Here’s what’s happening on the farm

There hasn’t been alot going on lately on the farm…we are mostly just hibernating through this extremely cold winter. But it’s been awhile since I shared any farm news, so I thought today would be a good day to do that!

The bad news first.

We can’t order pizza.

If you are thinking about moving to a farm, think twice. You will never be able to order pizza again.

Well ok, maybe that’s a good thing.  The other night we were all tired and worn out after a busy day. We really just wanted someone else to cook our supper for us. And it had been a very long while since we had pizza and it sounded good. But that’s one of the realities of living out on the farm. And we survived it ok.

Because I drove a mile north to Hills MN where there’s a little dive cafe. While it would have been better delivered, dive cafe food is good too. Haha.

I mentioned in a post awhile back that our furnace is struggling to keep up. It’s been doing a little better the past few weeks, but we still have to keep a close eye on it. When I got home yesterday it had stopped working and was down to 65. Which actually it’s that bad so I was thankful it was a pretty nice day yesterday. Pat got it working again last night. I’m also thankful for an amazingly handy husband.

Our poor chickens have been surviving the cold too. They pretty much just stay in the barn/coop all day. Which means they are eating a lot more feed than they normally do. During the summer and fall they would free range so we wouldn’t go through as much feed. They also need extra feed during the winter to keep up their egg supply. I’ve been very surprised at how well they are doing in that area. We are still getting 3-6 eggs every day. Once it warms up they will all start laying at least every other day, some of them every day, so we’ll have 9 eggs every day! We also have 9 baby chicks coming in April and they’ll start laying probably in the Fall so then we’ll start selling eggs!

Having to stay in the barn/coop most of the time also means there is a lot of poop that we have to deal with. It’s important we keep it cleaned out as chickens can easily develop respiratory issues. With it being so cold it’s all been staying frozen (sorry… a little TMI there!)…and so anytime it warms up a little we have to get it cleaned up. My amazing husband took on the task this past Saturday. As much as I love my chickens and love taking care of them, I’m thankful that I don’t always have to be the one to clean up after them!

A few days ago we decided to check and see if Ferdinand (our rooster) was doing his job. If you know what I mean.

We can tell the difference between our red hen eggs and our black hen eggs because our red hen eggs are HUGE! Those poor girls! I believe that Ferdinand is partial to our black hens, mostly because our red hens don’t like Ferdinand and run away from him. Some of them even fight back, it’s pretty funny.

As a reminder, here is Ferdinand with our black hens. He’s actually a lot bigger now. He’s a big guy!

black chickens

And here are our red hens:

IMG_5699[1]

Anyway we cracked open a red hen egg and a black hen egg. We could tell for sure the black hen egg was fertilized because you can see a “bulls-eye” type dot in the middle of the egg. If we were to incubate the egg it would turn into a baby chick! (For those who get our eggs, they are still fine to eat even if they are fertilized!)

We didn’t see any bulls-eye in the red hen egg and so we cracked open another one. The second one had a dot and we think it was a bulls-eye. It was a little hard to tell. But we know as far as our black hens are concerned that Ferdinand is keeping himself busy. : )

In a few weeks we are going to give some of the eggs to our school’s first grade teacher. Mrs Christy has an incubator and we are going to see if we can hatch some baby chicks!

In addition to not being able to order take-out, living on the farm means we also can’t just run to the store if we need something. Hills MN is a mile away but they don’t have a store. Larchwood IA is about 7 miles away but they only have a grocery store that closes at 7pm weekdays and isn’t open on Sundays. Luverne MN is about 12 miles away and they have more stores but it has to be something real important that we need to justify making an extra trip. We also try to stay home on Saturdays since we are driving into Sioux Falls the other days of the week.

The other day Angel was begging and begging for us to do a craft together. She really wanted to paint and had been asking about painting for days. I kept forgetting to buy some paint and so we decided on one of the horribly cold days to make some paint. It actually turned out pretty good and the kids loved making a mess hand painting!

angel paint paint 1 paint 2

Fun times!

My nephew Tony and his girlfriend Sarah recently told me about the show Alaska: the Last Frontier.  Now granted Iowa isn’t really the last frontier… ok, maybe it’s the second to last frontier : ) … but I love watching that show and learning from the homesteaders and thinking about ways that we can better live off the land.  (I also love watching it because it reminds me of Papa.)

We have started thinking about our garden and I’m so excited to think about when we can get planting. And also better use and save the produce we get. In addition to better using the abundance of apples we’ll have! Last year we moved the end of May and so we were a little behind schedule with planting and honestly we didn’t really have a clue what we were doing! This year we’ll be able to make a better plan.

In addition to the new chickens we’ll have in April we are also thinking about trying our hand at goats again.  I know, I know. But again, this time we’ll be smarter in what we get and we’ll be better prepared. I’m so inspired by Eve on the Alaska show…she has a HUGE garden, has lots of chickens and makes cheese from their goat milk. : ) Pat might think I’m a little crazy.

Speaking of crazy, Pat is hoping our neighbor will be able to give him a runt pig in a few months. He wants to raise it and then send it to piggy heaven so we can fill our freezer with bacon. That’ll sit well with the kids, don’t you think? I guess that’s what farming is all about.

As much as I dislike the drive into town and home every day, and even though there are a few inconveniences, I’m so thankful for the blessing we’ve been given of being able to live on the farm and raise our family here.

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