Thursday, February 04, 2010

the girls

the chickens are really laying. we have been getting three dozen eggs every day for a few days. yesterday i forked out their coop. during the last cold spell they hardly left the warmth of the indoors. our chickens don't like the snow. things were getting very piled up and smelly. i have a compost bin just outside their door. it was almost a quarter full before i started. in the end, i managed to nearly fill it entirely. my compost bins are made from four freight pallets. and usually hold about a yard and a half of compost. so i moved about a yard of manure yesterday.

i had let it go for a little too long. theoretically it should get removed with fifty percent bedding. this would make for a reasonable mix ratio of manure to brown matter. this stuff was concentrated straight chicken droppings. it will take some extra work to get this to a usable product. chicken manure is high powered stuff anyway and should always be used with caution.

i will encourage this to compost until this coming fall. my plan is to use this in my experiment toward making some tierra pietra. i'll need a substantial amount of charcoal to make the quantity i'm interested in. we'll initiate cooking over a wood fired grill this coming spring. throughout the summer i'll collect the dowsed charcoal from our quelched cooking fires. my goal is to make two yards of tierra pietra and see how it performs.

the upper newly exposed garden and yard will appreciate amending with this rich soil. we hope to start permanent herb beds in that area. there will be some exciting changes around here this spring.

i also finished wiring the chicken coop. the storage half needed a light since we check the nest boxes after dark when we close them up for the night. eventually the chicken responsibilities will fall onto the kids. kids appreciate well lit environments after dark--especially my kids.

our first garden

tabitha and i are going to share some farm photos with a group of people this weekend. we have been poring through tons of old photos in an effort to exhibit something comprehensive. it has been very nostalgic and have been feeling very accomplished. the raw effort and will that we have regularly exhausted to attempt to carve out our little place is very apparent in retrospect.

seeing the changes in our little farmstead. it started with an old house that was nearly fallen in. the yard was a bramble of scrub trees, poison ivy, sumac, oak saplings and mimosas. our intended garden patch was an impossible patch of small trees and rock.



katrien said...

Lovely photo of your first garden. I look forward to seeing more of them.

Ed said...

Too bad you couldn't have talked to my father when I was a young egg collector. I still shudder every time I remember reaching other an opossum to collect an egg one very dark night.

Rich said...

I've been interested in terra preta for a number of years and have also done a little experimenting.

I usually get some charcoal from a brushpile (tree trimmings, etc.) that has been burned. Once the pile has a good bed of coals, I just put it out with either water or by covering it with dirt (smothering it with dirt seems to work a little better).

But, I have thought about building some sort of 'oven' or combustion chamber to make charcoal out of wood, leaves, straw, etc.. Something simple like two barrels similar to what is described at:

Another idea I have tried is making charcoal available free-choice to the chickens. They eat it in the same way they eat grit, then it is ground finely in their gizzards so that their manure contains finely ground charcoal (it is pretty obvious that it is happening). There are also supposed to be health benefits for the chickens from the consumption of charcoal.

Good luck on your experiments, terra preta is an interesting subject.

pablo said...

It's good to know I can always find an interesting and informed discussion of chicken droppings whenever I need one.

Robbyn said...

You guys have accomplished so much, and you've really inspired us, too. We really love your documenting the things you try and how you assess them and customize things the next year 'round as you go. I always love the bean arches and seeing the kids growing up with the plants and animals. Yay, you guys!

Jessika said...

Wow, a lot of hard work is evident! It's also evident what a labor of love it is. It's a good way to grow up for the kids, that's for sure.

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