Sunday, March 16, 2014

Keeping It Light

Oh, it's been a while, I know.  Things have been going and going here, and not left me much time to sit down and write.  And it's funny, but for all the things that have been happening, there just never seemed to be anything to tell you.  But I would like to catch you all up, so here goes:

  • On the goat front:  Of course I have to start with them!  Dulcinea is still pregnant, but due in 3 short weeks.  I feel like I'm not prepared, largely because I'm not.  But I will absolutely get there, as it's now crunch time.  The temporary kidding pen will be put up in the garage, and I'll get my crap together.  I am excited for her, and worried the same.  She's a first timer, so nerves all around, you know.  And she tricked me last year, so I am half worried this year may be the same.  However, going boldly forward, we've begun to place bets, as Dulci is a LaMancha and therefore "earless", and Stew is a Nubian and therefore "earfull".  So what will it be?  We are all undecided here:

We have yet to decide what the winner will get.  It's usually ice cream or something like that, so we'll probably keep to tradition and do that. 
    • Lilly is also pregnant and getting HUGE, as it's her second go-round, and her body's like "THIS AGAIN???" (....hmmmm....I remember that feeling) and just ballooned.  Unfortunately, it means we're without milk for now, as she was drying up so rapidly, milking her got stupid, so I stopped.  We actually had to buy milk, which made the kids and me very unhappy.  G-ross.  It's obvious to me (which I thought it would be) that more than 2 goats at a time in milk is a necessity, and that if I can stagger them better, then so be it.  I'm going to have to think this through a bit.
  • I spent some time with my boys yesterday, which was nice.  It's so easy to just breeze through their yard, and they really love some good petting.  I skritched my walnut-brained Stewart and my handsome Max for a good long time and gave them lots of love.  They are truly good boys.  Now that they aren't stinky, they are such a pleasure to be around.  We stood in the sun and had skritches for a good long time until Stew decided he was in love with me, or Max, or both, and started blubbering.  That's always a good time to make an exit.  A 175 pound goat who's taller than me is never good to turn down, especially when he's got love on his mind. 

  • On the chicken front, we had some arrivals this past week:

What you're looking at is 42 meatbirds, the first of the year's batch.  In here, however, and differently from other years, are 16 Delawares in addition to 26 Cornish X.  The Cornish have never steered me wrong, and I am very happy with them--they are a nice bird and finish beautifully.  However, in my search for a more sustainable broiler, I am trying the Delaware.  What I would like is to have some chickens from this batch that will be kept long-term to reproduce and continue to make me more meat birds.  The Cornish X will not breed true.  The Delawares should.  All of last year I thought about this problem, and came up with the following:
1.  That I can't breed a Cornish X, because although I may be able to find the "parts" of the cross, the parents of those meaty guys are specially bred to be so, and it's very unlikely that I'll get very good genetics from what I'm sent from the hatchery, and wouldn't get nice chickens like I get directly from the hatchery.  So that idea goes out the window.
2.  Breeding two Cornish X together will result in who-knows-what, so forget that. Plus, keeping them alive for long enough to breed really seems to be about impossible to me.  By the 8 weeks they go to, they seem kinda tired.  I have no belief that I could get them to 5 months of age with them being happy and healthy.  They're just not meant for it. 
3.  In my travels and extensive research (mostly extensive and exhausting research) and reading this opinion and that opinion, I discovered that the Delaware chicken was the meatbird until the Cornish X came and blew it away.  So maybe there's some hope for that. 

However, there's a hinky in the works here.  The Delawares that I ordered didn't hatch well, according to the hatchery.  So they sent me Delaware x Hampshire instead, which the man insisted was a better bird.  They are also called an Indian River chicken.  What I don't get is that the Delaware is a bird that is a New Hampshire cross to begin with.  So did they breed those crosses AGAIN to the New Hampshire, and this is the result?  Or is this just another name for the Delaware?  The dang birds look exactly the same, so how does anyone know?  I have no idea.  I also have no idea whether or not these birds will work out, but I'm hoping so.  Needless to say, they're in there, and the nicest specimens will be afforded luxury accommodations in the coop to live out their long lives.  The others?  Well, hopefully they are delicious.
  • Also on the chicken front, I am incubating eggs with a fourth grade class in my son's elementary school.  This is always so much fun.  In the incubator there are 15 eggs, 6 of which are Leghorns (and spoken for by the teacher's son), 5 are replacement Ameraucanas for me, and 4 of which are Delawares.  Which ones?  I don't know.  Maybe they're "real" Delawares.  Maybe all Delawares are really this Delaware cross chicken, and it's all the same thing.  But they came from a different hatchery, so they may hopefully have different bloodlines.  If they hatch, they will be put in with the meatbirds and I'll watch to see how they do.  All I can say is...I'll let you know!  :)

  • On the homefront, the seeds are going nuts and filling up the seed starting shelves I have like gangbusters.  Luckily, my mother bought me this awesome walk in greenhouse that she saw at Tractor Supply.  It is fantastic, and will be a godsend--when it's warm enough to use it.  I am anxiously awaiting that day, because I'd love to have my dining room back.  Come on, Spring!
  • We celebrated a birthday.  My son turned 10 this past week:

He got Legos and pants.  Pants because he needs them, and Legos because he loves them (can you tell?).  It was a great party. 
  • We finally re-did the kids' bathroom (cross THAT one off the list!) after nearly 4 years of just looking at it and sighing and ignoring it.  Best part?  It cost very little to do, and looks like a million dollars. 

We re-used the major things, got creative with some fence posts, and used things that were given to us from other people's renovations, and it looks like new.  I just love it.
  • There is still too much snow on the ground, but I can see grass in some spots, so I am hopeful that it will eventually warm up.  I need it to--not only do I have clean up and prep to do, but I need to build those chicken sleds!  This cold weather is really cramping my style.  :)
That's all I can think of, though there may be a million other things.  Until next time, my friends, take care!

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  1. So nice to hear your voice and catch up with all that you've been up to! I do hope you'll post some pictures of your kids when they arrive...they really are my weakness! When we have more than 1/8 acre, goats will be the first animal we get :-)

    Also, Happy Birthday to your son! Love the Legos ;-)

  2. So much going on and yet you take time to scritch your goats. You are part of the goat sisterhood now : ) The chicks are a sure sign of spring. Those little butterballs will probably be grown before the heat of summer.

  3. I so agree with you about being able to raise your own meat birds. We tried the Delaware too so I'll be interested in what you think. None of the dual purpose seem to have those nice meaty breasts.

    The bathroom looks great! And happy, happy to your birthday boy. Kidding is closer still! Looking forward to some baby kid posts soon, both yours and mine. :)


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