Do you see the irony here? Pretty funny because now I live on one acre in the middle of town and have limited space and now I want to do those things that I grew up with endless space for. Ironic. So, now without having any experience we are trying to figure it out. Well, I have been. Cody is just getting on board. Last year he started taking part in more of it even though his interest is not really in it. This year he seems to be interested. I think it was good for him to realize how much we benefited from the harvest over the past several months. I think he had to see some of the rewards to appreciate the journey. So, this year we are plowing up more dirt and looking at it from a different perspective. It is more about sustainability. What would we need to be able to do if we ever had to provide for ourselves. All the creatures we have now have to have more purpose than just ""science" for our kids and a bunch of eggs. That's all fun, but I told my husband it is too much work and we are spending too much money on it. This is the sort of discussion that led to the first culling of the duck flock.
All that being said, I will try to detail what we have going on:
I will start with the garden areas.
- We are using what we learned last year about where the sun falls on our property and trying to plan with that in mind. We have a small garden patch by our house that is currently planted with two types of potatoes, two types of onions, and a wheat patch. The wheat is an experiment from some wheat that spilled and got dirty. It is growing well and is already about 6 inches high after only two weeks.
- We will be tilling up a bigger garden in our back quarter (that is the back of our lot that is a 1/4 acre that we purchased a few years back). This will be a variety of vegetables.
- I will be putting in a long narrow garden, as well.
- I am considering doing a raised bed corn method that I saw at a local Expo.
- For fun I am considering planting a long row of sunflowers that will also provide a natural boundary on one portion of our property. We have some neighbors that are bothered by our chickens (and everything else we do), so we might add a simple fence.
- I am trying to use all organic methods and heirloom varieties, as well.
- Currently, we are working on adding various fruit trees. I have seven blueberries (four different varieties), two apple trees (two varieties) , a plum tree, two pear trees (two varieties), three grape bushes (3 varieties), a peach trees, a nectarine tree, mayhaw, satsuma, and navel orange. Some of this should have some production the first year I am told, but much of it will require waiting for the second or third year.
- We currently have nine ducks left in our flock. They are messy and eat a lot of feed. Overall, they are not the best choice for raising for meat. We have enjoyed the experience, but we are going to cull the flock. We might keep one or two, but likely they will all go, so we do not have to deal with their messes. They house nicely with all the other birds, but they make messes by trying to swim in anything they can which keeps the chickens water nasty all the time.
- We have nineteen chickens for the purpose of laying eggs. Really, we were not ever supposed to have this many, but my husband was not ready to kill the chickens for meat. Our hens are "our ladies" and we have grown quite fond of them around here. I am considering isolating some of them for a few days and seeing which ones are laying and which are not to consider culling some of them because we really do not need this many. The feed bill needs to be lowered and I am not really one for selling the eggs because I would rather bless others with them. I am uncertain of our plan for "our ladies". They are not a bother, so it is not urgent to decide either.
- We recently added turkeys to our flock. We have a Tom and two gals. They are all full grown and about three years old. I thought we were getting them to butcher, but Cody is the one that got them. He says we are raising turkeys now.... so we are raising turkeys now. Once they start laying we will let them hatch out their eggs and raise the babies for the meat. The Tom is beautiful I must say. It is quite interesting to watch him protect and guard his ladies with his feathers all spread in the air.
- I have been trying to convince Cody that we should be raising chickens for meat, but he has not been easy to convince. Our most popular meat in our home is chicken. It makes sense that we should raise our own for meat if we are raising chickens. So, I was sitting here one night and just for kicks I was looking at Murray McMurray's website and IDEAL Chicken Hatchery's website and IDEAL had a sale on Straight Run Black Broiler chicks for 90 cents a chick. I told Cody and he said to order them... REALLY?... really.... so I ordered 30 and shipped and everything was $34. That was just too good of a price to pass on. We received 31 chicks, but have lost four... still a bargain. They are about two weeks old and are growing really fast. We will plan to butcher them in May when they reach full size. They are supposed to be ready within 7-8 weeks, but I have heard that they take a little longer and I am okay with it take a little longer. I also am considering keeping one rooster and a couple of hens from this flock to use for raising our own broilers without having to order. We will determine that after seeing how well these birds do for meat chickens in the end.
- Our most recent addition was quite accidental really. A lady in my Sunday School class mentioned that she had three roosters to give away and I made a mental note of it, but told her that since we live in town we were not going to have a rooster that would make noise and bother our neighbors. One of my neighbors sent me a message wanting to know if I knew someone that had a rooster and I told her I would check for her. I contacted the lady with the roosters and she said she had one and he was a friendly Buff Orpington. Hmmmm... I have two female Buff Orpingtons and so now we have a rooster. I have separate area in our chicken coop and so I have put the three Buff Orpingtons in there to mate and hopefully hatch out their own eggs. I must admit I am considering pulling the eggs and putting them in the incubator because the hens have over a dozen eggs in there and they are not sitting. These chicks will be raised for meat or sold as hatchlings.