[The blue plastic swimming pool in the picture above is the temporary pond for our 2 Indian Runner ducks that also live in the pasture area. We will be digging them a permanent pond at a later date]
We moved the chicks from their indoor brooder in our basement to outdoors at 5 weeks old. After making some repairs to our old chicken coop and putting up the pasture fence, we were finally able to get them out of the house into some fresh air.
The pasture will eventually become more of a forest pasture/garden. It currently has a couple of young apple trees and a couple of mulberry trees. It is about 1700 ft². We still have another area to fence in, that has more mature fruit trees and shrubs. We plan on alternating the laying hens between the 2 areas.
Currently all 19 of our chicks are in our laying hen coop. The coop was built to house about 6 full size hens. We have 9 Black Australorps, 4 Dark Cornishes, 3 Barred Rocks, and 3 Rhode Island Reds. The Dark Cornishes, Barred Rocks, and Rhode Island Reds are going to go into a chicken tractor and will be slaughtered and butchered at 12-14 weeks. Five or 6 of the Black Australorp hens will reside in the laying coop and the other 3 or 4 hens will live in another chicken tractor designed to house laying hens. This tractor will be used to work and build permanent no-till garden areas.
[4 day old ducks]
We moved our fawn runner ducks out to pasture this week. They are 3 weeks old and seem to be ready to handle the outdoor environment. We really needed to move them outdoors considering they were almost taller than the walls of their brooder. Also ducks are very messy with water. We were constantly adding more shaving or changing out the brooder and adding all new shaving because the whole brooder would be wet. Continue reading
[Piglets with sow at the farm we purchased them from]
Last week we added 2 pigs to our homestead. We have never raised pigs before so this will be a true learning experience for us. We found these pigs posted on craigslist. We purchased them for $45 a piece and the drive was about 1 1/2 hours away.
Chicks can easily become dehydrated so always have fresh water available for them. When introducing chicks to their brooder, dip their beaks into the water first. This is especially important if you ordered them through the mail. Continue reading
It is very important to monitor the temperature in your brooder for about the first 3 weeks. Around that time is when chicks will begin getting their true feathers which help them to control their own body temperature.
For the first week, keep the brooder temperature between 90-95 degrees. We use a brooder lamp and hang it about 18 in. or so from the bottom of the brooder depending on how many watts the light bulb is. A red light bulb will help decrease the tendency of the chicks to peck at one another. Set up the lamp so that it can be adjusted up and down to increase or decrease the temperature of the brooder. We put a cheap thermometer on the floor of the brooder, directly under the lamp to monitor the temperature.
Reduce the temperature of the brooder by raising the lamp an inch or so. You will want to reduce the temperature by 5-10 degrees per week until the brooder is at a temperature of 70 degrees. This allows them to gradually acclimate to cooler temperature they will experience outdoors.
Our chicks and ducklings shipped yesterday (Monday April 16th 2012) and should be arriving tomorrow or the next day. So it was time to put together a couple of brooders. I needed one for the 20 or so chicks and one for the couple of ducklings. Continue reading
Chickweed pancakes are a great way to use the common and very nutritious wild edible chickweed besides just using it as an addition to salads.
First, do some foraging and collect some wild chickweed. We have it growing everywhere in our vegetable garden so this is where I usually harvest it.
Here is our setup we use to protect strawberries from deer, birds, dogs, cats, and any other animal that might want to eat them or dig in the bed. Our strawberries were in there 4th year of production last spring, so we pulled up all the old strawberries a couple of weeks ago, put down a kill mulch of cardboard, and planted about 50 bare root strawberries. Our strawberries are in a raised bed because the soil in this area of our property is extremely rocky. At one time this area was part of the drive way.
Last April I constructed a hugelkultur bed and planted it with jerusalem artichokes. In previous posts I have discussed how the jerusalem artichokes grew very well in the hugelkultur beds. When late fall came around and the jerusalem artichokes plants had died back, I cut the stems down to just above ground level. This would allow me to see where to dig for harvesting the tubers.
I did harvest some of the tubers and cooked them with some olive oil and seasoned with pepper and salt.
Chickweed and violets (Viola spp.) are two abundant plants that can be found growing in gardens and lawns. Considered a weed, both are edible and very nutritious.
[Chickweed in late winter without flower]