Monday, December 19, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Five pints of autumn olive berry jam from the bushes around the garden. Yum!
Apples from under the neighbor's tree. Will they last until I find a cider press?
About 2/3 bushel of English walnuts from another neighbor's tree. We'll dry them and nibble all winter long!
Get to know your neighbors and their plants! Make friends and trade stuff and skills. Begin the weave the fabric that will make this world a lot more fun.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Wood storage is on the back side, in the shade. The top panel with the window tilts out to let out steam when we're boiling. Can't wait to make syrup in style next year!
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Come sit for a spell, dear reader, and I shall relate a tale of innocence and innocence lost, of a despicable act of murder, and of resilience. This is the story of our first adventure with raising chickens.
My tale begins in April of this year, when I put the finishing touches on our hen house and the fencing for an outdoor run,
We were invited to adopt two mature hens from a colleague in town, who had too many hens for his space. So with giddy innocence, we took in Elizabeth and Annabelle, who promptly started giving us eggs.
Our spring day-old chick order arrived on April 28th, so in a couple weeks we also had six more tiny and adorable lives to care for. All went fine until the first week of June, when Annabelle, the lovely Buff Orpington died for no apparent reason. She had even laid an egg a few hours before. The remaining hen, a Barred Plymouth Rock, seemed lonely, so I hatched a plan to put the chicks, now 6 weeks old, in a pen adjacent to hers. I even rigged a little door so the younger birds could mingle and meet their elder, who frankly wasn’t all that nice to them. On a Monday morning, about June 12th or so, LR found a scene of ghastly mayhem and mass murder. Four of the six pullets were dead, and a fifth was mortally wounded. Only one chick had been eaten. She also found evidence the identified the attacker in the form of a big pile of raccoon shit. The family was distraught, and I spent the morning cleaning up the mess. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do was bury my 6-year-old’s favorite chicken.
In the meantime, we had ordered 25 chicks to raise as broilers. I quickly changed to order to replace the lost layers, and those chicks arrived at the end of June. Be advised that 25 chicks in brooders in July REALLY stink up the garage in a hurry! Our flocks now consist of 1 Buff Orpington, 4 Black Austrolorps, 2 Rhode Island Reds and a Silver-Laced Wyandotte for layers, and 18 Rhode Island Reds as meat birds.
I elected to get RIRs for meat on reports that they taste really good, and on comments by Carol Deppe in The Resilient Gardener the chickens don’t acquire a really beneficial fatty acid profile (more omega-3 fatty acids) until they are past the 8-week butchering age for Cornish cross broilers. I plan to butcher them sometime in October. Until then, they are doing fertility duty in the expanded Zone 2 garden (it’s a permaculture thing). Eat, grow and poop, that’s all I ask. Next year we’ll have some better soil to plant in.
The garden is surrounded by four-foot wire fence and a strand of electric wire to prevent invasion and more murder by Evil Raccoons or marauding coyotes. Note the welcome presence of an autumn olive next to the pen! The girls go nuts for the berries.
Just today, the 18 RIRs got to run around in a fenced-off section of the garden so they can poop-n-scratch. They'll stay that way, with the tractor as an overnight shelter, until The End.
Check back in October for the Egg Watch and more adventures!
Thursday, March 31, 2011
- get out of debt before the economic house of cards crumbles (may you have better luck than me)
- get to know your neighbors, even if they don't think like you do (reverse the Googlization of the world!)
- get a good pair of boots and a good bike
- take a permaculture class and REALLY study it
- get chickens
So long, and stop by if you're ever in the neighborhood!
Saturday, January 1, 2011
By now you know it all has to fit into a permaculture-style scheme around here. Each element of the design should serve more than one function. So, in addition to boiling sap in early spring, the shack will also be a small greenhouse. I have some windows to frame in on the south side. Just picture an outward-slanting glass wall on the bottom two-thirds of the south wall. The top third needs to open to let the steam out. I figure I can get it warm enough in March and April to start some spring greens, and maybe start some peppers by late April.