End of April Update

Things sure got busy at Tikkun Homestead!  As April ended we had a new lamb from our smallest ewe, the biggest lamb of the year even, so we’re glad he was a single.  She is a first time mama and she’s doing great.  It was a difficult delivery for her due to his size and his elbows being tucked in, but with a little help everything went very well. This big guy brings us to 14 lambs with two more ewes to lamb soon.  The does should start kidding in about six weeks or so.

The cows have moved from their winter paddock and the spring pasture around them out to their favorite pasture for grazing.  We had intended to combine all of the ruminants together but after further consideration of our pastures and fencing arrangements, we decided that they should continue to graze the pastures they’ve been grazing for the past few years until we can upgrade these perimeter fences as well, and then combine the flock and the herd into one mob grazing group.  The pasture we hope to fully fence this season is a necessary expansion for the sheep and goats.  One thing at a time, maybe next year we’ll be able to fence the other side of the farm and run everyone together.  Nobody wants to round up escaped sheep and goats from a pasture with fences that can’t hold them.  Did you know that if you throw a bucket of water onto the fence, you’ll find that anywhere that the water went through the fence the goats can too!  Which reminds me, I’ve been freeing goats stuck in the existing (old field fence) fencing every day as well!  I’m looking forward to the new perimeter fence of 2″ X 4″ squares rather than the old graduated field fence they’re poking their head through this week.

We have been spending our Sundays fencing around the newly planted trees so the grazing animals don’t un-do all of our effort and investments.  The grass has been growing very fast lately too, a welcome change!  This means that we’ve been rotating our animals every day, sometimes every other day, depending on how quickly they’re grazing the areas they’re given.  It’s easy to forget over the winter how long it can take to take down, move, and set up electric netting.

The chickens are all enjoying the changing season – the older hens are (all but one) finally considering Tractor #1 as their preferred home as they day range all over the place and return at their leisure.  Their egg production has increased with the warmer days and their being settled in their new home.

The layer poults are 8 weeks old now and nearing the time when they’re ready to leave the chicken tractor and day range within a poultry net.  One hen discovered that dismounting from the perch can be difficult and strained her leg, but after a day or two of TLC she is back up and out with her sister-friends in the tractor.
And the broilers are 3 weeks old now and starting to get ready to move outside into a tractor on pasture.  We have yet to build or purchase Tractor #3 and because our time is running out we’ll most likely purchase another tractor from my pastured poultry mentor (he has several for sale).  It’s amazing how fast these Cornish Cross chicks grow!  We did lose one, bringing us to a total of 51, but everyone else seems to be healthy and strong so far.

And there’s the garden!

We have been weeding and planting early spring crops like peas and beets and onions.  Our goal is to grow enough onions, garlic, beets, etc to last us for a full year again.  It’s been a few years since we’ve have sufficient crops of these, there are always plenty of tomatoes and potatoes to last a year and have surplus to give away.  In recent days we’ve been preparing the location for our greenhouse’s final move.  Leveling the ground, building up a foundation, and getting everything just so has been on our “to do list” for a few months.  If only there were more hours in each day, right?  But it’s been exciting to see our first asparagus shoots coming up through the wood chips!  And the burst of strawberry foliage along with the emergence of some volunteer plants from previous years.

Spring time is a busy time!  But it’s a good time.  It’s always an extra special feeling of accomplishment when the weather is right and we have time to mow the yards too!

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