Jen Fan wrote:If you're not intending to plant much this year that might work fine, though the chickens will kick out A LOT of stuff, so you'll be cleaning up all around your beds. Things like tomatoes and zucchinis will love fresh manure. A lot of other plants might not appreciate that. But again, if you're not planting ASAP, then it might do fine. The only thing that stands out to me is that wood kind of sucks nitrogen from the soil until it's thoroughly decomposed into humus. You might do better to work on a "wood rotting heap" somewhere nearby and amend your beds with rotten wood as it becomes available in future years.
We find that taking all of our soiled bedding from all the critters and composting it makes gorgeous, rich soils. It's just sloppy hay with poop and urine in the mix. Keep it wet and heap it up to stew. Bust into the bottom a year later and it's the most beautiful stuff! We have lots of redworms helping too.
If you want to actually plant this year, maybe bite the bullet and find a source for good compost and top soil for this year's plYanting, and focus on starting a composting system for your wood chips and chicken waste!
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I used to be a fan of spiral breeding. I'm not any more.
My general feeling these days it to keep large populations (of roosters as well as hens), starting with many breeds, and allow them to mix themselves randomly. And constantly be bringing new blood into the flock. Then allow a combination of natural and human selection to tailor the flock to local conditions.
If three farms are keeping a population of chickens like this, then spiral breeding is a great strategy, (move the new roosters to the next flock in the rotation). But the fussy record keeping required for a spiral breeding project on one farm seems too hard.
Todd Parr wrote:I've been working towards a "landrace" chicken that thrives here in WI. It needs to be cold-hardy, have a small comb to prevent frostbite, be able to handle our hot, humid summers, and preferably have a darker, mottled pattern to help protect against predators. I'm 4 generations in to my project, and this year I have a chicken that fills all those needs really well. It has the dark pattern that I want, no comb to speak of, and comes from very winter-happy parents. I've found it hard to get a good picture of a chicken, so I apologize for the quality. I'll try to take some pictures that better show her off if people are interested.
Hans Quistorff wrote:First step is to check the former garden area for invasive roots. some grasses will have long strings of roots that will regrow each piece of root if cut. Take a shovel and cut out a piece of sod from the proposed area and wash all the soil off of it to examine what types of roots are there. If there are no invasive roots and the soil seems rich just spading will work. Spading is simple; Remove one shovel full of sod and set it aside, the next shovel full is then dumped upside down in the hole. You only need to do the row you plan to plant at a time. the exposed soil may sprout seeds that are exposed but most of them are edible and will give you a first crop of greens as you weed. As you mow the rest of the grass use it for mulch.
This is how I restored a garden after my sister died and I inherited the farm. Some arias had invasive quack grass roots so I had to let the soil dry and sift them out.