Saturday, July 28, 2012

Kidnapped Chickes and Rabbits

So Grandma did kidnap my chickens this year... and my rabbits... (and my children when we visit.) BUT the good news is the chickens and rabbits are getting well fed (my kids too but that is mostly just icecream when I'm not looking). The chicken eat 5 times a day by Grandma. Every time they hear the screen door the come running to the feeding area because they know it's time to eat. The rabbit are also being constently had fed by my little girl. She heard some where that rabbits love clovers so one day she asked me what clover looked like I showed her and now every spare moment she gets she is picking clover and running it over to the bunnies (so much for her not getting attached to them this year) Oh the chickens are laying eggs too. The coolest part is that they have been an abnormal amount of double yokes. I haven't figured that one out yet.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Too much Silence...SORRY

Yep it's summer so much I wanted to post about and nothing I have :-( BUT hope is in the near future I maybe coming to a slow down here before things get frantic again. So my goal is to make up for the months of silence from this blog before next month this time. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oh compost where art thou

I know this was going to happen. I'm almost out of both of my compost. I have two different compost going right now. One really isn't compost it is more aged rabbit poop. Rabbit poop is like Miracle Grow Pellets, they slowly release food to the plants over time BUT unless they are aged the contain toxic levels (for plants) of ammonia and nitrogen. I have maybe a foot left of the aged rabbit poop (maybe). Next I have the filler compost pile, this is your dryer type compost. It is all the yard waste, leaves, sticks, grass and paper I find in my yard with a mix of the pine litter from the rabbits and chickens(used before I put them outside). Neither is very good as compost on its own but mixed with the natural soil and they are plant steroids.

Sadly I only have enough mix for the last raised plot :-(  Than means either I will have to buy dirt (defeating some of my purpose for doing this) or just grow in the natural soil (which will be depressing when not really grows in those areas.)

This is the hard part of trying to be in tune with nature she doesn't have ADD like me!

Raised plot almost done!

I have two and a third of the raised garden beds are now done and ready for planting. Now if only the weather would agree with me its time to plant we could get this show on the road. On other news my wife found an awesome place to get Walnut trees (Cold Stream Farm) that is right here in Mi! I see a lot of work ahead of me!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I should know better

I need to remember that April and May are the months were I need to just play farming sims and work on improving my farm structures. They are not months for planting and getting my hopes up for a jump start growing season. I'm pretty sure the blueberry bush that I just planted this year aren't going to make it. But I have been surprised by plant survivability before. But after having 2 weeks of 60 degree days to now having a week of snow every other day I'm not going to get my hopes up.

I have lived in the U.P. for almost 30 years and I do this every year. I have a plan though I'm going to map out a calender for next year. Starting in Jan going through Dec, I'm going to make a schedule that I"m going to make myself stick to regardless of what the weather is outside. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Time to deport the chickens

So I'm planning a trip down state to see family and friends. It's hard to have someone chicken sit while the chickens are still in my house. Add to the fact that the chickens are out growing there current home. I need to move the chickens out. But the huge issue is that we have a cold front that has taken hold and wont let go of the area. Not cold enough to hurt the chicken but cold enough to keep my in-laws off the island (the end home for the chickens). So i'm stuck I need to retro fit my old coop to hold the additional chickens and insulate it (it's not suppose to get cold enough to hurt the chickens but I don't want to risk it, no one can predict Mi weather).

I also have to wash out all the outdoor feeders and waters to the chickens will have plenty of food and water. The in-laws are more than willing to stop by and care for the chickens. But, when last year my sister-in-law kept check the turkeys for eggs because she beleived that they were chickens (lets not even bring the ducks into this) I think I have reason for pause.

Oh well work, work, work I have to love it or else I wouldn't be a farmer right!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

So ADD strikes again!

So all of Michigan got struck with a HUGE warm spell with temps 45 degrees about average and 30 degrees about the record (God bless Global Warming). Even though I knew our cold weather would spring back I couldn't resist (it didn't help that TSC had all trees and plants on sale) I bought and planted 3 blueberry bushes and an apple tree. I do have 2 raspberry bushes and some rhubarb that I bought but didn't plant (the only reason they didn't go in was because my kids hit there limit with gardening and than I had to work). The apple tree should do just fine it didn't have any buds yet, but the blue berry bushes did have leaves and they lost all of them. It should be fine I really supped up the ground I planted the berries in so they might just make it (more on that too later)

I did however get an ego boost while working outside. We had HUGE Earthworms everywhere! No matter where I dug I was turning up some of the biggest earthworms I have ever seen. When I first moved to this place the lot was in very sad shape I couldn't even grow weeds! But now 7 years of working to improve the soil (truly only 2 years of active work to improve the soil) I have earthworms an awesome sign that the dirt is healthy and improving every year.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's time to go chicken!!

For everyone that doesn't know Tractor Supply Company is now running there huge chicken sale. Every store across the country has in-stock over 1000 chickens (and some ducks) ready to go home each week. Now I know the rest of the country is in the start of spring weather but the day before TSC started selling there chickens we got 20 inches of snow over night. Not very conducive weather for young chicks! BUT...

This does open an opportunity for well planned farms to save a truck load of MONEY. Now most farmers (and want a be farmers) look at the weather outside and say "Hmm I will give it a few weeks so the snow will be gone by the time the chicks loss there down." So many of the chicks go un-purchased for while the next shipment comes in. So in the finest business practice they put the week old chicks ON SALE!

Now there are two benefits here. First chicks that were going for $3 are now going for $0.50 (that's about 80% off) and for anyone that has raised chicks before you know that the first week is the hardest to keep chicks alive. So TSC has done all the hard work for you. Not only are you getting cheap chicks but your also getting hardy chicks at a great price.

Now I have complained (and no dought will continue) about living where I do because it's hard to be a farmer up here but there are some benefits if you know where to look.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Finally a post about planned Urban Farming activities!!!!

So with this month devoted to research and bibliograghing, I find myself using what I learned in college. That's right PROCRASTINATION!!!! So instead of working I'm doing something funner!

My plan is to develop my long-term investments. I have always looked at a farm as an investment agent. Weird, I know, last thing I bet you thought you would hear someone compare there farm to. But let me break it down for you. As a farmer I'm using my land to provide me with food. Now investment accounts provides you with money to buy food. So they are related.

Now investment accounts have short term savings, mid-term savings and long-term savings. A farm needs to have short term food, mid-term food and long-term food. Good examples of each would be chickens and garden plots are short term food in less than a year of starting you have food. My mid-term food is berry bushes and meat-cows both of these take from 2-3 years from start to producing food. While Trees are long-term food taking 5 to sometimes 25 years to start producing food.

Now seeing that I don't plan on dying or moving anytime soon and even if the unthinkable happens to me my wife and children will still be around, I'm starting this year with long term investments. That's right it will be a summer of trees and bushes. Walnut, apple, raspberry, blue berry, and more.

Sadly because I explained this to my kid's grandparents is looks like i will be planting two properties with long term investment this summer.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

First round was a tie

Just to keep everyone updated I presented to the Planning and Zoning on Monday and it was interesting. The head of the board is 100% against Urban Farming and I was informed the next day he was in the Township Supervisors office trying to find some way to block this from even coming to Planning and Zoning and effectively killing it before it began. Luckly the advice I got from my supporter on the Township Board was very valuable. The board made an offical action to send the Ordinance to Planning and Zoning so they have no choice but to go through the whole process with me. But I know it will be an up hill battle. The next meeting is the second Monday in March. I have been charged with editing the ordinance with what I felt were reasonable request for changes and to gather a packet of research on the topic of Urban Farming. I'm also going to do a patition drive of residents and letter drive from local businesses to show interest and support. I'm also getting all my research (and more of it) in a packet along with making an annotative bibliography to explain where and why each section of the ordinance came from. It's a lot of work but I feel I have enough time to get it all done.

My big hope is someday soon I will be able to fill this blog with more fun stuff on farming instead of just political stuff. The last thing I want to become is the Yooper C-SPAN blog!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Step One check

So I have passed step one for making urban farming legal where I live. The township board approved the first draft of the ordinance to the planning and zoning commity. At the meeting I learned some interesting information out. It looks like of all the people on planning and zoning only one is 100%  against the idea. But this person likes to make big waves.

I also had a surprising amount and kinds of people come forward to say they already practise urban farming in my community. I even had one of the higher ranking police officers tell me not to go though the headache of getting an ordinance and just do it as long as the animals kept confined and not free range. I was shocked by all this but I'm still going though with the ordinance, just to insure our rights are protected despite who is on the board or in the local police department.

So I now have all weekend to double check my facts and get a presentation for this Monday's meeting OF JOY

(oh and to throw something else into the mix my wife gave birth to our 3 child this weekend so I have a new born to care for too) 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oh no I'm going for nuts

So I picked up "The Backyard Homestead" Edited by Carleen Madigan a few months ago. Now normally I'm a hunt and peck reader but recently I have been forcing myself to read books cover to cover (one of the reasons it's taking me so long to finish this book). Well I was reading the book and came across the section on grow nuts and nut trees. I was going to skip it in hopes of finishing the book sooner but stuck to my original plan, and am I glad I did.

Grow nuts is AWESOME! It's something I have always known a bit about but when it was laid out in simple terms I'm really considering not planting the apple trees I wanted to and replacing them with Walnut trees. The trees get less pest/disease, the nuts need no prep to store just keep them dry, nuts hold more calories than fruit per pound, two trees give you more nuts than anyone family can really eat in a year, the nuts are multipurpose (gas mask filter, burn in fires, decorations, and more) and if all else fails Walnut wood is one of the most valuable woods for woodworking (one of my hobbies).

So nut trees just moved up in priority in the list of starters to buy and plant this spring. (Yes even before apple trees)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stall on the Ordance

So I was all set to present to the Township Board on Monday but than my wife went into pre-labor that was pretending to be real labor. Oh well two more weeks to get more signitures will do me good. I did get a thumps up from the MSU-Extension Reginal Directer he liked the ordance with only a few changes and wording/quots corrections. So I must be heading in the right direction now, but only time will tell.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Now I've done it...NO turning back!

So I presented the rough draft of the ordnance to one of the key board members of the township and...He loved it! He was very impressed that I had thought and addressed concerns that he didn't even think of and was more impressed that I had addressed all of his major concerns (no bee keeping being the big one). The only change that he wanted to see is that any goats keep be unisex (male, male or female, female). This was already an idea I had been tossing around so really not a huge deal.

But here is the huge deal he thinks I should present the ordnance at the next Planning Commission meeting. That's the 10th of Jan like in 8 days. So I have some work to get down. I smoothed out most of the rough edges of the rough draft. I'm not going to finish it completely because I know the Planning Commission will have there mandatory changes that they will want to see. But on the recommendation of the Board Member I need to get a petition to go along with this ordnance to give it that push it needs (got to love election year politics). So I have 8 days to get as many signatures as I can, I know I have 15 with just friends and family and I'm hoping that I can convince those friends and family to get their friends and family to sign as well. I'm shooting for 60 signatures for right now (This isn't a true petition just a list of people that are say they would support this and by proxy vote for the people that helped pass the ordnance). I really don't want to have to go door to door mostly because all that snow we have been missing out on decided to hit over the last 2 days and isn't going to stop now for about 3 months.

Well lots of work ahead. I will be keeping everyone up-to-date one the happenings so keep an eye on this blog for current new and status of the ordnance.