Incubating Eggs without an Incubator

eggs incubated on a heat padA raccoon killed my favorite duck hen the other day, leaving her 20+ day old eggs without a mother.  When we discovered it the next morning, the eggs were cold.  There was little hope, but there’s a saying in the farm world, “It’s not dead until it’s warm and dead.”  More than once, we’ve warmed up a lifeless body (think rabbits in particular) to find a miraculous recovery.

The problem with the eggs is that we have a non working incubator, something to do with a puppy and wires.  How could we keep the eggs going without it?  I’ve always been told you can’t, which means I needed to set out to prove someone wrong!

What we did have was a heat pad (aff) with a stay on function and a stubborn refusal to accept defeat.  As I write this, several ducklings are hatched and drying off with several more pipped and on the way.  We incubated them 10 days.  Here’s how we incubated eggs without an incubator. Continue reading “Incubating Eggs without an Incubator”

150 Animals, Winter Chores in Under 30 Minutes

When talking about the animals we raise, I often hear, “How do you do it all?”  I’m startled at that question, because the reality is there isn’t much to do, so I thought maybe it would help to take you on a walk through my daily chores.  As much as possible, I try to automate systems.  Like most of us, I have a lot going on with homeschooling, house-wifing and small farming, so anything I can be hands off with is a help.

These photos were taken today.  The average time to feed and care for all the animals on the property is under 30 minutes, with bursts of activity once per week for feeding hay.  High capacity feeders are the key to sanity.

Even with the time spent moving hay once per week, we still average under 30 minutes per day.  Here’s how.

Continue reading “150 Animals, Winter Chores in Under 30 Minutes”

Garbage Can Chicken Feeder

We’ve been feeding whole grains to our chickens for 2-3 years now.  About a year and a half ago, we finally landed on the low maintenance, no waste chicken feeders we use today: garbage can chicken feeders.  This method allows us to feed one or two times per year and results in zero waste and grain throwing.

To get started, choose a container.  We had garbage cans on hand so used those.  We have made feeders in 5-gallon buckets and I’ve seen storage totes used as well; there are no set rules for the container type as long as it will hold up to the weight of the feed with holes drilled in it.  Because we fill ours up and then move them to the coop, we prefer garbage cans for ease of moving. Continue reading “Garbage Can Chicken Feeder”

Our Vision for the Sustainability of Our Goats

I like to dream about what the future holds for our little farm and the most important livestock we raise on it, the goats.  I love all of my animals, but goats are my special pals.  In terms of sustainability, they have the potential to give life to not only their kids and mine, but also to the chickens, pigs and dogs.  If we can successfully provide their needs here on what we can raise, we can use their outputs to create sustainable food for the other animals that call Little Avalon “home.”

While I thought it would be fun to share this with you, I think it’s equally important for me to put these ideas into words that I can look back on as we progress through this journey.  It’ll be interesting to see how things look a year, or five, or ten from now! Continue reading “Our Vision for the Sustainability of Our Goats”

Building a Zero Cost, Post-Free Pallet Fence

Pallets are hands-down one of the most versatile and important no-cost homesteader supplies. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever use them, if you happen upon a stash of them at a store for free, you owe it to all of your soon-to-be jealous fellow homesteaders across the world to bring those pallets home.  From instant patches in existing fences to building entire lines with only pallets and elbow grease, pallets make the easiest and quickest fence to put up.

My husband lived and worked out of state for a year and a half while I had three (now four) small children and a small farm to take care of alone.  I remember how much I appreciated being able to use pallets then.  I could put up a single line by myself while the baby napped.  (I originally wrote about our pallet fence back in 2012 on my old blog, but in an effort to consolidate info and remove myself from Google’s clutches, I am rewriting those articles here and ditching the Blogger blog.) Continue reading “Building a Zero Cost, Post-Free Pallet Fence”