Friday, March 1, 2013

Critter Update

 Little Toothless

Little bigger.  I love how he still stands and looks at me in the goofiest positions.
He is getting a lot bigger now, almost as big as Mindy standing behind him.  Sharlotte, behind her, isn't much smaller than him now, and they're a year apart.  It's amazing how much faster those beef calves grow.

The only one who looks remotely pregnant at the moment is miss Nelly- but she fooled me last year too.  Toothless may have been too small to get the job done last fall.
From the drive, towards the road, across the perennial bed.  We've got about as much snow this year as we did in 2008. 
Mama is looking pretty plump these days, but not showing any signs of an impending explosion just yet.  Which is really good since we need to get the milk room cleaned up and a layer of fresh hay in before kids arrive.
Sheila is nearly as big as Mama.  I don't think penning her in with the turkeys last fall did the trick.  Of course there were a couple of escapes at the time, but I think maybe we let her out a little too soon.  We were late selling Shaq, and if she is pregnant, he's probably the daddy.

We're in no rush yet- it's still pretty chilly outside.  They can all keep those babies warm and cozy in their bellies for another month or so.

I am looking at ordering poultry for spring.  Husband has had a number of people at work asking about chickens, so I think I have been talked into raising a few.  I called the abbatoir and it all sounds pretty simple and straight forward.  I am worried about making enough sales to make it worthwhile, so I've decided to cut back on my turkey order this year.  If we end up with a lot of chickens in the freezer I don't want to be wondering where I'm going to put my turkeys!

That said- the turkey pen repairs never happened last year, so it's still on the to do list for this spring.  Except- it's not going to be a turkey pen.  The meat bird's- Frey's Dual Purpose- will get my turkey pen.  Or at least part of it.  The plan is to reinforce the outside fence, nailing logs along the bottom all the way around.  Then dividing the pen in half-ish.  Another line of higher fence posts are to be put in about 10 feet in from the outside fence, and top rails to sit on both.  Poles to go across from the lower fence to the higher fence.  Confused?  Yeah- the boys get that glazed look in their eyes when I try to explain it to them too.  Basically- we'll be adding a roof to a very large pen.

The part I haven't figured out yet is housing.  The turkey shack is pretty well centered in the pen.  I don't think it's large enough to divide in half, and the location will make it hard to build a second shack.  My current thought is maybe building three or four smaller shacks in the corners, which would then be suitable for nesting- if I ever get to the point of overwintering the turkeys to breed the following spring.

Ah, spring.  I'm tired already.


  1. heh, if you ready for them to kid in a month, they'll think it's a good idea to kid in the next few days! Silly goats.

    1. I hope not, lol, but you're probably right. We'll be cleaning and bringing in fresh bedding this weekend.

  2. You are so ambitious and productive. I guess there may have been another reason for the incubator? Do you sell chicks, chickens, or dressed ones. The mention of the abattoir made me wonder if you are selling them already dressed...and you can slaughter a bear? I may have missed something.

    That's a lot of babies to look forward to.

    I think it is funny your sons' eyes glaze over...growing up to be men. As little boys they probably understood everything you said.

    1. To sell anything legally here, it must either be live or slaughtered and inspected at the abbatoir. I have been processing my own birds at home since I was a kid.

      The few birds we've sold have been live, though we did have a friend pick up his birds (live) once while we were processing, and let him use our equipment to process his own.

      Husband had a coworker ask if we'd let him raise a calf here, but I refused. Calves are touchy critters, and if something happened it could result in bad relations afterward. I am considering buying a few extra calves to bottle feed this spring, to sell after processing at the abbatoir.

      The chicken conversation started with this fellow and spread around the workplace. There are 6 people so far who want 'a few'. Husband's not great on nailing down the details. It's hard to nail down the details any way, since we don't know what the foxes will be like this year. At the moment it looks like the population has diminished (hard winter), but time will tell.

      At any rate, we've decided to try ordering 100 dual purpose to see how it goes. We'll be tracking feed and processing costs to determine how much to sell them for and see if it's worthwhile.

      I've wanted an incubator for years. First mission is to raise up a new layer flock. If all goes well with this endeavour, next spring I might try hatching my own meat birds. I'm also still hopeful of overwintering turkeys as well, and may try hatching some turkey eggs. I doubt that I'll ever get to the point of selling chicks, but time will tell.

      As little boys they were eager to follow through with all of my crazy ideas, and add their own. Now they tend to think about how much work might be involved before they get excited about new projects.

  3. I like all your plans. I wish I had room to raise 100 meat birds for myself. I would figure enough would live that I would have a hen in the freezer for almost every week in the year. I also considered raising 75 twice a year. That would give me 50 and account for dying and maybe selling the rest or trading for the slaughter. I absolutely knew the word 'abbotoir' but it is not used, just 'slaughterhouse' around here. I suppose more people use it there because of French speaking people. Do you speak French?

    I need to email you and ask you a question. But, so far I cannot find your email. Can you email me? thanks.

    Do you think Nelly just gets fat every winter, being a glutton because you think she is pregnant, fooling you?

    1. Mon francais est horrible! lol I took French in school to grade 11. We're taught Parisian French (proper French). Nobody uses it though. The Quebecois dialect has drifted far from it's roots, and the other communities throughout the country with high French populations have developed their own dialects. As a result, school French is nearly useless. I mean, I can read a menu, order lunch, figure out the street signs- but forget having a real conversation!

      There are a lot of Quebecois here- we're only 74km from the border. The abbatoir was probably started by a French family. It's run by English folks now. I never thought about the name before. Funny how it just gets absorbed into our local culture.

      Last year Nelly was a little on the young side, for beef breeds, to deliver. This year she's in her prime. Both years the bulls were young. I'm still new at this, so pretty much just guessing. We don't get them vetted. The only vet servicing our area is pretty much useless with large animals. :(

    2. Interesting. Thanks for explaining.