The Farm is Growing!!!!!

Welcome back to our urban farm. My goodness, the weather turned mild and nice and that meant all those jobs I postponed while it rained suddenly needed my attention.  In other words, this old man has been busy.

Shall we take a walk? I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing while we walk.

NEW CHICKEN COOP

town_855I can’t leave Bev alone for five minutes.  She ordered four new Silkie chickens when I wasn’t paying attention, so now those little darlings are under the heatlamp growing strong in our garage.  If you aren’t familiar with Silkies, I’ve got a picture for you.  Their feathers are “silky” and they are probably the friendliest chicken among all the breeds.  Their eggs are a bit smaller than other hens, so that’s the downside, but they are also quieter than other breeds, so that’s a plus for sure….and they are so cute and cuddly!!!!!town_866

So the new chickens require a new chicken coop.  You can see how far I am on it…..this one will serve double-duty because we are going to get a couple “running ducks,” and they will share the coop with the Silkies.  The ducks will have the downstairs and the Silkies will live upstairs in this fowl townhouse.

Update: we just bought two runner ducks…I was holding them on my shoulder last night where they burrowed for warmth…melt my heart!

EGGS, WE’VE GOT EGGS

This past weekend I built a stand from which we’ll sell our farm-fresh organic eggs, both chicken and quail.  You can see the stand in the pic to the right.  We are getting about three dozen quail eggs each day right now, and in a month or so we’ll be up to about eight or nine dozen per day.  They will sell for $2 per dozen from our stand out front, so you do that math.  Doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but nine dozen per day is $18 per day, and multiply that by 30 and it’s a nice residual income each month…..and my son is interested in finding us some restaurants where we can sell them at five bucks per dozen….so things are falling into place on that front.

The new egg stand
The new egg stand

Do we need a license to do so?  A business license for sure…a special $30 addition to that license if we sell to restaurants.  We’ll see!

A word about raising birds for eggs: yes, you can extend their laying season with artificial light…in fact, they will lay year-round by doing so…but…you also shorten their lives.  It’s a decision you, the bird owner, has to make. We choose to not do that.

Also, quality of life will affect the egg productivity.  Put birds in cramped conditions and the productivity will drop. Give them room to roam and it will increase.

We are all about quality of life here on our farm.

PETTING ZOO

Bev recently quit her full-time job as a merchandiser and I applauded her when she did that.  She wants to start a traveling petting zoo that she will take to schools and kids’ parties, so as I type this she is busy doing research and obtaining licenses and insurance. Exciting times for Bev because she has wanted to do something like that for years….and now it’s happening.  I’m proud of her.

NEW CABIN

town_861Here’s a picture of the shed/cabin in our backyard.  At one time or another several of our kids have lived in it, and I used it as a writing studio for a couple years.  Starting next month we will be renting it out, and we love that idea so much we are building another one and renting that out as well.  Because they don’t have foundations we don’t need building permits for them, and we can still rent them as housing for about $400 or $450 per month.  We got our first renter last week and she will be moving in shortly….and my son is going to be renting the other.  Exciting times and changes are happening around here.

Bev has two sons who are carpenters, so they will be doing the work on it…..for them it’s easy peasy. For me it would be a nightmare.  I can build a chicken coop. I can’t build a cabin.  End of story!

NEXT UP

The garden is next on the agenda.  The hay bales have been prepared with natural fertilizer (blood meal) and they’ve been soaked, so they are ready for planting. In fact we already planted potatoes in the one, but we will plant seeds in it as well this weekend….and we put hay bales in the new aviary as well, so we need to plant those too.town_859

My son will be doing some gardening once he moves in, and the other renter wants to do it as well, so we have that going on, and the front yard has about fifteen berry bushes growing, and we are slowly killing off the lawn with cardboard and hay, so all is going according to plan.

AND THAT’S IT FOR NOW

I could tell you more but honestly, the sun is out and I need to be out there working. Too much to do and so little time.

Thanks for dropping by our little farm.

Bill

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April on the Mini-Farm

The sun gods are smiling upon us here in Olympia on this first day of April and I only have one thing to say…..IT’S ABOUT TIME!!!!!!!!!

To say that this was a wet winter would be the understatement of all-time….in fact, all-time is accurate, because it was, in fact, the wettest winter in recorded history, and that’s saying a mouthful for our neck of the woods.

So outside we headed and the first announcement I have for you is the new aviary (or, as Bev likes to call it, quailary) is finished.  As you can see from the pictures, it looks pretty good considering my carpentry skills are just above novice.  It ended up a half-inch off square and quite frankly, for me, that’s perfect.town_849

And the aviary is up at the perfect time because, as you can see from the pictures, the first babies of the year are with us.  We will sell half of them and keep half of them as egg-layers.

So let’s talk a bit about quail.

EGG-LAYING MACHINES

If any of you are serious about having an urban farm, then you really need to get serious about quail.  We absolutely love them.  They are entertaining, they take up very little space, they are easy to clean up after and they produce the best eggs known to man.

Why wouldn’t you raise them?town_843

So right now we are getting about forty eggs each day….that will increase to over one-hundred in the next few weeks.  We have three incubators going, so that’s a whole lot of babies each week…and the excess eggs will be sold to neighbors, friends and restaurants.

If you are just starting out with quail, a word to the wise: they are completely defenseless birds, so make darn sure your enclosure is critter-proof.  In other words, learn from our mistakes.  A weasel can get through a hole that is two inches in diameter, so plan accordingly.

CHICKENS

We are proud of the fact that our original six hens are still alive and laying after two years. That’s miraculous considering the mistakes we made starting out.  Having said that, we almost lost one to a raccoon last week.  I was on the couch reading about ten at night when I heard one of the hens clucking like crazy…that’s an immediate warning because we never hear them after we lock them in their coop….and for those of you thinking ahead, you know what the problem was…we forgot to lock them in their coop that evening.  Daylight savings time has really screwed me up with regards to things like that.

Anyway, a coon got into the coop and Butch was the first chicken to run for it and luckily the raccoon followed Butch out into the yard.  If the coon had just stayed in the coop he could have killed the other five easily because they were just hanging out on the roost.  So the sounds I heard were the coon nipping at Butch.  Luckily I got out there fast enough and all Butch lost were all of her tail feathers.  No other injuries other than a bruised ego (for me, not Butch).  Lesson learned!

A side note: the other hens are treating Butch with a bit more respect now since she saved all their lives.

THE GARDEN

We are woefully behind on the garden. The good news is the last frost probably won’t be until late April. That’s the only thing saving us right now, but we better get it in gear quickly.  I’ll keep you posted on the hay bale garden as soon as I have something to report.town_836

AND THAT’S IT!

More in a week or so, as time allows.  Have a great April!

Bill