Our farm is growing and slowly etching out a purpose in this world. This passed May (2010) we bought 60 chickens (unsexed) and were given three baby ducks. We raised the baby chicks in our 100 square foot shed with heat lamps for about eight weeks. Eric built two “pasture pens” that we used for our laying hens once they were old enough to be put outside at around eight weeks. Once the chicks were around 13 weeks we butchered all the roosters. At 13 weeks the roosters started practicing their calls early and we didn’t want to cause a Rooster Ruckus in the neighborhood.
Our baby ducks were raised in a utility sink indoors until they became too big to fit. Aidan and Reece had a great time feeding them, changing their water, and cleaning out the sink everyday. I would fill the sink once a day to give them their duckling bath. Right around the time our chicks were put in their “pasture pens” we were able to transfer the ducks to the chicken shed for the summer. The ducks were trained to walk a few yards to the Buffalo Creek, where they’d spend the day. At dinnertime, they walked back to the shed with a little help using a long 2x4 to guide them. I was able to find a permanent home for the ducks in the fall of 2010, because we weren’t able to keep them over the winter due to space constraints.
The summer of 2010 became hectic quick. Eric barely had finished teaching at the end of June (2010) when 1.5 acres of permanent fencing was installed to allow our goats to graze rotationally. Eric then built and installed a solar powered, water system to pump creek water to all of our pastures using a gravity fed cistern. We also dug up our backyard to lay piping and installed two frost-free hydrants to address winter water concerns in our barn and shed. All of this work was completed by September of 2010, right on time for everyone to go back to school except Mom. I stayed home to milk the goats and practice making cheese and yogurt. I kept myself very busy selling eggs, doing chores, and working part time at a local horse farm in the fall of 2010.
Soon winter was upon us, and we had to buy and store our winter hay, move animals around, and prepare for my bi-lateral foot surgery that I was scheduled for two days after Christmas of 2010. The surgery went very well, I recovered sooner than I believed possible. During my six-week recovery, I was able to hunker down and fill out a 26-page application to have our farm “certified organic.” Believe me, I had my doubts whether foot surgery was possible while transitioning our farm to a “certified organic” operation in 2011. But in hindsight, I’m glad I did it now, rather than later. Our future will soon bring much excitement and haste that I couldn’t dream of scheduling elective surgery a year from now or even five years into the future.