Sharon June 4th, 2008

I’m back, and my relationship to the computer is gradually metamorphosing from “feared and loathed overlord the I must obey” to “useful tool” - which is nice. 

It was a lovely and productive few days, which is to say, I’ve got an unbelievable amount of stuff that needs to be done ahead of me to get the house and garden back to normal, but progress is steadily being made. 

 The sheep and Xote, the donkey returned to their pasture.  They then promptly broke out of the pasture again, and went back to the front yard, where they ate 12 newly planted tomatoes.  They were put back into the pasture with some additional layers of electric fencing, and if they stay there until Friday, I’ll actually risk planting in my main garden.  The nice thing is that today is pleasantly cool and rainy, and a good day to can rhubarb sauce.  We need the rain, especially if the predicted 90 degree temperatures arise later in the week (it is really far to early for that here, and so I’d be delighted to send the expected hot weather down to you southerners, who like that sort of thing - we usually leave our sweaters out until mid-June).

This morning began with the arrival of 60 peeps (chicks).  If you haven’t done this, you can’t imagine how exciting it is to get a phone call from the post office at 6 in the morning (yes, I know that sounds crazy, but it really is).  The chicks include 50 Delawares, who will mostly be raised for meat (I’ll keep a few of the hens to add to my flock which is now mostly Buff Orpington, Black Australorpe and Dominique, with a couple of Aracauna’s thrown in, and 10 silver laced black cochins, whose purpose will be partly to lay eggs, but mostly to set on them, so I can stop ordering chicks.  Our Orps are supposed to be good setters, but we’ve only had a few hatchings.

The one fly in the ointment was that our brooder light turned out to be broken, and of course, we didn’t check this until last night.  Since the daytime temps are 60ish today, and the babies need 85-90, this was a problem.  And no one in our country towns sells brooder bulbs at 9 pm, oddly enough.  But fortunately, a couple of mason jars of boiling water, wrapped in the cut off legs of some old toddler sweatpants that were ready for the rag jars do a pretty solid job of keeping the babies warm.  Eric can pick up a bulb this afternoon, and it is supposed to be so hot we won’t need it anyway.

 The turkey poults should arrive tomorrow.  And that *should* be it for us, but there’s talk of some ducklings, since my BIL lost his to a predator.  I’m all about that - we could use the slug control.

Then there’s the longer-term critter project, the goats, who arrive sometime in July.  They currently live with our wonderful friends, Jamey and Carol, but are headed our way when their babies are old enough for the move.  Check out our future girls: 

I’m so excited!

A quick skim over the computer tells me there’s all sorts of news on the energy, oil, food and financial fronts, but I have to do some reading before I can absorb it and pass it along.  So no bad news today - only new life, small, warm, fuzzy and cute.



16 Responses to “Peeps!”

  1. Laurenon 04 Jun 2008 at 8:19 am

    The fun call from the post office is when the bees you ordered have come in. They usually tell you to come right over. Please.

  2. Verdeon 04 Jun 2008 at 8:37 am

    Cute, fluffy, sweet, babies is nice now and then.

  3. Crunchy Chickenon 04 Jun 2008 at 8:57 am

    Aaaah, chickens. I can only imagine the amount of peeping coming from all those peeps.

  4. Sarahon 04 Jun 2008 at 9:09 am

    Awwww! :-)

  5. Lisa Zon 04 Jun 2008 at 9:37 am

    I wouldn’t want 90 degrees any time soon, but here in Minnesota it’s been unusually cold all spring, including just 60 degrees for the past several days. I can’t wait to hit 70 again!


  6. Danielleon 04 Jun 2008 at 9:52 am

    The goaties are adorable! Some nice lines, too. Cornerstone Farm is down my way, and they have an excellent reputation.

    Just a head’s up: they will challenge your fencing and they can jump a 48″ fence. Don’t let their small stature fool you!

    If you can train them to electric, that helps a lot. We have ours in a 48″ poultry net currently, but they can get out when they’ve decided they need new browse. We borrowed a buck who jumped 48″ hard goat fencing with a hot wire running along the top. It wasn’t graceful, but it was effective.

    My doe is due this weekend, her second freshening, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a doeling this year.

  7. Taraon 04 Jun 2008 at 11:42 am

    “I’d be delighted to send the expected hot weather down to you southerners, who like that sort of thing” Ohhh, don’t go making that assumption! It’s already consistently in the UPPER 90’s every day here, and I don’t want it any more than you do. :-( I’m envious of your chickies, though…

  8. Anion 04 Jun 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Hey Sharon-

    I know you’ll understand how exciting this is- I’ve got apricots! Little fuzzy green apricots! They’ve somehow survived all of the late frosts we’ve had this spring(tenacious little things I guess) and the trees are loaded with them! What’s with the hot weather coming anyway? We don’t do hot weather here….especially in June… Am desperately trying to catch up my planting which is sooo behind due to the late snow melt and countless frosts, no rain, etc and get the large greenhouse fully planted- almost done- and all the seedlings in the ground and set before the heat hits…..

    The heat should push the strawberries ahead I guess though…..

    If you get ducks btw, I love Khaki Campbells- great egg layers, sweet and cute……

  9. Ailsa Ekon 04 Jun 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Those look like some excellent goats you’ve got there. And peeps are fun. Mine are three and a half weeks old now, and definitely heading into gawky adolescence.

  10. Shaneon 04 Jun 2008 at 6:40 pm


    Are you sure you can handle taking on so many different kinds of new livestock all at the same time?

    The potential for them to all end up in your orchards and gardens causing untold destruction is pretty terrifying, and this sounds like it is already a major issue. Whatever happens you will be in for a steep learning curve. I limited myself to one new kind of livestock per year (just chickens and muscovy ducks) and even that was a struggle to get everything running smoothly. I also ponder what will become of mixing lots of different strains, like with the chickens. Fair enough in the short run it can be worth comparing their nature and performance, but in the long run if you want to breed productive poultry even managing one all rounder strain takes a lot of attention. For a large family poultry operation may be worth having a meat and an egg strain. Breeding definitely matters so beware of ending up with nondescript hybrids that eat all their food and give back little in return (fertiliser isnt enough…you may as well just compost the grain directly if that is all they offer).

    Shane in Australia

  11. Miaon 04 Jun 2008 at 9:33 pm

    yes, I agree with Shane that learning about one animal at a time can be plenty. I’ve had sheep for a couple of years now– still tons of new lessons to learn (unfortunately, usually the hard way– like this year I’ve had to deal with selenium deficiency and a brain eating parasite) and got chicks for the first time this year– Buff Orpingtons. They are growing out of their cardboard box and need to get moved outside soon and we just can’t decide how to manage them. Chicken tractor? Poultry netting with moveable coop? A permanent coop and yard? Anyone have any suggestions?
    I have a few suggestions for you and your sheep Sharon– if they are getting out of electric fence either the current is not high enough or they are just really hungry and need to be moved more often or both. At least that’s usually why my sheep get out. As long as I move them every couple of days and they have plenty of fresh grass they won’t go anywhere. Or maybe you have one trouble maker that gets out and the others follow, I used to have one like that.
    Anyway, good luck.

  12. Sharonon 05 Jun 2008 at 7:12 am

    LOL, most of these kinds of livestock aren’t new to us.

    Well, the sheep and the donkey aren’t mine, so part of the issue here is that I’m not in control of their fencing or care requirements. So I don’t really count them - they aren’t my project at this point. I personally would not have put electric up there - we have existing, if slightly aging 3 board and I’d like to attach woven wire to it, so that we can keep all the critters up there. But because they aren’t my sheep, they aren’t so much a learning curve as a minor pestilence. The current situation is a bit odd because the owner has been out of town, but she’s back now.

    As for the other animals - I’ve been breeding chickens and raising poultry (turkeys, geese, ducks and chickens) for 7 years now. We have ducks, geese and an ongoing flock of chickens - we sold eggs for years and have also sold meat birds. So that’s no biggie - we shifted over to a different chicken breed over the last few years, but I think we’re going to shift back because they aren’t great setters. Having multiple breeds really isn’t a problem, if you have only one or two rooster and are prepared to eat the crosses you don’t want. At one point, I was actually experimenting with breeding fast growers for meat, but I haven’t been concentrating on that lately, and gave it up when I got pregnant again.

    The goats will be a learning curve, but within our capacities, I think. We’ve both milked goats before and the fencing that is going up will be much better adapted to the goats than the current sheep fencing is to the sheep.

    The problem with the sheep is hardly hunger (they’ve got five acres of barely touched grass, and it is rich pasture) - it is a combination of troublemaking and the fact that the charge is probably too weak. The owner is arriving with a new charger momentarily, and hopefully they’ll stay in.


  13. Debon 05 Jun 2008 at 8:07 am

    Sharon, welcome back! Thanks for a lovely morning interlude. The critters sound delightful.

  14. Nitaon 05 Jun 2008 at 8:54 am

    Anytime we have trouble with our sheep fence (Electronet from Premier) it has been a burnt out fuse in our fence charger. If the fence is working properly, they won’t get near it, even in less than desirable pasture. The fuse is a good, inexpensive place to check first, if you’re having a problem. It sounds like your fencing skills are fine, I’m just weighing in for other folks who may have had problems.

  15. Gailon 05 Jun 2008 at 9:23 am

    I remember those chick calls from the postoffice… they get a little shrill sometimes.
    The happy news here is that my city chickens are almost legal!!! Big headlines in the local paper. City government voted on idea from the planning board to allow up to six hens as “pets”. All very PC, hens contribute to a sustainable food economy and reduce food waste shipped to the landfill. How about that? The “crazy chicken ladies” had a petition titled “Got Hens?” and showed up in force at the city meeting. All spoke in favor of chickens.
    Day full of rain. The gutters are holding and I think I’ll catch up on my sewing.

  16. RedStateGreenon 06 Jun 2008 at 1:16 pm

    The peeps do sound exciting! I remember getting an email that someone selling angora bunnies was coming through OKC from NC and she would bring some if I got hold of her before she left home (and me with no hutch, no cages, and never had rabbits before) … that was one wild weekend!

    All those animals sound like a lot. You’re way farther along with this than I am, bunnies and garden are plenty for me right now.

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