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Archive for the ‘Chickens’ Category

Cucumbers are coming in real nice. We’ll be pickling soon.

Zucchini’s blossoming and the Brandy-wine Tomatoes are loving this heat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peas need trellised, corn is coming up and so are soybeans.

Pumpkins popped up a day ago and the bush beans are getting big.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chickens frolicking and a bunny. I gotta do something about the bunnies. They’re eating up all my beans.

Broccoli. Nothing better than fresh broccoli marinated with soy sauce and garlic and cooked on the grill.

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Bush beans planted by Uncle Keith and rows of peppers and tomatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cabbage, Black Berry Bush and Chickens love Watermelon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cucumbers and Zucchini

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s always time to take a break and find a dragonfly resting or watch the kids canoe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Pepper Plant, Manure in the Wheel Barrow and a long garden shot of the pepper rows. Of course I like to plant a couple of cherry tomato plants on the corner. That way I can grab a snack as soon as I walk in the garden.

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It’s been a while since I updated everyone on what we’ve been up to and we’ve been busy! [Click on any image to see a larger version.]

The chickens are doing well, I finally captured the mutilator. It wasn’t a coyote it was a raccoon. He’s moved on to greener pastures. Think chickens are dumb and didn’t know a monster was coming at darkness to kill them? Look at the pic below, they were roosting all the way on the very top on an electrical cord. So sad….

    

We got a tractor! A 1949 Ford 9N. Runs great. I can’t wait to restore it to its old glory. Still need to buy a plow and disc (it came with an auger, Woods mower and a plow for snow). It’s durable, long lasting and easy-to-fix. It’s basically an engine and transmission on a drive shaft with a PTO on the back. Ain’t she a beaut? Thanks Dad!

  

Built the greenhouse and planted lots of vegetables. Thanks Carrie!

  

On the non-profit front, Project Garden Share had a seed giveaway at Kent Social Services and it was a huge success. Thanks Dave!

  

We gave away over 500 Heirloom (Non GMO) seed packets thanks to our friends at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds who donated over $1,000 worth of seed to us. Through my work with PGS, I’ve never dealt with a more generous, friendly and fast acting company. If you need seeds, go straight to Baker and place an order with them. You will be happy you did and their catalog is gorgeous and fun to read.

All of their seed is non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented.

Through my work with PGS, I’ve never dealt with a more generous, friendly and fast acting company. I ask you that if you need seeds, go straight to Baker and place an order with them. You will be happy you did and their catalog is gorgeous and fun to read.

Baker does not buy seed from Monsanto-owned Seminis. They boycott all gene-altering companies. They’re not members of the pro-GMO American Seed Trade Organization! Baker works with a network of about 100 small farmers, gardeners and seed growers.

And they offer over 1300 fine varieties!

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We had a tragedy at the farm the other night; we lost some chickens to what appears to be a coyote or two. Coyotes are part of the natural circle of life and because we as humans basically eradicated their natural enemy the wolf, we’re forced to deal with these predators. Wolves don’t tolerate coyotes. When the wolves are depleted or hunted to near extinction, the more adaptable coyote moves into the niche.


Happier Times, Zoey meets her first chicken.

To be certain, I’m going to spread a bed of fine sand around at night to see what tracks are left or use a game camera. What’s for sure is that, having had a taste of chicken; whatever it is will keep coming back. Here’s a picture of paw prints and sizes to help you figure out what you might have coming to visit your flock.


We’ve had chickens for several years and have never had a problem with any predator, be it; fox, raccoon, hawk, possum, skunk, or what have you. They are fenced in by 5 ½ ’ walls in the run and a pen fully enclosed in the barn except for a small 15” door to the run.


I’m certain it was coyote based on the fur I found on the outer fence and the fact the chickens were carried away with no sign of struggle or mess in the hen house. From now on, we’ll be locking the chickens in the barn at night by closing and locking the small entrance door.


Photo courtesy of linsdomain.com fur on gate I found

List of non-lethal methods to reduce damage done by coyotes:

  1. Use net-wire or electric fencing to keep coyotes away from livestock.
  2. Confine livestock in a coyote-proof corral at night when coyotes are most likely to attack livestock.
  3. Use lights above corrals.
  4. Remove dead livestock so coyotes won’t be attracted to scavenge.
  5. Use sirens or strobe lights to scare coyotes away.
  6. Motion detection lights are also useful.
  7. Use guard animals, such as dogs, donkeys, and llamas, to protect livestock.
  8. Harass coyotes with loud noises, clapping hands, yelling, throwing rocks at them and waving our arms to create fear.
  9. Don’t feed your pets outdoors.
  10. Don’t ever feed coyotes.
  11. Don’t let coyotes have access to rubbish or compost heaps
  12. Don’t feed feral cats / stray dogs / wildlife / anything except your own kids
  13. If you have sheep / goats / cows etc then collect any placentas in the birthing season as these will attract coyotes
  14. Call the local Fish & Wildlife or local law enforcement agency if coyotes attack humans, become too aggressive by approaching humans and showing lack of fear of humans, or if they attack small pets.

My favorite is the donkey. Who’d a thought donkeys are the ass-kickers of the animal world? Get it….Ass kicker? If you have the appropriate fencing, a donkey is worth considering. Donkeys have an unrelenting hatred of anything dog-like and are quite capable of dealing with coyotes and probably even a wolf or two donkeys can’t be fooled by coyotes, who have been known to befriend the farm dog and be allowed the run of the place.

Reinforce your fencing
Bury your chicken wire into the ground, go 18″ or so into the ground and then bend the wire to form an L shape so that a persistent digger digs into the “crotch” of the L and gets no where fast. Otherwise, some animals will dig under your wire even if its two or more feet deep.

Also, you can try running a line of barbed wire at the bottom of your chicken wire fence. That will keep burrowing critters out. Works with wild pigs and they are pretty persistent burrowers.

For diagrams and instructions on livestock fences please reference the following PDF document: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/nreos/wild/pdf/wildlife/COYOTES.PDF

Coyotes are not protected animals. Check your state’s Fish and Wildlife laws to see what is required to hunt coyotes. Some states do not require a license. Coyote are considered non-game mammals and can be taken at any time. In Ohio there is No closed season for hunting or trapping of coyote.

You want to let your flock free range but you have to ensure the safety of the birds. You can’t be upset with the coyote, it’s part of nature, part of farm life but what you do about it is up to you. If you shoot it, more will just take it’s place. I read once that a family had a dog to protect the flock but the coyotes were smart enough to lure the dog away and grab the chickens. It wasn’t until they got 2 Pyrenees dogs that the flock was safe.

Coyote Stats:
Weight: 15-45 lbs.
Length with tail: 40-60″
Shoulder Height: 15-20″
Sexual Maturity: 1-2 years
Mating Season: Jan-March
Gestation Period: 58-65 days
No. of Young: 2-12, 6 avg.
Birth Interval: 1 year
Lifespan: 15 years in the wild
Typical diet: Small mammals,
insects, reptiles, fruit & carrion

Coyote Facts:

  • Only 5-20% of coyote pups survive their first year.
  • The coyote can run at almost 40 mph and can get over a 8′ fence.
  • Coyotes can breed with both domestic dogs and wolves. A dog-coyote mix is called a “coydog.”
  • The coyote is more likely afraid of you than vice-versa.
  • Coyotes maintain their territory by marking it with urine.
  • Urban coyotes survive far longer than their rural cousins. A coyote living in urban Chicago has a 60-percent chance of surviving for one year, while a rural coyote has a 30 percent chance of living for another year.
  • Coyotes also do some good – they help control rapidly growing populations of Canada geese throughout North America
  • Coyotes are found in most of North America, except the cold Arctic tundra. Coyotes can adapt to most climates quite well.
  • Coyotes account for 65 percent of all cattle and calf losses to predators and 61 percent of sheep and lamb predation
  • The coyote is able to detect hunters coming from a mile away or even more.

Have you ever had any experiences with coyotes or other predators? How did you deal with it?

Here is a great link on how to protect your chickens from coyotes: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/coyote-chicken-predators-how-to-protect-your-chickens-from-coyotes

Ohh and thank you everyone for putting our blog past 800 followers. We are so very grateful!

Next Post, I’m going to go over the Poll from a few weeks ago, If you haven’t voted yet, Please do so: If you had all the land you wanted, what livestock would you keep?

Update: I think it might be a raccoon after all but I’ve already completed this piece on coyotes.

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We would like to thank Jim and Mary at Old World Garden Farms for featuring us in their story this morning. It’s really great what they’re doing. Please take a moment to visit their site.

You can read the article at their blog:

http://oldworldgardenfarms.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/tell-us-your-story-meet-the-soulsbys/

If you would like to share your “farm” story – drop Jim and Mary an email at info@owgarden.com

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Here’s a list of 10 Reasons why you should Own Chickens

  1. Fresh Eggs daily – Much better than store bought eggs. The egg white alone is about 33% more and it’s less expensive.
  2. Chickens have great personalities – Our favorite pastime is sit in the back garden with a couple of cold beers and watch the chickens (they look like miniature robots).
  3. Help out with the compost pile – Chicken poo is too hot (high in nitrogen to place directly onto growing plants) but it works wonder on your compost pile.
  4. They are very low maintenance – Easier than a cat or dog to maintain. Just top of their food and water them, clean the cage once in a while and collect eggs.
  5. You are One step closer to sustainable living – it feels good to have chickens, like you’re a real farmer
  6. Household leftovers are food for chickens – These birds eat just about anything. When I peel cucumbers or carrots or chop of mushroom stems, I save it for the chickens (along with fruit rinds and skins) everything but potatoes and garlic. Unless you want your eggs to taste like garlic.
  7. Save a chicken from factory life – Have you ever seen the crap-holes commercial chickens live in? Enough said.
  8. Pest prevention – These hens cruise around and eat up a slew of bugs like; slugs, snails, leatherjackets and more.
  9. When they get old and stop laying you can eat them – I haven’t done this yet and I’m not sure I can.
  10. Be the best neighbor on the block – I thought my neighbors would complain about the chickens but in fact, it was just   the      opposite. They bring them veggie scraps and their grandchildren rush over to see the chickens upon every visit and…..wait for it…. They all get free eggs.

My wife hated all birds and not because of the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds about a bunch of crazy birds attacking people in growing numbers. She was scared of birds cause she was chased by a Pelican when she was little. Poor thing. So, talking her into chickens was tough but she bore no responsibility so she really didn’t care. Besides, she liked fresh eggs.

  

I bought a book called “Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens” but you really don’t need it. It’s not hard. I mean this birds are the very definition of low-maintenance. Just go to your local feed shop (I always support local stores) or Tractor Supply and pick up the following (for a dozen or so hens):

  • 3 Gallon Drinker
  • 10lb Hanging Feeder
  • 50lb Bag of Egg Layer Pellets
  • 50lb Bag of Cracked Corn

and that’s about it. Find a local farm or look on Craigslist and pick up some hens. I love, love, love Golden Comets.

  

The Golden Comet Chicken is a sex linked cross breed created from a White Plymouth Rock hen and New Hampshire Red rooster. This breed has not been given recognition by the American Poultry Association.

They’re a great dual-purpose breed. Great egg layers and good for meat as well. Though I’ve never eaten one of mine.

Stay away from roosters! You don’t need them for hens to lay eggs, just to fertilize them. Roosters are mean and they sing, not just in the wee hours of the morning but day long. Hens are friendly little creatures that follow you around the yard eating unwanted bugs and fertilizing your yard at the same time.

Get some 12-18 month old chickens if you’re a beginner. They’re already laying and can adjust pretty quick and they’re pretty cheap (usually about $5ea.) If you’re transporting a dozen or so, you’ll most likely lose one because of the stress of travel.

I built a nest box out of some reclaimed or (repurposed wood) and a small area out of some old landscape timbers and a few rolls of wire fencing I found it the back of my barn. Chickens need a box to lay in and lay eggs in or else they’ll just lay them on the ground….then they’ll get broken then the other chickens will eat the eggs (since chickens are cannibals) and the last thing you want is chickens finding out what they produce is delicious. Then they’ll break them and eat them and you won’t have any eggs.

I rebuilt the roof of the coop this past summer with all reclaimed wood and shingles. What a chore and I did it on the hottest day of the summer fighting off a swarm of carpenter bees.

    

  

I let them out in the evenings to run around the garden and eat unwanted pests. At dusk, they just head back into the coop to roost and I close the gate. They like to sleep off the ground so I attached a small 2×2 to the spot in front of their nests. They feel safe up there.

  

So there it is. Go out and get some for your backyard. If you have any questions, just ask below in the comments and I’ll get back to you ASAP. Ohh and my wife…… she loves the chickens. She heads out there and feeds them and collects eggs and worries about them on cold winter nights.

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I had a terrible stomach flu all weekend. I was laid up the entire time. Hopefully, it’ll run its course and be gone by tomorrow. 103 temp and the works, Uggghhhhhhh! So, I wasn’t able to get things done on the farm I had planned.

  
Jo Jo named these two Barred Rocks the Olsen twins. They get out everyday and play around then jump back in at dusk to roost. They
are really funny. Best of friends…

  
Here’s a couple down shots I took while finishing the roof with Dave. You can get a good idea of the size of our little farm.

  
I got a hawk to watch over the garden. He’s supposed to scare away birds and other small critters but will it work? We’ll see. Here’s a pi of the flower garden at the fron of the house. Lee planted it all and did a fantastic job!
 
The family unit out side playing and a pic of cabbage

  
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