Friday, November 9, 2012

A variation on a saying...

I've been reading a lot....lots and lots about gardens, animal husbandry, shed/barn construction, products that a farm can sell via a farm stand. LOTS of reading.

As a result, I've signed up for many mailing lists. Recently, I got an e-mail from the Murray McMurray hatchery! It's a place to purchase all kinds of chickens, turkeys, and other assorted kinds of fowl. I'm so excited. The research that I've done has led me to Buff Orpingtons. From what I've read, they are large (6 to 8 pounds at maturity), good layers of brown eggs, and really mellow and good with people. So I was very happy to see that I can preorder the buff's and get them anytime from Jan to May.

But do I order my chickens before I get the farm? I feel like it's "don't count your chickens before they're hatched" only a variation.

From the web site: These are large, stately birds of quiet disposition. Easy to dress for the table they are white skinned, plump, and juicy, a beautiful eating bird. Their heavy, full plumage make them excellent winter layers, shelling out brown eggs right through cold weather. They also make excellent setters and mothers. These "Golden Beauties" have been one of our most popular varieties for years and years with their glistening plumage and pinkish white skin. Baby chicks are a soft light buff color.

I'll be ordering chicks. They are priced by each but you get a break at certain numbers. My number to start with is between 25 and 30 girls (so they'll be $2.76 each). I want layers. I don't want to have to worry about dealing with fertilized eggs right off. Eventually, I'll have to have some roosters if I want to breed my own meat and/or grow more layers; but for now, I'm sticking with the quieter girls. The property already has a fenced-off area that will work for chickens. I just need to build a coop; luckily there's a 10-unit nesting box lying near there that I will take full advantage of. A 10-unit nesting box can be used by up to 30 laying chickens. They like to snuggle up at times. And they also don't all lay at the same time.

As for pigs - I want guinea hogs - unless they are cost-prohibitive. They can be up to 220 pounds at the end of their growth cycle but I'm not sure what the meat yield would be. I'm thinking I'll start with two weaners (pigs that are young but weaned from their mama) the first time and just raise them on forage with kitchen scraps and good pig feed.

Goats will be nigerian pygmys to start. They are small so easy to deal with as far as fencing and housing and barn space. They are apparently super smart and are like dogs in that they are food-driven so Catherine will be able to teach them tricks. Also, even though they are small in size, they can produce up to quart a milk per day. I'll be getting at least three - we have their names picked out (they will be dairy goats so they can be named as they'll be living with us for as long as they live versus the pigs which will be named Bacon and Porkchop every year we get two). The goats will be named Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles.

The husband talked to his work yesterday and they are very supportive of helping to renovate the slave's quarters into a studio/office space so that, eventually, he'll be able to work from home! This is great because we figured he'd have to stay up in this area longer.The original plan was that he'd come to the farm on weekends and keep his job; I prefer this latest development.


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