Category Archives: Chickens – Chooks

Garbage Disposal

In the United States, many of us automatically think of an InSinkErator, which is a brand of electrically run mechanical grinder of food which then flushes it all down the drain for someone else to deal with.  It is attached to a kitchen drain and mounted underneath.

47a80253-9053-4ede-ad05-695e044555eb-1707-0000029881f54709_file

abd21c64-c693-4a5a-989f-f07d25b50c86-1707-00000298a04a6b35_file
This old one no longer works and leaks!  Thus the bucket underneath because we haven’t found someone to disconnect and remove it.  I’ll figure it out and get it done sometime.  In the meantime, we put a note in the sink so water won’t be poured in accidentally.  It’s not at our house.

I remember when i was growing up, we had one.  There was always a good respect for its power – keep fingers and spoons out of them!  However, as an adult, i’ve never had one and honestly never missed it.  Now, i wonder why one would ever need this type of garbage disposal.  Natural processes are excellent at garbage disposal – especially food scraps and other organic stuff.

But, garbage disposal is actually just a term that describes various ways to dispose of garbage.  Your location and occupation often determines your definition of garbage and how you may dispose of it.  If you have too much; it might be time to make a plan to reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle, repair.

In my world, food scraps are not garbage – either they are composted, (i’m lazy and just throw them out on the garden spot to break down over time, or if i’m really energetic, i may get a spade and bury them) or i feed them to our pastured laying hens (chooks), but chicken scraps go to the dog – (i never feed chicken bones and such to chickens – it just seems wrong).  Fruit from fruit trees almost always produce far more than i’m willing to preserve in some fashion, so the extra is allowed to fall, rot, and provide fodder for soil microbes which in turn provides fertilizer for the tree.

There are some amazingly attractive kitchen sized compost bins available.  Here are some on Amazon, but i’ve never tried any of them.  Do some research before purchasing – you sure don’t want smell and/or flies in your house!

But, by and large, we have very few scraps.  Leaves from broccoli and cauliflower, for example, make awesome replacement for celery or other similar greens.  This goes for nearly all greens attached to vegetables.  The core from tomatoes go to the chooks; they love them!  Beef fat goes to the chooks for extra protein they need when bugs are in short supply outdoors.  (As an aside, if you are buying eggs that are labeled as vegetarian raised chickens, the label is either a lie or the hens are in confinement – either crowded in a floored building or in a cage.)

There is a lot of hue and cry about being ‘green’, but as is usual, the ones crying the loudest are often the ones living the least ‘green’ and the biggest wasters of natural resources.  They are the crowd who shout ‘do as i say, not as i do’ while they manipulate regulations to suck cash out of your pocket and put it in theirs.

We can all do better at managing resources – we are, by and large, a wasteful country because we are blessed with so much abundance.

71344814_10157331190992900_1472736576332103680_n
Nabbed this poster from Mountain Top Cattle Co Facebook Page.

 

Sunn Hemp in the Garden

There was just a couple pounds left over of the Sunn Hemp and although it was a couple years old, i just threw it on my garden spot and expected it to do nothing.  HA!  Not only did the seed sprout (it was not even inoculated) it thrived, then took over!  Needless to say my garden production suffered, but i’m just gonna let it grow and see what it will do.  It is not supposed to mature and make seed in our environment.  Otherwise, it could become an invasive species and though it is not native to the US, it is being promoted as a deep rooted plant which will bring up minerals as well as provide some grazing when it is much younger.  The stalks now are up to an inch in diameter and quite sturdy.  I plan to chop them down and let them lay as a cover to the soil.  The chickens will have opportunity to winter in the garden plot and they will scratch it around and maybe eat a few leaves all the while adding manure out the back end.

IMG-7098
Those middle cattle panels are 8 feet tall.
IMG-7099
The flowers on Sunn Hemp are really lovely.  It is a native of India and is extremely heat tolerant.

IMG-7101

New Version Eggmobile

Oh my goodness, i’ve lost track of the number of eggmobiles i’ve built these past two decades.  The first one was large and on an ancient wagon running gear.  It was part of daughter Jessica’s Missouri Department of Agriculture sustainable ag grant she wrote for and received being the youngest ever at age 9!

Anyway, done bragging now and on to the newest plan.  My favourite ‘look’ is that of a Conestoga Wagon and this one is no exception although much smaller than the traditional real Conestoga.

The one i replaced was just worn out and had some issues which of course i corrected with the new version.

66823551_10214295523364376_6566911025994530816_n
This one was several years old and just dilapidated.  Wood was deteriorated and wasn’t a well balanced design making it awkward to pull around.  Also, as you can see the old wagon pull broke, the pop door was too short and manual, not enough nesting boxes or roosts, and overall it was simply too heavy.
6adca5bf-5e29-466e-a21f-7c5a72d05b67-465-0000004574a10b54_file
Moved it home and the old hens gave it a complete check out, then had no hesitation going back in.   Note this new version has an automatic pop door.  Should have done that on the very first one.  A very good investment even for my small flock.
IMG-6127
Had to come up with a new way of holding the ‘hoops.’  My previous eggmobile, i used 1 inch schedule 40 pipe and it has too much spring to it and i had it attached very securely.  This time, i raided the water pipe supply and chose 3/4 inch black HDPE pipe and it is much easier to handle.  Here i’m cutting short pieces of 1/2 inch PVC pipe.
IMG-6128 (1)
After drilling a hole to receive a longer 1/4 lag screw, i installed the screw with the plastic tube topped with a 1/4 inch flat washer.  Powered it in and it makes a sort home made sort of shoulder bolt.
IMG-6129 (1)
Enter a caption
038a92eb-5b0a-498f-919f-16641513f7bc-256-0000001640f6eb11_file
This view shows the nearly finished eggmobile.  I built it in separate pieces so that it can be disassembled if needed.  There is the floor which i reused (newer lumber).  Don’t use anything less than 1 x 2 inch welded wire.  It’s a little big for small chicks, but is perfect for grown hens because their poop will go right on through.  The second section is framed then sided with old corrugated plastic.  Except for new hardware, everything is reused on this.
ffe9fd41-d21f-47f6-b33d-f174b1cdde1d-2146-000002e29c5865c5_file
i installed a door on one side just in case i need access.

8a937373-7f27-4cae-9e88-69078fcf91e4-2146-000002e2bbff8707_file

c0443b60-8be0-4d01-ac92-895d907b5c3b-248-00000015e7f5b048_file
See how the black pipe forms a nice hoop to hold the standard sized white tarp using the makeshift shoulder bolts.  Roosts are cut from old electric posts.
6cc8caf2-9b56-48bf-8694-63475772bcf8-2146-000002e236ddc8df_file
The translucent panel is cut from an old solar panel cover.  Not sure if you could find those used.  My father-in-law had a couple left over from a business he tried starting about 40 years ago.
05E6AF5C-F657-4D97-83F1-A4F5D2E6DE63-2146-000002E2581C20CC-file
Lift the lid and inside is the top level of the nesting boxes.  I may or may not end up dividing these.  If i do, it’ll probably just be little curtains.
E380E67B-F07B-4E59-B38B-F45CC2B502E6-2146-000002E28B531665-file
Lift the floor of the first level to collect eggs on the lower level.
635e2631-9127-471b-aba9-f9d9f7dc2c18-2146-000002e227e9d823_file
Ador1 battery powered automatic pop door.   Note the ladder like roosts – i have to change the supports to wider stance because if a hen edges to the outside, it will tip.  I also had to take off the green corrugated bit above the door and attach boards to secure the canopy.  i used more of the solar panel stuff to make it match the front.  At the front here, you can see that i built double decker nesting boxes – there are 6 now vs the 3 before.

This is the coolest ever.  It comes preset to automatically open at dawn and close at night.

Meal for the Men

Allen is working his calves today and Monday (mine are tomorrow) – it’s time for their second round of vaccinations and some fall calving cows need pregnancy checking.  Weather is perfect except super windy.  My job is to prepare lunch for the guys for whenever they arrive.  It’s ready now (11:30), and i was notified that they’ll be in probably about 1p.  Hopefully, all will go smoothly.

For lunch:

  • Beef short ribs offered with BBQ sauce
  • Homegrown slow simmered green beans with onions and garlic
  • Paraguayan Corn Bread (this is a new recipe for me i’ve made a few times this week – adding this one to my lineup and will post recipe soon)
  • Deviled eggs laid by our silly old hens
  • Blackberry cobbler
7dd17015-9721-46e2-96d2-90b81bbe0a11-871-000000a06b2fdd6c_file
Paraguayan Corn Bread (Sopa Paraguaya)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
It was a challenge to fill a plate with neatly peeled eggs.  Although i set a couple dozen back, it was still not long enough for them to peel easily.  In other words, they are too fresh!
b60c7636-d1f9-4f8a-b7c3-fef25f56412f-871-000000a08dc3391e_file
Home picked blackberries with fresh ground wheat berries for the batter.  Yeah, and sugar, and honey, and butter, and milk, and baking powder, and cinnamon.

 

Traveling Chooks!

So we have some traveling hens. Brett took these chooks for a ride on the pickup to the North place, where apparently they hung out for about 15 minutes, then continued their bumpy muddy gravel road journey to Highway Y, pulled in at the Neal farm and loaded two big bales of hay then continued to Brook road, another mile west on Brook road (another muddy, hilly gravel road. Cord drive was too muddy for a pickup, so Brett held up there to unload the hay for tractor to pick up and continue another mile to take out hay. It was during that down time, the hens apparently decided they’d had enough travel and hopped down to make themselves known. Dallas caught them and they scored an up front ride home. Never a lack of entertainment on the farm.

How did they go unnoticed for 22 miles?  The only answer must be that they were settled on top the spare tire which is bolted underneath the bed of the pickup.

Cheers!

tauna

The route of the chooks!

2019-03-18.png

53903811_10213492984541407_5739335733601107968_n

A Big Snow for Us!

Okay, i know, in many parts of the world, including the United States, a foot of snow is hardly an event.  But we haven’t had accumulation like this for at least a decade!   I’m not a fan of snow, but soft, loose snow like this is useful for subsoil moisture and filling ponds.

Thankfully, with managed grazing protocols in place, one can largely avoid having to get out into the weather and on the bad roads.  Today’s event is continuing, but the temps hovering around 30 degrees.  The snow ploughs have been doing the best they can to keep highways open.

Mostly livestock have no problems grazing through this snow, though heavy cover of ice on top of a foot of snow is actually a really bad situation, which we haven’t had for many, many years.

Below are some photos from years past since i’m not driving up to my farm today on slick roads just to take a photo of my cows.  In a few days, i’ll mosey on up in my JD Gator and check on them.  If they need more grazing, i’ll roll up the polywire and let them have access to the next paddock already set up.  In the next paddock are 5 big hay bales they will have access to as well as mostly grazing.  However, i don’t expect them to need a new break.

9  grazing under the snow - Copy

3 Polywire and step in posts - stood thru wind and snow! - Copy
Cattle grazing through snow – strip grazing stockpiles forage
Cattle - Dec 2013 (7) - Copy
Sheep bale grazing near a small patch of timber.
photos 010
Queen of the Log!  Sheep and horses handle the snow very well, since they will just paw through to the goodies.
Tannachton Farm - winter grazing 2013-small copywrited
This photo is not taken today, but illustrates how cows and calves alike have no problem grazing through deep snow.  They are not expecting to be fed.  

The only livestock we have that refuses the snow are our small flock of laying hens!

img-4976img-4980

img-4981
Happy hens when i fed them inside their eggmobile.  

Be safe out there!!!

tauna

 

 

 

the Final move

Finally warmed up enough to move the chooks to their new digs outside on grass.  Finished the chicken tractor, butchered the two cranky roosters that came with the hens and set the hens in.  They were pretty apprehensive at first touch of soil and grass, but now, of course, they even want more!  However, here in north Missouri, being completely free results in foxes, coyotes, eagles, hawks, owls, dogs, raccoons, opossums, and skunks getting fat on fresh chicken.  So chooks must be contained and protected.

As per my previous post about farmyard chooks, this is a losing proposition, but essential if you want grass raised chickens.  Sure, you can buy eggs with dark yolks, but those are either developed by feeding GMO corn (could be organic open pollinated corn, but highly unlikely) or ground marigold.  Eating grass does it as well.  The diet of a hen does not determine its shell colour.  Some hens lay brown eggs, some lay white, some lay rainbow – but that’s genetic – not diet.

IMG-3844
Although both of these eggs were laid by my hens – you can easily identify the darker yolk as being produced once the grass turned green.  In my opinion, the taste is spectacular when dark yolks come from foraging hens.

So the growing phase is all but completed and the chooks are old enough to tolerate this late winter weather, so the tedium is now to collect quality eggs each day, continue to feed and water them, and drag their tractor around the yard.  How long will that will be ‘fun’?

Cheers!

tauna

Update since moving this ‘tractor’ to the yard – it’s been cold, snowy, windy, and downright miserable up until a couple days ago (22 April 18).  Their enclosure is doing the job, but it is too heavy for many to drag around and the grass isn’t even tall yet!  Solves the problem of blowing away, but creates another.  Plus, it just really is ugly.  So, if i don’t get the chooks sold in the next week or so, I’ll go to using an older and better version of egg mobile (thankfully, although i built it several years ago, i hadn’t taken apart) and buy a poultry netting.