Chickens Need Meth

This was my first all-day Saturday workday for the season.  Common Good had their on-farm plant sale going (I bought a ton) and their annual CSA member meeting.  We fed/watered the chicks and chickens.  I weeded carrots and beets; hundred foot rows are long!.  Later when the sale was dwindling we did lots of transplanting:  collards, kale, fennel, scallions.

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A bed of collards in their final home.

Things I learned today, random order:

Chickens have different feed requirements during the year.  In cold weather they need to maintain body temperature so they need lots of carbs (grain).  In warm weather they need protein (soy meal) in bigger proportion to produce eggs.

Everett said a large farm in MN where he apprenticed had $100k revenue from cabbage alone!  They direct seeded in the field.

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Cool way to coil hose so it doesn’t kink pulling down the row.

To keep from losing feathers, chickens need an amino acid methionine often deficient in their diet and thus synthetic methionine is often added (an approved substance on the organic National List).

A tea made from a bucket of fermenting stinging nettles (wait until it has a sulfur smell) and thinned with water 10:1 is a great plant fertilizer.

Drip tape is added to the high-water-needs plants like tomatoes and peppers later in the season if needed due to low rainfall.

I will need to think about ways to care for my back and knees during repetitive motion activities like transplanting.

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Kittens still growing!

The Country Farmer? The City Farmer?

Lots of internal debate between farm in the country vs urban farm.  Hearing incredible numbers like $50k from 1/10 acre makes me want to accept that gauntlet, what a challenge!  But what about all the animals I dream of, the wind-powered flour mill, the woodlot, the lonely vistas?  Is the future for 7 billion people really coming from farms or is the real vision to convert urban space into food production and solve all kinds of transport problems, not to mention building food community.  But how is the animal/plant symbiosis to be accomplished in urbanized, zoned, regulated, sanitized, bureaucratized cities when all you can raise is four chickens?  Someone just tell me what direction to head!

Manual labor

The other day I timed myself spading the garden.  It took one hour to to spade up 100 sq ft.

At that rate, an acre would take nearly 11 weeks to spade by hand, spading 40 hours a week!

1 acre = 43560 sq ft
43560 sq ft * (1 hr / 100 sq ft) = 435.6 hours / 40 hrs/week = 10.89 weeks

Graduation Day

Today was the final Farm Beginnings class.  We did presentations or talks about what each of our plans were, and enjoyed a potluck lunch.  I found the class helpful in many ways and experienced some surprising turns in my own thinking.  Prior to this year I think I was still in a romantic state of mind about the whole farm thing.  I thought paramount was to purchase a farm where I could be alone with nature and everything would sort itself out.  Somehow the accumulated discussions, readings, conferences, and presentations finally penetrated my brain to the enormity of the undertaking.  Perhaps it was also the rubber-meets-the-road realization as movement to the goal becomes more real, but my mind has been opened to themes: start where you are, don’t confine your thoughts to a box, look for opportunities around you, can’t do everything yourself.  At any rate, it caused me to think about options to transition into farm income that don’t require owning land – renting, collaboration, urban farming, etc.

Here’s my presentation if you’re really board and can’t think of something to do: Farm Beginnings Class Presentation

And, here’s the class photo!

Instructor and proud graduates

Instructor and proud graduates

Everett St Garden – Veggies in Front

Spading up the front strip of lawn by the curb!  Plan to put in some raised beds and grow vegetables, maybe confuse the neighbors a little.  We put too much water (potable water no less) on nothing but lawn.  It’s an American obsession.  What purpose does it serve really?
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Future Urban Farmland