Monday, January 30, 2012

Oreo comes a-courting

Our sweet Miss Oreo and her Mama, the feisty Fritzen, moved on to a new home together a few months ago. At the time we were all but certain that both girls were pregnant. However, as time has gone by, it looks more and more like we were mistaken.

Fritzen has a history of quadruplets, so when she's pregnant, she is PREGNANT. If she was bred when we had our initial billy-goat jailbreak, as we suspected that she was, she'd be about a month away from kidding. Her "figure" and the softness of her belly have lead me to the unfortunate conclusion that she is either a) not bred or b) not as far along in her pregnancy as we had thought.

And so, her new Mama is keeping an eye on her for signs of either pregnancy or coming into heat, so we can try and get her with a buck ASAP if she's still open.

Meanwhile, her daughter, the sweet yearling, Oreo, has very definitely gone into heat, and was therefore promptly trucked back to our place from her new home for a little overnight rendezvous with our yearling buck, Barley. We observed them for a little while and saw a lot of interest & flirting between them, but don't know for sure if they sealed the deal. While young Oreo was away on her lovers tryst, poor Fritzen bawled for her baby and had to literally be lulled to sleep by her loving new owner.

Bill brought Oreo back home to Fritzen tonight and said that Fritzy was very joyful and sproingy upon her baby's return. It was nice to have our little Orrie back for a little while. I sure hope that this breeding takes! Can you imagine how cute the babies from these two will be?

Young Miss Oreo

And our dear little Barley boy

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Today's Agenda

Since I've put down my knitting (with the help of a certain mischievous muncher), I've picked up my books and magazines again, and have had a chance to catch up on all of my favorite blogs, which has left me chock full of inspiration and ideas for our garden this year. Now comes the bit where I need to sit down and organize my swirling thoughts into a cohesive plan. Oof!

So today I'll be poring over seed packets and sketching the first of many drafts of our garden layout. Then the Rexinator and I will go up the hill and see what's to do with the soil in our new garden spot. We'll also be spending a bit of time turning and mixing compost today, for which I may enlist the help of 3 or 4 of our elder hens, who like nothing more than scratching and flinging through straw and rotted kitchen scraps for grubs and red worms.

Beyond that, it's housework and more housework, as ever; and the beginning of my annual freezer-raid, which I'll get into over on Girl Gone Granola.

May you have a productive and fulfilling day as well! :) Chelle

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Chicken ROI Calculator

Thanks to Gavin over at The Greening of Gavin for the link to this handy little tool!

Click here to run your numbers through the calculator to get a rough idea of how much your poultry are making or costing you to keep.

My numbers-

Poultry ROI Calculator

Your Poultry cost per year is $ 19.00 (per bird)

Housing cost per year is $ 79.57

Feed quantity required per year is 763 Kg for 19 Large Fowl (**They do not let you adjust the amount of feed given per bird in this calculator. I feed about half of the pellets, crumbles and corn that other "operators" of our size do because we free range the chickens and feed them supplemental foods like commercial waste produce and day-old bakery breads for free or at very low cost.**)

Cost of all feed products per year is $ 1154.50 (My number is waaaaaay lower - about half!)

Consumables / other cost per year is $ 195.00 (Supplemental grit, diatomacious earth, vitamins, oyster shell, etc.)

Total Cost per year is $ 1448.07

Your eggs sold value per year is $ 665.28
Hatching eggs sold value per year is $ 0.00

The remaining eggs valued at shop prices $ 692.00 for your own use. (That's an eye popping number! That of course includes dozens and dozens that we give away.)

Your POL sold value per year is $ 72.00

Total Return value per year is $ 1529.28

Your Total Profit is $ 81.21 per year. (This includes the value of the manure, estimated at $100/year.)

Well done. Of course this profit calculation does not include your labour costs.

Good to know that we're not just spinning our wheels with this chicken thing. Of course, once the cost of the coops are amortized, and if/when we're able to sell more hatching eggs or chicks, our profit margin will grow. Still - 2016 eggs sold per year - wow!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wearing my Housewifey Hat

I've been thoroughly domestic today. It's raining buckets outside, so it's not as if I had much of a choice whether to work inside or out, so I've stayed in and fiddled away.

I'm making 2 loaves of applesauce cake, one with raisins and one without; and using up the last bit of pureed apples that were left over from making my "Apple Pie in a Jar" schnapps experiment. It really is the best applesauce cake ever. Who says that vodka has no place in baking? ;)

I've also been running laundry 24/7. I am stunned anew each time I get this far behind, to see, all in one pile, the absurd amount of clothing we own and manage to dirty up.

I'd like to have been able to add knitting to this list of things I'd been pecking away at today, alas, our newest household member, a Great Pyrenees mix named Rex, seems to have a propensity for shoes, computer cords and yarn of all things. He has straight-up chewed to shreds two skeins of yarn and one knitting project, needles and all!

The tragic sight that greeted me the first morning after Rex came home with us. Who ever heard of a dog with a thing for yarn?!?

So instead of knitting, I've been reading and snuggling this big, white bear of a dog, and listening to the rain pound down between rotating loads of laundry a trying to keep half an eye on the pooch at all times, lest he eat every last shoe in the house.

It's never boring here and never too easy, but always, always different.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Seeds for 2012

Things are running a little lean for us this year, with so many high-priority (and high cost) projects pressing down on us, we're trying to minimize costs in other areas as much as we can. This includes our seed purchases for the new (and hopefully VASTLY improved) garden.

We had quite a few leftover seeds from last year, which I know aren't exactly an ideal way to go, but have rarely failed me in the past, and so we pin this Spring's hopes on their continued fertility and vigor. Here is what we have on hand from last year-

*Lettuces - Gourmet Blend, Rouge d'hiver, Red Romaine, Mervielle de Quatre Saisons, Buttercrunch & Cimmaron
*Kale - Russian Red & Chinese
*Pak Choy (Chinese cabbage)
*Peas - Lincoln Homesteader & Mammoth Melting
*Celery - Golden Self Blanching
*Beans - Kentucky Wonder & Golden Wax
*Dill - Mammoth & Bouquet
*Cauliflower - Romanesco
*Basil - Thai Holy
*Radishes - French Breakfast & Cherry Belle
*Carrots - Red-Cored Chantenay & Little Fingers
*Beets - Cylindrical & Sugar
*Zucchini - Lemon & Cocozelle
*Squash - Yellow Striaghtneck & Burgess Buttercup
*Pumpkins - Small Sugar & Cinderella
*Cucumbers - Homemade Pickles
*Sunflowers - Giant Greystripe
*Sweet Corn - Yukon Chief
*Job's Tears

Stuff that my limited means allowed me to purchase to round out our little Eden -
*Carrots - Atomic Red (The girls go bananas for the colorful carrots!)
*Pumpkin - Williams Naked Seeded
*Tomato - Libby's Pride (a sauce tomato)
*Beans - Cannellini Bush Dry Bean
*Squash - Early White Bush Scallop Summer Squash

It sure was hard narrowing it down to just a few choices! I opted to order the "odder" varieties and can hopefully get the more mundane stuff (lemon balm, basil, cherry tomatoes, etc.) as starts at our Farmer's Market when it opens in April.

I really hope that we can make a go of the garden this year. It sure would be nice to actually get to make all of the lovely meals and preserves that I envisioned when ordering these seeds. Fingers firmly crossed that this year we nail it. ;)