We've Got Chicks!

Our broody hen's eggs are finally hatching! She's sitting on, I think, 13 or 14 of them, and they ought to all hatch by the morning. Here are the first two hatched chicks from a couple of hours ago:

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This is a historic moment for our little farm; it's the first time we've been able to help reproduce life (aside from the vegetables that are currently growing, and they're growing alright).

Our Trek To Mr. Smith's House

Mr. Smith has been a real blessing to us since we've moved in. He's shredded our field, plowed our garden, and he's given us plenty of homesteading advice. The other day while Brandi was out walking he said, "Come on by sometime and we'll pick y'all a mess of potatoes from my garden." So we took him up on the offer last night ...

On our way out to his place. He lives about a mile away from us.
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Arriving.
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Showing the monkeys how to pick potatoes.
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Going at it.
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Part of the haul. We ended getting probably twice that amount along with some onions and squash.
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Daniel: "I'm driving a tractor!"
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Bird eggs in one of his fields.
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Picking wild berries on the way home.
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Our berry-stained hands.
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Tonight

We went on an excursion tonight to our neighbor's place about a mile down the road from us. He's a retired fellow with a nice three-acre homestead. He was kind enough to let us dig in his garden a bit and the kids pulled out probably five pounds of potatoes plus a few onions and a bunch of squash. When we got home Brandi boiled the potatoes and cooked up some onion and squash along with a banana pepper and bell pepper that we pulled out of our garden this morning. To that recipe we added some polish sausage from the grass-fed beef we've been buying. What a meal! We savored every bite.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the kids got to ride (and steer) a 1946 John Deere tractor while they were there. They loved it. I'll try and post some photos tomorrow or Monday.

Berry Abby

The kids picked some wild berries while they were out on a walk ...

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What's Up Around Here

- Our dog Bouncer got fixed today. He's a little puny right now, but I'm sure he'll perk up.

- Abigail saw a snake in our chicken coop. The way she described it, it must have been as big as an anaconda.

- We got a dozen more meat bird chicks last Saturday. They'll be ready to slaughter in early July.

- Our hens (one duck and one chicken) are still sitting on eggs. By mid-to-late next week we should be seeing some chickens hatch, and ducks should follow about two weeks after that.

- We're about to have birds coming out of our ears over here. If all of the eggs hatch, which is not outside the realm of possibility, that right there will be 26 birds. In that case, we'd have -- are you ready? -- 51 birds living on our farm. That's nuts! Yes, we're nuts. But ... out of those 51 we'll end up killing probably half of them by mid-to-late summer. Come early fall, we're going to have a lot of bird meat around here.

- We've enjoyed eating natural, grass-fed beef for the past couple of weeks. I don't think we'll ever go back to the other stuff.

Weekend Photos

We had a busy weekend. On Saturday morning Brandi and I went to some friends' house to use their equipment -- and expertise! -- to slaughter our five egg-eating hens. As we were gutting the chickens we actually recovered two fully formed eggs. Now those chickens are meat and they live inside our deep freezer; they've got a better life in there. ;-)

Brandi and I have recently decided to take the plunge into natural, grass-fed beef. We found a farmer who sells grass-fed beef and he lives only about 10 minutes or so from our place. He invited us out to his acreage for a tour, and we had quite a fun time out there bouncing around on their ATV while we shot the bull about cattle, grass maintenance, and field rotations. "We're not cattle raisers; we're grass farmers," the farmer said jokingly. "If you take care of your grass, the cattle will have no problems." Their operation was awesome, and just what you'd expect: a warm and friendly retired couple living on 50 or 60 acres and making a living off of raising and selling grass-fed beef. The whole atmosphere was very pioneering, very American. And it was nice to see exactly where the meat we're going to eat is coming from. We made our first purchase while we were out there.

Brandi and I finished the day off with a nice dinner at a quaint little Italian place in a quaint little town about 20 miles from Waco. We had a nice time.

Showing up for the slaughter:
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Our hostess greets us with a knife:
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The Country Mama hostess shows Brandi the gutting ropes:
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Brandi and the gals doing the finishing touches:
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Later that day, on the cattle tour:
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Up close and personal:
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"Scratch 'em behind their ears," the farmer said, and I gladly obliged:
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Later at the Italian place, Brandi said, "Leave the gun; take the cannoli." At least that's what I wanted her to say:
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Bonus shots of our broody duck hen and bantam hen. The duck is sitting on roughly 20 eggs, and the bantam is sitting on around 12 eggs:
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Now for a couple of bonus photos that are not for the faint of heart. See below for a couple of photos of chickens about to meet their maker. Viewer discretion is advised:
Read the rest of this entry . . .