Summer Update and Check-In
Summer Update and Check-In
Whew! We’ve been way too busy to find time to keep up with the blog and website. For that we’re sorry. It’s hard to believe that Summer is almost over – and still so much to do! I wanted to take a minute to catch you up with what we’ve been up to, what we’ve been learning, and what we have planned going forward. To make things somewhat easier, I’ve broken the post down by our various enterprises/endevors. Hopefully that makes things easier to follow (it helps me organize my thoughts anyway).
The laying flock is growing. We added another 8 Welsummer pullets and the batch of pullets we added in Spring have started to lay. The heat has been a challenge, lowering production a bit and adding labor with having to supply so much fresh water. We’re thankful to have a core group of loyal customers to provide fresh eggs from our flock of heritage breed hens.
We recently added secure feed storage so we can order feed in bulk (from Scratch and Peck Feeds in Burlington WA). The birds love the feed and our customers love that the feed is locally sourced, organically raised, and non-GMO.
We plan to breed replacement hens from our own stock. We currently have roosters we will mate with the best hens from the breeds we will continue to raise: Cukoo Marans, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Buff Brahmas, Easter Eggers). Currently we plan to have baby chicks before the weather turns cold and wet to make brooding easier. It is possible we will have chicks to sell, so stay tuned for updates! (Promise that we will have more updates coming!)
We successfully raised 15 poults from our own stock of Bourbon Reds. Unfortunately, we lost a hen after she was crushed by an overly amourous Tom, leaving us with two hens and a tom from our original flock. We will be selecting the best hens and toms from this mating to build up our breeding program and plan on hatching more next Spring. We don’t plan on selling any meat turkeys this year but might next year, just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. (I still have to edit and post the video about hatching our turkeys from earlier in the year!) Also, the turkeys recently hatched out four more poults on their own, so we should have a good sized flock next year.
Our new flock of Saxony ducks are growing up so quickly and doing well! They are currently living with the young turkeys but will be separated before the Fall. The turkeys will be moved to the pastures once they are full sized. We are looking forward to having fresh duck eggs to sell and will be posting as soon as they are available. Long term we will be growing the flock and breeding the best and culling to maintain the breed standard. The duck coop is a former chicken coop and we’ve made some modifications for the ducks like new nest boxes, added ventilation, and improved the outdoor run.
The market garden is going strong! We have a small CSA that has kept us very busy. It has been a great learning experience and has helped us see where we need to put our efforts going forward. We broke ground on the garden two years ago and began working on building up the soil. Since the area was in pasture, there is a deep weed seed bed which has been a challenge. Another challenge has been planning for when to plant and how much to plant to ensure a good harvest. We delayed the start of deliveries due to weather and the wet soil. Thankfully we added drip irrigation early on so the hot and dry conditions this Summer haven’t been too bad. Our biggest challenge has been in delivery – we had hoped to have a central drop-off point for most of our customers but ended up doing mostly home delivery. We won’t be doing this next year, at least not without adding a delivery fee to cover the added time and expense.
Plans for the Fall/Winter and beyond:
Our 1950 Ford 8N tractor has been down for most of the season, mostly due to lack of time to fix it. I am slowly getting it back up and running so I can mow and reseed the pastures to accommodate moving the birds and grazing them next year. We will be working on the fences and gates, replacing rotten posts and rusted gates with the goal of grazing animals next Spring. We will likely start with sheep but also plan on grazing pigs. The birds will follow the animals, helping distribute the manure and eat the bugs, increasing soil fertility and health of the pastures overall.
We will be adding more plantings to help with pollination and provide habitat for benefical insects and birds. We have had great luck this year with insect control by companion planting to attract beneficial insects and birds. Downside to this is that the birds have been pulling up young sprouts (until I got smart and used floating row covers to prevent access). We will be adding owl and bat nest boxes to provide added habitat and pest control. I love finding owl pellets near our chicken coops and seeing tiny rodent bones!
Eventually we will revisit the Hugelkulur bed and plant strawberries. This Spring we planted blueberries, blackberry, fig and pomegranate. Our plan includes adding grapes, more herbs and flowers, and replacing the peach trees which are overgrown and produce poorly. This area will likely benefit from building a stone-walled path using the (seemingly endless) supply of rocks picked from the garden and pastures.
So, thanks for keeping us busy! We will make sure to update more frequently. We also post on Instagram if you want to see what we’re up to. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions – we love hearing from you!