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Wow! A Double Yolk!


doubleYolk_ours

It’s happening again – we are finding double yolks in our eggs. My mother always thought it meant good luck, but does it?

Myths

With the odds of cracking open a double and triple (yikes!) yolk eggs are about one in one thousand, it’s understandable that there would be myths and superstitions surrounding this event.

Wiccans believe that the double yolk is a sign of good fortune, but the Norse thought it was a sign of doom – death was imminent for someone in the family. The most common myth is that someone in the family will get pregnant and have twins, or someone in the family will be getting married soon because of a pregnancy.

None of these occurrences have a time limit on them, and all could happen in a reasonable amount of time. But to attribute it to a double yolk egg, well, seems like a bit of a stretch.

Facts

Double yolks are caused the same way twins happen. The ovary releases two eggs too close together. In mammals, the result would be twins. For hens, the closeness of the release allows one shell to form around the two eggs forming a double yolk egg.

This typically happens in young hens whose system is not synced up properly or in older hens that are nearing the end of their egg laying days. In either case, it is the metabolism of the hen that causes this occurrence.

If the egg were fertilized, the result would probably be two dead chicks instead of twins since the egg shell itself could not expand to meet the growing demands of the chicks. The hens, themselves, could become egg bound or suffer from a vent prolapse.

There are some hens that have a hereditary trait to lay double yolkers. This would be more common in heavy breeds such as the Buff Orpington.

Safe and healthy?

If you get a double yolk egg consider it a protein bonus and scramble it up, but, if it happens when you are baking, it would not count as two eggs because the amount of egg white is less and could alter the taste of whatever you were baking.

In any case, enjoy your eggs and don’t be overly concerned about the superstitions surrounding double yolks.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.
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Milkweed and Your Hay


milkweed

Without milkweed, the monarch butterfly would become extinct as this is the only plant that the monarch caterpillars eat. But, what about other animals, birds or insects? Is this a plant we want in our pastures or hay fields?

Toxicity

Milkweed is toxic to poultry and some livestock including sheep, goats, cattle, and horses with cattle, sheep and horses being the most susceptible. Milkweed contains two toxins: cardiac glycosides and an unidentified neurotoxin. Both of these can cause death. While the neurotoxin is the most lethal, the cardiac glycosides can produce digitalis-like signs that can contribute to death.

The amount of milkweed that your horse would have to eat to become ill or die is uncertain. A lot is dependent on the horse but, it could be as little as 0.0005% of your horse’s weight to as much as 2.0%. For a 1,000 pound horse, the amount could vary from ½ pound to 20 pounds.

Dry milkweed that has been baled in the hay DOES NOT lose its toxicity! While the green plant is more toxic, the dry plant can still make a horse sick or even die!

Symptoms

The symptoms of cardiac glycosides include depression and reluctance to stand, irregular heartbeat, colic, dilated pupils, muscular weakness or tremors and uncoordinated gait, and labored breathing. Death typically occurs within 24 hours.

Neurotoxins affect the nervous system. The symptoms include severe colic, dilated pupils, muscle tremors and falling down, incoordination, violent convulsions, and respiratory failure. Death occurs within 24 hours of ingesting the toxin.

Prevention

For the most part, milkweed is not a vegetation that a horse would eat unless there is no other grasses around. If your horse is on pasture, be sure to monitor how much grass is available to your horse. Check to see if there is any milkweed growing in the pasture and eradicate it immediately.

The greater threat is in baled hay. The whorled-leaf milkweed has a finer stem and leaves that make it harder for horses to separate the weeds from the hay. Always inspect baled hay for the presence of weeks, especially the toxic weeds.

Even though milkweed may not be a “favorite” feed for horses, the potential for death is high. Always take measures to make sure that milkweed is not growing in your pastures or baled in your horse’s hay.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

Vineyard, Winery, Vintner


The English language is confusing enough without variations of words that seem to mean the same thing but don’t.

wineglasses

As we are embarking on our journey to become a licensed Small Wine Maker on our farm, we hear different comments. The most frequent is – “Where are your grapes?” Wine without grapes was covered a few blog posts ago – Wine Gone Country. Today, we’ll attempt to clear up the confusion between some of these other wine terms.

Vineyard

A vineyard is an expanse of land that grows grapes. These grapes may be used for wine, but vineyards can also grow grapes for grapes for raisins, non-alcoholic grape juice, or plain old eating. It’s the type of grapes that determines what it is grown for.

Wine grapes

sawtooth_grapes_banner_0

Many of the wines that we enjoy are named after the grapes that are used to make them – Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape used to make white wine; Riesling is a white grape that can be used to make white and sparkling white wines.

Chablis is made from chardonnay grapes in the Chablis region of in France; champagne also uses the chardonnay grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. Each variation has a different taste based on the soil is was grown in as well as the method of fermentation.

Yield per acre

Because of the picture that we see of vineyards, we have been led to believe that a vineyard must have a lot of good, land to make it worthwhile. This is not true.

The saying “the worst the soil, the better the wine” is true. Many vineyards are in areas that are unsuitable for other agricultural products. But, this doesn’t mean that there is no or low yield. Vineyards, on average, produce 2 to 10 tons of grapes per acre! Here’s the math – one ton of grapes can produce 60 cases or 720 bottles of wine. So even in the poorest soil, an acre of grape vines can produce about 1,440 bottles of wine!

Winery

winery

A winery is a building or business that produces wine. A winery may be associated and/or be part of a vineyard, but that is not always true. Many wineries want to focus on the production of the wine and not have to worry about growing the grapes.

Wine making locations

In addition to the well-known European winemaking regions, Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley in California, New York’s Finger Lakes, and certain areas in the northern part of Michigan, like Traverse City, are known for their grapes, vineyards, and wineries.

But, a winery doesn’t have to be adjacent to or even near a vineyard. The grapes can be shipped anywhere and some wineries use different fruits and plants to make their wines. Wine can be made out of almost any fruit, select vegetables, and some flowers – like dandelions and lilac blossoms.

Farm, Micro, and Urban wineries

Wineries can be located almost anywhere. Farm wineries use the produce from their farm or other local farmers, micro-wineries are similar to micro-breweries where the amount of wine produced is limited, but often varied. Urban wineries have been sprouting out like micro-breweries in major cities around the country. The ability to make wine anywhere give the public the opportunity to try new and different flavors without having to travel far.

Vintner

vintner_2

A vintner is a winemaker. Being a winemaker can be an occupation for a person, or it can pertain to a winery that produces custom wines for others. There are some “wineries” that do not actually make their own wine, but hire another winery (vintner) to make a select number of flavors and put a label on the wine for that particular winery.

No matter where the fruit is grown, where it’s produced, or where it is consumed, wines have become a very popular drink over the past few years.

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

Waiting!!!


Calf watch is officially on!

Part of our farm dream is to establish a quality herd of cattle. We are well on our way. Our two heifers were impregnated in November and are due at the end of this month. Similar to humans, the gestation period for cattle is about nine months. Like any pregnancy, the due date depends on a lot of factors and first births can be as early as two weeks before the due date.

Pregnant heifers re

Today, both heifers look very pregnant. Callie seems a bit bigger than Cherry. We hope both births go smoothly and the calves are a good weight for a first birth.

The bull, Pedro, is a calm, laid-back Black Angus. Our heifers are Red Angus. Cherry is a Maine-Anjou cross and Callie is part Shorthorn. Based on their genetics and their dispositions, we should have some very nice calves soon.

Just like women who are pregnant, we’ve been watching their feed. Plenty of good hay is always available. They are on pasture, so they can graze if they want. And they get supplemental feed to make sure they don’t lose weight, but not so much that they get fat.

Once the calves are born, we will have a whole, new routine here. But mostly watching the young calves being introduced to their world and just having fun!

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

An egg a day – or there about


Egg_nest

Our customer base for our eggs is like most businesses – our regulars, our occasionals and our drop-ins. Some of our customers understand the egg production process and others are surprised.

No rooster?

We are often asked how we can get eggs from our hens without a rooster. Really? You are really asking that question? Okay, let’s do sex education 101 here. The hen will lay an egg every 26 hours. The reproductive system starts forming the new egg once an egg has been laid. The entire cycle take 26 hours. The hen’s body does not care if a rooster is present or not. The rooster is only necessary to fertilize the egg if we want to hatch more chicks. Want the eggs to eat? No rooster, no need to worry about scrambling a fertilized egg.

No eggs?

Yeah, the hens went on strike this week. No, but their body may have. After about ten months of laying eggs the hens go into a molt season. They lose a lot of their feathers, their bodies take a break, and then, they go back into the business of laying eggs. Of course, all the hens don’t molt at the same time because the all didn’t start laying eggs on the dame day.

We have Rhode Island Red hens. This breed usually starts laying eggs at around five months old. Ad, although we would like to think the entire group of hens that we purchased were born on the same day, they probably weren’t. And just like other mammals, their body cycle may be faster or slower than the norm. So they might start laying eggs a few days earlier than their feathered sisters and may go into molt sooner or even later than the rest of the hens in the coop.

One thing is for sure, I see a drop in the number of eggs that I collect each day. Once the molt is over, normal production is resumed.

More hens?

Every 18 months or so we purchase another set of chicks. Even though we are still getting eggs, with each molt the hens produce less eggs. So, we may get 14 eggs a day from a young group of hens, the number of eggs that we collect each day can drop significantly after the first year and each year thereafter.

We could cull the hens by removing the ones that are not producing or have slowed down, or we could just add more hens. Rhode Island Reds do make good eating hens, but, they need to be culled by the time they are three years old. Otherwise the meat may be stringy but still make good soup!

Other elements

The weather can also affect the ability of the hens to lay. We keep a light on during the winter to simulate longer days. We also keep the temperature in the coop above freezing. This has helped with continued egg production during the winter. We have a fan in the coop for the sticky, hot summer nights as well. But continued storms or high winds also affect the hens and drop egg production.

So, in all, we try to keep our hens happy so they produce almost an egg a day, but weather and their normal body functions will sometimes cause a decrease in production. It’s just the nature of things!

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.

 

The Threat of Swallow-wort


Most of the calls that we receive for hay usually ask if we have no alfalfa in our hay. Alfalfa is a concern for many horse owners, as some horses cannot tolerate its richness. But, have you ever wondered what else might be in your hay?

As stewards of the land, we walk our fields every spring and after every cutting to see what is trying to make its home in our fields. We keep current on both toxic and invasive plants and follow the recommendations of Michigan Extension to keep them in check. The latest concern in our area – Rose Township – has been the invasive species – Swallow-wort. There are two variations of this plant – Black Swallow-wort and Pale Swallow-wort.

Black Swallow-wort

black-swallow-wort

The Black Swallow-wort is a perennial vine that can grow up to 7 feet. The purple flowers are star-like and are in clusters of 6 to 10 flowers. The seed pods look like smaller milkweed pods.

 

Pale Swallow-wort

pale-swallow-wort

The Pale Swallow-Wort is also a perennial vine that can grow up to 7 feet – but this vine is twining – which means it can wrap itself around other plants, fences, even trees. The pink flowers are star-like, but narrower than the Black Swallow-wort flowers. They are also in clusters of 6 to 10 flowers and produce seed pods like the milkweed.

 

Impact

In addition to being considered an invasive species, both types of swallow-wort are noxious plants. The roots of these plants are poisonous to livestock. This includes horses as well as cattle. The plants are poisonous to the Monarch butterflies. It’s important to note that most cattle and horses will not eat the roots of a plant unless it has been uncovered or otherwise disturbed. At this time, there is no warning about the flowers, vines, or seed pods being toxic to horses or cattle.

The twining ability of the Pale Swallow-wort gives it the ability to smother other plants in the area, similar to the way wild grape vines have destroyed forests when left unchecked. The Black Swallow-wort spreads through the area chocking out other plants by blanketing the area.

Both plants are spreading throughout the United States.

Black Swallow-wort distribution map

 

Control and removal

The most effective way of controlling this plant is by spraying it twice a year. Once in June when it is flowering, and again in August. According to the study, after two application with glyphosate less than 5% of the plant was present. After two applications with triclopyr less 15% of the plant was present.

If using an herbicide, be sure to add am adjuvant to the solution. The vines and leaves of the swallow-wort are waxy and without the adjuvant, there will be no penetration into the plant.

Clipping and destroying the pods will keep the plant from reseeding itself, but will not keep the plant from growing.

It not advised to cut or mow the plant itself. This will only stimulate the plant to grow denser the following year. Most of the plant growth comes from the crown of the plant or the rhizome. If you want to remove it completely without using a herbicide, you would need to dig the plant up completely. Plowing it under will only divide the crowns or rhizomes and increase its density.

Even a prescribed burn is not an effective means of controlling this plant.

Two leaf-eating moths have been identified as another possible resource, but there hasn’t been enough research or trials run to ensure that this method won’t become a problem once the swallow-wort has been eradicated.

Replanting an area with native grasses or other grasses to thwart the regrowth of swallow-wort is recommended.

State or other agency assistance may be available but they have to be made aware of the problem before they can act. Michigan Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) (http://www.misin.msu.edu/) is an effort led by researchers with Michigan State University Department of Entomology. When I added my two sightings to their database, I noticed that no one from Rose Township has made an entry since 2012 when the last epidemic of swallow-wort was of concern. Yet, I hear people in our community discussing the threat without taking any steps to remedy the situation.

Prevention

You cannot stop the wind from blowing the swallow-wort seeds into your area, but, you can be a steward of your land by checking the areas where these plants would be most likely to grow. Treat the plant with one of the proven methods to prevent its spread.

Make your neighbors aware of the plant if you see it on their property.

Report any sightings to MISIN (http://www.misin.msu.edu/) or your state agency for invasive plants.

If you hike, ride, or otherwise find yourself in an area where swallow-worts are growing, brush off your clothes, vehicle, or anything else that might be carrying the seeds back to your area. We remove all debris from our farm equipment before it leaves the field to ensure that we are not moving any plants to the next field.

Being vigilant is everyone’s responsibility.

 

Resources

Stewardship Network – http://www.stewardshipnetwork.org/sites/default/files/acwmaforswallowworti_05092012/index.html

Invasive Treatment –https://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/invasive-species/Swallow-wortBCP.pdf

Adjuvants for Enhancing Herbicide Performance – http://extension.psu.edu/pests/weeds/control/adjuvants-for-enhancing-herbicide-performance/extension_publication_file

Michigan Invasive Species Information Network – MISIN – http://www.misin.msu.edu/

KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef and eggs, as well as premium hay, is located in Rose Township, Michigan and is in the process of acquiring the required licenses to become a small wine maker.