Thursday, July 9, 2020


In early July, the daily chore list can get pretty long.  It's a good thing we have more hours of sunlight to do them in!  We had someone ask us to write a post about what it meant to "do the chores" at our farm.  As with every farm, the chore list has a great deal to do with the time of year and the way the farm goes about business.  For our purposes, we decided a chore was something we absolutely have to do every day or every other day, without fail.  That means things like, weeding, harvesting, planting, mowing, mulching... well, you get the picture... these things don't qualify.  We may do them most days, but it is rarely the same place or the same crop.  We also eliminated things like laundry and cleaning harvest containers.  These are done regularly as well, but I'm not sure we'll impress anyone by including them here.

And, you know us, we're ALL about impressing people.  Yep.

Step 1: Care for the Farm Supervisory Staff
You know what they say - if management ain't happy...

The Inspector will make sure that Step 1 is completed prior to any other task.
The cats (both indoor and out) need to have the ritual of food, water and some nice skritches for the day to start off right.  We have learned, much to our chagrin, that it is not a good thing at all if we skip step 1.

The Inspector will lead you to the location for food and water if you appear lost.

Step 2: Open It All Up
Most of the tools are in buildings.  There are plants in buildings.  If you want to do any work on the farm, you have to start.. er...   Ok, you start by caring for the felines.  But, if you want to start doing work, you have to open some things up.

We'll need some food for the poultry, I suspect it is in here.
Typically, we'll open a series of doors and leave them open for most of the day unless the weather is inclement or there is something we are hiding from the farm supervisors.

We'd better get Eden and Valhalla opened up too!
While we are at it, we have to make sure the plants in the high tunnels don't get to warm.  That usually means we open up doors and roll up the sides.  There are two high tunnels to open.  On a regular basis we run irrigation in the high tunnels (every 3 or 4 days).

Casa Verde needs to be opened up as well if there are plants inside!
Sometimes, we actually do a quick run around and let the various flocks of poultry out even before we provide them with fresh food and water.  This is especially true on very warm days/nights.

Interlude 1: Say Hello to the Workers
The bee hives are on the way to some of our next tasks, so we often stop for a moment and say hello. 

The bees usually are too busy humming a tune to return the greeting.
Step 3: Feed and Water Birds
This can often be the largest part of our chores, especially in early June when we have two flocks of broilers, two hen flocks, turkeys and a new batch of broiler chicks.

There be new broiler chicks on the farm!

Each flock is going to need food and water each day.  Well, ok, most days.  Sometimes, new chicks don't go through all of their water in a day and sometimes if there are lots of puddles, the other flocks may not drink the waterers down.
My, the turklets have grown into Turkles!

The birds currently in the brooder room are the turkeys and the broiler chicks.  The room is kept warm and we work to cut breezes until true feathers are forming.  As they grow we might start to ventilate the room more until we move them out.  We check how spread out the flocks are listen for problems - making adjustments as needed.

The henlets are next door.

The henlets (our new egg laying flock) are getting closer to full hen size.  At present, they stay inside the hen room in the Poultry Pavilion as part of the process of getting them to identify this room as their 'Home Base.'  In a couple of days, they will be allowed out into their pasture area.  As with all the other flocks, they need food and they need water.  Once we start letting them onto pasture, we will be opening and closing their room door so they are protected at night and have access to the outdoors during the day.

ah, the Summer Cottage is near Crazy Maurice right now

The hens are out in the Northwest Territories of the farm and are closed up in the Summer Cottage until we go open the door and put up their access ramp.  Obviously, we give them food and water - usually before we let them out so we don't have to dodge birds as we do it.  We normally make a first check for eggs at this time too.

Then, there are the Boyus!

We have two flocks of "Boyus" in the Eastfarthing and they both need to be let out, fed and watered.  On an every other day basis (unless it is way too wet to do so) we move the buildings using Rosie, the tractor so they rest over a new patch of pasture.  Every couple of weeks, we have to reset the solar-powered poultry netting, which includes mowing the greenery down so it doesn't short the fence out.

Step 4: Wet Our Plants
Hey, the plant nurseries of the world get to use that pun all the time, but we also water plants, so we should get to use it if we want!

We have houseplants and flowers on the front and back porches
The potted plants usually need water every other day, unless it is particularly hot and windy, they we'll water each day.  They have enough soil to be somewhat forgiving.

There are fewer trays right now, but they still need water.
The plants in seedling trays need watering in the morning as well.  Earlier in the season, we have them in Casa Verde, in the trailer you see above, on a hayrack and on heatmats in the garage and basement.  These all need watering.  Since they have less soil, they are prone to drying out - so we need to pay attention here!

Interlude 2: Admire a Flower
We have flowers here and there, just so we can take a moment and view them as we go about our daily business.  This daylily opened its first flower for us at the Genuine Faux Farm. 

Ain't it purdy?
At this point, we are done with what we might term the 'morning chores.'  There are numerous other things that might happen during the morning chore set depending on how things stand, but they tend to have something to do with these tasks.

In other words, we can start doing "real work" now.
That might be Rob working for PAN or Tammy working for Wartburg.  Or we might plant, weed, harvest, mulch, turn a compost pile or clean out a poultry room.  Perhaps we'll prepare for a delivery?  The possibilities for the day abound!


Mid to Late Morning Chores
Well, whatever we decide to do, at some point we need to do a few things that are classified as 'chores.'

Like collect eggs from the hens.

Sadly, we have yet to figure out how to train the hen flocks in collecting, cleaning and packaging eggs.  We get to do that particular chore.  And, if we don't want them to break a bunch of those eggs, we need to visit them more than once in a day.

While we're at it, we'll check the babies.
And, if you have baby birds, you need to check them fairly often as well to make sure temperatures are what they need.  It doesn't take long, but it is just one more thing...

Oh, and about that irrigation you started this morning.  You probably should turn that off.

Oh, and don't forget to water the seed trays in Valhalla too!
Mid-Afternoon Chores
There are common themes here.  Collect eggs, check baby birds and other similar things.

Haven't we seen this picture before?
But, we also have to add - wash the eggs to this list.  It's a chore - that's for sure!

And yes, you should check all of the flocks on a warm day to make sure they've got water and see that there aren't other things going on that need your attention.  And, remember those seedlings in trays?  They might need more water by now!

Baby plants need water, that's a fact.
Early Evening Pre-Chore
So, about those broiler chickens....
Yeah.  These guys.

It turns out that they LIKE to be where their food is.  We take their feeders out of the building every morning and fill them and we put them BACK into the building every evening to encourage them to find their way into the building by the time the sun goes down.  A waterer usually goes in as well.

Why?  Well, we've found that most of the birds will go in without our doing this.  But, when we do put this step in, all but one or two will go into the building without our herding them later in the evening.  Believe me, it's a worthwhile chore to move those feeders now!

End of the Day - Put It Away
Barty and Rosie at the end of a busy day.
We admit that there have been days when we are really tired and there is absolutely no rain in the forecast that we might forego putting some things away.  This is especially true when Barty (the tiller) is on the other side of the farm.  But, most days, all the tools go back under shelter.  Sadly, we are not always so good as to put everything back into its place.  That is another story.

End of the Day - Close it Up
All of those opened doors need to be closed. 

Remember all of the doors you opened in the morning?
 And the high tunnels need to be closed as well.
Time to roll down the sides and close the doors.
We've considered leaving the high tunnels open on very warm nights, but we don't particularly care for dashing out to close them at 2 AM when a thunderstorm with strong winds pops up.  Others can worry about that.  Us, on the other hand?  We'll close them up every night.

Oh!  Better remember that too!
End of the Day - Shut It Down
We have learned the hard way that we need to check that all water sources are turned off.  Irrigation that runs for twelve to fourteen hours is not a good thing.

Ah, good the hydrant at the left is off.
We have two hydrants by Valhalla, one by Casa Verde and the faucet on the north side of the house.  It may not sound like much, but by the time we are doing our final chores, it is 9:30PM in June and July.  We're usually pretty tired and find ourselves reminding each other to do things like "check truck windows" and "make sure the door is closed" and "did I turn off the water?"  It is far better than climbing into bed and remembering one of these was not done.... and then going out to do it.
The henlets are fine.
While we are at it, we need to turn off lights for the henlets and give them one last check in.

And turn off lights and check the brooder room too!
 And, while you're at it.  You should probably put the cat food bowls away so the raccoons don't wreak havoc because they've found them!
The Inspector will expect to see you again in the morning.
End of the Day - Close Up the Poultry
Oh yes, now we need to close the door on the broilers and the hen flock.  

Most of the broilers are in their building by 9:25PM
Broilers are a bit of a pain to herd, so if you can get them to go in on their own, that is best.  Even then, there is usually one or two that will make you walk them around the building a few times before they go in.  With two flocks of broilers, this chore is a times 2.  Just like it was in the morning.

Good night Ladies (and Maurice)
The hens are usually in by 9:30pm (or so).  There are often a couple that meander around a bit while you wait for them to go in so you can close the door.  

There is usually a moment of 'reviewing it all' in hopes that we don't forget anything and we aren't forced to get up in the middle of the night to correct something.  We realize some of these things don't sound like much.  But, if you forget them, you can have a fairly big problem later on.  

Good Night Everyone!
If the farmers have the energy - and sometimes even when they don't - they say "Good night" to all of their friends and acquaintances as they see them during the evening walkabout to do chores.

Even the Barn Swallows are mellowing out.
The Barn Swallows are not chittering or performing their aerial acrobatics, but they are preening before finding their roosts.  A Great Horned Owl reminds us he's in the area with his call.  Richard, the Dickcissel gets one more series of songs in before calling it a day.  The monarchs float around the understory of the larger trees until they find their spots.  Meanwhile, the lightning bugs come out and light our way back from closing up the hens.

And the Inspector drops by for one more skritch and offers up a friendly purr.
We hope everyone has (or has had) a fine day.

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