Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2017 Garlic and Shallots

So, I was inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka treatsie "One Straw Revolution" to try a few things in the garlic and shallot patch.  My goal was to spend no more than 2 hours of work TOTAL from planting to harvesting the garlic and shallots, use organic fertilizers, and mulch with straw.  Well, I did it with only 5 water turns too. The shallots turned out great. Some of the largest best tasting shallots I have grown. The garlic did 50/50. The hardneck varieties of Music and Duganski did fairly well.  However, the soft neck Susanville and Red Italian Late did not fare as well.  All of the garlic and shallots are currently curing. I will pick the best and largest garlic and shallot bulbs to be replanted this fall.


Garlic and Shallot patch with heavy straw


HARVEST 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Pasture Update

So, I put out some pasture seed last October and this March and so far the results are promising.  Some of the seed that was sown are Meadow Brome, Ryegrass, Orchard Grass, Tall Fescue, and Blue Grass. I am also grow some weeds and I am hoping to reduce the weed load by the next Spring. I am learning that establishing a good pasture takes work,time and patience.
First cutting (mid May)



Second cutting(July 2)

I have never done anything pasture related in my life. So, the whole process is one big learning experience. I definitely learned a lesson that if I am not making hay I should wait for the heat wave to pass. It is brutal on the pasture to be cut and then exposed to almost a week of 100+ degrees Fahrenheit days. I hope that it will recover in fall when it cools down.  I anticpate this will not be my only mistake along the pasture journey. 

I purchased the cattle panels to fence the pasture in. I will do that around first half of September after the weather cools down a bit. 

The chickens sure do enjoy foraging out there in the mornings and evenings. Next Spring, we will be adding some sheep to the farm that will graze out on the pasture. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Another Chicken Coop

I was also able to get another chicken coop made. I call them "Apple Coops" since they use a retired apple orchard box as the base. They are approximately 4 feet in width X 4 feet in depth X 3 feet high. Just under the roof, the top is covered with hardware cloth to keep predators out. One advantage of that is that gives a lot of ventilation. In the winter, I just covered up the hardware cloth with some plywood to keep the cold drafts down.  They are portable with a simple garden cart. The total cost was around $40 and took about 4 hours to build. The cost could be further decreased by using recycled or upcycled materials.  This is Version 2(V2) and the changes to this version are as follows

  • Sliding coop door to reduce hinges and overall cost.
  • Increased slope of roof so snow does not accumulate as easily

Apple Coop V2 on the garden cart 

Apple Coop V1(left) and Apple Coop V2(right)

Apple Coop V1 has been deployed for over 1 year and has performed well, even though one of Utah's worst winters on record. Apple Coop V3  is in the works and will include a better way to access the freshly laid eggs.  When I build V3, I will document the whole process and get a better bill of material made. I will then do a  post about it.  

Friday, July 7, 2017

Broiler Chickens

We had 40 broiler chickens arrive at the end of March here at the little farm. After 9 weeks,  we had 36 that made it to the slaughter date.  Our max dressed chicken was 9lbs and the smallest 6lbs 14oz. I calculated the cost per lb of chicken to be $1.39/lb. I figure I can lower it to around $1.09/lb when I get another round of broilers in the fall. I am also not going to get any more than 20 broilers, processing 36 broilers took around 8 hours.
Day old chicks in the brooder

4 week old chicks, time to get outside

8 week old broilers

8 week old broilers

We tried a couple of things while raising them this time.
  • Invested into electric poultry netting
  • Brooder nipple waters while raising them as chicks
  • Bulk poultry feed from Leland Mills
I will speak, in more detail, about each of these below 

Electric Poultry Netting
After the dog attack,one day before slaughter date, last year that wiped out 80% of my broilers we were determined to defend our investment. We purchased a Premier 1 PoultryNet Plus 12/48/3 electric poultry netting. I deployed it 5 weeks with a solar powered energizer when they were big enough to not fit thru the netting. I was extremely happy with the setup and it kept away all predators. All in all I would highly recommend it.
Electric netting deployed around the broiler coop

Brooder Nipple Waterers
I ordered a four of these small brooder nipple waterers. They worked out great.  If you have ever hated  cleaning out the wood chips, poop, and feathers from those small mason jar waterers every 6 hours you would love these waters. I highly recommend them. In fact, I plan on expanding nipple waterers to the whole flock soon.

Bulk Poultry Feed
We are luckly enough to have a great feed mill around 20 miles away, Leland Mill.  If you provide your own container, we put ours in 35 gallon galvanized cans, you can get 100lbs of 24% crude protein broiler mash feed for $20.35. Each can carried up to 200lbs of feed. This is about the max weight that I can move around the farm by myself without the tractor.  We got a total of 850lbs of feed for broilers from here.  It really helped lower the cost of  raising the broilers.  I highly Leland Mill for bulk feed.
Full 35 gallon cans

All in all, it was a good experience. We learned a lot and have a bunch of delicious fresh farm raised chicken. I can't eat the factory farm raised chicken anymore, it has no taste.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

GARLIC AND SHALLOTS

I love this time of year.  The feeling of Winter slowly thawing and the garlic and the shallots breaking their dormancy. That means that Spring is just around the corner.

Next Saturday, is February's Farm Day around here and that means we're  building some chicken brooders and grow out coops. We have 40 broiler chickens arriving in about 3 weeks. It will be the largest single chicken brooding we have ever done here. We are looking forward too it!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

It has been a long time...

WOW! It has been a while since I last updated.  A lot of projects were completed in 2016.
  • Grass in the front and portions of the backyard. The kids love it.
  • New chicken coop(still needs paint and some finishing touches)
  • Turkey pen/enclosed breeding pen.
  • Raised and slaughted some chicken broilers (qty 15).
  • Raised and slaughtered some turkeys (qty 8).
  • Leveled and planted seed in the future pasture.
My improvement goals for 2017 are as follows:
  • Raise a majority of of our own poultry meat that we consume.
  • Put fruit and nut trees in the orchard area.
  • Fence in the pasture area.
  • Use the pasture for supplement feeding for our poultry.
  • Redo the composting area.
  • Add grains to the garden area.
  • Finish painting the new chicken coop.
  • Design and build brooder/grow out/laying coops(qty 2).
  • Design and build a chicken tractor for use on the pasture.
I will do better on keeping this updated; hopefully, the updates will be on progress of the 2017 improvement projects.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Chicken Coop Sensor

Well, the soil sensors are taking a little bit of a back seat on this post.  What we did was use some of the guts of the soil sensor to help monitor temperature and humidity inside the chicken coop. The 3D printed enclosure is 3 pieces. The coop side round boss can be changed out to accommodate different wall coup thicknesses, i.e. longer for thicker wall, etc... Of course it is solar powered and I tried to keep the installation of it as simple as possible.

  • A Drill
  • 2" Hole Saw
  • A qty of 4, #6 X 3/4" wood screws

Figure 1:  Sensor and US quarter for scale

Figure 2: Another view

Figure 3: Coop side showing DHT22 sensor

Figure 4: Isometric coop side view

Installation was a breeze..... no running wires. Just use the hole saw to create the hole and screw in the 4 wood screws to attach the unit to the chicken coop.

Figure 5: Attached chicken coop sensor

Figure 6: Coop side 
It is now up on Thingspeak right now, https://thingspeak.com/channels/48131
So, if you get bored take a look.

Improvements to make to the sensor.

  • A HTU21d to measure ambient temp and relative humidity OUTSIDE of the coop.
  • Enlarge clearence holes to a #6 woodscrew passes easier though it.
  • Dust cover to help partially enclose the DHT22 from dust, etc...
  • Add ammonia sensor


 I need to give a quick garden update. The peppers did great this year as well as the tomatoes. However, the watermelon did so-so this year. The garlic and the shallots will need to be planted soon. I can't wait; I love planting those.