Lindsey Jane

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since Jun 16, 2016
Kitsap Penninsula, WA
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Recent posts by Lindsey Jane

Hi there!

I am a bit of a guinea fowl evangelist, so bear with me.

We hatched ours out and handled them, talked to them every day and now they just hang out in an 80 foot radius around the house and gobble up all the bugs they can find. They nest on the chicken coop fence at night. They are, like all fowl, strongly habitual and can be trained with consistency and reliability. Dog trainers will do clicker training with chickens and guineas are not so dissimilar from them in ability and temperament. I just found, for us, that handling them, given them special treats, and raising them from young babies was advantageous for us.

They get used to their environment for sure, and with older birds you might find a bit of loudness (think undulating, mechanical screeching noise starting at 5 am and persisting at random intervals throughout the day until nightfall). The ones we raised from hatch only screech when someone new shows up at the farm or they are hungry or I'm blasting Shakey Graves while working in the garden. Mayhap they regard him as a kindred spirit? It will take a bit of time to train the older ones but just do the same thing every day with them, talk the same way, use the same words, treat with the same treats and they will attach to you.

I have found they don't go near water. But they will go into roads. In front of school buses. They will also sit on rooftops. And nest in trees.

A small chicken tractor that you can move easily around your yard will give them lot's of access to ticks and fleas. They don't scratch like chickens do. But they will dust bathe and like to frequent the same holes of dirt over and over. Once they attach to you and know you carry all the treats and they can rely on you, they won't wander too far. 6 weeks is a good time period to keep them penned up to build that attachment to you and your land, for sure.

I know some people can't stand them, but I think they are hilarious and look prehistoric and we haven't had to use NEARLY the amount of flea treatment on our dogs since getting them. I think with some time and patience the older ones would work out great.

Also - I'm so sorry about your dog!! Poor, sweet baby. Lyme disease is no joke.
2 weeks ago
Hi there! And welcome...

We have lot's of deer, too. I have found that the only foolproof* way to keep them out of our gardens and orchards is with fencing.

BUT - I have noticed no break-ins since we have ringed our main gardens on the outside of the fence with all sorts of fragrants - including lavender.

We currently have Lavender (full grown at 3 feet by 3 feet) of all varieties in beds that ring our gardens next to beds of chives and egyptian walking onions, multiplier onions and other alliums. We have planted rosemary (now full grown at 4 feet by 4 feet and pruned every year) and things like Clary sage. We have also planted lot's of thyme, sage, lemon balm, and different flowers like daffodils and calendula. I have planted lavender next to all my fruit trees in a guild with other plants, such as comfrey, strawberry and garlic. In the hopes that the deer will leave them be.

We take the "more is more" approach to gardening and just try to add heft and weight in terms of sheer volume to attack predation on all fronts. Plus, in the summer when the herbs have been baking all day in the heat, it's a slice of heaven to walk out in the main staple gardens and just breathe it all in....

If you do plant, maybe go for width instead of height? Like, put rosemary in a row, then stagger plant lavender in front of that, then some strategically placed barberry, then some low lying herbs like sage, thyme and intersperse with chives?

I would say go for it - or maybe just plant a bunch of herbs and fragrants and enjoy those! Because the deer don't bother with them. And they are pretty. Also blood meal works really well, but MY, it is nasty smelling and has to be reapplied after heavy rainfall.

Good luck!

*until they break down the fence, that is...
2 weeks ago
A couple of times every year, I like to set some intentions for what I'm trying to do here at our farm. It helps me keep the big picture. I usually do it in the fall when I'm cleaning up and updating my farm journals, and then again when the seed catalogs hit my mailbox. It's a way to reflect (in the fall) and control the seed crazy (in January).

There's the usual list of farm must haves (build a new storage shed, build a new chicken coop, finally build my seed starting stationary beautiful glass greenhouse since our old dilapidated shed has finally been torn down! Wheee!!!)

But then there's the slightly more larger picture, holistic, web based intentions.

This year? I want to capture more water.

Just .... More.

Like, so much more.

Improving soil, installing MORE water cisterns to collect water and feed certain areas, mulching, irrigating wisely (drip hoses, anyone??), choosing drought and heat tolerant plants, sinking resources into improving our food forest, more chop and drop biomass....Just adding and adding and adding systems to collect and extend the life of our precious water.

I'm curious what other people are thinking about for the next year of their food and farm life in terms of systems you would like to put in place? What is on your radar in terms of projects or ideas that you would like to see spin out in the near future?

(And let me know if I've posted this in the wrong forum!)

1 month ago
Oh, I'm so sorry for the loss of your pet. And as well really glad you had such a good relationship with a sweet dog. Not everyone gets to have that experience, and you are lucky. Sweet baby pup...

Just as food for thought - what about ornamental grasses? They can throw some beautiful flowering stalks and do really well in that hot, dry, arid climate. I don't know any names except for a large Pampas grass, which would look cool, but those get really big. Showy, and big. We have tons of grasses on our farm and there are ones that stay evergreen and also have showy stalks. We have so many cultivars here (I'm not the botanist of the group - if I can't eat it, I don't tend to remember what it is!) that I can walk around in fall and cut so many seed heads of different cultivars that the wreaths I make out of them look amazing.

The other thing I thought of was Prickly Pear cactus -  would look very pretty and is different and special.  They throw some gorgeous red fruits that are edible but also I think it's just a killer looking plant. Good for drought prone places and spreads well, but can be contained as need be.  Not black and white, though...

Or some white colored lavender. From Purple Haze Lavender farm website in Sequim, WA where they grow white lavender -  "White Spike: 36-40″ Intermediate Lavandin, 16-20″ stems; white blossoms, strongly scented, blooms mid-summer, culinary uses, excellent contrast in landscapes. The color white is a striking contrast in both fresh bouquets and dried arrangements."

Take good care...
1 month ago
I have had the same Salatin tractor in our pasture for more than 3 years - and it hasn't broken or been broken into and it's been in almost constant rotation of meat birds and layers. Well, it's a variation of the salatin tractor. Not as big.

2x2's for all wood used.
It's 4 feet wide by 8 feet long by 3 feet high.
There is a section on top that opens as a door to get down into it and secured by a hook and eye.
Covered completely with welded wire fencing - 3 inch diameter. Sides, top.
The back sides (not the side where the top door is) is covered on the top and sides with rigid plastic sheeting and a brown tarp is thrown over that and secured with bungee cords to the bottom wood slats.
The roost is high up in the covered area.
The top open door is covered in rigid plastic sheeting as well and a 3 sided nest box (covered top and 3 sides) just sits on the ground under the cover and I take it out first before I move the tractor and then replace it.

The trick was the provide enough space and cover for the chickens to escape to in case of: Fox, Weasel, or Raccoon attacks. Dogs don't mess with it for some reason. Although we have coyotes, but they don't often come down from the hills. Weasels and raccoons attack in groups, with one flushing the chickens to the side where the other ones wait to grab them through the fencing. The trick was to provide the chickens somewhere to roost where all sides were covered and little paws couldn't get in.

For meat birds who don't typically roost, I run a length of welded wire fencing around the tractor secured by rebar posts - about 10 inches out from the sides. This keep the other varmints out.

It's light enough for me to drag it all over creation and it has never failed. I attach a rope to the bottom part or just slip my hands through the fencing and slide it around. It's in my staple garden now with a mama chicken and her 2 adolescents who look strangely like Kid n' Play. I think they were the Polish Crested's eggs.

We have 3 acres and 2 of that is in pasture and woods. If the ground is bumpy, I keep a little cache of  short (like - 4 inches to 3 feet long) 2x4's handy to plug the holes. All told, moving the thing takes about 3 minutes of my time. Also with a brown tarp on top, it doesn't look as nasty of some other tractors I've seen. Just looks like a box with chickens in it.

1 month ago
Oooooh - I like this. Thank you for sharing!

This last year was the first year that I didn't use straw as mulch on my potato beds and our potatoes were smaller and tougher than in previous years. I usually save seed, but did a trial this year using saved seed potatoes, plugs from a big warehouse supplier, and store bought organic potatoes that I chitted.

I regulate water based on rainfall and temperature and found the only difference in yields in my saved seed beds from previous years was the absence of straw mulch on newly hilled potato beds.  I dig a small trench, lay the eyes, and cover, water, wait. When they are about 10 inches tall I hill them up really well so that only little bits are left over above the soil line. Then I wait a bit and let them grow. I put straw on them (a big 5-7 inch layer) when they are another 10-15 inches higher. Then water when the soil underneath the mulch is dry down to my knuckles (I just poke a finger down and if it's dry all the way to my palm knuckle, I water with a soup can out to measure. I've always overhead watered but next year I'm gonna use drip hoses and see how that works.)

The overall experiment found that the plugs from the big warehouse supplier actually produced more potatoes and bigger potatoes than my saved seed and store bought chitted potatoes. Go figure. (This result annoyed me, for various reasons. One of which being that I very much wanted the big box plugs to fail so I could experience a little schadenfreunde at the expense of giant corporations.)

I often try to stay away from long term straw mulch in the maritime NW as it just proliferates slugs and snails to an astonishing degree. This year, I'm growing potatoes out of the main garden in our pasture so that the ducks can take care of that slug/snail problem for me without trampling all my delicate starts. Nothing kills or eats potatoes in our neck of the woods. Even the slugs and snails hatch under the mulch in potato beds and then slime their way over to the radish and lettuce beds. Because they are buttfaces.

2 months ago
I think I can sum up the majority of posts on this thread using our farm's motto:

More Is More.

We have been ringing our property with cut scotchbroom, twigs, sticks, downed smaller trees that aren't straight enough for garden poles or stakes, and other plant detritus that accumulates on acreage. The piles are for bird and insect habitat.

In front of the piles, I have been planting:
Native perennials such as nodding onion, camas root, cascara trees, nootka rose.

Every summer gets a larger and larger patch of flowers for drying as well as just for looking and for the pollinators - seed heads are broken off in the fall and scattered in front of the piles on the edges of the property: dollar plant, clary sage (2 year plant) sunflowers, cone flowers, echinacea, yarrow, lot's of lavender, agapanthus, etc.

We let lot's of veggies go to flower and seed - best so far has been arugula, beets and radishes and swiss chard.

Building more and more hugelkultur beds - for all the obvious reasons and especially for the animals and to save on water in the coming years as the PNW will be drying out.

We protect our bats!! Bat houses have been hung in the forests around the farm.

Hot lips salvia is a great plant that is still sending out red flowers, even just this week.

Hummingbird feeders are kept up all year round, but especially in winter. We have lovely visitors all year.

Big patches of our pasture have been given over to wildflower and wild grass growth. Win for me - less mowing, more pollinators, looks pretty and soft and the snakes love to live in that part of the farm.

We have let the forsythia go crazy - early bloomer and a nice slash of yellow in February or March.

We let our nasturtiums go until they are really really dead. I have found around here (maritime northwest) that the nasturtiums will grow and grow and send out tendrils and unfurl their flowers all the way to December in the right year. And when we get a little warm snap, and the bees wake up all confused and disgruntled, they have instant food and a place to land on the nasturtiums. We locate them all over the farm, although other varmints nip them down in the far reaches.

Garden "clean up" is not really a thing anymore - something I've noticed living on acreage vs the suburbs where I was compelled by our lease agreement to keep things much more "tidy". Things go dormant or dead, seeds are collected, slash is piled up, but it's an ever changing flow - never really an end. It's much more relaxing, at least to me and in my opinion. But I think Permaculture is relaxing.

One thing we have been doing for a longer term project on the farm is harvesting a selective amount of our evergreen trees and planting drought tolerant, fast growing trees, instead - the latest addition being silver drop eucalyptus. Our climate around here is gonna dry out pretty bad in the coming decades and the evergreens are gonna take a hit, so we are trying to diversify with flowering shrubs and trees as well as drought tolerant shrubs and trees that also support pollinators and niche species. Shade is important to all animals, and keeping what water we have where we want it is important, too. Some of the logs get piled up for habitat, some are burned for fuel in our home, some make planks for duck and chicken houses. It all gets used for something, somewhere.

2 months ago
PNW - here's what is growing under our pine and fir trees on the farm (we have pine and fir ringing our entire farm in groves ranging from 30 feet wide to 120 feet wide and larger):

Blueberries, native huckleberries (blue and black), salal, all sorts of ferns, mushrooms (wild and accidental morels!), herbs like thyme and mint (lot's of mint and on the south side of pine trees where they get the sun), rosa rugosa (south side as well).

Huckleberries do the best, we get loads of berries every year but mostly feed them to the chickens,  and I've also underplanted in areas that get dappled sun with perennial spinach (new zealand spinach), swiss chard that just naturalizes and goes crazy, and perennial leeks. The rabbits love the leeks and so I've been planting them along the edge of our furthest stand of trees - to lure them away!(Spoiler: doesn't work. But whatever). We are trialing lingonberries under the trees as well....

I have also planted comfrey all over the place, but that is new and don't know how they will do in the soil directly under the pines. They get leggy in shade around here, so thinking they might not do so well.

I basically went on hikes around our area and just took notes on what was growing naturally, then thought about native species that have the same growing habit as the plants I was seeing and then just started experimenting. Fun!
2 months ago
I got this idea from this forum, but couldn't track it down, so whomever owned this idea first - let me know! It's been awesome and I want to give credit where it's due!

Speaking from the NW so adjust times accordingly.

Find wood (non pressure treated) and build a box over ground you want to cultivate in the years ahead. I make mine 8 - 12 inches high and whatever shape fits the area I want to cultivate. Whack the grass (if there is any) down to the nubs. Cover with 2-3 layers of newspaper or cardboard. I like the newspaper. Put some spent animal bedding (rabbit poo is best, chicken and duck in a pinch) in the very bottom - just to get the worms working. Add another layer of newspapers.

Layer leaf litter, compost, garden slash, straw, small fir boughs (less than 1/2 inch thick) - about halfway up. Throw in some potatoes. Cover them up with compost, soil, cut grass, leaf litter, etc. Make sure they are good and covered. Mound the bed so it looks like a freshly filled grave.*

Sit back and wait.

Harvest potatoes when they are ready, and then the next spring, move the box to another location that you want to have cultivated in the future. Creates a nice soft compost bed in it's wake while also throwing some food at you. Win Win.

*Jeez - morbid much?
We use maggot buckets extensively on our farm to feed protein rich pupae to the ladies. I've noticed all the benefits of the extra bug material (increased egg supply, healthier, happier hens, etc)* and it's free and easy and when done right, we haven't ever been aware of a smell.

Some notes from our experiments:

1) Use a five gallon bucket with a lid that attaches - obviously. But taking it a step further, the buckets I use also have a bungee cord that secures the lid in place. know, raccoons. And dogs.
2) Drill the holes about 1 inch in diameter - smaller holes get clogged by the litter in the bucket and the maggots can't get out. We drill them 2 inches up from the bottom, and 6 inches up from the bottom - sporadically around the bucket sides. Also two holes up near the top.
3) Hang WELL AWAY from where the hens bed down at night. At least 20 feet, if you can. If the smell attracts any varmints, we want the ladies well removed from them. We also close up the hens at night in an elevated coop for added security.
4) DON'T OVERLOAD THE BUCKETS. I can't stress this enough. Substrate we use is wood chips and leaves. We put the equivalent of half a mature hen size carcass or lump of meat in there. Anything bigger than that has overloaded the substrate (smelly and grody) and/or not broken down fast enough.
5) If using the full carcass of an animal, cut it open first - expose as much of the interior as possible. Just a quick cut from navel to neck does the trick.
6) We hang them off of trees about 3-4 feet off the ground. Just works better than being right next to the ground. The hens can get under the bucket and really work it out.

I came upon this idea when I noticed that the hens were working the area around our garbage cans with a particular zeal. After checking it out, I saw some food that had been put in there uncovered and the maggots were drip- dropping onto the ground. Once I got over the I'm-Gonna-Hurl initial gross-out, I developed the bucket idea from that and was so very happy when I saw that this was a "thing" because I thought maybe I was just being a weirdo.

This, in my opinion, is ever so much easier than raising meal worms. And black soldier flies don't make it through the winters here - we tried them for a while. But really, to be honest, the sound of earnest manducation from the BSF trough as they worked through the leavings of our chicken harvest was too much for me.  Like, I can butcher a thing, but listening to them little buggers chew and slosh through the innards was too much for my delicate sensibilities.

* I've also noticed the disgusted looks from some people who I tell about it. I just tell them if they keep looking like that, their face is gonna stick that way. But I say it with a lot of charm.  
3 months ago