We had a visitor on the farm not too many weeks ago and at first glance we did not realize it was a crane that had come in during the night with the fog. We see them all the night but had never seen one preening itself on our boat house.
He looked so very short sitting up there and I was convinced it had to be something different until. . . .
It flew off and set atop a broken down locust tree in the bull lot next to the boat house. These birds are huge, endangered and eat lots of fish from our pond and we think are probably the cause of the demise of our frog population too!!
They are huge yet elegant birds with extremely long legs.
He sat in the top of that tree for most of the morning and I don’t think we’ve seen it since that morning.
Our morning ritual around here in the winter season begins shortly after breakfast and I always fix us a good breakfast to start the day.
Hubby heads out to feed the three small herds of cattle. Each herd is a little different but the two biggest herds (25-30 cows) get two 4×5 round bales of hay every day. One of these herds also has 24 calves with them which are 2-3 months of age. They mimic mom and eat some of the hay too but mainly depend on her milk until they’re about 5-6 months old. The third herd consists of 14 heifers that will be bred in June. They are fed one 4×5 round bale each day along with a five-gallon bucket of corn gluten/whole corn mixture every other day. Then we have our herd of bulls which is only three but those guys can eat and get two square bales of hay each day and corn gluten once a week. Everyone is fat and sassy!
My feeding schedule consists of three rabbits that we use for breeding stock. They are part Lop but the perfect size for meat rabbits. Each morning and afternoon they are given fresh water, a cup of rabbit pellets, a carrot and half of a sweet apple. They love apples and I treat them in the winter time because there is no fresh grass to feed them. I keep a bat of hay in their hutches for eating but I also keep hay covering the wire floor of the hutch to keep the frigid wind off of them. They have a nesting box in the hutch in the winter time to get out of the wind. Their hutches are cleaned weekly regardless of the weather.
Then I head out to the chicken house with a gallon of hot water, an egg basket and any scraps from the table. I have 33 chickens, one of which is a rooster. I have five young hens that tend to roost in the egg nest every night after I shut them in the building. Each morning those nest have to be cleaned out so the eggs aren’t nasty because chickens just don’t care what they lay those eggs on. The chickens have a large tub outside of the building for water during the day and a large pan inside that doesn’t freeze often but when it’s in the 20’s it has to be refilled four or five times a day and the eggs are gathered more often too. They have a feed trough that is four feet long, six inches wide and about four inches deep. I fill it every day with scratch grain, black-oil sunflower seeds and during the winter laying crumbles. In the summer they forage the entire farm but there’s not much to be found in the wintertime. A few times a month they get a treat of dried mealworms which they love. Currently with all those chickens I’m only getting about a dozen eggs a day but they’re wonderful eggs that are large, brown, pink, green, blue and a couple white ones. Egg production will pickup in the spring!
Once the feeding is done and the eggs are gathered, I’m off to the wood shed to bring in enough to fill of the stove for the night and if it’s calling for rain or snow, I fill up one end of the porch. The bird feeders are then filled and then it’s time to come in and make preparations for dinner!!
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.
We have some fox squirrels that keep the feeders empty all year round. I’ve made a point of gathering walnuts, hickory nuts and chestnuts for our squirrels every year. We’ve had a few lean years in the way of food for all of the wildlife. We have orchards for the deer to feed in but these guys will move out of the area if there isn’t any feed and we love watching them from our kitchen window. I found out last year that all of the excess sweet corn at the end of the growing season is also great for the cattle but the squirrels, wild birds and deer will eat the sweet corn after it dries up. We pick it off, shuck it, and then lay out on a screen to dry and then store the whole ear in barrels with a lid for the really bad winter when the ground is covered with snow and ice for long periods of time. We saw a small buck in the garden last night digging up frozen turnips too. If you love watching the wildlife as much as we do, help them out a little. Baby, it’s cold out there.
We’re in our second winter snowstorm and I have got to get taller boots. Mine are 9.5 inches tall and when I went to feed Miracle this morning it was over my boots.
Hubby says it’s over the boots because of the way I walk in the fresh snow and scoot it in front of me. I still need taller boots if this is going to continue through spring! The next ones I get in the spring will be up to my knees, I think.
It started snowing here again last night before dark and hubby says we have 8 inches now but it was still pouring down snow when I started this post. It’s supposed to turn to sleet and freezing rain and then rain all day tomorrow. We woke up to 18* and it’s now 22* . The snow is like powder and we’re so glad the wind had not gotten up yet.
Hubby got the snowblower out while I fed the calf and had me a 48 inch path to the chickens and the smokehouse. I’ve swept the porch and steps off three times so far but Sassy has decided to stay in the house this morning. She went out for a quick potty break and fled back to the house!
Hubby is out feeding the stock now and the powder snow makes it hard to roll out the bales but everyone is waiting for some food to warm up their insides!
The snow has stopped now and we’re waiting for the sleet and rain. All of the cattle are doing well and my chickens are warm and been fed well and have plenty of warm water. The wild birds now have plenty of seed on the ground after I swept the snow away from the feeders.
I’ve prepared a roast in the crockpot with onions and celery and will make a gravy over it later and serve it over noodles for supper and some fresh bread. The laundry is almost done and the wood has been brought in for this evening warmth.
Once the sleet/rain/ice arrives we may lose power but we’ve learned after 44 years of marriage to be prepared for it. All of the buckets in the laundry room are full of water for the bathroom, 12 gallon jugs are full of water for cooking and whatever else it’s needed for and the candles and flashlights are where they’re easily accessible.
Hope you are all warm and safe! Spring is just around the corner!
Winter is finally here and my wildbirds are looking for food. I had noticed that I didn’t have very many around but had not put out the birdfeeders because of my chickens which will devour the seeds.
With the snow we received and blew away yesterday, I decided to fill all the feeders.
All during the year I save any grease from bacon, sausage and more. After cooking I drain the grease into mini aluminum loaf pans and store it in the freezer until cold weather arrives. I have all sorts of woodpeckers that love the firm lard and they get lots of protein from it.
I’ll place these on my hanging flower table that Eddie made me and all the birds can get on the table together if they want.
Along with the birdseed I put out ears of field corn, sunflowers, peanuts and dried bread crumbs.
So far this winter I have woodpeckers of several varieties, doves, nuthatches, wrens, snowbirds, bluejays, Juncos, cardinals and Carolina wrens feeding at my stations.
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.
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.
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.
Hubby was cleaning up apple trees brought down by the duratio last summer and he brought me these treasures!! I’m so excited!!
I think the first two will be new birdhouses as I like to use natural things to make the birds feel more at home. All I’ll have to do is screw on some barnwood to the bottom and top and drill a small hole for the bluebirds to enter. Drill holes in the bottom board for drainage. I like to use screws so I can take the top off in the winter and clean them out for arrivals in the spring. I like to put a little overhang on the top to keep the weather out and a place for the bird parents to perch between food breaks. I also put a short perch in the front right below the entry for them to perch while feeding the fledglings.
The third one though will make a perfect nest for the next orphan squirrel we save. We tend to find them in the woods fallen from their nests. If their bodies are still warm we let Mom come back to get them and carry them back to the nests. If their bodies are cold, I snatch them up in my pocket and get them home quick as possible and feed them some warm milk with a little honey to warm them up and boost the energy.
Hubby is always looking out for things in the woods that he knows I’ll put to good use. We’ve been looking for a hollow tree about five to six feet long to make into a flower box for the yard or the gazebo. I’ve also been looking for just the right knarly stump to put in one of my flower beds for the natural look. You will see it when I find it 😉 .