Thursday, July 16, 2009

Still here... midsummer update

Food forest and cabinIt's been a month or so since my last post! I've only been on the internet once or twice a week with gobs to read and download during those times. Anyway, hows about a few updates?

Petunia continues to do very well. As you'd expect she's getting bigger everyday and has had a good deal of space to stretch out her legs in the fenced chicken range for three or so weeks. She loves to run and play, especially on the cool days. She gets along swimmingly with her feathered neighbors.

Food forest and cabinsSpeaking of feathered neighbors... the chickens have been good and bad. First the bad: too many roosters doing what roosters do. We have five which is far too many for a flock of 23 hens. We've separated three out too a chicken tractor which has quieted the flock tremendously and the hens seem far more relaxed these days. The future eating of these roosters has caused quite a good deal of ruckus with the three children who, unfortunately see them as pets rather than livestock. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem encouraging a relationship with the chickens. I talk to them and watch them everyday. But it is not practical to keep so many roosters. In any case, that has been an issue.

Food ForestAnother issue is the flock size. I'd initially planned for 10 chickens and five guineas and I think that was a good plan. Twenty eight chickens, can cause a great deal of damage when they free range outside of the designated chicken forage (a good sized area of about 25 by 40 feet). We keep the fence closed but there are always 8-10 hens ranging around at any given moment. I can't possibly fence off every plant or planted area and these girls seem to have a nack for finding MY plants. I think the planned flock size of 10 would have worked better because their range would be greener and they would be happier and more likely to stay inside the fence.

The other issue is eggs. When they all start laying we will have too many and not really enough to sell for any kind of profit really. Just enough to take up more time driving in for feed and to deliver eggs. I see it as a coordination nightmare. I'd rather just have 10 hens and enough eggs for me and family. I'd still get the benefit of better compost as well as a flock that could be more easily controlled in the garden. The whole experience certainly has me thinking more about chickens, gardens, "problems," "solutions," and permaculture design.

The garden is okay. No more rabbits which is great but the chickens have taken over there and done a bit of damage. Nothing terrible but damage nonetheless. The basil has been fantastic. I've harvested the garlic which was a pretty good crop. Been eating a good bit of lettuce as it recovers from the bunnies. The eggplants, while surviving, have not looked very good thanks primarily to constant flea beetle attack. The peppers, as always were very slow to get going but those that survived the insects and bunnies are starting to fruit.

The fruit trees are mostly doing well as is the comfrey. I'm pretty happy with the food forests generally. Will be ordering more pawpaw as well as June Berries fairly soon and those will go around the east and north side of my cabin with a few low growing fruits such as blueberry.

The building of Kerry and Greg's cabin is delayed a bit but will probably get started before too long. All in all I'm pretty happy with the way the project is developing.




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