March 2016
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Property Update – March 28 2016

Today’s post is another update on projects and activities around our property. The last update covered activities with aquaponics, chickens, and swales to name some. You can read it here: March 15 Property Update.

Since then, we’ve crossed over into spring. Boy are things really starting to grow. We had a couple of nights that got down to about 35, but for the most part it has been very warm. Things are really starting to take off. I remember years ago thinking that spring meant lots of weeding and yard maintenance. Now I look at our property and see limitless possibilities.

We haven’t had any significant rain. Some was predicted but it keeps missing us. It’s not hot enough to worry about lack of water, plus the swales have been charged with water several times lately which keeps things hydrated.

The aquaponics system is going well. The lettuce plants have developed nice root systems, and above “ground” growth is starting to take off. The goldfish have gotten used to the tank and are eating a lot. I feed them as much as they’ll eat to keep the nitrate levels high.

Lettuces in Raft Beds Starting to Take Off

Lettuces in Raft Beds Starting to Take Off

Aquaponics Lettuce Roots

Aquaponics Lettuce Roots

The carrots I sowed in the garden beds have not germinated yet except for a couple of them. Hopefully they will soon as we are heading into a period of warmer weather.

The tomato, cucumber, and cantaloupe seeds I started in trays have germinated nicely. Some have already been transplanted into 1 gallon pots to get bigger before transplanting outside. And this past weekend, I transplanted most of them into the new garden beds in the back yard. All that happened in the couple weeks since the last update.

The honey locust seeds I scarified a second time had a very high germination rate, probably close to 90%. The scarification method I discussed in the previous update worked great. I’ve been transplanting those into 1 gallon pots as they come up. Home Depot only had a few cheap pots – THANK YOU Amazon! I ordered 100 1-gallon pots from Amazon on a Monday morning and had them Tuesday afternoon. I now have 67 honey locust seedlings potted. Since I only had planned for about 40 of them along the swales, I can pick the best ones to transplant and maybe find other places to try the rest. My friend Michael down the street is also interesting in taking some of the extras.

Honey Locust Seedlings in the Hoop House

Honey Locust Seedlings in the Hoop House

Yesterday I transplanted the first 14 honey locust seedlings along the swale. I put chicken wire around them to keep rabbits and deer away while they’re small. With a little luck, we’ll get 2 feed of growth out of them this year.

Goodbye to Another Hen
A few days ago, we lost another one of our hens. She went really fast. We didn’t know what was wrong, but we could tell she was suffering the last day. I had to dispatch her so she didn’t suffer anymore. We still don’t know what caused it. We’re down to 8 hens now from our original flock of 15.

Other Activities:
The chickens are picking up their laying activities. They are producing around 60-70% per day, which is pretty good for 2.5 year old hens. A couple days ago we got 7 eggs from the remaining 8 hens. We’ll have to see how they are laying this summer when it’s time to decide how many chicks to get for the next generation laying flock.

The wild cotton tail rabbits are showing up all over the place. They like to eat things we don’t want to eat, so they get turned into tree fertilizer whenever possible with the pellet gun. I bury them near the fruit trees to provide nutrients. That is a return of surplus in the permaculture world, and we have a major surplus of cotton tails.

Now that the yard/field is growing, I’m back to mowing it with a bagger. The clippings are dumped into the chicken composting for processing. Eventually the compost will be used on the swale berms. The clipping are full of weeds, so the chickens are happy to have the variety to scratch through.

My 20 year old Honda lawn mower was on its last leg. I struggled for weeks with the decision of what to get as a replacement. In the end, I got another Honda almost identical to this one. It is sweet. If I get another 20 years out of this one, I’ll be happy. I think it’s important to buy quality tools, and that especially goes for something I will use as much as this mower.

The other day my wife came home and said there was a sign for free wood chips about a mile up the street. A plot of land is being cleared for construction and the trees were shredded. I couldn’t resist so I took a ride up there to take a look. Two days and a slightly sore back later, I have a pile of about 7 yards of material next to my swale. This is great material to put around the trees and on the swale berms.

A Load of Wood Chips

A Load of Wood Chips

Resources for this post:
Previous Property Update – March 15 2016

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