Monday, August 13, 2018

Ducks on the Pond

The Duck houses were finished last week and got moved out of my carport and over near the pond. We also got a feeder situated in such a way that the ducks will have free access and the cows will not be able to bother it. Once all that was done, it was time to move ducks. We loaded the ducks onto the cattle trailer and transported them approximately 1 mile to the pond. In the words of Ricky, a farm employee. "Those were the happiest birds I've ever seen." I think he's right. They took to the water immediately and have hardly been back on dry land. I have included a somewhat hazy photo, but there is a video that better captures the moment. Unfortunately, I'm having some issues with that video so I will have to post it later. I can say we are one step close to having duck eggs.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Kentucky Trip

If you remember back in May we tried out a new Amish poultry processor in Kentucky. We were really impressed with the quality of the work and have been looking forward to our next batch of broilers. Julie made the trip with me last time and we loved the Amish country and the whole area around that part of Kentucky. The community is largely dependent on farming, and that is refreshing. This time we wanted to share this trip to Amish country with the kids. We have seen the buggies traveling the roads, the cloths drying out on the line, and the little boys in suspenders riding their bikes. We even stopped at a few road side markets for some food for the weekend. At one such market a nice Amish lady was totaling our purchase. I mentioned that we also farm. She said, "I thought you all reminded me of farm family". As we left that farm stand, I told Julie that in a funny way I feel kind of validated that the Amish lady picked us out as a farm family. haha. We have had a great weekend with the kids exploring some new country, and this morning we will be headed back to Georgia with a couple of freezers full of chicken for you to enjoy.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Duck Shelter

On my To Do list this weekend was: build duck shelters. ok. I did write the list. However, what I wanted the duck shelters to look like was still up in the air. This is our first real attempt at raising ducks. I have made some observations over the last few months as the ducks have grown almost into adulthood. After combining those observations and a few google image searches. I came up with a short list of criteria.
  • No Confinement - goes without saying, but we do keep our broiler chickens well protected from predators. Ducks on the other hand are older and wiser, they also forage more than chickens so they need to range further. Not to mention they have a natural defense mechanism of "running to the pond". We didn't want to inhibit any of these attributes so the duck shelter had to be open-air.
  • Pond Access - If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but can't swim in a pond is it really a duck? We think not. the shelters will be situated alongside a one acre farm pond. we wanted the ducks to be able to use the pond at will.
  • Shade - Ducks are very hardy, and hopefully the pond will help them stay cool in the hot summer. But I have observed that they love shade on hot sunny days. I wanted the duck shelter to be the closest and most convenient form of shade. That should keep them from seeking shelter in the nearby woods.
  • Comfortable nest box - Ducks lay eggs on the ground, not in an elevated nest box. We needed a protected and comfortable nesting area inside the duck shelter that would offer a desirable place for the ducks to lay eggs, and a convenient enough way for us to collect the eggs.
There you have it. That's how the Carlton Farms duck shelter was born. Hopefully it works as well in practice as it does in my minds-eye. We will be moving them to the pond this week, I'll provide an update soon. The one remaining question? Why were the duck shelters in my carport? Well, It's extremely hot. We, like the ducks, seek shade if possible. Not to mention had we built them onsite we would have had to listen to the generator all day. In the carport there is a shade and a plug-in.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Chicken Life

As we reach the end of another chicken grow-out. Its always good to look back on our process and be sure we did everything we can to allow these chickens to...well, be chickens. What does that mean? I think it means they get to do the following.
  • Breath fresh air
  • Scratch in the dirt.
  • Forage on grass and bugs
In addition to expressing their chicken-ness, we have more responsibilities. Some are common sense, but as we evaluate our process the fundamentals may be the most important. 
  • Fresh clean water
  • Fresh high quality feed (non-GMO), in feeders that are protected from the weather and up off of the ground. 
  • Protection from predators. 
  • Protection from the elements
We are so happy with this system we've developed over the last few years. We have also improved our management over time. It's time to build a few more of these grow out barns and make our poultry offering more consistent. Hopefully the article about the building of these new barns will be posted here soon. 

The current batch of chickens are now available for pre-order online. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Two Weeks Away from the Farm

First, Thanks for allowing me to skip deliveries last Friday. Many of you know that I did so to pick-up my daughter, Jersey (8), from Winshape Camp at Berry College. She was there for two weeks... that was a rough two weeks for us as parents, but she did great.

She made us so proud. She was able to make new friends, learn new skills, and grow closer to God.

At Berry College (my Alma Mater), the Winshape program girls camp now occupies what was once the Normandy Dairy Barns.

The Normandy barns were built in the 1930's and housed the Campus Dairy herd until 2001. I graduated in 1999 and was student-supervisor of the dairy. So I was one of the last classes to Operate a dairy in those majestic barns. It was fun to walk around and tell Jersey where we milked cows, raised calves, tended to sick cows, etc... There were a lot of stories that she probably had limited interest in, but she obliged me by listening. 

It's a little sad to see such a beautiful facility move on to a different use when is was such a large part of your life in its previous incarnation. However, if those building were going to be reborn, Winshape was the perfect partner. It is a stunning facility now. Those three hundred girls, and all the others that go through there are fortunate to be able to grow, be challenged, and make new friends in such an amazing environment. Martha Berry would be proud.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Turkey Time

I know it doesn't seem possible, but it is time to be raising turkeys for Thanksgiving. Actually our turkeys are one month old and just got moved out of the brooder and onto pasture last week. Turkeys are a little harder to raise than chickens as babies...actually they are a lot harder. However, as they mature they become more hardy and grow out very well on pasture. The roost you see in the background is our own design. Its lightweight and portable nature makes it great for raising these birds on pasture, as we move them around the pasture regularly. It gives the turkeys a place to roost up off of the ground, which is their instinctual behavior. If you have followed my emails or blog for a while you know my affinity for raising turkeys. I feel like the farm is more full of personality when the turkeys are here. It's really nice to have them back on our pastures.  We should be able to start taking pre-orders on thanksgiving turkeys next week. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Beach Time

Our little family had a great time of rest and relaxation at the beach last week. Thanks for stocking up and allowing us to miss a week of deliveries. The batteries are recharged now and we are ready to get back to work. We look forward to seeing you at your local Delivery location, or bringing your order right to your door. 
I always give y'all a window into how we do things on the farm, so let this week be no different. Here is a glimpse into our beach time.
Julie - Loves the beach. A great vacation needs nothing more than family, a nice beach, and some good seafood.
Jersey(8) - Our resident surfer girl. She will spend hours on end riding waves on a float, or boogie board. She also befriends any somewhat similar aged girls on the beach. Its so nice to see her with the confidence to introduce herself and develop conversations with new and different people. 
Atticus(5) - Historically not a beach person. He doesn't like the sand or the saltwater. He'd rather be at the farm. This trip was no different...until the last day. He finally got in the water and started jumping waves. As he came out of his shell he had lots of fun the last day. 
Wren(2) - Gonna be a lot like her sister. Loves the sand and playing on the beach. Still a little intimidated by the water (thankfully). 
Me(Chad) - As a dad the most fun was watching the kids play in the sand, grow with new experiences, and overcome their own internal fears. (Julie and I both observed Atticus stand facing the ocean and very slowly inching toward the water.  With a very intent look on his face we heard him talking to himself saying, "I will defeat you". It was precious.) I also enjoyed spending time with Julie and riding a few waves myself. The quintessential beach moments for me are napping on the beach under the umbrella, and eating a good fish taco on a deck. I got to do both of those things. It was a great trip.