Have you ever made a change that, at first, felt incredibly HUGE– but then, after a bit, you realized it wasn’t that big of a deal? Are we ever afraid of change? (Channeling Pastor Mark there, or maybe Mr. Rodgers.) Change can be especially scary if you’re just a little chicken! Your whole world has been one way for the entire 4 weeks of your life – then BAM! your feeder changes and nothing is the same ever again!!! Or at least it seems that way. This is what has happened to the little Rangers. They were wasting so much food, eating out of the egg crate (that worked quite well when they were younger) or the other flat feeder we were using. Once they started scratching it everywhere, those were a bust. Sue bought one of the trough feeders, with the holes on the top to keep them from getting in and simply scattering it every where (in the photo, it’s the long red thing they’re checking out). But it’s so scary!!! They’ll figure it out as soon as they get hungry though, and then it will be no big deal. They’ll say, “Why were we so afraid of this?” Then they’ll feel like they can face anything – at least until the next change comes along. Continue reading
Someone mentioned to me recently that we don’t ever seem to talk about the things that go wrong here. I thought I was trying to report things with out bias, but perhaps I just don’t want to dwell to much on the painful things. I think I’ve tried to talk about the times that we’ve lost chickens, some just don’t make it; it’s always a difficult thing when something small, under your care, dies. But – as my mom is fond of saying – that’s life on the farm. Not everything that we try works out, sometimes I just stop talking about it… like the mushrooms: Pastor Mark was over on Easter and he said, “What ever happened to the Mushrooms?” Well, they just didn’t work out. One day there were going like gangbusters, you could literally record their progress hour to hour– the next day they were all shriveled and yucky. What happened? Who knows? Win some, lose some.
The depression garden (that is, the garden that I planted in the depression) comes up in the loss category too. I think that any of the old seeds that germinated were sought out and eaten by the dang gophers. There were little mounds all through out the garden. Then – after that, and more recently – the coyote melon plants just took over! In the photo on the left, all that green is coyote melon plant. Sue decided that she would spend sometime every day digging up coyote melons. They have a tuberous root that is rather deceptive. Small plants can have humongous roots and vice versa. She spent an hour one day and got a huge pile of roots, but the number of plants was pretty low. These are also the type of plant where, if you leave a small piece of the tuber in the ground, a plant will grow; kind of like potatoes. So, if we work together this year, we might be able to clear a lot of them out… but chances are, we’ll be doing it for a number of years to come. Here’s a photo of some of the tubers – foot in the photo for size reference. Remember – I have a big foot!
In the win column would be the squash that was planted in with the trench trees. This is the reverse Hugelkultur bed that we built up in the already existing trench. (see previous post Hügelkulture) We planted all the summer squash type plants around the trees, and they have all come up and are beginning to set little squishes. Unless we’ve had an immense wind, we only water a couple of days a week and the plants – as well as the fruit trees that are planted in there – are thriving! Our issue with them will be keeping them well watered during the winds. Luckily the monsoons will be upon us soon and we won’t need to worry quite as much. I might try another depression garden planting closer to the monsoon season. We might be able to get some of the quick grow corn and the beans going. We’ll see.
Another win was the winter garden, we enjoyed broccoli and kale through the winter months, we had some success with the spinach, but we weren’t able to eat it before the gophers found it in the early spring. The onion seeds I planted in the winter are now coming up in odd places, but that’s ok. We’ve enjoyed the cabbage lately and have three more heads that will be ready over the next several weeks. The herbs overwintered very well and are growing like gangbusters now. So, all these I count as good. We even have 5 little pea plants that are growing up onto the pea fence, we’ll see if the gophers get them or leave them alone. Most of the trees we planted are coming back to life, but we may have lost the Hack Berries for some reason. And one tree, the Thornless Honey Locust, did not like the cold wind over the winter; it is still a little green towards the bottom of its trunk, but has shown zero signs of coming back. The Black Locust trees that I brought from the church back yard did make it, however. Win some, lose some.
Left to right: Cabbage, Thyme, Purple Sage, Peas
There will be other things we try that will not work, and I’ll try to report them as they happen. Call me on it if you think I’m not being forthcoming. I will continue to do my best. Until that time, as always~
Thanks for reading.
Today’s Weather: better than the last couple of days. It was windy, but not the gale force winds that we were experiencing previously. The high was 79° and the low is predicted at 52°, but this morning at 4:30 it was 45° – so we can’t always depend on the Weather Channel for the most accurate temps.
Egg Report: Today Sue picked up 11 eggs, but one was left over from yesterday – she left it under an Easter Egger who was thinking they might want to sit. I guess it got too boring for her, and we just picked up the egg with everyone else’s today.
How in the heck does that happen? Well, when you’re trying to sprout over a hundred tree seeds, in bags, with moist paper towels, in the dark- sometimes moldy just happens. These seeds have been through the gamut of preparations already, maybe mold is the next step! Some of the steps have been: warmth, dry cold, moist cold, and scarification. Not all seeds have the same requirements, and not all seeds have survived. Continue reading
We’ve just had so much fun this week watching the integration of Goose, Ducks, and Chicks. So far, no animals have been harmed! We’ve still got the Rangers and the Speckleds separated from everyone, and even had to separate the Specks from the Rangers; the Rangers were just outgrowing the Specks all around and we were afraid we’d loose another one. So the Specks are now in Roman’s old cage and thriving well there. They don’t have to compete for water or food, nor are they going to be pushed away from the heat light. This will give them time to catch up! The Rangers are meant to mature more quickly because they’re meat birds, where we’ll keep the Specks more for eggs. We’ll keep one rooster and and any hens we have and then process the others. Continue reading
Seems like just yesterday that I did an update of weekend happenings, is it really Wednesday? My folks left today to go home to California, at this time, they are only a couple of hours away from their own bed and comfy home. It was great to have them for as long as we did; although it seems a whirlwind of activity, it is always too soon for them to leave – at least in my mind. But things do go on here, regardless. Continue reading
Easter weekend was a busy one; as was the whole week, actually. Because we were getting ready for our Family Easter Gathering, not too much was accomplished. Sue did continue her work, in earnest, on the new chicken tractor. She had the frame completed by Friday evening, she had fetch and hold help from mom and Aunt Carolyn. Tonight she worked until dusk getting the door attached, cutting the wire and stapling it to the frame. It’ll be done in no time. She’s working so diligently on it because the teens really need to get out and stretch their legs and eat some grass and bugs, but we can’t let them out in the regular chicken run yet because they just fit right through the holes in the fence. We do let them out, but only under supervision. With the chicken tractor, they can be outside all day, and still go in at night if need be. Continue reading
I went to work on Tuesday and all was normal; came home and there were 8 more little chicks! Sue made the mistake of going to Tractor Supply and took a peek at the babies. She took one look at the little guys and thought we needed to add to our brood! We have now added five Speckled Sussex to our menagerie. According to the Murray McMurray Hatchery, the Speckled Sussex was developed in Sussex, England over 100 years ago! They are supposedly a good table bird, somewhere in the medium range for weight. The chicks vary in color from buff to brown to striped.. we have so many different little guys I can’t tell the players without a score card. We’ll have to see what everyone turns out looking like once they’re a bit bigger. The Sussex seem to be a really nice looking adult chicken. To me, they look as though they’ve been out playing in the snow. What we plan to do is save the hens (if we get any… you never know) and perhaps one rooster and breed our own, if we like the looks of them. Continue reading
Today the littles got to go out for the first time. We thought that they would enjoy the freedom and the opportunity to go outside. We also thought that, since they’d been living in the brooder side all this time, they could go outside during the day and come back in at night. So we opened the bottom brooder and they tentatively crept out. There was a lot to investigate inside, in the foreground you see the ducks night time area, to the left towards the back is Roman’s little sleeping quarters, and the top shelf of the brooder – at back – has the newest littles, the newbies. I wasn’t there for the grand exit, but Sue said that they didn’t get brave enough for the full outdoor adventure. The second time she tried, Roman was out on a walk about and he chased them all back in! We’ll just keep trying until they get used to the idea. Continue reading
The newest chicks (Gray Rangers) arrived early this morning! Sue’s phone rang at 6 a.m.; the Post Office was calling her to “please come pick up your chicks!” They are simply little, bitty fluff balls at this point. Fifteen of them came in a container no bigger than a regular shoe box! They are different colors, which surprised me- they are not all gray, some are buff colored and various shades of buff and black. It will be interesting to see how the feather out. They are busy investigating their new place, napping under the heat box or basking in the warmth of a heat-light, eating, drinking – you know, just being baby chicks. Sue decided to try putting their feed in an egg carton to start off; they just dig it! They can scratch and eat and, at this point, the food doesn’t go flying all over the place – genius! We like them a lot (of course) and are thinking of keeping all the hens and one rooster; this way we may be able to raise them ourselves. So that means that the number of chickens available for purchase is TBD. Still taking orders on a first come, first served basis; so let us know. Continue reading
We’re still not exactly sure when they’re coming, but they will be here Thursday or Friday. This set of chickens, fifteen in all, will be the first set grown specifically for meat. We will be keeping a few and selling the rest. Four are already spoken for, but if you’re interested in an organically fed, home grown chicken ~ let us know and we’ll put your name down. It’s a first come first served type of thing, if not all the chicks make it, the person towards the bottom of the list will be crossed off first. Sounds rather ominous doesn’t it? Anyway, its the next step in the adventure! Continue reading