Eggstravaganza! Sunday 4/30/17 12-5pm

There is a reason the Easter Bunny hides eggs…
Alright folks it has been a while since we have been flush with eggs. We started our layers on October 27th, 2016….yes, right before the winter to remember (or forget!). The chicks did well in the brooders, but it was out to pasture in late November. Surprisingly, all of our shelters lasted through the wind and snow. We were really buried out here- but the super-doops held up and the snow even created some insulation. The chicks did fine throughout the winter. Then came spring and they popped. As I write this I am so surprised how well things went. Anyway, the birds are now fully grown and for the most part done with the Rooster eggs. We were a little conservative starting in October- planning to be ready for the markets in June. Turns out, even with that winter, the birds came through well and are laying great.

So….how about a farm day before June?? Yep, if you would like eggs or sausage, bacon or any other pork product please come to our first Farm Day of 2017 this Sunday from noon to 5pm.

There is lots going on this time of year and some of you might be interested in walking around a bit. We put in a lot of berries this month and if you’re interested in seeing our irrigation system- come on out. If you would like to see the pigs that will be ready for June and July classes- come on out. If you are just looking for a Sunday drive – come on out!

Long term members might remember the Sunday Egg Drops at Drake Park- want to do those again? We are up for it, but we know it has been a while since we have had enough eggs to do this. Let us know if you’re interested in meeting us downtown again.

Happy Spring and we look forward to feeding you and your family again this year!

Pastured eggs have pasture under where they lay, sleep and forage.

The Store is open for Fresh Chicken this weekend 6/26

Fresh Chicken Time

Time to fill your freezer with chickens just the way you like them.  Here are some cut-up ideas:

  • Home-Style 6 piece (2 breasts, 2 quarters, 2 wings),
  • The 8 piece fryer (2 breasts, 2 wings, 2 legs. 2 thighs)
  • The 10 piece french cut (2 breasts, 2 tenders, 2 wings w/ breasts, 2 legs, 2 thighs)
  • How about butterfly or spatchcock (we used to do this for you- any interest?)
  • Or, and this is what I imagine you do- cut them all up the same way and then store the parts separately- so then you’ll have leg night, then wings, then….
  • Or- maybe you just toss them in the freezer as is and just enjoy the savings!!

Regardless, we hope to see you this weekend.  I did a bit of work on the site so hopefully things will flow a bit better for you.  I think the main complaint was finding the shopping cart- that is fixed!

Hog Shares and Classes

Also, of note is that pig shares will be available through out July.  Taryn, for the third year now, will be teaching butchering class for those thirsting for porcine pedagogy.  Half shares are $3.75/lb/hanging weight which includes the slaughter and hang.

Online Store Updates

Okay, more on that later!!  Right now it is fresh chicken season- so sign up for some birds for this weekend.  Remember, you just reserve the birds with out paying the deposit by signing up for the birds and then selecting ‘Manual’ check out and just bring a check with you to the farm!

LINK TO THE CHICKEN LARDER STORE

Anita at work

Raised and butchered by the same hands!

Forage Crops

We have come to the realization that our animals would benefit from annual forage crops. This week we disced up about 1.5 acres and planted turnips. These are pretty quick growers and work well as a break crop. A break crop is a plant that is strong enough to win the new versus old battle and hopefully drop the grass down a bit. We are thinking this will be a good crop for both the pigs and the chickens. We will see. We will also try and strip graze the tops of the turnips. This variety (appin) has enough shoots at the crown that regrowth is possible after the pigs have nubbed it down. If we leave the pigs too long the will go for the subterranean gold.

So if your driving by….the North field is in triticale/oats and the south side of the driveway will be the turnip patch.

Things to do…before the season begins

  1. Disc dry land and plant dry land pasture mix to try and crowd out the weeds
  2. Eradicate ground squirrels from potato patchThis will never end
  3. Get blueberries from valley
  4. Take in two hogs Monday
  5. Stucco butcher shop
  6. Install carburetor/distributor in van
  7. Get USDA approved labels for pork
  8. Get Egg handlers license
  9. Finish up with County
  10. Install Clevises on Super Doops
  11. Finish skids for the Australorps
  12. Get registered with the markets
  13. Install field fence for turkeys
  14. Order turks for brooders
  15. Install irrigation system for blueberries
  16. Mow around raspberries
  17. Dig ditches for potato patch
  18. Cull Australops
  19. Butcher Barred Rock roosters
  20. Paint brooder house, butcher shop, and bottom section of the house
  21. Fix sodium lamp
  22. Build nest boxes for Barred rocks
  23. Figure out how to drive the earth anchors on the super doops
  24. Fix golf cartFinally!
  25. Disc main fields and overseed with new Chicken Hay
  26. Make egg washer/candler
  27. Change roosts in Super Doops to be more mobile
  28. Install clean-out filter on irrigation line

Notes from the Horticultural Department (aka dear ol’ Ma)

The Farm is not just livestock. There is indeed a slowly encroaching greenery around our high desert acreage, as some of you who came to the farm this fall to pick up poultry may have noticed. Free tomatoes from an incredible first-year crop were enjoyed by many, and a lucky few got some of the yellow heritage tomatoes called pineapple. Plenty of sage and rosemary were being pruned down for the winter, and sprigs went home with the birds.

Since we are here to stay for a long, long time here in Powell Butte, we invested in some permaculture fruit plantings–apples, blueberries, rhubarb, gooseberries and even a dozen frightened little grape vines. We have been advised that even if the trees and shrubs survive, chances are good they will not bear much fruit, but how can we not try?

However, we do have a warm feeling about the thousand raspberry plants dug into a hedgerow around one of the pastures at the cost of horrendous human labor. They have the look of plant thugs, able to beat the thick pasture grass to light and water, and we have high hopes  for a token crop at least next fall. Autumn Britten is supposed to be everbearing but that seems to mean most come in the fall; we’ll see what a ninety day growing season does.

So now in December we ( and the gophers of perdition) are tucked in mulch and wooly socks for the winter, and planting sugarplums dance in our heads. Sweet corn–could we? Should we? What about tiny taters? Will the gophers eat them? Fancy striped beets?

Pasture revisited…

Took a walk around the pasture where we raised the red broilers yesterday.  Wow! what an impact.  This pasture was planted around Memorial Day.  Prior to planting the area was leveled out a bit with some fill dirt.  There was almost no life in the soil so when the chickens came along it really popped.  This picture was taken about two months after the chickens had been there.  

 

Thought you might like this picture:to-chicken-or-not-to-chicken.JPG

Precious Pasture

The whole premise of our farm is to provide the best forage possible for our animals. If you’re at this site you probably have a pretty good idea about the benefits of grass fed animals. In this post let’s talk about what the animals leave behind rather than what they take from the pasture.

When we ran our layers on the lawn we could definitely see a nice green rush of new growth about 3 weeks after we moved them off. These days we do not run our layers in pens on the lawn anymore- they have too much work to do around the place to be limited in anyway. The broilers are a different story- they play a specific role in our pasture management. We need concentrated fertilizer in order to maintain a healthy poly-fodder. I am pretty sure that the favorite food for all chickens are dandelions. They love them. Quick side story:

We laid sod in our backyard….the decision was should we strip out all the old turf/weeds and place the sod on bare dirt or level it off a bit and place the sod on top of the weedy stuff. We opted for the second option…it kind seemed like lasagna composting and we were a bit pressed for equipment. We laid out the sod and it looked great…..however, after a couple of days the seams started sprouting dandelions. The hens were on them like white on rice. I am sure we would have been doomed without the hens out there standing guard on the grass waiting for the seams to share some candy. The short version- if you are going to lay sod over weeds….your seams will need to monitored and chickens work great!Fertilizer

The broilers go about their work methodically. First they hit the weeds, then trim the pasture consistently eating it down below a mower’s level, then they seem to settle in for the day. They work on and off throughout the day and we have yet to develop a pasture to the point where we are really happy with it (i.e. the chickens are happy with it). So things may change as the pasture develops- right now we run out of fodder in 24 hours and the broilers are ready for a move.

The area left behind when the pens are moved is usually completely covered in ‘fertilizer’ it is a bit rank in the hot sun for a couple of days, the blades of grass start to unfold themselves where they have been trampled, the ‘fertilizer’ starts to fade away and in a week it is gone. We see a quicker green rush the older the birds get. I would guess this has more to do with the increased consumption than any development changes. In other words, the day one rush comes at the same time as day five. I hope you can see from the picture how much better the pasture looks after two weeks. It truly is amazing. I wish I could make a bug count!!