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Journey to a gourd farm.

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Next Craft Sale in October!.

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It’s December already and many changes have happened here on Deberosa II. 

First of all – a new tractor arrived yesterday!

Massey Fergusson 1529

This is a bit beefier than the Mahindra I had before, although it’s about the same size.  The bucket teeth and hooks were added and much stronger than we had before.  The tires are filled with fluid already.  The three point hitch is much stronger.  This tractor has a 9 by 9 syncro shuttle transmission that will take getting used to but didn’t seem too difficult.  We’ll get the tiller and brush hog in the spring.  Right now it will be moving chips and plowing snow and hauling stuff around the homestead.

In addition we added a new puppy to the farm – Sheila is a purebred English Shepard.  She is a fiesty little girl and really loves to herd just about anything – Jake, us, visitors, chickens and the cats. 😉 

English Sheppard farm dog.

8 weeks old.

She is being trained to work with the birds at this point:

We harvested a home grown turkey for Thanksgiving.  Processing was a chore because we are not set up at nicely but the bird turned out fine in any case!  It was a triumph just to be sitting at a table with home grown food after this major relocation!

It was a lovely fall here – damp but warm.

This month we will be organizing the farm into a business.  Not sure what all it will involve, but right now we are thinking of raising Guinea Hogs and growing nursery plants, some veggies and blueberries.  Haven’t decided for sure yet – so send along ideas for cottage industries that may work here!

Debbie

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It’s been a long several months and after many false starts we are together at the new farm in Virginia.  Not the one from my previous post due to many issues with banks and sellers, but still a very nice place to rebuild.

It is a leased tree nursery for 8 acres of the property through 2016 but the rest of the 14 acres is ready for homesteading immediately.  There is a stream and spring at the back of the property through a couple acres of hardwood forest.  Then a 100 year old tiny farmhouse that will take some work but liveable at this point.  It’s a place to start.  There is a dirt floor shed that is fairly large and it’s a good thing!  The 28 ft trailer packed to the brim full of stuff barely fits in the spaces available.

Now begins the work of rebuilding – entirely different challenges and experiences in this new homestead environment.  I’ll post as we discover during the rebuilding process.

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They were doing spring cleaning at Kurt’s work this week.  He caught them just as they were about to chop up a wagon they had for grounds maintenance and throw it in a dumpster!  The next day we rented a uhaul to get that wagon to the farm because it’s just what I’ve been wanting for hauling stuff around here.

New homestead wagon

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One of the greatest pleasures is to be able to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with a turkey that you raised yourself.  Somehow the celebration becomes just that much more special.

Turkeys are fairly easy to raise.  I’ve tried two kinds – the Broad Breasted kind – both white and bronze and while they do grow fast and produce huge birds they have the same issues as the cornish cross chickens.  They cannot breed on their own due to their pondersous builds and often have legs that cannot support them, or they simply sit without moving.  I didn’t have the heart attack issues that I had with the cornish cross, but they are not very bright – they can drown in a shallow water dish or simply get lost so you must take care of them more than the heritage breeds.

Here is my first experience with broad breasted turkeys:

 Broad Breasted Turkeys

As for white vs bronze in these birds – it’s a personal preference.   Predadotors pick out the white birds quicker but the bronze birds have a darker skin when it comes time to butcher.

After that experience I aquired three Red Bourbon heritage turkeys along with my peacocks.   I really like these birds.  They are close to a wild bird as far as raising them goes.  They refuse to go inside even in the worst weather – preferring to roost in small trees.  The original male got a bit mean so he was Thanksgiving dinner but the two sons are very friendly.  They get along well with the chickens out in the field but the males tend to get picked on by the peacocks, although they do stand their ground.

Here are the red bourbons:

 Red Bourbon Turkeys

The female turned out to be an excellent brooder, but once the babies are hatched she would lose them all!  I then started to take the babies away as soon as they were hatched.  She would product two broods a year that way.

 Mother Red Bourbon with new babies

Close up of baby

The year before last the mother quick nesting in the barn and went into the brush.  We tried to find her but the raccoon beat us to her.  They didn’t kill her, and she defended her eggs valiantly but it ripped off her tail and put a gash in her side.  We sprayed on SCARLEX and amazingly she recovered fully but no more chicks that year.

This past year no turkey babies.  I set up a Costco carport for them (at least the top half, the bottom half was destroyed by a wind storm!)   I put in lots of straw and many of those igloo dog houses that I collect when I find them cheap.  Perfect for nesting turkeys but there were chickens in their too and some ducks and they just kept disrupting the brooding turkeys.  Next year I will separate out the turkeys so they have their own private place to nest.  I hope that helps.  They may even be able to raise their own babies that way. 

Here is the “turkey carport”.  I am going to move it this year and the current location will become a nicely mulched blueberry patch!

My “turkey carport”

As for eating these turkeys, they do take a bit longer than the broad breasted to mature but you still can grow a good sized bird in one season.  I like to let them go till the following season to create a nice big turkey, it’s all a matter of preference!

 I am basically happy with my choice of Red Bourbon Heritage turkeys for the homestead.

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Well, the tub is installed and the first fire is started!  In a few hours hopefully we will be enjoying a nice soak in the hot tub!

We built a simple 8 by8 deck – first I put down weed cloth that Ihappened to have, then we put 4 by4 runners on that and put in the decking.  It leveled out very nicely.  We put some pavers next to the deck for the stove and did all of the assembly – not terribly bad.  We have some leaking around the seal to the hot tub that we will need to fix eventually but it’s just a drip.   

Eventually I will put pavers around the entire outside of  the deck for potted plants and we’ll insulate the tub itself and make a cover for it, but fornow we are just going to enjoy it as is.

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