Freedom!!

Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope you are enjoying this fabulous day that long ago was chosen as a day that we, Americans, would celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independance and thus the freedom to be a country of our own.  I have been thinking over the past couple of days about the freedom that we as Americans enjoy, and then also about the freedom that we as believers in Jesus Christ enjoy. Both freedoms were bought for a price.  Not a monetary price like that we pay for a loaf of bread, or even to buy someone out of jail, but the price of blood, and of lives laid down for the sake of others. As Americans we have the freedom to live as we choose, we can have our own businesses, make our own decisions regarding healthcare, religion and what house we buy. We choose every four years who we want to guide our country, and who we want to be in charge of our individual states, any one of us could choose to participate in making decisions for our country. But, we have all of that and more because of the sacrifices that soldiers have been making since before the official founding of our country, they voluntarily went to, and still go to war so that this country can be free.  That is a huge sacrifice, and one worthy of being remembered. But, I can think of one even greater that is more important and more freeing than anything else in this world. This  is the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. He chose to die a horrible death so that all of the sin (wrong doings, thoughts etc.) in this world would be covered in His perfect blood and thus not be charged to those that believe in Him. Y’all this is the best freedom of all. Sin has no power over us because it is washed away by the blood of Jesus!! It has been a wonder in my mind as I have been thinking about this because I know that no matter where I, or any other believer is we can still enjoy being completely free from the guilt of doing wrong, and what’s more, we don’t have to do wrong!!! As I was laying in bed the other night I was just feeling off, I felt kind of moody, and distant from God so I asked Him, “Where are you?” Do you know what He said back to me? “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” What comfort it brought to me as I was able to rest in the fact that He is always with me. So, not only are those of us who believe in Jesus free from the sin that before we were enslaved in, but we also have the comfort of knowing that Jesus is always right there with us, so we have no need of being lonely either!! Hallelujah!!  Now, go enjoy some fireworks and summer food, knowing that we can do so in freedom!!!

Success! The chickens have been contained.

Good morning! I hope that you all had a lovely night’s rest and are ready to greet this day with a song in your heart, a smile on your face, and if nothing else with a good strong cup of coffee and a thanks to our wonderful Lord for creating caffeine. I told you about my latest endeavor of trying to keep my hens contained so they are not running all over kingdom come and messing up gardens, laying eggs in the horse trailer etc. Well, apparently I didn’t clip their wings properly or they are just super birds and can fly with unbalanced wings, when I let them out of the coop a couple days after moving they all found their way out of the fenced-in yard and were running all over the place. I didn’t have much time to fiddle around with a new fencing configuration since the clipping of the wings obviously did not work for these girls so, they got confined to the coop and were not allowed out until I was able to come up with some brilliant fencing idea. I did not want to enclose the area with mesh netting, or any kind of netting for that matter since that stuff is such a pain to work with, and too often becomes all tangled up because the stuff likes to grab everything. So, as I was thinking it came to me that the hens only fly up to the top of the hard-edged sides of the fence and then hop down, they use the wood like a landing board and jumping off place. So, if I were able to somehow make that spot unsteady they wouldn’t be able to hold on to jump down, or better yet, why not make it so that they cannot fly up and grab onto anything? Our neighbor had given us some older wire fencing that he was getting rid of a while ago, so I wanted try and use that instead of going out and buying something special. I decided that I would attach it to the top of the hard fence with wire and support the top side at an angel leaning into the chicken yard with some of the PVC fence posts that I had.  When I was finished setting it up it looked like some sort of a prison yard, minus the rolls of barbed wire up on the top(we have set up quite a few of these interesting looking places to contain different animals lol). I then decided to test out this interesting looking piece of handy work, greatly hoping for the best. The doors for the hens were opened and after that first day I discovered, much to the joy of both my mom and myself that the results were fabulous! We did not have any chickens escape!! For all the efforts on their part those girls are not getting out to destroy gardens and flower beds! And no skunk or possum should be able to get in either. Hip – hip hurray! Y’all, when having troubles with containing an animal, if you are not interested in having that particular animal for supper, or donating to a good cause build a prison yard, it works! ….Some of the time 🙂 . Have a fabulous day!!

Change

Good morning! Thank you for taking time out of your day to read this. I appreciate that, and hope that maybe you are encouraged, or perhaps challenged to think in a different way, if nothing else I hope that you will at least ponder what I am saying…especially in this particular post. So, when I started this blog I intended it to be a farm blog where I would keep those who chose to read it updated about all the happenings on my farm. I thought that perhaps my customers would come here to keep track of what was going on, and when I was selling what etc. But, I was not, and have not been faithful about posting on a regular basis so there has not been much to follow. Over the past seven or eight months however there has been a lot of change in my life. Last year I got to experience the stress of trying to work four part-time jobs while still plugging through high school…not a good idea, it was way too stressful and exhausting.  So, I decided that I would try my best to not quadruple book myself and focus on one or two things at a time instead. I made the decision to put any farming asperations on hold for a while and work to save up a good amount of money before I revisit that idea, mostly because to do the style of farming that I have in mind it is a full time job from the start if you want to do it correctly, but also because there was so much friction built up in the family due to my animals that relationships with my family were not thriving like they should have been. So yes, I do still have some laying hens and the horse and donkeys but none of the other animals are here on the farm, and I have no immediate plans of bringing any onto the farm either. Speaking of relationships, I made a post last year about being a free-from sin child of God, in it I talked about what that meant and shared that when I was around seven years old I said the sinners prayer to ask Jesus into my heart. Well, I have a fabulous story to share with you and I hope you read it to the end. What I said in that post about my saying the sinner’s prayer is true, when I was seven I did say it and I got baptized that year. But what I have since been convicted of is that I did it because my older sister did it, I wanted to be baptized, and I wanted to participate in communion at church, I wanted to celebrate my accepting Jesus. But, I didn’t have a heart change, yes, I understood that we are all sinners and that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins but I didn’t believe and claim that for myself personally. I just knew what the bible said about the gospel, and because of my upbringing I could talk theology and biblical doctrine but I didn’t have the personal relationship that makes those things come alive, I guess you could say that I was a very fired up religious girl with a fair amount of head knowledge but no actual understanding. Around the time that I was fifteen I became very scared that I had blasphemed against the Holy Ghost (the Spirit of God), because of a thought that came across my mind. That was, as far as I remember, the beginning of my struggling with my faith in God. I became plagued with anxiety and depression, I remember some nights being extremely scared of death and hell that I was literally shaking, probably the epitome of quaking with fear. I would try and read the book of Psalms by my parents’ recommendation, but I couldn’t find true consolation for my soul in doing that. All I could think about was that thought that I believed was blasphemy against the Holy Ghost and that I was going to go to hell.  I remember reading some verses in Romans that talks about believing in Jesus with your whole heart, and I now know that I was being convicted of my unbelief because of the unnerving feeling that I got, but when I discussed these sorts of feelings with my mom she reminded me of the time when I was seven and had said that sinner’s prayer and been baptized. I believed and trusted my mom more than what I was being convicted of. So, for years I struggled with this dreadful fear and anxiety, I tried hard to conceal it and keep it from other people because I was embarrassed about it, I didn’t want people to know that I was struggling. I was a lovely broken record that (I felt) couldn’t be fixed.  When I was seventeen I thought I had a conversion moment because I acknowledged God in an area of my life, and yes, for a while a lot of my anxiety and depression went away but it didn’t last and I started to feel a void inside of myself again. I wanted very much to serve God and live for Him but the relationship just wasn’t there. I think that is one reason that I kept over booking myself, I needed something to find my identity in, and I didn’t know how to handle the stress of all that so I worked on a farm and then at a quilt store. I thought I was serving God but it was all about me. I became moody, irritable and very discontented with my life and relationships. Last year it came so something of a climax, I wasn’t depressed and anxious all the time but I wasn’t joyful either. Like I said above I started working four part-time jobs over the summer, first was my job at the quilt store which I really enjoyed and then I started on the farming venture, around the end of spring beginning of summer I picked up selling wild rice for a company at a local farmer’s market and in August, selling apples at two markets for a local orchard. During my time at the markets I was able to interact with two believers in Jesus Christ who struck a chord in me deeply. They both were so genuine in their faith and relationship with God that it greatly bothered me that I didn’t have the same. So I again wrestled and struggled with my doubts and the void inside of me. I November I decided that enough was enough, I was reading a great book called Preparing to be a Helpmeet by Debbie Pearl, in it she had a chapter about knowing God and gave a bunch of bible verses that you could go through to see if you truly know God or not. So, I asked God to show me wether or not I actually knew Him and if not, to show me how I could know Him because I wanted to. So, I went through the verses that she recommended and was convicted of my unbelief, I again started thinking that I had blasphemed against the Holy Ghost (which was false) but then I started being exposed to the gospel more and more, and finally after much struggling again with anxiety and depression I decided on the evening of December 2nd after a Christmas party at work that I was just fed up with all of the doubt and turmoil, I needed to be able to function and to live and this wasn’t working. So, I made up my mind that I would just believe, I decided that I don’t care, whatever I thought before, whatever I struggled with I am gonna believe the Jesus Christ is the Son of God. So, I claimed John 3:16 which says “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Did that take away all of problems? No, I still really struggled throughout the month of December, but for some reason (the Holy Spirit) I knew that I was saved and not going to hell. I tell you what, after that decision I have become a new person, I am able to understand the bible when I read it, and receive comfort for my soul when I am distressed. I have a  GENUINE relationship with Jesus! I am no longer afraid of death, I but if I do become afraid I am able to remember that Jesus paid the price for me so that I am now no longer going to hell, I am pure white in the eyes of my Father (God), I can talk to Him and know that He hears my  prayer and will respond to me, which He does!! Oh, this my people is a truly fabulous…no, wonderful thing. There is more to my life’s story and I could go more in depth to when Jesus was showing me all sorts of things in December before I decided to give up my anxiety, and after that too. But, for now, please, oh very much please look at all this and then look at your own life. Does it feel horrible, and positively hopeless? Are you full of anxiety and depression? It doesn’t matter the subject over which you are struggling, mine was theological because I was raised in a home where the word of God was and is taught. If you have a void that you can’t explain, if you are just a plain old human being with a pulse, please consider asking God to show you how to know Him. And let me tell you, yes, it is as simple as just believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, y’all He died a horrible death so that we, ALL of us could be rid of our naughtiness (sin) and go to heaven! Want to know more about Jesus? Ask Him to help you, read the bible which is His wonderful word, talk to a believer in Jesus. folks, this stuff is legit. I know I pretty much wrote a book, but I needed to share this.

Spring update

Hiya! I hope you are all doing wonderfully after a fabulous winter. I must say that I am very glad that spring is finally here! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE winter. Nothing beats the glorious sight of snow sparkling in the sun like diamonds, the brightness of the stars when the temps get to being around thirty-below freezing, or the laughter that rings through the air as snow forts are built, snowballs fly at moving targets, and the wheels on your car (with NO 4-wheel drive, and minimal clearance) lose traction and you slide into a relatively small snowbank and end up getting stuck. But, when March comes around and you have already been looking at seed catologs for weeks, and the chicken emails start coming in, at least for this girl, the longing for soil under the fingernails and the smell of the outdoors starts becoming a pressing need and you get restless and somewhat impatient for spring. Thankfully though we can start seeds indoors, it helps to satisfy that gardeners itch! So, after starting lots of seeds and watching the sprout and grow, we got one last gorgeous snow storm in April (the flakes were giant!) and a small flurry in the beginning of May, it is now time to prepare the gardens for planting.   This year, before being able to prepare the garden beds I had to make sure that the hens were all penned up and were not in a position to make a mess of all the mulch and baby plants. I was able to successfully overwinter the hens and geese in the mobile hen house that I built last year, but this spring we have been having trouble keeping them contained and out of the flower beds. I have yet to figure out a good fencing situation that would work well with the mobile house, especially since I don’t have enough space to have the girls completely free-range without causing chaos wherever they go. So, I decided this week to go to my plan “C” (plan B was the chicken tractor but that’s a different story) of using our stationary coop that I used as a brooder last year and fencing in a chicken run around that building so that they are still able to roam around, just not get into the gardens. Before I completed the fencing, I looked up clipping chicken wings and learned that if you get a sharp scissors and just snip the tip off of the main wing feathers this causes the chicken to lose balance for flying, and will thus inhibit them from flying over fences. Since this doesn’t harm the bird in any way I decided that I would give it a try. So, over the past few days I have been cleaning out the coop, putting up fence, and clipping wing feathers after dark. I moved the hens to the “new” coop last night and I plan on leaving them in there for a couple of days so they get accustomed to laying eggs in this coop and will consider it to be home. If this plan does work out then on to the gardens I will go! I will try and keep y’all updated on how this works out, but until then, I hope you all have a happy Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Returned!

Happy September to you all! I must say that I have not been as faithful a blogger as I thought I would be this summer. I pretty much fell off the band wagon there for a few months, I certainly thought about different blog posts that I could write and took pictures for a lot of them but that’s where that ended. Needless to say, this girl is and has been very busy. I will update you on what has been going on over the summer and what’s cooking as fall is kicking in🤗. First off after the first batch of chickens were processed I ordered a second, larger batch that are just now getting ready to be processed. This batch of chickens have been the most frustrating and delightful batch of  meat birds I have yet encountered, at least in the Cornish Cross world. The day they came turned out to be a very cool summer morning so I again needed to make sure that those little peepers got and stayed warm. Through that whole process though I learned that chicks not only die because of cold but also because of heat. I had so many little ones die of both causes with this batch that I was just sick, it’s a balancing act folks and yes, even animal farming is hugely impacted by weather! Unfortunately with this last batch of chickens I did not do very good at all with keeping them in and predators out, I lost quite a few birds to an owl that was enjoying his stay on the farm. Tough lessons have been and are being learned continually on my side of things. You know, you go unto a year with high hopes and expectations and then by your own shortcomings learn that you don’t have all the answers and have a LOT to work on personally in order to succeed at anything. Chickens, pigs, gardens and family has really helped me to realize that this year. The hogs have all grown to lovely bacon happy sizes, and two of them have already been processed for that purpose.  I sold three hogs to my uncle last weekend, and tomorrow we are going to bring in the last two. I tell ya, there is nothing so good as tasting your own homeraised pork and chicken! I have more in-depth stories and information coming soon as I am getting back into blogging but for now that’s the livestock update and the Apple’s are ripe at the orchard! Farmer’s market season!!!

 

Processing chickens

Summer has now officially started! And to celebrate I spent three days processing chickens. 🙂 I only had forty-eight birds to process but it took longer than I thought it would due to the fact that it has been a few years since the last time I butchered chickens and I was a bit rusty in my method. The first day was delightfully miserable. My brother Caleb and I started around ten in the morning.  It had been raining earlier in the morning but had quit around that time so we (I) thought maybe it had run its course. Well, that was wishful thinking 🙂 we had started on our first few birds when it started to rain again, and it didn’t stop all day.  We had to keep going though because I had promised a customer that I would have chickens for her that evening. So, standing in the rain getting thoroughly soaked in rain and chicken water we learned what happens when the dipping water – heated water that you dunk the dead chicken in to loosen the feathers from the body for easy plucking – is too hot. I couldn’t find our thermometer that day so thought I would be able to just wing it (no pun intended) nope! Those turned out to be the ugliest chickens I have ever processed, even worse than the ones we had to skin out because the feathers refused to be plucked. The water was just hot enough to partially cook the skin causing it to turn yellow and soften to the point of tearing, thus producing birds that had torn, icky looking skin with pin feathers still sticking out because we couldn’t get them all out due to the tearing skin. Thinking the yellow skin to be a sign of good nutrition, (you know, like how egg yolks are a gorgeous orange when the hens have access to good grass and bugs ) we kept going until we had enough to fill the orders I had received. But as I was looking at the birds I could not stand the thought of selling those ugly looking things to anyone, so I called my customer and told her the situation, I asked her if she would be okay to change the time of pick-up for her chickens,( I would have nicer looking birds then) or I would give her a major discount. Thankfully that dear lady said she would opt for a change of date. 🙂 Hallelujah! I had a second chance!   the second and third days went much, much better. We got on a roll and mastered the water and plucking situations. I discovered that the water was just right around 150 degrees F. The skin didn’t cook or tear and those pin feathers came right out! You learn (or remember) new things everyday! I am so thankful that I was able to have a second chance. Now onto preparations for batch two!  Have a good one!

P.S. I cooked one of the uglies the other night and it still tasted much better than any grocery store chicken. 🙂

Introducing: The mobile hen house!

Happy day to you all! I pray that you all are doing well and enjoying the beautiful beginning of June! I started the month up in northern Minnesota with my Dad. We were  in Duluth for a republican state convention, endorsing candidates for the upcoming election.  I tell ya, that was fun!  After the convention we went for a drive along the shore of lake Superior. One of the most beautiful places in Minnesota! I took a couple of pictures of the shore and of the waves crashing up on the rocks. I thought that maybe you all would like to see them. IMG_4666IMG_4671

 

I promised last time that I would give you a tour of my hen house on wheels that next time I posted. So, here it is!

 

 

I made it out of our old trailer that was having a few structural problems. It was not safe for road use but it was perfect for chickens!  I tore out the flooring and in it’s place put in thin boards and pieces of scrap trim to make a slatted floor. Over this I spread chicken wire to add some extra stability and safety from predators, in addition to ease of walking for the chickens. 🙂 IMG_4637

The main reason I chose to make the floor like this is cleanliness.  The slats are big enough to allow chicken droppings, wasted feed etc. to drop through and not cause a lot of build up. In the usual hen house you’ve got either a poured concrete floor or a raised wooden floor, upon which you spread wood shavings or straw to provide for moisture wicking and insulation. As time goes on the chickens poop and make a mess of their feed and waterers, making the dry carbonaceous (love that word!) matter all wet and loaded with feces that contain a very high amount of nitrogen. In a compost pile or green house this would be marvelous, but in an inclosed structure this is not so good because bacteria and diseases can easily grow in the wet and polluted matter, creating an unhealthy environment for both you and your animals. Once a typical hen house becomes soiled a few things can happen. Either the coop can be cleaned out completely and a brand new layer of carbon be layed down thus starting the whole process over again. New shavings could be added on top of the old stuff, building layers of shavings that will eventually need to be cleaned out. Or, as in a the case of a LOT of meat producing chicken operations the birds are allowed to just sit in their own mess until they are ready to be processed and a new batch gets brought in. All are very work intensive, and if not stayed on top of can be hazardous to the health of your birds and yourself.  The slatted floor allows for all of that waste to be dropped out of the coop eliminating the need to clean out the coop all the time, it also allows  for good air circulation, promoting a dry house which is a must for chickens.  After the floor came the nesting boxes and the walls.

I built four nesting boxes to be approximately one foot square. I used the chicken wire for the bottoms of the nests with the same idea as the floor. For the walls I just used scrap wood that was lying around begging to be made into something. There were some gaps in the wood on the sides so I decided to side the whole structure (almost) to eliminate drafts with old siding that came off of a shed my Dad and brothers are working on. Looks pretty good eh? 😉  For the roof I made a wooden frame to which I attached pieces of steel siding/roofing that I got at Menards for a good price.  The door to the coop was my biggest problem, there was no good way to attach a door of any kind to the existing structure so after a bit of mental finagling I decided to use the pre-existing trailer closure and mount an upside down sort of apparatus to one of the roof supports. After several attempts at mounting it didn’t turn out too bad.

The great thing about it is that I can use the bottom closure as a ramp during the day when the hens are let out to pasture, and the top can open up and be supported by 1-1/2 x1-1/2 in. board that serves as an extra roost at night.  The completed inside looks like this!

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The board standing up in the middle is the door support by day and roost by night.

The roosts are made out of scrap wood that was left over from building this and the chicken tractor. So there you have it! A hen house on wheels that was fun (and cheap) to make, and practical for the girls! If you have any questions or would like more detailed information on how I made this let me know! Also, is there anything else you would like me to write about? God bless you all!!