Leslie Russell

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since Aug 06, 2017
Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
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Recent posts by Leslie Russell

Tj, it sounds like you've really thought this through. I have 17 hens in a large fenced area on grass that's becoming dirt as they scratch for bugs. I'm getting ready to move the fencing to green ground. I do buy feed; they have dry feed in the coop and get wet fermented feed outside. I go through a 40# bag in about 4 weeks.
Of course they get select kitchen scraps, but here's my big protein source: bsfl. If you haven't considered this, I think it might be a great addition and less effort than cultivating enough good ground for worms, etc to appear.
I've got a compost bin someone gave me that's about 2x2x3' square. It sits in a shaded treeline at the edge of my property, where I dump the coop litter when I clean it out. Because I use DE in the coop I can't put it in the bin because the DE will kill the larvae.
Everything the chickens don't get goes in the bin. Bsfl eat meat too, they'll clean Thanksgiving turkey carcass in a day. I scoop them up and feed them to the chickens. People build elaborate bsfl bins, making a simple operation very complicated. They need to be fed, like anything else, and one of the tricks is to never let them get hungry. Make sure they've always got something to eat and they will multiplying like nobody's business. One of the important factors is to make sure there's something dry in there for them to eat so that you can just scoop them out without having to do any rinsing because they get really buried into anything wet and then it's gross and then you don't want to feed it to the girls without cleaning off yada yada yada. If I don't have anything dry to put in there, cheap catfood is awesome. I found that out when somebody gave me a leftover bag just throw in there and they went wild. I'm not crazy about feeding my chickens dyed commercial yucky cat food but the larvae eat it so fast that there are only a few kibbles left that get scooped up and thrown into the run.
Once you figure out the few caveats in your particular system to make it easy on yourself this is probably the best free and most nutritious feed available. Variety is key of course, but if you can get this going it's the best form of free protein you can find.
A note on the cat food; at first I thought buying a bag of cat food was the stupidest thing in the world because I was buying it to put directly in my compost bin. But then I realized I was feeding the living creatures that I feed to my chickens for incredibly high quality protein and then it made total sense. I really like that it's dry so I can scoop up the larvae because like I said when they get ahold of watermelon rind and old carrots, old tomatoes (you get the idea) they are incredibly wet and really gross. Giving them something dry to eat was something brilliant I just fell across by accident. And like I said a bag of cat food is stupidly cheap.
6 days ago

Tj Jefferson wrote:I tried feeding the chickens fish parts, but they wouldn't eat them and it drew in vultures, like into th chicken pen. I tried making a solar cooker to cook them and it worked, but they still wouldn't eat it. I think they would if it was all cut up, but I ended up just putting it int the compost and letting them dig the compost up. I've tried with deer carcasses too. I had chickens that were pretty carnivorous, this bunch is not!

My big winner for chicken fodder is goumi berries. I sun dried a bunch on the driveway and they worked out great. I should be able to generate a hundred kilos per year in a week or so per summer. I can pick about ten pounds or five kilos an hour and have them laid out on the driveway, so a couple days spent for most of the chickens feed requirements over our brief winter, stored in hung burlap bags (actually old grass seed bags with excellent ventilation). They dry in a couple days in the sun. It is on a very slight slope, so even though we had rain one of the days they still dried out fine. It did look ridiculous and I need to make sure they dont get driven over. I am still looking for calories for them over the winter but the protein was a major issue last winter.

My winter calorie search continues. I am doing sorghum sunflower and millet this year. and plan to leave some standing and see if that will last.

Tj I'm curious. How many chickens do you have? How long is your winter?
6 days ago
I wanted to update my posts on this forum to report that after going great guns and being delighted how easy and well the fodder project went, summer came, it got hot and humid and that was the end of that.
No matter how little seed I put in the trays, how often I rinsed, they went sour. The little roots, if it even got that far, got nasty, slimey and brown and smelled like rotten beer LOL
I tried various tricks to adjust for the issue to no avail. I briefly (like 2 seconds) considered bringing the project indoors where it's drier.
Any other ideas I'd love to hear them!
1 week ago

john mcginnis wrote:

Leslie Russell wrote: That stuff is a lifesaver around here. So far so good!
Oh, and I had to attach the new roof with the old one there at the peak. I thought I had it but when I saw it from the house I saw that hump... it only makes me crazy once in awhile 🙄

For a Coop that's pretty nice. What do you have under the tin? Metal roofs radiate heat too well and you don't want to cook your birds. Go the extra step and add a gutter at the lower end and catch all that run off and feed it to the birds.

I'm sorry, John, I wandered away from this forum and got engaged in sheet mulching...lol
Under the tin are foamcore insulation sheets with the foil on the outside facing up to radiate heat away. I really thought this through because heat is huge here. If it wasn't enough insulation I was prepared to insulate the walls too but I'd have to have a thin lumber sheet over the insulation because chickens LOVE Styrofoam. :\
It's always 10+ degrees cooler in there.
3 weeks ago

Dawna Janda wrote:

Leslie Russell wrote:I have so much wood around here that I could use if only I had a chipper. Does anyone have one or used one? Are they difficult to use and how dangerous are they?

Howdy neighbor!  Since the wood chips usually decompose fairly quickly here and the chop and drop became too tedious for my carpal tunnel hands, I decided I wanted a wood chipper.  So, for my birthday present last year my husband purchased a PowerSmart Electric Chipper (model PS10).  (He's a keeper for certain.)  It can handle branches up to 1 5/8" across which is all we need.  I chop up banana leaves in it too.  I use eye and ear protection.  Anything larger than 1 5/8" I use for path markers in my food forest, or save for my raised bed Hugelkultur.  I also will lay short logs in my food forest to decompose and give shelter to the soil dwelling critters.  

I've been poking around trying to get the very best price on a chipper and because I have a little sun joe pressure washer that's pretty awesome I opted for one of theirs. Their customer service is very good, too. Right now they've got a sitewide 25% off any order and shipping is always free on orders over $75. I ended up paying $104!!

I've got big logs (most go into hugel beds) and a lot of smaller stuff, and being on 5 mostly wild acres I'll have enough for beds AND mulch. Yippee! I'm going to love this puppy.
3 weeks ago
It does help, quite a bit. I can look at the areas of concern now and analyze the way the water collects or runs off and use your suggestions to help mitigate the extremes of the wet season. In a perfect world the ground would slope where it needs to and in one direction but on my property you've got yer swales over here and yer runoff over there... I'll get to work on it. Rain is a'comin, of that I can be certain. Maybe. 😏
3 weeks ago
Thank you, Daron! What great ideas.
I'm in west central Florida (yes, that's a thing) and we're already in the mid-90's. When we get rain it's usually of the slamming down ALOT of water in a short time type. Some rainy seasons are mild and some are torrential and we don't know how much rain we're going to get in any given year. Sometimes the predictions are spot on, sometimes way off. I've learned to prepare as if there's going to be alot of water.
But. Because it's so bloody hot, we can go from too much water to a drought in a day. Right now it's dry even though we had rain a few days ago. Sometimes I water (I have a well) and a few hours later a storm moves in. Great, now my plants are drowning.

What advice do you have for that situation? All my beds are raised, because the "soil" here is sand. (I've actually considered growing in the woods where it's shaded and there's real soil!) 2 beds are new hugelkultur and the logs are starting to rot well. Hot summer crops are limited so there's not much in there but strawberry plants.

Any thoughts you've got are greatly appreciated!
3 weeks ago
I have so much wood around here that I could use if only I had a chipper. Does anyone have one or used one? Are they difficult to use and how dangerous are they?
1 month ago

Dawna Janda wrote:I use cardboard and newspaper as that is what I have access to.  On top of that, it's 8 to 12 inches of wood chips.  In central Florida (semi-tropical), it takes a few months for the cardboard to break down and the grasses and dollar weed to start peeking through.  When I first started sheet mulching, I thought Geoff Lawton's recommendations of how thick to sheet mulch were a bit much.....but now I know better...LOL....Geoff is right.  It keeps things at bay for a longer period of time.

Hi Dawna, I'm in west central Florida and I've got the same grass and weed problems. It takes an act of God to kill them. Mostly I just manage to suffocate them for a little while. If any light gets through and I don't catch it they're up and running again. Grrrr.
1 month ago

Denise Kersting wrote:That's a great resource! Here's another one that some cities use, https://solutions.recyclecoach.com/. My city has signed up with them so the app works in my area, but not all cities are connected with them.

What a great app! I kinda sorta live in a city just the rural part. We don't have anything very sophisticated at all. I hope others see the link and check it out.
1 month ago