Saturday, July 13, 2013

Update - Week of 13JULY01

Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

If you follow our blog on a weekly basis, you may have noticed that we did not provide an update last weekend. That is because it was such a nice week (and yes, a beautiful week for celebrating Independence Day) that we all worked on the farm. We finally had some time to dedicate to farm operations resulting in spending a lot of time getting the farm back in shape.

It turns out that the loss of our starting crops this year may have been a good thing. We have not had a lot of time to spend on anything but the chickens and the turkeys.

As it has been two weeks since we posted, the timeline may be a little off.

The weekend of June 29th we started working on the turkey pen in ernest. The turkeys were out-growing their brooder tubs and needed more room. The first thing we did was reinforce the fence around the turkey pen by adding additional T-posts and hog rings (to secure the bottom wire). After this job was completed, we moved rock from piles that were around the trees in the front yard to around the bottom of the turkey pen fence. This is quite a job and everyone pitched in, including the kids.

Sunday we moved 5 young turkeys into the turkey pen. This was a crucial point and we spent a lot of time discussing the pros and cons. Most of the information we studied on turkeys recommended waiting until they were at least eight weeks old before moving them (ours were six weeks old), but it was either lose some due to space restrictions, add another brooder tub and equipment (that would have only been used for two weeks), or let some out and take a calculated risk (we are good at that, unfortunately, the risks have not always been rewarded) and let at least some out. As the weather at that time was rather warm (in excess of 100 degrees F) and no severe weather was in the forecast (another risk we took, the weather folks have not been very accurate in this area over the past few years), we felt that the weather would not be an issue.

After letting Spunky (Debbie's little dog) do a security check of the fence (no, he could not penetrate the fence, which is good), we decided to let five turkeys out into the pen. This relieved the brooder tubs of overcrowding and limited our risk to 33% of our stock.

The young turkeys did very well, and we released another five Independence Day and cleaned and sterilized one brooder tub and equipment. On Saturday (July 6th) we released the final five turkeys and cleaned and sanitized the last brooder tub and equipment. All the turkeys seem to be enjoying their freedom, even flying (yes, turkeys do fly, very well) into the trees to roost. While they are not very soft, they are very friendly and like to follow people around. They will also talk to you and let you pet them.

Unfortunately, our planning failed us once again. We were not watching our feed closely and we were down to our last 50 pound bag of feed, and the balance of one bag that we were currently using. Debbie went by our feed supplier (Smart Mart) on Monday (July 1st) and they were out (even they were surprised), but had already placed an order that was expected to be in Tuesday. Debbie went by Tuesday, but she went in the late morning on her way back from Ft. Smith and their order was not in yet. On Wednesday afternoon both Debbie and Donald went to Smart Mart and learned that they had already sold out, telling us that they usually order one-ton and were surprised that it was going so quickly. They were going to place an order for two-tons right then, and the delivery date would be Friday. Debbie called several times Friday, but their order had not come in, so she finally called a local feed store (Heavener Feed) and they had ten bags available (just what we needed). Donald and Debbie stopped everything and went to Heavener Feed to pick up the feed. In discussing our operations with the feed store owner, it was determined that we really should be feeding the turkeys game bird feed, which is higher in protein. It is still organic qualified and is non-medicated (we do not medicate our birds other then the initial shots they get from the breeder). We ended up getting five bags of growing and laying feed for the chickens and five bags of game bird feed for the turkeys.

Again, we learned. We will be calculating how much a 50-pound bag of feed lasts and schedule our feed pick-ups accordingly. There is no reason why we should ever get that low on feed. While the price is higher at Heavener Feed and they require cash, which we try to avoid for accounting reasons, it is closer.

We may have mentioned Red before. He was our "free" exotic bird when we ordered our chickens. Red is a Golden Laced Wyandotte. As you know, we ordered pullets (a pullet is a hen). Donald had concerns that Red may not be a hen, as he had many characteristics of a rooster (the way he/she carried him/herself, strut, cackle, bearing, etc.). Sure enough, during the week of July 1st, Red announced to the world that HE was no chicken (literally), that HE was indeed a rooster. He started crowing.

To avoid having to candle eggs, we decided to expand our operation to include a breeder pen. As we were having major problems with possible overcrowding in the chicken pen (several have become escape artists, and they ate all the grass the first week they were in there), we thought it would be a good idea anyway to remove Red and move two hens in with him to keep him company.

We turned NaKiTa's old pen into a breeder pen and, due to time considerations, purchased a HenHouse Chicken Coop. It was on-sale at Atwood's for $188.00 (usually they are over $200.00, and this is the first time we ever saw them at Atwood's). The hen house is perfect for two hens.

Donald and Adam put the hen house together and it went together very easily and appears to be very well made. If you are raising chickens in your back yard, you may want to consider a HenHouse Chicken Coop from Precision Pet Products. Not only are they easy to assemble and appear to be well-built, they are very attractive.

Breeder Pen and Hen House
Red and two hens were moved into the breeder pen. It has not helped with our escape artists, even one from the breeder pen escapes occasionally.

Donald brought some hay up from the back for the chickens, and they were happy.

Throughout the week Donald also mowed our front and back yards as well as the property in town.

This brings you current through last weekend.

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" Patrick Henry 1775

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