…Come Grow With Us!

Archive for the tag “animals”

The Birds Go out to Pasture 

chicken tractor 2013Our little birds are growing up so fast! We have moved our chirping friends to their tractor in the pasture. They seem to be appreciating their new home, having more space to roam and varied terrain. When we open the door, they prefer to stay inside, which we take as a sign that they are enjoying their life in the tractor. On a similar note, pigs Tammy and Roxanne got our of their pen last week! When we came across them in the neighbor’s yard, they ran to us and followed us back home. They must be happy living with us!
Now, back to the birds with a word on Cornish game hens. Our pastured birds are destined for the dinner table. Most of them are Cornish game hens, which are known for their fast growth, particularly in the breast area. Cornish game hens are neither game (being bred and raised by man) or hens (including both boy and girl chickens), but they are reputedly mighty tasty and packed with lean white meat. We can expect these fellows to be ready to eat in another three – five weeks, meaning they have nearly spent half of their lives with us! Time flies.DSC06611

The Perks of Being a Farmer

I’ve talked to many individuals over the years about the monotony of their professions.  The long hours they spend slaving over their work.  The repetition of trivial arguments between coworkers.  The lack of stimulation, excitement, or appreciation one receives in their daily dealings.  I suppose that these little things have steered me along my professional path through the years and brought me here to Bertrand Farm.

I wanted to become a chef until I worked 3 to 11 in a restaurant all summer long in high school.

I wanted to be a carpenter until my pleasure for building things slowly slip away at a construction job I worked all through college.

I wanted to teach students until my dissatisfaction for the educational system pushed me to come up with more creative ways for learning.

I wanted to become a farmer because I wanted to simplify my life and kept coming back to the premise that first and foremost I must have food to survive.

PLUS: I love being outside.  I love watching plants grow.  I love sharing delicious healthy produce with others.  I love having animals.  I love early sunrises and sunsets.  I love learning.  I love being challenged.  And I love that I can physically exhaust myself daily knowing that what I accomplished was meaningful to me.

We all have such motives for why we do what we do.  And there are pros and cons to every career.

I like to talk about this topic because many young adults struggle to find something they truly enjoy doing.  When I was a child all I knew was that my dad did this and my mom did that.  Not realizing, the journey one embarks upon in adulthood trying to find a career, can be tumultuous and uncertain.  My naive little brain  thought that acquiring a career was similar to a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, it just happened.  Or like when I played cops and robbers with my cousin, you assumed the role, simple as that.  Life experience has taught me that I need to have a passion for what I do because there are going to be times that I don’t like it and need to be able to persevere.

My role on the farm has become really enjoyable to me thus far because I get to watch Theri, a seasoned farmer, go about getting things done as she has done for years.  Observe the subtleties in her decisions and learn from her.  I also get to be around PJ, our HS intern from Clay.  He wants to go into sustainable agriculture, but is a freshman farmer in the fields.  Watching him learn each day, ask questions, and experience the farm is neat to be apart of.  Then I get to spend time with our CSA workers who have committed to growing their food for the season, getting a little dirty, and enjoying the community that being on the farm develops.  Life at Bertrand Farm for me is good!

I guess this all came to my mind today while strolling around the farm after working a few hours in the cold nasty weather, feeling a bit more worn down than usual.  My last stop before taking off was the pigs.  I visit them religiously every day.  They were SO EXCITED to see me that my mood lifted and I was reminded why I love this work so much.

They are awesome!

Farm Update

Every week bring changes at Bertrand Farm.  Thankfully the dueling ducks have made amends and are now buddies again.  After our Wednesday visit from our Montessori students, our mama barn cats decided to abandon their current nesting spots in the barn.  We had a mild panic for a day trying to locate where they moved to.  Theri was worried they had taken them up into the floor boards in the hayloft.  Luckily some of the mamas returned back to their original places the next day.  We found our oldest kittens in a bay in the barn across the driveway (looks like this kitten needs her eye medicine), but we still have two missing litters.  FYI for any youngsters who come out to the farm, we might enlist you as kittens detectives.

In other farm events, I began our chicken tractor experiment.  For the last two months, I noticed that our chickens are not producing nearly as many eggs as should be expected for the amount of hens in our flock.  Thus I have begun using process of elimination to find the hens that are not pulling their weight on the farm.  So I am capturing chickens, breed by breed, and keeping them in our chicken tractor for a few days to see if they are laying eggs regularly or not.  What happens to those not producing you might wonder?  Into the pot they go.

First up are the lovely black ones with the brownish tint, their true name I do not know.

Did you know that chickens are the closest living species to the T-Rex?  I think this picture is a perfect comparison!

Last, but not least.  Our potatoes have broken ground.  We’ve been wondering what they were doing for so long under there?  Now, with most rows all filled in, we have an excellent opportunity to start tilling the walk paths for weed control.  Several of our noble working CSA’ers will be arming themselves behind our beastly walk-behind tillers for the task tomorrow morning!

Damien’s Garden Wisdom for the week:  Did you know that potatoes and tomatoes are related?  They actually look very similar.  Some tomato varieties even have leaves that are identical to potatoes (we are growing some on the farm).  The major difference of course is potatoes grow in the ground and tomatoes above it.


Duck Dueling

Given our diversity of animals on the farm, there rarely is a dull moment.  Whether it’s one of our cats having kittens, the arrival of baby chicks, or the discovery of a family of bunnies in the field.   We all enjoy having animals around to make farm life more interesting.  This past week was no exception.  While I did notice the guinea hens on the move, in search of the perfect nesting spot, I was most taken by the daily duck dueling that was going on.  Our predicament is that we have 3 ducks (l to r): 1 male mallard, 1 imitation male mallard (he’s a little bigger), and 1 female mallard.  Thus, our numbers are unequal.  Ducks apparently, like chickens, do not draw distinctions between varieties when looking for mates.  The daily scene on the farm is that of the two men chasing each other around trying to out do the other and win the rights to the female mallard.  Unfortunately victory is short-lived and the dual starts again each day.   

      For today our champion is our imitation mallard.

He’s not shy about bragging.

One might assume that I spend a large part of my time watching the animals and taking pictures.  I guess I do take notice of their behavior most days, but not to worry, Theri keeps me on task enough to make sure that the fields are becoming filled with lots of scrumptious vegetables for our CSA.  Just planted 4 new rows of beans today with our high school intern PJ!

New Additions

This week has reminded us of what true spring weather feels like.  My cheeks are quite wind burned from the 30+ mph winds on the farm today.  Unfortunately, the weather has not been the greatest for some of our new arrivals.

Number 1: Turkeys!  I showed up Tuesday morning to find 6 new poults in a box brought back by Theri from the feed store.  They are currently sharing space with the baby chicks, who are not so BABY any more (look in background to see a passing chick on the top right).  Young turkeys are incredible sensitive during their first few weeks of life.  We lost one last  night, but are crossing our fingers from here on out.

Number 2: Pigs!  On Wednesday while our GS students were at the farm Brad Bradshaw brought our feeder pigs for the summer.  This year Bertrand Farm will be raising 4 Tamworth pigs, 2 boys and 2 girls.

His wife also sheered our lone sheep on the farm.  She’s feeling 20 lbs lighter!  Well, maybe not quite that much.  Wish I had a before photo.  

I’ve never been around pigs before and am eager to learn more so Theri gave me a book  to read.  It said the first thing to do was spend time with them and observe their behavior so I went back to their pasture at the end of the day to chat.  When I walked around the corner I caught them in this shot.

It’s going to be a summer full of photogenic moments with the pigs!!!

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