Monday, May 30, 2011

The Secrets of Sweet Peeps

The pond, lovingly named Chocolake actually has fish in it! On Saturday Josh and his boys went fishing in our pond and proceeded to pull out bass hand over fist. They didn't keep any to eat but had a blast! Bryce and John also went for a pleasant afternoon swim and reported "it's deep!". They may or may not have been referring to the mud at the bottom.

We're stronger than we thought. Marissa and I are happy to announce we really are pretty darn strong!

The tractor works...IF it's rolling down hill and being pushed by John, Marissa, and I.

John is an amateur carpenter. He (along with the help of Leo) built some really awesome chicken coops for our broilers. It feels so good to go to bed at night and not have to worry about predators getting our chickens. Bonus, they also look really nice!

Nature is out of control!! We find ourselves constantly battling ants, flies, gnats, stink bugs, ticks, rats, mice, roaches, wasps, weeds, poison ivy, thorns and seriously stinky smells.

Secret swimming hole. We have finally started to do some trail maintenance of our sweet nature trails. Along the way we discovered a magical spot in the creek, cleaned it up, and declared it our new swimming hole. Some of us are still refusing to swim in Chocolake. There has been mention of a Choc-ness-monster.

We have lots of medicinal herbal plants around the property...we don't actually know what they are yet but would LOVE to have a naturalist come out and teach us.

Apparently we have 26 layers. It was pretty cool when we were in the coop the other night counting the chickens and counted two more than we thought we had. I think they must really be enjoying their new and improved "ladies only" coop with Christmas lights.

Spring really is the season of love. Horse love, dog love, goat love, inter-species love. What better place than a farm to learn about love? Forget the birds and bees...we're talking mammals!

This movie is accompanied by this week's theme song. If you want to experience what it's like to be at Sweet Peeps just play this song about 25 times a day and dance around and sing along. For the full experience cover yourself in sweat, dirt, and straw, and be sure to have chicken poop somewhere on your body. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Don't Count Your Chickens (or Ducks, or Turkeys) Before They Hatch

Lets talk chickens (because that's mostly what we do around here).

First chicken topic: Chasing the chickens (of course). When we first came to the farm we were determined to get the chickens to sleep in their coop to protect them from predators at night. We had all good intentions as we chased them around the farm and caught most of them. The next day we got a tad bit wiser and tried to corral them and coerce them with treats. It didn't seem to work too well but we were pleasantly surprised and incredibly proud of ourselves as new farmers when the next couple of nights Daddy Roo led his harem (most of them) home on his own. Since then a few of the wild chickens tend to wander and not head home on their own. We still have to be here every night at dusk to lead the chickens home.  We were recently reinspired to keep working with the chickens when the rooster started crowing at 3am roosting in the tree right outside of John's window. Since that night John has really taken it upon himself to be doubly sure ALL the chickens are tucked in inside the coop.

Next chicken topic: our chickeny plans. The farmers of Sweet Peeps had a power meeting a few days ago to come up with a plan. Of course we all had on our power suits! Imagine all of us in our filthy jeans, having just finished shoveling compost, dirt under our nails, work gloves in our back pockets, sitting around a table in Starbucks next to the table of very clean men in business suits. As John picked up his coffee I caught site of his finger nails and thought how dirty and gross he was but when I glanced back down at my own hands they looked just at bad. Terrible! Anyway, the plan is we will get a delivery of 60 peeps every three weeks and we will process 20 chickens every week. It seems like a really good plan but I think we won't really know until we're doing it. One tidbit I find incredibly amusing is that for the first month our peeps will be delivered every Wednesday. The next month however, they will come every Tuesday. John and Marissa claim that there is some secret plan behind this but I'm pretty sure it just happened by accident as John was marking in the calender and turned the page.

Final chicken topic: the peep show. This is actually a chicken/turkey/duck topic. Sweet Peeps recently had our first set of hatchlings We had so much fun candeling them and watching them grow. We had one egg we could see the heart beating in and as they get older you can hear them peep from inside the egg. We started off with four duck eggs, two turkey eggs, and a heap of chicken eggs. We were so excited when the first chickens started hatching. They seemed to be doing so well! We noticed though as the day went on that they seemed to be having a hard time getting out and realized that it wasn't humid enough in the incubator. Marissa and I helped a couple of the chicks out after they got stuck. We got lucky because we learned AFTER the fact the right way to do an eggceriansection. The good news is, we'll know for next time. Sadly, only one of our ducks even tried to peck out and none of them survived. Even worse than that, was our sweet little poult (baby turkey). It hatched with only a little help from Marissa and looked so so strong. It was in a safe, warm place overnight and we thought for sure that it would be our friendly farm turkey. This morning though the report on the poult was "it got even cuter overnight but also died". So in the end, of our many eggs, we have 11 peeps, no ducks, and no turkeys. Now we truly understand the meaning of "don't count your chickens before they hatch". On a happier note, at the same time as the incubated eggs were hatching our wild momma hen hatched six eggs of her own. Those little guys are doing so well!! Apparently natural really is better. Surprised? I'm not.

Farm Vocab Words

Poult: Young turkey
Keet: Young guinea fowl
Brooder: Relates to baby birds, generally refers to the place you keep baby birds
Broody: How a momma bird acts when she's working on hatching eggs. Usually means she's sitting on her nest and probably pretty feisty if you get too close!! Marissa learned this the hard way as momma did a sneak dinosaur attack because Marissa looked at her the wrong way.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Keepin' it Sweet

Sweet Dog Farm has become Sweet Peeps Farm for sure! We have done tons of work, completing lots of things on our incredibly long list of things-to-do and even more things that didn't even make the list. Lets see...what stands out?

We have cleaned the house from top to bottom and painted the entire inside. We have also really gone to work on getting the farm cleaned up. We set up a great little house for the goats and a sweet spot in the edge of the woods for the piggies. The boys have done some awesome electric fence work!! I'm proud to say the pigs are trained to the electric fence, although none of the other animals can figure it out. They continue to take turns shocking themselves and are clearly surprised and appear to have injured their pride EVERY single time. The boys pressure washed the outside of the house (only a few puddles formed inside), and John and I hung the clothes line (our clothes only touch the grass sometimes). We processed our first chickens, with the help of a good friend who has been happy to share his wealth of knowledge with us, and Monday we will make our first sale to Virginia Cooperative Extension where our product will be tasted along with other products offered in Greene county. My personal favorite addition to the farm is our beautiful garden which we started planting yesterday and the long spot we tilled along the horizon, already dubbed "Gaga's Garden", where we will plant the wildflower seeds Gaga gave us.

One last thought on keeping it sweet. A couple of days ago I overheard the little girls chatting about "Sweet Deeps Farm". They explained to me that it was "Sweet Dog" and "Sweet Peeps" put together. I just loved that and thought it was a story worth sharing. Kids really have it figured out!

I do promise to post before and after photos of the farm in the future. Until then check out our logo thanks to my amazing friend, Morgan!