Skip to content
Jun 30 / Michael

Ducklings Hatched

Our first ever home-incubated batch of ducklings hatched this week.  We got 24 eggs from our friends Kim and Andy.  I was able to fit 23 into my Brinsea.  The eggs go for 28 days, with lockdown (no more turning) after the 25th day.  These eggs started hatching exactly on time, and they all came out quickly, over the course of less than 24 hours.

Ancona Ducklings Hatched

We’re very excited about this breed, too.  They are Ancona, a wonderful dual-purpose (eggs + meat) duck.

Ancona Ducklings Hatched

They’ll be inside for a little while, but we’ll get them on the pond as soon as we can, probably with a protected water run like we’ve done in the past.

May 30 / Michael

Ducks Back on the Pond

Ancona Ducks

Owing to the our generous friends Andy and Kim, we’ve finally got ducks back on the pond (Ancona).  It’s been a trying several years, with weather and predator issues hurting our efforts to reestablish our flock.  It has been at least two summers since we’ve had waterfowl on the pond with regularity.

I got a couple of dozen fertilized eggs to hatch in my Brinsea and they were thinning a bit so I also got three adults, a drake and two hens.  I’ll update progress on the eggs, but I just started them today and they take 28 days (7 days longer than chicken eggs).  This puts their hatch date around June 26.  I’ve never hatched duck eggs, so I’m interested in the new challenge.

The ducks took quickly to the pond.  I’ve got a fenced “water run” for them until they figure out how to get in and out of their new home.  That should keep them happy and safe from predators.

Ancona Duck Eggs in Incubator

Ancona Ducks on Pond

Apr 27 / Michael

Prepping the Garden

It’s that time of year again.  The weather is getting nicer, Spring sports have started and we’re beginning to prep the garden for initial planting.  Except for a few Spring cold snaps, we’ve had an incredible run of nice weather.

The garden starts out pretty rough, having been left to it’s own since the Fall and over Winter. The first step is to remove all the old plants and rake the garden in preparation to be tilled.

Spring Garden Prep

I then bring over last year’s barn muck as compost.

Spring Garden Prep

Then I use the 5-foot tiller on the back of my tractor to work everything in and cultivate the soil.

Spring Garden Prep

We’ve been doing this for a number of years and the soil is getting so nice. It will definitely be ready for planting this weekend.

Spring Garden Prep

Spring Garden Prep

Happy gardening everyone!

Mar 28 / Michael

Spring Calves

We had two calves born in March, a bull born to Sweet Mamma (our Dexter) and a heifer born to Buttermilk (our Dexter-Belted Galloway cross). We named the bull ‘Lucky’ because he had lax tendons when he was born, and we didn’t think he’d make it. On the advice of our veterinarian, we gave him a BO-SE (Selenium and Vitamin E) injection and helped him nurse for several days by literally holding him under his mother. He’s really bounced back and his legs have strengthened and he looks almost completely normal now. The heifer was named ‘Marshmallow’ by our 5 year old. She’s all black. He explains this by saying she’s like a burned marshmallow.

Sweet Mamma and Lucky

Sweet Mamma and Lucky, nursing on his own

Buttermilk and Marshmallow

Buttermilk and Marshmallow, just born

Marshmallow

Happy Easter 2016

Happy Easter!

Feb 2 / Michael

Our first “Spring” lambs

It’s a little early, but our first pair of spring lambs were born to our ewe, Frances. The boy and girl lambs were born a little before 5am this morning. Jamie woke and had the maternal instinct to go out early and check on them and there they were.

Spring Lambs

Luckily we’re in the middle of an unseasonably warm spell — our high temps were close to 60° today. It feels like Spring already.

Frances is such a good momma. She let the little lambs latch right on for nursing this morning and is so protective of them.

Jan 3 / Michael

New Rabbit Hutches

Happy New Year visitor!  Our existing rabbit hutches were pretty worn down and in massive need of refurbishment.  They are “outdoor” hutches that we’ve moved into the grow tunnel each winter for the last several years.  This year, I decided to build a set of “indoor” hutches to put in the grow tunnel so we won’t have to move them back and forth each year.  In the spring, I’ll refurbish the outdoor hutches.

Rabbit Hutches 001

Laying out the materials (2x3s) for the hutches

Rabbit Hutches 002

After assembly, attaching the wire mesh

Rabbit Hutches 003

Transporting the hutches to the grow tunnel

Rabbit Hutches 004

Hutches in place. I decided to just use saw horses for legs, seemed very convenient.

Rabbit Hutches 005

Rabbits happy and cozy in their new hutches

This was pretty easy to build. I may actually build a two-cage version if we need a couple more openings for rabbits, but this frees up a lot of space for other purposes, too, like chicken/duck brooding.

We wish the greatest happiness on everyone for the New Year!

Dec 24 / Michael

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas?

Actually, it’s not.  It’s been rainy and very warm.  Temps today may approach 70° F, which is pretty remarkable.

Foggy Farm Christmas

Our animals have enjoyed the warmer weather and the green shoots that are staying around for longer.  We’ve also not needed to burn nearly as much wood yet this season, so hopefully we’ll have plenty to stay warm through the early Spring.

Foggy Farm Christmas Cows

At least it’s looking like Christmas inside the house. The children were thrilled to find some presents under the tree.

Presents under the tree

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! See you in the New Year.

Dec 13 / Michael

Bull to the Butcher

We took our 1½ year-old bull to the butcher today. Our friendly farm neighbor helped transport. He’s an angus-belted-galloway-dexter cross and had a white face and black body. Here he is in his stall with his momma waiting to be loaded.

Bull to Butcher

And on the trailer.

Bull to Butcher

At the butcher.

Bull to Butcher

Bull to Butcher

We’ve enjoyed his company for the last year and a half. We’ll be picking up the meat right before Christmas.

Dec 1 / Michael

O Christmas Tree

We have a tradition in our family to get our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday!). We’ve been doing it for as long as I can recall, and it probably originated from when we were traveling for Christmas more than we do now. We’d want to get a tree up early and enjoy it before leaving for a week around Christmas. In the last several years we’ve been staying home for Christmas, which has been nice, but we haven’t given up our post-Thanksgiving tradition.

Christmas Tree 2015

Since we’ve been in Canterbury, we’ve gotten our trees from Ingall’s Tree Farm in Brooklyn. Sadly, when we got our tree from them last year they told us it would be their last year in business — no one in the family to take over, or something like that. This year, I was in a panic on Thanksgiving because I didn’t know where we’d be getting our tree.

As it so happens, I’d learned online the the Post family purchased the original farm (60 acres plus another 40 they lease) and now operate Laurel View Farm from the same location. When we were there, I spoke to Gary and told him how happy I was that they’d take over and that our family tradition could continue.  They’ve built a new shed and parking area and seem to really be enthusiastic and know what they’re doing.  We’re wishing them all the luck running the business for the future.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all!

Nov 11 / Michael

“That one was definitely alive”: An undercover video at one of the nation’s biggest pork processors

This is simply horrible. As reported by the Washington Post today:

The pigs are not all right.

An undercover video taken at one of the nation’s largest pork producers shows pigs being dragged across the floor, beaten with paddles, and sick to the point of immobility. By law, pigs are supposed to be rendered unconscious before being killed, but many are shown writhing in apparent pain while bleeding out, suggesting that they weren’t properly stunned. “That one was definitely alive,” a worker says.

The video also appears to show pigs with puss-filled abscesses being sent down the line. Others are covered in feces.

“If the USDA is around, they could shut us down,” says a worker, wearing a bright yellow apron, standing over the production line.

The accompanying video is horrific.  Please watch only if you must see what’s going on first hand.  I imagine the workers in this factory suffer through these abuses, too.  In this particular case, the issues appear to be driven by a desire to run the lines faster and faster and process animals more quickly.  Maybe we should be slowing things down instead.

Pigs are highly sociable and probably the smartest animals that humans raise for meat.  For the last several years we’ve been raising a pair of pigs over summer, bonding with them during the process, and having them processed at our local butcher.  We honor and respect the sacrifice they make to feed us and work to ensure they suffer as little as possible, like we do all the animals we raise for meat.

Pigs

What can you do? Because the factory farm system is so opaque it’s really hard to know. You may want to start by supporting local producers where possible or just by eating less meat.

If any creature deserves better, it’s them.