Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Farming

U-Pick Event at Sanctuary Ridge Farm!

Welcome to Sanctuary Ridge Farm! We offer seasonal U-Pick events at our beautiful farm overlooking the Cumberland Mountains in East Tennessee. Come pick flowers to your hearts content! A variety of Zinnias are blooming in the field by our hand-crafted greenhouse where you can pose for some wonderful family photos. Feel free to bring a photographer along at no additional charge. Private sessions are available during our off hours, just contact me via email for more details. Purchase a container that you get to keep, and fill it full for $10. Bring your container back anytime and do refills for $9 all season long. Event dates and links for pre payment are posted below. We do accept cash, Venmo, and cards onsite. Local honey, jams, and homemade breads are available at our shop!

U-Pick Zinnia EventCome pick a beautiful bouquet of flowers on our farm! We provide a cup and the equipment to cut your flowers. Bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful view. Bring your own photographer for some lovely family photos. Cost is $5 per vehicle & $10 per bouquet. Purchase parking via the link or in person. We accept cash, Venmo, and cards.
Please remember this is an outdoor event where insects and wildlife might be encountered! 
1pm-7pm1917 Armstrong Ferry Rd Decatur, TN 37322
U-Pick Zinnia EventCome pick a beautiful bouquet of flowers on our farm! We provide a cup and the equipment to cut your flowers. Bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful view. Bring your own photographer for some lovely family photos. Cost is $5 per vehicle & $10 per bouquet. Purchase parking via the link or in person. We accept cash, Venmo, and cards.
Please remember this is an outdoor event where insects and wildlife might be encountered! 
1pm-7pm1917 Armstrong Ferry Rd Decatur, TN 37322
U-Pick Zinnia EventCome pick a beautiful bouquet of flowers on our farm! We provide a cup and the equipment to cut your flowers. Bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful view. Bring your own photographer for some lovely family photos. Cost is $5 per vehicle & $10 per bouquet. Purchase parking via the link or in person. We accept cash, Venmo, and cards.
Please remember this is an outdoor event where insects and wildlife might be encountered! 
1pm-7pm1917 Armstrong Ferry Rd Decatur, TN 37322
U-Pick Zinnia EventCome pick a beautiful bouquet of flowers on our farm! We provide a cup and the equipment to cut your flowers. Bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful view. Bring your own photographer for some lovely family photos. Cost is $5 per vehicle & $10 per bouquet. Purchase parking via the link or in person. We accept cash, Venmo, and cards.
Please remember this is an outdoor event where insects and wildlife might be encountered! 
9am-7pm1917 Armstrong Ferry Rd Decatur, TN 37322
U-Pick Zinnia EventCome pick a beautiful bouquet of flowers on our farm! We provide a cup and the equipment to cut your flowers. Bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful view. Bring your own photographer for some lovely family photos. Cost is $5 per vehicle & $10 per bouquet. Purchase parking via the link or in person. We accept cash, Venmo, and cards.
Please remember this is an outdoor event where insects and wildlife might be encountered! 
9am-7pm1917 Armstrong Ferry Rd Decatur, TN 37322
Zinnia Fields at Sanctuary Ridge Farm on July 31, 2023.
Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Farming

“Crew” and The Farm

Almost 7 weeks old!

Farm Dogs

Every farm needs a farm dog! I’ve researched many livestock guardian breeds from Anatolian Shepherds to Australian Shepherds and everything in between. Since we have confirmed coyotes on our property, I felt it was time to add our own farm dog. I really liked what I read about the Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd mix for several reasons.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

These family friendly livestock guardians will protect everything on the farm with proper training! Even the family cat will find a friend in this fierce protector. This breed can reach 29” tall and weigh up to 150 pounds.

Check out this link for more information:

Great Pyrenees Dogs

The Great Pyrenees dog is a familiar breed in our area- almost every farm around has a Great Pyrenees. One draw back to this breed is that they wander. This dog will literally learn to walk the borders of the property every morning and evening. Their “home” range can be up to 2 miles, so if your property is less than two miles, the dog is likely to roam into your neighbors property.

This breed is also a fierce protector of their livestock and farm family! One major difference between this breed and the Anatolian Shepherd is that Great Pyrenees are very affectionate dogs.

Read more about the Great Pyrenees breed here:

Mixed Breed Dogs

I am a fan of mixed-breed dogs. One benefit is that usually you get the best of both breeds. When researching these two dog breeds, I found multiple farmers commenting that when these two particular livestock guardian dogs are bred, the result is less roaming and a friendlier pup.

For this reason, I decided to add a Great Pyrenees/ Anatolian Shepherd mix dog to our farm.

Meet “Crew”

We picked Crew up about two hours from our farm. He was already living with Goats, Cows, and chickens so I’m hoping he will do really well with all of our animals. So far, he is a normal, playful pup but he also seems to understand when the chickens, cats or goats have had enough of his playing one antics.

As the main caretaker of all our animals, I have to make sure Crew is being trained by me as well. With such a large breed dog, it is vitally important that he learn commands to sit, stay, come, ect. So that if he gets out of hand I can regain control. This is a whole new learning experience for me since we have two dogs inside that I have spoiled rotten. Leaving the pup outside in the barn at night made me feel guilty at first, but it is necessary for him to bond with his herd so he is compelled to protect them.

Although these pups are irresistibly fluffy and affectionate, they absolutely NEED to be outside. They were bred for a reason, for a purpose and they need a job or they will absolutely be a menace. This is why you rarely see them as only a pet.

“Crew” has been part of our farm family for almost four weeks now and he’s already grown so much! He is going to be a BIG boy! He has bonded with all of us, including our other dogs and all the animals on the farm. Even the cats like Crew and tolerate his playful pawing at them.

Crew loves attention more than anything. He grunts happily and leans against you for extra attention. When I’m out working, he follows me everywhere and interacts with the other animals as I go about the daily chores of feeding, ect. We are excited to see how he progresses in his training since he already knows the commands for sit, stay and come.


A Huge Commitment

As you can see, I spent a lot of time researching and planning this new addition to our farm. I even picked the “perfect time”, when I would be home over Christmas break, so that I could devote as much time as possible to training this sweet puppy. That’s why it was so hard for me to admit that this was a Huge mistake. Ultimately, I am responsible for all of the animals here. Everyone is willing to help some when needed, but the bulk of the responsibility for these animals is on me.

The reality of how much I fell in love with this sweet puppy is not to be lost in the reality of knowing this was a mistake. Crew was so attached to me, he followed me everywhere. But he was also a puppy in all the normal puppy mischief. That’s really not something I can deal with right now. I have so many commitments, I quickly realized that there was no way I could properly train Crew. This is a two year commitment with a livestock guardian dog, and I realized that I had to do something soon. In fact, admitting it and doing something about it was a very hard thing for me to do, but it ultimately led to Crew being adopted by a family who is familiar with farm dogs and their requirements. Thankfully, I had so many people interested in adopting him that I could carefully choose a family who had a large cattle farm, chickens and even small children to keep Crew busy. I cried when he left and I still miss him when I go out to do chores and he isn’t there. Crew’s new family have been so kind, sending me updates and even some video of Crew playing with their one year old daughter.

This sweet boy will always have a place in my heart…

Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Farming

Tragedy on the Farm

Meet Rusty!

Rusty is the boy I didn’t want. When I picked up my first bottle baby “Gracie”, the farmer really wanted me to take this little boy too. He said “If you are bottle feeding one, you might as well feed two” and then he offered to sell this goat for $50. I’m not trying to make bank on goat farming. I really want them to eat all the undergrowth on a 15 acre area we have fenced and the truth is they are just too cute to resist. But I also know that in order to pay for their winter hay and a little grain for the girls, I will need to sell some of the offspring each year. I can only have one intact male goat/Buck for my herd and I already have one wether (a sterile male goat) in my herd. I didn’t want to add another goat that will require feed, minerals and other costly maintenance. But I couldn’t resist the $50 deal on this boy so I took him.

Rusty ended up being a really sweet boy. I was told that both he and Gracie had been on the bottle already. He was supposed to be 2 weeks old and she was supposed to be 4 weeks old. This meant that I would need to bottle feed them for around 4 weeks total, twice a day. I had all my supplies ready and even found a local farmer to buy goat milk from each week. It took some effort, but I was able to get Rusty to finally take the bottle. Gracie never took to it, but I did get her to drink some from a bowl each day. Both babies were eating hay and some grain each day too. Within a few days, they both got sick with Cocidia. It’s common for baby goats to get this, especially if they are stressed out by being removed from their mom so young. I treated them both with medicine and they were both doing really good for around 4 weeks. That’s when I spoke to the farmer who sold them to me. I was confirming with him about some vaccines when he told me he was wrong about their birthdates. They were actually 1 and 2 weeks old when I picked them up.

I knew this was a critical error or omission on his part. This omission made a huge difference in Gracie’s growth. I’ll share more about that when I introduce her next week.

Tragedy Strikes

I bonded with Rusty. He was so cute, snuggly and lovable. Just a few days after we finished building the Goat Barn and getting everyone settled into their new shelter, Rusty got sick.

I teach on Monday’s at our homeschool co-op so I went to the barn to take care of everyone before I had to leave at 7:15. As I walked into the barn, I noticed Rusty wasn’t getting up. He was too weak to stand. His body temperature was dangerously low. This is bad news for a goat. I immediately found a substitute teacher and loaded Rusty into the back of my car for the drive to the goat veterinarian. They drew blood and did some testing, then decided to treat him for worms because he was very anemic. Goats can be infected with a variety of worms, and the worst kinds cause severe anemia which can be deadly. The veterinarian said that based on his age, he likely contracted them before coming to live with us. She gave him a shot at the office and sent me home with one to administer at home in 24 hours. She also instructed me on feeding him and trying to keep him warm.

Rusty at the Vet

He did ok that afternoon, eating grass and drinking water. His body temperature even came up to normal. I sat outside in the warm September sunshine with him that afternoon.

My husband was out of town so I set up the dog kennel in my bedroom for Rusty to spend the night inside where I could keep a close check on him all night. Tuesday morning I woke to the sound of Rusty grinding his teeth. I called the vet and they assured me that we just needed to give the medicine more time. His body temperature was dangerously low again, so I turned off our central air conditioning. I brought a space heater into my bedroom and sat on the floor with Rusty in my lap while the warm heat blew in our direction. It was blazing hot in my room, and his body temperature slowly rose again. As I was caring for him, I researched to see if there was anything else I could do for him. I found a recipe from a trusted goat mentor to treat a downed goat. After sending Noah to the grocery to pick up the items needed and preparing the downed goat recipe, I carried Rusty out to sit in the warm sunshine. I planned to feed him the recipe with a syringe, but as I settled into the chair while holding him, Rusty took his last breath before I could even try. I sat in the sunshine for a long time holding him, sobbing at the loss of my little buddy. I tried everything I knew, but it just wasn’t enough.

What I’ve learned about Goats:

Goats are not “easy”. They like to escape. Goats will over eat. They have a specific diet- one that does not include cans! Goats can get sick with pneumonia, upset stomach, a cold, and a plethora of worms. I also think goats are “easy”. I know, I’m contradicting myself. But it’s also true that goats are “easy” because IF you keep them fenced and pay attention to their health, you can have a lot of fun with goats! They have big personalities! You will fall in love with them and it will break your heart if you lose one.

There is a lot more to caring for goats than just keeping them fenced and providing water. You need to be aware of what is normal for each goat. When sickness comes, they can die so quickly.

I lost Rusty in September and it has taken me 5 months to write about it. I mourned the loss of that little goat almost as much as his stall mate Gracie. She cried for days. She and I helped each other through the loss of little Rusty.

His little life was not a waste. I learned so much in the time that I cared for him. I am extra aware of the signs and symptoms of sickness in my goats. Losing Rusty probably saved my whole herd. After he died, I treated the entire herd for worms. ( I know you are not “supposed” to do that, but I couldn’t bear the idea of losing another while waiting to see if anyone else got sick.) I have collected and printed a whole binder of information for treating a wide range of goat illnesses. I spend time every day assessing the condition of my goats. I know I am not fully prepared, and I will probably make mistakes, but I feel much more prepared for sickness should it darken our barn doors again.

Rusty at 2 weeks old
Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Farming

A Peacock Trade

A Peacock on the Farm

A Peacock Moves In

One day this beautiful Peacock showed up on our farm. When I first saw her, I thought she was just one of the wild turkeys who roam our hills. I was sure she wouldn’t stay. Surely she was just passing through. She really loved hanging out with our chickens, eating their food and sticking close to the flock all day. I kept waiting for her to go home but she decided to stay here.

I notified neighbors of the peacock, hoping to find her owners. Days went by with no one claiming this beautiful bird. I considered keeping her since her owners couldn’t be found. There is just one problem with that big, beautiful bird: She really loved roosting on Noah’s car- and coincidentally scratching it. These were not little hairline scratches, no, they were long deep scratches.

Every time I looked outside, she was roosting on Noah’s car. I’d grab a broom and run out to the driveway yelling and waving the broom in the air to “shoo” her off the car, but it was useless. As soon as I turned my back, she was back on the car again. With frustration building I began to hatch a plan to get the peacock off our property.

Hatching a Plan…

One day I caught the naughty peacock as she was grabbing a snack in the chicken run. I raced as fast as I could to the chicken run door, just barely beating her to a narrow escape. I’m sure it was a funny sight to see- me frantically running to the coop in the middle of the afternoon! With the bird finally trapped in the chicken run, I quickly snapped some pictures and posted her “FREE” on a local farm page. Within an hour, a very happy young man showed up to take her home with him!

I wish I had a video of him catching her! The 6 1/2 foot tall fella entered the chicken run, cornered the peacock and swiftly grabbed her by the feet. With feathers flying, he brought her out of the run. I helped him tie her feet together and he carefully laid her in the back seat of his car for the drive home. We chatted for a minute and realized that I had planned to buy some goats from him earlier in the spring. I had to cancel the appointment when Jamey was injured. The young man was so happy to get the pea-hen, he promised me a “good deal” on a couple of young goats after we returned from the July mission trip to Belize.

We drove out to his farm one Saturday, planning to purchase one bottle baby doeling. He showed us all around his farm full of goats, turkeys, and even a few beautiful alpacas. He offered me an older nanny goat and another bottle baby boy. I really didn’t want another boy, since you can only have one in-tact male. At the last minute, he gave me a deal I couldn’t resist. We left with a nanny goat “Martha”, a doeling “Gracie”, and a wether boy “Rusty”.

So, that’s how we ended up with three more goats on the farm! You just can’t make this stuff up- farming truly is an adventure!

Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Farming

How the Garden Grew

Rocky Top Garden

This was the site of my original 50 ft by 50 ft garden here on the farm. We named it Rocky Top because it is so full of rocks! The soil is great, but the rocks are a real pain. Just when I think I have picked up all the rocks, I find more. Over the past 3 years I have grown tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, potatoes, corn, herbs, cucumbers and even pumpkins.

Each January I begin planning the crops I want to grow. This year, I really out did myself! In addition to the crops listed above, I added butternut squash, honey nut squash, round zucchini, habanero peppers, jalapeño peppers, bell peppers, pop corn, Indian corn, watermelon, cantelope, and a wide variety of pumpkins. Because we purchased a large tiller for the tractor, I decided to just have Jamey till a larger garden closer to the house. I still kept my Rocky Top garden because you have to grow pop corn and Indian corn a good distance from sweet corn so it doesn’t cross pollinate. Jamey went right to work!

The New Garden

Jamey tilled the garden soil, but he tilled about 3x the size garden that I wanted. I had enough seed so I went for it, planting around 300×50’ in the new garden and 50×50’ in the old garden. It’s a lot to maintain- I could barely keeping up with it! So we’ve harvested 2 varieties of zucchini, green beans, potatoes, cucumbers, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, corn, winter squash, spaghetti squash and pumpkins. Next year I hope to keep it more realistic! I’ve already decided that many of those crops will NOT be on my list next year because they just didn’t do well. I enjoy gardening but this year was just too much!

What I learned…

If I have learned anything this year, its that time seems to make the bad memories fade away. When I am bored this winter, I will probably concoct a new garden plan and forget how hard it was to manage that big garden. Somebody please remind me!

Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Farming


Fergus eating crabgrass

A Boer Goat…

Not too long after Rain and Kudzu came to the farm, I found a beautiful Buck. Since we hope to have baby goats next year, we need an intact male to breed with Rain. Our new boy “Fergus” is a registered 50/50 Nubian Boer mix. Boer goats are raised for meat and for show. They have good temperament and I just fell in love with him. He is a beautiful boy!

He was NOT happy about riding in the kennel on the way home.

Fergus Cried all the way Home!

Settling in with Rain and Kudzu

It didn’t take long for Fergus to fit right in with Rain and Kudzu. The three kids get along great! I am amazed at how they each have a different personality. Rain is very sweet. Kudzu is sweet and very goofy. Fergus is sweet and dramatic. The three are very close in age and size. It will be interesting to see how they change as they grow. I am hoping for some beautiful babies next spring!

Rut Season

As Fall approached, Fergus began getting more aggressive at feeding time. It’s only natural for goats to use their horns to push and even to play, but it’s very easy to get hurt if you are not very careful. After a couple of close calls, I researched the best way to deal with this new issue with my beloved Fergus. I was surprised to learn that goats go into a Rut Season, or a mating season in Fall. This affects the Bucks of the herd, making them aggressive and a little crazy. A quick spray with the water hose calmed him down, but I won’t be able to use that method year round. I ended up using a large stick to “herd” him when I am in the pen with him. This method works great for me.

Fergus, just like other male goats, became a stinky boy during Rut. It is common for the male to urinate on their head. For some reason, this is found attractive to the female goats. The males also make this goofy face when they find a female they like. The female can be a goat or a human. Madison and I can talk sweet to Fergus or scratch behind his ears and he will act all goofy for us both!

Fergus loves me!
Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Farming

Goats on the Farm

Welcoming our first goats to the farm!

Why Goats?

Not long after we bought our property, we started thinking about IF we wanted any animals. I was adamant that I did not want chickens! That ended up being our first farm animals and now we have 18 feathered friends free-ranging every day. I digress…

We have always said we want cows and goats. Cows to raise for meat, and goats to eat the brambles in the wooded areas of our property. This land is loaded with forage for goats! I have been reading about goats for two years, just waiting for the day when we could finally go pick up some kids. With no fencing on any of our property, getting the water/electric infrastructure to our land was the top priority. Next came the Tiny Home Office (see this post and then our personal home (see this post The fencing was always on our mind, but so many other things had to come first.

Fencing in Winter

Winter is the perfect time to cut trees on the fence line and install fence posts! Jamey and Madison worked every weekend preparing two of our property lines for fencing. By April, we were so close to finishing the fenced area for our goats. I admit, I jumped the gun and bought two goats before we were completely finished. Again, I blame Facebook. Those livestock pages get me every time ya’ll!

Nubian Goats

I decided to try Nubian goats. They are supposed to be docile, great milk, and their size makes them a little easier to keep contained in a fence. (More on that experience later!)

Our First Goats

Rain and Kudzu are siblings so we had Kudzu banded to avoid any future birth defects. We picked them up on Madison’s birthday. The surprise was perfect! She’s just as excited about the goats as I am so I loved getting to plan it on her birthday. Here are Rain and Kudzu when they were born:

They were 8 weeks old when they came to live with us:

Kudzu is a little goofy and Rain is just so sweet, we fell in love with these two kids! Madison and I enjoy spending time with them each day. We are trying to insure that the kids are friendly with us since we have lots of visitors on our farm. We hope to share the joy of these farm babies with everyone who comes to visit!

Kudzu and Rain on the Farm

Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Farming

Chicken Coop Plans

The Chicken Coop

Why not a pre-made Chicken Coop?

Before I even bought my first chickens, I knew I needed a chicken coop. I ended up buying this one on amazon: although when I bought mine I think it was listed for $179 and free shipping. I really wasn’t sure if I would even like caring for chickens since I’ve never had them before so I didn’t want to invest a lot of money at first. I have been very disappointed in the quality of the pre-made chicken coop. It was easy to assemble but the quality is not good. I would not recommend it, especially at the inflated price. It’s really not big enough for more than 4-6 hens. The roosting area is not tall enough for true roosting so all my chickens wanted to roost on the roof of this instead of going in it at night. As a result, the weight of the chickens caused the entire coop roof to sag. It’s just not good quality.

The Chicken Run

I also purchased this chicken run: The pre-made chicken coop fit inside the chicken run. We installed extra chicken wire around the edge of the chicken run and buried it two feet in the ground to deter any predators from digging around the run. So far this has worked! I really like having the additional chicken run. It provides a safe place for the chickens to stay when they are too young to free range. If there are hawks, eagles or owls flying around, the chickens safely retreat to the chicken run where predators can’t get them. My rabbit hutch also fits inside the chicken run. I’ve even let my rabbit free range inside the run with the chickens!

The New Chicken Coop Design

I described the new chicken coop design to my husband and he quickly went to work building it.

The Coop size is 6’6″ High x 10′ Wide x 6′ Deep. The floor is 18″ from the ground. This design matches the end wall dimensions of the Chicken Run. I wanted to be able to attach the chicken run to the coop and install an automatic chicken door to simplify the day to day care of my flock. The floor height allows me to easily muck the coop with a rake and put fresh wood shavings in when I am finished without breaking my back. We only made two nesting boxes because the chickens really just take turns laying eggs in the same box. No need for each to have their own. And so far when I have a broody hen, she lays her eggs in the main part of the chicken coop.

Chicken Coop Interior Design

The interior of the chicken coop was designed for easy cleaning and maintenance. We bought inexpensive vinyl flooring and extended it up the walls 6 inches. I stapled it in place. If I need to wash anything down inside the coop it will dry quickly. Jamey nailed two 2×4 boards at opposing angles to create roosting bars. The chickens love it! I finished the nesting boxes with these rubber mats that can easily be removed to wash: and finished the entire area with pine shavings. Once a month I change these out and add a sprinkle of lime dust to help with odor.

The exterior of the coop is white metal siding and black metal roofing to match our other farm buildings. I wanted to use some old windows as access doors on each side of the coop for easy cleaning access. I also love that I can see inside to check on the hens at night or when it is really cold outside. I can also open the hinged windows to air the coop out on really hot days. The nesting box also has a hinged door to easily collect eggs each day. We used simple hasp latches to secure the hinged windows and doors on the coop.

Some Chicken Coop Must Haves

The automatic chicken door is a game changer! It can be set to close with an evening and morning delay. I don’t have to worry about going to close the coop each night. When we are out of town, the chickens are safe and I don’t have to worry about them. No matter how busy I am, the door opens in the morning and they can all access their food and water. Here is the one we bought: sunset

We do like to travel so an automatic feeder and watering system is definitely on my must have list. We made our own feeder with this locking bucket from Tractor Supply and this kit from Amazon: it holds 60 pounds of chicken feed. With 18 in my flock, this usually lasts around 2 weeks. We also made two five gallon automatic watering buckets with this kit from Amazon:

My final recommendation is the use of this pine pellet for inside the chicken run. Chickens are messy. I tried pine straw for quite a while but within a week the chickens had scratched it into the mud. When we have extended rainy weather, all my eggs ended up covered in mud from the chicken feet in the nesting box. I finally discovered these pine pellets and they are truly wonderful! You spread them out and they become coarse sawdust! They absorb the rain, chicken poop and help keep the flies down too. Check out these before/after pictures:

The cost is actually less than the pine straw so if you haven’t tried this in your chicken run yet, I highly recommend it! Find it at Tractor Supply here:

Happy Chickens!

My chickens seem pretty happy here! Everyone except my two ducks and two turkeys roost in the Coop every night. So far we have stayed safe from any predators. I am collecting an average of eleven eggs every day right now so some of my friends buy my eggs, helping to offset the chicken feed costs. We love having the chickens free range so we can watch them scratching around for bugs in the yard!

Happy little Flock!
Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Farming

Turkey Babies

We named this one Christmas!

Heritage Turkeys

Before we began this farming adventure, I had no idea there were so many different kinds of turkeys! I thought they were either wild or from a farm. I have loved watching all the wild turkeys on our farm. There is hardly a day that goes by without seeing one here!

As with most things, I am learning so much about the different turkeys and what their purpose is on the farm. Here are some fun turkey facts:

  1. Turkey babies will cry for you! They want to be near you and are very vocal about it when they can’t see you. This is both sweet and a little annoying at times. Last week we were working on the Goat Cabin only a few feet from the turkey crate. They cried all day because they knew we were close but couldn’t see us. Every time Jamey didn’t need me, I made my way into their view so they would stop crying!
  2. Turkeys are very docile. They will keep the peace in the chicken house. If a rooster is too aggressive with the hens, the turkey will let him know.
  3. A Tom Turkey will perform his mating “dance” for you sometimes. I am hoping to see this!
  4. Heritage Turkeys don’t grow as fast as the grocery store Turkey’s you buy for Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner. It takes a heritage turkey around nine months to mature enough for the dinner table. The Turkey in the supermarket takes around 8 weeks because it has gone through a selective breeding process to gain weight at a much faster rate than other breeds. It’s the same with super market chickens.
  5. A heritage turkey is one of a variety of strains of domestic turkey which retains historic characteristics that are no longer present in the majority of turkeys raised for consumption since the mid-20th century.

Blue Slate Turkey

I blame Facebook. I joined all the livestock pages, farm pages, and garden pages. Every single day there are new livestock “available” and I can not resist looking. First I look to see what is available. Then I research it. Would it be good for our farm? Is it a good price? Where are they located? I am not driving hours to haul an animal in my car while it bleats, cries, ect.

So a local farmer posted Blue Slate Turkeys. She was hatching them in an incubator. Because turkeys are susceptible to disease, it is common for people to keep them in a separate enclosure from the chickens. I really had to think about this. It would be a no-brainer to add turkeys to the farm if they could just be with the chickens. Even as babies, they are big enough to stand on their own AND it is warm enough outside for them now. Keeping them separate would be a LOT more work for me.

Ultimately, I decided to get two of them and just try it! Here they are at two weeks and five weeks old They grow so fast! Look at all those new feathers already!

Watch this video to hear the turkey babies cry!

As you can hear, they are quite loud! They were almost 2 weeks old when brought them home. They lived in a large dog kennel in the garage until last week, when I moved them to one of our barns. I open the barn door everyday so they can get fresh air and to introduce them to the chickens. Because turkeys are really difficult to determine the gender, we will have to wait two more months to see if we have boys, girls, or one of each. Madison came up with their names- the gray one is “Christmas” and the black one is “Thanksgiving”. We are calling them “Chrissy” and “Givings”. I am hoping for one of each so we can try to hatch more next spring. If not, we will have “Christmas” and “Thanksgiving” for dinner this Fall!

Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Farming

New Chicks on the Farm


In the dead of winter, new life seemed like such a great idea! My current flock of 8 Chickens and 2 ducks were providing lots of eggs. Although I was hesitant to get ANY chickens, I found that I really enjoy caring for them. Gathering the eggs every day and checking on them is not as much work as I thought it might be. I decided to add 9 new chicks to the flock in February. These little feathered friends camped out in my dining room for 3 weeks! We enjoyed watching them grow and holding them every day. When the dust and baby feathers were too much, I moved them to the well house where we have a heater installed. I waited as long as possible to do this in hopes that they would continue letting us hold them. Baby chicks have to stay warm until they have all their adult feathers, unless they are hatched by one of your own hens who will keep them warm. You can’t introduce new chicks to your flock when they are very young because the hens and roosters might kill them. They will still establish a pecking order when you introduce them, but they will survive if you wait until they are at least 6-8 weeks old.

Nine Baby Chicks

I chose to purchase the new chicks at Rural King because their chicks are all supposed to be pullets, which are female chickens. We already have two roosters, Tippy and Henry, so I definitely don’t want to add more roosters. The new chicks are 3 Easter Eggers, 3 Olive Eggers, and 3 Welsummers. The Easter Eggers will lay blue eggs. Olive Egger chickens will lay green eggs. Wesummer chickens will lay dark brown/speckled eggs.

The chicks moved from the well house to the chicken house. As winter was coming to an end, I fixed a partition in the chicken house to keep the older hens and roosters from pecking they young chicks. This allowed them to be introduced safely. After a couple of weeks I took the partition out and all the chickens live together now. We lost 2 chickens to a sudden cold snap but all the others have done great! When I let the chickens out to free range, they actually form two separate flocks. Each flock stays together as they eat plants and insects. The new hens should begin laying eggs sometime in July. If they all lay an egg every day, I will have 18 eggs per day. I don’t plan to get any more egg chickens for a while! Meat chickens are in the future plans so stay tuned for that adventure!