Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Category: Homesteading

Farming Gardening and Homesteading

Observations on types of chicken feed and egg production

Over the past couple of months my chickens were fed different types of feed along with their laying mash. During this observation the hens were between 7 – 8 months old.

Chickens eating table scrapsBreeds include Barred rock, Rhode island red, Jersey giant, Silver laced wyandotte, Australorp and Speckled sussex.

Time of year during this observation was August – early October. Daytime temps ranged between the mid 80s – mid to upper 90s.

Oats, hen scratch and laying crumbles

For close to a month the chickens were given a 4 – 5 ounce scoop of feed oats, 4 – 5 ounces of hen scratch, a 3 – 4 ounce scoop of crushed oyster shell for calcium. Free access to Arrow Feeds poultry laying crumbles was provided at all times.

The Hens were let out of the coop early in the morning right around sunrise. The mixture of feed oats, hen scratch and ground oyster shell were spread over the ground for the chickens to pick up.

Egg production slowly dropped until the hens were laying around 5 – 6 eggs a day.

Uses for a simple bucket

Have you given thought to how important a simple bucket can be? This is not the 5 gallon buckets, but something like a 1 gallon bucket. Small buckets are easy for young children to handle, so this enables them to help with basic chores, such as feeding the chickens and picking peas.

Chicken Feed

What kind of bucket do I use to bring feed to the chickens? Its a plastic pop-corn bucket my wife and I bought from the local movie theater.

What do I use to fill the bucket? A large plastic cup my wife and I got from a casino.

For stuff like hen scratch I use a plastic tub that was filled with peppermints.

Principles of Canning and Preserving Food

Canned home grown Jalapeno Peppers

In the preservation of foods by canning, preserving, etc., the most essential things in the processes are the sterilization of the food and all the utensils and the sealing of the sterilized food to exclude all germs.

BACTERIA, YEASTS, AND FERMENTATION

Over one hundred years ago François Appert was the first to make practical application of the method of preserving food by putting it in cans or bottles, which he hermetically sealed. He then put the full bottles or cans in water and boiled them for more or less time, depending upon the kinds of food.

In Appert’s time and, indeed, until recent years it was generally thought that the oxygen of the air caused the decomposition of food. Appert’s theory was that the things essential to the preservation of food in this manner were the exclusion of air and the application of gentle heat, as in the water bath, which caused a fusion of the principal constituents and ferments in such a manner that the power of the ferments was destroyed.

The investigations of scientists, particularly of Pasteur, have shown that it is not the oxygen of the air which causes fermentation and putrefaction, but bacteria and other microscopic organisms.

Appert’s theory as to the cause of the spoiling of food was incorrect, but his method of preserving it by sealing and cooking was correct, and the world owes him a debt of gratitude.

Old Style Cucumber Farming

The cucumber market is not easily over-supplied, but the pickling tub should stand ready to receive all cucumbers not sold in a fresh condition.

For field culture, good ground must be selected, and marked out with a plow, 4 × 4 feet; or, a little wider, if the soil is strong. At least one shovelful of well-rotted manure is dropped in every hill, and mixed with the soil, and a dozen seeds planted, to be thinned out finally to three or four plants. It is better to have extra plants, on account of the attacks of the striped beetle.

The cucumber belongs to a botanic family which is naturally tender, and the seeds should not be sown until the soil is quite warm. For farm work, the planting season is the latter part of May and the whole of June; and even July is a suitable month, if the soil can be irrigated. It will require two pounds of seed for an acre.

The variety sown should depend on the purpose in view; but in all commercial operations, well-known and thoroughly tested sorts should be chosen. Shallow cultivation is recommended.

Growing Onions

Home grown onions

The onion is a national crop; as widely though not quite as extensively grown as the potato. It is available as a money crop for the farm gardener.

Choice of Soil — Heavy, stiff clay land is to be avoided. Sand and gravel dry out too quickly. Stony land renders good culture difficult. The best soil for onions is a deep, rich, mellow loam. Soils which afford natural advantages for irrigation should not be overlooked, as the rainfall is often lacking when greatly needed.

Fertilizers — Onion culture demands high manuring. No amount of rotted stable manure is likely to be excessive. A ton per acre of high-grade, complete fertilizer is not too much, if moisture can be supplied. Hen manure is a good top dressing for onion-beds, furnishing the needed nitrogen. Nitrate of soda is a good source of nitrogen, if nitrogen must be purchased. The clovers and other leguminous crops yield the cheapest nitrogen. Wood ashes, kainit, etc., furnish potash. Either ground bone or acid phosphate will give the needed phosphoric acid. An analysis of the onion shows that it carries away fertility in just about the proportions furnished by stable manure.

Old Style Carrot Farming

A sandy soil or light loam is best for carrots, but they will grow anywhere under good culture. Enormous quantities are grown by the market gardeners, both under glass and in the open ground, for use in soups and for seasoning purposes. The short or half-long varieties are demanded by this trade.

Farm gardeners will do best with half-long and long kinds, unless a special demand calls for the smaller carrots. The large half-long and long ones are suited to both culinary and stock-feeding purposes.

It requires from three to four pounds of seed to the acre, depending on the distance between the rows. The plants should be from 3 to 5 inches apart in the rows, and the rows as near together as is feasible for horse work. Clean culture is demanded. The seed must be planted shallow, and may go into the ground as early as it can be worked in the spring, and from that time until the middle of June. The only danger about late planting is the possibility of dry weather.

Old Style Cabbage Farming

Early cabbage is not a farm gardener’s crop at the North, though in the Southern States the early varieties can be grown by farmers for shipment to the great Northern markets. The Northern farmer, unless provided with glass, usually finds more profit in the later and larger sorts, which mature in autumn.

Soil.—Rich, loamy soil, containing much clay, is best for this vegetable, which is a rank feeder. Large amounts of manure are demanded. The manure is best applied in a partially rotted form, as fresh manure of any kind (especially hog manure) is liable to produce the disease or deformity known as club-root, the spores of the disease apparently being in the fresh manure; though land too long cropped with cabbage is likely to produce the same disease without the application of fresh manure of any kind.

Seed — It is of especial importance that good seed be planted, as cabbage varies so much and shows such a disposition to go back to undesirable types that great dissatisfaction and loss attend all experiments with poorly-selected seed. The choice of seed not infrequently determines the size and success of the crop. Expert cabbage growers are well aware of this fact.

Old Style Bean Farming Wisdom From The Past

Snap beans for a shtf survival garden

Bean-growing in a small way is fully warranted in every garden, but on a large scale it is a different question, being somewhat a matter of soil and location.

Food Value — The bean is one of the most excellent of human foods. Its botanical kinship is close to the pea, and both are legumes. The leguminous plants, it will be remembered, have the rare ability of obtaining nitrogen through the tubercles on their roots, taking this expensive element partly from the air, and not greatly impoverishing the soil by their growth.

Something of the food value of the bean may be learned by comparing its chemical analysis with that of beef. In 100 pounds of beans there are 23 pounds of protein (nitrogenous matter), while in 100 pounds of beef there are but about 15 to 20 pounds of protein. Peas are almost as rich as beans in protein, which is the tissue-building element of all foods, and, hence, it is easy to realize the fact that both beans and peas are foods of the highest economic value. They are standard foods of the world, entering into the diet of soldiers, laborers and persons needing physical strength.

It is generally safe to grow beans for the retail market of any town or centre of population, but to compete in the open wholesale market demands experience and good equipment on the part of the grower to insure profits.

Bean Varieties and Types

ROOTS TURNIPS BEETS and CARROTS

If there be any who still hold that this country must ultimately rival that magnificent Turnip-culture which has so largely transformed the agricultural industry of England and Scotland, while signally and beneficently increasing its annual product, I judge that time will prove them mistaken.

The striking diversity of climate between the opposite coasts of the Atlantic forbids the realization of their hopes. The British Isles, with a considerable portion of the adjacent coast of Continental Europe, have a climate so modified by the Gulf Stream and the ocean that their Summers are usually moist and cool, their Autumns still more so, and their Winters rarely so cold as to freeze the earth considerably; while our Summers and Autumns, are comparatively hot and dry; our Winters in part intensely cold, so as to freeze the earth solid for a foot or more.

Hence, every variety of turnip is exposed here in its tenderer stages to the ravages of every devouring insect; while the 1st of December often finds the soil of all but our Southern and Pacific States so frozen that cannon-wheels would hardly track it, and roots not previously dug up must remain fast in the earth for weeks and often for months.

Old style potato farming

In no other form can so large an amount and value of human food be obtained from an acre of ground as in that of edible roots or tubers; and of these the Potato is by far the most acceptable, and in most general use. Our ancestors, it is settled, were destitute and ignorant of the Potato prior to the discovery of America, though Europe would now find it difficult to subsist her teeming millions without it. In travelling pretty widely over that continent, I cannot remember that I found, any considerable district in which the Potato was not cultivated, though Ireland, western England, and northern Switzerland, with a small portion of northern Italy, are impressed on my mind as the most addicted to the growth of this esculent.

Other roots are eaten occasionally, by way of variety, or as giving a relish to ordinary food; but the Potato alone forms part of the every day diet alike of prince and peasant. It is an almost indispensable ingredient of the feasts of Dives, while it is the cheapest and commonest resort for satiating or moderating the hunger of Lazarus. I recollect hearing my parents, fifty years ago, relate how, in their childhood and youth, the poor of New-England, when the grain-crop of that region was cut short, as it often was, were obliged to subsist through the following Winter mainly on Potatoes and Milk; and I then accorded to those unfortunates of the preceding generation a sympathy which I should now considerably abate, provided the Potatoes were of good quality.

PEACHES PEARS CHERRIES and GRAPES

Our harsh, capricious climate north of the latitudes of Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and St. Louis—so much severer than that of corresponding latitudes in Europe—is unfavorable, or at least very trying, to all the more delicate and luscious Fruits, berries excepted. Except on our Pacific coast, of which the Winter temperature is at least ten degrees milder than that of the Atlantic, the finer Peaches and Grapes are grown with difficulty north of the fortieth degree of latitude, save in a few specially favored localities, whereof the southern shore of Lake Erie is most noted, though part of that of Lake Ontario and of the west coast of Lake Michigan are likewise well adapted to the Peach.

It is not the mere fact that the mercury in Fahrenheit’s thermometer sometimes ranges below zero, and the earth is deeply frozen, but the suddenness wherewith such rigor succeeds and is succeeded by a temperature above the freezing point, that proves so inhospitable to the most valued Tree-Fruits. And, as the dense forests which formerly clothed the Alleghenies and the Atlantic slope, are year by year swept away, the severity of our “cold snaps,” and the celerity with which they appear and disappear, are constantly aggravated. A change of 60°, or from 50° above to 10° below zero, between morning and the following midnight, soon followed by an equally rapid return to an average November temperature, often proves fatal even to hardy forest-trees. I have had the Red Cedar in my woods killed by scores during an open, capricious Winter; and my observation indicates the warmest spots in a forest as those where trees are most likely to be thus destroyed.

The apple tree

If I were asked to say what single aspect of our economic condition most strikingly and favorably distinguished the people of our Northern States from these of most if not all other countries which I have traversed, I would point at once to the fruit-trees which so generally diversify every little as well as larger farm throughout these States, and are quite commonly found even on the petty holdings of the poorer mechanics and workmen in every village and in the suburbs and outskirts of every city.

I can recall nothing like it abroad, save in two or three of the least mountainous and most fertile districts of northern Switzerland. Italy has some approach to it in the venerable olive-trees which surround or flank many, perhaps most, of her farm-houses, upholding grape-vines as ancient and nearly as large as themselves; but the average New-England or Middle State homestead, with its ample Apple-orchard and its cluster of Pear, Cherry and Plum-trees surrounding its house and dotting or belting its garden, has an air of comfort and modest thrift, which I have nowhere else seen fairly equaled.

Upland Virginia and the mountainous portion of the States southward of her may in time surpass the most favored regions of the North in the abundance, variety and excellence of their fruits; for the Peach and the Grape find here a congenial climate, while they are grown with difficulty, where they can be grown at all, in the North; but, up to this hour, I judge that our country north of the Potomac is better supplied with wholesome and palatable tree-fruits than any other portion of the earth’s surface of equal or nearly equal area.

Using manure as fertilizer

BARN OR STABLE MANURE

Barn or stable manure consists of the solid and liquid excrement of any of the farm animals mixed with the straw or other materials used as bedding for the comfort of the animals and to absorb the liquid parts.

The liquid parts should be saved, as they contain more than half of the nitrogen and potash in the manure.

The value of barn manure for improving the soil conditions necessary for root growth depends in a measure upon the plant food in it, but chiefly upon the very large proportion of organic matter which it contains when it is applied to the soil.

These factors are influenced somewhat: by the kind of animal that produces the manure; by the kind of food the animal receives; by the kind and amount of litter or bedding used; but they depend particularly on the way the manure is cared for after it is produced.

Crop Rotation

Rotation of crops economizes the natural plant food of the soil and also that which is applied in the form of manure and fertilizer. This is because:

Crops take food from the soil in different amounts and different proportions.

Crops differ in their feeding powers.

Crops differ in the extent and depth to which they send their roots into the soil in search of food and water.

Crops differ in the time of year at which they make their best growths.

Rotation helps to maintain or improve the texture of the soil because the amount of humus in the soil is maintained or increased by turning under green manure and cover crops which should occur in every well-planned rotation.

Feeding Poultry

Experiments have demonstrated that what may be called the gastric juice in fowls has not sufficient power to dissolve their food, without the aid of the grinding action of the gizzard. Before the food is prepared for digestion, therefore, the grains must be subjected to a triturating process; and such as are not sufficiently bruised in this manner, before passing into the gizzard, are there reduced to the proper state, by its natural action.

Chickens eating table scrapsThe action of the gizzard is, in this respect, mechanical; this organ serving as a mill to grind the food to pieces, and then, by means of its powerful muscles, pressing it gradually into the intestines, in the form of pulp. The power of this organ is said to be sufficient to pulverize hollow globules of glass in a very short time, and solid masses of the same substance in a few weeks.

The rapidity of this process seems to be proportionate, generally, to the size of the bird. A chicken, for example, breaks up such substances as are received into its stomach less readily than the capon; while a goose performs the same operation sooner than either. Needles, and even lancets, given to turkeys, have been broken in pieces and voided, without any apparent injury to the stomach. The reason, undoubtedly, is, that the larger species of birds have thicker and more powerful organs of digestion.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018