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  • Kristin Ramey

2016 in Review

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

OK, I'm not talking about across the world, seriously, can't even talk about Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher? COME ON 2016, you've done enough damage. QUIT IT!

I'm talking about the farm. I like to think back on some of the things we've done that have made improvements on the farm, and changes for the better. Let's see how our year went.

We had a typical January - lambs being born on the farm, which is always fun! Three of those lambs were Spike, Pipsqueak and Gummy. Their mom was Shirley, our first and oldest sheep. She has been an amazing mama for us. But something was wrong this time. She knew those babies were hers, and she had had triplets in the past. But she wasn't feeding them. Her udders were dry. This was not normal for her! We ended up with three bottle babies, and they were not doing well. They were lethargic, and really struggling in the cold. They often got brought inside to sleep in the house where it was warm. Gummy ended up succumbing to an illness. Spike and Squeaky were on rocky ground. One morning, Squeaky came out of the barn not looking OK - I think someone rolled over on him in the night and injured his neck. He's not been the same since, but he's our little buddy now. Might be the first ram lamb we keep just cause we like him so much. But that led us to a very rough decision. Shirley was almost 12 years old. She had given us 18 lambs on the farm. But we wondered how long she could keep having babies. This told us she was done. No milk for her triplets was a bad sign. So we decided to send her to the processor.

She didn't go alone, she went along to the processor with Hercules (the very mean ram). Finally, the pasture was a safe place for people to visit again!

We started hatching chicks again in March. We moved the incubator upstairs where the house is a bit warmer. I also had to rebuild the fan unit on the incubator, and suddenly, we were in chick business! I was finally able to hatch ducklings very successfully this year!

We hatched 108 chicks, 376 turkey poults and 87 ducklings this past year! I can't wait to do it again!

We added some barn owls to the mix this year to assist in keeping the mouse and vole population under control. Shannon was so excited to get to see these baby barn owls up close then they got tagged!

We also got a new puppy this summer. Realizing that our big Hercules (the dog) was deaf, his working ability is limited to only when he is watching for predators. He often sleeps pretty soundly and has no idea what is going on around him. So we adopted Loki from a nearby farm to assist, and allow Atlas and Goliath to begin their retirement. Atlas seems to have a damaged rear knee, so his running days are through. Loki can start picking up the slack.

He's about the same size as Squeaky in this photo, he is literally TWICE that size now, and is only 8 months old!

We launched this new website in July, and had a great summer at the Berthoud Farmer's Market. You should come this summer! We have so much fun! Including "Turkey Bingo" where one of my little turkeys almost became a free bird!

Speaking of turkeys, our friends and customers came out again this year to help us during our big Thanksgiving harvest, and we DOUBLED our turkey output this year to over 130 turkeys! We hope to do it again next year!

So while we are in hibernation mode, settling in for some quiet time this winter before we turn on the incubator in February and start the fun all over. We start planning our bird orders, our price changes, our processing schedule for the coming year. Here are some of the things we changed for the better:

  • We finally purchased a stock trailer! No more coaxing sheep up a ramp into the truck bed (or climbing in the truck cage to coax them back out!)

  • We also purchased a back hoe/loader. No more manually rolling and tipping round hay bales! No more digging holes with shovels, by hand! YAY!

  • We installed thermostats in all of our brooders to control the temperature, so that heat lamps go OFF on hot days and don't stifle the babies

  • We purchased stand heaters for the baby chicks that come out of the incubator. These mimic mama, as they snuggle underneath a heat plate for warmth. They are on stout plastic legs, so they can't tip or fall over - preventing potential fire issues from heat lamps that sometimes can fall down and ignite brooder bedding.

  • We installed our "L" shaped processing table for chicken processing, which provided a second sink area for working.

  • We changed the overhead water hoses for chicken processing to copper piping to give it more rigidity and hopefully less freezing issues over the PVC.

  • We installed a 15-1 gear ratio motor on the turkey plucker (a change from the 10-1 gear ratio) and that puppy hums now!

  • We invested in some better knives to assist in Halal lamb slaughter, which we got much better at this year

Yup, it's been a pretty good year. Here's to 2017 and hoping to keep making improvements and growing our little farm!

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