Allan. Sterbinsky

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since Jan 16, 2010
West Tennessee
Tennessee
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Recent posts by Allan. Sterbinsky

ryan112ryan wrote:
I have to confess, I do garden in rows for some of my garden, but it is what it is.

I came up with this idea of having a chicken tractor slightly smaller than the width of my rows.  I could drop some of my chickens in (I have a larger chicken tractor) and they could eat all the weeds, then scoot it a few feet.  Now granted this will only work for a while until things really take off, but at that point weeds will have a lot of competition making it harder on them. 

Has anyone done this?  Does it work well?  Know website that talk about this?  More info?



I tried that approach with broilers for the past two years.  Down south, it is so hot, the plants in the rows kept the breezes from cooling the chicken tractor and the chickens got overheated.  I had to move the tractors into the shade with lots of space for the winds to blow.  Granted, the past two years have been REALLY hot down south. Perhaps some summers it won't be too hot for the tractor between garden rows idea.  Maybe you live in a place where it won't be too hot and humid or your idea to be successful.

8 years ago
Concrete is used a lot in Hungary and Slovakia for fence posts and even telephone poles.  I've attached two pictures.  One is of a grapevine post and the other is a telephone pole.  Look at the design of the poles and how you might adapt your construction methods to make the posts a bit less expensive.




Brenda Groth wrote:
wow ambitious and expensive but probably permanent if done correctly !! want photos

8 years ago
Wormlady,

Thanks for being interested in the kids and getting involved.  Parental involvement is so critical to the lives of children, and you are a great example of parental involvement in action! 

I'll answer a few of the questions.  First, you'll need to plan a minimum of 2 square feet of space per chicken, assuming that you are using a movable coop (ala Joel Salatin or Andy Lee).  A good reference book on the coops is Andy Lee's Chicken Tractor book. 

Secondly, the perimeter fence should be high enough to keep out predators.  I personally prefer 4 feet tall fences to keep out most dogs.  A chain link fence would work well for keeping out most predators and would fit into an urban landsape.  You may need to address about smaller predators such as rats or other creatures.  Personally I use poultry netting (Premierone fencing on the internet).  It is electrified and keeps out everything except hawks.  I'm not sure you could use an electric fence around kids without some kind of legal headaches. 
Third, rabbits in the rotation... it depends on how you have the rabbits housed.  I like to use a chicken tractor design, but staple 2 or 3 inch mesh wire on the bottom to keep them from burrowing out (which they will try to do).  Always have the chickens follow the rabbits in the rotation.  If you could leave a week or two between the chicken and the rabbit rotation, that will let the rabbit "leavings" attract "goodies" from the soil and environment - the chickens will love you for it.  Unfortunately, rabbits don't do well in the rain, so you might want to build a regular rabbit hutch for them and let the chickens rotate under the hutch periodically.  Then you can have a more secure enviroment for the rabbits. 

Coops on wheels, hmmmm.... the largest movable pen I have is 12 feet by 12 feet, and it takes a lot of strength to move it even with the wheels.  You may want to consider something smaller like 4 feet by 12 feet.  Easier for the kids to help move. 

Just some thougts for your consideration.  What happens if the kids grow tired of caring for the animals.  Who will take care of them?  Also, do you have hawks around the school?  I've seen some in even large cities.  Hawks are hard to defend against. 

Hopefully others will jump in and write more advice, but the Andy Lee book should help get you started.  If you have any more questions, feel free to write me a message or just reply here.

Best of luck, and thanks for doing this for the kids.
8 years ago
Thanks Jamie,

Now I'll have to think about fitting five or six movable coops shaded with those portable tents.  I wonder if I could hook a small one to each coop.  Hmmm....

I do have movable water, but it consists of one or two five gallon buckets per coop.  I'll have to do some research on the swamp cooler notion. 

Thanks for the ideas!

Allan
8 years ago
OK, my first batch of broilers is done for the year, so I thought I would share my experiences from this summer with y'all. 

I used Joel Salatin type mobile coops (as I have for many years).  This summer was extremely hot in TN (hottest in the past 50 years) and I started losing chickens to the heat.  I cut out more openings all around the pen, but that wasn't enough.  I had to move the pens totally into the shade to keep them from overheating.  In fact, I moved a portable fan out to one pen because it didn't have enough shade.  That helped with the heat.  Unfortunately, that also meant I couldn't move the pens throughout the pasture any more due to the restrictions for shade and proximity to electricity.  That meant I spent weeks pulling grass and giving it to the chickens.  White Cornish Cross chickens are the laziest!!!  They would barely eat the grass, even the young clover (when I could find it in the pasture).  This past weekend, when I harvested the chickens, their skin were very white, similar to what you buy in the store (yes, I was using organic feed).  In previous years, the chickens had a yellowish cast due to eating fresh grass every day and all the "goodies" they found in the soil.  The taste of the chicken is fairly similar to those of previous  years, so I'm not sure there is a big difference in taste between using Joel Salatin's movable coops or Andy Lee's Deep Mulch system. 


This winter I will redesign the pens with hoops for a roof.  That will give the heat space to move up and out of the coop.  Any suggestions for dealing with high heat in a movable coop would be greatly appreciated!
8 years ago
Just wanted to let y'all know....  I have an electric net around my backyard "paddock" that houses my chicken tractors.  It has kept out all predators to date.  Yesterday a hawk swooped in and pulled a couple chicks through the poultry wire (actually just the heads).  I leaned a piece of chain link fence all around the tractors, and presto - no more hawk attacks today.  We'll see how that works.  My next tractor will have 1/2 inch hardware cloth around the sides instead of poultry wire.  I don't think a hawk could get through that and I'm sure the chicks can't poke their little heads through the 1/2 inch holes in the hardware cloth.  Let me know if anybody has had similar problems with hawks and what was done about them.  Guess I need to get a dog for the backyard like I had at the farm.  The Great Pyranees (sp?) at the farm sure did a good job keeping predators away from the chicken tractors and animals
9 years ago
This is an interesting online book about agriculture (Part IV).  It was written in 1809 and has some interesting sections that sound a bit like permaculture. Just for your reading enjoyment!

http://books.google.com/books?id=wGUCAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA269&lpg=PA269&dq=ablaqueation&source=bl&ots=kAQJWAFAUT&sig=wc1e9H6i7ZToD5mbq4YziBLAQRY&hl=en&ei=wb1uS7msKcyUtgfP7dz9BQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CBoQ6AEwCTgU#v=onepage&q=ablaqueation&f=false
9 years ago
Cato the Elder writes about that, too.

It doesn't make sense within my limited understanding of it, but people reasoned differently about these things back then. I'm curious what more experienced people think.

Thanks Joel,  I'll have to check out Cato and look for other sources.  I appreciate your input.
9 years ago
I've been reading Columella lately (ancient Roman historian who wrote about agricultural practices) and he mentions ablaqueation as a technique for improving the productivity of trees.  That technique involves exposing the upper roots of trees and pruning off the "summer rootlets."  It may be related to a phrase used in the bible... "dig around the fig tree and manure it."  That would be Luke 13:8 for you scholars out there.

Has anybody heard of this before or know anything about it?  It's the first I've heard about it.

9 years ago

TCLynx wrote:
Is there a such thing as a Permaculture Purist?     I've gotten the impression that from person to person, each "version" of permaculture is slightly different.  And this is probably a good thing since each place is different.

I've been moving my chickens around quite a bit, (when they get bored of an area they let us know by escaping the paddock, means it's time to give them some fresh space to keep them interested in staying in where we want them.)



I think we're both saying the same thing.

9 years ago