Tag Archives: chickens

Life is Abundant this Week!

We know summer is well on its way when our temperatures are in the 100’s. The spring garden is just passing its peak and I will start to remove lettuces, spinach and cool season crops that are going to seed and start to pop in sweet potato plants, more peppers plants and squash seed in the vacant spots. Our little farm is lively with the arrival of twin Nubians does, baby bunnies,baby quail and the rest of our farm critters that keeps us on our toes. This is when true dedication comes in….or in other words, the work! Weeds are a plenty, watering chores have elevated, milking, feeding, thinning the fruit trees, harvesting and preserving.

This week we harvested over two gallons of Camarosa Strawberries.  They are one of my favorite strawberries.  Although they are not everbearing, they are big,  extremely flavorful and the harvest is very plentiful and they will produce a second crop in the fall, although not as big.  After cleaning them and slightly drying them, I place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze.  Once frozen they get put into quart bags for winter smoothies.

2 years ago I planted 3 pear trees, one a seckel, one a bosc and the other is a red pear.  I really didn’t have anymore space on the property so I crammed them closely on the south side of the shed to be espaliered.  Beneath them is another bed of strawberries.  So far the are looking great and maintenance has been very minimal.  Besides they are a great addition to farmyard.

This week we have new baby bunnies.  You know the saying “breed like rabbits”, well new bunnies are pretty common here, but none the less, I just love the little guys!

Our chickens are laying in full production.  They are getting all the scrapes from the garden, like lettuce, spinach and other greens that have become bitter or have gone to seed.  Their production always gets a boost when they get a large amount of fresh garden scrapes.  If you haven’t raised chickens, you might want to try.  I love watching them rummage through their treats from the garden, plus the eggs become so rich and bright!

This week the artichokes are abundant.  Artichoke dip, artichoke hearts, and whatever else I can muster up.  Saturday we harvested over 25 artichokes off of three plants and we will probably harvest that again this week.  As they ripen through the month the size of the globe gets smaller and smaller.  After the harvest is over, the plants start to look scraggly so I will cut out old stocks and leaves then toss them into the compost.  My once beautiful, very large plants will become rather ugly and tired looking.  They need a rest from their labor!

I have really become a fan of ‘purple of sicily’ cauliflower.  It’s taste is almost nutty when steamed.  It seems to do very well in our conditions and what’s not to like?  It has color, it’s an heirloom, and it tastes good!

Our tomatoes get covered ever year to prevent the beet leaf hopper from infecting the curly top virus.  This year we have warmed up early and we are very dry.  These conditions are prefect for this awful virus.  Once the tomatoes get it there is nothing you can do, so prevention is essential.  Eight years ago here in Southern Utah it was almost unheard of and now the virus is ramped and can wipe out your entire crop.  Now that’s devastating whether you have hundreds of tomatoes or maybe just a few heirlooms.

If you have the space, I would suggest planting a Bagel Peach.  Oh my goodness!  The flavor can’t be beat (although our white peach is a very close runner-up).  Although the peach is small, it’s not small in flavor.  The bagel peach is not for preserving, but I think you will find a small family can consume them rather quickly before even thinking about preserving.  Caution:  They can be very addicting!  You may also find them with the name of Flat Peach or Saturn.

Our Nubian doe Ivy, had twins does two weeks ago.  Once again I am milking and looking forward to making cheese, yogurt and kefir.   the babies are so much fun at this age, so full of life and playful.  The first doe born has a name of Sassafras, Sassy for short.  The poor little second baby is still nameless….  Perhaps nothing has come to fit her personality yet.

Our lavender looks great this year.  It’s loaded with blooms that we will harvest within the next few weeks.  Did you know the blossoms are great in a balsamic vinegar dressing?  There isn’t too much that will bother lavender and once established, it is a breeze to grow.  Once I have harvested all of the lavender flower stalks I will trim back the bush to a nice mound to keep it uniform and healthy for next years show.

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Filed under Fruits from the orchard, Gardening, Goats, Life on the Farm, Preserving

Eggs, Chicks, Chickens, Eggs

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I have mentioned before that our little farm all started with the three chicks my husband brought home.  There were two Rhode Island hens and an Araucana.  The first egg we ever got was from the Araucana.  I thought someone put a fake egg in the nesting box because the egg was a  shade of blue.  I had never seen such a color in an egg before and now they are my most prized.  Feathered friends have been a part of our daily routine for 25 years now and having fresh eggs is one of those things we couldn’t do without. Chickens are a growing frenzy in neighborhoods today.  Many urban cities are allowing up to 10 chickens (hens) right in small city lots. They are so easy to care for and they give back ten-fold.  Besides the beautiful, rich eggs they produce, they are little composters, bug getters, manure producers and if that wasn’t enough,  the enjoyment you get from watching your flock forage in your back yard is somewhat peaceful.  Chicks can be purchased at many feed stores or pre-ordered through catalogs and come through the mail.  If you have access to fresh eggs from a farm with a Rooster about, you can even venture and incubate your own in only 21 days.  An advantage of ordering your chicks is that you can get chicks that have been sexed so you will have all pullets (females).  I  order my chicks from mypetchicken.com and  mcmurrayhatchery.com when I not incubating my own.  They have a great selection of rare and exotic chickens.   Over the years I have dabbled in many different varieties including, silkies, polish, hamburgs, cochins, wyandottes and so many other varieties, but my favorite chickens are the great egg layers like the Cucoo Maran a chocolate-colored egg layer, Araucana which lays shades of green to blue, Silver Laced Wyandottes that lays good during the cold winter months and is beautiful in the orchard roaming about, and the old-time stand by, New Hampshire Reds and Barred Rocks.  Of course we always have a few odd balls joining the flock of girls to try new varieties.  But anymore my main reason for raising chickens is for egg production so I stick to the heavy breads and good layers.

Starting your chicks is simple and you will be trouble-free if you are prepared ahead of time.  Keep a close eye on your babes the first few hours especially.  Your new little fuzz balls will need to be indoors for 5-8 weeks.   I keep them in a wash basin for the first few weeks then as they get bigger, I move the growing fowl into a pine box we built just for chicks.   A cardboard box will work just fine.  They need enough room to move around comfortably with a waterer and food tray.   These little babies like it hot! A warm brooding lamp with a red heat bulb is best.  Watch your chicks behavior.  If they are all cuddled up under the light they are cold!  If they are avoiding the light like the plague they are to hot and you should move the lamp up a little. Each week I raise the height of the lamp to lower the temperature about 5 degrees.  Fresh, clean water is so important.  Check it often!  I feed organic chick starter.  It has all the ingredients to give them a healthy happy start.  I like to feed this mash for the first 16 weeks and then I will move them straight into layer pellets or crumbles. Oh, those little cute fuzzy chicks poop and poop a lot!  They need their bedding cleaned often.  I put down a layer of newspaper (this helps for a fast clean up) followed with pine shaving to absorb the smell, keep them dry and give them traction.  Don’t use cedar shavings as they can contain toxins.  I will change the bedding daily just by rolling up the newspaper with all the bedding and toss in the compost pile.  Never let your babies stay in wet bedding!  Once they have a full plumage of feathers they can be put out into the coop.  If the weather is still cold I will put out the heat lamp for a few more weeks to get them acclimated to the new temperatures. Depending on the breed of chicken you will be getting your first eggs when your beauties are around nine months old.  That’s a day you will remember!

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by | May 26, 2011 · 4:47 pm