It’s Halloween, Witches!
Tis the season for ghastly ghouls, spookish spells and all kinds of treats and fun. While we do not usually get many trick or treaters out to visit us on the farm, we still like to have a little fun ourselves. Our pumpkins were purchased this year because the little itty bitties we were able to grow in our pumpkin patch were by no means big enough to carve. Our goal continues into next year to grow carving pumpkins, and we are not giving up! For this year, the pumpkins are carved, the candles are lit, and the front of the house is looking a little spooky!
We also had some fun and dressed up for a costume Halloween party at a friend’s this past weekend. Can you guess what Dan is? (HINT: its from a pop commercial from Superbowl a couple years ago!).
The best part of pumpkin carving, all the yummy treats for the pigs, chickens and goats! We save all the insides of the pumpkins, and any pieces that are carved out, and feed them to the animals. Pumpkin works as a great natural way to deworm and is also a really good thing to have on hand for farm animals that are a little backed up. Everyone in the farm yard is happily enjoying a pumpkin breakfast today!
The ladies of the coop are slowly getting over the fall moult and growing back their feathers just in time for a shift in seasons. We make sure to feed lots of black oil sunflower seeds during a moult to provide extra protein for feather development. During this time laying seems to all but come to a halt, only getting maybe an egg a day from the hardy girls. I finally today have one dozen eggs saved up, since about last week. It will be nice to have the eggs back as I have been refusing to buy from the store and we have been going without eggs for breaky for some time now.
Mother Nature decided to bless us with our “Indian Summer” these past couple of weeks so we have taken full advantage here on the farm. Everyone is ready for winter, with shelters prepped, coops wrapped and insulated, waterers plugged in and hay and straw piled and stored under cover.
The sunny warm days made for the perfect weather for a big coop clean before the snow sets in for good. In the winter we bed down the chickens a little different than we would in the warm summer months. We start with a layer of peat moss on the bottom. This layer acts to soak up any moisture in the coop and act as an insulation to hold in heat. Next layer is shavings sprinkled on the coop floor and in the nesting boxes. Shavings are also good for soaking up moisture in the coop. Humidity control in the coop over winter is one of the most important parts of a healthy flock. Unwanted humidity in the coop causes frostbite on those coldest nights, breathing issues and issues with birds keeping themselves warm. Lastly we bed down with a layer of straw on the floor and in the nesting boxes. This helps to insulate and keep the ladies warm enough on their own in the coop that they don’t require a heat lamp to supplement them. We also use a poop hammock, a piece of tarp that hangs under the roosts the chickens sleep on, to catch any droppings. Regularly emptying the poop hammock prevents any kind of condensation or humidity left from poop in the coop. It also helps to keep the coop cleaner. We top up and add bedding as needed until Spring when a full clean is possible once again.
The three little pigs have been loving this last little bit of nice weather as well, taking full advantage of their pen expansion and exploring and rooting up all kinds of goodies. My new favourite morning routine includes sneaking into the pen, food ready and calling the boys for breakfast. You can hear the three of them come running from where they are exploring, snorting and grunting on the way. I have never seen these three run so fast; they sure are comical! A happy pig snout is one that is covered in dirt. As the seasons change on the farm, one of the first tell tale signs of cold weather on the way is when the pigs starts to grow their winter coats and start getting fuzzy.
The donkey boys are ready for winter, as they grow in their shaggy coats and bangs. I love how cute they get with a little extra fluff. Donned with new halters, we have been teaching these two boys some manners. To show them who’s really in charge, we have started a couple evenings a week tying the boys up to a wood post along the fenceline. We let them stand there until they can stand with no fighting or pulling. This will help us going forward when we need to trim feet or give any kind of shots, etc. The boys hooves are trimmed up, dewormer given and we are ready for the winter season ahead.
The alpacas are a little slower, but they too are growing in their coats for the winter months. While we have the donkey boys preoccupied with fence posts, the alpacas are getting a scoop each of crumble leading into winter. In a hopes to get them fattened up a little before the cold sets in, we will continue to offer them crumble along with their supplemented hay and free choice water. They sure are coming along, and wander right up to the gate when we come down for chores. They are such unique creatures, and they make my heart so happy.
Even the little goats are filling out their winter wear getting ready for the cold. We have built a shelter within a shelter to house the goats on the coldest nights. This little house inside with three walls and a roof stuffed full of straw bedding will work great to bundle in together when its chilly, out of the wind and elements. It also gives us room to keep their hay feeder under the shelter roof so we are not wasting hay. These four eat a lot of hay! Over the winter we will supplement a little here and there with grain and of course free choice water. I’ve been loving getting to know them each and their personalities. They’re little noises fill up the farm yard doing chores and make my heart burst with joy. Did I mention Momma Sue loves to give kisses?!
October was a month for making all things apple on the farm. While our orchard trees are growing and will one day fill up their section of the yard, this year I purchased apples from a local farmer. From apple cider, apple sauces, apple butters and even apple pies, most days the aroma of apples was wafting from this farmhouse kitchen. Some of these goodies will be added into the Christmas baskets of preserves we gift our friends and families with over the holidays.
Side note: there are a ton of yummy cocktails you can make from apple cider and apple butter! Who knew that apple cider maragaritas were a thing?! You’re welcome!
Crafting for Christmas is also in full swing on the farm in the fall. One of the items in our gifted handmade baskets is hand knit dishcloth sets. I like to get a head start and already have thirteen made for this up coming season. Along with knitting, the colder less desirable days stuck inside make for the best quilting days. I am in the middle of a blanket project, my first time quilting in triangles. I am having so much fun getting to know my machine a little more and experimenting more and more with some simple smaller baby quilts.
On the random days we get off together, Dan and I have been taking full advantage of our time to get our wood pile ready for winter. Currently we have cut and stacked about four cords of wood. We’d like to get at least two more to be comfortable for the length of winter. I love spending an afternoon out in the bush with my love. Dan bucks saw and cuts the wood with his chainsaw, while I stack the pieces in the back of the truck and use the wood splitter to turn those big pieces into more reasonable wood fire sized logs. Once and awhile the girls slip out the back pasture gate and meet us in the woods. Exploring around and sleeping on trails while we work out back. Then we return to the house and stack the cut wood out beside the side entrance for easy access. While I love nothing more than the heat from a wood fire, I do not love the spiders that come with it, and finding them hidden throughout my house. You win some you lose some I suppose when it comes to firewood.
The end of October brings a close to all the beautiful fall colours, the smells and tastes of autumn. But it also means a new season is upon us….. OPEN SEASON! This week November starts and with that, hunting season will open. I have my blind all set up out back, and we have been keeping an eye on our trail cameras set up out back as well. There are a few handsome gentlemen making there way around our land this year. I can’t wait to get out back and start sitting and waiting. My favourite part of hunting is being hidden out back and watching the world around me unfold. The sights and sounds you hear while sitting in a hunting blind are the things you miss out on in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
So as we reflect on the fall season, and wave goodbye to autumn and all her glory, we look forward to the season ahead of us here on the farm. We are ready for the winter months, for the chilling cold and snow. We look forward to a slower season, a season for friends and family, for crafting and finishing projects.
For those interested in a little something Wild & Witchy, below I have shared some of my favourite fall diffuser blends for essential oils! My journey with essential oils started just over a year ago, and what a community I have joined and found support in through oils. I hope you enjoy these blends as much as I do, and stay tuned next time for those winter fragrances!