Mini-farm Update


Lilacs from our garden

Lilacs from our garden

This spring has been absolutely magnificent!  Typically spring in New Mexico has weeks upon weeks of winds that gust up to 60mph along with warm days and really cold nights that can get down below freezing.  This year I could count on one hand the totally windy days and the temperatures have not been all Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde like.  Our 15 year old lilac bushes that are still only two feet high bloomed for the first time.  Our peach, apple and plum trees were able to bloom without a freeze or the winds taking the blossoms out.  We’ve got our fingers crossed that we’ll be getting fruit this year.  It’s a great start.  Mike and I have gotten a jump on cleaning out our gardens and he’s been working to expand them like a crazy guy.  If you missed his post last week on the garden go check it out here.

BEES

We lost all 5 honey bee colonies a few months ago and have ordered more.  Sandy from First Gen American offered to ‘adopt’ a honey bee colony as did my parents.  We couldn’t be happier and more grateful for the donations! If you aren’t familiar with Sandy’s blog you should really go check it out.  She’s a great storyteller.  Most of her posts revolve around her slightly eccentric Polish immigrant mother, Babci.  Sometimes I see Babci as an older Polish version of myself and find myself asking, ‘What would Babci do?’  We should probably get t-shirts made up!  With that financial assistance we will be getting 3 new colonies.  I do miss seeing the bees buzzing around the gardens but by the end of May we should have them back and our garden will be full of the buzzing little creatures.

CHICKENS

Currently I’ve split the layer chickens, roosters and ducks into the larger portion of the chicken yard and have the older broody hens back in the main coop sitting on fertilized eggs.  We had them mama a few eggs last year and it was so much fun to watch the eggs hatching and the babies growing into adulthood.  We are hoping they can hatch a few duck eggs for us this year…we’ll see!

Here’s  a rockin’ video I made from last year in the nursery coop:

We also have a lot going on with our Cornish Cross meat chickens.  We are raising 150 over the next few months, then we’ll take a break during the hottest part of the summer and raise a final batch of 50 in September.  Last year we didn’t have much luck but so far so good.  The first batch of 54 are 4 weeks old and we’ve only lost one.  The next 52 are 10 days old.  So far we’ve lost 4.  Sounds bad but we expect to lose up to 15 per every 50 ( a 30% loss).  We process them at 7-8 weeks.  It’s going to be crazy come May and June!  Not to be outdone by the mamas and chicks, I thought a short video on the Cornish Cross chickens was in order.  You can see how fast they grow, hence their nickname, ‘fast-growers’!

WORK

OK, what does this have to do with our mini-farm?  Well it does have an impact.  I’ve picked up a part-time jobby-job (that’s what my friend Juliette calls a J-O-B) so I haven’t been able to help out as much as I was hoping.  Mike has always been a more enthusiastic house-husband to my house-wife so it’s probably for the best!

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8 Comments

  1. Posted April 30, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Woah! That’s a lot of babies!!!

  2. Jeff @ Sustainable life blog
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    if you can count on 1 hand the number of wind storms this spring, I must have been down in ABQ at a bad time. We got delayed 3 hours + coming back in march.  It was no fun AT ALL.  In other words, glad everything is going well at the farm.

    • Posted April 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, that was a typical spring day in NM.  It sucks!!

  3. The Joy of Caking
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I love lilacs. We planted three new trees last year!

  4. Posted April 30, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

     You harvest at only 8 weeks?!!!  Is that  normal growing time?  Are they tiny? Could they go longer?  I have so many questions  Meanwhile, I have a greenhouse up, sugar snaps, beets, carrots, onions and garlic planted…ad the aquaponics with the tilapia should be functional in another 3 weeks!  I’m soooooooo excited.  You have no clue.

    God, I love Spring.

    • Posted May 1, 2012 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Oh, I know how excited you must be!  It’s spring fever!!!
      Cornish Cross are the most common breed of meat chicken and I’m even talking the famous homemade chicken farmer Joel Salentin raises these fast-grow types.  There are two types of Cornish Cross- a fast-grower that we can cull at 7-8 weeks (earlier if you are selling them as a cornish game hen) and the slow-growers that we cull at 10-12 weeks.  These birds are not genetically modified but they are raised for certain traits like a full chest (yes, the popularity of breast meat is the cause of this).  We opt for the fast-growers because of the cost.  Every day a bird lives he/she will eat.  So if I’m culling a bird 2-3 weeks later it’s a big cost.  Out here in NM we pay twice for feed as farmers do on the east coast.
      Mike and I are trying out other slow grow breeds but most people don’t want to pay more than $5/lb for a chicken.  If we don’t charge more then we are losing money.  
      I hope this helps!

      • Posted May 1, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

         Interesting.  So you’re able to sell as organic, cage free birds?  And here in the East cornish hens are $4.99 a pound, and that’s not the organic kind.

        The rise in the cost of feed has been driving up the cost of all kinds of meat products.

        Do they like dandelions and such?  When I was a kid in my home country my aunt grew chickens.  I remember they scratched a lot and she supplemented with corn.  Dandelions grow pretty fast and their seeds are cheap.  I was just thinking that it would help.  If not I’m willing to donate a couple of packets.

        • Posted May 2, 2012 at 6:50 am | Permalink

          Mike and I love your input and ideas.  The dandelions are a great idea.  We have an entire front yard full of them.  Plus I could plant them and have them growing in the chicken yard before the chickens arrive.  By the time they are out of the brooder the dandelions would be growing and ready to eat.

          I spent one summer with the chickens in movable pens and I would move them across our land. The idea was to ‘pasture’ raise them so that more of their diet was from grass and not feed. Coyotes and raccoon spent the nights breaking into the cages and killing them so I’ve given up for now and they spend there time in a large section of fenced off yard.  We grow extra greens in out cold frame and supplement their diet that way.I don’t sell them as organic but as ‘home grown’.  I don’t use organic feed but about 25-30% of what the eat (bugs, worms, greens) are organic.  It’s shocking for me that non-organic birds are $4.99/lb!  You can get a whole organic bird for that price at the local Albertsons!

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