Monday, January 31, 2011

Well the Eggs are set!

We set the largest best Blue Laced Red Wyandotte eggs on Saturday the 29th. Nessie handed me each one and I put them in the racks. Nessie managed to get 2 extra eggs in a couple rows so we have 26 eggs in it. Nessie returns on Feb 19th for a 4 day weekend.....chicks will be hatching!  Sunday monring Nessie looked in the incubator window...."Granpa none are cracking yet" I said "no they won;t start to crack until you get back"  21 days is an eternity to a 7 yr old.
This morning we got 5 inches of new snow so far...still snowing..........Spring where are you?  Lambs and kids in 57 days so I wait........impatiently of course


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Planning for Spring!!

 My last fall's BLRW chicks.......

I plan to set 24 eggs on the 29th, when our 7 yr old granddaughter Nessie is here. And she'll be back 3 weeks later for a 4 day weekend when Grampa will have BLRW chicks hatching!
  Born to struggling teen parents, we have Nessie 60% of the time until she started school. My eldest son is troubled and estranged, but we have a great friendship with the mommy. I took Nessie out to the barn in her baby carrier....she grew to loves the sheep, goats and chickens. Now we are blessed to have her every third weekend or more. Weeks at a time in summer. Hey its the only one we will probably have,,,,,,sweet, caring, well behaved- For the first time at 18 months, she stood hanging onto my pant leg whining as I cooked,  I looked down and said "Grampa doesn't like that"..she stopped and has never done it since. Always in a good mood- she wakes up smiling every morning. A real joy, a very quick study, with insight beyond her years.......yes indulged but not spoiled.
Grandpa Jerry

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This could be said of our Shetlands, aye?

Because of   Love
Said to be a true story

 A brother and  sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small herd of horses. The farm was where they had grown up and had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine, which topped the hill behind the farm. Through the years the tree had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside... The young siblings had fond memories of their childhood here, but the city hustle and bustle added more excitement to their lives, and called them away to a different life. The old folks no longer showed their horses, for the years had taken their toll, and getting out to the barn on those frosty mornings was getting harder, but it gave them a reason to get up in the mornings and a reason to live.  They sold a few foals each year, and the horses were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day's end. Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks. "Why do you not at least dispose of  The Old One. She is no longer of use to you. It's been years since you've had foals from her. You should cut corners and save so you can have more for yourselves.  How can this old worn out horse bring you anything but expense and work? Why do you keep her anyway?" The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the toes, scuffed at the barn floor and replied, "Yes, I could use a pair of new boots." His arm slid defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her near, and with gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears.  He replied softly, "We keep her because of love. Nothing else, just love."Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley. The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it had not been a happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks. How is it  that these young folks do not understand the peace of the love that filled their hearts?So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one noticed the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the "Old One."In a matter of  minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury. His wife back from calling for help cradled him in her arms, clinging to each other, they wept at their loss.By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing  ruins were left, and the old man and his wife, exhausted from their grief, huddled together before the barn.  They were speechless as they rose from the cold snow covered ground. They nodded thanks to the firemen as there was nothing anyone could do now. The old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as his shaking old hands clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana. Brokenly he whispered, "We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared, and pray for our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken from us.And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his old and withered hand. The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies in the steep snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they paused to rest. Looking up to the top of the hill the old couple gasped and fell to their knees in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.Seemingly, every  glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles.  And poised on its top most bough, a crystal crescent  moon glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere  mortal created a Christmas tree such as this.  They were breathless as the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy. Amazed and mystified, he took his wife by the hand and pulled her forward. There, beneath the tree, in resplendent glory, a mist hovering over and glowing in the darkness was their Christmas gift. Shadows glistening  in the night light. Bedded down about the "Old One" close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping cautiously through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The mares that were in foal with a new years crop of babies, pressed uneasily against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine. And now, she lay among them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife. Those she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was brittle with years, tired from the climb, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift---Because of  love. Only Because of  love...Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and joy... and again the peace of love filled their hearts.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

HI my name is Jerry and I am a Chickenholic

Well its done and the dust has settled. I sold all of my OEGB,  EE hens, EE chicks and Silkies. And I even took down a chicken pen! remodeled the big main pen a bit

Here's what I have taken this morning,,,,very cold day here.
My Blue Laced Red roo "Beach Boy" Five BLRW Splash hens, 2 black production hens
20 BLRW 3 month old chicks...looks like 9 roos and 11 pullets, and four 3 month old black production pullets.......that's it!  I only need 8-10 eggs for the house a day! So I will have
sell some nice correct  BLRW pairs in Spring

Oh I still have my Brinsea Oce 20 do a wonderful job.....but I will hold off for a while....enjoy the calm
Till later

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chicken subtraction

I have decided to reduce my chicken numbers,,,,,,,,doesn't sound fun>>> but it is refreshing. My Blue Laced Red Wyandottes--in my opinion-- are the most beautiful of all the breeds. Working on that premise, I am selling all the others. On Thursday we are meeting a 4-H family in St. Cloud. They bought all my Old English bantams and 3 Silkie pullets. It  fun to get youngsters started in bantam keeping. Later when my younger BLRW are ready to lay,  I am selling my Easter Egger hens and youngsters.  The Less is More- theory. I will have only BLRW- 12 hens and my roo "Beach Boy". I did keep a few Silkies as they are the best broody hens--- my roo Big Boy, Muffin and 2 pullets.

Now this is what I am talking about!!  7 month old   Beach Boy in his glory 

I find I can get more enjoyment out of 16-20 chickens, more individual pampering than I can with 60,,and its Easier! My two dairy does get alot of attention.....having a goat herd of 20 would ruin the fun....Sheep  I find 8 ewes to be about the right number. Their pen is easy to clean.....each day is treat day....try giving treats to a mob of 30 or more........So keeper ewe lambs will have to be selected carefully.......adding 2-3 more is OK  If I save a bunch of ewe lambs, then some older ewe will have to go---but I am close to my ewes and want to keep them.....Ah there lies the dilemma.......


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"You know its cold in Minnesota when............."


Before the end of the year and the first few days of the New Year, winter had largely missed us. Six inches of snow and no winds, we were marveling an our easy winter. Friends further south were not fairing so well. Then we got dumped with snow, high winds, drifting snow. Our Interstate from Alexandria (5 miles from our farm) to Fargo ND was closed for 60 plus hours. That's 100 miles of Interstate. Truckers waited it out in truck stops and wayside rests. A nearby fiend wrote on 12-31-10:
"What a day we had yesterday. Started with a freezing rain warning, added a freezing fog warning, then a winter storm alert and now a full fledged BLIZZARD WARNING!!! The temp this morning was 34 degrees and the bottom is dropping out like a rock. Snow was coming down sideways instead of falling down. Could barely see out the windows at all." 

Today its 15* below zero, the sun is shining and the hoar frost is twinkling. This begrudged Minnesotan has to say from inside the house it looks pretty!

Let's see 27 days, 28 days, 31 days  86 days is the First of April so there is hope. Warm days and a barn full of lambs and kids.......can't wait!
Then before long,  the above picture will once again look like this!

 Till later