Things as usual are busy around here but thankfully my sweet Hunk 'O Honey told me to stay home today and try to get rested up a bit and caught up on some of the work needing done around here. With all the extra work going on away from home and then the revival meetings at church we just haven't had much time to get anything done around here. Truth be told I could probably use about 2 months time to just get caught up at home but I don't expect to get it anytime soon.
We are trying to figure out what the best plan would be to get a better set up built for the chickens. We are still very interested in breeding some of the more rare/interesting breeds but with the dog problems and such we are going to have to invest the time and money in building a better home for them first. I have a great idea for a "chicken moat" around the garden but I lack the upper body strength to build it myself, not to mention the tools and the time to spend doing the work.
The chicken moat would be so good for us because it would lower the bug count in the garden dramatically and also keep out the rabbits.... my two biggest causes of loss out there. Plus it would reduce our workload since instead of hauling wagon load after wagon load of compost from one end of the property to the other all we would have to do would be rake it out onto the garden and spread it. The other plus is that we could easily turn the chickens and guineas out into the garden area (while protecting the plants) to scratch and eat the weed seeds and bugs and they can free range here and there instead of being totally confined all the time. Then the old chicken yard and house will be used as the rabbitry and storage.... handy since the bunnies are quickly taking over out there anyway!
We really want to get some speckled sussex chickens too! We are hoping that out of the remaining chickens there is a dominique hen and rooster (instead of them being all one or the other) and the same for the two australorps. Lord willing this spring we'll get the sussex chickens and some buff brahmas too and maybe a few other breeds. I'm trying to learn a less expensive way to feed them all though... at 11 bucks per 50 lb bag of feed these critters ain't cheap! I'm researching raising meal worms for the protein content and then feeding oats and corn and flax seed instead of pre-mixed feeds.
So now I've rambled on and on about the chickens... but we are also trying to get ready for goats. We really would like to try our hand at raising them but have been hung up on whether to get milk goats or meat goats. I think we've about decided to try for a nubian/boer cross that way we would have dual purpose goats. Jared may be going to work for a preacher down the road who is raising goats to get some experience working with them. Taeler is reading everything on the subject she can find and Caleb as usual is willing to do whatever work we tell him to. Troy is just praying that we make wise decisions about the breed and that the kids don't get livestock confused with pet. They haven't had any trouble with that so far but goats and sheep tend to be like large puppies and they have such personalities that Troy is concerned that the kids will give in to the urge to get attached.
The bees are doing good as far as we know. We are planning to inspect the hives later on this week to make sure that they are all queenright and storing food the way they should. If all goes well this winter we'll have the hives ready to begin making splits early in the spring and the kid's goal of 12 hives by mid summer will be attainable. The plan was to sell eggs all winter and early spring to buy the wooden ware and so on that they would need for the splits and the honey supers but with the loss of the chickens that they invested in we'll have to think that over.
Sometimes I just feel very very out of place around here. There isn't anyone else that I know here who is interested in the homesteading/simple living kind of stuff that we are and more often than not we are looked at funny for all the things we do with the critters and the garden and such. I miss living in the middle of nowhere with all the carhart/boot clad kids being the norm! I even miss having to drive so far to get to the store.... it sure did save Troy a lot of money too.
Speaking of saving money.... I was talking with someone the other day about one of my favorite websites in the web world, the Hillbilly Housewife. Miss Maggie has turned that website over to Miss Suzanne for those of you who weren't already aware. It will still have all of the HBHW recipes on it and articles but Miss Maggie just felt ready for something just a little different and she has begun a new website called Frugal Abundance. On her new website there is also a link to her new blog and there is plenty of information about what the changes are all about on the two websites.
Well folks, that's all the blogging time I have for now.... actually I've taken up more time than what I should have but you know how that goes. I hope everyone is having a good week so far.