Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The basic ingredients that make life awesome

Right now I'm sitting with tea, and trying to plan our garden layout with companion gardening to save space and reduce pests! I'm loving a book I purchased called Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte. Crazy cool things like parsley helps asparagus, and tomatoes protect asparagus from specific pests. It peaks my interest because it is like one of those complex word problems when I get all the information written out: 
If asparagus likes tomatoes, tomatoes like carrots and garlic, Broccoli likes potatoes, beets, onions and thyme, but broccoli hates tomatoes, strawberries, beans and peas... and you have a semi-square foot garden plan that also needs to be rotated in some areas to prevent pests, WHERE DO YOU PLANT YOUR PLANTS?
Ahaha. It doesn't have to be that complicated. She gives a few examples of garden layouts. I'm not going to get it perfect, but I'm enjoying the challenge with the hope that it cuts down on pests and creates a beautiful compact garden with food we love! If you want to see a chart by someone else, this one is interesting. It doesn't tell you why they like certain plants, which I prefer in the book.

I'm also thinking these homesteading related things:
Butter, Buttermilk, Cheese, Yogurt, Eggs, Chicken, Vegetables, Relish and Pickles, Diced tomatoes ready for Chili!, Applesauce....
I just rewrote part of my pinterest blurb to say "I enjoy homesteading and having a hand in the basic ingredients that make life awesome!" Yeah, that sums it up. I'm really loving how I get to practically apply biology, chemistry, math, organization, problem solving, research... The whole nine yards, and use if for our life. Pretty sweet. I think I'm a geek.

If you followed me on pinterest, you would be seeing things about chicks, breeds of chickens, chicken tractors, feed, a NH goat breeder, butter, kombucha, potatoes, soaked cakes, how to butcher a chicken.... It has been my job for the past couple of weeks to figure some of this stuff out. And pinterest saves my bookmarks.

I'll be glad when we are in the swing of things and I'm walking to the coop to check on new chicks, letting our laying hens in the garden for a bit and watching the green start to come up from the soil!!

For now, here are some of our adventures:
Over a week ago we started Kombucha with some SCOBY out of a bottle from the store. It is working so far. I'm excited.

The beginning. I don't have a picture of it all in the jar.

We made butter and buttermilk for a cake we made and decided that we should make butter with the cream on the top of one gallon of milk every Wednesday when we get milk. It rocks, and now we just have to have buttermilk pancakes every week! It is actually saving money on the butter. Our friends gave us some maple syrup that we can't wait to try on the pancakes!


went into this.

I'm all ready for the three chicks from the daycare, but it looks like we'll be hatching them ourselves anyway. That will be fun!

And we just put in an order for chicks we will be raising for meat. Barred Rock, NH Red and Buckeye from Cackle Hatchery. So we'll be moving a coop, cleaning it out to raise the chicks for the first 3-5 weeks and then putting them in a big chicken tractor that we haven't built yet. :-)

So maybe I'll have some pictures of that fun soon!

Bragging on my husband moment: Joel, who purchases Snap On tools for his work toolbox, brought me home a surprise last week. My first Snap On tools! I was shocked at how excited I was. I think they were better than cut flowers (which I always ask for and love!). I know snap on tools are like the greatest tools according to most, so for him to buy me some that apply to me... it was a mushy moment in my head.

Here is some of the chicken info we've gathered so far that you probably don't want to read. I've been trying to find the perfect heritage breed for us, but we'll have to see how they do this year in our little experiment. I actually look back at this stuff and remind myself why we chose different things... It is fun for me to see, but you can skip it:
We are attempting to start a sustainable breed that we can use for eggs, and then hatch for meat. So we are looking into heritage breeds and possibly mixing roos and hens from different heritage breeds.

We've read that NH Red roos with Barred Rock hens make bigger birds at butchering time than either of the two breeds alone. Barred Rock do get bigger than NH Reds at full maturity, but NH Reds were bread for faster maturity, so we might get a bigger bird from NH Red when we want to butcher than from Barred Rock.

I also like the Buckeye breed because the Roosters have a lower crow and generally crow less often according to what I've read. They were bread to be more of a meat bird, so they have that going for them too. They have a threatened status, meaning not as many people keep or breed them anymore. Buckeye also go broody, and we'll need some good mothers if we hope to hatch eggs without an incubator or brooder to save on electricity. They seem to be a good all around bird and one person commented on a dressed weight of around 5lb with a 16week old roo... That sounds pretty good to me.

So, this will be an experiment. I think the Barred Rock will be a favorite for all around bird but might need to be much older before we want to butcher. The NH red might mature faster and be more desirable in that way. And the Buckey will hopefully be broody hens and good eating since they were originally designed for better meat production. They all forage well.

All of these breeds were created with selective breeding and breed true. They are all recognized as heritage breeds. I'm having a hard time finding any source for how fast any of these birds grow. Just general information like "mature faster"... So that is why we haven't settled on just one bird.

I don't have any sources for this breed information because I just read stuff and wrote it down for myself.

I like chickens.

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