We just had some rich loam delivered. Halis is currently digging up some good soil in the backyard for our vegetable garden. We have dabbled in gardening before, but never on the scale we are about to try.
We currently have 16 hens and a one-eyed rooster. 8 of our girls were chicks last summer and thus are laying almost daily now. The other half of our girls are fairly old and are laying when they can. Unlike many others, I don't cull the hens when their production wanes ... so our feed vs. output ratio will not be economical ... but I am okay with that. I have found, after 5+ years of keeping chickens, that their life spans are shorter than I had previously expected (about 4-5 years), so keeping them that long is my way of saying "thanks" for jobs well done.
We are currently yielding about 3/4 dozen eggs a day. We consume about 1/2 dozen a week. So, we have plenty of leftovers. Because we live on the aforementioned busy road ... I know we can begin to sell these eggs as well. Yet, we don't have enough overage to sell to the public in any kind of meaningful way. The offerings would likely be too sporadic. So, in order to up the overage a bit, we are going to add a few more hens. We have placed an order through our local Blue Seal feed store for the following: Buff Orpingtons, Black-Sex Links, Red-Sex Links and Ameraucanas. We are adding 6 more to the flock ... so next year our yield will be about a dozen and a half a day. We may add even more.
* Grow the Goat Herd
Well, two goats is not exactly a "herd"... but we are looking to change that. Our original intent in raising Nubian goats was to raise them for their milk. We got our two does last year and bottle fed them to adulthood. They are now more like pets than working livestock. But, as we believe everyone on this farm needs to earn their keep (all except for Isaac that is), it is time for these girls to give us some kids and some milk.
The problem is ... do we buy a buck and keep him? Bucks are known to be stinky, mean, and hard to handle unless they are wethered. So, deciding to keep a buck is not easy. Some alternatives to keeping a herd sire is to rent a buck to impregnate your does (can be expensive), purchase sperm to inject (no thanks), or drive your does to a stud buck (requiring a horse trailer - which I do not yet own). So, I am leaning toward keeping an ornery buck ... and studding him out myself in order to recoup my expenses. I have been shopping for bucks on Uncle Henry's and throughout the internet. I have an appointment to check some out this weekend and am so looking forward to it.
Now we need to expand yet another livestock building. And so, while we are at it, I am thinking of getting more bang for my buck (pun totally intended!) and may purchase some more does for Mr. Buck to impregnate. More does = more kids & more milk.
* Stock the Pond
We have a pond in the front yard that contains some fish. What kind of fish? No idea. But, I recently found out that we could apply for a permit to stock the pond with native Maine species. I am not sure whether we will get permission or not, but for a $10 application fee, I am willing to give it a shot. Why stock the pond? Well, so we can fish for our own food, silly! Fresh fish = yum.
* Pimp the Dog Out
Jack is a stud. Truly. I mean, look at those eyes. He is a lady's man. And it is time he earns his keep. He fathered a gorgeous litter two years ago ... and we kept one of his "sons" as a pet. And although Jack is wonderful pet (Isaac's fave), he is also a working dog ... a purebred Aussie capable of producing gorgeous offspring with the instincts to work livestock. And I am sure he wouldn't mind seeing a little action with a lovely lady.
Here is his personal ad. Interested?
* Add Some Sheep
Okay, so this is a big step. And I am not quite settled on it (nor have I seriously discussed it with Halis ... oops). But we have plenty of land for grazing and plenty of need for it to be grazed. And heck, good wool is in very high demand. However, I know NOTHING about sheep. I have been too busy studying goats over the past year. So, I am checking out sites such as this, this, and this.
Oh there are so many other wonderful things that we want to try. Halis is becoming very interested in creating an apple orchard on the acreage in Lagrange that he shares with his brother. He is trying to grow them on his own ... which may require that we build a greenhouse (hooray!).
I, as may be obvious at this point, want to build a small produce stand at the end of the driveway in order to sell our leftover wares ... as well as some of Isaac's pumpkins (a future post).
And I am sure that I could come up with loads of other projects for us to get into over our heads (just ask my husband :)
Meanwhile, our day jobs keep us busy ... and we are looking forward to our May vacation so that we can spend the bulk of it working on getting serious about the farm.