This winter has been CRAZY and I think the weather has schizophrenic tendencies. I don't think I've ever had a winter this cold and rainy. For the most part, I look forward to winter. It's a time to recover from the blistering summer heat and to enjoy our time outside. This year, it's either hot/humid or frigid cold. Luckily, there's been some pretty great things going on this winter here on the farm.
New Baby Chicks
We received 513 new baby chicks in mid-November. These are our replacement layer chickens since the current hens will slow down their egg production at the end of this summer. It'll take 20-25 weeks for these to start laying, so we should start seeing little eggs in late April. We went with Black Sex Link chickens since they are known to be heat tolerant as well as good egg producers. That was the problem we had with our current hens - they stopped laying once it got too hot or too cold.
They've adjusted to eating grass and bugs out on pasture every day as well as becoming excellent escape artists. I'm learning that electric fence works better for larger chickens. Right now, they can squeeze right through!
New Baby Calves!
For some reason, mama cows decide to have their babies right during the coldest, wettest times and this fall/winter was no exception. We calf year-round, so we never know when a new calf will join us. Usually, the babies are fine and mama takes care of them. One day in November, I noticed a mama cow all by herself the entire day. When I went out to check on her, she had a tiny, tiny baby next to her. It couldn't have been more than 25lbs (they're normally 35-50lbs!). I also noticed that her bag was HUGE, so there was no way this baby would be able to attach and drink. I left them alone for a bit, but then mama started walking away and the baby calf was struggling to keep up. She was so tiny! I went out and brought her back to the house while also enticing mama into the yard. I was hoping she'd be able to feed her, but that just didn't work. We were able to use a lamb nipple and got a few bottles of colostrum down her that night. She was so tiny, and it was really cold, that I put her under a heat lamp with the baby chicks.
Tiny, aka Little Bit, aka Baby has had the run of the yard for the past few months. She made friends with the dogs and definitely liked her bottle. She graduated to the field this past week, as she was able to get some milk from mom and was eating hay. She's got lots of friends now to play with as they roam the pastures.
Other than our new babies, we survived the arctic blast of January, I went to a Pastured Poultry Producer's conference in January (more on that later!), and I learned I am really, really glad I don't live up north where you have to hack water troughs every day. I'll take the summer heat anytime!
Hope you're all recovering from winter and looking forward to spring! I know I am!! I'll leave you with a quick Instagram video I took on our 'Snow Day'. The chickens were NOT impressed!