Heather Sharpe

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since Feb 05, 2019
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forest garden fungi foraging trees urban chicken medical herbs ungarbage
Central Indiana, zone 6a, clay loam
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Recent posts by Heather Sharpe

I made some hen saddles for my chickens in the hopes they'd protect them from rooster damage. Alas, I find that they frequently flip up and I spend a lot of time chasing hens around trying to adjust them so they cover their back. Even doing this multiple times a day, it seems that even when the saddles stay in place, the rooster's nails always end up under the edge of the saddles and the girls are still getting cuts. I'm a beginner at sewing and not very good at figuring out how I can alter things to make them fit better. Especially when I don't have a cooperative model to try things on, as is the case with the chickens. Has anyone had success getting hen saddles to stay put? A different design for one that works well? Or perhaps ideas about how to change this design to make it more effective?

This is the pattern I used:

The ideas for changes I have so far are to change the point where the elastic attaches so it is further back, hopefully holding down the saddle more effectively. I don't really know if this will lead it to being more uncomfortable where it sits on the wing and/or fall off completely. An elastic strap from one side to the other that would go underneath the hen to hold the sides down seems like it could work. Except I can imagine problems with it sliding around lots or possibly pressing on the crop. I need a hen mannequin so I don't have to stress the girls trying ideas! I'd prefer to modify the saddles I have, if possible. If there's a better design out there that works well, that would be great too.
1 day ago
I've been giving my chickens an herbal formula for worms to keep them healthy and their immune systems strong. They think the herbs are weird and decidedly not food. Unless I mix them with some black soldier fly larvae. Then they go so crazy over it I have to try to give it to them one at a time in the coop so they don't fight. The only problem is, one of the roosters is so good at his job that I have to work to get him to eat any. He always grabs a huge mouthful and then tidbits with it. Even if he's in the coop alone, he still does it while the girls go nuts trying to get in. While adorable, it is problematic as far as making sure he gets his dose. I never imagined I'd have to fight to get a chicken to eat bugs! He always picks out all the BSFL to give to the girls and then eats whatever herb mush is leftover. So the only way is to give him the herbs by themselves. I find this hilarious, since I have to resort to bribery to get the hens to eat them.
1 day ago
I love moss and think this is a great idea! I bet spring ephemerals could be a good fit in such a guild since they only exist for a short time and usually want similar conditions to moss. I've seen Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii) growing with moss in their understory. Since their habit is more upright, they allow space underneath. There's a guild in my yard of Cup Plant, Chickweed, Sweet Cicely and many others where moss grows in the understory. I didn't plant this guild, but it does amazingly well. Elderberry or similar could be a good possibility for a larger plant in the mix. Wild Ginger might work, though it can spread quite a bit and might be too aggressive, not sure. Looking forward to what ideas other folks might have! When I have the time, I might have to reread Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer to see if that yields any ideas.
3 days ago
I agree, cedar will likely take longer to break down. I've often seen aspen and/or pine animal bedding. Don't recall if it's more expensive than cedar, but I imagine it would break down a little faster. I know we used one of the two for our bucket toilet when we couldn't find other material. It worked okay and broke down reasonably fast.

I would look for sawmills around you or possibly folks that do woodworking. They would be likely to have sawdust and/or shavings that they'd give you, quite possibly for free. It took us awhile to find a mill, but sure beats buying shavings from the pet store.
5 days ago
I have read some accounts of comfrey being so good at knitting tissue together that it caused parts that shouldn't be together to grow together. For example, people using it as a diaper rash cream and having tissue down there fuse together, requiring surgical intervention. I don't know if this is overblown. I do know comfrey is very powerful at promoting quick tissue growth. I probably wouldn't put it in my eye or in contact with my eye lids personally. Those little bristly hairs seem like they could irritate too.

I like to always use the gentlest plant first, then if that doesn't work, move onto "stronger" plants. If it were me, I would try plantain you mentioned first, since it is so gentle, but still quite powerful in its way. I once had a nasty stye, my eye was swollen almost completely closed. I put a plantain spit poultice on it. Later that day, my eye was completely normal again. So I can certainly attest to its ability to help soothe eye conditions. Violet might also be a good option for an eye wash.

You might find this video about herbal eye washes and eye cups useful too. I believe he gives suggestions for different herbs once could use as well as measures to ensure everything is clean and safe for eyes.
5 days ago
Hi Boris! I haven't experienced this in the couple years I've grown wine caps. How soon after the mushrooms emerge are you picking them?
I always had the best luck with ones that were still in the button stage with more of the wine color. Usually had to be the same day they emerged or not long after. Ones that got away from me and had time for the tops to flatten out or turn up at the edges tended to be a little too funky. I stuffed those back under the wood chips to keep the mushrooms spreading. I would suspect maggots might be more likely in ones that were older and starting to decay.
5 days ago
Interesting. It looks like the eggs are on a cocoon?
Perhaps the Rusty Tussock Moth?
6 days ago
I agree with Greg, looks like black raspberry. The growth habit sounds like them for sure. I have many in my garden, though it's become more of a prairie area. They came up all along my paths and I thought I needed to move them. But then I had too many other things going on and didn't get to it. The next year, it was fairly easy to wrangle them so they went along side the path instead of through it. The result was bountiful berry lined paths. I bet they could be trained to go over an arch or trellis. Some of the canes on mine must be 10 feet or more. The flavor and texture is far superior to the red raspberries I have. And they're far more abundant and resistant to issues. They are thorny, but I've found it pretty easy to move them when needed as long as I wear thick gloves and long sleeves. They're one of my favorite plants in my garden. I think they'd make a great deterrent to creatures climbing and/or digging under fences if trained up along a physical fence too.
6 days ago
What a cool little habitat you've created for them! I would be careful putting too much plant material in there. As it decomposes, it can reduce the amount of oxygen available in the water, making it hard for them to breathe. If you can get your hands on any aquatic plants, that would probably be helpful for them to improve the oxygen levels and eat up any nitrates and such from the tadpoles waste. Does the bucket have any shade? Such a small volume of water is bound to heat up quickly in full sun, so might be good to keep an eye on the water temperature. Higher temps also reduce the availability of oxygen. Good luck raising your froggy friends!
1 week ago
You probably already thought of this, but you could ask them if there's any particularly helpful ways to support them beyond buying more. I think word of mouth is really the best advertising, so obviously that. Social media like nextdoor could be good. Leaving glowing reviews, if they have somewhere to do that.

I've found sharing the food from farmers quite effective at getting people to start buying it themselves. For example, last time I had a meal with my family, I cooked and made a point to talk up the local, sustainably raised meat and the farmer I get it from. My family almost never says anything about stuff I cook. They were all raving about how good the meat was and loading up on seconds. You could do similar if you're sharing a meal with friends or family anyways. Of course, that might not even be necessary if people are already interested in finding better quality food. Just the mention might be enough.
1 week ago