A Little Bit of Today

At 5:30 this morning, my husband and two oldest children (15 and 14) left to go hunting.  They are thrilled that my husband’s iPhone is preventing them from getting lost.  Using Maps, he can “drop a pin” on the location of the van – the phone shows their current location and they can get back to the parking spot easily.

My husband called this afternoon while he was getting more water, to tell me he left the kids in a “sweet spot”  – lots of deer sign, and lots of squirrels.  Squirrels mean acorns, and acorns mean deer food.  While he was talking, he paused, then the tone of his voice changed.  “No way.  A deer is looking right at me.”

“Do you have your bow with you?” I asked.

“Yes, I have my bow, but the deer is too far away.”  He paused.  “I’m going to hang up now.  I’ll see what I can do.”

🙂

He didn’t get the deer – it was about 60 yards away – too far for him to feel comfortable taking a bow shot.  But he “pinned” the location of the treeline where the deer was, so he can find it again.  They’re planning to sit out there and wait for dusk…

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We are going to be raising another batch of meat birds for our freezer.  You didn’t know we do that?  Yes, we’ve been homesteading, to a greater or lesser degree, since 1998.  Over the years, we have raised quite a variety of animals for meat, milk, and eggs.  Let me see if I can remember: quail, chickens, guinea fowl, ducks, geese, turkeys, one rhea, three emu (we picked them up live and butchered them), pigs, goats, a cow.  Anything for meat we’ve butchered ourselves, except for the cow.  Now you know why I was able to snap this picture.  We currently have 3 goats (we are milking one), about 40 Barred Rock hens that have begun laying, and plans to expand the farm more.

Anyway, we are going to dust off the chicken pasture pen the children and I built earlier this year, and get some more Freedom Ranger chickens to put in it.  Basically, after the birds are about 3 weeks old, we put them in this bottomless pen and they eat lots of grass and bugs – which is not only healthy for them – but it saves on feed costs!  This pen is also much safer than free-ranging the birds, since we have a lot of predators – raccoon, dog, bobcat, hawk, and lately we’ve seen coyote down the road.  The pen gets dragged to a new patch of grass every day.  When the birds are 9-12 weeks old, we butcher, package, and freeze them.

This pen style may be familiar to some of you.  It’s a smaller version of the model designed by Joel Salatin of Polyface, Inc. in his book Pastured Poultry Profits. We first learned about Joel Salatin after we read You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise several years ago – we HIGHLY recommend that book for anyone interested in successful natural or organic farming.

Ooooh! I just saw he has a new book that we must add to our farming shelf: Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front.

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This morning I headed out to the garden (a.k.a. weed patch) with 7 of the kids to start prepping it for planting.  Our goats were in there over the summer to keep the weeds and grass at bay.  We pulled most of the woody weed stalks – hauling off about 5 wagon loads of brush.  The weather was so nice that we stayed out there about 2 hours with hardly any sweating!

This time of year, most people in the U.S. are wrapping up their spring/summer gardening time, and preserving their harvests.  Here in Florida, we are just getting started – actually, ahem, I’m running late.   We can garden year-round here, although we usually take a summer break due to the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes.  We’re looking forward to getting our garden up and running again and made a good start today.

What have you been up today?

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2 comments to A Little Bit of Today

  • So,, does the chicken tractor ruin the grass? I know it’s supposed to fertilize it, but do the chickens tear it up? If it doesn’t mess up the yard we could do this. Doesn’t look like too much trouble or expense to build. Do you leave a hinged hatch to fold back for feeding and watering?

    • Cardamom

      Not at all – if you move the pen every day, the chickens don’t have time to tear up the grass. There are two “doors” which are completely removeable – not hinged. They just sit on top of the pen.

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