Monthly Archives: January 2010

Chick Pics and Setting More

The chicks are doing great.  I moved them to the brooder after about 38 hours in the bator (for the oldest ones).  They are super vigorous and healthy, I am thrilled!

I don’t know if you can see it in the pics at all but they are already getting some little feather on the tips of their wings.  One had a little poop stuck to it’s butt so I soaked it with a warm, wet wash cloth and pulled most of that off.  All six are healthy, eating and drinking, and sleeping a lot.  I raised their heat lamp a little bit because they were crowded at the far end and obviously too hot.  Now they are moving around comfortably although a thermometer right under the lamp is only reading just over 90 degrees F.  I usually start them at 99 and go down gradually but if they’re happy, I’m happy.

I set 24 more eggs in the bator tonight!  This could definitely be addicting.  I’m hoping for a better hatch rate this time since I stored all the eggs at room temperature, in egg cartons, and tipped them a couple times each day by putting a canning jar ring under one side of the cartons.

Oh, I almost forgot… I let the bator run with the last 4 eggs in it until late last night.  When I took the chicks out I let the eggs go for another 8 hours or so then I figured they were duds so I candled them.  One of the eggs peeped at me.  I put them all back in the bator right away and hoped he would hatch.  He never even pipped the shell so I finally opened up all 4 eggs last night.  2 eggs just had yolks and maybe some very early development.  The other 2 had fully developed chicks inside but they were both dead.  I think they must have gotten stuck from the loss of humidity when I opened the bator and took the chicks out and then opened it and candled them.  I guess next time I’ll wait longer if the chicks are doing okay in there, and I’ll grab them out quick and then not open the bator again for a few days.  I really thought the eggs all had plenty of time to hatch but I guess not.  It was so sad to see those two chicks that never got to come out but I’m glad to have the 6 that did.  I guess incubating is a learning experience just like anything else! 🙂

We’ve Got Chicks!

I’m sorry the picture quality is so poor – it’s hard to get good pictures inside the incubator.  Yesterday 4 eggs had pipped before I went to bed.  Pipping is when they peck at the inside of the shell a bit and you can see a crack in that spot.  Brian got called in to work at 4:30 this morning and woke me up to tell me that we had 2 chicks!  When I got up again at 7 there were 3!  Then, when I came home from work tonight we had a total of 5.  Now I’m sitting next to the incubator typing this and watching #6 hatch.  So far I don’t see any pips from the remaining 4 eggs so this might be it.

If you’re serious about wanting to hatch chicks I suggest you check out the BYC forum (it’s on my sidebar).  That’s were I learned everything I know about the topic, and only in the last month or so.  Right now I can see a logistics problem.  This time I didn’t have many hatch out of the original 24.  I’m hoping that’s because so many of the eggs came out of the refrigerator.  However, if I had even 15 or 20 eggs hatch I think they would be pretty crowded in the Brinsea incubator.  It holds 24 eggs fine but when they start hatching they would be all over each other.  You aren’t supposed to open the bator until all the chicks are hatched so I couldn’t remove them as they hatched.

I am very happy with the incubator and still think it was the best choice for me.  I’m thinking if this works out and I start hatching a lot that maybe another bator would be good to use for hatching.  That way I could put in new eggs every 3 days if I wanted, in the Brinsea, and then just pull out the ones ready for hatching and move them to the other one.  I’ll have to see what I can find.

#6 is almost out now!  It is pretty amazing – oh now he’s out!  What a cute little bugger.  He’s peep-peep-peeping.  His butt is stuck in his egg.  Picture someone falling in a toilet, for lack of a better description.  Aww, I think I’m in love. ❤

We’ll wait and see if anymore show signs of hatching.  If not I’ll take the chicks out tomorrow after work and move them to the brooder.  More (and better) pics coming soon! 🙂

I’m still here, and a list of excuses

They’re not really excuses I guess,  just the truth about what’s been taking up all my time lately! 🙂

My routine is all messed up. I usually get up a little before 7, clean the house  and do my general housework until about 8:30 or so, eat breakfast while blogging, then do chores and go to work.  This is the second week now that the builder and the electrician have both been here.  The builder shows up about 8 so I’ve been trying to do chores early – I don’t mind the builder but I miss my alone time in the barn.  It is a nice way to start the day.  Then the electrician shows up at 8:30 ish so I lose my privacy in the house and usually my power too, i.e. my ability to make breakfast and blog.  Plus, I’ve spent a good chunk of each morning rearranging whatever room they are going to wire next so they can get to the walls.  That leads me too…

I decided to paint. Our office is the only room downstairs that I haven’t painted and it was pretty drab.  Since I had all the furniture pulled to the middle of the room already I bought paint.  I did the ceiling last night and am going to start the walls this morning.  More about this in a seperate post.

The chicks are due to hatch. Does anyone remember me writing about sitting in my closet watching my seedlings grow, and Brian making fun of me?  Yeah, an incubator in your basement is sort of like that.  Since my incubator comes back up to temperature super quick I have let myself candle the eggs a few times.  Candling is where you shine a flashlight through them to see how they look inside.  This last weekend I broke open 14 eggs that looked empty – and they were.  I’m not surprised considering I pulled about 2/3 of the eggs for this hatch out of the fridge, not the ideal storage environment.  The good news is that 10 eggs are still cooking and all have some sort of dark mass in them.  I even saw movement in a few of them which thrilled me.  They’re due to hatch tomorrow so we’ll see if any do!

I filed the madness. Remember my great basket system for dealing with paperwork?  It does work great except once in awhile I should actually file the “to be filed” basket.  I haven’t done it in so long that we had 2 paper grocery bags crammed in the office with papers to be filed plus another basket full.  It took me all day on Saturday to get that organized.  Everything from previous years is put away and the file cabinet is all ready for 2010 papers.  Plus I balanced the checkbook again and moved some things around.  I found our “doing business as” (dba) paperwork so I’m going to take that to the bank and open a business checking account.  It will cost us about $6 a month which doesn’t thrill me but it will help us seperate business and personal stuff a little bit.  Plus, when we starting selling chickens and hay this summer we can finally accept checks written to “Becker Farms”.

I guess that’s enough to let me off the hook, eh?  I’ve still been sneaking around reading most of your blogs so I can stay in the loop.  I’ll be around a little more once this crazy week is over! 🙂

2010 Seed Order

  • Old Homestead Bean (Kentucky Wonder Pole)
  • Tendercrisp Celery
  • Black Aztec Sweet Corn
  • True Gold Sweet Corn
  • Long Purple Eggplant
  • Yellow of Parma Onion
  • Tall Telephone Garden Pea (2)
  • Big Month Tomato
  • Amish Paste Tomato
  • Jersey Giant Tomato
  • Rutgers Tomato
  • Purple Podded Pole Bean
  • Arikara Sunflower

All ordered through Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at rareseeds.com.

We’re in the Foothills

That’s the best way I can describe our current financial situation.  A lot of people compare getting out of debt to climbing a mountain.  As of Tuesday’s paycheck we will only have one more thing to save up and pay for before we can tackle that mountain.  I am so excited to be at this place!

I tried to explain things in our money story.  We have two sources of income: regular income from our jobs, and irregular income from the farm.  When the farm gets random checks it is so tempting to throw them at our debt.  However, that would be a really bad idea.  When bills come in for seed, fertilizer, or land rent we need to have the cash to pay them so we don’t take on more debt.  So a lot of the farm income needs to be set aside for those things.

Besides predictable expenses we also needed to cash flow any improvements.  The electrician starts on our house rewire tomorrow morning (he had to reschedule last week due to an injury) and the builder plans to have our new barn finished this week or next.  We were very fortunate to have Brian’s Mom gift us some money to use on the rewiring project, we just have to cover the difference.  That’s what Tuesday’s paycheck will do: finish paying those guys.  It feels so good to pull in the driveway and see that new barn out there and know it’s completely paid for.

The next and final improvement we’re saving for is a semi trailer.  We got a once in a lifetime deal on the semi tractor and last year we were lucky enough to have a friend loan us trailers to pull behind it.  Having our own trailer(s) is very important because we need them in the fall when everyone else is using their own.  If we can’t find any to borrow we’ll be stuck relying on friends to haul our grain.  Starting this week any extra income will go straight in the bank for a trailer.  Our goal is to purchase one by early to midsummer for the wheat harvest, or by fall at the latest.

The sooner we knock out the trailer the sooner we start paying extra on our debt.  Depending on how the harvest goes we might, just MIGHT, be debt free before 2011.  I’m going to drift off and dream about being in that place…

How are things going in your financial life?  Do you feel like you’re in control and heading in a good direction?  Any encouraging words?  Any specific questions or information that would help you?

Sunday Stroll

I actually took these pics earlier in the week with the hope of posting a Sunday Stroll.  It has taken all day to get the pics loaded with my sporadic internet connection but here they are…

A steer playing peek-a-boo

Apparently the wild rabbits have been snacking on our hay

Gee Sam, you weren’t nosing around in the snow, were you?

Dark, Maci playing

I took this one to show the extent on the drifts all over our yard

The chickens are doing really well even in the eggmobile and the bad weather.  I’m very happy with the heritage breeds I picked.

And the sun goes down on another day…

I hope you had a great Sunday!  To see who else took a stroll head over to The Quiet Country House.

Deciding What to Grow

I’ll be expanding our garden again this year.  Even though we’ll have more space I want to cut back on the variety a bit and focus on the staples.  We’re slowly eating more and more food that we’ve grown ourselves.  Last year I put up a ton of food that I gleaned from friends and family.  I am very grateful to them but last year was a good year for a lot of plants and I don’t want to be so reliant on others when we have a bad growing season.

I started by poking around in our pantry.  BTW, I haven’t forgotten about the pantry update.  Right now we’re in desperate need of more shelving so I’m waiting until everything looks nice and pretty before I share pics.  Anyway, a major part of our pantry is made up of tomato products.  Last year I canned over 50 pints of tomato meat sauce – enough for the whole year.  I would estimate that 1/3 of the tomatoes came from our garden and the rest came from others.  Also in our pantry we have store bought tomato goods such as: ketchup, tomato paste, and crushed or stewed tomatoes that make baked rotini especially good.  All things I could make myself.

When I take the time to pack myself a good lunch I eat corn, peas, or green beans almost every day.  I canned some corn and beans last year and filled in when the local grocer had a sale.  Much of what’s left in the pantry is fruit: peaches, applesauce, pears, and berry jams.  I need to establish a good berry patch of our own, especially strawberries.  We also have 3 big baskets of potatoes and lots of garlic.  I didn’t plant garlic in the fall of 2009 so I definitely need to plan for it in the fall of 2010.

So, here’s my list of must haves in the garden for 2010:

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet corn
  • Green beans
  • Strawberries
  • Garlic

There are several other things that I would like to grow.  I could always purchase these at the farmer’s market if need be:

  • Carrots
  • Cukes
  • Pumpkins
  • Sunflowers (for the seeds)
  • Peas
  • Eggplant
  • Blueberries
  • Celery (for soups)(I couldn’t find this last year at the market, maybe it doesn’t even grow here?)

After going through my seeds I’m surprised that I used so many last year.  I don’t have much left.  Its looks like I’ll be making quite an order!  I’ll post the finished order when I get it ready.

What are you going to grow this year?  What are your favorites that you won’t be without?  If you could grow only 5 or 6 things what would they be?