What is going on around the Homestead
Busy, busy! We are busy here on the homestead! We started the new barn. I will post some pics soon. Our first batch of chicks are now three weeks old and we will have a new batch coming next Tuesday. The weather is warming up and the chicks are much happier when it is warmer! April started off pretty dry, but is turning out to be much more typical April rainy weather. John is busy doing excavating work and we have been doing well selling eggs also. We still need to get that fence around the veggie field! Planting season is coming quickly! Better get back to work!
Well it is getting closer to Spring! We have ordered out first batch of baby chicks! They will arrive in just a few weeks. We have our order in for ten piglets also! The Hens have started laying like crazy. We have a major over abundance of eggs. We opened the road side stand last weekend, so hopefully the sales start picking up to the same speed as production.
John has started clearing a spot for the new barn. It will be 30 something by 30 something in size with a hay loft. We will start putting it up in the next couple weeks. Once we get it up, we hope to put in a pasture and raise some cattle. We would like to get the calves this year, but time will tell. We will also be putting in a chicken processing area in the barn. This way we will be able to process our own chickens, rather than loading them up in a trailer and transporting them 20 miles each way.
Once again we are planning a large vegetable garden. We will be putting up a fence around it this year in hopes of not sharing quit so much produce with the wildlife! We are keeping our fingers crossed that this works! If so, we will be on our way to a great produce crop.
We made it through the holidays!! Christmas is a very busy time for us. With all of us being from divorced families, we have many gatherings to go to. Seeing all the family is great!
Now we are on to planning for Spring. We have a barn to build! We have recieved trusses for free from John's cousins! And we purchased some used lumber for cheap from our employer. So we just need to finish the plans and wait for a thaw! We will build the barn this year and plan a pasture and fencing, so that next Spring we can be prepared for a few cattle! I would like to get a pasture planted and established this summer.
We are planning on raising meat chickens again this year, as we did last, and a few more pigs this year also! Our laying hens are keeping warm this winter. Thier egg production has slowed, but they are still producing enough for us and for some sales. I am sure with the longer days, they will pick back up again soon.
We will also be trying the vegetable garden again. Hopefully we can find some veggies that we like, but the deer do not. I will keep you posted.
Well now things have finally slowed down! The pigs are sold or in our freezer! We have some excellent new pork chops! The last batch of meat chickens were retired two weekends ago. Now it is time to reflect on the year and start planning for next.
We did try something new with the meat birds. We found a guy on Craig's List who will come right out to our farm to butcher the chickens. Normally, we have hauled them in a trailer about 20 miles each way to drop them off to the Amish to process them. This way, we were able to save a little money, but most of all, it seemed like a lot less stressfull process for the birds. I have read that travel to the processor will stress them out and can effect the tenderness of the meat! It was also a great learning experience for both John and I, and the kids! Now......Could we do all of that ourselves? The guy that came out to do it was very chatty and explained everything to us. I learned a new few things. Here are some pictures of the process.
Here is Carina helping Brian pull a few remaining feathers.
The whole butchering process took less than five hours for over thirty birds and a lot of talking! It is definately a good experience to see exactly where your food comes from!
To sum up this year, I would say, meat and egg production were great! We are really getting the hang of raising both the chickens and the pigs. And we enjoy it! On the other hand, the vegetables were a mess this year! If it wasn't the turkeys, it was the deer or the raccoons that enjoyed most of our produce! We did manage to have a successfull blueberry crop and lots of great ornamental gourds for the Fall! But, this just gives us more topics for discussion over the winter! What will we do differently next year? What will we do the same? What worked, what did not? Will we ever be able to do this full time??? John has had a great year for excavating! He kept all the equiptment busy, including the dump truck, tractor, and excavator! I just feel bad that I can not help more. But many of the jobs are a one person job. Now that we are getting snow, I am sure he will start wishing we would have gotten that snow plow. But that is a big expense....maybe before next November!
Oh my, have I been slacking on keeping the sight up to date! As you probably realized, it is the busy time of year around Lundell Farms! We have been planting lots, and worrying lots! We planted our first batch of sweet corn and the wild turkeys enjoyed most of the seed. So we re-planted! We purchased a new to us vegetable planter. It works great for the very tiny seeds of carrots, broccoli etc.. However we did learn one very important thing.....we need to adjust the planting depth. I think we planted most of our veggies about one inch too deep! Some of them are starting to come up now, but I would like to replant some also! We do have gourds that appear successfull, and our second batch of sweet corn is looking pretty good! We are also looking to have a bumper crop of blueberries this season!!
We have just finnished up with the asparagus season. We have been getting it from a friend who runs a small farm in Hart. I meet him every couple days and we exchange money for asparagus. It was very nice to be able to supply our neighbors with fresh asparagus as there are no asparagus stand for quit a distance.
We have also been selling our fresh chickens. It is going well! Our customers seem to be happy with them! The pigs are getting bigger! They are up to about 100 lbs now. I will try to post some pics soon!
BABIES, BABIES, BABIES!!!!
This week we got 20 more baby chicks! All White Mountain cockerells for meat. We also picked up nine baby pigs!!! They are so cute and fun to watch! We are planning to get about a dozen more layer hens. Our current hens can not keep up with the egg demand. So we will be purchasing some hens that are already laying to hold us over until our young ones get laying! We are very pleased that we have not lost customers since we had to raise our egg price to 3.00. But prices are going up everywhere and our customers understand that feed has skyrocketed!
Well we are off to the tractor store. We are looking into buying a new riding lawn mower. With all the new farm chores, there is not as much time to push mow the lawn!
Here are the new piggies!
Well, it seems we went right from Winter to Summer and skipped Spring all together! What great weather! Temps in the mid 70s all week! wow! We are frantically getting work done around the farm. We planted 40 new asparagus crowns, and 18 raspberry bushes this weekend. Our blueberry bushes are all ready to go and we have been working on just spring clean up around the yard. We have our cabinets that we received all installed and we are working on filling them up! That is the easy part! We received our 50 meat chicks and 20 new layer hens three weeks ago. We did have about a 10% loss, which is what they say to plan for. They are doing fine and really excited with the warmer weather. There will be another 20 coming next week. We have the new coop all finished and our first batch is already moved in. Yesterday we went and saw the piglets we will be getting. How cute! We are getting eight and they will be ready May 3rd. I can't wait to get them! We will continue to get things done around here. Hopefully I will have time to stop in and keep you updated!
We had a great Easter weekend, except for the snow! We enjoyed two wonderful Easter dinners with our families on Sunday! Friday and Saturday, we worked around the Homestead! We were fortunate to receive some kitchen cabinets from a friend at work who is remodling. We now need to insulate and finish a back room in our pole barn to put them in. We should have a nice set up for extra storage when it is complete. It will be nice to have room for all of our canning jars, canners, etc.
Otherwise, we are just really ready for Spring! It won't come soon enough!
We have received our first shipment of seeds! Sweet corn, Brussell Sprouts, Zinnias, Gladiolas, Green beans, etc. We have also placed our initial spring order for baby chicks! We are increasing the number of layers and roasters. I think I smelled Spring the other day, so we are all very excited to get out and get moving. Even our hens are aware it is Spring, they have tripled thier egg production already!
Well we took a short trip to NorthWestern Ohio today to pick up a small feed silo that we purchased on E-bay. As much as we would like to pasture our pigs, we are short on space for that. We will now be able to puchase feed in bulk and have it custom mixed. We can decide how much protein etc. goes into each bag of feed, rather than the factory deciding for us that it needs antibiotics, etc. We will also be able to save some money on feed now that the feed prices are rising so substantially. This will help us to keep our customer's cost down also! We drove about eight hours round trip. Not too bad for a good deal!
John and I have decided that in addition to adding onto our raspberry and asparagus patches this year, we would like to try growing brussel sprouts in large qtys. Last season we grew a few plants for our own fresh eating. They turned out great! So we figured that we can put in a large patch and hopefully have enough to supply our freezer for the winter and to offer them to our customers at our roadside stand!
I have also been asked to add a 'pick your own' flower patch. We had previously discussed putting in raised beds near the stand, what better item to grow in them, than flowers that people can pick to purchase. Now those are fresh cut flowers! Can't get those at Meijer!
It is the time of year for planning. We are spending time going through the seed catalogs, deciding what fun things to try this year. I am planning to focus much more on the road side stand this year. I would like to have multiple varieties of cut flowers and keep the stand supplied with fresh flowers regularly. I also have been asked to supply a local market (The White Duck Market) with fresh cut flowers for their customers to purchase. So I need to be sure I have enough available to meet thier needs. As always we will be planting 'Bodacious' sweet corn, Red Pontiac Potatoes and Yukon Gold Potatoes. We would like to expand our produce offerings, so that will be more decisions to be made. And of course our fresh eggs.
We will be adding more raspberry bushes and more asparagus crowns, with hopes of having plenty for ourselves and our customers in the next few years!
John recently purchased a mini excavator so he is looking forward to selling black dirt and getting more excavating jobs this year! He also purchased a new Chevy dump truck this Winter. (expensive, but fun, winter for him!!) So that will be used for hauling the black dirt and any other hauling jobs he can scrounge up!