Little Farm

Downstairs bathroom converted to greenhouse (and turkey nursery)

Sorry, sideways. I replaced the normal vanity bulbs with alternating white and yellow CFLs. Plants love florescent light and CO2, (just the opposite of humans).

This is thanksgiving in it’s early form. Four turkey poults (poults=turkey chicks). Two bronze and two whites, here four days old. These are commercial breed broad-breasted, so they can’t reproduce due to the awkward physical size they will eventually have. Also, they can have leg problems if allowed to live too long–they’ve been selected for meat. Next year I am going to get the old fashioned kind that are a little less busty but can reproduce.

The poults look a little like the chicks, but they have more prominent wings, longer necks and a little knobby on their forehead/beak area. They are less flighty and skittish than the chicks and let me hold and pet them. The are very wobbly and awkward when they walk as opposed to the chicks, and tend to just walk right over each other rather than walking around. They are cute and very, very stupid. They are also very fragile, so it’s recommended you get 1/2 as much more to double the poults as the number of turkeys you want to end up with because they die easily. Mine are very pampered, so I’m hoping for better odds.

white poult

bronze poult

They are friendly, but love to nip at my fingernails and wedding ring. They’ll eat out of my hand.

Here are the layer chicks, 3.5 weeks old, 14 different breeds. Five of the tan ones are buff orpington cockerels (roosters under a year). When I make a weird noise or do something strange like hold a camera at them they all freeze and stare at me out of one eye like this. Notice “skinny-head,” as the kids call her, in the back center, with the ‘Nilla Ice crew cut.

The lovely hen in the middle is the one we call “red,” for obvious reasons. She’s beautiful. The Buff behind her I believe must be a cockerel, from the long legs and larger size. The water bottle on top of the waterer is to keep them from roosting up there and pooping in their water, because they are that way.

Another photo of the, “What the “%&*@” is food-lady pointing at us?” freeze-and-stare pose.

I keep the greenhouse/turkey nursery/bathroom locked and let myself in with a hairpin because I’m the only one in the house that can figure that out. This is spike, our gorgeous boy-kitty, saying, “Please, please let me in here just for a minute. I just want to look at the turkeys, that’s all.”

Girl-cat Bella smiles for the camera. She doesn’t even bother trying to get in to the chick or poult rooms anymore. You’re asking if my house stinks, aren’t you? No, not really. Not any more than the barf fest we had over Easter weekend and the daily diapers. And as any good book will tell you, proper litter management means little to no smell.

Because there is no way I could properly manage all the litter these gargatuan 3.5 week old fryers are putting out these days, I had to move them outside, even though it is a little early. David built an 8×8 pen. At this age, they need about 1 sq ft of space each, moving up to 3 (min) -5 (cushy) sq feet each as they grow (on soapbox: commercial chicken batteries give them a space smaller than a piece of paper–six hens in a file-drawer sized cage–they can’t even sit down most of the time. This creates disease and pecking, so they often have to debeak. It is not uncommon for one of the six chickens to be dead and trampled long before anyone gets to it. They live that way for two years. off soapbox). I have 21 fryers now, as some died, which chicks sometimes do. So 64 square feet gives them a very comfortable 3 feet each. They will need a heat lamp until they are harvested at 8-12 weeks. Chickens eat grass, and having chickens on grass reduces feed costs.

The Easter bunnies came to our house this year! Here are our four bunnies. The white ones are Goosey (named on behalf of Lucy, aka, the Goose) and Susan (named by Sophie). The black one was named by Noah: Blacky Taffy. The grey stripped one you can’t see on the right is Ben’s, Hoppity. These are all New Zealands which are a good pet or meat breed, the white ones are a good fur breed also. Theoretically we have one white buck (Goosey) but in all honesty it is too early to tell. If we do, it is possible that 150 rabbits a year can come from just these four innocent little things. A rabbit ovulates upon intercourse, the latter causes the former. They can start to reproduce at 8 weeks, have around 8 per litter, and can start over 8 weeks later (and so can their babies).

They can eat pellets, which are expensive, but are very happy on 70% alfalfa and 30% mixed grain, which is way cheaper. We got a starter bag of pellets and (my first!) bale of alfalfa hay. Alfalfa is a legume, which means the hay is high in protein for them (also Alfalfa feeds nitrogen to the soil and is a good crop to rotate before or after you plant your garden).

These guys are in cages, but we give them outside play time (when it isn’t raining) and will build them an A-frame outside hutch for the summer so they can eat grass and save us even more on feed. These cages are old and free, given back from a family in the ward, whom my cousin lent them to a while back. This is in our shed/mini barn.

I can’t show off my cute hair because it has been rainy and this picture was taken after doing chores in the rain–I had to clip my new bangs back because water turns them back into a fro–all the straightening-iron magic is gone. But here are me (tired, as you can see from the circles, and cold, as you can see from the red nose) and Goosey.

Will we eat the rabbits? We won’t eat these, our breeders, which is why we can name them. We’ll raise a few and try it and see how it goes. They are higher in protein and almost fat free in comparison to any other meat, and many say they are very good. Is it okay to eat cute things? Well, I think my chickens are very cute, and cows are just beautiful, with those big brown cow-eyes. This whole experience has definitely led me to be more mindful of the meat I eat, and we eat less. Rabbits are great food storage, as they convert feed to meat more efficiently than any other animal and breed fast and easily. Plus, I’d rather eat a cute rabbit that I gave a happy life than a miserable and factory-farmed chicken that is 10% fecal soup (sorry, off the soapbox really now). We can always keep the buck separate from the does to slow things down. And we can put the extras on ksl.com or craigslist and get rid of them.

We now have about 66 animals. I’m finding I really, really take a lot of joy from these animals, in a very satisfying way, not just like with pets, but another way I can’t verbalize very well. I appreciate them and love them, and it doesn’t wig me out that they are food animals, because I know that I really have a lot more gratitude and respect for food animals than I ever have.

So, our Easter was fun, with new animals and a big egg hunt in the yard with lots of our friends, including the Hunters from Pasadena, whom we miss terribly. It was so great to see you guys.

Work is fine, life is fine. I’m trying to walk that fine balance between striving hard and praying hard for the things we need but being accepting, thankful and satisfied with what we have. There are issues, some big, that aren’t really blog fodder, but overall, we are very blessed.

I have to go because I promised Sophie we could watch “her video.” Yet again. Ever since she saw Emilie Simon on my blog (my hair picture) she has been obsessed with this video. It is actually very cool and visually interesting. Don’t wig out that it shows her back for a second at the beginning–it represents the beginning of spring, but it doesn’t get all nudie. Watch–it’s a fun song.

2 replies
  1. dietcokegrrl says:

    Look at you with your own little farm!! Love all the pictures of the animals–they are so cute! I want to come visit and just hang out with you and play with the animals.

    Your mischievous kitties make me laugh. I totally know that look they give you when they are right outside the door and want to be on the other side.

    Miss you! XOXO

    Reply
  2. Carrie says:

    The farm is looking good. It was great talking to you the other day. I can’t believe you have so many animals. Sounds adventurous and brave! We love you guys. I hope the training is going great.

    Reply

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