Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Tree roots sap the moisture and nutrients from a garden. I would site a new garden as far away from trees as possible. Right in the middle of a clearing for example. And, no closer to trees than the height of the tree. So if the nearby trees are 50 feet tall, then I wouldn't put a garden within 50 feet of them. I concur with James regarding getting maximum sun exposure.
This isn't possible on property #2. The trees are TALL and on all sides. The clearing isn't wider than the trees on each side are tall (put together). Hope that makes sense.
We're looking at new properties, and things being what they are, likely a small garden will be all I can manage for now. If I have a clearing in the middle of tall, mature hardwoods, do I want a plot off to a particular side? Downhill? Uphill?
Property 1 is raw, long (236ish ft. x 811ish ft.), western facing slope at about 30 degrees. 5 acres--the world is your oyster. But you have to build a 4 bedroom, 2000 sq. ft. house on it...
Property 2 has about 1/2 an acre cleared, but part of it slopes 45 degrees, west by northwest. There are high and low spots that are relatively level, though. It has an small existing plot at the highest point, which is the southeast corner.
Property 3 has a little .1 acre clearing on the eastern side, relatively level, high ground. There's also about .5 acres in the back, that is on a lake, but pretty gently sloping.
We're in Georgia, so I think we typically want morning sun and afternoon shade, right? So isn't putting plots along the northwestern side of a woods-edged clearing best?
Is low ground a big deal as long as drainage continues downhill?
So for #1, I'd want to terrace a plot in the middle?
For #2 a plot in the northwest part of the clearing (which is also downhill)?
For #3, it's harder to tell. The little clearing seems pretty shaded, so maybe the northern edge of the property? It would get eastern sun for sure, but maybe a little western shade.
Am I thinking about all of this right, or do I have it all backwards? I welcome any input!
I missed that last post until now, I'm sorry! Thank you for that advice! I'll tuck it away. We finally had to cull this hen; she just never stopped and was making skin raw on this one bird. First time processing a bird, so that was interesting. I'm not sure it's my favorite thing ever, but we did it! Anyway, so closes the saga of the bully feather-plucking hen.
You said upthread that I should get an young rooster from a large flock. How do I go about selecting a rooster? Assuming I found someone with a big flock with several to choose from, what am I looking for either in observation or from the owner's comments?
No we did have an issue with moldy feed right before all of this started. My bin was leaking at the seam. We quit using it once we discovered mold, but it doesn't appear overnight, right? Maybe it's connected and maybe it's not, but I would never have put those two together on my own. I was worried about and looking for physical illness, but not behavior changes. I feel like a dumb now. Thanks for that info; I will not be a dumb in future.
We do not have a rooster. This is my first flock, and I didn't feel confident enough to get a rooster with the hens. Or to get straight run. I didn't think of a banty; I'll keep that in mind. Apart from the lack of confidence, we do live in a neighborhood, and I don't want to cause the neighbors undue annoyance.
The runty one does lay and seems fine other than this issue with the other hen, but I may still try separating the lowest two and see what happens. However, my daughter just saw our "bully/roo" pin another bird and maybe pluck feathers, but at least peck the neck, then let her up. But I think if she was truly wanting to pull/eat feathers, probably more birds would be more bare by now? She's been back in with the flock for at least 10 days.
I truly appreciate the replies. Probably the wisest route would have been to "apprentice" with a flock owner and then set up for my own flock, but that's just not at all how I did this! Thank you for helping me figure this out as I go.
I can't be of practical use, but I know that "hitting a wall" feeling (another part of life entirely, but a wall, nonetheless), so I'm quite sorry you're experiencing that in this area of life, and I hope you find a way to somehow break through to contentment. ((hugs))
Thank you all for the information and possibilities.
Is there a way to tell for sure which hen is next lowest in the pecking order? I think it's my Orpington, but I'm not 100% sure.
I upped their protein by adding dried meal worms and eggs (alternately) to their scraps & feed (also alternately). I made sure to get a higher protein feed this go-round, as well. And we've been making sure to spread it out more; the waterer is big enough, but the feed pan wasn't. They've been able to be out more this past week, and I cleaned out and moved their coop to new ground (bottomless pen). But today the pinning thing happened again, and it actually appears to be mating behavior. I know for a fact they're both hens, and the dominant one has been laying. Do I just ignore it? I'm still concerned about the bare spot on the little one's neck. The others give it a peck every now and then; nothing injurious. I'd like her feathers to grow back in, though.
For those who broadfork their spent cover crops, is this all you do to them? Do you leave the debris on/in the ground, or do you clear it away like weeds after letting the broadfork loosen everything up?
This is practically unnecessary at this point this year, but we are still getting nights in the 30's; the soil temperature is mid-50's, though. I want to sow lettuce and greens and also start up some transplants for April. This is the first year trying any of this, so do y'all think I can put all that stuff in the same cold frame--direct sow the greens and put my other seeds in little pots?
The proposed spot is full sun, as is most of our yard. The frame is 33"x77" if that's of any importance. I sized it to the stationary half of a sliding door.
I've got a bully hen, I think. I caught her the week before last pinning another hen down and plucking her neck feathers out. Another of my hens had new feathers growing in on her neck but until I saw the bully(?), I was thinking molting or mites. The rest of the flock seems ok, and they went from being out a lot to being in the coop a lot, so stress is possible. I haven't had a problem until now; they're 9ish months old. I separated the plucker into a makeshift enclosure, and kept her separate for about a week. After that we let everyone out in the yard together, and let them go to roost on their own. But a day later she did the same thing; pinned the one (the "runt") down and starting plucking out feathers. She's back in isolation for now.
So questions: is this really bullying behavior, or normal pecking order stuff? This is our first flock and I'll allow I may be ignorant and/or sensitive.
If it's bullying and not normal, what's a moderate approach? I know I could just cull her now, but is there any hope or value in trying to "fix" this hen?
If I cull her: I've sort of got cold feet about that, largely because it's an unknown, and I (foolishly?) didn't think I'd need to do it this soon, so am not set up for it either with equipment or location (the neighbors probably wouldn't appreciate me butchering a hen in my front yard, just a guess). I live in a neighborhood. So in light of that, suggestions? Craigslist is not an option, long story.
ETA: mites? I didn't see obvious signs of mites, but they've had straw in their coop since mid-December and it's been wet here. I'm wondering if they would be feeling an infestation before my untrained eyes could detect early signs. I removed all the straw last week; I don't think it will get below freezing any more this year.
And molting: no one else looks like they're losing feathers, can a molt go quickly, though?
Jeremy Franklin wrote: I work for someone else in what you call a "job," but I do so by choice, because it's the most efficient way to get the most money for the least amount of effort on my part. But because my expenses are so much lower than my income (and even more so, when my land will largely be supporting my food needs) I know that at any point if things get sour or I'm just not having fun anymore, I can walk. Just having that knowledge in the back of my mind makes all the difference in the world, and frankly, gives me a much greater capacity for putting up with other people's shit, just because I know I don't "have" to.
From what you wrote it sounds like you are in a very privileged position at least jobwise. I was there, and now I know that I had a very difficult time to see from there the position in which my employees were, let alone understand their struggles. Now I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to break out of it.
I have to say that I agree with Jeremy's post. And especially this and the entire part of his point that deals with mentality. [My own family is] not in a privileged position; and we never have been. But we have always kept this mentality that we don't "have" to. Even dancing along the poverty line as a single-income family of 5, refusing government assistance, it was all voluntary. Hard as heck, and we have very helpful family, which many people don't, I know--but it was voluntary. We could have a double income, he could take any number of jobs, he could work on his own, but he works for a company as a contractor (now). It's mutually beneficial, but if he had to or wanted to do it on his own, he could. But he chooses not to. I read Jeremy's main point as being that the most important thing is voluntarily choosing what goals are worth what sacrifices to oneself and one's family--whatever that looks like for them. For us it's been an ironic journey, because when producing our own food would have been most helpful, was the same time we didn't have the money (or skills, knowledge, or time) to start. Ideally, we would have presciently premeditated the need and provided for it, but we can't predict the future. So now that money for food is not a pressing issue, now I have money to buy seeds, a broadfork, and building materials. I still lack time, skills, and knowledge, but hey, it's a start. But going back to Jeremy's point: we do and have done what we've done because it was worth it to us over the alternatives. We can at least respect that in others and no assumed they're asleep or tricked. If they want to change their path, they will. Be there to offer encouragement and help supply the resources they might lack, that's the best thing anyone can do for anyone else.
Well I clipped 5 wings this week; now all 8 birds stay in the garden. I hate to do that, though. For future garden spots, posts and chicken wire might be fine now, but I don't think I'd want to do rotating "paddocks" with chicken wire. Perhaps for that I could get just pos/neg netting and worry about energizers when we're (hopefully) further away from civilization. I'm doing this in a neighborhood (no covenants) in a 2/3 acre backyard.
6' fencing is what my dad suggested. But having both positive and negative lines in the netting means a bird trying to perch on the top will still be shocked? I didn't think of the variegated aspect; that's good to know. I want them in the garden in the off season and mowing my yard March through October. I will eventually have grown up fruit trees I'll want them hanging around for a month or so, as well. I have no clue how any of that will go, but that's the idea! I have been looking at electro net, it's just really hard to spend that much money if I'm not 98% sure it will work on both sides of the fence.
I was discussing fencing with my dad today, and he brought up a good point: electric fences won't shock a chicken trying to perch on one. So can y'all help me understand how the chickens stay in the fence? Do they rub up against the fence whilst foraging and then learn to stay away, or what? I understand a huge bonus for this fencing is keeping all land predators out, but I also really need to keep chickens in.
Another thought that crossed my mind is whether breed plays a big role in how determined a bird is to escape. Maybe that should be looked into first? I have New Hampshire Reds, Barred Rocks, and a Buff Orpington.
The Reds are the escape artists, the better foragers, and generally the leaders. I think they'd be great on an acre or two of land for full free range. I don't have that. The Rocks are a bit lower key in both regards. They are happy to scratch and peck, but don't seen too adventurous. Are these breed characteristics or just the lot I got?
I appreciate the link! And great additional suggestions! Hog panels is intriguing; very modular--expanding would be pretty easy.
Honestly I hadn't thought of stacking single strand wires. >.< I was looking at polymesh and solar chargers for ease of set up, and you certainly pay for convenience! I'll look into the cost and installation for single strands.
Thankfully my Lab is a conformation Lab, so his energy level isn't off the charts, but he still has a good bit. I'm also thankful he's not interested in the chickens themselves! But yes, he's definitely shown me we're lucky not to have had a raccoon get in there. We have a fenced yard, so I don't think coyotes could have, but you never know. I hear they climb?
I've reversed the hinges so the door swings out, with stops top and bottom, and a hasp lock with a clip (I don't know the name of it). Of course now it's hard to keep the birds in when me or the kids come do stuff. That's a whole other thread.
Ok, thanks for that clarification! I'll look for that smaller spacing. I'll see if I can make a point of catching him in the act at least some of the time, too. Any other advice or anecdotes is welcome!
He's just over a year. And yes, he's always done this. He'll munch on clover, mulch sticks (useful), and pull up anything that's wooden and sticking out of the ground. It comes across as sort of his hobby.
He's fed Fromm, which is supposed to be a good balanced brand, but I know it's not the best. This is worth double-checking.
You've made me realize that my husband is officially the Alpha, but he hasn't played that role with this dog as much as our older dog. We'll explore that.
Catching him in the act is tough because I can't stare out the back door all day. This would be ideal and hopefully condition him to avoid this behavior when we're not around as well as when we are. I'm just honestly not sure I can follow through.
Is hog wire also called "field fence"? I could try that with the current fence as an apron?
In my limited experience, how a family cooks the rest of the year will be how they cook Thanksgiving dinner. My in-laws host and do nearly all the cooking. But last year we were sick and couldn't be around our more elderly relatives, so I suddenly had to cook for our nuclear family of 5--well I had a couple days' notice. It was natural to do it all from scratch because generally, that's how I cook anyway (90% of the time), and my husband likes turkey and dressing for several weeks after Thanksgiving. What I didn't know how to do, I googled--like cranberry sauce. I liked that loads better than canned, which is how I grew up. My mom serves canned cranberry sauce regardless of the occasion.
Time will tell with my kids. They want to help randomly throughout the year, but they didn't help a whole lot with Thanksgiving last year. My daughter helped my mother-in-law this year, though. I think at least, that regardless of how we are raised, we can do things differently as adults--for good or for ill. It's just the taking off point that differs. I'd rather have my kids know how to do things they choose not to do than not know how to do things they want or need to do. With cooking, I let them come and help whenever they ask--they're here all day every day, so they have a lot of opportunities. I don't force the cooking part yet, they are young. I hope to have meal shifts when they are older, though.
My Lab is determined to get in my garden, and noses under the fence, no matter where I pin it to the ground (chicken wire, though). He pulls up plants with stalks (like peppers), and eats the veggies. When I feed scraps to the chickens in the garden, he gets in and eats those. Today I fed ham to my chickens in their hoop coop, to avoid the infiltration, and he squeezed in there. I need to build a different coop anyway, but in the meantime I will reverse the door (it swings in right now, to sweep crowding hens out of the way).
I'm not growing anything right now, of course, but I want to be able to grow in our existing garden and expand next year. But it won't be worth it if my dog is going to eat all my plants and veggies. I can't plant somewhere else on the property, and want a temporary but effective solution (i.e.: no chain-linked gardens).
So far all I can think of is:
shock collar - expensive for good quality, supposedly effective, debatable ethics (I could argue both sides), single-function
field fence - 12 to 14 gauge, presumably less bendy at the bottom, cheaper, lots of linear feet for the $$, which means other applications
electric fence - fairly sure this will work, very $$$$ for energizers and just recently became a financial option, the most versatile and temporary choice, but if it doesn't work I'll be really salty
I'm kind of sound boarding, but I'd love any advice or wisdom anyone has to share. Surely my dog isn't the only tenacious scavenger in the world?
And him dumping a pile of trash on our drive. And shooting guns towards us. And and and ...
Ok, so this guy is run rampant on a project that you sort of agreed to... whatever. Not trying to belittle that catastrophe, but just getting to this last quote... because the first 'project' in the first part of your intial post in this thread was... weird... but this is behavior on the part of this guy is sociopathic and bordering on psychotic. I would get the authorities involved in any further actions that this character takes that impede on you or your land.
While not really dwelling on it, it might be good to have some ammo if it comes to involving the law. Document your interactions with this guy, including everything that has already happened. Write it all down and if it comes down to it, then you can explain in detail what happened and when.
This. The authorities need to be involved. I agree about the behavior: crazy.
I really felt compelled to do it on-site though. It is a less traumatic experience for the animal and also results in a better meat product. I feel we have to take responsibility for this process. If we're going to live this lifestyle, we need to accept the ugly part of it.
Good for you.
Thank you for sharing your experiences.
I feel that a calm death at home is so much more respectful and there is so much less waste (up to 60% less) when you process at home rather than sending the animal to a facility.
No kids myself, so I don't know what it's like. One thing I was wondering is if your little one is picking up on your feelings. My friends with kids, sometimes it seems like the kid is a magnifying glass with a mirror on it - they reflect and amplify the inner emotions of the adult. This may not actually be the case, it's just how it looks from the outside.
Perhaps, as you become more comfortable with raising your own meat, so too will your little one.
Another thing is - it's okay to be sad on slaughter day. I think it's more than okay. To me, it's a sign that you care about the life that feeds you and that you will respect that life and use the materials it gives you to the fullest.
No they do this. I have three kids. The ten year old is really doing this; I have to be careful what I say and how, and deadpan and explain a LOT of caveats. Otherwise, things come out of her mouth that are so NOT a reflection of what I think or feel.
Without giving my sob story, when time and money are both tight and/or unstable, it is really hard to justify the investment, even if it would ultimately save time and money in the long haul. That doesn't mean I think it should all be free; enough information is free that a person can sift through it if they have the time and are willing to learn from mistakes as well. It's just why some people, myself included, are reluctant to invest in the courses and such that do cost money.
Nicole, I hope it's soon for you! We've gotten one egg per day so far (for a total of three), but I'm betting we'll skip tomorrow. We've determined it's one of our New Hampshire Reds, "Tiger." I tried so hard to keep them from naming them, but I failed. And I've also learned that if they're out, she'll go back to the coop to lay. Yay! I was worried about that.
My completely unseasoned and amateur guess is that the ratio of chickens to garden space is what will make the difference between a wrecked garden and a healthy one. I've got around 400 sq.ft. of garden space, and 8 21-week-old chickens. They pecked my cucumbers (un-trellised), tomatoes, and strawberries. But they left my peppers alone. This is our first year with chickens, but what we did was start feeding them in the garden in mid to late August and just leaving them there for the day. I feed them kitchen scraps, and am also experimenting with the "throw it on the ground" composting technique. The idea is they'll spend each day there until spring, eating kitchen scraps, scratching around the yard debris I toss in there, and hopefully finding bugs and such. Then in spring we'll see what that did to our soil (mostly red clay--testing for fertility in a couple of weeks). Because we have a higher bird-to-space ratio, I'm going to keep them out of the garden when it's time to plant. I'll probably put them on yard patrol at that point
My problem right now is keeping the bird in the garden. They just hop up onto the gate and down into the yard whenever they get bored with the garden. I don't mind them in the yard so much as they aren't helping out with the garden if they're not in it. Poultry net with a hot gate would probably fix this, but I can't invest in one right now, or any time soon.
I'd love to hear other people's experiences, too. Maybe area and flock size would be helpful to include, though.
For what it's worth, I think it's completely appropriate to have been willing to do something, and to also feel crappy about it. That's probably the healthiest combo possible. I'm sorry you drew the short stick, though. Couldn't have been a mile or two down the road, could it?
Nearly every recipe I run across that calls for castile soap, Dr. Bronner's is mentioned. Is there something special about this brand? Are there other less expensive but equally effective brands out there? Also, does the type of soap matter? If I wanted the baby mild soap, would that work as well as the "regular" soaps? I'm pretty ignorant here! Thanks.
R Ranson, the blog idea is genius!!! Blogs are free for the author, and the information can be as in depth as the author wants it to be. I kind of see it more like a sign someone might post in their yard, if that analogy makes any sense. You can freely wander up to peruse it, or not. No strings attached. When I want to find a service, I look for a website. But I do still have a current phone book, as well. Message boards are as close to actual social media as I get, and there are only three I visit. For businesses, where I'm concerned, it's actually a detriment because if I can't view information without signing up or logging in, I'm going to walk on by. This has happened with some, they had a FB page but no website or blog, and the FB page required log in to see it all. Unless they're the ONLY business of that kind in town, I'm not going to bother. If they are, then I'll call and get my information that way.
There are people who don't use the internet, too, still. We've been there before, as well. It's not totally tied to income, either, it seems: 2013 US Census Report
Rufus brings up a good point, as well, and this is one of my husband's issues with it (he calls it the devil; so funny to say that to people--I'm awful).
Well this thread has made me feel better for starting out with micro-baby steps.
And I agree with Tyler...to do this full time with no additional input does sound like needing a LOT of financial security. Or loads of backwoods skills plus land to use them on, in an area that won't arrest you for using them. For people who are barely out of the suburbs and tied to county utilities, there needs to be something coming in during any given year.
RE: commercial kitchens...so you need a separate commercial kitchen in order to process anything at all? Can you give away processed stuff? Like yogurt or soap or whatever? I guess that doesn't help the income bit, but just curious how deep the paranoia went.
Thanks for the additional posts! So our campfire remains can go in the garden?? That would be awesome!!
Bryant, thank you for your thoroughness. I love your siggy, by the way, if I haven't said that before. I'll definitely take it all under advisement, and work on soil first--that's sort of a relief. The drawing is a bit of a pickle; I'm apparently garbage at drawing to scale. I'll keep trying, and if I ever produce a drawing, I'll post it. We have a pie-shaped property, and the fencing isn't perfectly square, or even at right angles to itself. It's interesting.
A pond is an interesting idea. That one will need some deeper consideration.
My plan right now for the garden is to import mulch and compost from the city and letting our chooks spread it for me. I'll plant an apple tree a distance equal its canopy radius west of the garden; it's afternoon sun, so hopefully the longer shadows will give the garden a break anyway. The other apple tree is going on our south-facing slope, and I'll probably do a little hand-made berm just for the tree to slow the water's descent.
I'm also wanting an October Glory Maple on the south or west side of our house, so I'll take the advice about tree planting most seriously for that one.
I went ahead and bought two wheels, and 4" carriage bolts w/nuts - $15. My kids love their toys. I'm a small, not-super-fit adult, and I can move this coop fairly easily now. The wheels are attached to the side rails toward the dragging end, and the eye bolts where the rope/pvc pipe right attach are on the inside so it's Flinstones physics. BUT, the chooks are best shut out of their coop while I move it (which is every 1 or 2 days)
Two milk crates & hanging hardware for nest boxes - $23. Scrap wood and left over screws for a frame. I'm not sure how that will work out; I intend to screw eye hooks into the nest box frame and then use carabiners to hang the whole contraption on the cattle panel frame. We'll see!
Went back to the feed store for 50# of layer feed (standard stuff; not great I know) and 50# of grit - $17. O.O I was shocked. I expected it to be twice that. The feed is our fallback food. It's mainly kitchen scraps and as much forage as I can give them time with. I'm still working out how to do chooks and dogs in the yard together. I've been trying to get them in the garden more frequently, but they can fly right over the fence, and one of the dogs and climb right under (fortunately it's the one that would rather eat plants than chickens). I'm seeing the value of electric something; either fencing or collars. It may come to wing clipping, too.
I think the best place to put outlay, if a person has it, is in electric fencing. A good scavenger and designer could probably do all the rest for cheap or free. I'm sure that's a no-brainer to a lot of people here, but that's my hindsight. Especially if you have dogs and they aren't LGDs. I'd say a chickshaw is an awesome idea, too. But I like the flexibility of having mine on grass, since I'm the one feeding both people and critters every morning.
Next on the list is oyster shell. Hopefully that will be it for new things for a while! And I agree, I could theoretically expand the flock a good bit with little additional cost. I'd definitely build a brooder box in the future, though. Or a broody hut.
Thanks for the reassurance. Yep, raised and people fed from chicks. I've been putting them in the garden more and more, but we still generate kitchen scraps that I toss in there. I'm glad they'll grow out of it, though. I'm afraid of stepping on one or having my pants pecked to shreds. I don't have cool rubber boots yet, so this is a real risk.
Every video of chicken owners I see, their chickens completely ignore them. My 8 flock as close to me as possible to where if they're loose, I'll have a hard time not stepping on them. They're about 17 weeks. Am I not feeding them enough? Feeding them too often? Not letting them forage enough? Or is it because I'm only in the yard twice each day? I feel dumb asking this, but I am anyway.
Yes, but we do it late(r). We have two large breed dogs. Our female was spayed at 18 months, and our male at 9 months (they are 3 years apart--no risk of unintended puppies). With the male, we did it so much earlier because we wanted to head off marking and mounting instincts. Maybe not an ideal reason or timing, but I'm being honest. We don't attempt to train instincts out of animals. I know opinions on the alternative we chose will vary. Generally, I view sterilization as an unnatural, but eventual necessity. I felt bad for both of them, but we are not prepared or equipped to handle litters in any respect. I know here the rescues sterilize ASAP, even if it means opening up the males to get the undescended bits. I typically hear it "should" be done before 5 months.
As for the larger over-breeding/sterilizing question, we don't participate in that picture because the search goes like this: select breed, select breeder, select pairing, select puppy. We also recognize that we are buying a dog in puppy form, and buying it for life. So we give consideration to whether we want and can accommodate said dog for said life. For example, can we give a Lab frequent access to water to play in? Or enough stimulation and affection to prevent a Boxer from getting bored or lonely? Do we have something for a sheep dog to herd? Do we have little kids that make getting a prey-driven dog a bad idea? It's much more than just food and vet bills. I feel that how and why we acquire companion or working dogs has as much to do with the breeding and sterilization issue as whether or when to sterilize.
Awesome start, thanks! I can do mulch for sure. I honestly hadn't thought about it, but we have a lot of brush just sitting around behind the fence.
I'll ponder on the other resources and suggestions! My husband has agreed to dig ditches for me, so that opens up some options. I'm on my own to figure out the logistics of such ditches, though. One thing I did last night after checking out the Geoff Lawton video and Happy Earth link was to start a drawing of our property. I hadn't done that yet, either.