Happenings at the Ranch

A lot has happened since we last posted. Among other things, the chickens have been moved into the chicken tractor and out to the pasture. The pigs also have a new pen. It’s bigger and better and also has some pasture to graze.
Over Memorial Day weekend, we traveled to New Mexico and visited a pasture poultry operation in Socorro. Our visit gave us a lot to think about. Although we’ve had poultry before, we dealt primarily with layers before. We have also not tried pasture poultry before now. We are learning much and of course we are making a few missteps along the way. Our first batch of birds will be ready to market in about three weeks. Hopefully, we and the birds will survive until then!
We are also expecting more chicks to arrive over the next couple of weeks. We have Cornish Rocks, French Rouge, and two small batches of turkeys on order.
Other news:
It seems that the owlets have left their nest and struck out on their own. I did a little reading and it is possible that we could continue to see the young owls around up until about October, but I have seen neither hide nor hair of them in about a week.

Birds

Birds grow so fast. The chicks are no longer the cute, fuzzy, yellow babies of picture books. They weigh about a pound (about 1/3 their adult weight) and they are getting uglier by the day. They won’t be pretty again until all of their adult feathers are in. I should have taken some pictures to document the ugliness. Alas, I did not.

I did, however, take pictures of our other resident birds. These birds are much more attractive. I believe these are the babies from previous posts. Look at how they’ve grown and matured. They are so beautiful!

We found rabbit remains under one of the old pickups tonight. We’re hoping that our owls are doing their part to keep the rabbit population in check. Last week we ran into two bull snakes. Maybe the rabbits will stay out of Mr. McGregor’s garden this year!

New Developments at the Ranch…

This week, we have two things to report. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words; I’ll let the pictures tell most of the story.

Story #1: What happens when you turn the sheep out to graze?

Notice the height of the grass compared to the driveway.
Watch as this grass….
Eventually looks like this

and this. Amazing!

 On the evening following these pictures, we had a little surprise (or two) in our trees.

Story #2 Two Little Owlets

Baby #1
Baby #2
They still have their downy feathers. We wondered if they could fly.

They just sat in the tree, watching us as we snapped tons of pictures.

Putting the sheep out to pasture

One of the things we have always believed in and supported is producing natural animals. Whether it is grass-fed beef or pasture poultry, we try to raise our animals naturally. This week, the weather is finally warm enough and the grass is getting tall. Soon, we will be turning the sheep out to pasture. Here are a couple of pictures of us putting up some fence. As we’ve already mentioned, our third generation rancher (two years-old) helps out as often as she can!

Wrapping Up Another Week

Time is sure flying by. I can’t believe that summer is just around the corner. Today, we bought three more gilts to add to our herd of pigs. Next week, our shipment of spring chicks arrive–followed shortly by our shipment of baby turkeys (poults). Soon after that, we’ll be picking up our new boar… And the list goes on.

In other exciting news, we will attend a jackpot this Friday night in Kersey. One of our two newest 4H customers will be participating with lambs from our flock. We are so excited for her and can’t wait to attend. So, here’s a special shout out to Rachel! We wish you the best of luck and hope you do well.

Getting Ready for Chickens

In about 2 weeks, we will receive our shipment of chicks from a hatchery in Nebraska. We are raising free range birds this year. We’ve been looking at a free range operation ever since we visited a free range operation in Nebraska. This year, we are finally ready to forge ahead with our plans.

First we needed to build a free range chicken tractor. We opted for a hoop house model. Building it was a lot of work, but it was fun and satisfying. Now we just have to hurry up and wait until the birds arrive.

Laying out the frame.
Hog panels make the hoop.
Tying on the chicken wire.
It’s nearly finished; it just needs the tarp.