Nebraska Chicken

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We have 72 hectares on the farm that turns grass into protein for families.  We named each paddock after a state in America … with the occasional city judging by circumstantial foliage ( see also Detroit, the shittiest paddock that is now the best paddock thanks to mob grazing ).

Nebraska is a north facing paddock that was once a corn field.  When we bought the farm, corn was grown and dried ready for harvest just before Zelie was born.  Funny side note, that big, beast harvester had a flat on the early morn of harvest so we watched as they called the tire changers in.  The harvest wasn’t ours.  It went the way of the renting farmer.

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After the harvest was done, we worked the field with cattle to create better pasture for cattle.

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The herd did a great job.  Also, Brent seeded alfalfa.  Great for drought.  Great for flavor.

As the field transitioned, we caught some random weeds that the kids collected.  That was a fun year for sunflowers.

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Then the pasture started getting serious.  New grasses volunteering amongst the alfalfa.

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Then we decided to run chickens.  Not many feed fresh alfalfa to their chickens.  Too expensive.  … but we have cows, so it worked out.

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And chickens LOVE alfalfa leaves.  When they are first introduced, they go right for the leaves above everything they have available on the buffet.

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Our Nebraska started with a cornfield in France.  Now, it feeds both cows and chickens.  The pasture is so much more resilient because of the work the animals have done.

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F-ing Calves

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Calving season is never dull.  There is stuff to do when they are born.  There is the making sure mom and calf have bonded … usually good.  Then, there are nutty calves a week old that like to run around and chase each other.  Age appropriate behavior, but GEEZ ….

Today’s move was a bit animated.  The running calves set the herd off a bit.  They settled soon enough.  Though, two silly buggers got stuck in an empty riverbed covered in blackberries.  Brent hopped in and with HIS BARE HANDS started ripping the brush away to get to the calves.  He called for back up.  I showed up with a ski pole and Cindy ( our garden lopper ), he requested a tough, yellow fence post.  He managed to chop his way through, lift the calves to high ground and get them back with the herd.

 

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No photos.  Just didn’t think of it as I was worried about the calves … ah!  and my husband!  But I do have a photo of one of our rump steaks.  I ate it with veg and it was tender and delicious.

 

 

Hot Day, Water M.I.A.

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Nice, hot August day yesterday.  It was all going fine.  Then, the water shut off.  This happens occasionally, usually with warning.  But not yesterday.  5:ish on a Friday, no water.  I waited for it to return.  One hour.  Another hour.  Worried about the weekend,  I went into town to see if I could see anything.  There was a digger and a very long pipe being carried by a local water peep.  They were working on it. Whew!

We have a well for backup and someday for year-round service, but the pump is busted.  Worried about the animals, we called our fix-it guy and he came around to get the pump going again.  Unfortunately he needed pieces to fix it and the shops were closed. Here in country France, the shops close.  No 24 hour business.  A bit more worry.

I contacted my friend and she told me a little diddy I did not know.  When the water is out and you are a farmer with animals, the fire department will bring water to your animals.  How fucking cool is that!?   We could fill a couple of water dishes ( I say dishes, but my kids swim in them ) for the cattle.  Turns out, the water was fixed just as our fix-it man was fixing the well.  We all good.  Then I flushed the toilet, washed my hands and made some espresso.  No need to call the fire department.

In other water news, we have new waterers for the chickens which are okay.  Definitely better than their plastic predecessors.  Otto and Brent below constructing them.  … as well as new feeders to save on food spillage costs.

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Here’s the big bad boy sitting off in the distance as we chill into dusk.  Jiggy, the fuzzle butt, sits close.  Lumi sits away, guarding us from those aggressive owls.

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A Lawn Mowed by Cattle

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This is what they did to that mowed paddock.  They mowed it a bit more.  Uniformly cut to perfection.

Tonight, the herd is back to work cleaning up paddocks.  This paddock isn’t stockpile, but as you can see, it’s not perfect.  They aren’t picky.

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Here’s the photo from yesterday for comparison.  Both taken within five minutes after the move.
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In other news, this bad boy can climb hay bales.  Lucy took this photo while out on a walk.  He’s very pleased with himself.

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Oh Baby

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Minus 7 C this morning, it’s cold outside.  That’s 19.4 to the F crowd out there.  We went from laughing at this “winter” in our shirts and single layers to … where are my thermals? !  I need gloves!

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Thankfully the sun was strong minutes after it rose.  I could feel the heat.  Sometimes it can be sunny and cold and cold.  Where the sun acts more like a garnish than a valuable member of warmth.  So, needless to say, after a few hours the hoses were clear and full of fluidy water.  We have a winter protocol for cold like this, but the weather reports were off.
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The cows moved over happily.  They have no worries about this weather … they don’t worry about the water bowl, clearly.  They find great stuff to munch and enjoy a scratch on the trees.

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With all this cold, why not try out my latest Big Salad.  I grabbed our latest mince patty and paired it with some farm eggs, guacamole, cream, cheese and crispy iceberg lettuce.  I wasn’t cold, I was determined.  Determination warms you up.  I ate that whole salad and it was delicious.

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When there is a frost, there is an abundance of spiderweb photos.  These webs were clearly hacked by the Russians.  But their imperfections are beautiful.
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Morning Breaky 2017

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A bit foggy this morning ( or we like to say .. okay …*I* like to say “froggy” ).  The herd was excited to get their new strip of pasture.  The first this year.

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They know the routine.  Waiting patiently while Brent walks over to the reel to unwind the fence, look how giddy they are.

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This fog is in for the day I think.  Which is good because temperatures are dropping.  It’s been nice having all this December growth.

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Merry Happy HolidaChristmas

or whatever we need to say now.  Doesn’t matter.  Things are slowing down for the holidays.  Days are short.  We are finishing our sales for the year.  SOLD OUT!  go us! People are thinking of visiting their families and loved ones.  Two of our kids are off for a week doing school things.  Like out of our house off doing things.  We’re down to two little ones.  It’s like a new family.  For a week, we get to live the life of parents with two kids.  We’ll see if that is easier or harder.  But for now, here they are.  We brought in make-up and stylists to get the “straight off the farm” look.  We also sprung for the clown team to get them to show their true happiness.  Looks like the cats made the most of that investment.  I also popped in previous years to see how our antics progressed.  I’ll post our year in photos next time.  It’s been a great year.  For me, a great year for growing and learning.

2016
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2015

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2014

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Baby Head

First, check out that herd!  Glorious.  Normally we are on fire warming the house because winter is coming.  … but not this year.  Too warm.  Though, I have maintained the “warm room” in case we suddenly drop below double digits.

Baby Head

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A mother friend of mine ( three kids, nobel gal ) and I had an exchange.  I forgot something or stumbled and told her, “baby head”  because sometimes with so many lives to raise, you forget things.  Simple things, like the price per kilo of the beef you are selling.  And she told me this, which I hold dear to my heart, ” don’t worry, when the youngest turns six … you get your head back.” … or something like that.  WHAT?!  I get my head back?  For some reason, I thought I was supposed to get my head back when they turn three or four.  SIX?  Are you serious?

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Now, I’ve had my head on pretty well, but I must admit, as my youngest turns six in a week, I’m firing on all cylinders.  WAIT!  We can do this!  and then this!  Why haven’t we done that?!  Clear as day. Only partially the way through raising people, lots of experience with the bubbles.  Now trending the tweens and teens.  … Baby Head is a thing of the past.  Now, we need to get these kiddies to be good people.

And We’re Back

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I won’t lie, I got caught up in the election.  But politics aside, we keep on keeping on. Cows need new grass, water bowl needs to be moved, chickens need to be fed.  No change there.

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We are working through stock pile grass.  Brown on top … green underneath.  This is the season when the grass gets greener as the herd munches on.

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Ms. Mouse is a household celebrity.  She has persuaded us that this soft pile of warm is what you want.  “Oh … and I kill vermin.” Ms Mouse cracked and ate a mouse in two minutes, tail and all.  Perhaps you’ve seen her Twitter account.  Alt-Cat.

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The dogs keep it real.  They want so much to be in the field, but really not a good idea … says the farmer’s wife.  So they keep the angry birds off the chickens.  They do a good job.

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We are shifting a lot of chickens at the moment.  Tasty, juicy birds.  You can feed your family with one of our birds.  Even better, our kids help out.  They help out with the cows as well, but to their chagrin, most cow work happens during school hours.

Our Birds

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Our birds live life with the sun, the rain, the cold and the “what’s the weather like today?”  They eat bugs, worms, alfalfa leaves and grass.

Today, we moved some birds to the pasture.  Our thespian children helped.  After taking a photo or two, I felt confident that Brent and I could make this whole operation go quicker without them … but not as many laughs.  So, I went back to my tasks and left Brent and the kiddies to it.

 

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The pups want so much to be a part, but they waited patiently for us to return.

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Lucy, who is not short … no really … okay, I think she is short, but not by French standards … shows us our chook tower.

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Otto and Lucy pop the chicks in their new home.  One lot at a time.  Brent moved two to their one.  You see, the taunting and trash talking between these two slows down the operation.

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… leading artwork by Otto Curtis, age five ( at the time ).  We both said it was a duck, but now think he painted a chick.