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Dec update- Bees, Predators, and Oreo cows!

Well, while I have only been home for the Thanksgiving weekend since my last blog entry there is still a lot to write about this month!  Over the Thanksgiving weekend we had a little bit of a warm snap bringing the temps up to the low 40’s, just high enough for the Bees to show me that I was worried for nothing.  When it gets warm enough Bees will break their ball they use to keep warm and take a “cleansing” flight, in order words, go and use the bath room!  Basically, when I went to check on the hives for Thanksgiving, they bees were out and about!  Made me pretty happy to see that they made it through that first cold snap.



It has not all been good news however since the last postings, we have been having an issue with predators, we lost one guinea to what we think was a coyote in broad day light, but our biggest losses have been from another night time predator, a great horned owl.  One night the guinea fowl decided they would rather roost in a tree rather than their protected hous…

Almost a full freezer now!

Well another month closer to living on my farm full time!  The harvest continued this month in that we brought Ham and Chewy to the butcher.  I do not know what their live weights was but hanging weight (weight after being gutted and blood drained was 210 and 226).  Figuring that hanging weight is about 72% of live weight that put them both close to 300 lbs live weight.  Not bad growth for 8 months or so.  While we did not put the packaged meat on a scale that probably put us close to 300 lbs of finished pork.  The break down ended up:
46 1/2 packages ground
4 packs spare ribs
4 packs pork steak
8 pork shoulder roast
12 pagages country style ribs
23 packages of 4 chops 1 2-pack (big chops!)
4 pork ham hocks
12 hams
8 ham slices
21 packages of bacon and 5 pork bellies.

That is a lot of pork!!  We did end up trading some of it with my sister in law.  Roxie and Charlie had just purchased a ¼ beef but they are not big steak eaters, they mostly prefer the hamburger meat so we traded them port for bee…

Fall Harvesting and some farm pics

I want to start out this month’s blog by thanking all those who have reached out to me about the blog.  I am amazed at the number of people who I grew up with or served with who have reached out to me and told me I was going to be living their dream, I had no idea I shared this dream with so many of my friends.  I encourage as many as possible to follow their homesteader dreams, even if it is just a couple chickens in the back yard to get started, the reward will be worth it.
October on the homestead became the month to reap what we sowed, harvest time!  I was able to make a quick weekend trip back to the homestead for the Columbus Day weekend and I am happy I did, there was just so much to do on the farm and sitting at home in DC would have just killed me.  About the first week in October the Chickens (hens) decided to start laying their eggs and once they started they really started.  The first couple of days when they first start laying, the eggs are so small, especially when you …

Lessons Learned -Chicken Processing and First year Crops

Well just got back from a week up at the farm and have to say, it is never enough time to do what I hope to, then again with homesteading, I think that will be a constant issue, even when I am there full time.  One of the things on the to do list, that pretty much had to happen this trip was to process (butcher) some of the excess male chickens.  We currently had more males then females and that is not a good thing once they start breeding in ernest.  Roosters have spurs, (kind of like a spike on the back of their feet), that tend to tear up the sides of the hens when there is excessive mating so to prevent the hens from getting worn out the general ratio is 4-5 hens per rooster, currently we have more than a 1 to 1 ratio, meaning about 20 cockerels/roosters have to go!  We originally planned to do them all this trip, but after processing the first one, we decided to only do 7 this trip then 7 more during my trip in early Nov to see the difference between the sizes of the processed b…

August 2017 homestead update

Well, I have kind of fallen behind on this month’s blog, already the 10th!  While the homestead/farm is progressing along nicely it is a little harder for me to write about it as I have not been back there this month, not scheduled to be back there until the first week in Sept.  The one good thing is I do get a lot of pictures so in many ways it is like I am there.
Our keets (baby guinea fowl) are growing quickly and have already proven to be escape artists.  Terri and Lexi finished getting their new home put together and some poultry netting put up above their run.  One big difference between Guinea fowl and Chickens is Guinea fly!  At 5 weeks old they can already take flight.  We could have clipped their wings but I would prefer not doing that if possible.  Guinea have this strong flock instinct also that chickens do not seem to have.  12 of them survived out of the 15 we ordered, (not bad for mail order birds) and the things is, they do everything as a group.  This week they were…

Post July 4th Update, homestead moving right along!!

Well a little behind on this months post!  Spent the 4th of July weekend back on the farm as much as possible. Granted I did lose a day due to the following in order, bomb threat outside the airport pushed the flight back, in the time we were delayed bad weather snuck in between DC and Chicago meaning the plane had to take a route to the south, a route that the plane did not have enough gas for, so back to the gate for an hour to add more fuel. once we finally did take off the leg to Chicago was now three hours rather then 2, so ended up in Chicago 3.5 hours later, my plane to fargo actually landed in Fargo before I landed in Chicago.  But we are not done yet, do to the holiday weekend, all three United flights to Fargo for Saturday where booked, so they transferred me to American to fly in to the Minn/St Paul early Saturday morning, so meant I slept at the USO in the airport.  An hour before that flight was to take off it was also canceled, stranding me in Chicago until late that nig…