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

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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