Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Out and About

Late this afternoon I opened the doors to the corn crib coops and let out the birds.

Fun to watch.

As dusk approached I put some vegetable trimmings inside the coop and they climbed back in for the night. Tomorrow, weather permitting, I'll leave them out a little longer. Ultimately they'll spend all their days out of the coop. Or at least the doors will be open.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Poultry in the Corn Cribs

I converted the two old corn cribs into chicken/poultry coops.

I wanted to reuse the structures. They are still strong and have concrete floors, good for keeping predators from tunneling into them.

To start I put up two roofs, positioned to deflect the prevailing westerly winds. The challenge was to build the whole thing from below - framing, plywood, and waterproof membrane.  An angled plane through a cylinder (aka a corn crib) is an ellipse.  So I laid out one of the proper size on plywood using a string, sharpie, and 3 screws.

Then welded up some angled metal brackets to bolt onto the corn crib frame.  Set built up beams into the brackets and laid rafters on the beams.

Put the cut out plywood and waterproof tarps on top of the beams. Cut a passage way between the two corn cribs. Lined the whole thing with 1/2" hardware cloth to keep out weasels (apparently they can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter.) Built and installed doors, water piping, roosting bars, nesting boxes.

Time to move the roughly 40 birds from their brooders over to the new housing.  There are 25 guinea fowl (about 4 weeks old) as well as 10 laying hens, a rooster, 2 geese, 2 turkeys, and 2 ducks (all 2 months old).

They'll spend the next two weeks in the cribs day and night, getting used to the idea of their new home. Then I'll open the doors during the day and let them back in at night, where they'll be secure from predators.  At this point I'm planning on killing/eating the geese and ducks. If it turns out I have a male/female pair of turkeys, I'll keep them over the winter and hope they have poults in the spring. The guinea are meant to eat ticks; the laying hens to lay eggs.

To winterize them, I'll still need to wrap up the outside of the cribs with a few more tarps.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Several of us went down to Grass Creek, IN this past weekend for a family reunion.

Listening to the stories told by my aunts and uncles was priceless. When I came back I found this on the Practical Farmer's of Iowa blog and wanted to share it here. There are some parallels between his history and our family's.

We shall not cease from exploration,
and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.
–T.S. Eliot


My cousin Tristan took a lot of great pics (link). Here's one of my Dad, on the right, and his brother Roger and sisters Sandra and Shirley.

My aunt Shirley gave me this high school graduation photo of her brother, my uncle, John. He died around 2002.

 All the kids of the generation in the top photo who made it to the reunion.


I took the farm trailer down to Indiana so I could bring back a six row cultivator - pulled behind a tractor, it digs up all the weeds in between the rows of crops - that my uncle Roger hadn't used in decades, ever since herbicides became popular. While spraying sure is a lot easier it's not allowed under the organic production rules so I needed a cultivator up here in Turtle Lake.

My cousin Darrell used Roger's loader to put the cultivator on the trailer.

Then we strapped it down with chains for the 500+ miles back to Turtle Lake.

To get it off the trailer Dad and I took it up to the nearby John Deere dealer where they picked it up with a big fork lift and set it on the ground. There was still a bit more to do as two of the connecting pins needed to attach it to the back of the tractor were rusted in place. After a mechanic used a torch to break the rusted parts free, we hooked it up to the tractor and brought it back to the farm.

It has a place of honor on the old barn foundation. Prime location!

Next year Darrell and I, along with anyone else who wants to help, will be coordinating the Reunion. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Black Raspberries

There's a big patch in the yard. We've been eating them for the last ten days or so. On pancakes, oatmeal and ice cream. Or just straight off the vine.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Chicken Killing Time

I guess the preferred euphemism is "processing".

The 15 Cornish X hens came to the end of their lives this past week. I'd been keeping them in a mobile pasture pen, also known as a chicken tractor.

My nephew Calvin came to the farm with my parents and we processed the first two -- then ate them at our 4th of July bar-b-que.

Take it away Calvin -

Three days ago, another nephew, Max was here with my dad and we killed/cleaned the rest.


Look out below! Blood and guts to follow ---