When I moved to the farm almost 3 years ago I thought this was going to be easy. Build a nice chicken yard, build a chicken house, plant some fruit trees, and things will be off and running. Then I can work on the pole barn, barn, and fence in a few acres for goats and cattle.
Lets just say things have not been going as planned.
Fruit trees have been a failure
Either from disease, drought, drowned from too much rain,,,, whatever the reason, my fruit tree project has not gone anywhere near as expected.
A plum tree my kids and I planted several years ago died. A second plum tree is not doing anything. It is not even hardly growing.
Peach trees are not growing as expected, or died. Out of the several peach trees that were planted over the past few years, only one has grown and is producing any peaches. This year that one peach tree is not doing anything.
Fig trees died from the summer drought of 2015. June, July, August and September 2015 we got very little rain fall here in southeast Texas. I did not keep my young fig trees watered like they needed, and 3 out of the 4 died.
One of the blueberry bushes died.
2016 spring garden is doing terrible
We have gotten so much rain this year just about all of my snap bean plants drown.
Purple hull peas had to be replanted because they did not sprout.
Potatoes are doing good, expect I have not been able to hoe dirt up around the plants to build mounds. The rows have been pretty much mud over the past few months.
Melons are not sprouting, or crows are getting the sprouts.
Continue to lose chickens
Whether it is chicken hawks, some unknown rodent type animal I am trying to trap, coyotes,,,, something is always trying to kill my chickens.
Couple of weeks ago a hawk carried off one of my full grown chickens. Then last week one of the new Buff Orpington chicks was carried off by a hawk.
Some kind of predator is killing my 3 month old chicks. The animal is dragging the chicks out of the chicken house through a small crack under the wall, then eating the neck or back of the chick. the most recent kill the predator ate part of the chick in the chicken house. I have set 3 live traps out, it will not go into the traps. I set a barrel type foothold trap out that will not catch dogs or cats, it will not mess with the trap. I have two trail cameras out around the chicken house. the only picture I got was part of a tail.
Out of the 16 Australorps and Barred Rocks I bought in spring 2015, only about 3 or 4 are left.
Of the dozen guineas bought in spring 2015, 8 or 9 are left.
My girlfriend and I bought 16 chicks a couple of months ago, only 7 or so are left.
The chickens are my biggest disappointment. How did the people living on the frontier keep their flocks safe? Maybe they kept a dog outside at night? How did the Romans keep their chickens safe 2,000 years ago? What am I doing wrong to lose so much of my flock?
Maybe I need to be more aggressive in dealing with predators? A few months ago I bought a coyote call and decoy, maybe I need to put them to use?
Maybe I need to do more trapping around the farm?
One thing is for sure, I need to do something to stop these predators from killing my chickens.
Hawks on the other hand are protected, so there is nothing I can do about them. But I can do something about coyotes, bobcats, foxes, raccoons,,, and other pest.
Change of focus on fruit trees
I am done with peach and plum trees, I am not planting any more of them. Next spring I am going to plant more pear, fig and blueberries. Stuff I can make preserves out of and have a long history with farming.
Humans have been cultivating fig trees for thousands of years.
Pear trees do excellent here in southeast Texas.
Why try to change up something that has a proven track record? I am going to focus on what my grandparents and great grandparents planted. It worked for them, it should work for me.