Above all, try something. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Getta Move On

Katie's been tryin to get me to write on this thing so I thought I'd give it a shot tonight. I definitely like the photos, but hopefully I don't put too many in here. Today was a beautiful day here in Southwest Montana. After looking at the weather, which usually means nothing here, I decided that today would be the best day to try to move most of our stuff from Bozeman to Jack Creek.

Instead of gettin after it with a U-HAUL or a Budget Rental Truck, I had a good friend loan me his horse trailer for a few days. He's a fishing guide, and he's guiding for the next few weeks down on the Big Horn River. As I write this, he or his clients most likely have a sore arm from playing MONSTER Big Horn Rainbows. Needless to say, he wasn't gonna need his horses, or his trailer today. It's big and burly and it came in handy. Check it out.

I should have had someone give me a hand today, but as usual, I thought I could do it all myself. I spent the entire morning packing and loading. SWEET! I really thought I was gonna be able to get out and fish the Madison in the afternoon, but at 12:00, when I hadn't even left the driveway in Bozeman, I knew fishin was out of the question. All morning, Pfeiffer and Hattie were extremely anxious and watching my every move. I'm pretty sure they thought we got some new type of camper, and we were going camping later.

After a few hours, I just started tossing things in, but really started to think about having too much weight. Working on a home remodel project in the mountains east of Missoula recently, I loaded my truck up with so much weight in Missoula, it wasn't even funny. I wish I took a picture, but I put concrete mix all over Reserve St that day. So I had that on my mind.

Once you leave the town of Ennis, there is two different routes to take to get up to our house. In the winter one way doesn't get as blown in with snow, and pulling a trailer today, I figured the mellow route that takes a bit longer would be the way to go. Passing by the Jumping Horse Ranch, the views of Cedar Mountain are incredible.

Here's a bit earlier on the trip taking a rest after climbing the Norris Hill. The Tobacco Root Mountains can be seen in the background.

I was a bit concerned with pulling the trailer and the condition of our road after a recent big spring snowfall, but the warm temperatures melted most of the snow down in lower elevations, and just created a little mud. This road stays covered in snow most of the winter, but is usually kept in pretty good shape. I drove it everyday for 2 years, building Fossel's house, and I think I helped pull only one lady out of the ditch on a REALLY icy day, and helped someone else out with a flat on another day.

After a slow creep up the Jack Creek road, I finally pulled into our driveway.

Here's the view out the kitchen window. Gonna have to get a good scope to set up to look at the mountain goats up there.

Spring is starting to take over up there and the house is starting to look a bit inviting

Here's a shot of Fan Mountain from the driveway. I hope to have future posts involving climbing around and skiing on this incredible peak.

Well, there you have it. Katie's posts are usually informative and what-not, not mine. Mine are just what ever I feel like writing. At least for now. Hope you enjoy it and it inspires EVERYONE that reads this to come visit.

Choosing Chicken Breeds

Delilah Jones is one of our hens. She is a little over two years old. She is a Barred Rock, and she is losing feathers on her belly and bum lately. She might be molting, or it might be something else. I can't figure it out... but when I do I will share. Until then, I hope it stays warm for my naked little henny-penny. The good news is, she doesn't seem to notice or care. Barred Rocks are known for being sort of badass.

When I decided that I wanted some egg layers, I researched chicken varieties quite a bit. I think this is definitely an important aspect of getting started with ANY type of animal.

Some questions you might ask yourself when beginning to think about raising animals are:

  1. Why am I getting this animal? (ex: basic pet, eggs, meat, milk, work animal, guard animal...etc)
  2. How many animals am I going to get? (ex: is this animal a herd animal? will it get lonely? does it serve it's function better in a group setting? Do I have the space? Do I have the money for proper food and care? Do I have the time? Will my neighbors kill me? Will my significant other kill me?....etc.)
  3. What is my climate? (ex: hot and dry, rainy as heck, cold as balls...etc.)
After doing some research, I came to a few conclusions of my own.
  1. We needed something hardy. Our winters are LONG and COLD in Montana. Birds that were meant for warmer climates just wouldn't work for us. We needed hens that weren't afraid of wading through snow drifts, roosting on icicles, or laying in -20 degree wind chills.
  2. We needed something that had a high egg ratio, since that was the reasoning behind getting the birds in the first place.
  3. I wanted some docile birds. We planned to have a small coop, about the size of a phone booth (remember those?), and because the birds would be 'cooped up' (no pun intended) for most of the winter months, they needed to be on the calmer side of things. Antsy animals, or people for that matter, stuck in small places for long periods of time isn't a good thing.
From here, I decided on three breeds to start with: Barred Rocks, Wyandottes, and Rhode Island Reds.All of these types were supposedly wonderful layers through the winter months as well as very low-key personalities. The best part about these chick varieties was that our local feed store carried them in March in April, getting new shipments twice a week. I also really wanted Buff Orpingtons, but the feed store didn't have them that particular spring.(You will find that ordering them through the mail, you normally are roped into buying at least 25 baby chicks at a time so that the hatchery can ensure enough warmth in the box for the babies not to die in transit. And who in the heck wants to start with 25 chicks at once? yikes) When you go to the feed store, or order through a hatchery, they will let you choose from either Pullets (99% chance of being a female) or Straight Runs (50/50 chance of female) of each particular breed. Our first time buying chicks we chose: 2 Barred Rock Pullets, 2 Silver Laced Wyandotte Pullets, and 2 Rhode Island Red Straight Run chicks . Pullets are generally twice as expensive as Straight Run chicks, and I think it's kind of obvious why, after we ended up with two roosters that year!
Yes, it's true. Our 2 Rhode Island Reds turned out to be roosters and had to be given away at four months of age to a friend who made them into some nice soup (from what we heard).

About Roosters
Roosters aren't for everybody.
They are loud, very loud, whenever they want, with absolutely no regard to time, eardrums, or neighbors. For our particular situation in the two years past, it just wouldn't have worked out. We had close neighbors on every side, some of whom believed our 2 dopey labs were serious nuisances. We weren't about to stir the pot.
Another aspect of roosters is that they are created to breed, and they "LOVE" their girls. The optimum ratio of rooster to hen is 1:12. This ratio ensures that none of the hens get 'worn out by love', which can cause feather loss, raised stress levels, and decreased egg production. Since we only had 4 hens, a rooster (or 2) just wasn't in the cards for us at that time. Now that we are moving to a much larger area away from neighbors, and our flock continues to grow at 7 hens, I am probably going to bring home a rooster for the girls. The main reason is because of predators. If something alarms a rooster, be it an animal intruder, headlights, or simply a passing plane, they will 'sound their alarms' until they again feel safe. Since our chicken area in Jack Creek is going to be a little farther away from the house, I would love to have a bully around the coop to keep things in check for me. This is just the role for a proud rooster.
*Coincidentally our friends Lynne and Brian suspect they may have brought home a couple of Straight Run rooster chicks this spring, and will need to do some 'rehoming' pretty soon!

That's all for today! Cock-a-doodle-dooooo

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Heck-tic times!

I'm sorry I haven't been posting the last few days.
Our lives are a little CRRRRAAAZZY right now.
Here's a short summary of the currentness.


We visited two local Bozeman goat farms on Saturday morning. One of them had Nubian Dairy Goats, and the other had Nigerian Dwarf and Pygmy Goats. I was pretty interested in both Nubians and Nigerians via information that I had read in books, and even though I had yet to lay eyes on either type, thought I might want a couple of each.
I ended up not liking the Nigerians very much, and decided on strictly Nubians. Ed and I each picked out one yearling, and I need to go back out to the farm in the next couple of weeks and pick myself a milking doe as well. (it was REALLY hard to make a decision because they are all so pretty and sweet and each has their own look) Most of the does have just 'kidded' which means to have had baby goats, and whichever doe I pick will come free with her brand new baby goats. We will most likely end up with four or five Nubian Dairy goats to bring home in May, only ONE of them will be producing milk. The other three or four goats will need at least another year to grow and mature before they are 'freshened' or bred, and ready for milking. Typically, one full grown Nubian doe (3 or 4 yrs old) will produce about a quart of milk a day, which should be plenty for just a household of two adults.
The owner of the farm, Jenifer, sent us home with a gallon of fresh milk and a couple of pounds of goat meat to try out. They were really nice people, and I look forward to learning more from Jenifer as we barrel, full speed ahead into the land of dairy goats!
Up next in goat prep: fence building, stay tuned!


Now that Ed and I are moving to Jack Creek, we are getting rid of my Jeep Grand Cherokee. Sad, but having four cars in the driveway at our new home really doesn't make much sense. It's time to thin the herd. Over the last week (since it's been posted for sale) we have been wading through a sea of emails, voice mails, driveway visitors, and test drives.....UGH. So painfully time consuming. I hope it sells soon!

2010 Spring Ski Season

Sunday was Big Sky Resort's Last day of the season, we skied.
Monday was the Yellowstone Club's Last day of the season, we skied.
Today, Tuesday, we are expected to get 10-16" of fresh snow?!?!.....stay tuned for more skiing apparently. Sigh.


In big 'Spring-ter' gardening news, I have transplanted a whole crew of seedlings into 6" pots over the past few days! Among the successful growers, we've got at least 10 tomato plants, 6 pepper plants, 6 cucumber plants, and 3 basil plants. It's a start! Some things that I have done differently this year: heat lamps above plants, instead of transplanting my seedlings into straight potting soil, I have created a very soft (50/50 germination mix/potting) soil mixture to work with. They seem to like it, wish me luck. I will desperately need it.

Chickens~ The Gateway Animal Part 2~ is coming in May, when I introduce our babies to the hens! Stay tuned....