Grit Blogs > Livin the Homegrown High Life

Spring Has Hit the Ground Running...Finally!!

Winter has finally decided to leave and spring has pretty much hit the ground running!  It seems like everything has happened all at once.  Memorial Day has passed and another school year is in the books for the girls.  We have been keeping busy and loving every minute of it.  There’s so much to tell, I might as well get started.

Helping Chads Cousin Plant Field Corn

The move to the new coop was awesome to say the least.  They love it. I think if they could talk they would have been singing a chorus of Hallelujah!!  It took them a little bit to figure out the roosts but eventually there was a constant battle to sit on the top roost.  They have settled down now and share nicely, at least while we are there.  I can also report that Harv is a Harv and not Harvina.  He is Chad’s absolute favorite and has a lifetime interest in the coop.  In addition to Harv we managed to get 4 roosters out of the barred rocks that were to be hens.  Then gentleman that I purchase my chickens from may have sale for them instead of having to butcher them when they get older.  As much as I like chicken in my freezer I would like to see them find a home.  In anticipation of the exit of these 4 guys, I bought 4 pullets that are 18 weeks old.  When we introduced them to our chickens I thought we were going to have a fight on our hands but Harv put everyone in their place (I think the pep talks that Chad gives him about being in charge have helped).  These mature ladies enjoy roosting above the window though and on the top of the door and scared the living daylights out of me when I went in one evening after their bedtime.  Bedtime is 7:30 pm on the dot.  Everything has to be done before then or Harv gets bent out of shape.  He doesn’t get aggressive he just follows your every move. There again if they could talk, I would imagine that he would be saying “you’re late, let’s move, move, move.”  Needless to say we love our chickens.  I’m even taking a Speckled Sussex hen to pet day for Rory’s class!

The Coop All Dolled Up with Flowers 

Hemlock Roosts in the Coop

Butchering day also arrived.  Chad spent 2 evenings watching YouTube videos trying to find the best way to kill the chicken without it being traumatic to them or us.  Everything went off without a hitch and we are planning our next B-day at the end of June.  The girls were very helpful and didn’t mind plucking feathers.  I think the vote is unanimous though that my ingenious husband searches the web a little bit and builds a chicken plucker!!  We are also going to get the cones or make something similar to put the chickens in when they are being killed.  I held them so that they wouldn’t flap around and break their wings but believe me, they are strong.  My arms hurt for a couple days.  It was worth every minute of work nevertheless.  The meat is delicious and it is incredibly satisfying knowing what we fed our broilers and how they were treated.

Plucking Feathers on Butchering Day

We picked up our pigs and managed to find 2 more just a few days after bringing the first set home.  Even though everyone voiced their concern that they would fight everything was good.  The little ones (7 weeks) are actually the instigators.  The older ones (9 weeks) tolerate them well.  They are hilarious to watch and they too have their habits.  I’m not sure why bedtime is such a big deal on our little homestead but the pigs take about 20 minutes to settle down and everyone has to be in a certain spot but their spots are right on top of each other.  As with everything, this too has been a learning experience.  I’ve never given a shot to anyone or anything in my life.  I learned quickly on what to do with the pigs.  Thankfully the antibiotic is an extended release so we only had to do it one time for each.  We also started out with a pan for water.  It was cute to watch them blow bubbles in the water but it wasn’t fun to have to go out to the barn pretty much every hour to clean the pan and give them clean water.  We wised up quickly, and installed the watering nipple.  That was quite a riot as well.  The older ones had no problem and knew exactly what to do.  The little ones took a little longer to figure it out.  At first they would wait until one of the older ones took a drink and stood there trying to catch the drips!!  Everyone is happily drinking cold, fresh water at their own convenience now.

Our Pigs

Since Chad had a few days off for the holiday we also got the garden planted.  We have a Brinkley plow that fits a John Deere that we have but haven’t gotten restored yet so Chad rigged it up to one of our Cub Cadets.  Note I said one.  We love our Cubs.  I’ll elaborate further down.  After much trial and error and me being thrown off the plow, he managed to get the ground turned over.  Chad said it was the funniest yet scariest thing he had ever seen.   Luckily I’m pretty resilient.  We don’t have a tiller so we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.  Chad went through everything with the mattock, I pulled out the sod, and after a few hours we had an amazing looking garden ready to plant.  The tiller would have rocked though!!  I’m not sure what got into Aurora but she turned into this crazy-wild rock picking child.  We didn’t even have to ask her.  It was a huge help.  The three of them took turns helping their dad plant.  We have tomatoes, peppers, onions, peas, beans, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, and squash.  Chad built a planter in front of the chicken coop also and we put more onions, beets, turnips, & carrots in it.  We are patiently awaiting the sprouts to emerge from the ground.  As excited as the girls are about the entire garden they have their eyes on the turnips.  In our old garden they never made it to the kitchen.  Chad would pull them, clean them, and they would eat them right there.  We are truly blessed by their uniqueness. 

Chads Fan Club Watching Him Plow 

Our Garden

Cub Cadets.  Chad saw garden tractor pulls one day and thought that would be fun for the girls.  We built Liza’s first and it was a pure addiction from that point forward.  Her tractor is a Cub Cadet 102, probably around a 1967.  In the beginning it was stock and now it’s not so much a stock tractor.  Rory and Jorja also have 102’s.  Rory’s is the same as Liza’s as far as what has been done performance wise but Jorja’s is still stock because of her age.  The older girls run a 12 HP Kohler that have had some work done to them.  Their gears have also been switched out in the transmissions and the tractors have been lightened as much as possible.  With no weights added they are about 680 pounds.  Liza also runs a class with the adults in which she has to wear a fire suit.  She has a second tractor in the works for that class with a 16 HP Kohler but it had to be put on the back burner for a while.  Same as with politics, I won’t harp on the fact that we have been hit hard by the current administration but it’s the truth and sometimes the truth hurts.  We had to make some difficult decisions, and her tractor and pulling in general are 2 of them.  We will pull locally but had to drop the point circuit this year.  Regardless it is a wonderful family sport that everyone can be involved with.  But anyway, back to the point of “one of our Cub Cadets.”  After working with the girls tractors we have come to really appreciate the craftsmanship that went into these tractors when they were built by International Harvester.  They are incredible machines that were well built and can truly withstand the test of time.  We have a 128 that Chad uses for things like plowing , hauling manure, and blowing snow.  We also have a 1200 and a 1650 that we mow with.  We also have a 100 which is from the early 60’s that will be restored at some point in time and a 582 that was modeled after International’s 86 series tractors that will also be restored.    

Eliza and Rorys Cub Cadets 

Jorja on Wild Child

So as spring rolls along and summer quickly approaches we will continue on with our daily chores and add in plenty of hay making, helping on Chad’s cousin’s farm, fishing, sitting around fire, making smores and hopefully a few tractor pulls.  I’m hoping that the heat wave we have had lately isn’t a precursor for what is in store this summer.  It has been HOT!  I am also in search of a fail proof way to get rid of or catch flies without using chemicals.  If anyone has any sure fire ways please share, I would greatly appreciate it!!  Until next time!!

amber cook
6/20/2012 6:19:28 AM

Look up herbs that keep flies away, it seems it have helped when I planed an immense amount of basil all around my yard especially in front of my entrances of my house


jessica wilhelm
5/31/2012 3:46:02 PM

Thanks Dave!!! I will definitely check them out. I'm about ready to scream with these flies. None of my homemade fly traps are working.


nebraska dave
5/31/2012 2:10:23 PM

You will have to copy and paste the links as html is not allowed in a comment. :0)


nebraska dave
5/31/2012 2:09:16 PM

Jessica, Here's a couple of GRIT blog entries on fly control and catching flies. If you want more information just type "flies" in the GRIT search engine and read to your heart's content. http://www.grit.com/Red-Pine-Mountain/Fly-Control-on-an-Organic-Farm.aspx http://www.grit.com/daily-commute/fly-traps.aspx It sounds like a typical spring business on the homestead with garden planting. I didn't know that there was a class for garden tractor pulling contests. I think it's great to have something that the whole family can enjoy and can get excited about. I certainly had to laugh about the girls excitement over the turnips. My grandson is the same about broccoli. I try to encourage him to eat it often. Oh, by the way there's been some recent posts about plowing with pigs that you might enjoy. The one that best shows what kind of results you can get is from Confessions of a cracked egg. http://www.grit.com/confessions-of-a-cracked-egg/plowing-with-pigs-woodland-edition.aspx Have a great tractor pulling/garden planting/pig raising day on the homestead.