One of 27 of my hens that heads straight for the bird feeders as soon as the hen-house door is opened.
Part of the bird feeding station.
I love feeding the wild birds in our back yard during the winter. There’s just so many species that flock to the feeders all during the day including my chickens!
I have 10 feeders in the back yard and the wild birds depend on me during the winter months when they can’t find seeds and other food. I use black oil sunflowers that we raise in our garden, wild bird feed from our local farm supply store, and saved grease from my kitchen which I save in foil pans and stick in the freezer all year round. We also dry any leftover sweet corn from the garden. I pick it, shuck it and air dry it in our grainery and then place in mesh bags which are stored in lidded trash cans until feeding time. I put the corn on a squirrel feeder and the birds and squirrels love it. We had such an abundance of corn leftover after freezing for ourselves and sharing with our family, friends and neighbors. I hate waste and the birds love it and so do my rabbits.
Sweet corn dried from the garden and now feeds the birds and squirrels. They love it!
Another feeder in the back yard.
The wild birds scratch it out on the ground which the ground feeders love and so do the chickens! The bucket holds walnuts that I gathered in the fall, dried and de-hulled for the squirrels. The bluejay like them too. The metal feeder, box feeder w/gallon jar and the gourd feeder are all handmade. At the back-end of the station is another handmade feeder with four sections which the wrens prefer over the others.
The collection of birds grows with each year:
Posted in Animals, Farming, NATURE, Wildlife, Winter
Tagged birds, birdseed, blue jays, cardinals, corn, doves, feed, feeding station, junco, sparrows, squirrels, sunflower seeds, titmouse, wrens
Just a quick note to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and to remind all to remember the real reason for the season!! I’m wishing all of you a very blessed 2017 and hope to hear from you through my blog in the coming year!!! Blessings to all and on this joyous day, and throughout the coming year, may your life be filled with good luck and prosperity.
It’s been a while since folks in our area have seen a storm like we had this week. I’ve got some time lapsed snow storm pictures to show everyone including Robin Reed our wonderful meteorologist.
January 21st – day before the snow started.
January 22 – Snow started falling sometime before 6:30 a.m. It started heavy and then by mid afternoon it quit.
January 23rd – We got about 6-7 inches the day before and woke up to this on the 23rd. The wind is howling and the wind chills were in the single digits most of the day and night.
Today this wind is very limited, the snow has quit falling the and the beautiful fun is shining.
All of the outside animals are doing fine but cold. Eddie is trying to feed the round bales but they won’t roll out because the snow is so dry so he’s feeding the cows 6-7 bales instead of the normal 2-3. The snow drifts are up over the cows bellies but the blessing is there are no babies due until March and April.
Prissy and George are doing well and taking care of Miracle. They tend to lay on the side of the haybale away from the wind. If not for the older orphans Miracle would have a time getting through the snow because it’s over her belly!
Here’s some more scenes of the last three days from the front porch and the kitchen window:
Visibility outside is almost non-existent with the wind blowing the snow but this guy found the bird/squirrel feeder.
The feeder is full of scratch feed and peanuts.
I’ll have to wait for the snowblower to come through the yard because the yard is drifted over my knees.
Look at that beautiful blue sky!!
Beauty of nature at its best!
Can’t wait to get to the henhouse and check on the girls, Rooster and Fred! Roscoe may even come out of hibernation with this beautiful sun shining and the temperature has already risen to 30 degrees. I’ve been watching the orphan calves this morning and Miracle tends to stay between Prissy and George for their body heat.
Stay warm everyone and pray this will be the ONLY storm we have this winter even though it’s only January!!
It was still dark when I left for work last Thursday morning at -5* and Eddie said it would drop more as it became daylight. He had both stoves going when I got home that night, extra bedding in the dog boxes, extra hay left in the woods for the cows, wood boxes filled to overflowing, made sure new chickens given by a friend of his were settling in and he’s taking them warm water several times a day. The house was a “toasty 81*” when I got home but the wind was howling and made it feel like 75*. We even threw on an extra blanket and the bedroom window was closed. Even though my waist isn’t thinning I believe my blood may be!! I think the winter is just getting started this year and we’ve lots more cold, wind and snow yet to come.
As for the new chickens, a friend of my husbands had to get rid of them because they were eating his neighbors cat food everyday. This has caused my usual 3-5 eggs a day to jump to 12-18!!! French toast in the making!! Custard pies on the horizon (to heck with the weight)!! Egg salad for lunch! I could go on and on and of course we can’t forget the infamous fried egg sandwich w/cheese!! Of course, our benefactor will receive free eggs for a time.
I think he is a crossed Americauna, small but handsome!
Different breeds but beautiful eggs.
Got to think of a name for him.
Very pretty hen and very friendly.
They stay together most of the time and don’t mingle with my old girls.
The new chickens and my old chickens fought each other most of the day and the rooster that came with them is thankfully one of a kind and will not be with us long. I want a Barred Rock, Buff Orpington, Black Orpington or a Dominique. Sussex and Americana are beautiful and good egg layers. I’ll check around in the spring when some of my girls tend to get broody!!
My older hens stick close to the hen-house and aren’t ranging out very far but there’s a very good reason. A couple of weeks ago a bird hawk, smaller than my hens, decided to invade the inside of the henhouse and killed two of my hens and the day before we found Ms. Crow dead in front of the door. We have a feeling the hawk got it as well but couldn’t carry her off. The hens are still skittish and stay close to buildings they can get under fast. They quit laying for a couple of days or are dropping the eggs outside of the nesting area.
This winter is the first in a long time that I’ve had to buy store-bought eggs and glad it was only for a couple of weeks. There’s nothing like fresh eggs from the farm. The eggs are coming more generously now and I can start selling them again but we’ve decided to raise the price on them to $2.00 per dozen because the is needing a new roof and we’ve had to supplement their feed with scratch grains because of the very cold winter. Keep them fat and the cold won’t hurt so bad!! We don’t believe in heated and lighted chicken houses. We keep everything as natural as possible.
On another note, Fuzzy is missing!!
Fuzzy, my orphaned cat. She was dropped at our home long before we arrived and survived wild until I finally coaxed her to my lap!!
I haven’t seen her since last Wednesday when she came to meet when I got home from work. I fed her that evening and haven’t seen her since. She left once before for about four days but this has been over a week and I’m so afraid a coyote pack got her. I hope I go home today and she has returned.
Posted in Animals, WEATHER, Winter
Tagged chickens, chill in the air, cows, dogs, firewood, hawks, negative temps, wind, winter, woodstove, work
Winter 2014 warmth stockpile to be completed.
On Sunday morning we took off to the woods and started cutting for the 2014-15 heating season. We found two oak trees that had been dead from the gypsy moth invasion three years ago and put more than a ton of weight on the farm truck. Here’s a view of the visit with nature.
We were there for about one and half hours and Hubby sawed the trees up and loaded the heavy pieces which were way to heavy for me and then I loaded the lighter stuff and enjoyed being in the woods.
I enjoy anything that involves us being outdoors together and I love the smell of fresh cut firewood. One of the trees was blown to the ground and heavier than the other because it soaked up the last rain. The other tree was still standing but the bark had fallen off. This will keep us nice and toasty next winter. All we have to do now is split the big stuff and put it in the woodhouse.
Posted in Hard work, NATURE, Winter, Work to be Done
Tagged chainsaw, firewood, hard work, hauling, heat, nature, splitting, truck, warm
A few weeks ago when the weather got colder and most of the weed seed was gone I filled up the feeders at the bird station. I had dried some sunflowers of different variety and sizes and hung them in the wood house to dry so I would have some new things to put out for the different birds. I had also picked a lot of different varieties of grasses and hung them to dry also.
Hubby’s uncle made this whopper of a feeder years ago and it holds 20 pounds of feed.
Hubby made this squirrel feeder for me years ago and I’m begging for more.
The birds love the feeders and I have doves, bluejays, juncos, wrens, sparrows, cardinals and three different woodpeckers feeding from them this year. We also have this little rascal feeding as well. I grew up calling them fairy diddles and my husband’s family calls them mountain boomers. They are a miniature squirrel and you won’t believe how fast he moves.
We call him “Boomer”. He’s eating a piece of corn.
He’s hilarious to watch and I’ve decided he’s living in our wood house and may have been the critter that ate all the seed pods and sunflowers. They mysteriously disappeared right before we started seeing boomer. He chases the birds but I think in fun. I’ve started adding mixed nuts, peanuts and fruit on the table where the big feeder is stationed. Boomer takes all of the nuts and puts them in the gallon jar on the swing post. If you look closely you can see the bottom half is whole shelled corn and the upper part of the jar is FULL of nuts.
Boomer is so tiny!
That’s a six inch stretch from tree to corn.
The squirrel feeder is a tractor with spikes coming up on both sides of the seat.
Boomer sitting on top of the squirrel feeder.
Spring weather-gotta love it!! This morning the weather forecast called for sleet changing to rain for the day and rain ending in the morning. Well folks, they got it wrong again! It started pouring down snow sometime around 2:00, I think (no windows in my office). At 3:45 I thought I had better get home ( I get off at 4:00 each day) and by the time I closed down the computer, cleared off my desk, locked up the files and got my coat on it was 4:00. My drive home usually takes 40-45 minutes depending on traffic. This afternoon it took one hour and 35 minutes and here’s what my drive home looked like, no words or captions needed and a 10 mph -15 mph ride home:
What I found in the parking lot after leaving work.
Most of the vehicles had at least two inches on them.
Half block from my parking lot.
Pouring down snow and can’t keep the windshield clear.
Traffic is at a stand still on Prices Fork Rd one block from the office. Took me 18 minutes to get one block.
Creeping up a side steet to get to Delimart-I have to get gas before I can head home.
NOw, I’m back on Prices Fork heading for my exit to home. I’t’s 4:30.
Newport and headed to Craig County!
Simmonsville turn straight ahead-slow down to five miles an hour and get through the turn!
The big red barn and my driveway are within eyesight now!!
I sure am glad I made it without any mishaps and the snow is still pouring. It sure is great to be home!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s been a good while since Hubby and I spent the day together in the woods. The weather was nice enough (40* and sunny) for me to get out with my fingers crossed that the bronchial problems wouldn’t re-surface. It was the last day of deer hunting season and hubby had killed two does and one buck with his muzzleloader in the last three days to complete his big game tag. The front porch firewood supply was getting low (even though the wood house was fuller than it had been for three years) and it had been a long time since we had cut firewood together.
Porch wood stack getting low.
After breakfast was over, I washed up the dishes, fed the chickens and turned them out, and started the laundry while hubby fed the cattle. Then we headed for the flatwoods with the chainsaw, gloves and a smile on my face. We saw several deer run as we entered the woods and a squirrel took for the tree tops.
Within a hundred feet we found three dead locust and and a downed oak so we stopped the truck and I waited for hubby to bring them down and within a hour the truck was packed with wonderful fuel for the woodstoves. We headed back to the house with the pickup full.
Truck full and some has to be split.
Notice the handmade wheelbarrow that hubby made last spring. That thing is the best tool we own as far as I’m concerned. It’s balanced just right and I can go anywhere with it. Hubby decided to use the splitting maul to quarter the larger pieces and while he did that I unloaded the smaller sticks to the wheelbarrow and he pushed it to the porch for me and I unloaded it. It was good quality time together and even though it’s calling for temps to be in the 40’s this coming week, we’ll still have to have a fire day and night. We’re saving the wood in the woodhouse for hardtimes (snow to deep to get to the woods) and we’ve talked about doing this for the next few Saturdays together, weather permitting, and fill up the entire three sides of the front porch. We like to do this because it blocks the winds from the front door and we will have those nasty winds. Here’s the finished work about thirty minutes later.
One load fills up a pretty big gap!
From this point I returned indoors to work on laundry and other chores while hubby skinned and quarted the venison. We had a very productive day.
It’s amazing to me that anyone may be short on hay this winter since we had such a great season. But then I think about the drought the rest of the country had and still has and then I understand. We had about 70 round bales left from summer 2011 and met our needs with some to spare this year. We started feeding out the older hay first and when the snows come hubby puts a couple in each patch of woods that the cattle are in and feeds the good hay first thing in the morning. The cattle move from the fresh to the older as the weather turns bad. The calves like playing and nibbling in the older hay too. Our cattle are in good shape and the fall calving is complete now since the end of November. Our spring calves will come in late March, early April through May.
One of three haylots full of round bales.
Gielbiev-Angus cross – love the babies!
My older hens have quit laying but I also raised late chicks in June and they’ve started laying for me. I guess it’s a type of rotation laying in our henhouse. I never use heat lamps or special lighting because I think they need a rest too. I make sure they get a tablespoon of vinegar in their fresh water each morning, lots of grit in one feeder, and cracked corn to put on some fat on their bodies which will help them make it through the winter. The vinegar helps rid them of worms, I’m told and they seem to be in better shape since I started using the apple cider vinegar. I don’t let them out of the henhouse when there’s snow/ice on the ground. The biggest problem I have is the younger hens want to sleep in the nests at night because the older hens (pecking order) run them off the roost. Hubby fixed that by building an additional roosting section to the existing roost and all but one hen now uses the roost. She tends to make a nasty mess in the nests during the night and by the time I get to the hen house in the morning another hen has laid her eggs in the mess. I have 38 chickens of which three are young roosters. I’m only getting 6-8 eggs a day now but it’s more than enough for us to use and share with the kids as they visit. I have about 10 hens that need to be culled but I find it hard to let them go because when I enter the henhouse some of them come to me singing and of course, I sing back to them. I always have a couple hens that get broody and hatch but you never where the hatch will be roosters or hens. I think this spring I”ll order a new batch of Buff Orpingtons and Americauna’s. I love those beautful eggs. Two of the three roosters I have are Americauna and the other is a mix but he is a beauty.
New roost addition to accomdate everyone!
King of the Roost
He’s a little over a year old but his sisters are giving me double yolk brown eggs. I haven’t found an adequate name for him yet but thinking about it!
Posted in Animals, Farming, WEATHER, Winter
Tagged cattle, Chicken, Egg yolk, eggs, hay, ice & snow, livestock, roosters, winter feeding
January -Ice and snow
February-Making maple syrup
January-February – grafting fruit trees
February – March – Seedlings started
March – Baby calves arrive
March-April – Spring turkey hunting for two of my favorite people.
April – fire wood for winter 2012
April – New equipment for working the cattle
April – More new fencing
May – Gardening begins
May – Honeybees cleaning house and we prepare for fresh honey
May – Bee swarming begins
May – Fruit trees bloom and we worry about late frosts.
June 2012 – 1st ever “duratio” in our neck of the woods. Lots of cleanup and keeping hubby busy!
June – Duratio takes down lots of our fruit and nut crop and wreaks havoc on our fencing.
June – Hay time
June – Hay lot is full!
July – Spring cleaning almost done!
July – Harvesting & canning for winter in full swing!
July – A little crafting along the way makes life fun!
July – First barn quilt in Craig County on the barn!! More fun!
August-September – Mammoth pumpkin from the garden. He almost didn’t fit the wheel barrow!
July – August – Fresh vegies from the garden.
September – Potatoes harvested and in the cellar.
September – Plowing to sow the winter crops (turnips & parsnips).
September – Spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce from the last of the tomatoes.
And, here it is the end of September. Deer season and turkey season is soon to be here. Baby calves are coming and yearlings are headed to the market. Two nights of cold temps and frost in the mornings means firing up the wood stoves. The cycle starts again.
Posted in Animals, Cooking, Crafting, Family, Farming, FOOD, Fun on the Farm, Future work to be done, Gardening, HAPPINESS, Hard work, Harvest, Hunting, NATURE, Orchards, Planning, Seasons, WEATHER, Wildlife, Winter
Tagged 2012, animals, fall, farming, food, fun, harvest, seasons, spring, summer, winter, work
We’ve worked most of the summer and fall trying to prepare for winter. At the first frost, the front porch is filled with firewood and covered. We have a woodshed but once ice gets on the ground it’s a touch trek from there to the wood stove. The animals are all provided clean, dry bedding. All precautions are taken regarding our vehicles and farm tractors regarding anti-freeze and good tires. We also keep all of the vehicles full of gas for emergencies. The chimney’s are cleaned of all creosote so we don’t have to worry about flu fires. We also make sure the wood is well-seasoned to prevent flu fires. The snow shovels are placed in an easy to get to place, usually the front porch. We make sure there’s a couple bags of sand or kitty litter on hand for icy spots.
In the house, all of the flashlights are filled with fresh batteries. The oil lamps are filled and wicks cleaned or replaced. The radio’s and clocks are checked for fresh batteries. We always prepare for electrical outages because the winds and ice can wreak havoc with power lines. We can cook on our wood stoves that we have in the main living area and in the kitchen. We both love cooking on the wood cook stove in the kitchen. All of the winter clothing, gloves and boots are brought out of storage and aired out.
This post, however, is to show how we prepare for a winter storm or power outage in winter. At the first radio/TV report of impending bad weather, the outdoor animals are taken care of with lots of food and water and dry beds. Then, two days worth of firewood is hauled in the house for both stoves. Five gallon buckets are filled for use in the bathroom for flushing. Extra pitchers and jugs are filled with fresh water for drinking and cooking. I usually cook a couple main dishes to last for a couple days and do some baking. There’s something about a winter storm that lights a fire under my cooking mode!! My neighbor used to think I was crazy but she sure enjoyed the treats I had hubby take to her during the storm. That’s another big thing with us, we always check on our elderly neighbors and hubby usually cleans their walks and driveways though most of them would never consider getting out.
The following pictures will give you a clue as to the momentum of storms in Craig County, Virginia!!
2008 Ice Storm
The cellar shelves are full, it’s almost time to dig the potatoes and fill the potato bin and the freezers have been organized to determine how much venison and turkey we will need for the winter months. This all leads up to the hunting season in our area. We, my husband, myself, daughter, and granddaughter are all avid hunters. My son and son-in-law love the meat from our hunts but don’t like the hunt itself. By the end of November, the freezers will be full of all cuts of venison and turkey. We will have cubed steak, burger, chunks, tenderloin, roasts, and hams and all so healthy for us.
Back to the hunt! We each have our favorite hunting spots on the farm and hubby is our counselor, tracker and processor! We’ve spotted so many large bucks on the farm already and the turkeys are showing up sporadically. I won’t have much vacation this year to hunt but Saturdays are always open and I’ll have a late bow season during our Christmas break.
Our daughter and granddaughter are evening hunters and working half days are ideal for her hunting quests and our granddaughter gets home from school between 3:30 and 4:00 which gives her time to get to her stand as well.
We normally have a few friends join us during the hunting season but have decided this year to keep it strictly family hunting. We have some new neighbors and not knowing their where-a-bouts tends to make us a little skiddish and for safety purposes and liability. Our county is 60%+ National Forest and we think other hunters would be better in those woods than ours. In the past we have told all non-family hunters where to go and asked them to stay in their area to prevent any hunting accidents. These instructions aren’t always followed and that makes us liable for their safety when they move into an area that we may not know is safe from trespassers or others that aren’t staying where they need to be. Hunting safety is a VERY BIG issue with us!
Don’t get me wrong, we love the sport but we also like to eat and venison is a healthy choice not only for our diet but our pocketbooks. We want everyone on the farm to be safe and come in with a good hunting harvest and do it safely!!
Happy hunting everyone!!
Small buck in the orchard 2011
Turkeys on the farm fall 2010
Posted in Animals, Harvest, Hunting, Seasons, Wildlife, Winter
Tagged deer, fall, food, harvest, hunting, safety, turkey
I don’t waste any time on my weekends off and this past weekend was no exception. The garden is very bountiful and I snapped a five gallon bucket and half of another on Saturday afternoon. We canned 21 quarts of beans from that batch, froze 13 packs of yellow squash and froze six packs of shredded zucchini. I made a loaf of zucchini bread on Saturday and hubby loves it. We’ve only got about two slices left so I’ll make some more this week. I’ll probably bake 6 – 8 more loaves and put them in the freezer for the winter.
Zucchini and zucchini bread fresh from the oven
Fresh vegies ready to store
We froze five packs of freezer slaw last night and we’re going to open a pack on Saturday and see how it is. If we like it we’re going to make more. The head of cabbage he got out of the garden yesterday weighed 15 lbs and 2 ozs.
He dug a few potatoes last Thursday and they’re really nice and he pulled the onions to dry. We had such beauties this year but the rains we’ve been getting are causing them to rot which is why we’ve pulled them so early. We probably were able to salvage about a bushel.
Onions drying for winter storage
Hubby is picking more beans this morning and we’ll snap them this evening after supper while sitting on the front porch listening to the quiet and watching for the wildlife.
Green beans from the garden
Posted in Gardening, Harvest, Winter
Tagged baking, Canning, freezing, fresh baked, fresh veggies, onions, Potatoes, squash, zucchini