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Marvin Weber

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since Mar 31, 2015
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Nova Scotia, Canada
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Recent posts by Marvin Weber

For several years we have been working at developing our landrace of laying hens which will lay a decent amount during winter without extra lighting or special care. When I hear of somebody who has good, hardy layers I try to get a rooster from them to add to our mix. So far we have Chantecler, Dominique, Blue and Black Australorps, Barred Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, Bresse, Sasso, in approximate order of how much of each influence there is in the flock. The flock is usually close to 200.

We incubate eggs from the top ten percent best layers. We notice that there’s always a percentage of hens that keep laying all winter, with no extra lighting, and no going around daily to treat individual hens for leg mites and such things. It seems that number could be increased with selection.

We searched out old information concerning trap nesting which is how we have been identifying our best layers. We made some trap nests which catch the hens when they go in to lay an egg. We usually trap each group for at least a week to be sure we get a good representation of which ones are laying. During the trapping period we have to go and release them every hour or so, and write down the leg band numbers of the hens that laid an egg.

I wonder if somebody has come up with a better way since 1900, to track which hens are laying. We thought about game cameras but it seems that would require hours of analysis, scanning over the videos at the end of each day. How do other small breeders determine which hens are laying?
1 day ago
We started our breeding project with Chantecler, Dominique and Blue Australorp hens. All three were said to lay well all winter. We have mixed them for several years now. Both the pure breeds and now also the crosses have always shut down for an extended moult plus another extra couple of months of holidays, while they're at it. This usually lasts from late September well into the  winter.

We now use trap nests to identify the best layers during the slowest season. We keep eggs from these for hatching. We've also introduced several other good laying breeds into the mix. Most recently we bought a RIR rooster from a friend who says her hens lay well all winter, and a Black Australorp rooster from another friend who says his hens lay an egg a day pretty much all winter. I hope these genetics will make a difference.

But in the end, I suppose we will just have to patiently keep on selecting for years to come. I think our poor winter production is due to several factors. One is that we are not using artificial light. I want to select for those birds that don't need it to lay a decent amount. Another thing is we don't baby them at all. We decided to not intervene much but rather to allow the birds themselves to decide who would stay for more than a year. We don't do much for parasites other than providing DE dust baths for the winter months.

After reading this old thread I'm thinking of adding a few of the above highly rated breeds.... if I can find any of them around here. So the project continues.
4 months ago
Thanks for your reply Steve. Very interesting!

So the health of the plant is probably what's more in view here. When plants aren't healthy, I assume the berries get smaller and that's why we have to prune out old growth. We just took over an old blueberry patch that is obviously in very poor health. Many of the plants are not vigorous at all and don't readily send up new growth. But I'm wondering if I could somehow reverse that and get to the point where you are. I think probably these are beyond return though, because they're nearly overwhelmed by the witches broom fungal infection. I'm planning to mulch a part of the patch in the hope that some of it's health might spring back. I don't think we will be able to get enough mulch to do nearly the whole patch this year, as it's almost an acre.
7 months ago
Here in Nova Scotia, Canada, we have a lot of "witch's broom" growths, which is caused by a fungus that lives on Balsam fir trees for part of its life cycle. We prune out the witches brooms so they don't spread spores and also so they don't over take the whole plant. So pruning is probably more necessary here.

I'm of the impression that unpruned blueberries branch out more every year, until the berries get tiny because there are so many. So we prune to keep enough young shoots growing for larger berries. But I suppose when the amount of picking time doesn't matter, in the case of just a few bushes, that kind of pruning could also be skipped. Those of you that don't prune, do you notice the berries becoming smaller every year?
7 months ago
Over the years I have used horses, various medium sized older tractors (50 to 70 hp), a new compact 4wd tractor with loader, old walk-behinds and a newer BCS tractor. I have a friend who got into oxen.

I agree with others here, that draft animals are a big commitment but it can be learned if you want to go that route. It is more sustainable of course, but the draft animals should be multi purpose to be really efficient. Horses and oxen eat a lot of hay. And of course there's a lot of manure to spread if you live in a climate with a winter. And a lot of time spent building relationships with the animals. And you need to learn about harness and keep it in shape; and buy machinery to do the work, which will also have to be maintained. Horse equipment can be harder to buy than tractor equipment.

Tractors require a commitment to keeping things in shape as well. As many have mentioned, you may need to become somewhat of a mechanic. Or have a friend that can help you out. But a tractor with a loader can do a lot of work. Even something like an old Massey 35 can do really well for you. IF you have heavy work to do, such as moving manure, rocks soil, etc, a tractor could almost be considered a neccessity.  But it really depends on your plans. If the heavy work is only for a short time, you can rent or hire the equipment.

A walk-behind tractor is a really handy smaller tool, and it also gets less done than a larger tractor. Especially since you don't have a loader with those. But we really like ours for pulling a no-till seeder, flail mower for the garden, and rotary plow. To buy a new one is too expensive though, so you would want to find a used one. If you can't, you may want to look for a small old tractor. But every situtation is unique, and only you can decide which is best for you.

9 months ago
Yes, I was able to buy it on Gumroad. Thanks Beau and Paul. I'm very interested in this topic!
10 months ago
Is this not available for purchase in Canada? When I click to buy it asks if permies would have to pay GST? I don't know why I wouldn't have to pay the GST/HST myself. Would the seller have to pay my country's tax? I could pay the tax if it were added to the cost of the webinar..
I would really like to listen to Alan on this topic.
10 months ago
Doc Jones, the Homegrown Herbalist, had a formula for Restless Leg syndrome but I don't see it anymore. I wonder if I'm thinking the NoMoSpazm formula. You could reach out to Doc Jones and ask him if this one works for Restless Leg. I haven't used herbs yet for my condition but it's not as bad as yours. Here's a link to the product I mentioned.

Magnesium helps for me. Magnesium, of course, is the mineral that is most important to make muscles elongate, or relax.
11 months ago
Thanks for that excerpt, Judson! I had no idea apples have been considered medicinal and that they can help with so many conditions. Makes me hungry for my daily apple!
11 months ago
Looks interesting! Those trees probably create a microclimate that would change the air flow above ground and also add more microbial activity underground.
1 year ago