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Winter Wonders

 It is crazy how time flies.  It has been awhile since I have had the chance to sit down and write.  This is supposed to be the slow season!  Naturally everything on the farm is in winter hibernation mode.  We have had egg production slow down a bit and now it is just finally starting to improve.  In early December we picked up another 250 chicks to help get our egg production ramped up for this spring.  They are “straight run” barred Plymouth rocks.  This should mean that we will get approximately 125 males and 125 females.  If we can increase our flock of laying hens by 125 than we will be in good shape for all of our egg buyers this spring!  This means I am taking care of an extra 250 birds right now, which is pretty taxing on our feed bill.  This is an investment for our egg production though, and I feel like it is the right move since we are always out of eggs.  With the baby here we have had a lot of extra chores to do. 

    For the sake of anonymity we will be calling him “Bean.”  There is no need to divulge his ID on the internet when privacy is so hard to come by.  Alicia has nicknamed him Bean since the day she got her weekly email telling her about where she was in her pregnancy.  The message said he was the size of a Bean and that is when she started calling him Bean.  He wasn’t supposed to be here until January 8th but decided he was done being in Utero.  So for 3 weeks Alicia stayed with him at the hospital and I commuted back and forth to spend what little time I had with them.  Even though Alicia was in her third trimester she was still doing quite a bit of work around the farm.  She was taking care of watering most of the animals, collecting eggs, cleaning nesting boxes, moving bedding in for the goats so they were nice and toasty.  My evenings during the weeks she was at the hospital were insane.  I had to get feed typically once a week and unload it along with all of the other chores.  The chickens had started to pick back up from their fall slump which meant I had to wash quite a few eggs in the evenings.  Here is a picture of my egg washing setup.

     I created a PVC bubbler that fits inside a 5 gallon bucket and hooks up to an air compressor.   The bubbling hot water helps to remove a good amount of surface material on the egg making them easier to wipe clean.  We don’t use any detergent just hot water.  We don’t want the protective coating to be harmed by chemicals like they are in commercial operations.  This is about 15 dozen worth of eggs and it takes over an hour to wash, candle, and package them.  I would say that the egg business is the most time consuming of our operation, but it is definitely the most sought after product we have! 

    So far we have been able to maintain the farm animals and keep them alive.  I have lost a few chicks to them crowding around the feeder, but I always say that there are some weak birds that need to be thinned out.  I am crossing my fingers that the goats are all pregnant this year.  I haven’t had much time to “get involved” with their mating rituals.  I just hope poor bubba didn’t get beat up too bad this year while trying to make some babies.  The goats were eating square bales daily and that was getting to be a pain to have to feed them daily so I decided to build a nice bale cradle out of some pallet wood and some 4 by 4’s.  Low and behold this pallet bale cradle was not capable of supporting the weight of a 1500 pound round bale and it broke after a couple bales.  So we decided to weld one together from scrap steel and see how well that would hold up.  Now they have a nice big round bale to eat from and it has been over a week and they are still working on it!

    The Pigs seem to be enjoying the 8 or so acres of pasture that they have to forage.  I only feed them a small ration to maintain their winter fat stores, but other than that they seem to be going to town on the pasture! 

    I always wonder why things always end up on the insane side of the spectrum when it comes to our luck.  I am not saying we have bad luck, but some force out there is just looking to find ways to create obstacles that completely bypass our plans.  We had no idea that we would be taking care of a baby so soon.  We figured that we would at the very least only have to spend at most a week at a hospital.  Alicia had been living there sleeping on a couch for 3 weeks.  Bean and Alicia were an hour away from the farm and I rarely had time to come up and spend time with them between work and the farm… I quickly snap out of it and remember that things could be a lot worse…Both of them are in good health and I am very grateful for that.  We just have to work through the cards we are dealt and make the best of every situation.  The second I get home from work I put my boots to the ground and get working.  I can’t imagine how life would be if this was the busy season…I imagine all of the extra chores I would have to do and I shudder at the thought.  I just remember to tell myself, “Great-Grandma was able to farm with 11 children; we can do this with 1.”  She has many wonderful stories about farm life, and I always learn something new when I go see her.  Bean got the chance to meet her a couple of weeks ago, and that was a fun experience!  He fell asleep right in her arms.

    I am amazed at how her memory is just spot on.  She remembers things from 70 years ago like they were yesterday.  I can barely remember things that have happened 3 or 4 years ago.  I guess you could say that this is a good reason for me to write.  This is a good reason for you to write too!  To keep track of events that we are experiencing right now in life, because they may one day become forgotten memories.  I wish I could trap every experience so that I can look back on them and remember what I was thinking.  Pictures bring us closer to the memories, but writing brings us back to our mind; to our very thoughts that we were experiencing during those pictures.  It is funny that I am so busy that I can only write in pieces.  I have no time to document memories and thoughts to the point where I get ahead of myself and I end up having to make up for all the unwritten blog posts!  Well here I am to bore you with the slow months of the year.  Yes!  This is somehow slow?  People say to me, “Your life is going to be pretty crazy from now on.”  They are right in that I’ll be teaching a child how to pluck feathers and gut a chicken.  I’ll be teaching him how to set traps for predators so that we can protect our flock!  Things will be crazy all right.  Crazy awesome! 

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