Hurricane Farm

  (Scotland, Connecticut)
A view of life on our farm
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Hurricane Farm in the Blog-o-Sphere: "It's Hip!"

Though neither "Up-To-the-Minute" nor "Late-Breaking," (sorry, we just found this article from last Winter) this blog commentary offers an interesting perspective on local, sustainable farming. 

http://nutmegnewssource.blogspot.com/2009/12/farming-is-hip-but-challenging.html

 
 

Spring Work

The maple sugarin' season was very short this year with a low yield.  We made about 25% of what we made last year.  Lucky for us we have a very diversified farm and we don't rely on one product/season.  My advice is that if you are looking to get fresh CT maple syrup this year, snap to it!  Many of the larger producers will be buying their syrup in bulk  from Canada and re-bottling it in their own containers.  If you want REAL CT syrup.  Go buy it before the end of April.

In other news, we have a busy day on the farm:

Erica and the the kids are going to the sugar bush to gather all the buckets.  Then we will need to clean and store all the maple syrup making equipment.

I'm working on the first batch of chicken coops.  We've already sold a few and have customers waiting.

We've also just acquired some new calves and the turkeys and chickens are arriving later this week.

The eggs in the incubator in the house should be hatching any day, as well as the various clutches of turkey and chicken eggs "hidden" under hens throughout the barnyard and barn.

Another batch of bees should be ready for pickup any day.

Manure needs to be loaded, moved, spread, and tilled. 

Spring veggies need to be planted.  Seeds need to be started.

WOW!  Let's get busy...!  New photos of SPRING to follow.

 
 

Chicken World Grand-Opening

We finally finished the general building of the new chicken coop/outbuilding.  There are still some things left to do, though, like add siding, roofing, a step, maybe a window box with some flowers...

But we have moved all the meat chickens and some of the young egg layers into it.  It took an extra couple of days to get the outside run portion put together.  I ended up using more of the leftover cut-offs from the lumber mill to frame in the run, which gives it a kind of rustic look.

When the moving day came, we first had to load up the chickens.

We backed the little truck right up to the barn and the kids and I loaded them into cages.  It took four trips in all to get every last one.

Violet and Liev especially liked being able to ride in the back of the truck as I drove it from the behind the barn to the new coop.  I remember riding in pick-up beds back from baseball games, to the movies, and all over the place when I was a kid, but that sort of thing is kind of outlawed now-a-days, I suppose.

We probably could have done the whole job with more cages and fewer trips, but the kids really liked the whole driving back and forth and catching chickens aspect of it.

Here is a shot of those lumber mill cut-offs in action.  They were well over 12 feet long, which allowed me to set fewer posts.  To the right you can see one of the windows that we reclaimed from the transfer station (there are 4 in all in this building).  I hung them so they tilt in (old-school chicken coop style).  This allows the air to circulate in the top of the window and then the warm air is sucked out through the openings in the joists atop the wall.  In a house one would block those openings up (with soffits) to keep out all the nasty little critters that try to get in.  But here in the chicken coop it makes for a nice air flow.  Standing in the coop with the windows open you can actually feel the breeze as the air circulates.  Pretty amazing.

I mounted the windows with door hinges...see next photo.  Also see Liev trying to convince the chickens to try out their now pop-hole and chicken yard.  (I think that you can also see part of Violet through the pop-hole...she is testing out the chicken's new ramp.)  Those white chickens all around on the floor are meat breeds.  They grow heavy and fast.  Liev is holding an egg layer the same age as the white ones...It is about 1/4 the size and weight of the white ones.

Smile.

There is the new building from a distance.  We'll add additional runs off the right side and the front next year, but for now the rear one offers plenty of fresh air and shade for the chickens on these hot summer days.  We're planning to put on that tin/metal roofing material like you see on all the homes in Vermont and New Hampshire.  We were thinking maybe white, as it would keep the building cool, but since it has such great ventilation already we might opt for red.  After I build the garden shed we'll order the roofing material for both buildings at once and save on some of the cost. 

 

 
 

A Pilgrim's Progress

Well, it threatened to rain all day, but only spritzed a little bit here and there for a couple of minutes.  So, my work crew (see photo 1) and I got lots accomplished on the new chicken coop/shed.

We managed to get the end rafters up and we hung the ridge pole.  We had to make a quick stop back to the lumber yard in the midst of the work day as we realized our math was a little fuzzy.  But, one new 2 x 8 x 12 later and we were back in business!  I've been reading a little about building and learned that I need to hang a little of the ridge pole over (I did 8") in order to have a nice overhang that will also serve as a sort of a drip edge.  I'll hang (ladder-style) some more rafters off the front and back to make that overhang.  Stay tuned as we finish up the roof!  If all goes well, I'll be enrolling in Door-Making 101 sometime next week.  (I already have the windows--nice recycled/reclaimed 6 pane wooden sashes.)

Those weather folks keep telling us rain, rain, rain, but today ended up a great almost-summer day.  Not too hot, not too humid, and not much rain!

 
 

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there! 

From their protection to their nurturing to their unconditional love, it is our Mothers who help us to become who we are today.  Thanks to all of you!

Here are some shots of a wonderful mother doing her best with her little ones.

Whether your teaching us how to eat, keeping us warm and draft-free, or protecting us from predation, you Mothers are the best!

Erica and the kids found this flower in our wetlands last week.  This flower is for all the Mom's out there!  Happy Mother's Day!

 
 

Spring Chicken (and Turkey and Goose...) -- And Where to Put Them

At last!  Click, click, click.  Tap, tap, tap.  Peep, peep, peep!

Hey, what's that sound in there?

Hey look!  That one is trying to escape!  Quick, catch it!

 

Here is our nice, clean, and organized brooding area.  It stays nice, clean, and organized for about 36 hours once its new tenants arrive.

We ended up adding another section to keep the goslings from wetting everyone else as they splash around in the water.  The dividers worked great--for three days--until everyone thought it would be great to mingle with their neighbors.  I've been finding countless uses for what little excess sawmill cut-offs we have left from sugarin' season.  They make great "poultry dividers."

Believe it or not, those little guys number somewhere near 200 birds--I think!

They grow fast, too.  We have spaces already established elsewhere around the farm for the geese, turkeys, and egg layers, but I'm hard at work completing a new outbuilding to house the meat birds. 

Here the kids and I have set out the sill to see how big this thing will be when it's done.

The next step was to do a little excavating...

...and leveling.

I can tell you, the first block is a piece of cake.  The next three...not so much.  But we managed to get it all leveled out eventually.

I think that I bought way too many blocks.  But we used them to make a much needed (and curiously missing) step for the workshop doorway.

Next we added some floor joists and cross braces and finally put on the floor.

And here is where our construction stops for the time being.  Next we'll put up some walls...but, as mentioned before, it was a busy week.  Did I mention that the silo came, the bees are just about set up, and loads of firewood have arrived?

 

Thick with Chicken Coops

It has been a busy several days here.  With school vacation last week, there were lots of projects to finish up, continue, and start.

Erica and the kids were able to get all the seeds started in a small indoor greenhouse, we tilled the garden and rolled over all the manure we spread in there, an herb garden took shape, bulbs were transplanted all around the yard, and of course the chicken coops rolled off the "assembly line."

I have found that four is the number to build at a time.  Any more than four at a time and the hardware store runs out of hinges and latches.  But if I get enough for four, somehow the store is all restocked the following week waiting for my next batch of coops.

So far I've finished four and moved them out to their new homes, and have four more 1/2 way finished.  I will build another four, as well as a 4 x 7 foot goat barn that we have a deposit on, and hopefully finish up my own 10 x 8 shed/meat chicken house (pics on that to follow later).

Here are four coops just past the halfway point.  I find that cutting each section in fours also speeds up the construction, but allows me to vary my tasks at a rapid enough pace to keep me interested in what I'm doing.

After the rough framing and the nesting boxes, I add some walls, a "pop-hole" for the hens complete with a door, and some roof trusses.

I also add two windows.  I make them diamond shape just to add some character and to make them different from any other building out there.

The 4 foot by 4 foot construction allows for enough space for a small backyard flock and also allows me to move it around with my hand truck and fit it into just about any size truck.  (I add the side door just before we load them up.)

Here is the coop in even the smallest of trucks.  This one is about to be taken to its new owners a few towns away.

We also offer a coop "package," for which customers receive some feed, a waterer, a feeder, some nesting box hay, and 6 baby chicks.  Long live the backyard chicken!  We started our farm with this exact same coop that I designed while building it many years ago.  We had four chickens and two rabbits.  We've grown quite a bit since then!

 

 
 

Chicken Surprise

No, this is not a recipe for a mouth-watering chicken dish, but a brief snapshot into how animals keep their own time.

It is a sure sign that Spring is not too far away when you find this in the barn...

The ducks, not as keen as the chickens, have also started laying.  They, however, drop their eggs all over the yard.  Some in the garden.  One under the tractor wheel (oops).  I think, though, that if the past is any indication, they will settle down and find a secure place any day.

The sheep are about to lamb and the rabbits are nesting as I type.  The few turkeys that remain are also laying a surprising number of eggs.  The next month here at the farm will be full of new additions! 

OK, OK...Here is a recipe!

CHICKEN SURPRISE

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt
4 c. thinly sliced potatoes
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. chopped green pepper
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 oz. sausage

Combine soup, milk, onion, green pepper, salt and pepper. Place half the potatoes in a 2 quart casserole. Add half the sausage. Cover with half the soup mixture. Repeat layers. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/4 hours. Remove cover. Sprinkle with cheese and bake, uncovered, 15 minutes longer or until the potatoes are tender. Serves: 4.
Wait!  No chicken?  I guess that's the surprise. 

You can find anything here on the internet...
 
 
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