Monday, August 31, 2009

Giant Meal Worms

As everyone knows we love our chickens at Mainely Ewes Farm. They give us fresh eggs and hours of entertainment as they free range over the pasture. They are up early and spend the day looking for anything that moves. We have seen them scratch up worms near the water trough, jump at crickets in the tall grass and the violent massacre of a small frog who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They have a true "pecking" order. One hen will beat up another hen because she is in "her" nest box. They will peck at and chase a new addition to the hen house as Hawk found out this summer. However, she is now companionable with the other hens, but still can't seem to figure out how to get into the pasture through the door in the fence. We really love our chickens and want them to be comfortable and well cared for. They get cracked corn and laying pellets. In the winter we even pour hot water over the pellets and make a nice tasty mash for them. In Maine we have really cold winters and the hens have to keep up their weight. Last winter was really hard on the birds. We had bitter cold temps. The point of this ramble is that I was on reading Penny's information on raising meal worms for chickens and how easy it was. Don't get me wrong. I do not like worms. I just thought that if it was easy, and it would help the hens, then why not. Alex thought I had lost my mind. I believe her exact words were, "that's on you, don't even try to included me in this one". I guess Ethel has drawn the line and Lucy is on her own. I sat down and searched the Internet for meal worm information. We zoomed down the information highway at a snails pace (we have satellite Internet). I was able to locate not only meal worms, but Giant Meal Worms. Sounds scary doesn't it. I actually paid $36.75 for worms. Hey, that was including shipping and handling. What a deal. I purchased a tub from Home Depot for $16.00. Then I drilled several 1/2 inch holes in the lid so that the worms could breathe. Did you know worms breathe? I was following Penny's instructions exactly.

We bought a 50# bag of chicken feed at Blue Seal for $12.00 and filled the tub to 6 inches deep. Ted even measured to be sure. Evidently, the feed serves as bedding and food for the little beasties.

Then we waited and waited for our worms to arrive. Finally my order of 1,000 Giant Meal Worms arrived. Since they were giant I expected a much bigger box.

When we opened the box there was this bag. I think I can handle this. They don't look that giant to me.

I opened the white bag. Jasmine thought they were disgusting. Alex thought they stunk. I didn't think they looked giant. I guess it is just your perspective.

I quartered potatoes and placed them on top of the chicken feed. The potatoes provide moisture. Later I added a cabbage from the garden. I don't want them to get thirsty.

Then I dumped the worms on top of the potatoes, cabbage and chicken feed.

The were right at home squirming and crawling around. I know they were smiling.

As instructed I covered the worms with newspaper. I wasn't aware they needed reading material. I guess they get bored waiting to turn into pupa so they can then turn into beetles and lay eggs. One female beetle can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. I'm sure there is some formula that will tell me how many worms I should have in a year. However, math was not my favorite subject, lets just say a lot!
Next, I put the lid on and placed them in a warm dry place. We haven't started the upstairs bathroom and that sounded like a great space for them to mature. We have to check the potatoes and cabbage every week to make sure they don't dry out. I checked on them today and they still look like worms. I am interested in seeing them change. I did notice a pupa or two when they arrived. Wow, the kids grow up so fast.We will keep you updated on meal worm progress as we can. I can't wait till the girls get their first taste of home grown meal worms. They will appreciate their Aunt Penny and all her learnin. Oh, don't tell Alex, but the upstairs bathroom is hers.
Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wild Turkey Love Come to the Farm

Yesterday Alex had gone to Home Depot, duh, to pick up some lumber to finish building the kitchen bookcase and spice rack. She pulled into the yard and I heard her yell, "Kelly, one of the turkeys is out". I put on my boots and headed outside. This lady was out in the pasture walking toward our toms.

She went all the way up to the fence to chat with the boys. They were in their best form. Turkeys can engorge their necks and face with blood turning themselves bright red. I guess this is an impressive act if you are a hen.

The were all handsome, preening, and puffing up for the lady.

When we got close to her she took flight across the field into the back pasture. My first thought was darn, I have to go catch her and trim the flight feathers on one side again. My next thought was, wait a minute, we only have 8 turkeys and all 8 are in the pen. The visiting lady was a wild turkey. She thought our boys were handsome. I agree with her. They are handsome. I never thought I would like turkeys so much. They are so sweet. Great birds to have.

Edward has finally finished his last tablet for coccidosis. I am still giving him his pro-bios. He loves it and attacks me for it. At least he doesn't gag and sling his head from side to side. Maybe we should start mixing meds at the hospital with pro-bios. At least it would taste better. I ordered giant meal worms to keep and feed to the chickens over the winter. I will post pictures tomorrow and tell the tale. Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fall is in the Air

We awoke to temps in the low 50's this morning. I got up and ran around closing windows and turning fans off. Brrrr..... We didn't have summer until 3 weeks ago, then we hit the high 80's to 90's and thought we were going to die. Friday's lows in the 30's-40's. Who forcasted this weather? I want my money back. I feel like we were ripped off. Okay, so it's not so bad. Actually it made me want a cup of hot tea. Now that I think about it, I love fall weather. It was kind of nice being in the 70's today. I could wear jeans without feeling like I would melt. The cooler temps made us think about the things we needed to do to get ready for winter. Our chicken coop is in the barn. We had the door opening on the side last winter. We really realized what an error that was with the 3-4th snowfall. When the snow sheds off the barn it piles up in front of the door preventing us from being able to open it. This year we wanted to move the door to the end of the barn. Now we can use the snow blower so the girls can come out and get
some sunshine on warmer days.

Ted worked all morning opening up a door on the end and closing the existing door. It ain't pretty but you just wait till spring. The barn is on our to do list. Ted had plenty of company from the girls. They gathered around checking out his work.

The goats, sheep and llama are really coming together as a flock. They enjoy the pasture and all the new weeds that are available for grazing.

We are still giving Edward his meds. He hates the pill. I fight with him each morning to get that big honking tablet down his throat. He hates his Bio-Sponge paste, gags, slings his head from side to side and then runs to the water trough to drink. He loves the Pro-Bios. He will attack you for a taste of that. He is still having some diarrhea. We are waiting for goatie pellets any time now.

We have started giving the guineas a small amount of white millet seed. Hopefully, if all goes well, when they are adults they will be enticed to roost in the barn at night. That is the theory anyway. We will keep you posted. Evidently, guineas can't turn down the seed. So far they act like we will chop off their heads each time we walk by the brooder or speak to them. They are eating well and growing so fast. Just skittish.

The turkeys are growing and acting like turkeys. They are friendly and come whenever we go near the garden. I know they are destined for Thanksgiving dinner but I really like the turkeys. I have to keep telling myself they have a destiny. But we will keep 2 hens and 1 tom. Does anyone know if it is ok to keep split the chicken coop between the hens and turkeys. They will be kept separated by chicken wire. I don't want the turkeys to get black head disease from the chickens.

We tried to get a video of them fluffing up and gobbling. Whenever the camera was on they were quiet. Go figure. People say turkeys are "stupid" but I don't think so. They are cute. Awww.....

With the cool weather and work going on it just seemed like a good time to bake. The bananas were starting to go past and into getting brown. I hate to see them go to waste. This is my favorite recipe for Banana Carob muffins with pecans and flax meal. They taste so yummy. We even brought in several for our nursing unit. Tonight is our first night back from vacation. If you hear a thump tonight around 3am it is the sound of my head smacking the desk. Oh, I miss sleeping at night.

I guess since we can't halt the onslaught of fall we should just enjoy the cool days. At least it is good sleeping weather. Take care, much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nearing Vacation's End

We are nearing the end of our vacation and we will miss being home and working on the farm full time. We have been working hard and getting so much accomplished. It has been great going to bed around 9pm and getting up at 6:30am. What a big change from night shift. Coworkers can't understand "where we get our energy from". Being home and cleaning stalls out, chicken coop maintenance, putting fences up, all of these things bring joy and a sense of accomplishment and boosting our internal batteries. Nursing has always been a profession that is rewarding both emotionally and monetarily. It has allowed us to move and still be able to find employment even in economically trying times. We are thankful for that. When we started nursing it was exciting. We were learning new skills, felt like we were helping people, easing pain. It just felt good. However, it is emotionally draining to say the least. Both of us have been nurses for more than 25 years now. We are looking toward a more peaceful time. Less buzzers, alarms, and stress. We are getting a taste of the good life while on vacation. Like looking out of the barn door and seeing Edward in the mineral feeder taking a nap.

He is so cute. Just not in the mineral feeder.

We were able to finish fencing another pasture. We are very interested in pasture rotation. It is healthier for the animals, keeps parasites down, allows for less feed in the summer months and they just enjoy grazing on the fields. It is difficult to really see the fence here. The grass and weeds are tall and ready to munch. Every goat and icelandic sheeps' dream. If time permits this year we will start to fence an area in the woods. This will give the animals another browse source.

The new gate is in. The goats have already tried it out. No, they cannot push through. They have tried.
Ted is putting the green machine to work spreading rock and dirt into this corner. It gets standing water. An issue on our farm that we have been working on.
While he was backfilling the holes, Alex and I worked on putting up and repairing the electric fence. Still a work in progress.
After we finished for the day we let the goats try out the new pasture. They made a beeline for this poor shrub. I don't see a long life in it's future. The sheep could have cared less.
Edward has been dealing with a bout of Coccidosis. He developed diarrhea last week. I began giving him Pro-Bios and thought it was getting better. The sheep and goats have been getting some of the new hay. We attributed his gastric distress to this hay. None of the other animals were having any diarrhea. Monday, Edwards' diarrhea was worse. We took him to our vet, Foxcroft Vererinary Services in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. Edward was very prompt with giving them a stool sample, all on the floor. They found high amounts of coccidia present. Evidently, he could have had it since birth. Edward is getting Albon daily with Pro-Bios 10gm and something called Bio-Sponge. We are treating all of the animals in the pasture with Corid, a coccidiostat in their water. Hopefully we will resolve this problem soon. I understand that diarrhea is deadly in goats due to dehydration. We are keeping a close eye on Edward. He is still giving goatie kisses and keeping up with his girls.
After a long hot day, the sun starts to disappear and we get the welcome cooling breezes. Just a touch of pink reaches the horizon. The chickens settle down, the guineas stretch out and snooze in the quiet barn. Then you hear a very soft maaaa from the goaties stall. I guess that is their way of saying good night. Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Guinea Video

This is my first foray into using video on our blog. I tried using the link on the posting page and it took forever to download and then did not work. Thanks to Pam at and my 19 year old son Teddy this may work out. So this is a test, only a test, from Mainely Ewes Farm. Do not be alarmed if it doesn't work. Be very, very surprised if it does. The video is from the arrival of our beloved Guineas. Hope it works, hope you enjoy.

Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Summer Work and Fun

With the summer sun and no rain we had a chance to cut, bale and bring in the rest of the hay. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. I kept praying for a break in the rain so we could hay and I got my prayer answered with a resounding YES. Kevin our neighbor taught Alex how to bale using his big CASE tractor. She was grins from ear to ear. Not bad for a newbie.

Chetah taught me how to rake the hay into rows. My rows were not straight by any account but they were baleable. (is that a word?) I love my big green tractor. I sigh and have a silly grin on my face when I look at it.

Kevin has several fields that he hays. We all worked together to get the hay in. All total we put up just over 1,000 bales of hay. It took Kevin, Chetah, Ted, Teddy, Alex, Me, K, and C to bring in all that hay. The barn is full and so beautiful. It smells so good.

Ted and I were able to get the big double doors on the back of our barn open. From what we were told, it has been over 50 years since they were open. Now we can get a breeze through the barn. The hinges are forged iron and still work. The barn is our next summer project. It will look very pretty with new shingles and barn red.

Our big Jumbo Cornish X Rocks were large enough to go to the butcher. We choose not to butcher on our homestead as we know the smell of blood attracts predators. So far we have been very fortunate in that sense. We packed the boys up in their plastic transportation coop. They were left behind by the last owner of the farm and really come in handy. We took in 23 total.
We took the trip to West Gardiner Beef. They do an excellent job and the chickens are clean and put immediately on ice for the trip home. Jasmine went with us for the first time. She now understands how the meat gets on the table. I feel that it is an important lesson and they are less inclined to waste.

It has been so hot and muggy that we needed a trip to the lake. We went to Peaks-Kenny State Park for a nice dip in Lake Sebec. The water was cool and felt so refreshing. First things first. Sun screen must be applied.

It is always good to have help.

Funny face contestant #1....
contestant #2....

It was so hazy that you can barely see Mt. Katahdin in the distance. On a clear day it is so beautiful. It makes you appreciate the beauty of Maine.
Keep cool and take time out from your busy summer to enjoy the good life and make memories for little ones. Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Vacation but still working hard

Finally our summer vacation arrived and so did summer. Nice coincidence. On our way home we got a call that the guineas were at the post office in Bangor. We made a quick u-turn and headed back to town to pick up our babies. They would have delivered them to Bradford Post Office the next day but we like to pick them up as early as possible. They have already been without feed and water for the 2-3 day delivery. The guineas are so small that 30 of them will fit comfortably and with room to spare in this box.

The day before I had washed the water containers so they would be ready and placed small rocks in the trench to prevent the guineas from drowning. Ted put shavings in the brooder and hung the heat lamp over the corner so they would be nice and toasty. One by one they get lifted out of the box and had their beaks dipped into water.

We always order Gro-gel when we get chicks. It has electrolytes and minerals to give the chicks a good start. The Gro-gel turns from powder to a jello like substance and is placed on top of their feed. All chicks, turkeys and now guineas seem to love it.

They have such sweet faces. We ordered the Assorted Guinea Package from Murray McMurray Hatchery. It is a mix of at least three different kinds of guineas.

Update on our little garden. With the sun and warm temps it has started growing actual vegetables. I'm so proud! The peas are getting big.

Onions are beautiful

We have summer squash. The ground was so poor last year even the squash wouldn't grow. We tilled, added compost, tilled a couple of more times to really break up the clay and it made wonderful changes.

We have tomatoes before the first frost. What a treat. They taste so good right off the vine.

The corn has tasseled and the ears are growing. Each year we learn something that helps us the next year. We will plant corn in shorter rows and about four rows wide. It seems they like having a tight grouping. This makes sense if you look at huge corn fields. Tight rows.

Cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables. We have been using diatomaceous earth for pest control. We still have a few bugs but this method seems to work well. No pesticides in the garden so far.

Coming from the South I never saw Brussels Sprouts growing. They are so cute.

I know that next year we want to add fennel to our garden. It is so tasty braised with onions. I think I have been watching Ina Garten from the Barefoot Contessa a bit too much.
We are having a great time this week. Alex's six year old granddaughter Mia is up from New Hampshire for the week visiting. She is learning about the garden and enjoying picking the vegetables.

It's not all work and no play. She and Jasmine are close friends and girly girls. Time out for nail painting under the Maple tree.

Mia toes.....

Jasmine toes....
A warm summer day under a huge shade tree. Summer at it's finest.
We tried to explain to the girls that the apples weren't ready to eat yet. Some things you just have to figure out for yourself. Ewwwww.......
Best wishes from everyone here on the farm. We hope that all is well and everyone is happy and healthy. Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.