Saturday, June 25, 2011

What's Up Chicken Butt or The Strange Progress of the Gigantichicks

One week
Two weeks.
Three weeks.
Four weeks.

Five weeks.
I cannot stop staring at our Cornish Cross chicks. They seem to grow in some kind of fast forward time loop. In the morning when I feed them their corn/wheat/crumble breakfast they seem to have grown 20% while

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Grafted Fruit Tree Update

Because of the cool and wet weather this summer it took a month longer than I had anticipated to see what our success rate was for our little grafted fruit trees. I am happy to report that we had an astounding 19 of our 20 grafted trees leaf out and grow! The only one that didn't "take" was grafted with a questionable scion. It was the last one of that variety of pear, Doyenne d'Hiver, in the bucket at the scion exchange and it had looked a little old when I picked it out. That will teach me.

I have given them a couple doses of fish fertilizer to help them along.

"Potting soil" has no nutrients in it. It is not actually soil. Even if it says on the bag that it has nutrients added, Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) are all highly water soluble and after a month or two of regularly watering, all the nutrients have washed out of the pot. Potting soil is mostly rotted bark dust and other nutrient void materials like vermiculite and pumice. Other than trace nutrients it has no real food for the plants. It is merely formulated to stay fluffy in a pot for a long period of time.

As a side note,

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chilly Tomatoes

We have had only one worse tomato year than last year, and you guessed it - it's this year.

Because I have just opened the last jar of homemade tomato sauce from 2009, there was no tomato sauce making in 2010, I am desperate to get tomatoes this year.

On a normal year in June, we are often watching our tomato plants form golf ball size green tomatoes.
By the end of July we can start picking our early tomatoes. By August tomatoes begin to crowd the kitchen counter. By September

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chicken Chat

Our Cuckoo Marans' aren't "tractoring" like originally planned. Instead they are set loose to forage every day. Then they're locked up every night for their safety.

When Buck and I co designed and built our "chicken tractor" we were embarking on an experiment. We have had lots of chicken pens and lots of chickens over the years but they were always egg layers in permanent houses. Since we are in transition here at the Homestead, we needed a temporary solution to house our layers but we didn't want it to be wasted effort. What we decided was that we would build the pen we wanted for our future meat chickens and keep our layers in it until we get the hen house ready. We'd read a lot about Chicken Tractors for raising "grass fed" meat chickens and decided to try one out.

We built the house section out of 1"x 2" lumber and tin so it would be light and could be moved easily. We built the run part of it in 4 panels, out of 2"x4" lumber with pressure treated for the ground contacting areas.  We built what we felt was a minimum size for a dozen laying hens (5.3sf per bird) or 24 (2.6sf) meat birds because we were planning on moving it around often to keep the hens in fresh grass.
But despite our intentions, our tractor barely tractored anywhere. By the time we moved it 3 times we had discovered a few good things and a few not-so-good things.

It became very clear early in the process

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wind Powered Critter Controle

I was at Harbor Freight to get a set of Allen Wrenches the other week and as always I went straight back to the garden section to see if they had anything I might be interested in. Lo and behold there was something I was VERY interested in. A wind powered "Mole Chaser". I bought only one because sometimes things are not as wonderful as the box claims it is