Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chick Day!

Little guys LOVE chick time!
Time for our first order of chickies!
We're staggering all our chickens this year and we're going to start with 50 now, and another 50 at the end of the month and see how things are looking from there.

50 +2 little yellow fuzzy bums
They're so cute at first!  My kids are great and being very very gentle with the little chicks, so we trying and make sure the chicks get lots of handling right from their first days. It helps to keep them calmer and less stressed on their last day when they're already used to being moved around and handled.

 Because they've had a long trip, as I remove each from the box I'm gently holding them to the water so they can get a first little drink. About half of them just wandered off while they other half stayed and had a good long drink after I put them down.
 The newspaper keeps the chicks from eating the shavings that are down underneath. This happens sometimes with brand new babies, they don't realise the shavings aren't food, and will starve to death with a full stomach. After only a few days they won't need this any more.
The chick ma-hal! 
I did put the light down a little lower after I took this pictures, it wasn't keeping the chicks warm enough (I could tell because they were all clustered underneath). All the books, etc. will tell you that you want to see some chicks drinking, some eating & some under the heater and then you can tell the chicks are the right temperature. Like most chicken keepers I've noticed my chicks actually like to sleep in big dog piles of chickens, which is how they would sleep under mom so it makes sense.

I could tell the chicks were the right temperature because they slept in a donut shape under the light, so right underneath they would have been too warm, but they were all sleeping where they were comfortable. Right now the light is only a few inches off the ground (there is a cage on it which is an inch or two off the bulb) and I'll raise it a bit as the chicks get bigger.

Last year I kept the chicks in the main part of the barn, but with the new barn kitty putting them inside the coop seemed like a MUCH better idea. It does mean the roosters Nasty & Junior are inside the coop together, but thankfully they seem to just be keeping away from each other, for the most part.

There are 2 too many roosters in that nest box

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Garden Work Pt. 4

 I got driven out of the garden because of rain and other obligations, but I got the ground work laid for the last bit of work in this section of garden.

Tomato horn-worm larva a.k.a. the enemy
But good things is, they are delicious! Uh, to chickens!
Chickens helping me look under
the sod

I'm going to be removing all the sod in between the garden and the current bushes. Mostly so I can grow more things! I'll be covering the paths around the garden in wood chips from my giant pile (another great use for them!).

Right against the shop I'll have some lattice of fence or something holding up things like peas and climbing beans.

Then the next bed in will hold things like bush beans, and lots and lots of carrots and other root veggies to get down into the stone-dust.

The largest bed will hold all my hot plants since it get the most sun, things like pepper and tomatoes.

Then the smallest bed on the far left is for corn since the sun moves left to right across my garden from this angle. 

I still have lots of space on the back of this photo up to where my first beds are (covered in plastic there). I'm going to put some more beds in there to hold squash too!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Garden Work Pt. 3

Happy chickens full of worms
 I let the chickens join me in the garden for a few reasons, the best of which is free food for the chickens! They've been removing pests from my garden while saving big on our food bill which is fantastic. They also help to break out the clumps of soil while they dig, which is less work for me.

Garden is starting to look like a real veg patch! 
Moved the compost inside the garden.
Not much goes in it since we have the manure piles
but it is more convenient for kitchen scraps. 
Since I wasn't able to double-dig the end of the garden closest to the camera here (because of the stone dust) I'm hoping to be able to stimulate the weeds to grow so I can pick them out (or break them off with the hoe) before I start planting in these beds. Part of this is to water the beds, so I'm watering my weeds!

Of course then it rained for two days...
All done for the day!
Over the coming years we will be able to add all the lovely manure from the muck pile to the garden and build up a really nice deep layer of soil so this won't be an issue.

Cow/Calf Update

Burger & Steak our first little calves last year
Well, there is no update.

We've now elapsed all possibility of the cows having been pregnant and we are definitely not getting calves this year.

Because I didn't see them come into heat at all this year, I fear we've done something wrong more then the bull not doing his job, but I don't know.

Cows are going off to camp at the end of the month to spend all summer with the bull and we'll have to buy some calves to bring back with them now.

Welcome to real farming.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Garden Work Pt. 2

 Day 2 brings even more digging and lots more chicken friends!

I use twine & step-in posts for the fence to keep my lines straight as I make my beds, measuring evenly out from the shop.

The shop has some covered over doors, and I think someone used to keep pigs in there, long before it was a shop. So as I dug I found both a hard bedrock layer, and in some areas, evidence of stone-dust having been put down.

Which made double-digging these areas really difficult because I couldn't get through those spots and I had to single dig.

 The length of the beds have to do with where the sun/shadows stop, so these beds won't be as hot and sunny as the next ones out the garden. The width of them are simple the length I can reach into the beds from either side. It makes no sense to have beds you can't reach in to weed with out stepping on your veggies.

I'll adjust how much veggie plants needs to be spaced out by how big the beds are. With good, fertile, soil you can squish things much closer together then you can with poorer soils.

All ready for planting!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Garden Work Pt. 1

 I got a tremendous amount of work done in the garden over the easter holidays, so I'm going to have to split it up into a few posts; so here is part 1

Every gardener needs a garden cat
to supervise. 
My plan is to double-dig as much of the garden as possible. This helps to bury the weed seeds, as well as preping a nice soft bed for the new veggies. Double-digging is a method I've always used, especially in our last garden where I was turning under a stone-dust & heavy clay dog run into a veggie plot.

To double dig a garden, you simply dig a big long trench, the length of your bed, removing that soil. Then you're loosing the dirt at the bottom of your trench. Then you take a step back and turn the top soil from the next section into the bottom of the first. This disturbs the weed seeds enough that they should germinate and start growing, but be so low under ground they can't reach the surface to become weeds.

Plus, it's loosening up & aerating all the soil for your new veggies, and very easy planting if you've got seedlings to go in.

Should have taken the picture BEFORE I took
most of them out, now they just look sad!

Teeny little sprouts!
For my first little bed I'm planting some Ruby Queen Beets that I had just sprouted in the kitchen.

 I spaced the sprouts around 4"apart on a off-set grid pattern. The boards & plastic are to protect the sprouts from the cold, but even more so, the chickens until we get the fence up.
The colour of my hands all summer

Boards to hold the plastic off the plants

Keeping it covered from cold & chickens

These chickens

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Run! It's a big scary bull eating out of the bucket in my hands...
Tried really hard not to make Steak "friendly" because he's still a bull and could be dangerous, but his shorthorn nature shines through pretty well!