Hey folks, there’s a new farming/organic living book out that is generating a lot of buzz. Written by Forrest Pritchard (and with a foreword by Joel Salatin) Gaining Ground is the true story of how a young man chose to take on the task of literally saving the family farm by turning it into an ethical and profitable way to make a living.
It’s a great story filled with ups and downs, humor and life lessons. In short, it’s the kind of book that makes you feel good after reading it. That’s the kind of story that I love most to read.
You can tell me about an adventure and I might read your book, but tell me how that adventure changed you and what you learned as a result and chances are, your book will make it to my reading list. Gaining Ground falls in the latter category, it simply was a pleasure to read and from which to learn. I have tremendous respect for Forrest, not only for his accomplishments and how he was able to share them, but quite frankly, anyone who sends a picture of himself kissing a chicken is first rate in my book.
I was able to ask Forrest some questions about his farming experiences.
What’s the one lesson you want people to get from your farming experience? Continue reading
Last week I talked about how I was planning on picking up a few new chicks. From last fall, we’ve lost 4 of our older birds (out of a flock of 34) and so we have a little wiggle room to get some more flock members this season.
I was planning on getting 2 chicks now and then adding 2 more birds over the summer.
Last summer, in order to get any chicks in New Hampshire, you had to buy at least 12. As the chick buying laws have changed – you can now buy chicks in any quantity – I went into our local Tractor Supply store ready to bring home 2 chicks. Continue reading
Lauren Scheuer is definitely a rare bird. She’s one of those people who has tremendous talent, a huge heart, and is someone who understands chickens – a winning combination in this game called life. She’s written a book about living with her backyard chickens and forgive me, but I’ve just got to crow about this accomplishment!
Lauren and I found each other on Facebook years ago, I had seen her chicken art from her fabulous blog Scratch and Peck, (if you haven’t seen it, go over now and have her illustrations make your day) and she had noticed I wrote about chickens. We started conversing. When chicken people meet chicken people, nothing can stop us. It was a friendship meant to happen.
It was Lauren who invited and organized the NE chicken ladies (Hencam, Tilly’s Nest, Scratch and Peck, and me, Lessons Learned from the flock) to attend the Northeastern Poultry Show two years ago in January.
It was a cold day, the kind of day where you think twice about retrieving your water bottle from your car parked at the far end of the lot. (Then you realize, there’s no need to fetch it because it’s probably frozen solid anyway.) We all showed up at the designated meeting place. We met. We clucked with each other over food. We saw the most incredible chickens. We left with newly found chicken friends.
And I also came home with Charlie.
I have yet to hear a story about Guinea hens being even remotely intelligent. Heck, I’m not even talking at the top of the class, I’d settle for not crashing into the side of the chicken coop when I approach. But I haven’t heard one.
Instead I keep hearing stories about how when released they can’t find their way back into the coop.
Or when they lay eggs, they forget where they’ve been laid, the eggs slowly going to waste.
And the noise, in the infamous words of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas, “Oh the noise, the noise, the noise, noise, noise, noise.” A Guinea hen has a unique call which can best be described as a cross between a goose honk and a smoke alarm. It’s the sort of sound that initially makes you take notice but after the 7th, (8th, 20th time) you find yourself wishing the bird would understand what the term “quiet time” means. Continue reading
Tomorrow a shipment of chicks is scheduled to arrive at our local Tractor Supply Store (it also happens to be my husband’s birthday – “Happy Birthday Marc, have yourself a chick!”)
I plan on being at the store bright and early to pick up 2 chicks for our flock. We already have an established flock and I only need a few replacements. I’ll start off with two and will add some later in the season. As I’ve mentioned laws have changed in New Hampshire and I’m no longer obligated to buy chicks in quantities of at least 12. I can buy 1, or 2, or basically as many, or as few as I want. Continue reading
Tonight is the rescheduled first part of my chicken workshops (yes, I know that I already held the second part, you can blame the snow in NH this winter for that.) We’ll cover getting chicks and caring for them until they are old enough to go outside. We’ll also talk about proper (and critter-proof) housing for your chicks and what you should be aware of with regard to predators in NH (can you say fisher cat?)
I found this clip of a fisher cat yelling. If you’ve ever heard one in real life, you know how absolutely chilling their call is.
I’ll also bring my clay pot chick heater with me, as the forecast calls for more snow and I’m afraid we’re not out of the woods with regard to power losses yet. Best to be prepared. Continue reading
Giardia (Lamblia), like Salmonella, is passed by feces to mouth (yuk.) Unlike Salmonella though, Giardia is not a bacteria, it is a parasite. And can I just say it’s one of the cutest ones out there?
I had the great misfortune of contracting a Giardia parasitic infection a few years after I moved up to New Hampshire. At the time I was a big hiker and the running theory is that I either contracted it by swimming in a lake (ewww) or by eating low bush blueberries (double ewww.)
For months, I had intestinal cramping, diarrhea, and couldn’t eat much of anything. The docs couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and did test after test. Nothing showed up. (you can only catch Giardia in stool samples when it is in its shedding phase.)
One doc even told me that based on my weight loss and “refusal” to eat, that I was probably anorexic. Continue reading
Although we didn’t get massive amounts of snow, we did get a combination of rain + snow which made for very icy roads this morning. Hey, what’s a neighbor’s mailbox or two, right?
A reader who lives in the path of the storm asked me if I had any suggestions for keeping chicks warm if the electricity went out. She didn’t have a generator but she did have a nursery of very young birds.
The obvious solution was to keep the chicks in a box, insulated on the outside by blankets near a fireplace, except that I can see lots of problems with that –
The first is that she told me she’d have to move her dogs to another room in order to protect the chicks. That’s not a lot of fun for anyone, especially when you like the company of your dogs.
Second, chicks don’t need great amounts of heat, they need moderate heat and more importantly a heated area to go to if they get cold. By keeping a box of chicks near a fireplace, you are running the risk of overheating the babes with no place for them to cool down.
I started thinking of different non-electrical solutions. I continued thinking about this all day yesterday (modifying my approach) and this is the design I’ve come up with for: Continue reading
We’re all just sort of waiting to see which way this new winter blizzard coming from the mid-West is going to go. Right now it’s in D.C. and the latest reports are that it will go up as far as New York City bringing with it 4 to 6 inches of snow in our area.
Ah, but we live in New England and we hearty souls know better than to trust a weatherman. While the nicely dressed man on the screen assures us that although there is a “Winter Storm Watch” for our area, chances are, he tells us, we will not get hit hard this time.
I have my doubts.
The rain is spurting and sputtering, not being able to make up its mind to release or not.
The skies are leaden grey, heavy enough to make my joints groan.
The chickens are subdued, not even squawking hello when I went out to see them.
And Pippin, in his infinite wisdom, has not left his heated nest all day.
You can make all the predictions you want about the low to little impact of this upcoming winter storm, but as for me, I’m going to go check on our feed, battery and candle supplies.
See you tomorrow.
It’s President’s Day.
Happy day to all! I guess.
What I mean is I’m not sure how we’re supposed to celebrate the day.
Unlike other years, the kids are in school today. Marc has the day off from work but there’s no special way to spend it (other than going to Tractor Supply on a non-weekend day – which, for him, is pretty exciting.)
For me, it’s like any other day. I’ve got my butt in the chair and I’m writing articles that have deadlines (one blog post I got out this morning is over here.) Continue reading