Jay Angler

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since Sep 12, 2012
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Recent posts by Jay Angler

Pearl Sutton wrote:

I want to weave willow baskets, and let gourds grow in them to make a good watertight, pretty basket  

Oh, that sounds like a really cool idea. I really hope you try it Pearl and post info and pictures of the results!
20 hours ago
Lucrecia Anderson wrote:

One run holds the birds and the other is used as a vegetable garden, each year the birds switch runs.

I know people who do this, but if I had a choice, I would divide the area into more smaller areas. You could still use half, or depending on your growing season more than half, for your growies, but you'd be able to rotate the hens from section to section of the "fallow" area, letting weeds grow for a couple of weeks before returning the chickens to the area. This still requires you to have a stationary coop with either a deep mulch system under it, or some way of cleaning it out easily. Stationary coops can get stinky *very* fast if you aren't adding enough carbon "brown" material to the high nitrogen chicken deposits. If a shelter is moving every day or so, the poop will be dealt with by worms and microorganisms.
1 day ago
Continued: If you look at the front of the layer picture, there are two parallel perches that bolt through the ribs with I think 5/8ths hardware - again they're removable with wrenches, although I find they're easier to power-wash in place. The feed hangs between them. The girls love grass, but it doesn't have enough nutritive value to take them off chicken feed, but hanging the feeder above the perches helps them defend the feed from rats. Both raccoon and mink predate rats - keep the rats away, and you've made your life easier.

Another goal was to have the whole shelter easy to clean as with the birds moving around on grass and lots of wild birds around, mites and lice happen. With the girls out and the electrical removed, I can power-wash the whole shelter in ~2 hours. One of my biggest complaints about most chicken houses I've met - portable and fixed - are that there are tooooo..... many nooks and crannies where mites can set up shop. My second biggest complaint is fixed nest boxes that can't be easily removed for a thorough cleaning. Older birds, no matter how well cared for, may start laying softer shelled eggs before taking a laying holiday. There's a reason many home-made paint recipes call for egg!! I can remove the 3-seater in the picture in less than a minute. Unscrewing the back takes another 2 at most. Scrubbing it can take an hour if it's a real mess, but I'm only willing to use dish soap, water, and arm muscles because I don't want harmful residual smells.

In my permaculture dreams (and I am collecting and starting plants towards the goal) is to have a series of 5 paddocks that the portable shelter can be rolled up to for ~1 week at a time. Bloom (The Chicken Friendly Garden) has an excellent list of suitable plants to choose from. This would decrease our feed costs, improve the diet of the chickens, and still be reasonably safe but it will take a lot of quality fencing.

The shelters pictured have sturdy wheels that can be removed by sliding them out of the corner fitting. We do this every time we move the shelter when it contains small birds (2 - 4 week old meat birds for example) but otherwise we use salvaged pieces of 3 or 4 inch pipes on the outside if the land isn't level enough to keep the gap small enough. Sometimes we need a pipe or two, but if there's a big problem, we usually just move the shelter a little further until the gaps look better. That said, I can't remove the wheels independently, and we also have Muscovy ducks who live to set and brood. They don't need 10x12' for day-olds either, so I did a 4 ft x 8 ft "mini-hoop" using 2 inch pipe at the base for easy sliding and 1/2" pipe for the hoops. The birds love them, I love them, but my husband hates them as the only way I could fit a door was "gull-wing" with an ~18" step-over height, so they're finicky to make. Unfortunately, my computer blew up and the one I'm on won't open the pictures. If people are interested, I will try to find a work-around (maybe emailing them all to myself would work)

The system we're using is too time consuming for even the size we've grown to. That said, the organic matter in the lower field has been improved dramatically - it stays green longer when the drought hits, shows lots of signs of worm poop, and is holding water better. Also, the chickens really like it. They run for the fresh grass when we move them, they're in 15-20 birds "families" which they seem to like, and they are generally healthy. It's fairly easy to spot if a chicken's not well when you're moving their shelter every day, so problems tend to get dealt with early. We've even had the odd bird go broody, although if one does we move her to protective custody and make sure she's got some quality eggs to sit on.
1 day ago
First off I'd like to say that we've tried hard and read lots, and there is almost no way to be sure you will never loose a bird to predators. The possible exception is one Paul promotes - a well-trained protection dog. I did not grow up with dogs, so it's a learning curve I have not yet tackled. In the meantime, we have issues with both aerial and ground predators and my husband runs a small chicken and egg business and he's not into permaculture, but he is into Joel Salatin, so I will show you what he's come up with and maybe it will have some ideas you can use.
1. I adopted two Toulouse X geese that free range in the area the chicken shelters move through - this has decreased the tendency for daytime predation. After all, *I* wouldn't want to argue with a ticked-off Heinrich, so I don't imagine a feral cat would either! Warning - geese are LOUD.
2. Our adult layers move daily. Our environment is very wet, so we went with plastic with hardware cloth on the lower panel - it used to be chicken wire, but we've stopped buying chicken wire as it won't keep anything out. We have electric fencing on the outside which isn't fool-proof - we probably have something defeat it every 2 years or so, and we immediately try to trap the guilty party so it doesn't call all its friends. This means we have to be able to connect to 'shore power' through long extension cords that plug into the shelters electrical system. The system is held on with bolts and wing nuts so it can be removed for cleaning, repairs etc.
3. I'm a whimp - so I *really* pushed for light weight. I can just move our 10 ft x 12 ft shelter, and I would prefer it housed 15 hens and one rooster, but I got out-voted. I have to pick my battles. To counter balance the light weight and our gusty winds, it has to be staked down with giant nails after we move it. We use two in calm weather on the trailing edge for convenience, but if there's a wind warning, we stake all four corners.

I'll post a couple of pictures and then continue:
1 day ago
I don't know if I've got the same variety of Lemna, but by this time of year, most of mine has sunk down below the water. In the spring, it comes back up. If it keeps blowing out, you could try putting it in something mesh-like that you can weight down at the bottom for the winter?
My ponds are both far more sheltered from the sound of things, but we get some impressive winds (but ours speak metric, so you'd have to translate 60 km/hour with gusts up to 90 km/hr.) Our chickens have never shown much interest, but our ducks go crazy over it. I wasn't all that impressed with it as a mulch either - I'm thinking that the micro-bugs that digest it are more prevalent in the water than on land. Now that we've got ducks it's a non-issue - the ducks turn it into shit which my growies like just fine! That said, my particular desire in my ponds is to support the local tree frogs. The lemna seems to support the tadpoles, so I don't harvest more for than I think the system can tolerate. 
3 days ago
Well done Elle! I totally approve of your daughter's dino - part of permaculture is beauty and fun as part of function!!
4 days ago
I live on the Pacific Wet Coast, so the "sun" season is also the "drought" season. When we moved here 20 years ago, the former owner irrigated most of the property constantly. I knew I had neither the time nor the will to do so, but didn't want to kill the fruit trees. I started to water them less often each year, but made sure that when I did water, I watered slowly overnight so that the water went deep, and now it is rare that I water the apple trees at all - maybe once in the middle of the drought period if it's a particularly long one. The plum tree I planted needs more organic matter in the soil and is in a *very* dry spot with competition from a cedar hedge. Even so, I only watered it twice this year, but did so deeply. Mulch has its downsides here, because we get a lot of moisture as dew in August and Sept before the rain usually comes. That said, I'm going to try to expand on its companions (a friend just gave me some comfrey roots which will be part of that), and try to get wood chips incorporated into the soil.

From this experience, I see irrigation as a balance - none and I may get no harvest, daily and I waste time, water, and the energy to pump that water. If I watered more, I know I would get more and larger fruit on some of the trees, but that said, I also think that trees that have to work to make their fruit are likely to produce fruit with more flavour and micro-nutrients. I'd rather plant more trees and use less water to get the volume of food, rather than have large, anemic produce.

Lauren Ritz wrote:

I have an area to the east of my house that gets approximately 7 hours of direct sun.

Sun is a huge factor! I live beside a huge cedar and fir forest and I'm constantly watching exactly where the sun is at what time of the year. Many things that local friends can grow just don't get enough sun on my land, so I have to choose carefully what to plant. That said, east sun is particularly helpful, and west sun can cause overheating and worse drying out, at least in my ecosystem. Some plants are more tolerant of that west sun and more appreciative of the heat. Your observation of your plants is just as critical as the continued improvement of the soil, and your goal of drought tolerant seedlings. Keep up the good work!
4 days ago
Thank you Travis Schulert for showing a *real* tiny home. I agree that too many small homes look barely lived in, and certainly not lived in by someone who actually cooks and needs a variety of clothes.

I also agree so much with the concept of living small in an effort to be able to follow a bigger plan with money in the bank. More people/businesses go bankrupt due to cash-flow problems than most other reasons combined. Stress is a major health risk, and for me, knowing that I've got most or all of the money saved up for a project before I jump in, reduces my worries.

I would love an update! Have you saved enough to buy your land?  Have you changed or finished parts of the tiny home? Any regrets?

Thanks J.
1 week ago
Hi Mr. Perone,

I agree particularly with your comment that "stress" enables disease. In BC, Canada, commercial chickens tend to be kept by the thousands in barns. When a form of bird flu broke out on the Lower Mainland, the government officials killed tens of thousands of chickens in the area, and confiscated small backyard flocks in the vicinity. Many of the commercial birds were infected, but NOT ONE of the small flock chickens that were autopsied had any sign of the disease. Backyard flocks usually have access to sunshine, fresh greens and bugs, and a low stress living situation. Just like the bees, their immune systems and health benefit from living naturally.

2 weeks ago
Chris Kott wrote:

I tend to do a lot of my recording in excel on a computer

OK, a computer would work better for me I think, and I was thinking of using separate pages in a word processing type of program, but your suggestion of excel got me wondering if that would be easier to format and find my way to where I'm looking to enter or review. Any suggestions from you or anyone else about what it should look like?
I thought of organizing it with 7 large columns across the top, but of course the days of the week won't correspond year to year. Being a tad dyslexic, I'm worried that will end up just confusing me.
I considered 365 large rows, but am worried that would be a pain to scroll through.
I don't want the print to be too small as I want it to be enjoyable to use and my close vision's just not as good as it used to be, so the cells have to be large enough to be useful in at least 12 font size.
Maybe instead of a "single" document, I should consider doing a spreadsheet for each month to make things easier to get around?

I'm brainstorming as I type, and I'm really hoping some permies out there will join the storm! I think there are some sort of electronic journals out there, but I'm not terribly good with computers, and at the moment I'm using one with a *really* old windows release and the Excell is 2003, so I need something simple that I can upgrade easily when the household computer geek gets around to repairing my slightly better hand-me-down computer. 
2 weeks ago