Lucky 13?

So our first experience at processing our own chickens happened yesterday.  We drove to another families farm that had all the equipment and we processed 13 chickens.  3 hens and 10 roasters.  Officially we are back down to only 8 hens and 1 roaster at the Turner Homestead.  We lost a few over the summer for various reasons but 13 chickens in the freezer isn’t bad.  This was our first year trying this and next year we will have more experience with hatching our own flocks, and getting them processed throughout the summer and fall.  Our over all goal is to have at least 2 chickens a week to eat for now.  That along with our beef we will soon have should be enough meat to keep from having to purchase anything from the store.  Outside of bacon that is.  🙂  That is the one of the next projects here at the homestead.

Braden helped out a lot and glad he got the experience.  Bennett and Bryson played hard with the family that hosted us kids.  It was a good finding this family.  They line up with many of our beliefs and way of life.  Even though they are a good drive away we look forward to meeting up with them again.

We had our fun surprises along the way.  The first was a down pour that lasted about 15 minutes.  Came out to find one of my hens was walking around with a sliced neck.  Not very fast but she was still walking around.  🙂  Another surprise was finding tons of eggs in another hen.  I just wasn’t expecting that.

So, now we know how the process works.  Next year we will plan on getting our own equipment so we can do it ourselves.  We also plan on having more than 13 new frozen birds as well. We just need to plan for a bigger freezer to hold all the meat.  😉

Then the day ended at Dairy Queen for some food and ice cream!

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Wow! One Year Ago Our Adventure Began

One year ago today we packed up our moving truck in a warm and muggy Texas spring day and moved our family to the country. Starting the biggest adventure our family has experienced and has yet to slow down. In fact it more than likely will even get crazier as our time out here continues.

We had have some great times on our homestead and some sad times as well. We lost a few animals but gained even more. Started with a dog names Bear, a city dog in fact, to everything we now have.

From day one when I surprised the wife with Charlie our first kitten, to me bringing home 2 Labrador puppies my wife is now more surprised when I don’t come home a new animal.

Yes, we lost Charlie and up until a few days ago we had thought we lost Shadow, missing for almost a month, came home skinny and looking nearly dead. We have lost a good number of chickens, mostly due to Ginger our Labrador that really loved playing with them.

Now a year later, we have 3 Jersey steers, 2 donkeys, 31 chickens, 2 dogs, and 2 cats with one cat expecting soon. They said to start slow and we tried. Well my wife did, I didn’t.

A newly planted orchard will bring us many fresh fruits and nuts in the future. Looking forward to the many variations of plumb, peaches, pears, pomegranates, pecans, and blueberries! As time moves on we plan to add more trees and a verity of different fruits and nuts.

We started a small garden this spring. In the fall we will convert about 1/4 of an acre to various vegetables and fruits for our first phase and growing that even bigger. We also plan on converting the smaller pasture to our calorie crops like wheat, oats, beans, corn, etc.

We have plans for a dairy cow that will double as a nursery cow for the bottle feeding calves we will buy. Hopefully, we will start our own heard and birth our own calves soon.

We have plans to bring in some pigs as well here shortly. So bacon and eggs will be a staple on our breakfast table.

Overall our goal is to be as self-sustainable as possible when it comes to our food and our farm animals food.

There is so much work to be done but we can only do it a little at a time. I am learning we don’t need to buy everything but make use with what we already have here. In fact we plan on using muscle to harvest our hay this year.

We are so grateful for this opportunity, to raise our boys country and teach them hard work and the rewards from it. To teach them that their imagination is better than a video game and to give thereal-life experiences and skills.

This last year was amazing and looking forward to our second! The adventure has yet has started! Grab a horn and get ready to continue the ride of our lives!

Does this Ass make my Homestead look small?

So on an icy and very cold Sunday afternoon, a trailer arrived with 2 new members of the Turner Homestead.  Who are the new members?  I can give you a hint?  They have long ears, four legs, fur, and can be very stubborn.

If you guessed Donkeys you are correct.  If you guess anything else then I would recommend you spend some time on a farm or ranch.

A few months ago we started to think about getting a donkey to help protect our 3 steers from predators like coyotes and bobcats.  Especially when we move the steers to the back pasture closer to the wooded area of our land.  One day while attending a work meeting in Dallas I mentioned that I was looking for a donkey.  I was surprised when I was told that someone knew a co-worker that volunteered his time at an animal rescue and they had donkeys to adopt.  That next Saturday my boys and I where on our way to Double D Animal Rescue.   There we met our two new furry friends and made arrangements to get them back to the Turner Homestead.

Now, our steers are not sure what to think of their new friends and our dogs are very curious to what just happened.  I am hoping that our two new furry friends and our 3 steers will become very good friends (Well, until our steers become steaks that is.)  I also hope that our dogs are not dumb enough to investigate the donkeys on their own.

This should be another exciting adventure? What could only be next?  As I end this blog I will leave you with random photos of our new furry friends and a joke that a pastor told years ago at a men’s breakfast.  (yes, just remember, this was a pastor that told this joke.)

What stretches farther, skin or rubber?   Skin!  After all, Abraham tied his Ass to a tree and walked up a hill.  

 

Eggs!

After months of waiting our hens to lay their first eggs, we finally have eggs. It was a pretty exciting day for us here knowing that once we have one, many more eggs will come.

Now we just need to have a few of our hens to start brooding so we can start expanding our flock to help produce food for us this year.

Merry Christmas

This year has been amazing and wonderful and full of change and new life experience for our entire family. This is our first Christmas here at the Turner Homestead. We have been here for just a little over 6 months and looking forward to many more years and Christmas’s to come. So from our family here at the homestead; our 15 ladies and a the rooster, our labs Gunner and Ginger; Bear the dog, Meatloaf, Littlebit, and Big Red, our three steers; our crazy boys; my beautiful wife, and myself, we wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas!

What? She was pregnant!

A lot has happened on our little homestead since the last time I blogged. Again, my primary job seems to suck up most my time, darn work! I think the last blog I wrote was about me bringing home 3 Jersey Bull calves. That was nearly 2 months ago! How time flies when you are busy. Anyway, the three calves are doing well. In fact, today was their last bottle feeding. Poor Big Red, he isn’t going to like that. He could eat!!!! Anyway, they have plenty of grass in the pastures, hay on the way, and they still get their calf starter gain for a while. What they don’t know is they have a trip here soon that on the way there they will have balls, on the way back not so much. 😉

So, remember our white dog that adopted us when we moved in? Well, about a month and a half ago she supposed us by getting really fat really fast! Well, a few short weeks later she was a mamma to three healthy little pups. She lost one during birth. 😦

So, if you want a Thanksgiving puppy….. we have 3!

We don’t know for sure who the daddy is but we have our suspicions. There are two male Weimaraner dogs down the road. We think one of them did the deed.

Poor mamma!

Well, that is my update for now.

Shelves to Nesting Boxes

With our chickens slowly approaching the ripe young age of egg layers I needed to come up with more nesting boxes than the 2 that where already in the roost/coop when we moved in.  I didn’t really feel like buying anything at any of the feed stores nearby.  To be honest, paying 10 or 15 bucks a nesting box is a little too expensive for us right now.  We had some old shelves sitting on our porch for some time now from the previous owners that we had no plans to use again. So today I took those shelves and created what I call the Motel 6 of chicken nesting boxes.  Like I said, these are not the Hilton but at least they are or hopefully will be functional when my ladies start laying eggs.

Pretty easy job even for a non carpenter like myself.  Below is a picture of one of the shelves.  Alone these are not deep enough so I was going to cut them and stack them on top of each other.

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Like I said before, these are not the Hilton of nesting boxes for our chickens.  Just wanted something cheap and functional, so we got the Motel 6 edition below.  I am thinking of adding a bottom to these using chicken wire or something so I can hang them off the ground if needed.

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I have a few chickens left out of our first round that haven’t died due to various reasons….  these hens have full range of of the barn, and any pasture at this time.  I have them separated from my other chicks at this time, so I left one here in the barn where they normally find a spot at night anyway.  I am thinking a bottom would work well and then hung above from that 2×4?

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These shelves made a total of 4 boxes with 2 nesting boxes within.  The nesting boxes themselves are big enough for 2 chickens if needed.  So hopefully I will have enough spaces for all my ladies coming this fall when they get old enough to start producing eggs and the heat dies down a bit.

Not a bad job I have to say without having to break the bank?  Now, let’s hope these work!