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Monday, September 12, 2011


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I just thought I would take a moment and mention to you that one of the two Standard Cochin pullets FINALLY laid yesterday, Sunday. I have been waiting on these spring pullets to get started and one finally got down to business. It was a nice, pinkish color, rather small, like a little pullet should be with a very rounded small end. It was not large enough to think of eating, having just one. So I fed it to the dog in his food. Now, I wait on the other Cochin, one Ameraucana pullet and the remaining 6-Welsummers to start laying I will be happy.
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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! Well, my little Buff Orpington hen ended up hatching only 4-chicks out of an 8-egg clutch. Two eggs were infertile, one was not viable after breaking through the shell in the 100-degree heat yesterday afternoon and the last was abandoned too early, and appeared to need a good 2-days more to be ready to hatch. Little Mama was ready to go this morning with her small brood of 4-chicks and get out of the enclosed space for her nesting area and she got off the nest, started covering up the unhatched eggs and looking to get her and the brood out of that area and into the rabbit cage - converted into brooder run.
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.

In the second photo, below, you can see two darker chicks and they are most likely also little pullets. Even though, the one in back MIGHT be slightly lighter, I feel if you see it in real life/time is is still darker than the one in the upper photo.

Now in this last photo, you can see the little roo-boy (probably) in the foreground again with the 3-darker little pullets in the back...can you see the difference? You can really see the grey on him in this picture. Of course there is Mama Dorothy, the little Buff Orpington hen that did such a good and faithful job of keeping them warm for 3-weeks to get them here

UPDATE: ALL 18 NEW CHICKS ARE WELL AND VERY (!) HAPPY TODAY. I gave them a little heat last night, a 60watt light bulb hanging in one corner, as it got down to around 82 when I was heading to bed after Master Gardener meeting last night. It bottomed out to 71-degrees this morning and they were all in the heating area and warm and snug in their new digs this morning. After my early breakfast today, I went and unplugged their heat as it was already way up in the 80's by then and they were happy with the natural heat. I think once they get more real feathers grown out and less fluff in about two weeks I may not need heat if we do not get any really cool nights...though there is some talk of next week a few nights into the 50's in which case they will surely need some night time heating for a little while.

On to gardening updates...the urban farm remains in drought conditions and I am working hard to not overwhelm my utility bill again next month with watering, as we have to pay waste water even when there is none that is going into the pay a percentage of what water you use as in most city utility systems. But then again, if I want ANYTHING left to either freeze or eat I must do some watering. Not wishing ANY bad luck or problems on anyone, but we sure could use SOME of the rain from the east coast and what appears to be heading to NOLA from the Gulf. If you earlier followers remember, I moved back to Tennessee 5-years ago after a 2-year stay in Pensacola, Florida, and that was because of the 4-hurricanes and 2-tropical storms affected the area so much both housing cost and rentals and insurance made it nearly impossible to remain in the area and have anything left to live on! I am hoping we get a break in this late summer heat and drought we are in again this year. As for the community garden, it has been a disappointing season there, with many external issues stemming from the area of town it is in and the community we are working so hard to help and teach gardening skills to. We have been able, between this urban farm and the community garden, give to our local soup kitchen at least a small amount of produce, mostly squash earlier in the summer, and some tomatoes and okra and peppers as well. Not as much as last year of course. Most ended up coming from this urban farm and I am glad I planted some 34-tomato plants and was able to share with neighbors and the RIFA Soup Kitchen as well as enough for my freezer and some even went to an assisted living facility in Millington, TN, and to some employees in Humboldt, TN, at the TN. State Veteran's Home there. So even though the community garden ended up this season not as I had hoped it would, my own garden was able to assist many and that in itself is well worth the effort.

I will leave you followers and newcomers then with our ongoing gardening affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

(I apologize, but my spell check here on this site is not working properly today so forgive any misspellings you might find in this posting...I will check it later and correct any errors!)

Thursday, September 1, 2011


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I got a nice doorbell ring this morning early from the USPS delivery of my 18 new babies...they arrived and it was already getting hot. I took them out to their new brooding home, removed each, dipped their beaks into the water fount to give them the idea to drink, then turned them loose to watch all those little things start stretching those legs and fluttering their wings. Those tiny bantam Mille Fleur d'Uccle chicks are so small that the larger standard chicks almost seem like a truck when they run into the little things. All are happy and enjoying the larger space now more than the shipping box tonight! In the bottom photo, you can see one of the tiny banty chicks that has fallen asleep. The truck trip from the hatchery wore them out I guess and after filling up on cool water, several heads were bobbing in a sleepy state....they were so sweet this morning!

And with the arrival of these chicks, I was out looking in on the little broody Mother, the Buff Orpington hen, Dorothy, and low and behold out pops 4 little heads from under her! Talk about a surprise...I did not expect anything to happen until late tomorrow or on Saturday even maybe into Sunday morning early. But what a big chick day. Unfortunately, during the hottest part of today, when we reached 100-degrees here in Jackson today, hatch # 5 was breaking out and had pecked its' way all around the shell but when I found it, it was too late and I think the heat did not allow the membrane to break completely on the inside of the shell and it had stopped moving when I found it. I tried rubbing it and even put it between my hands and blew on its face some, trying to revive it. I had been looking in every little bit and when I first saw it, it was still peeping with most of the shell still around it. Then the next time I looked, it was already gone. Then tonight here about 8:45pm I went to look at all the babies after returning from my Master Gardener monthly meeting and think I saw a tiny peck hole in another of the 3 remaining eggs. I cannot interfere with what nature will do and will just hope for at least another one or two hatches by morning or later tomorrow. We will see! Mama will be ready soon to move her babies off the nest and into the other part of her confined area to start feeding them better and allowing them room to grow. She will not wait much longer if no hatches happen after tonight I feel.

I leave you today, a chicken-rich man with good, healthy and evidently happy chicks and a little Mama as well, with our ongoing gardening affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG (AND LOTS OF NEW BABIES) AT A TIME!"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! Yes I can hear you all now...screaming at the top of your lungs as to what am I thinking. But I called yesterday, Monday, to verify my order last week of the Black Sex Links & Rhode Island Reds (6-each) and was on the hatchery website at the time of the call, looking at the pretty Belgian Bearded Mille Fleur d'Uccle chickens and just "shot the moon" and added 6-bantams of the breed.

Isn't she beautiful? (online stock photo - NOT MINE!) Feathered legged, bearded and oh so pretty! By the way, "MILLE FLEUR" means "a thousand flowers" OR "tapestry of flowers" depending on which definition you go with. And of course looking at the little hen above, is that not one thousand flowers on her? Roos of this breed on average run around 26oz. while the hens run about 22oz. I am hoping for some small little pullets...I have threatened on my club site, West TN Poultry Club, that I might have to move one or two roosters, if there are any in the order, to either my spare room upstairs or to the basement so I can have a rooster to breed the hens to. Don't think I would not try that too. But I have some fellow club members who will take any roos I get in the order of straight run chicks. This hatchery only allows straight run orders of all bantams. As a reminder to you, most hatcheries allow either rooster orders, pullet orders or straight run chicks which are you get what you sexing will be done on the chicks to give you all roosters or all pullets, etc. I should be saying "cockerels" meaning young rooster, like a young hen UNDER one year old is a pullet UNTIL they are a year old.

Also, we are still on day 11 or 12 of "hatch watch" depending on how you are counting. I think the full 21st day will be Saturday, September 3rd around noonish or so is my take but will keep a close eye on the little Buff Orp hen all Friday and Saturday morning. But remember, Friday, Sept. 2nd, all these chicks are arriving...let's see, I currently have 13 hens, 8 eggs being brooded, 18 chicks on the way...that totals : 39 chickens here at the urban farm...WHAT AM I THINKING? Really it is not that bad, as the 8 eggs a'hatchin' are going back to the person who gave them to me are just for the hen to brood over, the 3 Cuckoo Marans are being sold (I hope) this coming weekend, the banty Mille Fleur d'Uccle chicks I am planning to put into the current compost bin that I will convert, as I have mostly been putting the compost stuff straight into the garden anyay.

So I will leave you today with our ongoing gardening affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Friday, August 19, 2011


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! As I said in the title...I KNOW, I KNOW...I have just this morning ordered MORE chicks from IDEAL POULTRY in Texas, set to hatch on August 31 and arrive here at the urban farm on Friday morning, September 2nd. But guess what? My little Buff Orpington hen is still faithfully sitting on her little clutch of 8 fertile Cuckoo Marans eggs and her 2-golf balls and they are due to hatch either late on September 2nd or early on Saturday, September 3. If they hatch on Friday afternoon I will give her the new chicks I have ordered or hold them under some heat until Saturday after her hatch is complete and then slip them in as well. And remember, I am not keeping any of those 8 chicks she is trying to hatch..."not counting my chicks before they hatch" by any means!
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:! 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


HELLO & Welcome to GARDEN DADDY here at the urban farm! I thought you might like to see some new photos of Spring 2011 chicks, now almost all grown up. But the first photo to share with you is of my favorite little hen and the most calm of all, "DOROTHY", the Mother-To-BE Buff Orpington hen that is now on day 4 of "hatch watch", while she sits on her 8 Cuckoo Marans eggs and 2-golf balls. I made her a nice nest myself of some wheat straw I keep on hand for the chicken house nest boxes and she has barely moved since putting her on the nest of eggs.

The photo below is of the white Standard Cochin pullet that was in the spring bunch of chicks I ordered in March this year. The Cochin breed is very slow to mature so she is lagging behind the Dutch Welsummers' a bit. I thought you might like to see though she is larger than the other pullets and also get a kick out of the large feathers on her feet. I call her and her buff sister, "clown chickens", as it looks like a clown in large shoes trying to walk

The photo below is of the Standard Buff Cochin, also born in March of this year. She is the same age as the white one above. She is a darker gold color than the Buff Orpington breed. Behind her, is the back end of one of the three Cuckoo Marans...they are called Cuckoo because of that mottled black and white in all mixed up and not like a Barred Rock hen, where there is a more definite pattern. Thus the term, "cuckoo"....meaning "crazy or mixed up" pattern!

The bottom photo shows again the White Cochin pecking along with some of the 5-Dutch Welsummers (named for the town of Welsum in Holland) which are really getting close to laying for 2 or 3 of them. They are an attractive bird, with golds and rich brownish walnut colors on them along with some tones of mahogany in places.

Otherwise, today I cooked some turnip greens, frozen store-bought over this weekend, and a friend gave me some south Alabama water ground corn meal. I plan to make some "fried bread" in a few minutes to go with it. In other words, like a fried hoe cake. Continuing some recipes, I would like to share with you an "okra pancake" recipe I think is just wonderful and another way to use okra. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE okra...I like to add a small amount of oil in a pan, get it hot, add some chopped onion and okra, salt & pepper, add about a teaspoon full of lemon juice and a little crushed garlic and then stir fry it until it almost gets blackish on the edges and tender....yummy! Well, I tried to add the okra pancake in a download but it would not cooperate for some reason. I will try to add it later and just type it in freehand in another posting.

So, I leave you today with our ongoing urban farming affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Saturday, August 13, 2011


HELLO & Welcome to GARDEN DADDY here at the urban farm! I told you yesterday I had a HUGE tomato harvest yesterday morning that I would have to process today. Well, boy-oh-boy did I ever. I ended up with right at two gallons of the best sauce/soup mix I ever made I believe. It is so rich with tomato aroma and taste and I strained the seeds out of this batch to see the difference. You know, gardening is ALWAYS a testing ground of everything, right? So is preserving. Again, this will cool down then be boxed up in freezer containers and then added to the winter larder for soup stock, spaghetti sauce, chili fixin's and the like.
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 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


HELLO & Welcome to GARDEN DADDY here at the urban farm! For the past 5 days, counting today, Dorothy, my pet and favorite hen, has stayed in a bottom level nest box and has gone broody again! She is the Buff Orpington hen that went broody in the spring and was sitting on the golf balls that I then swapped out for nine 2-day old chicks I ordered from the feed store after 23 days, which are now almost ready to start laying that I mentioned earlier this week. I got busy yesterday and emailed a member of the West TN Poultry Club and today she brought me 8-fertile Cuckoo Marans eggs. I do not want any more birds here but this will make the little Mama happy again, won't really cost me anything, except she is not laying anyway and this will break her from being broody and fulfill her motherhood need once again.
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 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 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


HELLO & Welcome to GARDEN DADDY here at the urban farm! For the last two days I have harvested another large batch of tomatoes. It appears that I am heading back into the kitchen to process more sauce for the freezer for winter soup mix and sauce. Not complaining by any means. In fact, quite looking forward to the cold weather to come now. I have been able to put back some good bit of frozen product of green beans, corn, some squash, snow peas from early spring, and tomato sauce. At least this gives a basis for some good winter soups, fresh-frozen vegetables and some savings from the grocery store and of course the envy of some neighbors when I take them some vegetable soup or some good hearty minestrone! I am thinking of trying a late green bean crop even now with all the heat we are still having to get a little more to eat now and for later. And of course a fall crop of snow peas for the cooler weather and then maybe a few greens then as well....planning anyway, depending on how long the tomato crop lasts.

Still waiting on the new pullets raised from day old chicks to start laying. There is one of the Welsummer pullets that is really showing her comb and wattles now and her ear color is starting to turn as well and hopefully it should not be too long till she will start laying now and others soon to follow. I have shared with you that I had two standard Cochin pullets and they are somewhat slow to mature so I do not expect them to start laying until on into September at least. In fact it will probably be September I imagine before any of the new "girls" start laying. These type of birds are a little slower to mature and so taking longer to begin laying. My plan for next spring is to get some of the Cornish Rock X chicks that will be so fat and large by about 6 or 8-weeks old that they cannot even hardly move and get them ready for the freezer...I am thinking maybe around 25 or so early in the spring. My middle brother and I have talked about splitting the flock for each of our freezers if I will raise them...I say no problem. Then if these new pullets are not the layers of the egg color I am looking for from them, then they will go the way of a poultry club swap sometime and be replaced back with what I have already decided if the need arises, a whole flock of Wyandottes, either Golden Laced or Silver Laced. Remember, I had them last year and they were excellent layers even all winter.

SORRY....I just stopped posting and looked at the IDEAL POULTRY site for fall availability dates and now the thought comes I might like some good, non-medicated & steroid-free chickens for the freezer. For all you poultry keepers out there, they can be ready to "dress" at around 6-lbs in around 6 to 7 weeks. It would not cost much, some high protein/high fat broiler feed and with this time of year so warm still, not much heat in a brooder and with supplement from garden refuse, cost would be minimum. Jumbo Cornish Rock X ("X" means cross or hybrid) broiler flock photo below (not mine of course)...notice they put more energy into growth and not much in feathering, etc. And they grow so fast they often have trouble even walking and moving. Grow, baby, grow!

I will leave you today with our ongoing urban farming affirmation in mind as I think more about this late summer/fall broiler idea....hmmm, let's see, by the first week of October for sure I could be dressing out a freezer FULL of chickens...hmmmm: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Friday, July 29, 2011


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I wanted to share with you that today was the last of my green beans here in the backyard garden. I was able with the first three pickings of beans to freeze some 15-quarts or so of product. I also ate about 5 meals along the way with what I cooked through for serving. But after watering during the past week to make the vines bloom again even in this heat we are going through, one nice rain shower in the mix as well, when I went to the garden this morning at 6:30am to harvest beans, banana peppers and tomatoes, I found very few green beans, few blooms and vines barely hanging on. HEAT...HEAT...HEAT...It is just not letting up here. So I started pulling them up, hill by hill, then picking what ever was hanging on them, large or smallest of the small. I ended up with a nice pot full, enough for dinner tonight and leftovers it looks like. Adding a little cut up salt pork to the cooking and they taste really great. I am adding some mashed potatoes and going to grill some sliced pork loin I bought this week, whole, and cut up into boneless steak size slices...are you hungry yet? Oh yes and of course, some tomato and basil salad!
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 it Tractor Supply, your local co-op, local feed store, etc.
And speaking of 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 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 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 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


HELLO & Welcome to GARDEN DADDY here at the urban farm! WOW...Today I harvested 78 full size or at least NEARLY full size tomatoes, cut them up, put in the food processor and as I am writing this the results, over 2-gallons, are in a HUGE POT and simmering down to thicken and reduce. I added some small amount of salt and a little sugar for acid reduction and other than that (this year anyway) that is all I am doing. I decided to NOT add any herbs or other spice to this year's tomato processing and avoid the need to use only as dedicated meals. I believe if I leave it basically "just tomato" that it will give me the advantage to use it in EVERYTHING over the winter...soups, chili, spaghetti, etc.

Of course here at the urban farm...what did I do with the tomato trimmings, caps, culls, etc.? If you know me at all you are correct if you said I fed them to the chickens. You bet I did! Those 4 older hens and this spring's 9 pullets did a head dive right into the pile when I dumped them in the chicken run. Here you will see the pile of trimmings as well as some of the now almost fully grown spring chicks that are equal in size with their foster Mother, the light golden Buff Orpington hen in the middle/right side in the upper photo and the once little day old chick that is now more golden than her Mother, is really a standard Buff Cochin. The other photo is just more of the now nearly grown spring chicks, mostly the Dutch Wellsummers, enjoying the tomato culls and caps. I just cut off the stem area and am not too picky about any loss as we have had so much intense heat that even though you cannot see it here, there are a lot of them that had some cracks on top of them from fast growth and intense heat.

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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I know, I know...again, where have I been? All I can say is too sorry. A lot has been going on here both with the urban farm and in Jackson, TN and mostly just "life" has been happening really. I hope to remedy that soon. I am giving up some commitments I have had over the summer and hope to have more time for you in the future. Sometimes it is so hard to tell people no, again not my strongest strength.
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


HELLO & Welcome to GARDEN DADDY here at the urban farm! I thought you would like to see a few shots of the 2011 urban garden as well as a promised photo of the now nearly grown little pullets mentioned in earlier posts. As you can see, I try to use EVERY available space in the garden site. I have enough tomato plants to eat fresh from, give lots away, and then even have enough to make sauce to freeze later on as well. I always try to keep my neighbors in fresh summer veggies as I have available as well as adding to what I harvest at the community garden to donate to our local soup kitchen, RIFA. The first photo shows a basic overall shot of the bulk of the garden, the second shows another view and the third shows you those little, nearly grown pullets.
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


HELLO & Welcome to GARDEN DADDY here at the urban farm! I would like to take a moment and say THANK YOU to my regular followers for your patience and often WORRY by my long absence. Thank you all! I will not go into details other than I have been busier than a cat in a sand box during these last many weeks. Between the severe, damaging storms and subsequent cleanup here in West TN in late April and many more in May and into this month as well, trying to get the community garden project going, working like a mad man here at the urban farm and my regular job and the fact I joined the choir at church, taking up one night for rehearsals as well as other rehearsals for some solo work I have been asked to do (ah-ha....another surprise about your Garden Daddy...I do TRY to sing a little) my time has truly been used up but I am taking this week off for the most part from at least part of my regular chores and working on some things I want and need to do.
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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! After a full day earlier in the week without power, a flooded basement, losing my hot water heater for a day as well and loss of all internet usage from Monday night until only moments ago here on Friday afternoon, I am about to get all the limbs and branches and trash up out of this urban farm area. I have worked on helping other friends and neighbors with their issues and effects of this weeks storms. I am not even really traumatized in the least by my issues...other than the loss of internet service. But now I want to give great THANKS for good health, safe living conditions and everything being in tack. I want to also give out my sympathy and sorrow to all of those suffering both loss of life and property in my area and those surrounding states.
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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! You know how I love my chickens and everyone I know who keeps them or is involved in the West Tennessee Poultry Club and is again, CRAZY about their chickens...well, last Friday, one week after introducing the new chicks to my broody Buff Oprington hen and removing her nest full of golf balls she had been sitting on, I found one chick had not survived. So this Garden Daddy decided to replace my little lost chick with another one so as to have the full compliment I had planned on.

After arriving at my local feed store to look over the chick selection, I came home with not only a replacement but 2-additional chicks. I slipped the trio under little mother and she could not tell the difference in how many she actually had. So again as previously stated, and all you flock keepers out there do not be offended, but chickens are a little on the dumb side, she could not tell any difference in one week old chicks and day old chicks...literally birds of a different feather. These little critters are just thriving, growing and fluttering around their enclosure and following Mother in her scratching and foraging, learning how to be chickens in a natural setting. My best friend keeps calling it my "science experiment" but if it is, it is working! The top two photos below are of Mama Dorothy, the Buff Orpington hen with her babies. I ended up with 2011 chicks to date, 6-Wellsummers, 1-white Chochin, 1-buff Chochin & 1 what appears to be a blue-wheaten Ameraucana, all seem happy and doing well. I am still threatening to add a duckling or two to the mix...or other if I thought I could keep animal control out of my hair here in center city Jackson, TN.

I also thought I would show you two of the molting birds in the coop. I have more than two in molt at present or ending molt in various stages of severity. The bottom photo is of a Silver Lace Wyandotte and the 2nd one up from bottom is a Barred Rock or also called Barred Plymouth Rock. Don't let this scare you but it is a natural occurrence. Not to be confused with parasite issues, which can also cause feather loss. But this is their first year of age and are no longer just pullets...but full fledged HENS! Egg laying has picked up again with molt nearing the end for the most part and now getting 10-12 eggs a day once again, still looking back to getting another 14 or so a day from my 16 full grown hens (I won't mention that I ended up with 9 new chicks under the way that name came from Dorothy off the tv show, "The Golden Girls").

This Garden Daddy has the community garden well under way this spring, with greens of different varieties, lettuces, cabbages and onions in the mix. Things are in a satisfactory state there with many hours volunteered already on that project. So I leave you today with out our ongoing urban farming affirmation forever in our mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Saturday, March 26, 2011


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! As you can see, mother Dorothy and her babies are all doing fine some 30 hours after putting these chicks under her. She has clucked and clucked and mothered one and all. It is raining and cool here today, in the 50's or so but they are nice and dry and very warm. She allows her chicks to run out and feed and drink and run around a bit but she soon clucks a little louder and they come running back under her wings. I could not ask for a better mother out of her. As she has always been friendly and sociable with me she allows me to move her around, pick up her chicks, pet them and reassure her as well that she is a good mother. All the while, she is clucking softly, day and night to her chicks.
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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! The day has arrived, today, when I got my 5-new little Wellsummer day old chicks. My broody Buff Orpington hen has been sitting on her nest of 6 plastic golf balls for almost a full month now. This morning I decided not to wait until tonight to slip her the little hatchlings. It has been dark, cold and cloudy here today and so at around 8:00 am this morning I slipped in a chick - took out a golf ball. She put her beak to it, turned around in the nest, started preening her back feathers and pulling downy feathers up to make her whole back fluffed up. Then out came another golf ball and in went another chick...this went on till all 6 golf balls where gone and 6 chicks where under her and she was clucking and mothering one and all!
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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm. I have several things to share with you for a few moments this afternoon. First, I know that true spring must have arrived as my "usual suspect" Mr. & Mrs Robin Red Breast have once again for the 5th season in a row built their nest on my front porch pier tops. I have had around 14 total fledglings soar from off my porch over the last few years. She always starts to build her nest in a high March wind, working through a strong storm, only to have the storm aid her in allowing the nesting material enough wetness with the mud she provides to make it finally stick to the top of the pillar. For several days the couple works and works, only to have another gust of dry wind blow off all materials. Then it starts raining and the material FINALLY starts to stick and then it is nearly concreted to the ledge. Every year I wait anxiously for this sign of some true spring here at the urban farm.
Also I would like to share with you a gift this garden home received from a good friend and co-worker on Monday. I was so surprised to see this lovely gift. I was at work and this wonderful and very talented person came up to me and showed me something in a bag. It was a wonderful concrete leaf she had decorated with glass chips and stones in the shape of a flower. But the very part was she had stamped "GARDEN DADDY" in the center of it! I was so very thrilled to get it and it meant more to me because of the special person who thought enough to make it special for this Garden Daddy. THANK YOU SHERRY R.!

Finally on to my little Buff Orpington hen, sitting all alone in the mostly darkened hen house on her little clutch of now 12 plastic golf balls. I felt sorry for her with her one lonely golf ball and decided that since the other hens had slowed down laying so much due to an extended molt that I would take the "nest eggs" (I told you how dumb they are that they cannot tell a golf ball from an egg) from the other nest and give her a whole nest full of "eggs". Again, I am hoping she will stay broody for another 8 or 9 days till my new Wellsummer chicks arrive on March 25 so that night I can slip them under her at night and hopefully she will accept the little peepers as her own little brood. That is my plan anyway...good luck to me! So I leave you this sunny afternoon with our ongoing urban farming affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Friday, March 11, 2011


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I must share with you that I have a broody Buff Orpington hen. She currently sits and clucks on her one lonely plastic golf ball in her nest box she is guarding from the use of other hens. So I have decided that if she will stay put on her little clutch of the lone golf ball for a few more weeks I will slip in one night and ease some day old chicks under her.
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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! Well it appears I will not be having bees here at this urban farm. There is NO LAW about having bees or not in the city of Jackson but out of courtesy for my neighbors in such close proximity here in center city Jackson I have chosen to return the hive body I won back to the Jackson Area Beekeepers Association for regiving next year. It is not really feasable for this garden home and urban farm to keep something I feel would be intrusive into my very close neighbors and after much thought and concern and talk about it, I feel I should withdraw my idea of actually using the hive to cause the slightest possibility of angry neighbors, who I am fond of all of them and in good standing with at this time.
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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! So nice to be able to get online and actually have a good system to visit with you through. I finally got my old system...desktop, old printer, large monitor, many-many cords, etc. out of the way, cleaned off & cleaned up and FINALLY got my new WIFI system up and running. This includes a new wireless mouse for the laptop, a new WIRELESS PRINTER and got the wireless router installed. Your Garden Daddy finally came into the 21st century. With all that said I will move on into urban farm business.
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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! It is nice today, nay...this very make this my very first thing I am doing on my new HP laptop. WHEW...I have waited patiently with frustration and ill will for my old desktop that had more issues than I care to relate at this writing. But I wanted to just mention, as this Garden Daddy promised to you all, that once I got the new unit I would be faithful in my writing again to you but still give me a few days to get used to everything. I was looking for the 10-key pad as I am in such a habit of using it, almost by touch, and this smaller keyboard will take some effort to re-adjust!
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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm. I would like to share the photos that were in the local paper, The Jackson Sun, from our Master Gardener graduation last Thursday evening, Feb. 03, 2011. My graduation group is in the lower picture with me in the back-left in the cream colored sweater (I look and felt like a stuffed baked potato!) and in the top picture is my group of volunteer who logged in at least 100 or more hours this past year to commemorate the University of Tennessee and the activities of the UT Ag Extension Service being in existence and active. I was named as "leading the pack", having logged in about 158 hours of volunteer service this past year. To those of you who are dedicated followers of this Garden Daddy know where that time was spent...that work of love and effort...the Jackson Community Garden Site #4! I am sure time will be well spent there again this season, starting I hope during the end of this month of February 2011.
I would like to share with you the events of today and that we got somewhere over 3 or 4 inches of heavy, wet snow today. I went to my job this morning early as usual on Monday with rain starting around 4:00am. By 9:00am when I left for the day, it was in a driving, blinding snow storm with heavy winds driving the snow so hard I almost could not see the road in front of me. I hope this weather sees some break in the next week or so and I can get back outside very soon. I am chomping at the bit to get out and do something. I have been in all I can stand. Of course I am out every day with the chickens, which remain constant in their 7 to 12 eggs a day from the remaining 16-hens. I will call them hens now even though they are not OFFICIALLY hens till they are a full 1-year old. I am making some plans, if they finish their molt in time for our first poultry club swap and meet to look decent to sell all the Black Austraulorps, the Buff Orph, the Silver Laced Wyandottes and maybe another or two in the plan to exchange for some new chicks of the Welsummer breed and maybe another Ameraucana or two. The black birds have been good layers this winter but I am looking for the darkest egg layers I can get as well as the tinted green layers which have been VERY GOOD and CONSISTENT egg providers.
I leave you then today with our ongoing gardening affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Thursday, January 27, 2011


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! One more week, next Thursday Feb. 03, 2011, will be our intern class graduation to full Master Gardener status. I am so excited to be included with my group of graduates this season. It has been over a year since the fall of 2009 when my intern class sat for our classroom studies and then over these past 17 months of volunteer work to complete our needed time and devotion to our chosen projects to get us to this point. Many of my class have logged over 100-plus hours of volunteer time during the 2010 service year. My work with the Jackson Community Garden project has afforded that opportunity to me as well. The work with JCG became more though than just another service project to log hours through. The JCG has given me the opportunity to work with a group of volunteers who for the love of gardening and the love of teaching others how to garden and a chance to serve my community. But in the most real way, I feel that the community garden project gives us in the Master Gardener group a chance to do what really embodies what our goal and pure essence of being a my own mind, it is that service & education through gardening that reflects the MG mission statement. I should have some photos of the graduation ceremony next week to share with you. To say excited is not even close. I am elated!
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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I would just like to relate to you that I have found one of my Black Austraulorp pullets STIFF AS A BOARD today and not from the cold either! I mean...T...I...M...B...E...R.........! I am down to 16-birds now. Between the gifting and the two natural deaths and the one I had to put down with the cross beak, I have reduced my own flock naturally really. That is not bad though that in about 10-plus months I have really only had two (2) fatalities. I think from all indications that both "natural deaths" were from being egg bound really. If not egg bound, as they really have not had those symptoms, I understand it could be that they had developed liver problems that lead to heart failure. With them being perfectly healthy, red combs, laying well, etc. one day and just stiff as a poker the next the heart attack sounds good to me. I know it is not worms, mites or other poultry issues and this sounds the most likely at this point.
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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm. I would like to share with you in advance an article that is scheduled to appear in the February Madison County Master Gardener Newsletter in February 2011. I was asked to submit some ideas as often as possible to help out with some gaps there have been in trying to fill space. Who knows...this Garden Daddy may get a "URBAN FARM" corner in some publication sometime! For those of you who are wanting some winter gardening it is as submitted (how it gets published is another story):


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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I have heard your murmurings and concerns about finding FROZEN eggs in your chicken houses and coops these extra cold days we are having this year. Funny thing about eggs though. Unless the shell is cracked due to the freezing, the contents are still perfectly fine. If the shell is cracked because it has frozen then this Garden Daddy will throw it out or feed it to the furry critters here...namely "Max" the Silky Terrier here at the urban farm, mixed in with his food. If it is frozen and NOT cracked, it can be put in a zip lock freezer bag with others you might collect during a certain period and then used for cooking, baking, etc. You CAN still eat as regular cooked eggs but the yolks might not stand as tall and the slight change in taste might be noticeable. But you can still use any frozen eggs you might collect. If you are selling them you might try just warming them a little at the time and be sure to mention they MIGHT have been frozen at some point to your customers.
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


HELLO & Welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I would like to state at the beginning today that I am in full apology for still depending on this old computer and having been so far from you all at this time. I have not abandoned you but am simply having to keep my computer usage very limited to basically email and personal business. It is VERY-VERY SLOW and even tries to open programs all by itself. I have taken the original one that crashed to the "GEEK SQUAD" for a check up and it was not repairable for under a huge fortune of money. Then I reconnected the OLD desktop back up and this has as many problems and again I am making plans and researching a new system that hopefully will arrive shortly after my income tax refund does this year, probably in late February.
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, 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 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!"