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chicken

Posted 12/12/2013 8:30pm by Renee Savary.

Predators wise this year has been a disaster … It all started with a coyote invasion. For those of you who have never been to the farm, the chickens are roaming freely on 2 different pastures (between 15 to 20 acres each). One fairly close to the main house and the other one about ½ miles away but from the house I still have a clear view of it.

I have a pine forest on the south side and my neighbor horses pasture to the north side and west a 3nd pasture, with a big barn, that was not used and very much overgrown.

At night all the chickens are cooped and the donkeys usually sleep around the coops. Never had an issue at night. The coyotes would just boldly attack during the day time. From the house I could see them crossing the second pasture, grab a chicken and run. It would take them no time and they would vanish into the woods. Once one of them snatch a chicken less than 100 feet from me !!! and the donkeys would be of no use, they usually graze with the sheep during the day.

The solution was not easy to implement, we first had to clean up all the fence line, over the last 5 years I had painstakingly let them overgrow to give small wildlife, birds and other pollinators an habitat, most of it had to go. Then we covered the exiting barbwire with chicken wire, expensive but still the cheapest long term option. We also cleaned up that 3rd pasture and we destroyed one of their habitat behind the barn. 

During that same time I had to deal with a bunch of alligators in the ponds, those were easier to stop as the ducks and the geese would just not get into the water and makes some serious noise until I took care of the problem !!

When I finally thought the situation was under control we started to have every bird of prey, from hawks to turkey vultures, getting at it. My poor chickens would live in fear and hardly get out of their coops. I tried every flying, shinny, noisemaking gimmick I could find !! None of them worked !!! I was really getting desperate. Then two weeks ago I decided to move everybody around the house, it sounds much easier than it is, you have a better chance to herd cats than chickens !!! It means that we had to catch every chicken, load them onto the trailer, move the empty coops and then relocate the chickens !! Two days of work and we are pretty good at it …

Now I have all the chickens around the house, as there is always some kind of commotion the raptors have not been around that much and when we see the chickens running for cover we can spring outside and check it out … much easier to react 10 yards than ½ mile !!!

My girls are back to their happyself and their target now is to get INTO the house !!!

Marmelade with his catch

Posted 8/16/2012 9:12pm by Renee Savary.

Tonight I found a small patch of Chanterelles at the edge of the little wood behind the house ... I have been looking for them, our summer has been really wet and they are everywhere ...

Chanterelles patch ...

10 minutes picking, most of the time spent fighting with the jungle ...

Nice pick ...

The cutest little snail was amoung them ...

Miniature snail ...

Saute some onions (would have been better with shallots but I did not have any) then add the chanterelles, let it cook for a few minutes then add the parsley and a dash of white wine, salt/pepper to taste, ...

Chanterelles fricassee

... a few more minutes of cooking ... et voila ...

Fricassee de Chanterelles

I mixed them with a tomato, olive oil and a splash of balsamique ... Great impromptu salad from the wood .. Bon appetit ...

Chanterelles - Tomato salad


Posted 3/15/2012 8:29pm by Renee Savary.

Last Sunday I went to help my friend Dawn to split her beehives, well ... help !! ... Let's just say I stayed a good 2ft away and try to generate as much smoke as possible.

To split beehives, you take 4 of the central frames of the hive to split, including the queen, move them into a new empty hive, close it and move it away a few miles for a month or so. It will give the "older" hive time to raise a new queen then you can bring all the hives back together.

It seems fairly simple but it is not, you have thousands and thousands of bees buzzing around, you are kind of suffocating with the smoke (that is when I help) and for the not trained eyes to locate the queen in the middle of the multitude is kind of locating that pin needle in the hay story... ...

But we did it and I am happy to report that after a few days both hives, the new and the old ones, are doing well ...

 Then we came to the farm to look at mines. Last spring I got 3 hives, I still have 2 of them. I have to be honest I am not super comfortable dealing with bees ! I can confront a charging donkey but I am afraid of bees ... go figure !!!

I had not open my hives in several months, I knew they were well sealed by the bees and I did not find a reason why to open them when it was cold or windy or wet ... I did supplement them with some honey/water tea once a week in January and February and I am sure it did help them ...

I am well aware of all the problems the bees are encountering from pesticide to GMO's but I think their worst enemy is us, human, so without pretending saving the bees, I will just let the ones I have at the farm be bees and do their bees business and on my side I will make sure they have enough quality food.

 opening the hive

On this picture we are just opening the first hive and looking at it ...

I am happy to report they are doing wonderful, I was so relieved to see them doing so well. Now the next step is to split my hives, probably in a week or two. Here are some more pictures of our beezy Sunday !!!

frame

me holding a frame ...

frame with nice brood partern

Hive with super installed ...

Go to www.facebook.com/twinoaksfarm for more pictures on my beesy Sunday ....