Monday, April 26, 2010

Livestock and Garden Report 2: Week 3~ chicken overload!

chickens, chickens, chickens. seemingly everywhere!

the meat birds are growing quickly, and their wing and tail feathers are coming in. the girls and i took a walk down to the creek and gathered some gravel. we spread the gravel on newspaper for the little chickens to fill their gizzards with.

they went crazy! i left the gravel in the brooder box for about an hour,and then put their high protein food back in.

just today we moved them outside into the special brooder house. even though the weather today is not ideal to move the chickens outside, they were stinking up the mud room royally, and i couldn't stand it anymore. (12 days is my official limit for chickens in the house.)

there are no pictures of the chickens as they look today; they are not nearly as cute now! the 102 birds are all warm and cozy in the brooder house: lights, hay and fresh food and water. we're on the countdown now to 8-10 weeks. they'll be ready for the table (or freezer) around the middle of June.


however- these little guys are cute. sort of. we put 25 eggs in the incubator beginning April 1.

they started hatching out right on schedule. i can honestly say that I've never seen a chicken hatch, and they sure look different than the ones that we get in the happy meal box from the post office!

although they look very frail and scraggly, most did just fine, and we are now the proud parents of 14 buff orpington peeps.

this was just a trial run, to gain experience with the new incubator. these chicks are for sale, and if i don't sell them on craig's list, we'll send them to the auction on Monday.

when i hatch out my new flock of laying hens, I'll fill the incubator. (42 eggs) that will give me around 20 hens. (optimistically speaking, of course!)

right now we have 18 turkey eggs in the incubator, and they're due to hatch around May 22. so if you want pastured, fresh turkey for thanksgiving or Christmas, just let me know...

do you think i could call myself a chicken farmer without stretching the truth too much? or sounding too presumtious?

so i really should have known better than to take these chickens that someone gave us.

the buff Cochin is really a nice and friendly bird, and the zebra hens are so pretty.

however, chickens are not known for playing nicely with others, so now we have these 4 hens that we need to house separately from the rest of the flock.

so far their only saving grace is that they are hens. we can use the extra eggs. right now, that's about the only thing that's keeping them from the stew pot.

that, and guilt.

they're so pretty.

and friendly.

i must be getting soft in my old age.

we finally found local blue potatoes. although i must say that they are really more of a purple.

but as long as we can convince the fresh produce consumers of northeastern PA to celebrate a red, white and purple 4th of July, we'll be just fine.

the highlight of the week had to be the farm equipment auction. besides an odd sunburn, i got several useful things for the garden. two 300 gallon tanks, which we'll use to store water. (we plan on using the water for the garden in a dry spell if we need to)

and this handy-dandy Honda water pump.

i got a very good deal on it- and the pump came with the intake hose and another hose (like a fireman's hose) too.

both girls helped me plant some cucumbers and squash in peat pots.

we mixed a starting medium of bottom land soil, a few rabbit pellets, peat moss and vermiculite. after picking out the rocks and sticks, it was very nice to work with.

I'd like to get these plants out as early in May as possible, to get a head start, and also to *maybe* have the first cukes and squash to sell. (I'm learning that it's all about being first with the market garden. everyone has cukes and squash in July and august. perhaps i can push the season a bit...)

the flat of peat pots went right into the high tunnel until the seeds sprout, and develop the first set of real leaves. then I'll put them in a raised bed, as well as the "flat" garden.

one nice thing about having so many seeds to start is that there are lots of opportunities for the little girls to help. even if a few seeds get planted too deeply or spilled, it doesn't matter. there are so many seeds (and even successive plantings) that I'm sure it will all work out just fine.

if you look over in the right hand side bar, you'll see this really cool little orange cultivating tractor. I've been hoping that Dave will get me one- birthday? Christmas? anniversary?

it's not to be, i suppose...

this is what came for me in the mail last week. a push cultivator- much like an antique Planet Jr.

i can see that it will come in handy for cultivating between the garden rows, in an effort to keep the weeds down. it's also a space saver, since it's much narrower than the roto-tiller (obviously) so i don't need to allow as much room for weeding between vegetable rows.

here I'm cultivating the onions in the lower garden. the picture is so blurry because I'm going faster than a speeding roto-tiller.

here is the "completed" row cover/hoop system over the broccoli and cauliflower.

i must say that this week I'm not thinking such warm and fuzzy thoughts of our friend Herrick Kimball. the clothespin thingys don't work the way we thought they would. they were a ton of work (just ask G) and they pop off at the slightest breeze- if you can even get them to shut!

however, in the row right next to the hooped row, the floating row cover is just... floating. imagine that! it seems to be working just fine, and as we were laboring with aching backs to finish the first row of brassicas before dark, Dave and i looked at each other and wondered aloud just why we were going to all this trouble?

anyway... lesson learned.

come back next week for the Livestock and Garden Report: 2 to see how things are going around the little homestead.


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Anonymous said... have been busy!

I want some chickens SO bad, but can't seem to convince Nick.

I also think you need to do a gardening for dummies post. I planted tons of peat pots and NOTHING came up. I feel like a gardening failure. If I plant stuff directly in the ground, it seems to do well, but I can't seem to grow anything in the pots.


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