2014 Gardening Season — officially starts March 8!

Ok, I guess the season really started when I perused my favorite catalogs – Fedco, Irish Eyes, and Baker Creek, and placed my orders.

Irish Eyes
WALLA WALLA Transplants ONION – 4 bundles of 50
COPRA F-1 ONION Transplant – 6 bundles of 50
AILSA CRAIG EXHIBITION ONION transplant – 2 bundles of 50

Fedco Moose Tubers
Austrian Crescent ( 3# )
Banana ( 3# )
French Fingerling ( 3# )
Magic Molly ( 3# )
Red Thumb ( 3# )
Rose Finn Apple ( 3# )
Adirondack Red ( 5# )

Legume Inoculant ( A=treats 8lb )
Cascadia Snap Pea ( B=8oz )
Prescott Fond Blanc Muskmelon OG ( A=1/16oz )
Blacktail Mountain Watermelon OG ( A=1/16oz )
Cocozelle Zucchini ( B=1/4oz )
Waltham Butternut Winter Squash ( B=1/2oz )
Red Cored Chantenay Carrot ( C=1oz )
Early Wonder Tall Top Beet ( D=4oz )
Champion Radish ( C=1oz )
White Egg Turnip ( B=1/2oz )
Redwing Onion ( A=1/16oz )
Bloomsdale Spinach ( C=1oz )
Parris Island Cos Lettuce ( A=2g )
Webbs Wonderful Lettuce ( B=4g )
Golden Chard OG ( B=1/8oz )
Ruby Streaks OG ( A=1/16oz )
Prize Choy Pac Choi OG ( A=1/16oz )
Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage ( B=4g )
Snow Crown Cauliflower ( A=0.5g )
White Russian Kale OG ( A=2g )
Rosa Bianca Eggplant OG ( A=0.2g )
King of the North Sweet Pepper OG ( A=0.2g )
Tiburon Ancho/Poblano Hot Pepper ( A=0.2g )
Cherokee Purple Tomato OG ( A=0.2g )
Aunt Rubys German Green Tomato OG ( A=0.2g )
Weisnichts Ukrainian Tomato OG ( A=0.2g )
Black Cherry Tomato OG ( A=0.2g )
Grandma Marys Paste Tomato OG ( A=0.2g )
Speckled Roman Paste Tomato OG ( A=0.2g )
Wild Bergamot OG ( B=0.4g )

Wow, that’s alot.

Anyway, I got nine transplant trays started – a mixed bag of trays, picture to maybe post later.

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Sloppy eaters

We need to post a picture, those growing birds are spilling as much as they are eating.  They’re drinking plenty – about a gallon and a half a day.  I’ve added  some pebbles to their feeder, to keep them from spraying the food around as they hop around and act crazy. 

We’d love to get them outside in the next two weeks, as I need the brooder-box for the back-up shipment of poults — definitely want those new ones to be away from the bigger ones! 

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In for more!

We haven’t lost any poults, and have stabilized at ten.  Ten?  Yikes.

Well, I just placed an order for ten more with Ideal poultry, hopefully shipping this week.  The risk is that as July quickly approaches, the hatcheries tend to be out-of-stock of poults as the time before Thanksgiving ticks away.

Ideally, if you wanted a 16 pound bird, it would take three to four months to raise.  Counting backwards from third week of Nov, you would order the poults in August, not June.  My approach last year was to limit the protein intact in the last two months, and feed heavily in greens and apple-mash.

Construction of the 40×40 permanent turkey run is about a third of the way done.  Corner posts are set!  I’ve got my neighbor dumping their grass-clipping in the pen-area to provide great bedding for them to dig around in.  Next steps are to put in the doors, run the deer-fencing, drive the grounding-post for the electric fence, and run the hot-wires for the electric fence.  Good times!!

Ok, more later.

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No more losses, all happy poults!  And they are really eating (already)! 
We’ve got them a 50 pound bag of organic chick starter, it was pricy at $37, but we think going 100% organic this year is the right thing to do (we finished the birds the last month with organic last year). 

The reason is, the high-protein feeds tend to have soybean meal as their first ingredient, and, if we can get 20% protein without soybean, then we will!

Other things going are:

1) What should we be planting with available garden space to feed these birds in the coming 6 months.

   — 30-60 day plants like mustard, kale, beets

   — 60-90 day plants like beans, peas, cabbage

   — 90-120 day plants like sunflowers, winter-squash, summer-squash

2) Building a new pen.  We bought the 10-foot posts to build both a new chicken run and a new turkey run.  Both pens will be 40ftx40ft. 



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We’ve lost several poults since Friday.  I found one struggling when I got home from work this afternoon, inflamed vent, gasping.  Very sad.  I tried cleaning and getting it some water, but it was dead two hours later. 
In other news, several of last year’s families are traveling this year, and don’t want a bird, so this might be ok, other than the monetary loss on the poult deaths. 

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Poults are here!

Day 1 on the farm, hatched on Tuesday DSC_00016:40 AM call from the Post Office, all home safe and warm.  Each got two dips of their beaks into water, and I’ll give them some time to settle in.  Brooder-box is 4-feet by 6-feet with 2-foot walls, two waters, one feeder, two 250-watt heater-lamps.

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Incoming – 25 poults!

Airborne right now, twenty-five poults are on their way from Cameron Texas, marking the beginning of our third year of raising Thanksgiving turkeys for friends and family.

I started the Spring season thinking we weren’t going to raise turkeys this year, first for conscience effort to eat less meat and use the space to grown more vegetables, and second being the time and money commitment with our third child due the end of July.

However, as more and more friends made comments about if we were raising them this year, and as I hemmed and hawed about time, money, meat, etc, well, the look of disappointment was unmistakeable — they loved their bird last year, and they want to do it again.

This year’s game plan is full of new and exciting ideas:

1) a new pen (old pen is now planted with eighty feet of potatoes, a dozen melon hills, and about two hundred feet of corn and beans)

2) better perches

3) better scrap-food utilization by keeping it off the ground

4) duplicate last year’s great litter-management to keeping the birds dry and clean with leaves and straws added continuously in the last few months (rain + 25 large birds = muck)

5) growing more crops specific for feed – mangels (large livestock beets), mustard, tall grass

6) refrigerate free food (brew-grain and cider-pressings) and also 3) above to have the birds ingest more of this great free food source

7) utilize 100% organic feed.  I felt the first pain of this buying the ‘chick starter’ feed for $37/50lb vs the conventional $20/50lb.  I think with avoiding spills and trampled feed, along with steady supplies of supplemental feed,  I hope to keep feed costs to $40/bird, delivering finished birds at the same cost as last year’s 90% conventional 10% organic (finished on organic the last three weeks).

8) lastly, and it’s in a positive tone – more interaction during the year with scraps and help from folks, AND, at the end, more community plucking this year, don’t just pluck and run – help others.

Now, to dig up some pics from last year, to draw up where this new pen is going to be, and most importantly, be ready for the early-morning call from the post-office – ‘your chicks are here!’

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