Posts Tagged ‘farming’

This little info graphic has been traveling around the web in the last few days and I wanted to jump on this bandwagon because our Farm is, above all, about Positive Change. The cost of fresh fruits and vegetables is outrageous as compared to something like Ramen or Hamburger Helper, both brands full of such crops as Corn, Soy and Wheat. How can an Economically sick America be expected to Eat Right when we are inundated by these cheap foods? Does anyone really wonder why 2/3 of America is Obese?

What if the White House grew what is truly America's Diet?


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I’m so glad everyone got to  meet our new Ducks and Chicks; Merry and Pippin, those are the two ducks, and Mrs.Winners and ‘No Name’ (we don’t know if its a hen or rooster yet!) our chicks. There growing so fast now! The ducks seemed to have lost their baby fluff completely and the chicks keep getting bigger and bigger every day!  Since There’s a lot of great info on the Internet on the care and keeping of poultry, we won’t go through the whole run down here but let me warn all of you before you decide on those cute little ducklings, they are a bit more complicated to care for then chickens. Their little webbed feet are very sensitive, they are Extremely messy eaters, drinkers, players, poopers…well, just about everything they do is messy, and their nutrition requirements are different then chickens.  Think about this before you start your backyard flock and things will go a lot smoother than they went for us! (let’s just say my poor floor got scrubbed about twice a day for two weeks until they were old enough to stay outside…glad it’s concrete)
Here are a few great sites to check out if your thinking of raising poultry:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/    – a great general resource for poultry

http://www.motherearthnews.com/home.aspx   – just type in chickens in the search box at the top of the screen.

http://www.newagrarian.com/category/ducks/   – a great blog about Raising Ducks, including a diary of development.

http://urbanchickens.org/   – thinking of keeping chickens in the city? Yes you Can do it!

Now let’s talk about happy birds! Treats to be exact! First of all, please don’t feed your birds junk food…pop tarts, cake, chips, etc are just not good for them, not even every once in a while! All of the treats listed here, however, are not only great for them, it’s a blast to watch them eat it too!

Collards are my bird’s favorite treat, they are absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals. Serve in their whole form when Ducks or Chicks are about 4 weeks old and watch them tear the leaves to pieces or, in the duck’s case, drag whole leaves into their swimming water to rip apart. 

Radishes, Turnips and Rutabegas are a fun treat for your chickens, grow them big and hang them whole in your coop at chicken head level. They love pecking at the Root until there’s virtually nothing left, just remove if they don’t get it all eaten before it starts to mold. This is a great way to supplement their winter diet and keep them moving during the sluggish months. Since ducks can’t peck, chop the root up into very small pieces and place in a pile near their water dish.

One way to provide a great treat all summer long is to hang a light a  little above the height of the birds right in the middle of the coop. The light will attract all sorts of yummy bugs (including mosquitoes), which the birds will then snatch right out of the air! Just be sure to create some sort of plastic covering or perhaps a metal screen cage over the bulb to protect it from pecking beaks.

Fresh grass clippings are great to throw in the coop. The birds will root and scratch to find bugs, seeds, flowers and plant material to eat. I’ve seen our ducks stick their heads in a pile right up to their necks to root around, they fling it everywhere, including on the unsuspecting chickens! You can leave the clippings in the coop, just make sure they don’t get moldy, Mold is especially hazardous to growing ducklings.

And, of course, we can’t forget bugs from the garden! One way to amuse a child for hours on end ? Tell them your chicks and ducklings love bugs! Crickets, rollie pollies, cabbage worms, grass hoppers, slugs, Japanese beetles, you name it, they eat it! Make sure your child knows not to grab any spiders, centipedes or scorpions! In fact, why not go bug hunting too? It’s great fun and every time you find a new bug, it could turn into an excellent educational experience…”ohhh! Look at this bug! It’s called a (insert cool bug name)” then watch your chicken chase it down and rip it apart! Ok, so maybe it’s a little morbid, but at least your ridding your garden of salad eating insects the organic way, right?

I hope everyone garnered some fun ideas from my little ramblings, I know I’m growing a giant radish just for my chickens right now! Have any yummy treat ideas for poultry? What are your chickens favorite food? We definitely want to know, so please comment below! (yay! I rhymed!)

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During my work in the garden today, my mind began to wander,(as it normally tends to do during garden work), and I began to formulate a list. Now many of you may not yet know my love of lists, but a single quote from a magazine pretty much sums it up; “I love lists…creating them, looking at them, and every once in a while crossing something off!” I can’t for the life of me remember who said this, but it has stuck with me. This particular list is called ‘Rules to Live by on the Farm’, a compendium of advice from  our experiences thus far.

1: Possibly the most important piece of advice, Always laugh in the face of failure, even if it happens again, and again, and again…..eventually you’ll get it right.

2: When you think you’ve got enough (hay, soil, compost, grass clippings, firewood…etc.) in your wheelbarrow, pile in more. Because you don’t have enough, believe me!

3: Never send hungry children to the berry patch with the intentions of baking a pie. What you will get instead of a full basket, is ten berries at the bottom of it and very sticky children with red, blue or black faces depending on the berry being picked.

4: The same goes for hungry adults, though they may try to wash away the evidence;)!

5: Always dress in many layers if work is to be done outside in the winter, Especially if you live in the south!

6: Never plant mint directly in the ground unless you really want a Minty fresh lawn (which smells wonderful when you walk on it, or mow it). One option is to bury a terra cotta pot in the ground to plant it in.

7: Celebrate the small accomplishments, they add up in the long run!

8: Always thank your cats for the disgusting offering left at your door step, it’s just common courtesy. If you chastise them, they’ll probably pee on your bed…they know which side you sleep on!

9: If you can’t afford a leaf shredder,  instead gather together a giant pile of leaves and several children given copious amounts of Halloween candy. This was my mom’s tried and true technique!

10: Never say, “well this should be easy!”.

11: Always make sure the goat pen (or chicken coop) is secure before you go to bed, otherwise you will be chasing goats and/or chickens for the remainder of the night.

12: Never leave rakes face up on the ground, and if you do, buy a video camera.

13: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Old wisdom usually holds true. (had to include this one)

14: Smile and wave at your neighbors whenever you see them, they’ll probably be your best customers!

15: And last but certainly one least, Never underestimate the power of pizza (or cookies) as payment! We renovated our house this way! Throw in a bonfire and some beer at the end of the night and your friends will work harder than if you paid them with money!

  As I said before, all of this comes from true experience. We really do have a Minty fresh lawn, we have been up all hours chasing chickens and goats, and the only way we stayed sane throughout the house building experience was by celebrating such small accomplishments as erecting one single wall. Though I’m sure this list will grow as our experience grows, I think were off to a pretty decent start! Does anyone else have any tried and true advice to contribute? Were always up for some tips!


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     Ladies and gentlemen, drum-roll please! I am pleased to announce that We now have, at our lovely off-the-grid home…..Running Water! That’s right, after two full years of turning on the gas powered generator to fill up about ten gallon sized milk jugs for drinking water a week, washing dishes by heating water on the wood stove, and taking showers and washing our clothes at an aunts house down the street, I can simply turn on the kitchen faucet and have instantaneous, crystal clear well water running freely for my drinking pleasure! Also, coming soon to a home near me, hot running water with no limits, courtesy of our propane powered tank-less hot water heater that’s been sitting behind the house since October! Oh the luxury…the convenience! Couple these amazing accomplishments with a working stove, oven and super efficient refrigerator and I’d say this has been a very prosperous week! All thanks to the fact that my dear fiancé Bear has worked his little behind off in the cold, the rain, and the dark to bring me all of the modern comforts of a regular home, wrapped in a cute little green package with a recycled bow on top…I must be marrying the most wonderful man on earth! Really, what more could I ask for? (aside from building a chicken coop, a greenhouse,a woodshed and a covered back porch, of course;)
   Alright, onto a separate, but equally amazing piece of news. After doing a little online reading, I recently came across an article from the staple homesteading and self sufficiency magazine ‘Mother Earth News’ (when I say staple, I mean I ordered a subscription as soon as I found out I would be living with no power or running water). The article proclaimed that half of the trash in landfills comes from new construction waste, over 136,000,000 pounds from America alone each year! The average 2,000 square foot home claims 8,000 pounds of that when built from the ground up. The implications of these figures took a second to dawn on me, but when it finally hit me I was floored! This means that since we renovated an existing structure, and saved every scrap of construction waste from our job site, we essentially kept over 8,000 pounds of waste from going to a landfill! Wow, what a pat on the back! I really can’t believe the numbers, when we started this whole project, it was out of necessity that we used every scrap of lumber, saved every bent nail, and bought only the exact amount of any material needed to finish it. Now, after all the hard work and struggle we’ve been through since October 31st of 2008, we get this metaphoric award and handshake for a job well done! And guess what? Seannakate, Juanita, Caleb and Jess, you too have each saved anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 pounds of construction waste from the landfill. How about all you readers out there who have bought an older pre-existing home, or built your home the no waste way? You too have rescued a heap of trash from the dump! How does that feel? Go ahead, give yourself a round of applause! And as for anyone on the market for a home, keep these figures in mind, purchase an older pre-existing structure, build with greener methods, and save those scraps because scraps saved means money saved in the long run! I did, after all, build an awesome raised garden bed out of scraps!
     Let’s keep the good news coming! If you own a home purchased or built in the manners listed above, we here at Winding Road Farm want to know how much waste you kept out of the dump. Here’s a simple way to find out: 1 square ft of newly built home usually yields about 4 pounds of construction garbage. Just multiply the square footage of your home by 4 to come up with the amount of trash you didn’t send to landfill mountain! Subtract any construction waste you did send off to get your final amount. For example, my home is 2100 sq ft., I multiply that by four and get 8400 pounds of garbage. During the two year period, we probably hauled off about 200 pounds of stuff I couldn’t figure out a use for, subtract that and I’ve saved 8200 pounds of trash from making a home at the dump!  Use this method to figure up your trash savings and leave a comment below…hey, maybe we should add it all up! Let’s keep a running tab, that way we can all congratulate each other for being such fine citizens! Remember, if your in the market for a home, keep these figures in mind, purchase an older pre-existing structure, build with greener methods, and save those scraps because scraps saved means money saved in the long run! I did, after all, build an awesome raised garden bed out of scraps!

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Can we keep all our New Years Resolutions?

   Well everyone, it’s a little late in the making but we’ve finally come up with our New Years Resolution list! We successfully completed last year’s resolution, finish the house! Now we couldn’t think of just one resolution this year, (which is why it took so long) because there is just soo much to be done! After much thought, we finally came up with just 7 goals:

1.Start a blog:  check! ahhh, it feels so good to check something off just 20 days into the new year, in fact I think everyone should have that kind of vote of confidence!

2.Become a No Trash Household:  This is going to be a tough one, and will probably take all year. After a particularly enlightening, and horrifying, visit to the local landfill last year, I’ve been upping my game on this whole trash business! Try as I might, however, it’s been very difficult. Out here in the country, we don’t have a recycling pick-up service like you lucky city folks. The nearest “recycling center” is about 15 miles away and consists of a paper bin, a plastic bin and what we’ve deemed the ‘mystery’ bin, so actual recycling will most likely be kept to a minimum. Look forward to a lot of Reducing and Creative Reusing posts in the next year. Maybe I’ll make a special page just for the No Trash Zone!

3.Go back to school:  Though we’ve been talking about it for a while, it looks as though we’ll actually go through with it…college. The other day we took a practice compass placement test online and realized that neither of us remembered a thing from high school algebra (which just happens to be my Least favorite subject), so it looks like we’ll both be studying before we even enroll…yay.

4.Start an Etsy business:  Another goal I’ve been throwing around for a while. I have a lot of ideas but for now I’m going to keep them under wraps, be ready for a surprise unveiling full of wonderful products! (I hope:)

5.Get married:  I guess Bear and I should finally tie the knot, I mean he did ask me in 2008! We’ve just had so much going on in the past two or so years and I told him that before I married him he had to build me an engagement house. Well the house is pretty much done and I think we’ve kept all our friends and family waiting long enough so let’s set a date, hmmmm…how’s April 30th for everyone? 

6.Finally start the farm, with animals and everything:  The past two years have pretty much been consumed with remodeling and learning. There was a lot of saying “well this has to be done before we start on that, and that has to be done before we do this…”, so I think it’s about time we start the ball rolling! We gotta get chickens, goats, and more guineas, plan out our gardens, plant the orchard and vineyard, start the herbs and insectary plantings, come up with a good irrigation system, the list goes on and I don’t know if we’ll get it all done this year but we have to start sometime! After all, it takes a while for fruit trees to start bearing and muscadine wine will wait for no man!

7.Keep all my New Years Resolutions!:  My seventh and final resolution for the year! Why doesn’t anyone ever make this resolution? It may seem kinda silly but I think it’s a pretty darn good goal! 

    That’s it folks! We’ve got a busy year ahead of us and many goals to work toward! (you’ll notice I’m not calling any of these plans, I’ve learned my lesson, thank you very much;) We’re going to need everyone’s support and good wishes and in turn we’ll send out lots of good energy to anyone who needs it! Tell us your goals this year, do you have similar resolutions? It’s never to late to make them, ya know!
     Whew! Looks like I might have to change the name of the blog to “How to start a farm, run a business and go back to college at the same time while keeping your sanity intact”! Oh well, here’s to a great new year!

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