Sunday, February 26, 2012

Growing Chicks...and Projects!

4 week old Buff Orpington
They grow so fast! They are four weeks old this week and are starting to get a lot more feathers. They also outgrew their pen in the house and have now been moved into the barn.

I have a few projects I am hoping to get started on and share with you guys. One is a chicken tractor, once the weather calms down. It has been insanely windy these past few days! If I were to get out the chicken wire right now, it would probably fly away. I have the basic design in my head, now I just need to get the supplies.

Another project I want to work on is a more permanent brooder pen for the chicks, and the batch of meat birds I am planning on getting in a couple months. I moved the pullets into a large dog kennel which is working for the time being, but it tends to lose a lot of shavings. I will want something less messy for the next batch.

The project that DH and I have been pondering on lately is how we are going to fix the greenhouse. We had it mostly fixed a couple weeks ago. All of the panels were back in place, and ready to go...until this wretched wind kicked in! I think DH has a couple good ideas on how to keep them in place. Once we get that fixed I'll post some pics. Hopefully we get it done before I am ready to start seeds next month. (Which is approaching very fast!)

One project that I just briefly mentioned, is the meat birds. I have been wanting to butcher our own birds for a long time now. I have been tossing around the idea of Cornish Crosses. Their tendencies for so many health problems have been my main drawback. On one hand, I think if I get them, there's no way I can "chicken out" (no pun intended) and just keep them alive. It is very rare for them to live a quality life past butchering age.

On the other hand, my goal is sustainability, right? So why go into something that isn't sustainable? So in that instance, I have been considering just getting a batch of cockerels. Perhaps White Rocks or something similar. Either way, I really want to supply my family with fresh, homegrown, pasture-raised chicken. The stuff I get at the store turns my stomach.

What is your opinion on Cornish Crosses? Are they really some creepy mutant chicken, or simply a way to enjoy fresh homegrown chicken sooner?

This post is linked to:
Homestead Revival Barn Hop 51

Monday, February 13, 2012

Changing Things Up!

Normally I try to do one large garden or two smaller ones. In the last couple years, I haven't been able to keep up with the weeds and towards the end of the season (or middle like last year) I tend to get overwhelmed. I keep telling myself that this year will be different since I don't have to deal with all the wedding stuff I did last year. Even so, I still have a feeling that it would end up the same way.

For that reason, I am trying something different this year! That's what gardening is all about right? Experimentation until we find something that works well for us? I've decided my main problem is having too much space in between the plants (which results in a lot of weeds). My plan is to create small beds for a few certain plants that I am growing. Most likely I will have two pepper and tomato beds, spaced far apart. Like hundreds of yards apart. I am hoping to save seeds for the first time from these and I have more than one variety for both of these plants.

I am also going to make one small area for my green beans to climb a trellis. I am trying out pole beans for the first time. I normally go with bush beans, but I felt like being adventurous!I am also going to make another small bed for my cucumbers and zucchini. Lastly, the spinach might just go into some pots on the porch! If you can't tell, I don't have everything completely planned out just yet, which is completely the opposite of what I normally do. Normally, by the end of January I have every plant laid out on graph paper. Oh well!

Here is the list of varieties I chose to plant this year. My original list was much longer! I had to keep reminding myself to only order what I could keep up with! I also have a few different varieties that I will be starting for my mother-in-law (not listed). I can't wait to see how they all do.

Bean, KY Wonder Pole
These are the herbs that I chose. When I was a kid my mom had a wonderful herb garden. I loved going out and getting fresh Oregano when she was cooking. I have been wanting to plant my own for while, so this is the year!  I can't wait to make some amazing homemade pesto!

And a couple flowers just because they're pretty :) The Hollyhock is going next to our "outhouse" garden shed!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Week in Pictures

In my Business Development class I am creating a business proposal for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture. So far it has been a great learning experience. A portion of it is due this Sunday, so no time for a (substantial) blog post. But, I can leave some pictures...

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sammy Went Home Today

I received a message from Sam's owners today and he has gone back to be with his owners. We will miss him, but now we be searching the animal shelters for a new companion!

Friday, February 3, 2012

How to Get Rid of Skunk Odor

To go along with my introduction to Sam, I thought I would also share a skunk odor tamer recipe! Several people recommended the traditional tomato juice, but after some internet research it seems that this recipe works better:

Skunk Musk Tamer
In a pitcher, mix:
1/4 cup baking soda
Several squirts of Dawn dishwashing liquid
and lastly, a couple cups of vinegar

Only add the vinegar when you are ready to put it on the dog. In fact, this mixture cannot be made ahead of time because of the baking soda and vinegar. It will explode!

With the dog in the tub, pour all over the dog and scrub in. We left it sit for a while and rinsed. We had to repeat this the next day.

Do be careful about how often you bathe the dog with this. After two application, Sam's skin really started to dry out. I would use it to get the oils out, then try a commercial skunk scent remover. The commercial stuff was actually easier on the skin.

I am not sure how long he had been sprayed, but I am certain it was not nearly as bad as it could have been! So I cannot attest to how well this works on a fresh, directly sprayed dog.

I call it a skunk spray tamer, because it does just that. While it doesn't remove the smell 100%, it does get rid of the oils. By getting rid of the oils, it prevents everything the dog (and you) touches from smelling like skunk.

There will still be a residual smell lingering and since I have my mother's super nose, we also bought "Skunk Kleen"and this helped immensely! I was able to find this at my local pet shop. After one application, it no longer hurt my nose to pet Sam!

Good luck!

This post is linked to:

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

Spring Chicks and A New Family Member

About a week ago I placed an order for 15 Australorp pullets, 5 Buff Orpington pullets, and 3 Buff Orpington males. I have been patiently waiting for an email stating when they will ship. Okay, so maybe I was getting a little anxious! So I went onto the website this morning and they're sold out until May! It could be a while before I get my chicks. Hopefully it won't be that long since I placed the order before they were sold out.

In other news...we have an addition to the family! Sunday night, my parents found a little hound dog cowering in the middle our driveway. Reeking of skunk. They already have two indoor dogs, so guess who ended up taking him?

It started out as just a foster. The local animal shelter is so full they can't take anymore, so I knew taking him there wasn't an option. But by the end of this week, after several baths and an investment in "Skunk Away", he had cuddled next to me every single day while I work on my homework and grown on us.

 So, his new name is Sam. We think he is a beagle/dachshund mix.

Did I mention he hates his picture taken? This is the only full body shot I have been able to get. The rest of the time he is an inch from the camera lens!
Yup, a little ironic that his favorite toy is a skunk!

He will be headed to the vet in the morning to get his leg checked out. He has a limp when he runs, but other than that it doesn't bother him. He will also be getting neutered, but don't tell him that...

Now honestly, I always said we wouldn't have an indoor dog. I'm more of a cat person. Not that I don't love dogs. I have my German Shepherd, Sugar, but she is more suited to be outside. I've always leaned towards bigger dogs. But this little guy has done great so far. I especially like the fact that he doesn't bark at all! Yet anyway!

This post is linked to:
Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!