Battling Rain and Time

Allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine, and in particular her gardening blog….follow this link to Marlene’s page…Fresh Food Garden!

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty!

GARDENING

What gardening? It’s been raining, raining, and raining again. Each month we set a new all-time record for wetness.  Let me give you a couple facts which should tell you how dreary this winter has been.

Since October 1, over six months, we’ve had exactly three days that qualify as mild, meaning sunny and above fifty.

Since October 1, over six months, we have had a grand total of eight sunny days.  Eight!

Since October 1, it has rained 87% of the time.

My grandfather would say it feels like a cow pissing on a flat rock . . . all the time…there is no drying out.

So we finally had a dry day last Saturday, and I went out, squinted against the glare, and decided to use that day to turn over the soil and get the garden ready.

Wrong!

The ground is saturated.  The ground is clumpy.  The ground needs to dry out.

So now there is a sheet of plastic over the garden area, and hopefully in a week things will be better.

IN THE MEANTIME

In the meantime I started seeds in the greenhouse, so all is not lost.

In the meantime, a part of the garden is being cultivated by the chickens. All eight of them are out there right now digging and scratching and doing all kinds of good things.

And in the meantime, I have more than enough other things to do . . . like quail!

QUAIL

All the babies have been born.  Add them to the adults and we now have over 200 of our little birdy friends, and any day now I expect to see some eggs. They better hurry because the farmers markets begin May 3rd.  I’m in the process now of selling males since they are fairly worthless for our needs….just like most males, right ladies?

PULLETS

In the meantime, the 43 chicks we raised are now almost pullets, so we will be selling those in the next few weeks.  They were finally moved out of the garage and into the aviary/greenhouse.  The final step in the process will be to turn off the heat lamps and acclimate them to the outside temperatures, which we are doing now.  After that we can safely sell them.

Did you know that the eyes of a chicken are independent of each other? One eye searches for food while the other searches for predators.  Fascinating birds, chickens!

TEACHING A WORM CLASS

This afternoon, as a matter of fact, I’m going to be teaching a “How To Raise Worms” class to fourteen teenagers who are spending a week on a nearby farm.  Should be fun, a way for me to return to teaching without having to grade papers, and a way for the teenagers to learn about urban farming and making compost.

And I just had an order for four jars of worm tea at $5 per jar….I love little payments coming in from different directions.   I need to mix up a new batch of worm tea and also rabbit tea and sell those as well.

AND BEV

And my wife is busier than a one-armed paperhanger with crabs, as my dad used to say. She is ultra-busy as the new manager of the Tumwater Farmers Market, and she also works at the local urban farm and garden center.

It’s going to be a busy season!

Bill

Coloring and Learning Fun

Allow me to share with you my project of the last two months…The Urban Farming Coloring Book!

By yours truly!

I had a ton of fun with this project.  I think it’s something adults, and kids, and families, can all do together.

I didn’t want this to just be a coloring book.  I wanted it to be informational as well, so that’s why every “chapter” has information about one aspect of urban farming…how to raise chickens…how to prepare soil…how to compost…how to raise worms….and so on, with a corresponding coloring page.

It’s a great way to teach your kids about gardening/urban farming, something I am passionate about and something I think is very important for this next generation.  I firmly believe that, as a society, we need to get back to our roots.  We need to get our hands dirty.  We need to start raising “good” crops and not that GMO crap you find in stores.  We need to come together as a community and help each other, barter with each other, and share with each other.

So that’s why I created this coloring book.

It’s available on Amazon, and of course I’ll be selling it around the area at farmers markets and selected stores.

That’s all I’ve got for you today.  If you have a child, or a grandchild, or nieces or nephews, this is a fun activity that will also teach them something, and how cool is that?

Thank you!

Bill

Lacto-Fermenting Chicken Feed

Too busy for words!

That pretty much sums up life on our urban farm.

We have 43 chicks that need to go outside.  The only problem is it is still too cold to send them out to the aviary.  I’d like the temp to rise above 50 degrees for a few days, but so far Mother Nature is not cooperating.

Sigh!

Meanwhile, it’s getting crowded in the garage, because the 120 quail need the enclosure currently being used by the chickens.

Sigh!

It will all work out, but for now we have some unhappy birds.

I know how they feel.

And the garage stinks!

DO YOU HAVE CHICKENS?

If so, here’s an idea I ran across for fermenting their feed.

Lacto-fermenting feed has been used for literally thousands of years, but surprisingly few people in the United States do it.

Lactic acid bacteria, like the probiotics you find in Greek yogurt, are great for making chicken feed easier to digest, more nutritious, and it also helps to stretch your feed dollar a bit further.  Here’s how you make the stuff:

  • Measure out the amount your chickens will eat in one day. For adults this is about a ¼ of a pound of feed, per chicken.
  • Pour non-chlorinated water over the feed and mix thoroughly. You’ll want two or three parts water for one part feed when mixing.  You can do this in a big bucket.
  • Let that mixture sit for three days. By Day 3 you should see bacteria reproducing, giving off gasses, and you’ll see bubbles forming on the top.
  • Each day after Day 3 you will mix a new batch…on Day 3, pour the excess liquid on top of measured new feed; this will be the starter culture.
  • Feed the mash to your chickens daily in an open container.

And that’s all there is to it!

Trust me, it works.  Our chickens are very pleased with their new gourmet meal.

ANOTHER THING ABOUT CHICKENS

It’s about time for you to prepare the garden outside, right?

Why not let your chickens do the work for you?

Try this:

  • get a rototiller and turn over the area you plan on planting.
  • Turn your chickens loose on that area. You can cover the area with a homemade chicken tractor and put the chickens inside to ensure they will work the area you have planned.
  • Leave them there for a couple of days and watch the magic happen.
  • Remove the chickens and rototill one more time.

I guarantee your soil will be magnificent when the process is completed.

SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION

I finally published my Urban Farm Coloring Book. You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

THAT’S ALL I’VE GOT FOR YOU THIS WEEK

If you don’t have chickens, give some thought to getting some. They really are great birds to have in an urban environment, and those fresh eggs are to die for.

Just don’t start out with 43 of them in the garage during a prolonged rainy period.

And don’t get me started talking about Bev and her new job as the Farmers Market Manager…craziness!

Bill

Life is Popping Out All Over

chickens-41713-006My goodness it’s loud in this garage!

Forty-three healthy, hungry, active chicks tend to make a considerable amount of noise.

The sounds of life . . . I love it!

Add to that sound the sound of 150 quail chicks.

Let me tell ya, it’s noisy as hell in here.

And the worms . . . let me tell you about the worms!

WORM TEA

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I just need to do it again because, quite frankly, I don’t know why any gardener would bypass this opportunity.

I just made my first batch of worm tea yesterday.  The whole process consisted of emptying out the bottom of the tote into a jar. Total elapsed time, five minutes.  I now have a quart of the best natural fertilizer known to man . . . maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much.

The point is, I don’t do any work with these worms.  I toss in vegetable scraps after our meals, water the whole colony a couple times each week, and then sit back and let the little squigglies do their thing.

And they have already doubled, so I have enough to start selling, or I can simply start a new colony and gather up more worm tea and worm castings.

It’s all good, and the whole process takes up the space of a plastic tote.

THANKS TO A FRIEND

A friend of ours, Ian, came over and gave us some tips on pruning our berries, grapes, and fruit trees.  Ian works with Bev down at the farm & garden center, and the guy is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about gardening.  Anyway, he helped us out, we followed his suggestions, and now we are ready for a new growing season. Thanks, Ian!

It’s nice to have friends in high places!

UPDATE . . . three new quail babies while I wrote this much…they are a day early…such is nature!town_843

RABBIT TEA

I was feeling energetic yesterday so I also made up a batch of rabbit tea.  A couple shovels of rabbit poop in a bucket…add water…allow to steep overnight…five gallons of liquid fertilizer is the result.

NEWS FROM THE MEDITERRANEAN REGION

Evidently severe weather in Italy, Spain, and Greece has done damage to the olive crop, and that means that prices will skyrocket for olive oil about six months down the road.

I mention that only because, if you are like me and you believe in global warming, I think we are going to see quite a few stories like this one, and we will see quite a few more prices skyrocket among vegetables and fruits.

Which is one more reason to get involved with urban farming and big-time gardening.

SEATTLE

I mentioned this on Facebook but it’s worth mentioning here a well.  The city of Seattle is about to become the first major city in the United States with an edible forest in the downtown area.  Citizens will be able to walk along trails and eat nuts, berries, and fruit from the trees and bushes.

I don’t know how you feel about it, but I think this is a wonderful idea and I just wish more cities would get onboard and do something like that…it not only helps the homeless but it also moves a city that much closer to sustainability, and sustainability is something every community should be striving for.

Honestly, I don’t have much faith in the Federal Government.  I think if we’re waiting for the boys and girls in D.C. to take care of our needs, we are in a world of hurt.  What we need is more community involvement, and programs like this edible forest are the kinds of things that any town or city can do.  It just takes a devoted advocate willing to get the ball rolling.

Perhaps you are such an advocate?

AND SPEAKING OF BEING AN ADVOCATE

town_912Does your town have a farmers market? How about a community garden?  If not, how about you taking the reins of that horse and going for a ride?  Most times, things like a farmers market or a community garden don’t exist simply because someone hasn’t taken the time to get them started.  Are you an organizer?  Are you a coordinator?  Can you take a bunch of diverse people and bring them together for a common goal?  If so, what’s holding you back?  I’m full of ideas and suggestions if you are interested in starting either of these projects.

HOW’S YOUR SOIL?

That’s not too personal a question, is it?

If you haven’t amended your soil yet then you really need to get out there and do so. Good soil means good crops.  Bad soil means meals at McDonalds.  The truth according to Bill.random backyard pics 002

Compost . . . mulch . . . rabbit poop . . . that’s all you need.

Get busy!

GOTTA GO, MORE BABIES POPPING OUT

Sorry to cut this short but babies could care less about blogging.

I’ve got work to do!

And I didn’t even mention the Urban Farming coloring book I’m almost finished with.  Wouldn’t it be amusing and rather ironic if the coloring book far outsold my five novels?

Bill

Raising Mealworms for Hungry Chicks

chickens-41713-006GREETINGS FROM SNOWBOUND OLYMPIA

We don’t get snow often here in Olympia. We may be pretty far north on the globe, but the Pacific Ocean keeps our temperatures pretty moderate, so six inches of the white stuff is pretty unusual.

But life continues on an urban farm, snow or no snow, and there is a whole new set of problems associated with the snow on an urban farm.

Three times last night I went out and brushed the snow off the top of the aviaries where the quail are living.  It was either do that or suffer the consequences of a collapsed roof.

I also had to go out and make sure the water didn’t freeze up, and I shoveled a path for the chickens so they had a little pecking area outside their coop.  I don’t think the animals care, one way or another, whether it snows.  All they care about is having water and food, and that is my job.chickens-41713-014

WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE?

Forty-three chicks are now chirping up a storm in the garage.  Not one died in the first three days, so we did something right.

Three incubators are running properly, so the 160 quail eggs are progressing nicely.  In five days I’ll remove the eggs from the automatic egg-turner, and three days after that we’ll have a whole bunch of quail chicks.

The chickens will move outdoors in a month . . . the quail in two months.

And then it will be time for the farmers’ markets.

And so it goes!

MEALWORMS

If you raise chickens you really need to raise mealworms.  Mealworms are like caviar for chickens, and raising them couldn’t be easier.

Get yourself a plastic tote with a lid.  A ten-gallon tote is good enough to start with.  Cut a decent-sized hole in the lid and glue a fine screen over the hole for air-circulation.

Now put about three inches of wheat bran in the bottom of the tote.  You can use oatmeal, or cornmeal, or sawdust in the bottom instead, but I’m a big believer in wheat bran since the natural food of mealworms is wheat.

Next, buy 1,000 mealworms (you can find them on ebay or Craigslist) and dump them in the tote.  Slice off two or three slices of potato and put that in the tote for moisture.

And that’s all there is to it!

The mealworms will breed, and eventually larva will appear, then beetles, and then the cycle starts again, and your 1,000 becomes 2,000 in about a month, and on and on you go, a constant supply of treats for your chickens.

We keep our mealworms in the garage.  They don’t like cold temps, so a temperature of 60 degrees or higher is ideal…the warmer it is, the faster they will breed.  And don’t worry about the beetles escaping. They can’t climb up those smooth plastic sides . . . chickens also love eating beetles, by the way.

You can go to Youtube, of course, and you’ll find an endless supply of videos on how to raise mealworms, some different from my way, but my way works for me so there you go!

SO THAT’S ALL FOR NOW

It’s a busy time and I need to get moving.  Spring is coming!  I promise, it really is, so now is the time to prepare your garden tools and get them ready for the work ahead.  If you want to get a jumpstart on the growing season, build yourself a cloche or cold box and start planting seeds.

The chickens are calling me for their food. Gotta run!

Later, my friends!

Bill

Kicking It In Gear in February

HAPPY FEBRUARY TO YOU ALL

Totally illogical, but when February gets here, I feel like spring has arrived.

So I’m smiling as I type this.

Happy Spring to you all!

A little self-deception can do wonders for the winter blues.  LOL

BUSY TIMES HERE

Bev got the job she wanted, Director of the Tumwater Farmers Market.  This is a great job for her, right in her wheelhouse, doing something she loves doing, making contacts in the urban farming community, and spreading the word about the advantages of urban farming.  She is seriously pumped, and I am seriously happy for her.  Of course I’ll be helping her, doing the blogging for her, helping her with pamphlets and brochures, spreading the word about this movement we both believe in.

So congratulations, Bev!

CHICKS TO PULLETS

We struck up a deal with the Eastside Urban Farm & Garden Center here in Olympia.  We are buying forty chicks (at $3 each) and raising them until they are pullets (about four months old), and then we will sell them to customers for about $25 each.  That adds up to a tidy little profit.

I built a brooder in the garage where we will raise the chicks for the first month. After that we’ll move them out into one of the aviaries in the backyard for a month, and then out to our son’s farm for the final two months until we sell them.

RAISING MEALWORMS

Having all those chickens means feeding them, of course, and I’m all for cutting down on that expense, so I’m raising mealworms.  Very easy to do, for those of you willing to try something new.  Get yourself a ten-gallon plastic container and fill the bottom with three inches of wheat bran.  Order 1000 mealworms and put them into the container.  Add a couple potato slices for moisture, and then leave them alone.

Make sure you cut a hole in the lid of the container for fresh air, and cover that hole with some sort of mesh or screen.  It takes about a month for the mealworms to breed, lay eggs, go through the larva stage, and give birth to new mealworms.  Then they turn into beetles.  You then have a constant supply of mealworms and beetles for your chickens to eat.

It’s so easy even I can do it.

PRUNING

Bev was energetic a couple weeks ago, and went outside and did some pruning/trimming. She then put the pruned limbs on our brush pile in the backyard.

Yes, we have a brush pile in our backyard, and we have no intention of hauling it away to the dump.

Brush piles make great habitats for little critters and birds, and we are all about providing natural habitats for the critters and birds.  As an added bonus, our chickens like to hang out near the pile, where they are constantly treated to worms and bugs.

It’s a win-win situation for all concerned, except, of course, for the worms and bugs. J

TIME TO GET BACK TO WORK

Have a great week and enjoy the springtime in February!

Bill

The Chickens Are Coming!

It’s January 16th as I write this.  8:54 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (a little slow getting this posted)

I’ve already been outside getting fresh water to the critters and feeding them.  The current cold snap is coming to an end today.  Major rains are arriving tomorrow and already they are talking about potential flooding problems in the lowlands.

And life goes on!

All I know is THE CHICKENS ARE COMING! roosters-6313-001

Baby chicks go on sale February 3rd where Bev works at the Urban Farm & Garden Center, and we’re buying forty of them….then we’ll raise them for a couple months and sell them, hopefully, for a decent profit. Forty of them…in our garage…preparations must be made.

But you don’t really care about that, especially if you’ve never raised chickens.

But maybe you’re interested in raising them for the first time…what do you need to know in order for you to have fresh eggs for breakfast?

HOW LONG TO LAY

A chicken, on average, will start laying eggs at about six months.  I said on average. We have one who took eight months.  We have an over-achiever who started plopping them out at five months…but plan on six.

That means the chicks we get on February 3rd will start laying maybe in August.  We’ll probably sell them around June but still, if we wanted eggs, we’d be waiting until August.

WHAT WILL THEY NEED?

Well, they’ll need a brooder for a couple months. For us that means an enclosed area inside with a heat lamp where the chicks can grow up safe and warm.  Come about March we’ll put them outside in an enclosed place that has a well-ventilated and protected coop of some sort. There they will be able to search for bugs and enjoy a larger living space.

WHAT DO WE FEED THEM?

Well, we feed them organic pellets when they are older and when they are young we feed them organic pellets ground down into almost a powder.  Chickens also love worms, which I’m raising, and grubs, and once they get outside they love to search for their own delicacies.  When they get old enough we’ll turn them loose in the yard so they have more food choices and, no worries, at night they will return to their protected home.  Chickens are a lot smarter than you would think, or maybe they are just instinctual and I’m giving them way too much credit.  LOL

AND THAT’S REALLY ALL THERE IS TO IT

I’ve written articles before about how to build a coop, so no need to go into that now.  This is just a primer for those curious…and no, you do not need a rooster to get eggs.  Females lay eggs just like female women do, daily, with or without the aid of a male. J

MEALWORMS

Speaking of chickens, our mealworms are coming this Friday.  One-thousand of them.  I need to make their enclosure as well so we can start raising them. Great food for chickens, by the way.

QUAIL

The quail eggs are arriving next week as well.  I need to get the incubators ready for them….17 days to hatch…seven weeks after that they start laying eggs.

Busy times here!

GOTTA GO

It’s a busy time around here so that’s all I’ve got for you today.  If you have any specific questions about raising chickens, or quail, ask me in the comment section.

Have a great winter day!

Bill

Killing Time in a Deep Freeze

town_935Happy 2017 to you all, and thanks for coming back to our little urban farm.

We don’t do much gift-giving around our home.  A partial reason is because we are frugal, but another reason is because we figure we have everything we need to be happy, so why clutter things up with more “stuff” that we really don’t need?

Having said that, Bev and I did get one gift each, and my new gift was a jig saw.

And this boy is excited!

It’s pretty funny, really, because growing up I couldn’t care less about power tools.  They intimidated me, to tell the truth, but I also had baseball to occupy my time, and everyone knows baseball is more important than cutting pieces of wood, right?

But now I love them!  I love my circular saw, and my power drill, and my reciprocating saw, and now I love my jig saw, and my head is swimming with ideas, what I want to make, how I want to use it to finish projects around the place . . . it’s the perfect toy for this aging boy!

WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE?

Well, for one thing, it’s cold.  No, not cold by North Dakota standards, but for us pampered Northwesterners, it’s still cold.  I have no desire to be outside, but that doesn’t mean I have nothing to do.  I’m working, this week, on organizing the garage, making room for the quail incubation process, which will begin in another month.  I’m building shelves and I’m going to build a workbench so I have a place inside to play with my new jig saw.  A boy and his toys, right?  Anyway, I’m doing the indoor chores now so that when it warms up I can take my act outside where more work is waiting for me.

There’s always something to do, and it beats watching reruns of Alaska Bush People.winter-in-my-little-slice-of-heaven-017

TAKING CARE OF THE CRITTERS

No matter how much I try to avoid it, I do have to go outside.  Every morning at six I’m outside giving fresh, unfrozen water to our critters.  For whatever reason, they balk at drinking solid ice. Silly animals!

We’ve cut our quail flock down to a dozen, and we’ll use them in the spring for breeding.  Along with those dozen we’ll incubate about 100 new quail, and after six weeks or so we’ll introduce them to the existing dozen, and then we start collecting eggs.

CHICKENS AND EGGS

For whatever reason, one of our new hens is suddenly laying eggs.  She’s the only one of our eight that’s laying, and I have no explanation for it other than the fact that chickens are unpredictable regarding laying habits.  If you have chickens I’m sure you’ve found that to be true.

When will the rest of them start laying? Your guess is as good as mine, but probably sometime in March.

I don’t know if I mentioned it, but we lost three chickens a couple weeks ago to raccoons.  It was our fault completely.  I wasn’t quick enough to get out there and lock up their coop.  The weather was cold, and when the weather is cold the raccoons get an early start on their nighttime hunting.  By the time I realized I had forgotten, we had three dead chickens.

Lesson learned. A painful lesson but a lesson learned.

FARMERS MARKETS

Our local markets start up again in March and April, and we’re already getting ready for them.  I’ll be working the next couple months on making some new items to sell along with our quail eggs and the goat cheese made by our son-in-law.

And Bev is waiting for her interview for a job she applied for….director of the Tumwater Farmer’s Market…exciting times if she gets that job….so cross your fingers and wish good thoughts for her.

SPEAKING OF COLD WEATHER

While we’re on that topic, there’s a great article by Mother Earth News about keeping water from freezing outside for your animals. I’m going to try it this week.  Check it out.

THAT’S IT FROM OLYMPIA

Stay warm, be safe, and have a fantastic week!

Bill

Localism and Community

town_935WINTER HAS ARRIVED

I know, what we have for a winter isn’t much, relatively speaking, but for us mild-weather nerds in Olympia, this has been a cold one so far.  Snow last week and so far a cold December.  This is news if only because we haven’t had a serious snowfall since 2012.  Our chickens are almost three-years old and they had never seen snow up until last week so yes, this is an unusual winter for us.

Looking back, when I was a kid, back during the Ice Age, we would have major snowstorms every winter. In fact, as a pre-teen, that’s how I made some spending cash, going around the neighborhood shoveling sidewalks and driveways.  But times are changing, aren’t they?  And things will never be the same!

THE BIGGER PICTURE HERE AT OUR URBAN FARM

The bigger picture can be summed up in one word: community.

Listen, I’m as upset and worried about our world as the next guy.  I don’t go online and flood the social media with my concerns, but I am, most definitely concerned.  I want to change things, make things better, but doing that on a global level is a bit out of my reach.

But I can change my community.  I can work towards the philosophy of localism.  I can make a difference here in Olympia, Washington, and that’s really what this blog, and our urban farm, are all about.

I am fed up with huge retail chains and all-powerful corporations, so I shop locally whenever possible.  I’m fed up with the complete disregard for the environment, and the waste of natural resources, so I’m doing my little part to counteract the damage that has been done.  And by writing this blog, and sharing my thoughts with you, it is my hope that I can inspire some of you to follow my lead.  I’m not selling a thing; I’m not forcing my ideas upon you; I’m simply showing you how we live and hoping some of it resonates with you.

And that, somehow, takes us to worms.

I’m going to give you a brief primer on worm tea and worm castings, and then I’m going to talk about something I think is important for all urban farmers and gardeners to hear.

WORM TEA

If you take worm castings (see below) and mix it with water and a bit of molasses, you get worm tea.  You can find it on sale at select gardening shops.  Great stuff for your garden and indoor plants.

WORM CASTINGS

Worm castings are, to be blunt, worm poop.  It’s what is left over at the bottom of your worm bin after the worms have eaten all the food you gave them.  It is superior fertilizer/compost/whatever you want to call it.

AND NOW, MY MESSAGE

Spread the word!

Talk to your neighbors. Spread the word about urban farming.  Carry on conversations with others about it.  Share ideas.  If you don’t currently garden, start small but most importantly, get started.  Turn off the television, go outside, and plan next spring’s garden.  Read up on new techniques.  Form a community garden.  Form a community seed exchange.

Do something!  We all benefit from this movement.

HOW ABOUT RABBIT POOP TEA?

I was thinking about worm tea the other day and I wondered if maybe making rabbit tea from rabbit poop was possible.

Turns out quite a few people already do it.

Take a gallon of rabbit poop (no problem for us), mix it with four gallons of water, let it sit for a couple of days, and you have an excellent liquid fertilizer, all-natural, flowing with nutrients.  Of course, you can scale down the size of that recipe…just think one part poop to four parts water, and give it a try.

A SHOUT OUT

I like to support other blogs when possible.  Here’s one I recently found, No Harm In Farming.  Give them a look and see what you think.

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I’ve got things to do, so I need to leave you for now.

Have a wonderful and blessed holiday season!

Bill

Winterizing Your Urban Farm

winter in my little slice of heaven 017Look at me, posting twice in December.  A trend?  I doubt it, but hope springs eternal.

So, we had our first snow. We don’t get much snow here in Olympia. In fact, we haven’t had any for two years, so this morning’s dusting was kind of unexpected.  Of course, an urban farmer’s first concern with snow is always the welfare of the farm critters.  Ours were fine this morning, but we do have some cold temperatures coming, so I’ll have to make sure the water bowls stay free of ice for the next few days.

RACCOONS

Hey, I can’t get mad at raccoons. They’re animals too, and they’re just doing what they do naturally, which is look for food as the weather turns nasty and winter settles in.  They got a good meal from our three chickens last week, but that will be quite enough of my generosity.  There were three in our yard last night and I greeted them warmly with my BB gun and some colorful phrases.

QUAIL

We butchered eighteen of them last week.  Actually Bev did, but I’ve done it before and I can say, without hesitation, it’s not enjoyable.  Anyway, eighteen butchered, and fourteen scheduled to be purchased this week, so we are getting our numbers down to a manageable level as winter arrives.  We’ll probably sell off twenty more and then when February arrives we’ll hatch some eggs and build the flock back up in time for egg-laying season in April.

WORMS

Several of you have asked me about this worm-raising venture, so let me give you the highlights on how easy it is.  Mind you, right now we are just starting out, but the way worms grow in number, we should have quite a few of them in two months.  After I get comfortable doing this I’ll turn my attention to raising meal worms as well as the red wigglers.  All of them can be sold, and the red worm tea and worm castings are easily sold to gardeners.

So, how to raise red wigglers?

Follow this link to the WSU Extension and they can tell you just how easy it is.

If you’re looking for a great natural fertilizer, look no further than worm tea or worm castings. Great stuff, right up there with rabbit pellets.

COLD WEATHER

Sheez, how about 19 degrees last night?  Here’s the thing about having critters during the winter: they rely on you, the owner, to provide for them.  Water freezes at 19 degrees.  I know, right? Shocker alert!  So that means hopping out of bed in the morning and braving those temperatures to get your animals some water that isn’t frozen solid.  That’s what I did this morning, and it was cold as hell, and the animals loved me for it.

Sure I could buy those heating pads that keep water from freezing over the winter, but I’m of the opinion that those pads are for wimps and hey, Daddy didn’t raise no wimp.  J

Bottom line message to you all: take care of your animals in the cold weather.  Make sure their water is not frozen, and spread some hay in their enclosure so they can burrow down into it and stay warmer.

THAT’S ALL FOR NOW

I’ve got things to do in preparation of today’s snow, so I have to go. Have a great weekend and I’ll catch you down the road of life.

Bill