from freezing. I found it interesting, however…the animals aren’t cold …at…all.

God gave them everything they need, to stay warm, growing right on their backs; feathers, fur and wool. And I am thankful that they share it with me. I guess since humans are given higher intelligence, we have to use it, to find ways to stay warm, to forage, or work for our needs, otherwise we’d use our ‘higher intelligence’ to make war and otherwise get into trouble (oh wait we do that anyway don’t we?). But He still gives US everything we need too, we just have to use what we’ve been given, to aquire it.. I mean animals have it good in some ways, we might even say, they have better.

But God said that He made US in his image and from what I understand, that means we get to experience things that animals do not; like intimacy, engineering, planning, and opportunities to grow,… our character and our souls..

Stay warm! And thank an animal if you are using something they grew, on thier backs, to keep you warm. And take every chance you get to grow… your… soul. ❄

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