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Brooder Prep

Colonel's Blog, Earthdate 4 March 2023...

Hey Y'all!

Good morning and happy Saturday! I hope your day is filled with friends, family, and fun! We awoke to a frosty layer on everything and the fog quickly set in. The top pic is from the house looking towards the forest with the hogs. The middle pic is the sheep flocking around fresh hay on Thursday. There are about 20 sheep in that tight group! The last sheep that we should have culled when I talked about it days ago died last night. It proves to me that we understand what to look for and should have confidence in our culling decision. The hogs were dry and dusty this morning. It is quite amazing that their paddock is still wet and muddy and they are already dry and dusty. All of the other animals are doing well. Yesterday we spent some time answering questions for our accountant, which included a trip to town to pick up bank statements. Our local bank gives the option of paper or online statements, but not both and our paper statements are with the accountant. It's great to have local service, but the big banks have much better online offerings. We are getting the hang of the business aspect of the farm business and future years shouldn't be such a hassle. I also worked on the website a bit. I tried to put lamb in the store for sale by weight and thought I had worked it out in spite of the system that doesn't like doing that. Thanks to Rick for pointing out that it wasn't quite right. We just decided to remove the lamb from the online store. If you would like lamb, just send us a message and ask about it. Otherwise, we are going to offer it for sale at the Farmers Market. There are a lot of folks in this part of Missouri that do not eat pork and at the market last year we were often asked if we had lamb. We also worked on house projects. Today we are going to do more things with milk. The big farm project is to get the brooders ready for the meat chickens that show up Wednesday or Thursday and the eggs we are incubating which should hatch next Saturday. We candled the incubating eggs this morning and they are progressing well--bottom pic! You can see the air pocket that forms on the end of the egg, veins running through the yolk, and the dark spot at the bottom is the forming chick. We are going to put them inside the garage which means we have to move our shipping station and feed fermentation station.

We have quite a bit of experience now with brooding poultry. One of the key aspects is they must be warm. The brooder needs to be 95 degrees for the first week or so. We transitioned to brooder plates last year, which are about 18" squares. The plate is plastic and sits on adjustable legs so that as the chicks grow, we can adjust the height such that they can push their bodies up against the plate to get warm. It is more like a broody hen than the heat lamps, although we will probably add a heat lamp also. The chicks need to be able to get in and out of the heat, allowing them to control their own temperature. If they get too cold, they bunch up and will get so tightly bunched that they suffocate each other. Last year, we lost a dozen or so this way when the temps dropped lower than forecast and they huddled together under the brooder plate. It's always exciting to get the phone call from the post office, chirping chicks in the background, saying your birds are here and ready to be picked up. This is the first time we will hatch our own chicks so I'm sure it will be even more exciting to watch them hatch!

Shelley's YouTube Short today is: Farm Sounds--Jersey Cows Stuffing their Breakfast

Local Farm Report for 3 March 2023:


31 Chicken eggs

12 Duck eggs

2 Goose eggs

5 3/4 Gallons of milk



Farm loss:

1 old sick ewe that should have been culled

Cheers! Rich & Shelley

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