Other stuff about the farm and your's truly!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A little farming help...

A young friend of mine Sam, started reading my blog... he asked me a few questions about my garden and chickens and the amount of room required.  So, I walked around the property and made some mental notes and thought I'd share some "advice" but please don't take it for the absolute way to do it, as it's not.

First my chicken area.  I have about 24 hens and a rooster that spend their nights in an 8 foot by 8 foot plywood coop.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, on the coast, I don't worry to much about heat.  Mainly, they need to be able to be dry and be out of the wind at night, and be able to get in there during the day if the storms get too bad.  My neighbor lets his poultry free-range, but I don't do that because they'll wander over into the other neighbor's yard and I don't want them to destroy their flower beds, or my flower beds.  We have our chicken coop open into a yard that is about 40 feet by 30 feet (so 1,200 square feet). It is pretty much bare dirt after 3 years, but they have plenty of room to roam. Then that yard opens up into my garden area, so in the late fall, winter and early spring the chickens have the run of those areas also and can help fertilize the garden area.

If you wanted to keep just a few chickens, 4 or 5 would supply a family of 4 quite well.  You can raise them in a small coop or a chicken tractor. You don't have to buy a fancy one, you can make one easily out of scrap and salvaged or scavenged supplies. You can order day-old chicks from a hatchery.  That way you make sure you are getting pullets (the ones that lay the eggs).  You can also buy them from local chicken folks, though there is no way of guaranteeing their age.  You can learn a lot about keeping chickens on-line, or through books found at your local library.  Along with layer and basic scratch (though right now, to save money I feed dry cob (corn, oats and barley) in place of scratch), chickens will eat just about anything in the way of scraps, and they love grass cut or pulled from a yard.

Garden-wise, we have a "perennial" garden, containing rhubarb, artichokes, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, asparagus (which after 3 years is still not doing much), and I also have beds in that area that I plant onions and garlic in.  This area is fenced off with panels (used during the garden time for my pole beans) during the time that the chickens have the run of the main area, so they can't destroy it.  This area is about 50 feet by 40 feet (so about 2000 square feet).  It is not full, there is a gap in the middle that will contain my corn and pumpkins this year.  I grow the pumpkins for decorations only, as it's not worth the time required to process them. Steve also put some roses behind the fence (which is 6' tall to keep the deer out) so that they actually grow.

Then, we have the "main" garden area, which is about 30 feet by 50 feet (so about 1500 feet).  This is where the major portion of our growing is done.  I am not really good at utilizing space, tho, and I hate to weed.  This usually contains our beans (pole beans always, after the first year of bush beans), cucumbers, squash, carrots (I've been really lucky with carrots the last few years), beets, etc. 

There is one more area left, and that is a small patch in front of the chicken run, about 30 feet by 40 feet (so about 1200 feet).  We are still working on getting that area fertilized and worked up good.  It held our corn, pumpkins and beans last year, and though the beans did great, the corn and pumpkins didn't.  In this picture you'll see the side garden, the chicken run and the chicken coop.

Then, I have beds behind the garage (where my tomatoes do their best, as the sun is on them throughout the day), and surrounding the greenhouse.  I put posts in the ground around these and then put deer fencing up to keep the pretty brown nibblers out.  Yes, they do eat tomatoes, celery and kale.

So, that's a general overview.  I'll go a little more in-depth in the next couple of posts about how you can garden with a small yard or even a balcony.  Just a few growing things helps the soul.

The funny thing is, as a kid and teenager I HATED gardening!!  I'm still not real fond of the weeding part of it, but my feelings have changed about the whole gardening thing sooo much!  Sam, I hope I haven't totally confused you...

1 comment:

  1. You should post more photos of your garden, it's huge! I love looking at bare gardens in the spring, so full of possibilities!