Eighty-five. I think that’s the number of animals we have on the homestead right now. That might sound like a lot, but we’ve had more than that in chickens alone in past years. Yet it’s the most diverse group of animals we’ve ever had. Since June is done and gone, I’m about due for an animal update.
On June 23rd, the last of the animals we intend to add to the homestead for the year arrived. Our Cornish cross. Thirty birds that eat through feed like no chicks’ business. These little cuties will get big and ugly in no time flat. They outpace the rate of feather growth around the one month mark, and they poop like crazy. The pullets we have were in the brooder for a month and a half, and they only needed a bit of extra bedding twice. The new birds have been here a week, and I’ve already added more bedding.
A few days before the new birds arrived, Scott moved the egg layer pullets out to the new chicken coop he built out of an old livestock trailer his brother gave us. It still needs a bit of work, but it’s functioning and being used. They took some time figuring coming in and out, and the ramp needs a bit of work, but they got the hang of it, and are having fun hanging out underneath the trailer and grazing close to home.
The turkeys are a few weeks old now, and they are getting big! They are close in size to the pullets, but about a month younger. We’ve got to get some supplies together for roofing their chicken tractor (now turkey tractor) before they get moved to the field, so that’s definitely on the project list for next week.
Right after my last post, I realized that I needed to get the kids’ chickens moved out to the yard, but I didn’t have a coop built, so I had to rush for two days to get their small, mobile coop built. I really do need to build about two more of these, but it’s working for right now until I have time to build another one. I’m just going to do one more next, and then in another week or so from then, I’ll try to get yet another one built. That way, I’m not racing, and besides, they still have room, and they are getting fresh grass every day, so there’s plenty of clean ground and fresh grass to keep them happy.
We’re down a bunny again. Adam’s bunny is missing. I actually don’t think it’s dead, because I think I saw him streaking through the neighbor’s yard. Most of the rabbits around here are a greyish brown cottontail, and Sonic is much more tan/orange than that. I’m not mad, but when I heard he put Sonic on the ground, I couldn’t fathom what was going through his head. But Brownie and Grogu are doing good and happy in their hutch. They keep the grass inside their run freshly mowed, and the kids add extra greens from time to time.
I finally got around to painting the hutch about two weeks ago. We have a bunch of leftover paint from when the house got painted, so it’s the same colors as the house. A dark blue/teal with white trim. The kids think it looks fantastic!
As for our other birds, we are either down to 2 or 3 ducks. I know, it probably sounds terrible that I don’t remember, but they are really, really free-ranged, and they do their own thing. I just know that we’re down one duck from earlier this spring. We had one go missing suddenly one day. The chickens are doing good…7 hens, 2 roosters.
We still had two of the Cornish Cross from last year, but both of them died within the last couple of weeks. I think one became egg-bound (I’ve never had that happen before, so I really don’t know). She was big and heavy and starting to look slow and tired, and one day, she was dead on her back in the coop. Aaron thinks she may have died while on the roost and fallen off. That would make sense with the way she was positioned.
The other one was still doing okay, and one day I went to go to town to run some errands and a bunch of chickens were taking cover from the sun underneath the van. They always go running when I start the van up, and I didn’t drive off immediately, so I figured I was in the clear. Nope. That poor girl must have just gotten her head bumped. I won’t go into details, but she was bleeding from the head and died shortly thereafter. There was a lot we learned from keeping those hens for so long. I feel bad that they passed, but up until shortly before the time of their deaths, they were happy and healthy. I’ll have to write a post of everything I learned from that experience.
And then there’s the pigs. Bacon and Sausage are doing great! They’re growing like crazy and always happy. I’ve said it before, but I am really enjoying having pigs on the homestead. We still have to get through about 4 more months with them, but it’s basically decided that we’ll be doing this from now on (unless something goes horribly wrong that changes our minds).
The pace of their feed consumption is up quite a bit. We started at about one bag for 2.5 weeks, and now we’re down to less than a week for a bag of feed. I think 5 days? That’s one 50lb. bag for two pigs… lasting 5 days. I’m a little worried at how much that rate might still increase. The good news is that we’re just starting to harvest food, and all of the scraps will be fed to the pigs. We’re already giving them all of our food scraps, and the leftovers that aren’t more than a serving. I still have some small pumpkins I can feed to them.
They were doing a little less rooting for awhile, and I noticed that they wouldn’t touch the patch of thistle. It was starting to get pretty big, so I took the weed whacker in their pen and took all of the tall stuff down. They’re beginning to work that area a little more, so hopefully that keeps up.
I’m not scared of the pigs, but they are big enough that it’s a bit intimidating to have them running around the pen with me in it. They’re probably 100+/- pounds now, if we had to take a guess. They’re strong, and I would not want to get knocked over by one. I can see why it’s so important to make sure they aren’t out of feed for long (if at all), because they can get kind of pushy. I had to give one a pretty hard nudge to get them to back off while I filled their feeder last week. They aren’t being mean at all, but they are just anxious.
I love seeing the pigs come up to me with their tails wagging. They like to visit us at the fence for a scratch or just to say “Hi.” I noticed some weird almost barking noise one day, and I realized it was the pigs “barking” at each other. I thought it was Poppy making a weird noise at first, but later I saw them playing and she was sleeping and I heard it again.
They decided to make their wallow right below their waterer. It’s not a problem, per say, but if they were really motivated, they could currently make it so they could get out under the fencing. They have been happy to have the extra rain recently, and they have been making extra wallows around their pen.
As of about two weeks ago, I started to notice a little bit of smell coming from the pen. It’s not awful, and it’s not terribly strong right now. I need to remember to add grass or straw onto their bathroom to help keep the smell in check. I had read that they’ll make their bathroom in one part of their pen, but I hadn’t really noticed it until more recently.
For Father’s Day, Aaron bought Scott a bone saw for butchering large animals. We’ve done our own deer before, but we struggled a bit without the right saw. With more large animal butchering ahead of us, it was a good investment for Dad, and Scott was happy with the gift!
I have tentative butchering dates on the calendar, but I need to go over the numbers again and then give those dates to our family and friends. We need to be sure that those who have offered to help are available when the time comes, because we’re going to have a lot of work on our hands.
I am incredibly pleased with the animal situation on the homestead this year. I have never felt this good about what we’ve got going on. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up adding another one or two different types of animals next spring!
The good news is that we’ve had no major losses this year, and the animals are happy and healthy!
Love and Blessings~ Danielle