We are almost through week 3 of our new mini-farm life, and loving it more every day!  It has been a busy week, but I am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.  Sort of.  I guess it depends what tunnel you are talking about. 

I am basically done with unpacking.  There are still a few messes around the house that just haven’t found a permanent home yet, but I have developed mental plans for most of it.  It’s just a matter of putting those plans into action.  Most involve something I need S to build or hang or move for me, which is the factor that slows me down.  He sort of has a full-time job with his mistress, the U.S. Air Force.  I have to give him credit, though.  He has still managed to pull off a TON of work around here.  He did make the difficult decision, though, to cancel violin lessons for a while.  I think it was a wise choice.  There are only so many hours in a day, and his are totally used up already.  I am trying to squeeze in school, in addition to the setting up house, running a home with 5 kids, and caring for our new animals.  Trying to pressure either of us to keep with violin this month would have been insanity.  He and the kids will pick up their practicing again as soon as we are able to finish the inside-house projects (hopefully in the next week or so), and then decide later as to whether to continue with formal lessons, or go off on their own again. 

The outside is a whole ‘nother story!  Accomodations for our growing menagerie of critters is quickly gaining top place on the priority list.  Here is our current head count and the increasingly critical situation:

We have 9 meat rabbits.  Our doe, buck, and their rapidly growing litter.  We originally had 8 kits, but gave one to a friend to start their mini-farm journey.  I read all the books and websites.  I had it all planned beautifully….according to everything I researched, babies can easily be housed together in one standard sized cage until they are harvested–around 8-10 weeks.   Sounded great, no problem.  Except we had a bit of a rush vacation and then moved around the 6-8 week mark.  Then, S decided he didn’t like the effort that would be involved for just a few pounds of meat, so he decided he wanted to wait until they are somewhere between 12 to 16 weeks.  Do you have any idea how fast meat rabbits grow between 6 and 16 weeks?  Let’s just say they about double their body weight, in this case, around 4 pounds.  When you multiply that by 7 rabbits, we are talking 56 pounds of rabbit in one cage…..NOT GONNA HAPPEN!  They are already pretty cramped in their quarters, so we have begun designing our permanent, outdoor rabbit cages before they become wedged too tightly in that cage.

Don't worry, the cage is quite a bit larger than this pic. It just happened all the bunnies were cuddled into one corner that also has their cardboard box.

Then there is the matter of the King Kong turkeys.  Again, I read everything I could to make sure I had this figured out. Other then my time working in a farm store and being in charge of the newly-hatched turkeys for sale, I have no experience with turkeys. Everything I read said they could be reared in a chick brooder just fine, as long as there was enough floor space for them. Easy enough. We had just moved, cardboard boxes were something I had plenty of! So, I chose the largest wardrobe box we had, cut one side out to be my open top, and assembled my turkey brooder. WHO WROTE THAT BOOK?! and have they ever seen how fast these overly-hybridized, broad-breasted things grow?!! So now, I have 4 turkeys, all weighing about a pound at this point, and standing almost a foot tall! And they can flap those wings and jump out of their box without a second thought! 

Then came the the much-anticipated, long-awaited and dreamed of baby chicks.  26 baby chicks, cozy in their shipping box. We have only lost 2 little runty ones so far. 

26 baby chicks, cozy in their shipping box. We have only lost 2 little runty ones so far.

 The chicks arrived on Monday.  Most hatcheries seemed to be sold out of specific breeds this time of year, so I was left ordering the “Assorted Bargain.” That means I have no idea what I ordered, I just got the leftovers after other orders were filled.  I got a good price, though, and I think I got some pretty good breeds.  Considering we want meat and eggs, we are bound to get at least some of both.  For those who are interested, I THINK we got a few cochins, a few red leghorns, a golden polish, perhaps a barred plymouth rock, and a few I have yet to identify.  In fact, if you happen to have a clue what the majority in the photo above, of yellowish with black-speckled backs are, please let me know. 

Now I have raised chickens before.  No big deal.  What I didn’t think about was that I raised them in south Georgia, in an outdoor brooder, during the late spring and summer.  Now, I am in Colorado, in very early spring (is it spring yet?  I really don’t know), and we had 1/2 inch of snow last night.  What that essentially means is that my little chicks don’t leave the brooder to play outside this go around.  No sir, they stay in their box, right along side my mutant turkeys.  They also grow faster than I remembered.  After a few days in their nice, cozy, medium-sized box, I realized they needed a bit more space.  I had to cut the side out of their box and attach it to another box.  Space-wise, they are doing ok now.  The neighboring turkeys, however, caught wind of the addition, and decided to frequently fly the coop to perch on the edge of the chick box and watch the goings-on down below.  I had to do something, so, I brought out baby gates to make a lid.  The turkeys aren’t happy about it, but it works for now.  Aesthetically, however, my garage is starting to look like redneck-ville–a place I am VERY familiar with, bein’ from south Georgia, ya’ll! 

I am truly embarrassed to put this picture on here. But, I keep telling myself, a major purpose in all of this craziness is to learn, and, no doubt, I am learning tons! I just pray the poor critters survive this learning process!

Needless to say, a multi-use, portable, simply-constructed, outdoor, chicken/turkey “tractor” is on the list of priorities.  It should get us through a couple months until the turkeys are big enough to go in a seperate pen we have planned, and until we get the chicken coop built in the coming months.  Pretty good plan, huh?  We’ll see how that works out!

Then, of course, there is the goatie girls, with one hopefully due to pop in about 1 month.  Thankfully, there is no real critical issues with them, although, waaaaaaaay down on the priority list somewhere, we have plans to expand their little shed by adding a better, covered hay/feed storage room and key-hole feeder box on one side, and perhaps a summer/warm-weather milking area attached somehow.  It would be nice to not have to leash them up, one at a time, and walk across half the property to get to the garage to milk.  Twice a day.  And by the way, I have learned Lilac does not like to walk on leash if it is thundering outside, raining outside, if Will (the dog) is within 100 feet of her, or if she just decideds she doesn’t feel like it.  I’m not complaining though, and I’ll do what it takes.  Our current way may not be ideal, but it works for now, and I am loving this country life!