Monday, September 12, 2011
By the way, I still have the 3-Cuckoo Marans hens I reared from day old chicks last year. They have stopped laying for a bit as one is in molt and the other two just stopped after it got so terribly hot this summer. Those 3 hens are being donated to the St. Jude Chicken Chase that will take place the end of this month on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, in Alamo, TN. Small kids will chase some chickens and they keep all they catch. It is for a good cause of course as well as a good way to move some birds out of your flock you might like to cull and NOT harvest!
URBAN FARM UPDATE ON VEGETABLES: Just about gone. Getting some few small tomatoes from this garden home and still getting a little okra from the community garden. Hoping to clear off the urban farm next week one day, then add some lime, triple 13 then till up, water in good then maybe plant something cool weather tolerant...either some turnips or go ahead and start some more sugar peas I think. My luffa gourds NEVER did even bloom to date and I think I held them in their starter pots too long and they just got messed up is really what happened. I plan to make sure I have some next year and start them really early. I want to get some luffa sponges out of them at some point. It takes over 100 days for them to even bloom I hear and start making a pod so we will hopefully see next year.
I leave you today with our ongoing urban farming affirmation in mind and hoping for more eggs very soon: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Friday, September 2, 2011
Below in the top photo, you will see two of the new hatches of Cuckoo Marans chicks. MOST of the time, in these Marans and some other breeds one can almost sex the chicks based on coloring as mentioned before...not always. But it appears in a lot of cases, that with the Cuckoo Marans, the lighter, more grey chicks like the one in the foreground of this top photo is more than likely a little rooster. You can see his silvery-grey coloring. This is probably true in the Barred Plymouth Rocks as well, as they are very similar in chick coloration. See the darker chick in the background...that is probably a little pullet.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
What I decided to do is go ahead and order 6-Black Sex Link pullets and 6-Rhode Island Red pullets, again due to hatch on August 31st. That way, when the Welsummer pullets are really laying over the winter and into spring, these new fall chicks will just be starting to lay in January or so 2012. I plan to move the 3-Cuckoo Marans hens I currently have off to the West TN Poultry Club sale on Saturday, August 27th @ TSC here in Jackson and make at least some room for getting these chicks in later on. If they do not sell I might just put them in the freezer! They lay a very nice large dark brown egg, really about the color of milk chocolate or a lighter brown with dark spots on them, either of which is really pretty but their laying to feed ratio is really terrible.
Why you ask have I done this? After thinking I would get some meat birds all along and after talking with some family and neighbors, and after getting no good response to anyone going in on halves with me on around 25 chicks to brood off for freezing, I decided to add more efficient layers to the mix and just stick with eggs till spring. I will order some meat birds, as many or few as I want, from my local feed store that has been so helpful with this urban farm obtaining all its' birds.
I would like to explain to those novice keepers out there exactly what a "sex link" chicken is. I will use these Black Sex Link chickens as an example here: You take a Barred Rock hen and cross it with a Rhode Island Red rooster and you ONLY GET these Black Sex Links. But the best part about these crosses, whether they be Black, Red or White crosses, the males and females are distinguishable at hatch. The Black Sex Links are all black but ONLY THE MALES have a white spot on the top of their heads, otherwise both males and females are all black. When the Black Sex Links grow to maturity, the females are black with SOME red on the hackles (feathers around the neck) and the males take on the appearance of the original Barred Rock hen with lighter colored hackles. But if you breed these hybrids you will NOT get another sex link offspring. They will revert to some kind of other cross or back to the original, more or less.
These Black Sex Link pullets are very vigorous and rugged brown egg layers and are often the layer of choice for commercial production. They do well in confinement as well as free range and are a dual purpose bird, in that once egg production is over for them, they can be harvested for meat. I have added below a link from YOUTUBE that was loaded from CACKLE HATCHERY with information about this Black Sex Link bird for your convenience:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkBvm_IEOTc&feature=player_embedded#! In this video, you will notice what I mentioned about telling the males, or roosters, from the pullets, or hens, by the males having the white or yellowish spot on top of their head.
That will give this urban farm a total of 6-Welsummers, 6-Rhode Island Reds, 6-Black Sex Links, 2-Standard Cochins, 1-Blue Wheaten Ameraucana & of course, Dorothy, the pet Buff Orpington setting mother hen.
So, I leave you today not only on day 8 of "hatch watch" but also on chick delivery count down with our ongoing urban farming affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG (really 8-fertile eggs & 2-golf balls) AT A TIME!"
Monday, August 15, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
I just wanted to share this with you while I had a quick moment and stopped to eat a late lunch sandwich. I will let you know how many freezer boxes I get from this batch. I might have to start giving some to neighbors for their freezer as mine is about to overflow at this posting. I tried to find some bush green bean seeds (well, I hate to call them true seeds but I guess for now I will as they are called "seeds" and that meaning is "anything that can be sown, e.g. "seed" potatoes, "seeds" of corn, sunflower "seeds", etc....another whole posting I fear) today earlier but was shot down on every turn. I had planned to put in a late crop of bush beans this next week but it appears that will not happen. So off to the feed store again next week and thinking of just going ahead and getting some turnips/greens started...I like both tops and roots. I can cook the roots and eat them alone or cut up into the greens. But the roots are also good if you "quarter" them in chunks or even slice them about like you would potatoes for an 'Au gratin dish, put in a large bowl and add some olive oil, salt and pepper, a little garlic powder to taste, stir till all is covered then put in a single layer on a large cookie sheet and roast at 400-degrees for a bit, watching from time to time especially if you slice then and not in larger chunks to keep from burning the edges, but then bake till a nice roasted color and aroma...stirring occasionally. Basically do like you would if you were "roasting" any winter vegetables...what was I thinking?!?
This Garden Daddy has been giving so many recipes over the course of this site that "me thinks" maybe your Garden Daddy needs to stir around the idea of a future "THE URBAN FARM COOKBOOK" by Garden Daddy....thinking....huh? Laughing all the way to my next seasonal project...
I leave you today again with our ongoing affirmation in mind as always: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG (& RECIPE) AT A TIME!"
HELLO & Welcome to GARDEN DADDY here at the urban farm! I just wanted to share with you that I finally was able to run up on a decent deal on getting a few Garden Daddy tee shirts printed up. My order says they will arrive this next Tuesday, 08-16-11, and I cannot wait! I know you are probably thinking "how foolish" but thought it might be nice to pass around to family and close friends...maybe later if I got enough request I could put some up on this site if anyone was interested in making another order.
Well, we are on DAY #2 of "hatch watch" as we wait on the 8-eggs and two golf balls to hatch...kidding of course about the golf balls! I do not know the exact "laying date" of the 8-fertile eggs but knowing the person I got them from, who happens to be one our of poultry club officers, I am sure they are very viable and fertile. In case some of you did not know, one can gather and hold fertile eggs for up to around two weeks before setting or incubating. 7 to 10 days is the IDEAL optimum time and after that your mortality rate decreases a little each day. Also, you should store with a temperature of no more than 66-degrees F, as any higher temps will start the development of the embryo BEFORE you are truly ready to set. Also they should be stored IDEALLY on a 45-degree angle and turned daily, with pointed end DOWN. This keeps the air sack on the large end. You should also store your own eating eggs in the refrigerator with the small or pointed end "down" in the storage container or carton.
By the way, if you need egg cartons, all you have to do is tell a few friends or church folk and you will have all you can ever hope for. Seems people every where are looking for something to do with those little cartons and are more than happy to save them for you...trust me, I know!
So I will leave you this Saturday morning, looking forward to tomato processing today, with our ongoing city farming affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Friday, August 12, 2011
At least I know she will always be a good brooder for future need if she will hang on for a few years and nothing out of the ordinary happens to her. We will see how she does with real eggs now instead of golf balls. When I took her from the chicken house this morning and isolated her back into the converted rabbit cage and add on secluded nesting area, I took the two golf balls she was sitting on with her and added them to the nest I made of wheat straw & 8-eggs and she sat straight down on the entire thing just as happy as she could be and went to work to hatch her "brood"! So you are now assigned to "hatchery watch" with me...today is day one...mark your calendars! 20 or so to go now.
I also harvested just at 127 tomatoes today...I have not had time to process anything today but will tomorrow. I am free all day and can concentrate on that. I have given away a lot of them today to neighbors and yesterday, having picked around 47 then, gave most of them away as well. That has been the point here at the urban farm of planting so many plants almost to overcrowding is to help feed so many neighbors as well as give some to the local soup kitchen. Next year though, I am not looking to plant so much but to make the garden a little more formal and less FULL and crowded...giving less to share but ease of tending for me is my plan.
So I will leave you today with day one of hatch watch underway with our ongoing affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
You know what this Garden Daddy did with the bean vines don't you? RIGHT...straight to the chicken coop, along with any cull tomatoes, grass I pulled and any other garden refuse I thought would be a treat for the "girls"! That will keep them busy today...rummaging through that pile. Speaking of my "girls"...for those of you who generally feed commercial feed, medicated or not, most suppliers claim that if you feed their product exclusively there is no need to supplement with grit or oyster shell if using their feed. BUT...if YOU supplement your commercial feed at all with ANY garden culls, kitchen trimmings, grass clippings....anything other than commercial feed and your chickens are NOT free range, then please remember to add some grit to their diet. It is a must for the addition of products other than commercial feed. Some of my buddies in the West TN Poultry Club (plug here...of course I am a member!) mix it in their bulk feed and some just scatter on the ground in the coop, etc. Personally, I have an extra small feeder with an open top that I use sometimes when I am raising chicks in a brooder that I generally use to hold grit. I use hen-size crushed granite that you can get anywhere you get your layer feed...be it Tractor Supply, your local co-op, local feed store, etc.
And speaking of chickens...here is new photo of a few of my little spring pullets you have seen in March and April as little chicks with their foster Mom who sat on golf balls and I slipped these chicks under after about 22 -days of sitting...the one on the left is a Blue Wheaten Ameraucana, the middle one is a Standard White Cochin (white with the feathers on their feet and legs, I also have a nice Buff Cochin to go with her) and the third in the back is one of the Dutch Welsummers that are SUPPOSED to lay the terracotta dark brown eggs with speckles on them hopefully! You can just make out their little combs starting to come in as well as the wattles. But the Ameraucana never does really get either comb or wattles...but you can see the "beard & ear tufts" on this one pretty well. You can see in this photo why the are called BLUE WHEATEN, because of the gray-blue coloring around the beard (could be anywhere really) along with the caramel/wheat-color on a basic white body. The Welsummers of course here at the urban farm are all pullets/hens but if I had a rooster it would be what was used as the mascot for Kellogg's Corn Flakes rooster. Welsummers lay about 160 eggs per year. Not GREAT by any standards but a pretty egg that is generally just shy of large to extra large by FDA standards. We will see by next summer how well they lay or it is off to a spring club sale for them and new chicks coming in to replace them. I am already making plans for next spring to get some "Cornish Rock X" birds for the freezer I think at his point and maybe a few more for family or another club swap/sale. And maybe if the Welsummers are not what I want in layers or managable birds over the winter, might just go back with all Buff Orpington's or all Barred Rocks, which last year were TREMENDOUS layers as well as the Silver Laced & Golden Laced Wyandottes. I still have three of the Cuckoo Marans, which are probably not the best layers at all to have but their eggs are so dark and that is what I want and like the best. So do not think this urban farm is settled on the topic of layers yet. I have had many varieties this past two seasons, and as in all farming and gardening, it is an ever growing and learning experience with it all. Experimentation, planning, planting, and trying and re-trying EVERYTHING!
I had an inquiry about when I was processing my soup mix from last weeks tomato harvest did I have boiling water handy and dip my tomatoes and remove the skins BEFORE I put them in the food processor. The answer is NO...I just quartered them up, put them in and ran it until it was slush. Then I poured it into my stewing pot and brought the entire thing to a boil, seeds and all. After all when you buy stewed tomatoes in a can at the store they are whole but without skins. By the time that food processor gets through with everything, it is all chopped up anyway and when it cooks down for a few hours to reduce and thicken you cannot tell any difference anyway. I try to make things as simple as possible these days.
I thought you might find a fat old man hiding in the garden here at the urban farm and a few days ago, someone did...ME! Me in my Amish farmer's hat. It looks like I have a white beard but only a goatee...but after seeing this photo, am giving SERIOUS THOUGHT to that fact come fall to grow a full beard again, like I use to wear in my younger days, only this one will be white for sure!
I am already working on a new plan for the layout of the garden here at the urban farm for fall and into next spring. I am planning to add an arbor to the entrance after all harvest and garden clean up is over this fall. I will give you a photo layout of what my plan is when going in...nothing fancy at all but will make quite a statement. If you remember the one I put in last year at the Jackson Community Garden will give you an idea....by the way, please keep in your gardening minds that the life of the JCG will continue. My site is plagued with problems from the neighborhood it is in due to the fact the whole idea was to transform areas in need with not only a facelift and something to be proud of and to teach people how to feed themselves. That is why they are mostly in areas of crisis. It appears that it may be in naught after this year...I personally will not participate in the JCG next season but only wish the project success. It is not that I do not believe in the project but I can only do so much and am only one person and I simply do not have any more time to offer that project after this season. So if you have the opportunity to ever participate in a community garden, please give it a chance...help others learn to grow their own food, have a plot for yourself, and grow a plot or two for your local soup kitchen as well...EVERYONE needs healthy, fresh vegetables and what better way to get them than to plant the seeds, watch them grow and then serve them to your family...no better way, I promise you. That is the essence of THIS urban farm. I will leave you today with our ongoing urban farming affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Monday, July 25, 2011
I have some other photos to share with you but will wait for another day. By the way, I just got some new business cards so if I ever meet you or you request one, I will mail one or just hand it to you...nice cards for sure, with a chicken on it even. I also ordered a few hats with GARDEN DADDY on it! I leave you today with our ongoing urban farming affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Last week I took a few days and visited my middle brother & his wife in Giles County, TN and he and I had a good time running the roads of his rural area of Tennessee. He lives very close to a large Amish community, found in the Etheridge area, Lawrence County I think. But we spent one whole day driving through that area, viewing some wonderfully productive and very lush farms, both thriving and moving ahead without the aid of many of our so called "modern" machines and other conveniences we THINK we must have to make our gardens grow and our front lawns green. These good people use a lot of real horsepower in the way of large draft horses, mules and the like. We saw bee hives, tomato plants of all stages of growth, including some new plants just being set out for a late harvest. Lets see...if you plant tomatoes the second week of July, give them 65 to 70 days to start blooming and fruiting that would make them harvesting in September which is still in the very-very high 80's and often still in the 90's here so YES, a late harvest for them is very viable.
We also were able to stop and chat with some of these good people and found them not only hard working but friendly and willing to assist us "ENGLISH" where needed. I love to hear their heavy accents, often some with what seems like a heavy Dutch accent or other close to something like that. TRULY GOOD PEOPLE!
I had a request from a follower who wanted to know how I introduced my spring chicks to the rest of the grown flock. When the little pullets were about 10-weeks old, I took some of the green plastic 1" fencing and used some plastic electrical ties and attached the fence to about1/3rd of the chicken house, added their own water fount and feed container and then took them in and added them into that section of the house. I left them there for about 4-weeks and in that time the grown hens got to check them out and they got used to each other. Then I went in and removed the fencing, leaving the separate food and water for the chicks in the same area where they had been staying. It took a few days but soon the little pullets started coming out into the outside run, often seeing a grown hen and returning to the safety of their original area, only to find there was really no place to hide now. But soon, they were eating together, roosting together and mingled just fine. It worked GREAT! I had already returned their foster Mom a few weeks earlier and it took a few days for her to even be re-accepted back into the flock, as she had been gone herself for those first really almost 12 weeks while if you remember sat on the golf balls, then brooded the store bought chicks I had ordered. It took about a week for her to be added back to the flock again without any fights or chasing.
I have been harvesting and freezing green beans from this urban farm. I planted both "Blue Lake" and "Contender" varieties. I gave some away and heard they were the best the folks had eaten...they were a mixed bag of both varieties I had blanched and froze first. I also have been harvesting many tomatoes and have made some cooked down and made some soup mix already. It looks like later this week I will really be in the midst of a huge tomato harvest but looks of things, more than I could ever eat before spoilage, so my kitchen will be alive again with chopping, adding to the food processor, then cooking down then mashing through a sieve to remove seeds and the bulk stuff (including any skins that did not cook down) then slow cooking to reduce and thicken, then cooling, then placing into freezer bags, cooling down in ice water then FINALLY.....adding to my freezer for next winter soup stock, chili base and other good winter cooking.
I also have been to the local farmer's market here in Jackson and got some "Peaches -N-Cream" corn, which I cut off the cob, fried in a little butter and salt, then cooled down and put in freezer bags and that also went into the freezer. Of course I have eaten some of that fresh when I first cut it off the cob. Boy...was it ever good! I need to make some cornbread, get more fresh corn and cook up a mess of fresh green beans from this garden home, slice a tomato and get to eating, right? ARE YOU HUNGRY YET?
Back to speaking of chickens...did I tell you I sold all but 4 of last year's laying hens? I had to make a decision as to keeping a large amount of hens with up and coming pullets eating me out of house and home, way too many eggs to be given away again this fall and winter when the pullets start to lay or culling down the flock to a more manageable size. I now only have 4-grown hens that are laying, with the 9-pullets who should I think start laying in late August or early September. I only kept the 3-Cuckoo Marans and the little Buff Orpington hen that was the little pullets' foster Mother. I am only getting a minimum amount of eggs now, as due to summer heat and the fact the Cuckoo's are not the best and most dependable layers. Now waiting on the 6-Wellsummer pullets, the two standard Cochin pullets and the new Blue-Wheaten Ameraucana to start laying later this summer or fall.
I will leave you today then with our ongoing urban farming affirmation: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
It might not look like it in these badly taken photos, but I have the garden laid out in a certain pattern as I had space and in trying to give some element of moving room as well. It is somewhat tight, but not where I cannot get in and out from between all the rows. You can see as well that I have used wheat straw between the rows. Like I mentioned last year, this not only helps with mulching for weed control, it helps with holding in moisture to a point and it keeps one from having to walk in mud on all these stormy days that we are finally getting. We did have a lot of dry weather for about two weeks but now have had rain for several-several days. By the way, again I have my squash on the outside of the chain link fencing on the driveway side and my cucumbers are on the back of the fence facing the adjoining alley...remember...I live IN-TOWN Jackson, TN.
I leave you today with our ongoing urban farming affirmation and again from yesterday, thanks to you all for following GARDEN DADDY: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Monday, June 20, 2011
I thought I would at least here this late afternoon catch you up on at least one project from earlier an post this spring. Below is a photo of the little Buff Orpington hen that went broody and set on a nest full of golf balls. Remember, I slipped the golf balls out and inserted, one at a time, day chicks I had already ordered from the feed store. She was so THRILLED with her brood and quite the mother as well. I do not have a current photo today but will add one in a few days but the chicks below are about 10 weeks old in this photo. I had moved Mom and biddies to a larger area, actually into one side of my compost bin I had cleaned out in this photo and glad I did with all the rain we had at that time. I kept them covered for weeks with a tarp. But now, today, these same chicks are really no longer chicks but real little pullets. They are about 15 weeks old now I think is right. They are now integrated into the regular chicken coop with the year old hens and have blended well. I will relate that story later along with the fact I have also raised off a few more chicks the same way as well from the Golden Laced Wyandotte that went broody and sold them & mother and a few more hens to some fellow poultry club members. So as you can see just from this catch up posting that my time has just not been my own for a while.
I will leave you this evening with again, many-many thanks to everyone who follows Garden Daddy and hopefully this new post will start things back again. And as always, remember our ongoing gardening affirmation: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Friday, April 29, 2011
Sending all of you my best and a safe weekend. More urban farming updates to follow in a few days....Your GARDEN DADDY...
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
I think probably tomorrow they will venture out a bit more I am thinking into the rabbit cage I have attached to this little wooden box as a make-shift run for them. She is alone with her brood and away from the rest of the flock. This seems to be working just fine and hopefully the raccoons and opossums will not find them where I have them in the yard to cause problems for them. Yes, we have both here in the center of midtown Jackson, TN. Lots of raccoons for sure. I see a lot that are coming and going from around the sewer openings in my neighborhood especially. And you regular followers will remember I had some make a home a few years ago in the chimney here. I even had a baby abandoned and had a professor from Union University sent some students out to retrieve it, as he was already raising a litter of orphaned raccoon kits.
Otherwise, things are the same here this weekend at the urban farm, with much rain for several days in the forecast or cloudy skies at least. So any further spring planting is on hold for now. Just waiting to have what is planted both here and at the community garden start to come up. So, I will leave you this day under rainy skies and baby chick watch with our ongoing urban farming affirmation: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Friday, March 25, 2011
DID I SAY 6 CHICKS? Oops...You know this Garden Daddy cannot resist little chicks. So I added an unplanned baby to the mix, a little yellow chick that will grow up into a standard white Chochin hen hopefully one day. I covered up mother and babies and left them alone only to find myself slipping out there again about an hour later to find one and all doing just fine. As I said, it is rather cool here today, about 30 degrees this morning, warming slowly to lower 50's I think is scheduled but now without having to artificially brood chicks, saving both room and electricity, I think I will take a break from what has been a busy week here, with working at the community garden and planting some snow peas here at the urban farm for my freezer later on as well as fresh stir fry...YUM!
I leave you today with our ongoing urban farming affirmation with a twist: "URBAN FARMING: FIVE CHICKS -PLUS ONE EXTRA - AT A TIME!".....OH MY!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Two weeks from today, March 25, I have 5-Wellsummer chicks arriving at my local feed store and if I can keep her broody till then and in the mean time get her confined in last years' brooder cage then I think the night the chicks arrive I will slip them under her and hopefully in the next morning all will be right with her world. As I have mentioned many times in these posts over the last year and a half, chickens are kind of dumb if you will excuse the slang language. They cannot tell a golf ball from an egg or a baby chick from a duckling. Hey maybe I need to slip a little quacker or two under her as well. I have been promising my middle brother to brood off a few ducks for his lake home and this might be a good time to try two or three along with the chicks.
Anyway, I thought you might like to know of my broody girl and hopefully she will continue to brood for a bit longer, two weeks at least I hope and that will cut down on the power of having to run a brooder light as well or worry about keeping a close eye on the new arrivals OR keeping them in the house for the first 5 or 6 weeks anyway. She will warm them and help them eat and they will fare fine with her and separated from the older hens till the get feathered out some and she will then even protect them from predatory habits from the other birds when introduced to the rest of the flock.
I will leave you today with our ongoing urban farm affirmation: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Other than that and lots and lots of rain for many days on and off there has been a slow start to the community garden but we are on the way much better than last year. The same holds true for the urban farm here at the garden home. I think it will be soon though that I can get the spring garden in for both. Otherwise, things remain constant here and I leave you today with our ongoing gardening affirmation: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Saturday, February 26, 2011
HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! Today I attended the Jackson Area Beekeeper's Association annual keepers short course. I must say I learned all I ever thought I wanted to know about beekeeping. It was very interesting and I had no idea some of the problems facing not only the bees themselves but for keepers as well.
I have long known about the hive issues going on as far as hive collapse, mite problems and really total disappearance of feral bees as a whole. Beekeepers are in a huge dilemma with keeping so many diseases and just pests in general from destroying the hive and total hive loss. I have learned that the cost of getting honey is about the same as this urban farm's cost of a dozen of this Garden Daddy's eggs...about $10.00 a dozen...and thus around $10.00 per pint. Just kidding on both counts but the "cost per" is not the issue but what real cost is worth the price of pure, fresh and home grown food stuffs. Truly, the eggs from this urban farm are NOT $10.00/dozen but are almost equal with store bought "natural eggs". Of course ALL EGGS ARE NATURAL! But with the ones I have here I consider them basically free range (they range free in their enclosure outside), completely steroid free, non-medicated in no way at all and I only use the natural product of Diatomaceous Earth for both worming and for mite control. We have discussed DE before on this site and you can search online for more information or go back to some earlier blogs regarding that product.
I had to agree to obtain bees this spring, take on a mentor, and give monthly reports for one year at the local JABA meetings, held the first Tuesday of each month. That is the partial running cost of the win. Not to mention I need to order my 3-lbs of bees plus a queen, then some other needed equipment and then I will be only feeding sugar and water to start till weather permits more blooms to arrive in the summer. Then other than weekly checks, they are and can basically take care a lot of themselves. Some maintenance and then yearly medications and you are good to go till fall honey harvest. I will have to add more "supers" later on as they build and add their need for more space for the hive brood and the honey they will make. I am thinking now of hot biscuits and lots of real butter and now...fresh, pure honey!
I will write more later on the subject of bees. If you remember I wrote last summer that I had not seen any bees really here all last year and I blamed my poor cucumber harvest on that fact. So hopefully this summer my home garden here at the urban farm will improve AND give up some good honey as well. So till later, I leave you today with our ongoing urban farming affirmation....and coming yet another step closer to our goal here: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Friday, February 18, 2011
I made a stop over at the Jackson Community Garden Site #4 this week, where I dropped off I think it was exactly 30 landscape timbers that I got from my big box job site for around $0.51 each that had been trimmed down due to being in the cull/cut lumber pile. I plan to use them as bed outline markers to make a neater edge in the garden and make the mulching on the bed perimeters easier as well. I am not making raised beds with these timbers but rather using for aesthetics mostly.
I may however as I can procure more of these timbers for some raised potato beds. Now do not think your Garden Daddy is getting away from his firm belief in row gardening but if you will bear with me I will share with you my thoughts on this process. I say "raised potato beds" loosely as I really should say more like a "potato tower"! Either plan a trench or square or triangle shaped bed. Work the dirt in the base of the tower to loosen soil, probably do this BEFORE placing your planting "box" in the area. Then push your potato eyes about 1/2" into the soil and cover with about 6" of wheat straw or other weed free hay. Keep wet - not flooded but moist. In about 2-weeks you should have some green shoots popping up and then cover these with more straw. Keep this up all season. About 2-weeks after the tops die off it is time to pull the straw back and reveal where your potatoes have grown up and out into the straw and harvest your bounty. You can even start earlier with this process, when the earth reaches around 50-degrees, and then replant in mid-summer for a later fall crop.
The urban chickens continue in their early molt. Or at least half of them are or so. They are really a messy sight now as many of them are bare on their backs and bums. I would be freezing if I was bare like that out in the cold weather we have had the past two months. But at least they will be back feathered in by the heat of summer I hope. My egg production is about 8-eggs a day from the 16 hens now. So at least I am getting enough to eat and still give some away.
I will leave you today now with our ongoing gardening affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Allow me a day or two for some relearning and then this Garden Daddy will be at your service again. So I leave you this day with our ongoing affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Monday, February 7, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I continue to get eggs daily, anywhere from 7 or 8 to a full dozen. About half of the birds continue to be in molt, even in this frigid cold weather and with lots of snow and below average temps. I have received the chick order list from my favorite feed store and one of the owners, Ginger, at R & J Feed for this springs delivery. Temptation...temptation...temptation! The West TN Poultry Club I am associated with is having our first 2011 Chicken Swap in Millington, TN on March 5th at Tractor Supply and I am very tempted to move about 5 or so birds on down the road in a swap for outright sale. I am wanting to get some of the Welsummers birds one of our group has incubating even now. I would also like a few more of the Ameraucana pullets, the tinted egg layers. They have been the most consistent layers I have really had other than the Speckled Sussex, Silver Laced Wyandottes and the Barred Rocks. My problem is I want them all and even more. I have always enjoyed being around chickens and have longed for a while now for more room to have what I want.
I often think as you have heard me say in the past, how I would love to have about 5-acres to spread out on and really become more self sufficient and have more place to "play" with my critters, more garden space, etc. But in this economy I plan to just stay put for now and keep my little urban farm as it is.
I leave you this evening with our ongoing gardening affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Monday, January 17, 2011
So with 10-eggs delivered today and now down to 16 birds I leave you with our ongoing garden affirmation: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Thursday, January 13, 2011
MID-WINTER GARDEN CHORES
Welcome to the world of mid-winter gardening tips to get us ready for an early spring gardening session. These a few things we already know but can all use some reminders. January & February always seems to be so cold and very lack luster with the holidays just behind us and the pace has slowed down. That is true but not in the gardening world. There are many projects to occupy those days when it seems the sun will never shine again and the grass will never green back up
For those of us who have not cleaned off last summers' garden leftovers this can be the perfect time to clean off the now dried up debris and tidy up a bit. For those of us with compost bins, we have probably have already added most everything into that or otherwise discarded. No use waiting and thinking you have run out of time to clear off your vegetable garden site and now it is time to replant for this spring. Get it done now. Also in February, you can go ahead and add some lime to your gardening sites as in most forms we use it (either pelleted or ground) it takes some few months actually for it to break down for usable purposes. Actually liming could have been done this past fall and worked a few inches into the top of the soil.
February is also a good time for us to build or repair our cold frame & raised beds, order seeds, and get your lawn equipment serviced (most repair shops are a little slower this time of year and you can usually get in and out sooner than later with repairs & tuneups). It is time to prune some of your woody plants like grapevines, lilacs and fruit trees. You can paint your lawn furniture on warmer days, get your seed flats ready. One of our least favorite chores is tool sharpening. When doing this project yourself, remember to wear a good pair of leather palm gloves to protect your hands when using a file on hoes or mower blades, etc.
In February you can actually go ahead and start your cool season seeds in the prepared flats. These would include cabbages, broccoli, onions, etc. For the last week of February you can get your garden patch ready for some warmer weather veggies and cover with plastic or add to the cold frame. These would include carrots, lettuce, other leafy vegetables. I have even heard of some folks planting some potato "eyes" by the last week of February, planting around 8" deep, adding a layer of wheat straw UNDER the potato eyes, covering with the 8" of soil, then adding a heavy layer of wheat straw mulch on top of soil then adding another 1" of soil on top of the thicker wheat straw mulch and they were harvesting by the middle of the summer. Of course here in our often unpredictable Zone 7 in the mid-south we can have a good freeze late in the season. But with the 8" planting and heavy mulch on the potatoes you should just make it here. I might have to try this one in the near future myself.
So get out there, put on an extra layer of clothing and get some crisp, fresh, winter air and get a jump on things to come and let your garden shine and provide you with an early harvest that extends your growing season into almost a 9-month event with a spring, mid-summer and fall gardening session. And with any results at all, your freezer and pantry could be over run with good, healthy, home grown produce. In some cases I know of as well, some of our number have added a small backyard flock of laying hens, even in mid-town Jackson, where not only do we have our home gardens but where the eggs are fresh, non-medicated, steroid free and there is always LOTS of fertilizer mixed with straw, garden refuse and natural elements that can go back into the garden as well. I just threw that in for your thoughts on these long, gloomy winter days when our mind wanders through the seed catalogs and poultry supply catalogs and we place our orders from both! And as I say in my blog with our ongoing affirmation:"URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
So to all you regular Garden Daddy followers I say happy winter gardening and keep up with your chores and keep your own URBAN FARM a star in your own neighborhood!
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I will also mention again that the only reason I have been using a heat lamp in my coop this year is that about one half of my 10-month old laying pullets are in an early molt situation. They re shedding their original adult feathers and getting in new ones. The only problem this creates is that a lot of bare skin is showing and the new feathers have not come in yet as quickly as they need to during this cold weather. The heat lamp just protects against some frostbite I think anyway and gives them at least the opportunity to try to warm their backs for a bit. And the extra heat in the coop helps keep the water fount thawed as well.
So I leave you today with our ongoing affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"
Monday, January 10, 2011
Now on to my REAL business...I have some concerns that have been raised by a phone call today that some of you out there in the backyard chicken flock keepers are getting a little either concerned or disheartened by the fact you have stopped getting any eggs, even from supposedly good winter layer birds. I must remind everyone that these flocks have little real requirements...food, water & daylight! A good worming and de-licing occasionally doesn't hurt either. That can be done with something I have mentioned before...something called "DE" or food grade DIATOMACEOUS EARTH. Sounds a little like a Star Trek thing right? DE is the remains of microscopic one-celled plants that were once under water and that are now mined and processed. Make sure it is FOOD GRADE! See below for more information.
You can get it at your local feed store or co-op. That CAN be one cause of laying stoppage. But most likely you must take into account that as I have often spoken of in past postings that a good general diet, including fresh greens, maybe a few more whole grains in cold weather and a MINIMUM of 12 to 15 hours of light a day, either natural or artificial will make a difference. It takes light to make your birds feed...feed turns to protein...protein turns into egg production. You MUST provide adequate lighting.
It might also be that your birds are in the stages of an early molt. I have 17 remaining birds from the original flock after donations and 2-losses. I have about 1/2 of the flock now in a heavy molt...YES right here in the midst of winter with snow on the ground today even and them about 10-months old. I am not only running an infra-red heat light but an additional flood light pointed on the water fount that keeps the water thawed and adds a little "daylight" as well, forcing them to eat a bit more and then keeps at least some laying. I have like I said about half of the flock molting, a little early I think, but I have several friends in my Master Gardener group with birds who are going through the same thing. I have the extra clear flood light on a timer that gives me an extra 4-hours lighting each day and on freezing nights have even left it on all night. But the molt will cause an egg laying hiatus all on its own.
Keeping backyard chickens is a wonderful hobby and lots of fun and a good conversation topic among folks who are clueless to anything "barnyard-ish"! But it is not like keeping a cat or a dog who you can ignore and life goes on. It does take some thought, planning, a strong stomach to a certain point (dealing with illnesses, chicken fights, poop everywhere, etc.) and more than just something you "THINK" might be fun. You must spend time with them daily and keep them in a tame mode otherwise you will end up with basically feral chickens or just another flower pot to water. Keeping something alive and truly living takes a little more than that. My middle brother would LOVE to have chickens, goats and more but he and his wife travel so much it is just not realistic for them to add those projects to their life. It is nice and a nice thought...but the facts are that they are like children, pets, keeping ANY living thing.....it takes some kind of commitment on ones part to make it work and work well.
Not to again blow my own horn (I promise, no more shofars!) but in all the molting, loss of natural daylight and the colder weather, I am averaging still about 5-1/2 dozen eggs a week from my 17 birds. I have been providing extra whole grains in the way of extra scratch being fed, buying some marked down lettuce heads from the grocery, some sunflower seeds (large 40# bags from the Home Depot for around $8.00/bag) some dried oat meal (whole rolled oats - long cooking type) and adding the DE to the regular chicken layer crumbles...just in case! I also did a coop and bird dusting to keep down and prevent mite infestation. I have not found any upon inspection of any birds but if one has it they will all have them. So far - so good - but not taking any chances.
Now to those of you who think backyard keeping has turned out to be less like Foghorn Leghorn and more like Green Acres and you all feel more like Zsa Zsa, my suggestion is to invite some friends over on one of these weekends and fire up the grill for some Bar-B-Que chicken or some fried chicken for the preacher on Sunday. So I leave you today after missing you all so much (& please bear with me on my computer issues) with our ongoing affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"