Well, Happy late Easter to all! We certainly were thinking about warmer things over the Easter weekend. And tonight, maybe 25 degrees! Isn't that NW PA spring? Just when you get comfortable, it reminds us we are not out of the woods yet.
Anyway, over the weekend we began our spring preparation. Half of the manure moved out of the barn. The other half will be following shortly. We also let the chickens out. Talk about an egg hunt. Even though they are used to laying in the coop, they still find places outside to nest. This coming weekend we will be moving the flock to the fields. That will reduce the amount of nests outside the coop. But for now, we just keep an eye out for stray eggs. Those ones get boiled and fed to the pigs! They adore them. We also let the guineas out. They are sticking around and really going to work on the bugs. Hopefully we can put them with the hens in the coop and they will stay together for the summer. A new addition to the coop this year is our water system. We have upgraded the gravity 5 gallon bucket system to a drip line. It is the same concept as the bucket only on a larger scale. We have the system on a 55 gallon drum. This should reduce our labor by fewer fillings, but also keep the water cleaner as there is no open top. Within minutes of filling it the hens were using it. Success!
Our tunnel is filled with strawberries and grapes. The grapes line the outside edges and berries in the middle. We planted them about 2 weeks ago as bare root plants. They have just exploded. Most plants have already set a main bud and started on some runners. We are very excited for them this summer. The grapes are just starting to put buds on. I doubt we will have any grapes this year, but I am not sure. The tunnel may enhance their production. We will have to see. However, we do look forward to fresh berries beginning in June and lasting all summer. We planted two June bearing varieties and two ever-bearing types as well. That should keep us with fresh berries for quite a long time.
We are finishing our winter hay ration while the pastures green up. It will be another week or two before we can send the herd out. We are all impatiently awaiting that time. We will also have our first 5 calves of the year in about 3 weeks. We synchronized a group of heifer in August of last year and 80% of them took. We can't wait to see how that whole thing turns out. By synchronizing them, we will be calving within a couple days. That will be interesting. However, due to our careful bull selection, we should have no calving issues. The warm May weather will help out a lot too!
As soon as the hens are gone, we will be putting in the peas and lettuce. We can't put any in yet as the hens eat the seeds as fast as they go in the ground. We will also be fencing out the new blueberries we put in last fall. They are looking good and getting ready to bud, but I fear the deer will eat them up. So, we will be (hopefully) corralling them out. If we succeed, we should have a nice little berry crop this July.
We have lots in store for the summer, so be sure to check back frequently for update and fresh products!
That term is generally used to describe a great set of events, right. You know, like finishing a project on time, maybe even ahead of schedule, and it turns out better than expected. Well, this post is taking place at 1:30 am. I am generally in bed asleep, finishing off the night's sleep before I get up for the morning chores. Today, however, all things came together just right for half of our herd to take a romp.......
Dogs! We love ours. They are loyal and quick to let us know of anything milling around outside the house. This marks the second time that our girl, Reese, has alerted us that the herd was walk-a-bout. This time, I ran to the back window, opened it up, listened for a minute, heard/saw nothing, and told her to go back to bed. Upon returning to my own bed I heard the faint mooooo of a cow in the front. On my way down the steps I may have remembered to thank her, but upon my return now I surely have. All things happened to come together for the cows to escape the barn and mill around. I am not sure how far they went, but I am certain that some of them made the street in front of the house. They had managed to knock over a feed panel letting them into the manger. Then they opened the half-hooked gate left from yesterday's feeding. I would like to blame it on the 5 year old in the family, but that would not be fair. Ethan, the 2 year old, is in charge of the gates, and I am supposed to be checking them. Well, I guess we both dropped the ball on that one. Anyhow, upon opening the gate it was off to the races. Big ones, little ones, moms, sons, daughters.......they were gone. They returned rather easily to hay and some gentle calling. After counting them twice to ensure all 36 were returned, all gates have been returned to their rightful place and the cows should be returning to their naps, as will I.