Exciting Turkey Morning

As a preface to this story, yesterday was a very cold and blustery fall day, more akin to late October/Early November weather.  That said, this morning I went out to open the chicken coop so our oldest chickens could free range.  After releasing the poultry, I started to walk back to the house, but noticed a large dark shape out of the corner of my eye.  It was closing in on me fast.  As I turned my head to gain a better view I realized it was a turkey, and with a slight glance to the turkey pen I ascertained that it was one of our captive, or previously captive, turkeys.  The wind from yesterday had blown the large plywood roof off of their pen and allowed this adventurous turkey temporary freedom.

I quickly rounded the corner for the house and called the boys for backup.  While I wasn’t afraid of the turkey, I wasn’t quite sure how it would react as we have never really handled them.  The turkey was now positioned between us and the turkey pen so I looped all the way around the barn to the front corner where the poultry feed was located in an airtight 55 gallon drum.  As every good plan starts with food, I grabbed a scoop of feed and headed for their pen.  So far so good as the turkey was content to follow me around.

I dropped some feed right next to the pen, hoping it wouldn’t cause the two remaining captive turkeys to escape, and waited.  The escapee was extremely cooperative and ran right over.  As soon as she dropped her head to eat I picked her up and put her back in their pen.  I couldn’t have hoped for the operation to go any better.

My oldest wasn’t surprised.  He told me that he always pets them when he feeds them and that they are quite nice.  I’m still not convinced they are “nice”, rather they are not the brightest birds in the flock.  Either way, all’s well that ends well.

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Catch Up, and the Sky is on Fire

Nothing major going on around here, but lots of little things.  While none of our newly planted apple trees are yet providing fruit, and may not for a couple years yet, my parents have one apple tree in their yard.  It is full grown, and they didn’t do anything with it this year.  No pruning, no spraying, no thinning.  It was a good year for apples.  They are constantly bringing us buckets, bags, and bushels of apples, for which I am very appreciative.  Our apple peeler/slicer/corer is getting a workout and I am enjoying my wife’s apple crisp on a regular basis.  Add to it home made ice cream and it doesn’t get much better.

Not only are there plenty of apples for eating, but for other purposes as well.  I have been sorting the apples.  Those that are good for us to eat, those that are good to feed the animals, and those that are what my dad and I call “deer apples”.  There are plenty for all purposes.  The animal apples are helping take a bite out of our feed costs.  The rabbits, sheep, and chickens all love the apples.  Strangely though, the turkeys want nothing to do with them.  More for the rest of the animals I guess.

I can’t remember if I had mentioned, but we adopted two Easter egg hens from some friends of ours.  They had been having predator problems so we took their last two living hens.  It was nice for us because I had only ordered two Easter eggers, Americaunas, in the spring and one turned out to be a rooster.  They just started laying, at least one did.  We have gotten two very green eggs.  Pretty cool.


I have made a couple fall orders from Stark Brothers nursery for mostly fruit trees.  I also ordered a couple Crimson Night raspberries.  I got those planted this evening.

New raspberries

While I was down in the garden I took the weed cutter and cleared the space where the lettuce had been planted in the spring.  This served the purpose of making room so that if I can find a minute I can plant some more lettuce for the fall.  It also allowed me to give the sheep some fresh greens.  The last couple months have been pretty dry, and the sheep pasture has been eaten down much more so than last year.  I am hoping to avoid having to give them hay before the snow flies, but I may have to get creative in order to do it.  A few apples here and there isn’t going to cut it.



Tools of the trade

The sky was particularly amazing this evening.

Posted in Chickens, DIY, Family, Farming, Garden, homesteading, kids, Opinion, orchard, Outdoors, Preparation, Rabbits, sheep, Turkeys | Leave a comment

Dishwasher, My Friend

Our dishwasher has been out of commission for several months. At first washing the dishes by hand didn’t bother me. I just had to keep up with them because if I got behind, it got bad. So we got a new dishwasher. 

Luckily for me my dad was able to help me install it this weekend when he was here. As with most projects it took longer than we would have liked, but we got it done. 

I have to say I’m pretty excited to have a dishwasher again. 


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Chickens are Growing Up

 Our chicks are no longer little fuzz balls, they are full sized chickens and as such do full sized chicken things. Like lay eggs. That’s right, we are about to be covered in eggs. I really need to get the new, big coop built. And fast. Until then, I made a quick and dirty nest box out of a square frosting bucket. It will do for now, and the chickens even figured out what it was for on the very first day.   
Here are a few pictures from the Homestead from the last week.   


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More Fruit

I removed two small bushes that weren’t growing much in the front of the house and replaced them with two Cortland apple trees I picked up from Tractor Supply.  Never enough fruit trees I guess.  In my mind, once these trees are established we will have an abundance of free food.  I won’t plan on spraying them, unless I can find something necessary and organic, so they won’t cost anything.  Any excess can be fed to livestock thus reducing our feed costs.  Grow baby grow.

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Peaches and Friends

The last few days have started off with wild turkeys right up to the house. Friday morning Homestead Boy #2 took my phone and went off stalking them for pictures.


Photo courtesy of Homestead Boy #2


I am starting to empty the buckets that have been under the eaves collecting rainwater. The only thing keeping me from dumping them all are the tadpoles. I finally saw one that almost looked like a frog.

Friday afternoon we went over to some new friends house to see their homestead setup. They have a great chicken setup with a coop and covered run in a lean to off their barn. They had a couple hens go broody this spring and ended up with some barred rock, buff Orpington crosses. They were very cool looking. They also have a great garden and lots of fruit trees throughout their yard. It was a great visit.

On the way home I stopped at Tractor Supply and picked up a couple peach trees. The kids helped me plant them when we got home.


I have a few more fruit trees in order from Stark Bros to arrive the first week in November.  I may also try to get a couple more grape vines in yet this fall.

Always something to do.

Posted in Chickens, DIY, Family, Farming, Garden, homesteading, kids, orchard, Outdoors, Preparation, Turkeys | 7 Comments

Not Dead

This post proves I’m not dead. I had been spending a lot of time getting ready for the rodeo. Then I got sick and missed the rodeo. My wife took the kids, she’s amazing. While they were gone I got our classroom ready. School and co-op started. And that is the very short version of what has happened since I posted last.

We did go to the state fair on Labor Day. The kids took advantage of the $1 bottomless chocolate milk deal. Guernsey’s dairy of Northville has the best chocolate milk. I watched a pro shear a sheep, it made me feel bad(not really). Man, can they shear in a hurry. We enjoyed seeing the different cattle. I still like Scottish Highlands and may have to get those as my meat cattle and maybe a Jersey as a milk cow. The Clydesdales are always cool. And the 350 lb ram sheep make me glad we went with a small breed.

  We also went to Greenfield Village with my mom. The weather was great and we almost had the place to ourselves so no lines to ride anything.


Here are a couple pictures from around the Homestead.

Posted in Camping, Cattle, DIY, Family, Farming, Garden, homeschool, homesteading, kids, Opinion, Outdoors, sheep, Turkeys | Leave a comment

Security Continuation – Poison Ivy Prevention

To this point in my life I have not shown an allergy to poison ivy.  I know what it looks like and always make sure I am very careful when I need to work around it and take as many precautions as I can to avoid the rash.  When I was hanging the chain yesterday I mentioned that I was going to be working around poison ivy and that I needed to remove some that was growing up the trees I hung the chain from.  It was also all over the ground in the whole area that I was working in.


The poison ivy was all up and down both trees


The poison ivy was all over the ground as well as the ground around the other tree to which I hung the chain

In the past I have always made sure to wash in cool water as soon as possible.  Then I saw this video about how not to get a poison ivy rash.

Since then I have always washed with dish soap and a wash cloth.  I wore my muck boots and gloves yesterday, but I know I brushed up against the poison ivy plants around which I was working.  Today, I have no poison ivy rash.  That could be because I have not become allergic to the oil, or it could be because I washed afterwards.  Either way, I will continue to be careful when working around poison ivy, because I’d rather not end up with the rash.

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Sunday Funday -> Security

Today was a day to add to our security stance at the Homestead. There was a burglary a few weeks back around here and because of that I wanted to address a couple things around here.

First off I wanted to chain off the south entrance to our property. The long term plan here is to put up a gate, but short term a chain will have to do. The two trees I wanted to hang the chain around were both covered in poison ivy so I had to at least remove the poison ivy where I would be hanging the chain on the tree. The tool of choice for this task was a machete.

The tree on the left if the one I hung the chain on, it looked like the one on the right before I started.

After clearing the tree I hung the chain. I used a lag bolt to keep it at the correct height and then padlocked both sides.

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In addition to the chain, I added a couple neighborhood watch signs, one to each side of the property. I liked the one that says, “we are watching you.”  I hung them on 7′ posts from Menards.

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The last addition I made was adding two signs that say, “smile, you’re on camera.”  I put on one the barn, and one on the swing set in front of the house. Burglars have been duly notified.

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Obviously I can’t/won’t detail all of my security measures here. These are a few that anyone could add on the cheap.

Until next time.

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Too Many Roosters = Butchering Day

It just so happened that my good friend Ruth at Firesign Family Farms was having a butchering day today.  I was able to make it, and I had a few extra roosters to take with me.  Before today we had Scooter, our Icelandic rooster, and then four jubilee orpingtons, Pepper, our Americauna rooster, and newly named Avalanche, our buff orpington rooster.  That is altogether too many roosters.  So pepper, who was supposed to be a hen, and two of the jubilee orpingtons have to go.  I think four is still going to be too many, but hopefully with a big coop, and room to free range they will be ok.  The reason I am keeping two jubilees is that they would be harder to find a replacement for if something happened to one of them.  So I need a backup.  Scooter is just a good rooster, but other than taking care of the girls I really don’t need him for breeding.  Avalanche will serve a purpose for breeding, but as buff orpingtons aren’t that rare, I could probably find a replacement without too much difficulty or cost.

All that said, we now have three chickens, grown on our farm, in the fridge.  That is a first for us and a pretty cool step.  I am still hoping to grow a batch of meat birds this fall, I am not sure if it will happen given all the other things that need to happen around here, and we have three turkeys that will be going in the freezer at some point.

Baby steps to self sufficiency I suppose.

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