chickens, garden and h.o.w. tshirt 009I’m sitting here waiting to hear the Iowa caucus results, so that gives me a little time to write to all of you.

Happy February from our little urban farm!  I don’t know about all of you, but I rejoice when February arrives.  For those of us in the Pacific Northwest, February means longer days, more sunlight (when we actually see the sun) and getting serious about preparing the garden for planting.


One thing, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, that we want to try this year is straw bale planting.  Straw bales have been used as a planting medium for hundreds of years, but just recently they have caught on with the western world….the process is catching on and becoming the “in” way to plant.

For those of you with limited space, or for those who have a hard time bending over to garden, straw bales just might be an answer you can live with.

The process is fairly easy.  Keep in mind I’m talking about straw bales and not hay bales.  Planting in hay bales will give you more weeds than plants in the long run.

The first thing you need to do is buy some straw bales; place them in your yard where you want to plant and start preparing them.  This process involves watering the bales daily and sprinkling fertilizer and compost on them.  Do this for about two weeks.  Once they have been prepared, scoop out a hollow in the bale about three inches deep, fill it with potting soil, and plant your plants.  Then all you have to do is water it like any other garden.  Whether it sounds crazy or not, I have it on good authority (our gardening expert at the local farm supply store) that this works and works well.


I’ve mentioned this before but let’s talk about it again.  On our farm, we are not willing to spend money when we are fully capable of building what we need.  I’m talking about compost bins, chicken coops, aviaries, wood sheds, even garden sheds, all have been built by Bev and I and trust me when I tell you, we have very few carpentry skills….but what we lack in carpentry skills we more than make up for with a willingness to learn and try.

Everything we have built we have built with a circular saw, a power drill, a hammer and a screwdriver.  Admittedly, our first attempts looked a bit ragged, but we have gotten to the point where we now can build things that actually look good in the yard, and you can do it too…..if you want to save money, learning to make do with what you have, is essential.


Well, this past month we bought a new incubator, so now we are ready for an egg-incubating process that should net us about 250 new quail chicks each month.  It takes seventeen days to incubate an egg, so 250 is about our max with the equipment we have.  The other eggs will be sold as is, either to people who want fertilized quail eggs or people who simply want the eggs to eat….and in a month’s time, with the quail we have, we are talking about 1500 eggs to sell.town_642

How long will the quail lay eggs? They will start about the first of March and lay eggs until September, so you do that math.  Quail eggs sell for $3 per dozen, and baby chicks sell for $3 each.  Again, you do that math.


I was looking at an old ad from World War 2, produced by the United States government, encouraging people to raise chicken as part of the war effort.  I see this country moving back in that direction.  Believe me, once you taste an organic chicken egg from your own hens, you’ll never again eat a store-bought egg.

And now the caucus results are on, so I’ll bid you farewell for this installment.  Have a great February!



8 thoughts on “February Musings from Our Urban Farm

  1. It was an interesting night at the caucuses, that’s for sure. Like the rest of the state, my precinct was a pretty even split between Hillary and Bernie supporters. I may have to experiment with straw bale gardening, too. And when I told my husband I wanted a new chicken coop this year, he suggested that we try building it ourselves. So that should be an interesting challenge.

    I always look forward to seeing what you have going on around the urban farm. Thanks for the update.


  2. Thank you Deb! The Iowa caucuses are a bit hard for many of us to understand, but I’d love to sit in on one and just observe.

    Good luck with the new chicken coop. As you know, we built ours in one afternoon…it’s not really that hard to do.


  3. Who cares for caucus results when more important issue is involved.!? A farming, – urban farming given free ideas of straw bales ( never heard before ) and exciting production of new quail chicks. Once again you brought to my memory living through the same exciting period of life on farm working, being free and happy..
    Buy the way, as you are joining peaces of lumber at the crucial point of construction, use screws instead of nails , you would have more sturdy structure.
    Have a blessed success my friend.


  4. Thank you Michael my friend. Only those who have worked the soil and built with their hands would understand….and I do prefer screws, for that reason. Thank you as always, and blessings to you.


  5. Hi Bill, I currently don’t have any straw bale gardens but have been considering it. We have some old iron water tanks cut in half for new vegetable garden. One is full of soil and compost but the other still empty, and I was considering filling it with straw.
    I know this works as we had straw bale gardens at a community garden I used to be part of. Good luck with selling all thos baby quail and eggs. Sounds like a good little side business.


  6. Thanks John! It’s always good to hear from the voice of experience. As for the quail, we are having a quail revolution in our area. We can’t hatch them fast enough for all who want them. 🙂


  7. Good post, Bill. Fertilized eggs? I’m not well versed in egg management, so I’m wondering…might the customer be in for a nasty shock when he cracks it open to make an omelette? I’ve heard some scary tales in the past.


    1. Zulma, it’s a logical question and one asked often. If everything worked out just perfectly, the perfect storm if you will, it would be possible….but so highly unlikely as to be insignificant odds. Yes, it could happen, but it would be, and has been, a freak of nature occurring. 🙂 We’ve never had it happen in almost three years, but I have heard the horror stories.


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