Chicken Tractor update

There is not enough evidence or data to come to a conclusion, but it appears that the chickens being separated and relocated into the tractor disturbed egg production pretty drastically.  For now the 20+ hens are all back with Sidney in the main house.  A couple usually stay out for the night, especially the broody ones who don’t move even when the grain drops.  The tractor can be used for many things.  Perhaps the next round of chicks can start in there?   or in the spring put some in there before they start laying again?  catch some of these rabbits and start breeding bunnies again?  Moving along between the rows of blueberries?  So, the tractor is now vacant, but it is nice to have around.   We shall have to ponder.

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Range of eggs is generally from 10-18, fluctuating around a dozen per day from 23 or so layers and one rooster.  It dropped to under 10 and is now back up to almost 20.  There are also likely many spots where eggs are laying in the woods and nearby the shed.

first Chicken Tractor complete…

Many thanks to WWOOFers Chris, John and Daniel, who were here for around 3 weeks each and recently left Earthen Heart Community Perma-stead.

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The vision has become a reality – we have our first Chicken Tractor!

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Many other things were done by these lads, including:  getting seedlings started for fall crops; harvesting squash, greens, herbs; reinforcing the goat fence and moving the herd of four into an outside forage zone, tending the animals, cooking, cleaning, building drying racks, fixing doors and screens, etc.

 

 

harvest_99Major ongoing Zucchini harvest – used to make pickled zucchini, chips, relish, bread (sweet and savory kinds were made) and plenty of meals.

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Animal Containment – Birds

Animal containment is a major issue at any farm.  Earthen Heart is no exception.  We have pretty much just been letting animals walk around and keeping them near home at night by taking good care of the animals and giving them some grain.  The main problem with chickens comes right around planting time.  They can wreak havoc on a planting of grain.  The neighbor has also been complaining when they wander over and nibble on his plants.  So, firstly, we want to have a secure home base, especially during winter time.

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New chicken coop has been holding all twenty something hens along with Sidney the rooster.
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Back door for gathering eggs!
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Original coop still has a nice roost, 4 nests and plenty of room but birds get out easily.

Next, we want to create chicken tractors as mobile animal housing units.  They till, work and fertilize the soil over then move to the next location.  Inside there is a roost and laying nests so they don’t have to come back to the home base coop.

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WWOOFers John McAllister and Daniel Gordon cutting wood for the chicken tractor.
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WWOOFer Chris Kunze working on the chicken tractor.

Into Summer We-a-Go

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Many thanks to Rachel and Quinn for visiting us for the wrap up of their journey before returning home.  They helped harvest herbs, garlic and greens.  Lots of help cleaning house, playing with the girls and organizing a bit around the outbuildings.  Loved having you out and hope to see you again soon!novariaroom

The floor is finished in the girls room and found out there is WATER BASED polyurethane!  Still some finishing touches to do on the room, but things are moving along.herdoffour

The herd has stabilized at four.  Only one kid (out of two) made it.  Only Artie was properly bred.  Thought I had the other two, Madi and Plata, “covered” by the same Nubian sire.  Apparently not.  Little Cinnamon still stays with the herd the entire day, but gets separated at night.  And we get around a pint of milk a day from Artie in the morning.  Generally you either run a dairy or a meat operation and I understand some of the reasons why that makes a HECK of a LOT of sense, but we do both over here on a very small scale.  In order to offer a herd share we have been considering various fencing options, upgrades to the facilities and such.  But currently making due with and learning from this herd seems to be the wisest choice before scaling anything up.  Might get a goat here and there, but major increase in production is not in the immediate future.harvest2

Aria with mullein, garlic (including greens, stems, scapes), catnip, yarrow…

cinnahugHopefully PETA doesn’t get involved in this goat treatment issue we got over here.  The girls are a little rough on him at times.

Another short but sweet visit….

We had a little pig come to visit and Abner was his name.  “Oh my goodness, there’s a pig in the house!”  I would yell every once in a while during the 8 day stay of Abner and Alexis to remind myself how funny it was and try to humor my daughters.

abner_1We did some weeding in the asparagus and strawberry patch, picked dandelions for dandelion wine (two small one gallon batches are fermenting away).  Alexis also helped in house with some cooking and doing art with the girls!  It was really a lovely time.  We miss you Alexis!

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