Friday, January 28, 2011

Year of the chicken

For December, I made -$22.84 for the month on an average 27 hens laying. I had $84.09 in expenses for feed (450#) this month (all my expenses this month were in food).  We collected a total of 395 usable eggs (6 more than last month) averaging 12.7 eggs/day collected. The chickens ate 1.14#food/egg. In December it cost $0.21/egg or $2.52/doz for feed.  As an added bonus the two quail have laid 26 eggs this month.  My feed costs have been rising for the last two months, just over 24%.  I may have to raise my egg prices.  I am sure that will go over well...

Here it is the Year of 2010 Chicken Financials!!  This is why you should run out and start raising chickens.  I averaged 22.7 hens/day.  Collected on average 12.2 eggs/day.  My productivity for the year was 52% for the hens (this is actually pretty good for the whole year).  My chickens ate on average 0.68 # feed/egg.  My average cost per egg is $0.15 or $1.80/doz.  My total net income for the entire year is -$128.04.  So not exactly a bumper year.  I am hoping to break even this year.  I will give it one more month and see if the price of feed comes down.  If not then I am going to have to raise the price of my eggs to $3/doz.  I still want to get another 12 hens.  I am hoping to get them the first part of Spring.  

I went out today to see the twins.  It was 50 degrees and sunny.  Hard to believe it is really January.  The little girl is the black one on the left.  Hard to believe that both babies were born less than 8 hours apart.  Look at the size difference!!  I went out and bribed the sheep with bread.  They love to eat it and we have several of them trained to eat it out of our hands.  It helps tame them down and make them much easier to be around.  Now this mama did head butt our chocolate lab when she got too close.  She also tried to run over our Brussel Griffen.  He (Sprout) almost ended up in the creek trying to get away from her.  

Annmarie finished some more booties and has just started adding baby hats to her collection at the fabric store.  She sold out the first batch last year.  My favorite is the tangerine pair in the center.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

As Promised

New baby #1. Actually, this is the younger of the two twins, born sometime during the night. We haven't checked gender yet, so I've go no new information on that, but he (generic he) sure is a cutie.
And this is new baby #2, actually the older twin born first. Momma hasn't gotten him (generic pronoun use again) cleaned up, but she'll get there. This is our first true black. I'm kinding hoping it's a girl, but I haven't checked, so it's only a hope at this point.
And here are some of the rest of the crew. The little one in the center is our baby from last week. He seemed very excited to have some potential playmates. He kept hopping around the little ones trying to get them to play, but they were too busy sleeping. Maybe tomorrow. The big guy in right behind the lamb is our ram. He's very gentle and is great with the babies. The two on the left with the dark fronts are our new acquisitions. They have finally integrated with the original herd and are doing very well. Ignore Steve's speculation that they are full grown. They aren't. They are still young enough to be playing dominance games with one another and jumping and turning circles in the air just because life feels that good. Not more than 4 or 5 months. I should probably get out some old books and remember how to age them from their teeth, but it's not really that big a deal at the moment. They'll grow up and have babies when they are ready.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

another lamby!

I was letting the dogs outside to go potty tonight (30 minutes ago) and I noticed one of the cats had blood on its neck just below its ear.  I assumed it had gotten in to a fight and had bled out some.  There was no active bleeding so I was unconcerned.  I happened to casually mention it to the wife.  She insisted we bring in the wet cat and she dried it off.  It still had blood on its neck.  She carried it off to the cat food dish (elevated cart so the dogs don't eat the cat food).  So she is petting the cat while looking for a source of bleeding and cannot find anything but the cat did smell suspiciously like sheep.  Of course it is snowing so we had to put on snow shoes and coats, grab flashlights and head out to the barn to see if the kitty had been snacking on afterbirth.  We made it without any one falling down.  Lo and behold, there was a brand spanking new baby!!  A jet black lamb with a white patch on its forehead.  It was so new it was still trying to stand.  Momma was licking it dry.  I am hoping there will be another baby in the morning.  Annmarie will take pictures in the daylight and post them soon.   I just volunteered her for more pictures!  We don't have any pictures of the other baby during the day either.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Water musings

Well I am happy to report that the water is still working at our house!  This is a good thing.  On a side note I replaced the kitchen faucet (the cold water was not working well, just a trickle.  We assumed it was a piece of dirt/gravel in the cold water valve of the faucet).  This did not fix the problem. Now the faucet is much better looking and we have a spray nozzle, but there is not very much cold water.  On a plus note, the faucet is much better so it is possible to adjust the water to a tolerable temperature.  So now we believe the blockage is in the shutoff valve to the kitchen sink. This is a plumber problem.  Since I am going to have to get the plumber for the utility sink I will just add this to the list for him.
On the supply line issues we were all wrong about where the pipe was actually located.  We thought the pipe went in a straight line between the two houses.  It did not.  If you look down this telephone poll to the far right corner of our house you will be looking at the pipe path we had told the repairmen.  Yes, we were way off.  The pipe ends on the far left side.  The trench across the bottom of the screen was dug in an attempt to find the pipe.  There are three different trenches across the bottom of the picture.

Here is the view from our house.  The second leak ended up being near the bottom of this picture.  Our front yard is pretty torn up from all the trenches and digging in the last three years.  I definitely need to finish replacing the plumbing line and then rip up the entire yard and start over.  Not going to happen this year.  It is looking like fence building and replacing the front bridge are going to become the priority for Summer.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sarah's Bedroom repaint completed

Well it is official now, Sarah's bedroom is painted.  I mounted five square sheets on her wall yesterday to use as a magnetic organizing board. The room turned out very nice.  She just needs to empty out her closet now.  We did not paint the closet.  It is still pink and burgundy.  You really cannot tell what the walls look like, she has so much junk stuffed in there.  The goal is to empty out 50% of the closet, gone, vanished, trash or giveaway.  She still wants to paint one nightstand black and I want her to strip the paint off of her door.  Those are things she can work on.  Here are the results:

Bedroom with a new bedspread, courtesy of her mother.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Quail eggs

Well I finally saved up enough quail eggs to do something with them.  I had decided that I was going to pickle them.  I figured it would be like eating a large peanut M&M.  Two quail only lay so many eggs and with the weather (Winter) production is sporadic.  It got so cold for a while that the eggs were freezing solid and cracking, so I had to throw those out.  So on Monday I dug around on the internet for a recipe for pickled quail eggs.  Emeril was the winner.  He had hot pickled quail eggs.  I used the same recipe but only put one teaspoon of cayenne pepper (instead of three) and left out the two hot fresh peppers.  I added some extra garlic.  One of the tricks that most people posted was to let the quail eggs sit in a bath of straight vinegar for at least one hour to soften the shells.  They have incredibly hard shells and a very thick membrane over the eggs.  So I let them soak for three hours.  I had to let the bath steep for 2 hours anyway so it worked out good.  I made a single quart and then hot bathed it.  It actually sealed!!  Always a good thing.  Now I have to wait a month before they can be broached.

Monday, January 10, 2011

baby picture

Annmarie took this picture from the door of the barn, momma was pretty antsy.  This was right after the lamb was born.  I will try to snag another picture soon.

The lamb probably only weighs about three pounds.  Very tiny.

I changed out the sink faucet today.  We were having issues with not having cold water at the kitchen sink.  This problem was attributed to the multiple supply line breaks we have had and the dirt that gets in the line every time it is fixed.  So I waited until I was sure the line was done breaking and changed out the faucet.  The theory was that since it only affected the kitchen sink it had to be a problem in the faucet.  This being a typical plumbing job for me, I had to run to town and buy some silicone caulk and new supply lines (old ones are too short).  I got everything installed and turned on the water, still just getting a trickle of cold water...  It must be in the actually supply valve under the sink.  This is a stupid problem to have.  On top of it all, our pump went out in our dishwasher on Saturday.  It is three years old so any warranty will have expired I am sure.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

babies? I wish

Well one of our sheep finally figured out how to give birth!  I went out yesterday morning to let the sheep out and there was a brand new baby in the straw, momma still had cord hanging out and had not passed the placenta yet.  For all  those curious souls out there, each baby lamb has its own placenta usually.  So we waited for her to pass that afterbirth and have another lamb.  It was not to be.  We got one little baby, a boy. (I was hoping for twins every time!)  We kept momma in the barn for the day to let the baby nurse as much as possible without having to chase momma down.  When I went out this morning I caught the baby and got my snuggles in.  Nothing like a three pound ball of fuzz that is 18 inches tall.  I will post pictures tomorrow.
Sarah and I spent all day yesterday finishing her room.  We installed the chair rail (painted black) and finished all the touch up paint, then rearranged all the furniture.  I still need to hang all the pictures and butterflies on her wall and we are going to install some sheet metal squares on the wall to use as magnetic/dry erase boards.  It turned out very well.  She did a great job.  We let her paint her mirror frame, and she is going to stain her two shelves and paint a small display stand (black of course).  She still has to decide whether to stain the shelves black or dark blue.  It turned out so well that Annmarie and I have already decided we are not going to change the color when she leaves and goes to college.  We like it!!  Well it just started snowing and I have places to be.  Pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

sheep folly

I am sitting here on the computer laughing at teenager angst.  We have a young ram, Lucky, who is 7 months old.  He has been learning the ropes from our older ram.  All the ropes except how to actually mount a ewe.  All our female ewes used to be quite a bit larger than him.  Plus, they are all pregnant.  We managed to successfully integrate the five new ewe lambs and they are out running around the pasture.  The snow melted enough that we let them come out of the barn lot.  Those lambs are quite small.  Almost half the size of our larger ewes.  So Annmarie and I figured they were still babies.  I don't think so now.  Lucky is out there trying to mount the poor little dark ewe.  He just won't leave her alone.  But every time he gets up on her he quits paying attention to his surroundings and our adult ram runs up and butts him in the side with his head thereby knocking Lucky off of the ewe and back three feet.  But like any adolescent boy he just gets back up on that ride.  This keeps playing out over and over again.  The ewe finally ran off and everyone ran after her.  Sheep are not supposed to go into heat until they are at least six months old.  So maybe they are just tiny sheep.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year musings

Well it is official, we are really in the sheep business now.  Annmarie finished our new registration form to send out to buyers of our sheep.  I just addressed and stamped the very first one.  Very nice.  Of course we won't have any more lambs for sale until our sheep squeeze out more lambs.  Our two pregnant mothers are huge.  Their bellies look like they are going to start dragging on the ground any day now.  So we expect them to give birth this month.  Now we expected that last month, but those bellies cannot get much bigger so I will go out on a limb and state that it WILL happen this month.  We will keep buying a few more ewes this year to enlarge the herd.
Our back creek is still running.  It had started to freeze over in the subzero weather we were having.  Today it warmed up over freezing for the first time in 10 days.
Sarah just about has her room painted.  The blue turned out very nice.  She is retouching the edges of the chair rail I am going to install this weekend.  We wouldn't let her paint the walls black so we compromised with a black chair rail.  There is a small piece of ceiling trim to touch up also, but we needed the wall paint to dry so we could apply masking tape.  The amazing part is I am finally going to be able to finish installing her window trim pieces.  I have had the two pieces to install under the window sill since we moved into the house, but I had to patch the sheetrock first.  I just finished texturing and priming before she painted.  It turned out very nice.  I will post a picture after it is all finished.

I had to remove the top trim on the entertainment center to get it into the library.  It was a very tight fit!
I did remember to reinstall the trim once it was safely ensconced in its new location.