Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mid-July Fun

A few of our Blackberries!
They taste so yummy!
Our grapes growing up and over the archway.
We have tons and tons of grapes!
We are hoping they are Concorde but we will find out when ripe!

The volunteer sunflower plants that sprouted up in front of my gorgeous blackberry plants.

Its been such a hot summer that we've planted and lost so many things!
My spring peas were fantastic, summer peas burnt to a crisp.
We are trying hard save our tomatoes, carrots and onions.
This summer is shaping up to be a record breaking scorching July!
Praying that things cool off in August!

Also our most recent bunny lost her 3rd chance to be a good mom.
One night we went to sleep with 6 fat happy babies and woke to 1 live weak one that died two days later. Not sure why some rabbits are bad moms but she was delicious.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Garlic Harvest!

Russian Hardneck Garlic

This is our third garlic harvest and I'm happy to say we are finally getting the hang of things.
Our first year we planted two different types that we bought at a local store.
At that time garlic was garlic.
We bought hardneck without realizing it and LOVED it!
We also happened to not pull it all up so some returned the next year as a surprise.
Last year we bought and planted Persian Softneck Garlic.

Last year we realized that all garlic is not equal.
Taste wise the Persian was soft and sweeter.
Softneck however, has much smaller bulbs and no good papery outer-shell.
So it doesn't store near as well.
4 months into storing and it was starting to sprout - even with curing, hanging and following all the tips.

This year we harvested 106 heads of garlic!
5 were Elephant garlic.
(2 of the garlic in the photo above)
10-15 Persian Softneck that we planted last fall before I realized I hated them.
And the rest are wonderfully Russian Hardneck!

So what to do when you realize you have garlic that doesn't winter well - eat it first!
Right now my garlic is curing and drying, in two weeks I will braid them and hang all the hard neck.
The few little bulbs at the bottom of the garlic that are ready for planting (I forgot to take a photo) I soaked for a day then planted in a pot to grow indoors.
They can't wait to be planted, can't wait for fall before they will die.
Planting them outside in this heat would also kill them so I'm going to try this year to get a tiny handful to live. We will see.

When to Harvest Garlic

Garlic Cycle

Monday, July 10, 2017

Two New Ladies!

The other day I received a Facebook msg from a friend I've never met in real life before!
She's moving and needed to find a home for her chickens!
Of course I was willing to take them in, plus it was great to finally meet in person.
Two 1 year old chickens, both good layers - what a blessing!
Praying she is able to find an amazing home in the valley soon.

Golden SexLinks
Golden Sex Link
More information

and where to buy

As this is my first time with this sub breed - I've had Rhode Island Reds for several years but this is my first time with Sex Links versions of the breed.

They merged easily and quickly into my small hen yard - mostly because they are older and were able to easily get to the top of the pecking order.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Our Fermented Feed Setup

Fermenting Chicken Feed

If you've had chickens for any length of time I'm sure that at some point you've run into links about fermenting your chickens feed.
The why, how and benefits will make you really want to.
However the set up, time and dedication... not so much.

Photo is of my ladies enjoying their 3rd morning of fermented feed.
Let me tell you right now, its true they adore it.
(Also please ignore the ugly pan in the background I used their distraction with the food to clean it and fill it.)

I went ahead and started fermenting my feed when I was finally able to find some cheap containers - namely, sand buckets from Shopko on sale for .99 cents each!

I already had the plastic plates that fit perfectly on the top of the buckets, keeping MOST of the air in, bugs out but allowing gas to escape as needed - perfect for fermenting!
Notice the post-its?
They have a heart, flower, star & cross, also they are numbered 1-4.
I will need a 4 bucket system in the winter as it takes longer to ferment in the cold.
In the summer so far I am using a 3 bucket system and it works fine.

My mix for 11 hens is 2 Cups laying mash & 1 Cup scratch.

Add filtered water (we have reverse osmosis - a must for living in Magna)
to roughly an inch above the grain.
After two days of fermenting the feed, you can pour the left over water (normally a cup or so) into the new fermented feed to get it fermenting faster.
Stir it a few times a day.

I use a fine mesh spoon to draw the grain out so that it won't be a puddle and I can re-add the water into the new feed.

So far this mix seems to be working perfectly for my ladies - once all 11 are laying I will tweak it as needed.
I've seen some recipes only use whole grains, I've read where they only use mash.
I'm doing a mix because I happen to have both.

Top reasons for me to start this?
To many mice seem to be eating what my ladies were tossing onto the ground.
I'd much rather my ladies actually eat their food, than other animals - especially dirty animals.
They eat this food so QUICK!
Nothing is left on the ground!
In time I might only do two cups and give my ladies their scratch in the evenings, as that helps with egg production but again that will be once all my hens are laying.

Fermenting Chicken Feed links:

My favorite with Mash
What Containers

Chicken Chick

More on why & how

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bunny Birthday Surprise!

Our doe Stormy's 3rd kindling, born this morning.
All 9 seem happy and healthy.
Which has been a fantastic birthday gift for me!

Stormy's 1st kindling died when she gave birth unexpectedly and her babies froze without a proper nest.
Her second kindling all but one baby (peewee) died and that one lived only because we were able to get her sister to foster Peewee with her kits.
This is her third kindling, we've redone her baby area completely and made sure this time she's alone.
Praying this time she shines as the mama we think she is.
9 healthy babies! Now its up to her to keep them that way!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tiny Egg

Itty Bitty Teeny Tiny Ray of Hope!

This is a very small egg - still not sure if I'd call it a Fairy Egg,
but its close, its the closest we've ever come yet to a Fairy Egg anyway.

Beyond the fact that its an adorable tiny egg - its also our first egg from our young ladies!
My only regret this year is that all my hens are brown layers.
Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can figure out which lovely lady laid this for us.
For tonight, we celebrate new beginnings and more to come!

New Growth - Plum Health

My Stanley Plums new straight leaves!
You can see where something tried to take a few bites out of the newer leaves, so I've continued spraying the tree with water/soap every week or so at night.
Thankfully the new leaves show that an infestation hasn't taken hold a second time.
See Curled Plum Leaves and how I treated them

We bought 4 Concorde Seedless Grape vines to plant,
picked up the bare root cuttings April 25th and soaked them in wet paper for a few days before planting.
Two of the grape's took off almost over night and are over a foot each with lots of growth.
The above grape was my last hold out.
Earlier this week we FINALLY got a leaf to sprout!
Never stop watering grape vines, they are tough and resilient.

This was the other grape that was struggling to survive for a while
but is growing happily now.
Two years from now those vines will be massive and cover tons of fence line!

These grapes came with our house.
The vine had been neglected and looked horrible, we looked up advice and cut the entire plant back to root.
Three years later we are getting some fantastic looking grapes and I can't wait to find out what type they are!

Also my Thornless Blackberries are outpacing my coffee addiction!
They are growing so fast and so much that no matter how quickly I get the leaves to turn green, they flip back around and yellow again!
Next winter instead of putting our coffee grinds on the compost pile I'm freezing it to use on my blackberries next summer!
This is their second summer and I could not have predicted this many berries!