Celebrating Spring

My Grandpa has been after me to purchase turkeys to feed out for Thanksgiving and CHristmas dinner. I did some research about when to buy for optimal maturity etc etc. They were on sale yesterday at the local farm store, and I could not resist.

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The white and black chicks are my Mom’s Light Brama pullets purchased as an early Mother’s day gift. My how they have grown! They were fast friends with the 4 new turkeys! I enjoyed just listening to them chatter last night. They are settling in and getting along nicely.

The older Ameracanas are hopefully going to get to be free ranging within the next week or two! So excited I cannot wait for that!

Been a rough couple of weeks around here, and instead of focusing on the patience trying and frustrating things going on, I am trying to focus on the bright side of things. I have so much to be thankful and this latest picture is just another reminder of that!

God has been so good to me especially the past few weeks. He opened up doors for hayfields for this year! It is looking like I will have enough that I do not have to purchase hay again next year.

Several doors are opening in the horse world for me including horses to train, shows to judge and my colt even had a great out this past weekend! Exciting opportunities, meeting new people, working with new people and horses, expanding my horse knowledge and experience!

My Grandparents came and helped me get the garden ready to plant which I am hoping to begin in a few days. The ground is ready! That is a whole other experience for the first time. I am eager to see how the plants do, what grows well and what I struggle with.

One of my friends posted today and it was an awesome reminder that no matter what storms come in our lives, whatever challenges we face, praise God through it! My wonderful Pastor tells us all the time to “Put a praise on it!” That is what I am trying to do. God has a plan, and my frustration is part of it. I am looking forward to what he brings me to next!

Hopefully this encourages you today, to praise Him regardless of what is going on, or what happens yesterday, today, tomorrow. God is right there through it, giving us thing to rejoice about, even if it is something as simple as turkeys being on sale at the farm store!

My Lifestyle

Life is all about choices, and how the choices we make affect us and those around us. Every aspect of my life has been chosen, my job, my hobbies, my horses, my chickens, even my vehicles and relationships. The best part is it is mine to choose, mine to change and mine to live.

I feeel I fall into the farm/agriculture/horse lifestyle bracket. Most people do not realize that having horses is a lifestyle choice, not just a hobby, but when you get serious about the animals and the sport, it truly becomes something you eat, sleep and breathe.

An example, two years ago I purchased a cute little Ford Aspire, ‘Matilda’ as  called her. My daily driver at that time was an F-250 Super Duty and the fuel mileage was eating a ginormous chunck of my paycheck. Tildy paid for herself within the first 6 months I had her! I loved driving her, in fact I started going more places because I could afford to. She got nearly 4 times the mileage the truck did.

Due to an old injury, my hip pops out of place, and her 4 speed transmission was not easy on it. Other than that, when I had to pick up feed or anything, she was not handy and ‘Big Red’ had to make the trip. I was still way ahead and was actually able to save some money.

About a month ago, I started looking for a smaller pickup. Tildy was getting harder and harder on me to drive. Not that she was any harder to operate, but my body did not take it as well. I have dealt with hauling bags of grain in her and wrestling them in and out was crazy. I could only get 1 square bale in her, and I worked one day at getting even a second one, it just would not fit.

My Grandpa found a Toyota pick-up, it is an ’88 model and still currently searching for a name. That little truck has been the handiest thing ever as I have already used it several times to haul grain, hay, potting soil, bedding, even lumber and tools, and the ease of loading and unloading is unmatched. The gas mileage is not quite as good as Tildy, it does save gas, especially when considering I can run the big truck even less than before.The best thing about the little truck is it does not hurt me to drive but still allows me to care for my livestock and run farm errands. If it were not for having the animals, I probably would not have looked at replacing the car, but it was one of the best decisions I have made in a long time!

Hoping to enjoy both the Toyota and Big Red for many years to come as they help me complete farm chores and errands, haul me and the horses to shows and events, and take me to work. I am looking forward to it!

via Daily Prompt: Lifestyle

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!

Feeling Accomplished

This morning got off to a rough start. I tried to shake it, but the harder I tried, the tighter the gray cloud seemed hold. Dealing with the public, I pushed most of it aside and kept the customers smiling and laughing, but underneath it all I wanted to do was scream. It was no one’s fault, nothing that anyone did, I just could not shake it.

Even when I got off work and started stuff on the farm, I was still under this cloud. Even this evening when I went to work my latest project horse, I could not shake it. Flicka did really well today! My mood started to improve, just being in the saddle lifted my spirit.

When I got home, Miss M was here riding her horse. She ended on a much better note than she started on and many better days ahead. Seeing her ride encouraged me enough to get Bart out. All week I have been working on his canter. To the right he does not always want to hold his lead, and to the left he has been short strided and choppy. I have been using a training martingale on him the past few days and it has really helped to balance him out. Today he rode better than he has all week! His right leaded canter was flowy and nice and he only broke lead once. It was a somewhat quick fix, but he did not break again. His left leaded canter had choppy moments, but for the majority of the tim,e, he used himself properly and started rounding his back which lengthened his strides and soothed them out.

He was doing so well, Miss M had the poles set up, so we went through a couple times. He actually did flying lead changes! I am beside myself! He is weaving nicely and while his end turns still need some fine tuning, they are coming along nicely! Tonight I felt as though all the extra work I have done with him paid off. I feel like he finally understands what he is supposed to do and how he is supposed to move to maintain his balance!

My rough day quickly turned into a wonderful evening tonight! God blessed me through my colt tonight and I would not trade a single second of it! I look forward to the next couple of weeks with him, not to mention the upcoming summer!

Rainbows: God’s Promises

The past couple days have been full of reminders for me. I have noticed some of the most wonderful things.

This evening, I heard thunder crack, and decided it best to bring the horses in and get the evening feeding chores done before the storm started. While this did not happen, fortunately the storm was just thunder and rain, so nothing worry about other than damp clothes when I was finished. As I was outside working, I looked up and saw this big beautiful rainbow that stretched far across the sky. I instantly was reminded of God’s promise to Noah, to never again flood the earth. The rainbow was His reminder to Noah, and He has sent me several reminders the past few days.

I have posted in the past about God’s promises, but I want to share for a moment about Him fulfilling one to my mother. Several years ago, I had a bad horse accident. It was a miracle I lived let alone that I can walk, talk, etc and especially ride. Before the accident, riding horses was my life. I rode almost every day. Me and my horses showed well, competed well, and placed a lot. Needless to say, the accident was quite a setback.

A couple years after the accident, I went to college. Several things were still out of kilter a bit, one being my balance. I chose a horse degree which included riding classes and breaking and training class. The program focused a lot more on English discipline riding than I was used to, and the first quarter I struggled. As I started learning to jump, one day I lost my balance as the horse was over the jump. Had he not been the good saint of a horse he was, I would have landed hard on the ground, but he was nice enough to shift his weight and land under me.

The few years since then I have ridden more and more and even done bareback riding to improve my balance. I noticed improvement, but yesterday it was obvious how far I have come. I used to be able to hang off the side of the horses and everything else, flying dismounts you name it. If it had legs I could just about certainly ride it. Problem horses were among my favorite mounts. After the accident I have been more careful.

Yesterday I was trail riding a project horse that had never been through the woods like that before. At first she was nervous about being away from her buddy, then a little about the branches and brush touching her. After a few minutes she settled down, but I had been leaning and ducking around and under the low branches on the trees and the prickly brush. I never lost my balance!

God promised my wonderful Mom that I would be restored to 100% of what I was before the acident. I am claiming and standing on that promise! Yesterday was a great reminder of the progress I make every day! God is an awesome God! He keeps his promises and He holds each and every one of us in His hands!

White Feathers are Coming!

The lil chicks continue to grow! It has been neat watching them change even over the past few days! The meat birds are getting bigger and bigger. They are taking less management as they are able to regulate their body temperatures more on their own now. Makes my life a lot easier.

Their yellow chick fuzz is giving way to their white plummage more and more everyday. Everyday they look less like baby chicks and more like chickens. They are bred to grow quickly and that is exactly what they do!

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These little guys are 4 weeks old Wednesday, and all but George, I bet are pushing a pound and a half. I so enjoy caring for them! They are eating more than 7 pounds of feed a day and drink probably 2-2.5 gallons of water every day. Their ideal temperature is right around 80 degrees this week.

The Americanas are also growing! They are changing colors more and more! They do not eat near as much feed as the boys, or drink nearly as much water, but they are right on schedule just the same.

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The girls seem to enjoy their new pen. I plan to incude pictures and how we assembled it in one of my next blog posts. The girls are much more skittish than the larger boys. Whenever I open the lid on the end to refill the feeder and waterer, they all run down to the other end, as far away from me as they can get. I can already see a couple different color variations in these new members of the flock. I am excited to watch as they continue to change and grow! The larger hens enjoy eyeing the new girls. Even the Guineas enjoy sitting on top of their box and watching the younger birds run around nervously. Eventually the new girls will get along with their older flock mates.

I thoroughly enjoy everyday I get to watch these babies grow! Hopefully you will check back to keep up with their progress and watch with me as they grow!

Growing Chicks!

The chicks are continuing to grow! Not that I expected anythin different, but life never ceases to amaze me. God designed creatures perfectly and watching babies grow is a perfect example!

The meat birds are of course growing much quicker than the Ameracana pullets, but that means things are going like they are supposed to!

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The chicks went on different feeds starting Monday evening, so they needed to be separated. This posed a new challenge… where to put the pullets? Big girls would be mean if i tried to introduce almost 3 week old chicks to the flock, and if I put some kind of partition up, it would crowd the boys. So my awesome Dad came to the rescue!

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Using a single sheet of plywood, 1 2×4, a piece of scrap chip board from the coop expansion, 2 hinges, 1 latch and some chicken wire left over from the stock tank brooder, I helped Dad construct this. The feeder and waterer are housed under the chipboard door to keep the bigger birds from leaving droppings in it if they happen to sit on the lid. I hung a thermometer from a piece of baling wire that I cut down so I can properly monitor the temperature for them.  The box is 6′ x 2′ so they have plenty of room to roam around even as they grow, which they are doing!

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These girls are also growing everyday! 15 new birds to introduce into the flock in the upcoming future. I cannot wait to watch how their persinalities develop. e3ach hen that I have now has their own little attitude or character and it keeps things very interesting.

The babies are always glad to see me as I bring fresh feed with me, and a couple of them, namely George, are getting rather tame. Spring time always brings many good things. This year it has brought baby chicks and baby plants, but more on those another day. Either way I enjoy watching things grow and thrive. There is a sense of accomplishment when your animals do well and healthy and happy.

Baby chicks are enough to brighten your day and your morning. It just makes you smile when you open their door and they greet you excitedly as waterers and feeders begin to be filled. Makes me smile to care for them and make them happy!

My Smallest Chick

I have enjoyed watching the chicks, especially the past couple days as they have seemed to grow almost constantly.  I noticed I have one Super Roaster that is smaller than all the rest, including the Amerucana pullets. I noticed the lil guy had a dirty bum today and decided I needed to investigate.

I am really surprised the little guy is still with us as small as he is, but I am glad to have him despite his size. I was extra extra small once myself, and I am still not a very tall or big girl. The little guy is healthy, just small.

I caught him when I got home from work, and carried the little guy inside. My mom dampened a cloth and I tried to soften the dirt and manure to get him cleaned up. When the dirt etc was persistent, I cut a milk jug and created a chick sized soak. I was surprised the little guy did not even complain when I submerged his bottom half in the warm water. He let me hold him in the water and after just a couple minutes, the dirt and manure easily came away from the skin all except one spot which unfortunately was stuck pretty good. I was worried about tearing his sensitive skin, so we gently snipped a small piece of his chick fluff and released the matt. He is now happily back with his fellow chicks eating and growing. I am hoping he grows more over the next couple days and gets closer to the size of the others, but if he doesn’t that is ok too.

I wanted to get a picture of him wrapped up in a rag as I gently dried him off before taking him back outside. He was cute sitting in my hand all wrapped up with his eyes closed. He did not have a care in the world as I cleaned him up.

It just reminded me as I held that chick that the Bible tells us to be good caretakers of our animals. That is what I did today and what I will do everyday I have animals. God has blessed me with the animals and livestock in my care, it is my responsibility to make the best choices for them that I can. I get a lot of joy from my animals and the farm, despite the expenses, the late nights, early mornings, hard days, all of it is my job right now. I enjoy everyday I get to spend with them!

Lost in Thought

Th past few days, I have neglected to post. Not because I did not want to, or because nothing has been going on at the farm, quite the opposite in fact, but because once again my thoughts are almost overwhelming. Just been a lot to take in lately let alone absorb and mull over.

I started to post about the sermon Sunday. It was a beautiful sermon on the cross. Very appropriate with Easter approaching, as well as very fitting. The cross as awful as it was, was essential and vital for us to live! The greatest part of that is that Jesus is no longer o that cross, He is living again, interceding for you and for me. Giving us the freedom from our sins and the opportunity to live in heaven! What a blessing! I hope that you think about that the next few days as you are ceebrating Easter with your famillies.

Monday brought another full day. I helped a buddy with ongoing renovations in a house that he is flipping. I always learn when I am able to go help. This time I helped lay subtype flooring, staple up plastic and frame in a closet. For my help, hebrought me a barrel, which I needed for my chickens and gave me a scrap piece of PVC pipe to fix my waterer with! Expanding my knowledge in carpentry with hands on work is the best way to learn. I get to run power tools as I help work on the house, which has prepared me for several projects here on the farm.

The weather this weeken was beautiful! And I took advantage of it by riding the boys. Jim worked better than Bart the past couple days, and I think it is due to having time off. Jim is a lot more seasoned and I think Bart just needs more consistant work for a couple weeks and he will be right where I want him. I am so excited about this race season, I came home from work today and was looking at shows and schedules.

Then there is the chicks, which are growing of course! They turn 2 weeks old tomorrow. I will try to get pictures tomorrow for my next post, however, the meat birds are nearly twice the size of the pullets. The meat cockrels fill my hand when I pick them up! They are still cute yellow fuzz balls and are enjoying their more spacious area back outside since the weather is warmer.

Several things starting to come together. I have a place selected for the garden, just need to start preparing the ground. There is a good bit of clean up that needs done, a few things that need moved out of the way and then to prepare the soil. I have a good dea of what I want to grow. Hoping to start making progress on that soon.

So many things running through my mind the past few days, been nearly impossible to sort them out, but little by little, one day at a time, I inch toward my goals.

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!