Waste Not, Want Not 10/27/2020

While we won’t spare expense for the welfare and happiness of our birds, we do like to take advantage of a good opportunity now and again. This saga starts with a deck on our sunroom that needed replaced. The 12’x15’ deck was constructed in two different phases by two different owners, and needed to be removed to allow for roof damage repair underneath. Unfortunately, it wasn’t constructed in such a way to allow for disassembly and reassembly, so we requested that the contractors remove it and put it aside for us to dismantle for storage and later use. They agreed, and we got more than we had ever hoped for; not only did the contracting team remove the boards, but they also removed the hardware and separated the boards in piles by size. AH-mazing. 


While the plan was to use the boards in the spring to build new mobile coops, We had to use them sooner than we had anticipated. It just so happened that we had a mink or weasel get into one of our grow-out coops by sliding through the poultry net and digging under 2 feet of perimeter mesh. That little devil killed 16 birds in one night, the wasteful, wanton thing. We knew then that our predator proofing solution was not going to work and that we’d have to put floors in the coops. That’s just what we did. Turns out, the deck took care of flooring for three of our mobile coops of 48 sqft, 48sqft, and 63 sqft with only a couple boards to spare.


Back in August when we built this, we were sure it was predator proof. How were we to know a mustelid could be so persistent?

New floor going in with supports made from railings of the old deck.

Beautiful pinewood floorboards = safe birds and no more nighttime chicken parent anxiety.

Although we hate to have the birds up off the ground for the fertility aspect in our pasture rotation program, we still allow the birds out in runs during the day to fertilize the earth, and we compost the bedding into a rich, fertile amendment to use in the garden.


Speaking of compost, the railings were one of those deck items that I wasn’t sure we’d have a use for. They were only 3.5 feet long and about an inch and a half wide. However, after the attack, it became clear that we needed to build the compost bin system we’d planned for next year asap to compost the mortalities. The evening after the coop floors were in, Amy went out and built the compost bins. We now have three – one for used bedding (to use as carbon for the composting process), one for a primary compost cycle, and one for a secondary compost cycle.


Classy and functional new compost bin!

I will say that last week was a whirlwind of essential and timely building projects. In the moment, it’s go-go-go. However, only a few days later, I can reflect happily on how we can breathe new life into old things and how we can save items that were destined for the landfill. 


All the chickens are to bed now, and I’m going to sleep well knowing everyone is safe and sound.


Until next week!



Chickens Enjoy Tomato Scraps 10/21/20

Chickens like many things. They enjoy birdseed. Corn. Watermelon. Cantaloupe innards. Seedy zucchini. Burnt corn bread muffins. But, when Zach dumped the small bucket of tomato scraps from my canning adventure onto the ground, the excitement was palpable. 

Seeing the chickens go to town on a pile of tomato scraps was a comforting sight in what has been a whirlwind of a month. I’ve been feeling pulled in 1,000 directions lately as the season ends and we get ready for the first snowfall of the season, which, as Zach points out on a near daily basis, is just around the corner. It’s crazy to think of how short our season was this year and how turbulent it’s been in regards to weather. The late, wet spring, dry summer, and early frost made it really hard to determine planting dates and maturity tables for our crops. Our garden got in late, and the slugs had a field day with the warm wet start. Only about ⅓ of our crops made it, which is a pity, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

After some thinking on the uncertainty of Mother Nature, we are going to focus on the fruit side of things for edible products. While the trees and bushes take a longer establishment time than annual vegetables, they are more certain in regards to their production. We found a reputable, quality, local nursery with a large selection of fruit trees and another few reputable nurseries for fruit bushes, vines, and brambles. This year, we planted half of the orchard. A minimum of 5 varieties of fruit have been selected from each tree type, since variety is the spice of life! Stay tuned for the following: apples, pears, Asian pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots, tart cherries, sweet cherries, European plums, Japanese plums, blueberries, gooseberries, currants, red raspberries, and blackberries. It’s alot, but Amy has a love of fruit that just can’t be quenched. Plus, she has experience working with it on her dad’s farm in NEPA and is quite excited for the development of the orchard. We don’t expect to have a wide selection of fruits until about 3-4 years from now, when the trees begin to produce in abundance. 

Next year, we will have a limited farm stand, with strawberries from this year’s planting (If I can keep the deer out of them!!), extra vegetables from our home garden, and eggs. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the maturity tables, but I’ll be posting updates to our facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/snowybrookfarm Stay happy and healthy everyone!