Monday, January 14, 2013

Lots of Progress

As I type this morning, the weather is dark and gray and gloomy, and it is freezing outside!  Brrr!  Thankfully, this last weekend the weather was beautiful, and we were able to get lots accomplished here at the farm.

CowPatti (we call her Patti for short) and GiddyUp spent lots of time outside enjoying the warm sunshine we had on Friday.  It seriously felt like spring, and we all enjoyed the break from howling winds and chilly temperatures.  Since they are still just little puppies (in age, not size!), they are teething on everything they can get their teeth into, as well as running and playing and wrestling, trying to distinguish which one is the boss.  They love to play with toys, which is great as long as they are approved for chewing...we keep having to remind them that tug of war with Levi's pajama pants is not allowed!  Natalie and Levi played some soccer with the girls, and they loved it.  It was so funny to watch them chase the balls, grab them in their mouths, and race back to the kids, almost like fetch.  The balls are almost bigger than their legs are long, so they hold their heads as high as possible and take off!  After a week of sickness and antibiotics, it was good to see them feeling so well, and playing outside with the kids.

Patti and GiddyUp chasing the soccer ball

Patti playing soccer

GiddyUp playing soccer

I have talked about Nathaniel's chicken tractor project here, but wanted to give a little more insight as to why it is called that, and what it's function is.  On a farm, a tractor is used to tend to the land.  A chicken tractor is the shelter used to house the chickens while they actually do the work of tending the land for us.  They live in and around the shelter scratching and pecking the ground (like tilling/plowing), eating bugs, grass and weeds (like mowing/bug treating), and pooping (fertilizing!).  In turn, they will provide us with free-range, farm fresh eggs, and eventually we will also use some of them as meat birds (and that isn't something we can do with a tractor!).  The birds will be released to roam and forage during the day, but we will use the chicken tractor as a shelter and protection from predators at night.  It is also equipped with a nesting box so the hens can lay their eggs.  The other perk of the chicken tractor is that it is easily moved from one place to another when we pop on the wheels.  Every couple of days, we will move the tractor to a new location so that all of the land is being tended by the chickens, and not just one spot!  Brilliant use of farm animals, I think!

If you remember, this is what the chicken tractor looked like the last time I shared pictures.

After this weekend, when Nathaniel and my dad spent several hours working on it, it is now almost complete.  Here are some pictures of the work this weekend.

Nathaniel and Dad attaching the metal on the first side of the chicken tractor.

My Dad working...his knowledge and help is invaluable!  We couldn't be on this journey without him!

Adding the ridge row...the strip of tin that goes across the top, keeping the water out of the seam.

Attaching the other side of the ridge row.

I teased my mom that I was going to post this picture because Nathaniel and Dad were working, and in the background she is using the reflection in the window of my van to floof her hair...hilarious!  Love ya, Mom!
The only thing left is for Nathaniel to attach the rods that will be used as axles for the wheels (which are only on the tractor when it is being moved), and a little more chicken wire across the back side under the nesting box.  Once those things are complete, we will put the tractor out to pasture, and our first batch of chickens should be fully feathered and ready for the pasture in one or two more weeks.  We are making sure to give them a little extra time inside the brooder box since it is so very cold outside.  We are still at 100% survival from our first shipment, and would like to keep it that way as long as possible! :)

Nathaniel also spent some time building a new brooder box.  The breed of chickens that we purchased are going to be HUGE!  Typically, chickens weigh 6-8 pounds each, but the particular breed we got is probably going to reach 12 pounds each!!  Unbelievable!  That means that they are already looking gigantic, and were quickly outgrowing the first brooder box.  In order to keep them warm, happy, clean, and healthy, we have made a bigger brooder using only what we had on hand...that made it free!

The chicks moved from this efficiency apartment... (yes, the kids were hiding in there!)

...into this spacious condo!!  Ha!

What are those white slats, you ask?  Well, as we try to employ a 'use what you have' mentality, Nathaniel was able to use extra slats from the blinds in the house.  Each window had several inches worth of extra slats just resting in the windowsill because the blinds were for long windows and ours are short.  Nathaniel had recently spent a couple of hours going window to window, removing the extra slats.  That left us with at least 100 window blind slats, which we put in the workshop 'in case' we needed them for anything.  Little did we know they would come in so handy already!  Next time you work on a project, try using only what you have around you.  With a little imagination, you'll be surprised with what you come up with.  It saves money, and keeps things out of the trash!

As if all of that wasn't enough, Nathaniel has also started building a dog house for the girls.  They are growing like weeds, and will soon be getting the boot from their full-time, in-the-house, pampered lifestyle.  They are going to be farm dogs, and they need to start living that way.  Oh, we aren't going to be mean to them, but they are going to be spending more and more time outside, getting used to life in the yard instead of life in the living room.  They will be okay, they are farm dogs!

Jones Academy is back in session and we are falling back into our routines after the holidays of laziness and leisure.The kids are doing well, though I'll admit, they are more reluctant that I would like when it comes to schoolwork.  I'm trying to have grace and patience, but some days (actually many days) that is hard.  Quit complaining and fussing and just do the work already!!  Sigh*

January is shaping up to be a fun month around here!  We hope things in your neck of the woods are going well also. 

And if you read here, don't forget to leave us a comment!  We love comments :)  Besides, it helps us better know what to share here if we know who is anyone out there?


  1. Just no comments about my pink work gloves!! They fit my hands better than any other work gloves I've found so far. ;-P

    1. I just want to know whether Levi is scandalized by the pink gloves. I'm just remembering his reaction to the pink car seat we tried to put him in. He would only use it - and grudgingly - when I covered it with my sweater.

      p.s. I didn't know they were pink til you said so. :-)

  2. HaHa! Those pink work gloves rock! Love ya, babe!

  3. I love it! I feel like I am reading about a farm reality show which I suppose I am in a way. I am looking forward to the next episode. You have taught e so much already. Good luck sweet friends, look like you are off to a great start!