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Chelsea Hartweg

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since Apr 01, 2018
Chelsea likes ...
kids urban homestead
Former engineer, current homeschool teacher and homesteader in training. I have a youtube channel chronicalling my family's adventures in our "townhomestead" doing what we can where we are.
Other fun facts: I have an obsession with language, music, color, and cultural heritage; I consider spreadsheets to be my art form; I spend all my free time reading about permaculture/homesteading and redesigning systems to make them work better- this includes an unreasonable amount of life hacking through data collection and analysis.
Raleigh, NC (zone 7b)
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Recent posts by Chelsea Hartweg

Thank you for the encouragement. Edible Acres was my inspiration for my operation, actually! I love what he does with the food scraps and my plan is to do a scaled up version of his model focusing around the food scrap conversion with a bit of plants where he focuses on plants and does some food scrap conversion.

I really appreciate your encouragement. This has been my dream my whole adult life, and it's actually happening! I can't believe it.
11 months ago

Barb Allen wrote:
When my broody hen was raising chicks I bought organic chick starter and they never touched it. My broody hen taught them to eat what she ate - the sprouted grains and seeds - and they grew into beautiful and healthy chickens. My last Buff was 8 when she was killed by some daytime creature - a rogue raccoon I think. And she was still laying eggs regularly - at 8 yrs. old.  They were never sick and laid well all their lives, in spite of me not giving them any medicines or special supplements or commercial food.  They didn't get any extra protein except what they got in the grains and seeds and the bugs and worms they found.

Can you tell me more about raising the chicks without commercial feed? It's expensive to get a chicken to laying age, and my new chicken venture is going to be centered around using food waste to feed my layers, so I would love to be able to avoid the commercial feed for my chicks as well. I was planning to use broody hens to hatch out my chicks, so I have that going for my already. I'm wondering how you think the chicks would do with their mama running around a compost pile and pasture area. Adult hens thrive this way, so I'm wondering if the chicks could too. Everyone talks so seriously about proper nutrition and all that, but if I'm throwing them daily farmers market and restaurant waste into the compost piles and they have access to a large open area for foraging, plus I'm getting a large soldier fly bin to have those popping up for them regularly.... I sorta think that should be plenty enough to feed pretty much everyone and the hens will help the chicks sort it out? Thoughts?
11 months ago

r ranson wrote:We used to use an egg scale to asses our eggs when we finished washing them.  It didn't take much time, but there was less money for graded eggs.  We only did this when we sold them in shops.  

Our state requires that I grade them if I sell more than 30 dozen a week, which I will. Did the scale do more than just the weight? We have to check the air bubble inside too in order to choose whether they are AA, A, or B eggs. It sounds like a time consuming pain, and I'm starting to wonder if I could just charge more per dozen for the 30 I can sell ungraded, and then donate 1-1 for every dozen sold. So, say I was going to sell them for $2/dozen, maybe I'll charge $4 and say "for every dozen you buy, one gets donated to someone in need", so I'm selling 30 dozen eggs at double price and donating 30 dozen for free, but still making the same as I would if I sold 60 dozen at regular price. Also helps me clear out inventory faster.

r ranson wrote:But now our eggs are all pre-sold, we can put more energy into keeping our hens happy which improves the taste of the eggs which is the best selling feature.

How does your pre-selling work? I'm worried about moving all these eggs I'll have lol
11 months ago
Hey y'all! Anyone here regularly grade eggs? I know what the definitions of different grades are, but I can't figure out how long to assume it will take me routinely per dozen to do it. I'm starting up a chicken venture, and I am working on the business plan so I am trying to figure out labor costs.

Also, do any of y'all use the special candling things? Is it worth it versus a nice flashlight?
11 months ago
Interesting thoughts. My main motivation for the spiral breeding is that I am new to breeding chickens and I want to keep my flock strong, especially since I hope to sell breeding stock as well as I am using these chickens for business purposes. Additionally, I will be raising several breeds in one large flock, so I will need to be isolating breeding pairs when it's time to collect hatching eggs, so I will be targeting specific chickens at that point anyway. This leads to me keeping breeding pedigrees anyway, so maybe the spiral part of things isn't strictly necessary, but I don't know enough to encourage the proper kind of line breeding yet, so I figured spiral method works best.

I don't know anyone locally who keeps these breeds, but that's worth thinking on too...
11 months ago
I'm designing out a chicken system for my new farm, and I've been doing a lot of reading about spiral breeding; I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts about exactly how necessary it really is? I understand the merits, but if I want to keep more than one or two breeds with 3 families of each breed, and a rooster needs 10-12 hens each to keep from overworking them.... the number of chickens gets enormous very quickly. I'm wondering how important the idea really is versus keeping my favorite rooster and 10-12 hens and just being smart about my pairings, especially since I will be giving each chicken an identifying number, so I will know who is who when choosing breeding pairs. Thoughts? I would love to be able to keep a couple other breeds instead of multiple families of each breed.
1 year ago
So for folks who strip the leaves when they're green and then dry them, how do you dry them? We are finally moving out to our homestead, and I'm looking into our plan for a couple of digerian dwarf goats. We will only have an acre, so I know it's unlikely I will be able to get away with zero off-farm feed, but the more I can do myself, the better. Plus I just like the challenge. Do you dry them in the sun? In a solar dehydrator like the ones you can get designs for here in permies? Or has anyone experimented with using the heat off of a biochar kiln to dry them?

Luke Perkins wrote:I recently started a website dedicated to spreading plant material and information about purple tree collards. They can reach over ten feet tall and are hardy down to around 20° F (-7° C). Depending on how you pruned it I think you could definitely get a walking stick out of one. I will try to take some photos of the trunks on one of our older tree collards tomorrow. They are probably over two inches in diameter. Our crop of dino kale that we planted last summer overwintered and was about three to five feet tall before going to seed last month.

Your website is awesome, and I am DEFINITELY trying this plant out on our new homestead! I'm wondering. We live in Raleigh, NC (zone 7b/8a), and I'm trying to think if I could manipulate a microclimate that could help it survive the winter. Do you think one of those fabric tree covers would help it? Or even just keeping it out of the wind? I would rather not have to move it. If this works, I want to plant a LOT of them as fodder for animals. Our homestead is only .94 acres, but I want to grow as much as we can to support the animals both for health, environment, and reducing feed costs. This seems like a really good possibility since i know some folks grow microgreens or sprouted grains as animal food. Maybe this could work too!
1 year ago

things like beets, carrots, radishes will all be fine once cooked.

How long would I have to wait after abandoning a septic field before I could eat raw things out of it again?

To insure that you don't have to worry about pathogens, start using a product called RIDEX monthly, adding this bacterial booster to your septic system will get rid of those pathogens and keep everything working as it should.

I don't know much about RIDEX. Is it a chemical thing? Or is it just more bacteria?

If you have any concerns, just build raised beds, that way there will be enough soil between the leach field and your garden vegetables.

How deep does the soil on top of the field need to be before it's safe?  Does it need to be the same depth if I'm growing greens as I would root vegetables? Also, do you think I could get it deep enough for it to be safe to put berry bushes there as well without the risk of the roots ruining the pipes? I live in Raleigh, N.C., so we get really consistent rain (average 4" every month year round)

You can also inoculate with more bacteria (EM) and you can also inoculate with fungi (oyster spawn is super for this and you will end up with some super tasty mushrooms as a bonus.)

How would I inoculate the space with that? Put it alongside the vegetables? In the raised beds? Around them? Wolult i put the spores for mushrooms or bacteria down the drain or in the tank? Would the mushrooms be safe to eat? Are there other good mushrooms for this? What's EM bacteria and how would I go about finding and inoculating that?

Thanks for the help! We are going out to look at a property tomorrow that is really amazing opportunity for us just outside city limits, but I'm concerned about the septic taking up most of my growable space.
1 year ago
Another question: what would setting up our own PEX look like? Not nearly ready now, obviously, but just trying to wrap my head around it. Would it be the same kind of idea as the PEP, but we decide what goes in it?

Backstory: I live in a townhouse in a very different climate than Paul (Raleigh, NC), so as I perfect my gardening skills and what I call "townhomesteading" skills, I would love to be able to pass that on to others who are struggling in this same place. I actually have a whole lot of thoughts about how to be a homesteader in this context (I just started a youtube channel talking about just that- Renaissance Earth if anyone wants to follow along), and I want to be an advocate for homesteading in a context where you can grow very little of your own food. And honestly, my experience has been slow and small thus far, but I still think I have a good idea of what should be done. So I'm glad to help make that happen for others if that's something the community could use.
1 year ago