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Big Garden Prep! Rotary Plowing Time!

Big Garden Prep! Rotary Plowing Time!

It's plowing time and of course I'm using my Gravely two wheel tractor!  This interesting implement is called the Gravely Rotary Plow and it is designed to create 8-10 inches of fine tilthy soil for planting in.  It has taken me a long time to tune this plow and make it work properly but I think I've got the hang of it now.  This thing is sort of like a post hole digger but with a shorter shaft.  It really did the trick!  Check out the video!

Chicken Flock Integration - Part 2

Chicken Flock Integration - Part 2

OK so that last video was actually shot a few days ago and even though it seems like a short time the flock is now fully integrated!  I removed the hoop house and let them get at eachother.  I was surprised to see that there was no rush to get close or imediate violence from the mature hens.  I did however begin to see some sparing and pecking but nothing terribly violent.  They still have separate quarters and water and food but the laying hens are taking advantage of the feed that belongs to the chicks.  There's nothing I can do about that now, they will just have to share.  My next goal is to get the chicks and mom into the larger coop and remove their small coop.  This is another delicate task that must be done at night.  I will forcibly remove the mom from the small coop and place her in the big coop.  Then I'll bring the chicks in to her one by one.  As long as they are together they should be ok.

Chicken Flock Integration - Part 1

Chicken Flock Integration - Part 1

It's time to start thinking about integrating my little chicken family of mother hen and four children into my other flock of four laying hens.  In fact it is from this flock that the mother hen originally came but she has been gone from that flock for 2 months and as a result has sort of lost her "status".  Chickens have a complex social order that must be worked out every time a group of hens get together and live in a group.  This is called a "pecking order" and we use that term regularly in our day to day conversation to describe essentially the same idea among people, co-workers, family etc.  So as soon as our broody left the coop to rear her young the four remaining ladies had to work out their pecking order.  Now that they've done that we're about to upset that pecking order by not only bringing back broody but also her four chicks!  This is a pretty big deal socially to a chicken and I had to to a lot of research before I plunged in here. 

Broody hen sheltering her chicks.

Broody hen sheltering her chicks.

This is just so incredibly endearing to watch!  Every now and then our broody hen sits down outside the small coop and "broods" (sits on) her chicks.  They come racing up and work their way under her one by one!  It's just so cute I had to share!

Big Garden Prep!

Big Garden Prep!

We are planning our biggest garden yet this year!  We are taking the two large grain plots and preparing them for ALL vegetables!  This is an important part of crop rotation.  I have already planted grasses here twice, first corn and then wheat/barley.  Now the land must have somthing else planted on it for a season or it won't be healthy in the long run.  We will be planting a few new crops this year, turnips, different varieties of potato, shell beans and sweet corn along with the traditional crops of lettuce, tomato squash etc.  The chickens are still in this area at the moment.  Their coop is inside the deer fence.  As we weed and dig the soil they come along afterward and show great interest in the holes we leave behind!  They're looking for bugs and anything else of interest.  As I get closer to planting I will have to move the chickens and their coop out of this area because they will eat every plant in sight if they're allowe

Jane's Garden Part 2

Jane's Garden Part 2

Jane put peas in the ground this weekend!  She did a very good job.  We used a little wood ash from our wood stove in order to add valuable potash to the soil.  She seemed to have a really good time!

Gardening with your children.

Gardening with your children.

We've been enjoying this freakish stretch of warm weather and just couldn't resisit getting out into the garden this weekend.  We have decided to give our youngest daughter, Jane her own vegetable plot to plant her very own garden in.   This is a great way to help your children feel invested in their own food production.  We asked her what she wanted to plant and then ordered seeds for her.  It is a little early to put plants in the ground but frost tolerant vegies such as peas can be direct sowed as soon as the ground is workable.  We also noticed that the garlic bulbs we planted last fall are sending up green shoots in all this warmth!  See this LINK for the video we did on that!  Enjoy the warm weather!