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Fall Scenes

Posted 11/3/2011 2:33pm by Renae Schlatter.

What an amazing fall we have had. From the colors of the leaves to the temperatures it has been on for the memory books. We have been blessed with nice rains this fall and the pastures have benefited greatly. Last year by the end of September we were feeding hay to the cattle already. This year we hope to make it into December before feeding hay in full force. The lush grass this fall has caused the milk to turn a nice golden color again and we have thankfully had a good amount of milk to make cheese with. Since we don't sell any of our cheeses before 60 days we have to have a good inventory to keep things in circulation.

One afternoon this week I was put on chore duty as our part time employee couldn't come. It takes me about twice as long to do chores because I like to take my camera with me and document as I go. I feel like I can do two jobs at once that way; feed the animals and take pictures. First off I went out to the pasture to feed the turkeys. I didn't get the best pictures of them, but you'll get the idea.

turkeys 2011

We usually have all white ones, but this year we have a small group of the brown ones. We started them up closer to the barn and realized after it was too late that one of our barn cats had feasted quite well on little turkey poults. So, we had to try and order more and all the hatchery had left were the brown ones. The only difference I see between them and the white ones are just that, different colored feathers.

Next, I came up to feed the laying hens in the greenhouse. We have moved all of the hens up for the winter now. When we start loosing daylight the egg production starts to drop. In the greenhouse we have the lights on a timer that allows the chickens about 14 hours of light a day. Another benefit of having the chickens up is that we can feed them whey more readily. With having plenty of milk for cheesemaking we have been having a good amount of whey for our pigs and chickens. This is a great protein source for them and they really seem to enjoy it.

chicken's whey tub

This is the whey tub for the chickens. The top is open and we can add more whey easily. When we want a bucket of it to feed the chickens we just open the red valve and hold the bucket up there. It works out pretty well.

chicken greenhouse

This shot is looking in the greenhouse. The far end is the West end and that always stays closed up. When it gets cold we will roll the right side panel down as it is on the left. I'm standing at the East end and that always stays open. There is good air movement in there at all times which is so important with chickens, or any animals really. It seems as long as they can stay out of the brutal cold and wind they winter over really quite well. The nest boxes are on the right side about half way down the picture. These are roll out nest boxes which are really nice. The chickens hop up there and lay their eggs and the nests are at a slight decline to the front so the eggs can gently roll down. This prevents, for the most part, the chickens breaking their eggs either by sitting on them not so gently or eating them. This is also really nice when it comes time for gathering eggs. We don't have to dig through nests to find the eggs and they are kept pretty clean since the chickens can't sit on them.

Last to feed were the pigs. These guys are quite the crowd!

pig feed

This is what they get to eat. In the blue tub holds the whey and the buckets have ear corn. We are able to get this corn from a farmer just into Indiana who farms pretty much organically, but is not paper certified. I went out and hollered to them and they came romping up ready for something to eat.

feeding whey

This is the high tech way we get whey out of this tub! It can be pretty messy if you can't handle the bucket lifting it out, but I try and not fill it all the way full.

pigs eating

This is looking down at the pigs while they are eating. They can get pretty excited when they are hungry. To the point of almost knocking me down if I don't empty my bucket and get out of the way fast enough.

pig at my boot

After they had their fill of whey they started coming up and investigating me. This one was trying to eat my boot. You'll notice that they are a dirty looking and it looks muddy in the background. Pretty much because it was, right here. It seems no matter where you feed pigs they always make a mud hole around the troughs. They are able to go out and root around in the grassy area, and you will often find them out there during the day. Plus we had gotten some rain last week, so that makes things a little sloppier as well.

My last task for the evening was to let the cows out. They were headed across the road for the night so someone needed to watch them go out. If they're not going across the road we usually just let them find their way to the pasture in their own time.

cows in lane

Here they are coming towards the road.

crossing the road

And here they are crossing the road. We try and always have someone here watching them cross the road in case they decide to turn up towards the neighbors. For the good majority of the time they do a really good job at just going straight across. This is one large benefit of living on some very rural roads!

As I followed them out to shut the pasture gate I took a picture of the five lambs we have left.

lambs

They don't like to get too close to any sort of action. Here they were playing on some dirt mounds. These are Katahdin, or hair sheep. They don't grow wool as most people think of sheep. This is really nice so that you don't have to spend the energy shearing them in the spring. We have been very well pleased with the meat as well.

fall cows

And I finally made it out to shut the cows' gate and they were all contentedly eating away. It was still enough that I was able to hear them pulling the grass up as they were eating. Pretty neat!

We are gearing ourselves up for Thanksgiving and all of the preparations of getting the turkeys processed and to our customers. It will be a crazy busy time, but after that we can wind down just a little, or rather, readjust our daily schedules.

Stay tuned for another post before too long. I've got one in the works that will detail our milking process.

-Renae