Friday, May 20, 2011

Additions to Mitchell Acres

We've been quite busy down here on our little farm.  This week has been especially exciting.

On Monday, Tyler's birthday present came in the mail.

The queen is inside this candy-coated container.  The drones (male bees) will basically eat her out of there to ensure that they will accept her since they had to fight for her.  Almost romantic, isn't it?  Almost.

The guards are getting set up and establishing their new home.  You can't get a feel for it in the picture, but bees were flying everywhere.  It was crazy awesome.  Mostly crazy.  But a lot of awesome, too.

Then this morning as we were getting ready to eat breakfast we saw this little site outside.

One of our hens went broody (or, got those motherly instincts and laid on her eggs without leaving them except for a rare bite to eat or a quick drink) a few weeks ago.  We've had ducks go broody before, but nothing ever came of it, so we weren't sure what to expect.  Hallelujah!  Eight brand new little chicks!  The best part?  We didn't have to run the incubator and we don't have to run the heat lamp.  Mother Nature is taking care of it all.  And we have enough other hens that kept laying eggs for us to gather while she's gone all motherly (when they go broody they stop laying for a couple months).

After we saw the chicks we ran inside to finish our breakfast when a truck pulled up in the driveway with our two new sheep in the back!  We were up to 11 goats and couldn't afford to keep feeding them so when the opportunity to trade some of our goats for sheep came up, we took it.  Sheep just need grass, a salt lick and water (unless they're pregnant or you want to get some great wool from them).  So this will save us a bundle and we get to still have some cool animals.
 The brownish, patchy one is the female (a katahdin).  She has hair, not wool.  She's shedding.  The black and white one behind her is a Jacob ram.  He's a wool sheep.  We are quite excited about it!  Next year he should be ready to shear, so we'll go get a lesson or two on how to do that.

But not to worry - we didn't get rid of all our goats.  We still have our 4 kids (for sale), plus 3 adults (2 of which are for sale).  And one of them actually gives us milk.  We couldn't get close to any of our original nanny goats to milk them, but a few weeks ago an amazing opportunity came up for us to get a Lamancha (a dairy goat breed) for a GREAT price from some great people, so we did it.  Not expecting to be able to milk her right away, we were very surprised when we picked her up and told the people our plans for her.  They said, "Well, we actually just sold her kid a while ago and even though he was probably too old to still be nursing, he was, so she still has some milk.  You could probably try milking her right away!"  So we did.  And she did.

I did have a picture, but it's gone.  Sorry.  Anyway, since then we've been milking her twice a day.  Tyler in the wee hours of the morning before he goes to school and, yes, I milk her, too.  Most nights because Tyler doesn't get home until very, very late.  He's better at it, though.  I'm getting there.  We get about 1 to 1 1/2 cups a day from her.

So - if anyone wants to come take a field trip and see this cool factory of life we have going on over here, just let us know!