Wild Weather Wednesday

Today happens to be Wednesday, and this week it brough wild weather with it! About 3:35 I was awakened to freezing rain pinging off the tin roof. I love the sound, but dreaded what I knew was ahead: feeding and driving to work in the snow and ice. The horses, and donkey appreciated me sliding my way down the bank to the barn. I was glad to have managed staying on my feet this time.

When I started the car about quarter after 5, it had a nice little ice coating, that the defroster worked at for about 15 minutes and I still had to scrape it. Two tries out of my driveway later, I was successfully on my way. I am grateful for a safe journey this morning.

I am sure the local kids appreciated the snow day, but I hope more, that the parents, teachers, etc made it to work safe and sound. Weather like this makes me all the more grateful for 4 wheel drive, a wood stove and diligent road crews. Although I am sure it would have been good for a laugh or two if you saw me trying to stay on my feet to feed this morning.

I was grateful I thought ahead last night and made a few extra preparations for this mornings feeding. Having hay carried down and ready made this morning go that much smoother.

I think the consensus from Ohioans at this point is unanimous, we are counting down to spring. Every day brings us closer to it! Which means taking days like today and getting the research done and preparations made so that when the weather breaks, we are good to go for spring gardening, hatching, foaling, the list goes on and on. I am super excited for spring! Days like today allow me to look forward that much more to it! It will be here before we know it!

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Setting February Goals

January is better than half over, and I cannot believe it is already there! February will be here before I know it, and since I did not make any resolutions this year, I am setting some goals for February.  A new month feels like a fresh slate.

Jim is off until he is cleared from the vet, which I hope is sometime next month. Until then, I have 2 other horses to start conditioning and tuning to be prepared for when the season starts, and I am hoping to start with them the first week of Februrary. I am very much looking forward to seeing how they come along this season! I have to start somewhere and the best way is to just start riding and see how they do.

I want to start focusing again on my spiritual walk, I have been slipping, and now is not the time for that. I plan to challenge myself to write scripture everyday in February which will keep me focused on it, and with any luck improve my handwriting. When I did that before, it gave me a chance to reflect further on the scripture and mull it over in my mind. I enjoy that time, reflecting on scripture. I learn more and retain more and that is exactly what I should be doing more.

Spring is coming and there are things to do on the farm to prepare for the coming of new arrivals! I am planning to incubate and hatch eggs! As well as I have a mare due. I will be relieved when she has foaled out and that is one less thing off my mind, but I am so excited to have a foal coming.  I have neve hatched out chicks before and I cannot wait to set the incubator up! I am looking forward to trying something new.

There are a few loose ends to tie up on the lean to and the haybarn to start on. I am glad to have both of those projects moved to the in-progress list! A few little things and the lean to is totally done, and the haybarn is a spring project, but it will make life so much easier on the farm.

I also plan to build a pen for the meat birds this spring as the one I used last year did not have enough air circulation for the larger meat birds. A small project ideally, but a project regardless. Hopefully I have better luck with them this year. So much to look forward to!

Back In Action

It seems like forever since I have blogged! Never fear, I did not forget, life has just been busy and then even busier with the holidays. But, with the start of a new year, I have set several new goals and I cannot wait to share them with you!

I have been researching the past few days, about a bullet journal, and I bought supplies tonight to get started! I was going to bind it myself (I experimented with this for a Christmas gift) but decided I would start with something prebound. I selected a flat laying journal, with brown paper pages. They are unlined so that I can make each page whatever I decide. Stay tuned for updates on that!

I bound my first book (after watching an amazing YouTube video) and after doing one, I decided to do a second. I may write a blog about how I did that. I was looking online for a Riding Lesson Journal I could purchase for  a Christmas gift, but I could not find what I wanted. So my mom helped me design my own pages and print them properly for my journal, then I was able to sew them into the cover.

Hopefully you made it through the holidays easily and enjoyed time with your family and friends! I know we did here. The brutal temperatures the past couple weeks have kept me busy, just keeping animals fed and watered. In the next couple days, I will be updating you about the newest additions! For Christmas, my Mom, brought home 15 chicks, which are set up in our living room where they are nice and toasty in this way colder than normal Ohio winter.

Several things set in motion on the farm, I cannot wait to tell you about it all. New adventures on the horizon, and new goals for 2018 to grow my horsemanship and help my horses perform better. Hopefully I keep my motivation and determination as 2018 progresses.

First Chilly Day This Season

Almost all the leaves are gone now, and with it they have taken most of the warmer sunny weather. Today was sunny, but this morning was quite chilly and a brisk afternoon led me to staying inside my sweatshirt most of the afternoon.

I have posted before about my chickens and even how my waterer for them was designed and built. The PVC system I have been using works well, but as winter approaches, I had a new problem. I had to find a way to keep it thawed. Last winter I could not and resorted to a hanging 5 galon bucket with a flower pot heater underneath it. This was very messy and not something I plan to repeat. So, I started researching.

Mr. T suggested using an aquarium heater. What a great idea! I ordered 2 and had them ready to go, until I did more research and heard about them exploding inside the waterer. I also read about them shorting out and shocking the chickens. Last thing I want is for one of my birds to get socked, so I did more research. I cannot be the only one out there with this type of waterer.

My search led me to a $40 heater designed specifically for the water system I have. Fantastic! Shipping it to me took the total to more than $50, and I had to pass on that for a 1 year warranty.

Yesterday I picked up some heat tape and some insulation and wrapped the pipes well. Reattached it to the wall of the coop today and fired it up. Seemed to be working when I brought them in for the night. I will check it tomorrow morning and see how it is faring.

The plan is to work more on the lean to tomorrow, hoping we can make a lot of progress with getting it up. Winter is coming and I hope I am ready. Things are getting done and being marked off the list a little at a time, day by day. Each day brings new challenges and learning new things.

I was asked not too long ago what I wanted to be when I grow up, and I thought for a moment. I decided I think I will be a farmer, because a farmer fixes whatever life hands him that day. He has to shoulder livestock, equipment, machinery, carpentry, plumbing, sometimes even electrical and vet work. One farmer wears many hats in a single day, and he meets life head on regardless of what it brings him next. I think farmers are people to be looked up to and learned from. Maybe one will inspire you!

Finally Fall

Almost all the leaves are changed, and many have fallen as I look across this part of southern Ohio. The temperatures are starting to lower, especially over night and the days get shorter all the time.

As summer moves on, several of my projects are also tying up. Always feels good when I can mark things off the list! The garden is done, just down to brush hogging it for the winter, the turkeys are in the freezer as of this afternoon, and the pullets have started to  lay.  I feel accomplished when I open thr freezer downstars and see chickens, turkeys and corn inside. Knowing that I did that is very rewarding. I had a lot of help this year from family and friends, but next year I hope to do more on my own.

I am excited to announce the addition of 3 new Guineas! I could not resist the 3 keets when I saw them! 2 are pure white, which I have never even seen in person until I saw them! They are about 8 weeks old, and are enjoying playing in the brood box right now. I am already enjoying listening to them chattering!

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The fall season brings some of my favorite things, cool nights, bonfires, sweatshirts, hot chocolate, apple ciders and crisp mornings. Changing leaves are beautiful and the starry fall skies are breath taking, I even got to see a shooting star while I was out this morning feeding at 3. I was not even sure what to wish for, but it made me stop for a minute and realize how much I have to be grateful for.

The Maker of the universe and Keeper of the stars, cares about me and the littlest things in my life! That is the awesomest feeling there is! He is holding me in His hand and He has a plan for my life! Seeing that shooting star this morning was a gift from Him, a way to remind me of His many blessings. That is only the 2nd or 3rd shooting star I have ever seen and they are so special, just like us, God’s creations. We are hand crafted individually for a purpose, and it is our choice what we do with it. So grateful for such a reminder this morning!

Mid September

I was traveling this weekend, and I noticed the leaves here in southern Ohio have begun to change. They are not changing much, but it has started. That means fall is just around the corner and winter will be here before I know it. I am actually thinking and planning ahead in my winter preparations.

I ordered 2 heaters for the chicken waterers. I know, sounds simple, and it was, but the water has not frozen yet. That means I am ahead of my usual game. They should be here tomorrow or Wednesday and I am excited that it is taken care of.

The baby ducks are growing like weeds! They have grown much faster than the chickens do and it has been fun to watch them. We are handling them often, and they have decided they like to go outside during the day. Chomper is offering to bite less and less, which I am very glad about. A biting duck is no fun!

Dad helped me build a turkey pen over the weekend to finish out the four of them. My brother in law was kind enough to set the posts for me the other day and mom helped me get the woven wire up. Dad helped me build an awning to keep the larger birds out of the weather. The animals are really a family deal, and I am beyond blessed to have a family that gets so involved.

Bart is finally totally healed, and I got him out for a ride yesterday. My boy just surprised the socks off me! He was a perfect gentleman! Did everything I asked no complaints, protests etc. He rode like  a dream! I cannot wait to get back on him. It was like we never took a single day off. He is such a special horse, I cannot wait to be competing with him again.

A lot of positives to reflect on from last week. A lot of things on the horizon in my little world. Most of the time I think o spring as a new chance to begin, but this year it might be fall. Either way, I am excited for what is ahead as I look forward to the next season of the year and of my life.

Enjoying the Sunshine

Today was a mostly sunny day in southern Ohio. We had a few showers, but not enough to limit much in the farm. I was grateful for the nice weather to get a few things done.

Mr.M was kind enough to stop back and do most of the work fixing fence. There are a few things that unfortunately I am just not big enough to do. Setting new posts happens to be one of them. I helped, but Mr.M did the brunt work. Once the fence was fixed, and even the gate rehung! I was able to turn my focus to other things.

I rode the mare, nicknamed here as ‘Girlie’ and she actually cantered. I originally did not want her to canter so soon, but she did fantastic. She kept breaking into a canter while working circles and on the rail, so I encouraged her to keep her forward motion and she even took her correct leads on her own! She is doing much better about giving to pressure and following her nose.

I planned to ride the other mare, but the weather decided to not cooperate at that point. Monday will start a new week, with a new leaf and a new chance at making progress. We took a few steps in the right direction yesterday and I am looking forward to continuing with her next week.

I collected eggs next, and counted eggs to hatch, I am up to 8! My goal is ultimately a dozen home hatched chicks, so it may take a little longer, but I am excited about that! I am looking forward to hatching out a few chicks just to see how it goes. Ideally I get 6 pullets out of the dozen, but time will tell for sure.

As I looked over at the garden, I decided to stake the larger tomato plants. I missed a row with the tiller yesterday, but I was not fighting with that today. Maybe I will fire that up again Sunday. It took a lot of energy to till the weeds in the garden and I was not up for it today. This crazy week started to catch me today. I also started planning the fence to go around the garden. Started to begin driving posts, but again, that is a job that kills me. I can drive about 2 posts, then I am ready for a break. This ground is hard clay and it is tough driving, digging etc, not fun working on fence at all.

Still a few things to take care of this summer, looking forward to trying new things and seeing how the current endeavers turn out!

Peeps are Growing!

I deleted the wrong pictures this evening, I will have to take more tomorrow of the chicks that have grown! All of them grew a large amount within the past 2 weeks.

The oldest pullets are Americana, they are 10 weeks today, and they spent their first day out of the brooder Saturday. It took them a couple days to venture outside of the henhouse itself, all but one or two that were more adventurous. It has been a few days and they are all enjoying their time outside playing and eating bugs, grass etc.

The next oldest are the Light Bramas. They are about 6 weeks, give or take a little. Most of their feathers are now in. My mom did a very good job petting them and they enjoy being handled and petted. Several have names including ‘Polly.’ Polly has quite the personality, she is the boss of the others in that group. So far everyone is stil getting along between them and the turkeys. The exciting news with them is they now occupy the brooder in the henhouse, not the living room!

That brings me to the youngest birds, my white turkeys. They have almost all of their wing feathers. They are close to a month old, and are about the same size as their chicken companions.

It is a bit of a change, not having any live poultry in the house to check on as I walk by. Mom is happy to have the mess out of the house and the chicks happily where the mess is easier to clean up.

I have enjoyed watching the babies! The Americanas this weekend have been rather entertaining. Even today one was out hopping and flapping trying to fly a little. There are several new colors in my flock and I am excited to watch them mature the rest of the way. I cannot get over how nicely they are getting along with the older hens, even Roy is being good and the Guineas do not bother them. I was a little worried about turning them loose, but my older poultry are doing very well. The littler chickens are even drinking out of my waterer, which with some help from Mr.J we got the 2nd one put together. I am excited to see how things go the next few weeks as the chicks learn to roost and the pecking order is established amongst the girls. Springtime on the farm is always enjoyable with little ones!

Starting the Seeds

Almost 2 weeks ago, my sister helped me start a few seeds in degradable starter trays. We used a complete potting mix with fertilizer and nutrients so that I would not have to add any. My Grandma was nice enough to go with me to the local farm store and pick out the correct seeds for what I was wanting to plant.

Grandma helped me decide on two kinds of tomatoes, Best Boys and Rutgers, Cucumbers, Squash, Cantalope and Watermelon. I also started some lavendar plants. Grandma took me to her favorite plant store and greenhouse to pick out corn, peas and green beans to direct sow into my garden.

I was concerned at first that my seeds were not going to start at all. Doing more research I realized I had forgotten a few vital things…. one being a plastic cover to make a greenhouse type enviornment. Ooops… so I improvised! The chicks needed to be kept at 85 degrees, with light on them, so I moved my starts into the chicken coop and put it up on the nest shelf that the meat birds were not using. Waited a few days and viola! My seeds sprouted!

I was relieved when I noticed the first few shoots peeking out from the soil. I kept them in the with the chicks, which kept them warm and made sure to keep them moist. Finally after 2 weeks, I am confident I am off to a good start!

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All but 2 of my tomato plants have sprouted, and luckily it is one of each that seem to be dormant. I am not hopeful that they will sprout later, but for my first attempt at this, only have 2 tomato plants out of a total of 30 starts is not bad!

Things are coming along for the garden, Dad plowed up the plot Thursday. It has been raining since, so things are on hold until they dry out a little. Crazy to think I got excited over a few small sprouts, but for my first time I think it has gone pretty well, thanks to my sister! She has always had a green thumb and she helped me out a lot with getting these guys started!

On another note, the chicks are 5 weeks old Wednesday! 3 more weeks until they are ready to dress out. And I ordered the next batch to arrive on the 24th. More peeps! I can not wait! Something about spring that allows me to enjoy the animals and babies! I also found a really nice stud for my mare today! Such an exciting morning on the farm!

Cold Night Ahead

Temperatures in Ohio have dropped all day and will continue tonight. The change in temperature affects all livestock. The horses get fresher, the hens were acting like hooligans tonight, the ducks still did not want to go into the coop. Bernie, the littler brown duck walked up the ramp and halfway in the henhouse only to change her mind and turn around. I don’t understand, but as long as she is happy.

The change in temperature brought the babies back inside. This time in the living room, and my mom is being a good sport despite her dislike of baby chicks in her living room. I do not think they would have been warm enough even with the heater running constantly outside. So, Dad told me to bring them in the living room, and even helped me bring them in!

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They seem to be content so far in their stock tank brooder. The thermometer is reading 90 steadily, so that is right where it is supposed to be this week. The challenging part about this brooder compaed to being outside is the waterer. Outside I have a 3 gallon top fill waterer. Easy! But it does not fit in the tank and give the chicks any room, so it stays outside. When the chicks are inside, I use a 1 gallon gravity fed waterer that you flip over to fill. It makes such a mess, but it is only for a couple days.

With any luck this will be the last cold snap for the season and they can go outside for good. I want to do what is best for them, even if it means a little more work for me. They are growing strong and healthy! Means I am doing something right.

I get so much enjoyment from my little farm. Watching and listening to the animals play and talk to one another is so interesting to me. The donkey, Pete, talks all the time. He tells you if you happen to be five minutes late to feed.

Last night Dad and I were finishing the roof on the coop and Roy was perched on the roost when I went inside to help dad adjust the placement of the pieces. He watched me out of one eye, as he knew I was tempted to pick him up and hold him. He did not want to be bothered, at all. So, at first I obliged him and left him alone. When I had to go inside a second time to adjust another piece, the temptation was too great. I lifted him from the roost and held him gently stroking his neck and back as I carried him outside to show dad. Roy just watched me. It was very clear he was not enjoying being a pet rooster, but he has a nice enough personality he let me hold and pet him. I did not keep him long, before returning him to his coop. I just enjoyed him for a few minutes, my rooster, that I raised and watch everyday. He is such a nice boy! I can’t wait for more days ahead just enjoying the time with my animals!