Rural Lifestyle Blog

Life in Rural America

Category: Homesteading

Farming Gardening and Homesteading

Potato plants three weeks after planting

Potato plant

The potatoes were planted March 1st. Here we are three weeks later and the potatoes are starting to break through the soil. One of my favorite times after planting is seeing the first sprouts break through the top of the ground.

When the cuttings were planted they were not planted in a mound. The mound will be made as the plant grows.

A common question is how far down do you plant the seed potatoes? I usually plant them about 3 inches deep, or the width of your hand. With well drained sandy soil the potato sprout will have no problem pushing to the top of the soil.

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One month update on the chicks

Rhode Island Red about four - five weeks old

It is amazing how fast chicks grow. In 1 month they went from being totally helpless, to foraging for food. With every passing day the chicks move further away from the chicken house.

The more I watch chickens, the more I understand why the species has been so successful, and why humans have grown dependent on them. While cats, dogs, humans,,, are still dependent on their parents at one month old, chickens are pretty much independent. At 4 – 6 weeks old chicks need protection from full grown chickens and predators, but they do pretty well at foraging and looking for food.

The colors of each breed are becoming more defined. The Barred Rocks are getting their distinctive white specs, Rhode Island Reds are getting a deeper colors red, Australorps are still black as they should be and the Buff Orpingtons are turning a bright yellow gold color.

At around 4 weeks old the chicks have shed their soft birth feathers and have got their real feathers in. Some of the chicks have bald spots from shedding (molting) one set of feathers and getting another set in.
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Mulching around peach and plum trees

tree peach

Several years ago my kids and I planted some peach trees and a plum tree. At least one of the peach trees died and was replaced with another plum tree.

The oldest plum tree is doing well, a couple of the peach trees are doing ok, but two of the peach trees are not doing anything. They are just “there” not growing at all.

Now that my wife and I have moved to the farm I am resolved to take care of the fruit trees.

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Planting potatoes for 2014 garden

Growing potatoes

If you plan on gardening during a long term SHTF event, the potato is one of your best friends. Not only are potatoes easy to grow, but they also store well, are easy to cook with, and any remaining potatoes at the end of the year can be replanted for next years crop.

Unlike a lot of crops that require special storage, such as canning and/or drying, just keep potatoes dry and in a cool dark place and they will store for close to a year.

Small potatoes can be eaten straight out of the ground. Larger ones can be baked, boiled, mashed, or made into a soup.

Potatoes grow well in loose soil free from rocks, sticks, tree roots and other obstructions. Work the soil with a tiller, plow, disk,,, something that will break the soil up. Make the rows, add fertilizer, I like to mix the fertilizer into the soil using a tiller, then plant the seed potatoes. Plant the seed potatoes about 3 inches deep and about 12 – 18 inches apart.

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Taking care of new baby chicks

Chicks around the feeder

Are you interested in raising some baby chicks, but are worried about how difficult it is to get started? If you take the right precautions raising chicks is neither difficult or hard, but it is a labor of love.

Chicks are small and cute, but provided they have the right conditions they are not fragile. During the late winter and early spring hundreds of thousands of chicks are mailed from hatcheries to farm supply stores and directly to customers. The vast majority of those chicks arrive alive and well.

Baby chicks should be provided with 5 things, safe place that will protect them from predators, heat lamp / heat source, food, water, and a clean place to sleep.

Let’s discuss each of those points in detail.

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Help make a chick growth chart

Australorp chick about one week old

Any readers of this blog and forum members wish to contribute to a chick weight / growth chart?

In my possession I have Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds and Australorp chicks. All of them are less than a week old. When I get some Barred Rocks on Thursday I plan on weighing them also.

Yesterday I weighed a random selection of the chicks and recorded the weight in ounces. Ounces did not seem to be accurate enough, so I switched to grams.

The plan is to weigh a random selection of chicks everyday, record their weight, then figure out an average.

Out of my 6 australorps and 6 buffs I weighed 4 of each breed.

Out of my 3 rhode island reds I weighed all three.

The project will continue until I get bored and decide to work on something else. But I would like to continue this for at least 4 – 6 weeks.

Anyone wish to be part of this project? If so weigh at least 3 or 4 chicks in grams, post the weights or averages, age of the chick in days, type of feed and breed.

Type and brand name of feed is important to know, as we can chart that as well

The goal is to enter the information into a spread sheet and chart the growth of each breed. This will give survivalist an idea about which breeds grow the fastest.

Visit this link if you wish to help with the growth chart. Continue Reading….

First chicks of 2014

Chick waterer in new chicks

My wife and I got our first new chicks of 2014, 6 Buff Orpingtons and 6 Australorps. Circle 3 Feed here in Jasper Texas got an early shipment of chicks. Usually the chicks do not start shipping until late February and early March, which is when Kristy (my wife) and I got our first set of chicks 2 years ago.

Circle 3 had Bantams, White Leghorns, Australorps and Buff Orpingtons. My wife and I were only interested in the Australorps and Buff Orpingtons.

My wife has been wanting Buffs for a long time. Now that we live in a rural area I told my wife to get as many Buff Orpingtons as she wanted. On Friday February 7th I picked Kristy up 6 Buff Orpingtons, and we are supposed to get another dozen on Monday February 10th.

We have two Australorp hens that are turning 2 years old in 2014. While Circle 3 had them in stock I picked up 6 more.

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Chickens see snow for first time

Barred rock hen in snow

Thursday January 23rd we started to get snow here in southeast Texas, I am in the Jasper area to be exact. Between Thursday night and into Friday morning at sunrise we ended up with 2 inches of snow on the ground and 3 inches of snow on the top of the chicken house and other places off the ground.

When I let the hens out in the morning they usually run out of the house and start looking for food. With snow on the ground it was a nopeday. As in nope, they are not going outside. The hens would go down the ladder to under the chicken house. Look around for a few minutes, then go back up the ladder.

After about 6 hours I finally took a couple of hens and set them out in the snow. From there things were ok.

When my wife and I built this chicken house off the ground I was worried about how the chickens would do in cold weather. This is the second winter and so far none of the hens have shown any signs of frostbite.

Forum thread – Chickens see snow for first time

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Chainsaw accident

Resting in ER bed

It finally happened, I had an accident with my chainsaw. I used to think that accidents were for people who careless, or for people who rarely use chainsaws. All it took for me was a split second of not paying attention and having my mind on something else.

There is this field I want to put some goats, sheep and some cattle on. depending on how the fence is ran there is between 5- 7 acres, maybe as much as 9 acres that needs to be fenced in. The last time this field was fenced was back in the early 1980s. Falling tree limbs, rotting fence post, and a variety of other causes have downed large sections of fence. All along the old fence row there are sweet gum trees that range anywhere from 6 inches to 2 inches in diameter. All of those sweet gum trees need to be cleared out before the new section of fence is put in.

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December 2013 update from the farm

After looking through my youtube video I realized I have not uploaded a video in a couple of months. The last video I uploaded was on September 15, 2013, which makes 3 months. In all honesty I had not realized it had been so long.

So what has been going on?

Added some lean-tos on the shed to park the tiller and lawnmower under.

Got a deer feeder setup about 100 years behind the house.

Added some pvc pipe to the deer feeder legs to prevent coons from climbing the legs. Raccoons have been climbing the legs and turning the spinner, which dumps a lot of corn on the ground. the corn is not for coons, it is for deer and hogs.

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Got our first rooster

My wife and I obtained two heinz-57 roosters that have been rather “neglected.”

The roosters are going from being wild, never handled, roosted in trees at night type of life, to being in a chicken house with a dozen hens who have been socialized.

Rooster #1 – looks like it has some Rhode Island Red, or maybe Delaware. Its spurs were maybe one and a quarter inches long.

Rooster #2 – is a white body with long black tail feathers. The people who handed the roosters over said #2 had been fighting other roosters, so it had been kept in a cage.

Both roosters are very skinny.

Feather quality of both roosters were poor.

Bantam rooster

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Thinking about 2014 spring garden

While it is drizzling rain here in southeast Texas I am using the damp conditions to burn a brush pile. The burning brush pile is where wife and I are planning on planting potatoes and corn next year.

I am standing in the rain, wearing my boonie hat, when I start thinking about what crops would be good to raise next spring.

Some of the crops I thought about are corn, squash, zucchini, purple hull peas and potatoes. Continue Reading….

Feeling a little overwhelmed

After my wife and I got moved to the farm I figured things would settle down a little bit. I thought I would be able to get into a grove of doing some work in the evenings and on the weekends. In all honesty there is no “little” about it. There is a shed that needs to be rebuilt.  I haev stuff laying around the house that needs to go in the shed, but the shed needs to be moved into place and some boards replaced before all of the stuff is put back in the shed. Fence rows to clear out. A chicken house needs to be built by spring. A water well that needs to be drilled. A deck to be built on Continue Reading….

Think I know what happened to my missing hen

I think I found out what happened to my missing hen.

My cousin got off work a little earlier than normal today, September 23, 2013. After he got home my cousin took his dog for a walk, rounded the corner of a tree line, and just happened to see a chicken hawk on top of one of my Rhode Island Reds.

The dog took off after the chicken hawk, which let the chicken go and flew to safety.

The chicken was not injured too bad. My cousin said the chicken jumped up and limped off. I looked at my 4 Rhode Island Reds and did not see any blood on them.

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