The first tomato for the year

Soph went out this morning and took this picture of our first tomato to begin turning red.  It is an heirloom variety, Mr Stripey, and is our first year growing it.   It should be ready for picking in a couple more days.  If we like it then we will save some seeds for next year.   

We have three different heirloom varaties that we are growing this year, two of them are new to us.  In addition to the Mr Stripey I’m once again growing the purple Cherokee that I enjoy.   Our other new variety is a yellow pear cherry.  I enjoy the bite size tomatoes but Soph is crazy about them.  
 

Switching to sexlink chickens

Last fall we had something kill all of our silver laced Wyandotte chickens when they were locked outside over night.   After some thought I’ve decided to switch to sexlinks.  Each spring I will alternate buying a few of either red or black.  This will make it easy to identify which hens are two years old and need butchered. My second year buying reds will give me black sexlinks,that are a year old and reds that are approaching 2 years and ready for making chicken stock.

Our local farm supply store didn’t have any sexlinks the week we were ready for chicks so we ended up mail ordering them.  Some guy wasn’t paying attention during the ordering process and ordered straight run instead of pullets.   So while these cockerels in the picture with Sid are white they are indeed red sexlinks.  The cockerels will all be butchered in a few weeks

I’ve had the reds in years past and really like their temperament and brown eggs.   Two years ago I decided to try something new and went with the Wyandotte.  I liked them and thought they were a beautiful bird but feel egg production was better with the sexlinks.

The disadvantage to the sexlinks is that they don’t breed back true.  The only way to keep sexlinks around for me will be to buy some each year.  This is why we decided  to butcher cockerels instead of keeping them to propagate the flock. 

  
 

Raccoons at the chicken house

i came out to look in the garden to see if rabbits were getting past the electric fence that just went in.  As I came out the door I saw the eyes of 4 raccoons down at the chicken house in the beam of my flash light.  There was an adult and 3 young ones.  I was able to walk to about 15 feet from them before they began to scatter.   This little guy bumped into the bucket while trying to escape and fell into it when trying to jump over the obstacle.

They were eating some corn that got spilled on the ground (you can see it in the picture) and not eating any of our animals.  After showing the girls this young of the year raccoon I trumped over the bucket and sent it on its way.  

So long as they’re not breaking into the coop and killing our critters they’ll not be shot but may be trapped this fall.  

  

Electric fence to protect the garden from rabbits

Our poor garden is being destroyed by rabbits.  Instead of building a permanent fence around it I’ve elected to try an electric one to deter the little buggers.  I don’t mind sharing but they’ve eaten ALL the green beans

Initially the electric fence will be about 2 1/2 feet tall. If I find they’re smart enough to start going over the top it will be easy to add insulators and additional wire to make it taller.  If I can keep it at this height We will be able to easily step over the fence and not have to bother with turning it off to gain access to the garden

The fence charger needed to be mounted some where that it can be protected from the elements.  Instead of mounting it under the beck porch and running the wire out to the garden I elected to mount it inside a plastic Cabelas ammo container I’ve had sitting around.  My thought process was this would allow me to place the charger right at the fence while cutting down on wire for myself and the family from running into accidentally.  Mounting it inside the ammo can will also provide an easy way to store and transport it.

The wire itself is five rows high.  To prevent it from shorting out on the grass it received some attention from the weed eater to trim all the grass and the application of Round Up to prevent the grass from growing. 
   
    
   

Crazy Horse National Monument

We were impressed with Mount Rushmore and the massive size of those famous heads.  When we learned that the entire Mount Rushmore sculpture would fit on the head of Crazy Horse I was floored.   

The story of the Crazy Horse Monument and how it has become a family legacy was inspiring.   Work on this massive monument is slow but it will be truly amazing once it’s accomplished.  I hope the girls will be able to return with me one day to see it completed.  

This first picture was taken from more than a mile away.  The white outline of the horses head you see on the side of the mountain is more than three feet wide.  The horizontal surface you see in front of Crazy Horses face is his extended arm that is point to his land over the top of horses head.