We’ve Got a New Blog!

Hey friends! Now that Judah and I are married and starting our own farm, we wanted to make it as “real” of a farm and business as we can. Hope Farm was just that – a short-term farming venture I had because of my hope to continue farming and growing in the future! So we decided our new farm needed a new name. We have named our farm (in northern KY, where we are living) Chadwick Grass Farms because almost everything we’ll be raising will be grass-based. In 2017 we are planning on raising 600 meat chickens, 6 pigs for meat, and some produce! In fact, we already have 202 chicks and 1 pig! We have a new blog, a Facebook page, and an Instagram to help you connect to our new farm. So check them out, and especially subscribe to the new blog for updates. 🙂

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This blog is going to get lots quieter, as I’m not sure how much more I will post here. I truly appreciate all your support in the year I’ve had this blog! I hope to see you around!

P.S. You can also order meat chickens through our new blog!! If you’re in Ohio and would like chickens, we can possibly make arrangements. Just shoot me a message and I’ll get back with you!

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Field Trips (aka Farm Tours and Other Lessons Learned)

7/24/16 – 8/1/16 | Headlines of the week

  • Heat and chickens don’t play well together. Who would have thought?
  • Farm tours!!

It’s been an amazing week, despite the fact that this crazy heat killed 12 of my broilers last Saturday! That was a disappointment, but I learned about the importance of shade and ventilation and the benefits of processing the birds at 8 weeks instead of 9 (if I’d done that, I would have been able to sell all 74 chickens! Ah well…).

I visited some friends last week and got to see their homestead and go to two other farms close by! I visited Hiland Naturals, who are known for their high-quality certified non-GMO feed, and Hand Hewn Farm which focuses on renewing the land with their farming practices. For some reason I didn’t get any pictures at Hiland, but I did get a bunch at Hand Hewn Farm!

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Isn’t this garden beautiful? They have raised beds and also used interplanting to confuse the bugs. It works because the bugs who like, say, kale don’t see a big section of kale… and so they don’t camp out there and cause a big problem. The kale is all still there, it’s just spread out. This makes it harder to harvest, but the produce is healthier.

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Their pastured poultry shelters were made a lot differently than mine, and this design allows for a lot more airflow. Plus, these shelters can house turkeys (shown here) as well as chickens.

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Three of the four mama pigs are in the first picture (you do see all of them, right? Check the wallow – their happy place), and the 27 young’uns are in a separate pasture, in the second picture. Pigs do a great job of tearing up ground, and these little guys had been in this section of the woods for a week or less. Another neat thing is their fencing. Pigs have a reputation for being able to escape, but the mamas were held in by two strands of electric fence and the little ones by three strands. Isn’t that neat? To train them to understand the electric fence they put the little ones in a pen with actual sides and electric fencing running around the inside. Then if the pigs got into the electric fence and got shocked, they would learn to back up instead of keep moving forward and out of the pen. I guess it works! 😉

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At Hand Hewn Farm they have hog butchering workshops, which would be pretty neat to attend someday! I’ve been learning about the importance of signs and making your product and brand look professional and appealing, so I thought this sign was pretty cool.

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How about pastured rabbits? The branches on top are mulberry branches that have been thoroughly chewed by the rabbits. The leaves have lots of protein in them, and the branches provide something for the rabbits to chew on so their teeth stay short.

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Then I got to visit Local Bounty, which is a year-round indoor farmers market that’s open most of the week. It was basically like a grocery store with all local, quality products! Awesomeness.

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Huh, what’s this? A hint at something awesome to come. 😉 We processed all my broilers on Saturday and Sunday! A post about that will be coming soon. But until then, remember that your friends and family are truly wonderful. And good food tastes lots better when you’ve been working hard all day. So love on your people, work hard, and eat good (real) food!

How to Predator-Proof a Chicken Shelter

We’ve got lots of raccoons. And lots of ‘possums. And probably lots of other varmits, too. So when the chicks/chickens (when do they graduate from chicks to chickens? They’re only half feathered out currently, but they’re getting chunky) get moved out of the brooder and into the shelter it needs to be as predator-proof as possible. Especially since the area I’ll be running the shelter is surrounded by woods and out of sight from the house (anyone recognize this area from this spring when we put up those fence posts?)!

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The weak spots are:

  • Gaps between the shelter’s base and dips in the ground
  • Loose roof sections
  • Chicks that sleep too close to the sides with chicken wire. The coons can reach in and grab the chicks, apparently.

I won’t go into the gory details, but you can actually tell what kind of animal got your birds by how you find the remains (if any)! My goal, however, is to avoid that as much as possible. So I’m addressing each of the weak spots before I have a predator attack.

To keep varmits from coming under the shelter when it’s sitting on uneven ground, I’m keeping a stash of wood blocks on top of the shelter for plugs. Each day when I move it, I’ll check for gaps under the shelter’s edges. If I find gaps, I’ll plug them like this.

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To keep the roof sections tightly closed, I’ll have a 5-gallon bucket of water sitting on them, and if it becomes necessary I could put a concrete block on top. Although I want to avoid that if at all possible, because that is one more thing to worry about when moving the shelter.

Then to keep the coons from grabbing chicken nuggets through the chicken wire, I came up with this idea:

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In “Pastured Poultry Profits“, which is the blueprint for my operation, Mr. Salatin says that the chicks tend to sleep on the north-east corner of the shelter – this one.

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Probably because that’s where the feeder will be, and also because it has a solid roof.

My solution to coons reaching through the wire is an experiment. I want to see how long tulle will hold up outside…. because yes, I am the kind of girl who racoon-proofs a shelter with tulle she’d cut off an extremely poufy formal dress. I’d saved it for…. something…. but I hardly imagined it’d be tacked to a chicken shelter!

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It’s not stretchy, and it’s pretty strong. I stapled it with a staple gun to the shelter on the open west end and the north-east corner. We shall see what happens! I may take it off a few weeks into it, when the birds are bigger.

And that’s it, my friends! Do you have experience, ideas, or warnings for me about predators and pastured poultry? I’m always open to suggestions!