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Valerie Acquard

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since Jun 14, 2013
I grew up in Las Vegas, NV. I tried and tried to grow things in my yard as a kid. I failed over and over. I thought for sure I had a black thumb. When I was old enough to move away from the desert hell I grew up in I moved to the land of 10,000 lakes. I know now that the desert is not a place for things to live. Sure things survive there, but they don't actually live.

Since moving I've found a DEEP love of all things permaculture. I'm going crazy trying to raise chickens this year, and hope to move to family land and turn it into a farm that could sustain the family for endless generations.
North Woods MN
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Recent posts by Valerie Acquard

Smell is caused by nitrogen loss. At least that is what Salatin says. The more carbon you can get in there the better. You can tell if you have enough carbon if you can't smell the shit. And you can tell if you have too much if the temperature starts to drop. So a long ass compost thermometer is recommended. It will need moisture too. You can read the entire humanure handbook online for free you just have to download the chapters one at a time off the website.

We compost everything in our humanure bins. Any food scraps that the chickens/dog/cat won't eat(not much) Human shit, Dog shit, cat shit, meat, dead chickens, dead mice, We also start a new bin every spring with the winter coop clean out. As we deep bed in there all winter. All you need is a big enough pile, ours are about 4x4x4 Thanks to some free pallets that we just screwed together. And We use straw, grass clippings, sawdust (from a locally owned lumber mill), and a cat litter called swheat scoop for our carbon.

So yes this would totally work. Having concrete all around it might make it water logged if your in a very wet environment. It needs moisture sure, but it can get overly wet. But this is not very likely. I would not worry about anything surviving the heat of composting. So invasive nitrogen lovers likely won't take over. And if there is no worm access you might want to seed the pit with worms in the second year of composting. Once the pile has stopped it's thermal composting worms can help ensure there is no remaining bacterial issues. Their guts have a way of breaking down damn near everything
7 years ago
Damn it. Why no pot?

Smoking pot does not make someone, slow, stupid, lazy, slovenly, or in any way less capable.
If someone IS slow, stupid, lazy, slovenly, or otherwise developmentally/socially/economically disabled while stoned, the same will be true when they are not stoned.

While I smoke pot every day. I work full time, recently now at only one job. But I was working full time at two jobs for the last two years. I've earned a promotion that allows me to now only work one. So I consider myself mildly success full. I've done this while purchasing and remodeling my own tiny home and developing 2.5 acres of land into a tiny farm and becoming almost entirely financially solvent. Yes I'm a pre-med drop out, but I left college because the medical field no longer appealed to me morally, and I realized that the financial burden of college would likely take longer to pay off then I was willing to commit to.

I am a peace loving, non violent, Utopian defined anarchist. Chances are I would work harder then anyone other then maybe yourself at making a permaculture paradise out of your land. In fact you could ask my current land lord for a reference. Yes I'm renting my 2.5 acres, I took Salatin's advice, and I'm marketing and developing my farm before committing myself to any land.

Within a year I will be completely solvent. Entirely mobile. It will take a lot to sway me who's land I will put my muscle down on. And a less then tolerant attitude toward my "drug" of choice certainly will not budge me. Not that I would ever insist on growing my own "drugs" on someone else's land. I would like to, to ensure it's content be pure, organic, and not fueling some seedy urban underbelly mafia. If it were not for this drug I might just be a corpse creating really terrible compost somewhere. Not that it's saved my life that literally, but it certainly made the my mental ptsd like collapse more survivable. I also personally know several returning soldiers that have also survived PTSD with the help of weed. And I'm sure these strapping young men would love to help too, if only their drugs were acceptable.

I did however make a typo in here, but I caught it and fixed it. I wasn't stoned, my poor grammar is thanks to public school.

7 years ago
After reading some of these (I didn't make it through everything) I have a few things to say.

As a youngish person, with no kids, my own tiny mobile house and chicken coop, no land (we are renting).
I honestly weep that I can't just join Paul, or anyone else making the same kind of offer.
I just can't bring my self to leave this town, because I'm madly in love with it.
I love Minnesota, like I've never loved a place before in my life.
I work at an organic diner that specializes in locally grown food, and is currently putting in a hugelkultur swalle in the back parking lot. (We call it unpaving paradise) How could I walk away from this job?
My pay is excellent. And My bosses fully support and back my idea of going full time farmer, eventually.
And that eventual goal has to include children.
The goal is to create a self sustaining permaculture farm that will support a foster home full of children.
Having survived my childhood. I really want to be able to help others out of their own child-"hoods".

I would LOVE:
The community
The knowledge
The experience

And would I be acceptable?
I have some very strong political views (if anarchy can be called a political view)
I want to care for foster kids.
For these two reasons I feel like I would never be accepted in any community/co-op house/commune/anything.
My dream will have to be carried on my husband and I's own shoulders.
I really truly wish I could be some of the people you need.
7 years ago
I vote Muscovys too. Yet to have their meat, but they are super easy to raise. All the literature is spot on about them foraging for most of their feed.

I agree with the rabbit problem, the smell/taste issue. I was never able to overcome it while raising them. If I raise them again it will be for dog food not for me. I really wish I liked it better because they are so easy to keep, and I would love to use their furs too.

I would pick sheep over goats, but I'm a knitter and would kill for good wool.

And Mini cattle would be a awesome pick. I've heard you can just tie them out with a tractor tire. Just roll the tire to new grazing when needed. Sounds too easy to me.

To those with mini cattle, Do you think it would be possible to keep a mini milking jersey, yet have a mini meat calf born from her each year? Or are the mini meat breeds just too big? To me that would just be an unbeatable combination. Family dairy and meat needs met all at once.
7 years ago

Tessa Lampe wrote:is it normal for the drake to refuse to eat any of the good stuff and let the ladies have it? He's never even tried to eat a slug I've offered, but just stands there and lets the girls at it while he watches out for predators (me). Based on the above advice on breeding, he's a keeper I think!

KEEPER!!! Yes, that is perfect behavior for a gentleman drake! At least I read it is. My ducks are still young so I've yet to see all of this behavior, however the "lead" drake in my group of 5 keeps his eye on me when I toss them scraps and such.
7 years ago
Well the deed is done. Thank you for the feedback and advice. In fact I found it easy. Much less stressful then rabbit butchery, for some reason. I might turn out to be not as soft as I thought. Not wanting the bird to die alone I held her while she passed. Much like the compassionate chicken lady featured in one of Paul's videos. It was peaceful, and I felt better. I was so worried this bird would suffer because she was so large! My neighbors boy over fed her I think.

I am proud of the job I did. And glad I am a meat eater. None of her flesh will be wasted. In fact I'm even preserving the head for a friend.

The Weber worked just fine heating the water. And whomever said it, was right there were no hairs to burn off only a few suborn quills, and even those came right out with a minimal effort.

I must say if this bird turns out really tasty the CX might just end up in my flock. I know my neighbors problems might never be mine, and I hope that my technique in raising my birds this year will give me the experience and preparedness needed to raise CX with no losses.
7 years ago
I would never own white birds because of the hawks we have here. A neighbor of mine has seen hawks rip through bird net to get at the white birds he was raising. He raises only black Australorps now. They are smarter then the hawks, so he says. And he has yet to lose a bird to hawks since he switched. I am worried even about my white muscovys. I'm glad they are not all white, and they are much more leery of predator movement then the chickens. Especially overhead shadows.

Plus I am too soft hearted to deal with the losses associated with raising the most popular white bird, the Cornish cross. I've read there are ways to raise them with less losses like only 5-10% losses. Even one loss would be hard for me. I'm glad I haven't lost any of my heritage birds yet, well I gave one with a disability away to a friend. I am sure the Cornish cross are very tasty, and economical for those raising for profit. I may one day have hardened my heart enough to try them, but not here. Not in super hawk country. I live in Northern MN by the by, where a large population of Hawks stay over the summer.
7 years ago
My first solution. Buckeye chickens, who are known to be good mousers. I've seen them go nuts after a chipmunk already and they are only 10 weeks.

And my second solution. Don't worry about them. Why? If there is a large mouse population keeping the foxes, skunks, raccoons, hawks and other predators happy they will be less temped to try for the chickens.

But the metal trash cans work, I love the old chest freezer idea. Cats are great my landlord has several old ones that run around the property. But my dogs also have killed and brought me mice. I figure if my animals can catch them easily then so can the predators, and then everyone is happy.
7 years ago
I am facing my first ever chicken slaughter Tuesday. I am making my own bleach jug cone thanks so some advice I've seen on here.

I am looking for more advice though on the plucking. I have a huge metal pot I have purchased just for this. At a yard sale it was a steal! But I don't have a propane burner like I've seen more people using to heat their water. I do have a access to a weber BBQ, and some lump hard wood charcoal. As long as I'm temping the water this should work right? And then I can use the coals to burn off the pin feathers right?

Also, does anyone wash their chickens before plucking? I am interested in keeping some, or most of the feathers, but this bird has been getting down right dirty the last few days. She is white (my neighbor didn't have the heart to kill her or I would never have a white bird) so the dirt really shows. Or is the hot plucking water enough to clean the feathers?

I'm excited about this. I know it's the death of an animal, but I feel like I am ready for this, and can't help but lick my lips every time I pick her up. She just feels juicy to me. I never felt this way about the rabbits we used to raise. We will raise rabbits again one day, but they just don't compare to a well fed chicken. I'm hoping she will be tender enough for maybe some home made buttermilk deep fry.
7 years ago
I never thought of this when slaughtering our rabbits. We had more then one the same day we slaughtered it, because we only did them one at a time. But now that I have seen this, and thought about it for a while. I think it would be best to let it rest for a day or two. Even before freezing. Simply to let the muscles relax from rigor.

In fact if you believe wikipedia, chilling the meat causes cold shortening, some type of strong muscle contraction that makes the meat too terrible for even the meat industry. So, when I slaughter my own chickens I will let it rest at room temperature for a few hours to let it develop rigor naturally. Then chill it in a frig for at least 48 hours or until the rigor is gone before freezing them. Then when I'm ready for chicken I will perhaps brine them while they thaw and then slow roast them. That perhaps would be the ultimate idea anyway.

If it was a very young chicken, and I was only killing them one at a time I might just cook it within the first few hours before any kind of rigor could set in. I'm sure this is why some of my young rabbits tasted so good cooked and consumed within hours, but some where quite tough, the ones that we cooked after letting the meat rest for only a few hours, or after chilling immediately in the freezer.
7 years ago