Gonna Be Makin’ Babies

We decided that to be more self-sufficient with our chicken flock it made sense to hatch our own chicks for both meat and eggs instead of having to order them from hatcheries whenever we needed new ones.  It is also a good way to help keep the flock healthy by not risking importing potential illnesses.  At some point it will be fun to let the hens do the work by sitting on the eggs, but that entails having separate quiet areas for them to be and because  we still have to work for a living we can’t give them the attention they need.  SO, our new incubator arrived last week!  It is a Brinsea Octagon 20.  It has all the bells and whistles (literally).  While we haven’t set it all up yet, it appears that one pretty much plugs it in, waits for it to stabilize the temperature and humidity, adds the eggs and wait 21 days.  We will raise replacements for the layer flock as we need to (egg production drops off after the hens get to be about 2 years old).  About twice a year we will raise a batch to put in the freezer.

Along with it we have gotten in place the processing equipment for chicken processing.  As my memories of chicken plucking are smelly, wet, and sticky, we ordered the latest and greatest plucker.  We got the machine from CConly and it alleges to pluck a bird in 10 to 30 seconds.  Works for me.  So while this is not meant to make my vegan friends cringe, we consider ourselves “Mostly-Terrian”.  We still enjoy meat and eggs.  At least anything we put in the oven will have been raised and processed by our own hands.  Desperately few of us can say that anymore.  Ours is the EZ 131:

 

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Here is the incubator:

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Transplanting Tomatoes

Our big concern was what to do with the plants when they got too big for the grow tables.  In the city we have a grow room with big lamps powered by solar panels.  Unfortunately it isn’t big enough to handle all the plants for both places.  It is our plan to make a greenhouse out of reclaimed house windows but that doesn’t help things this year.  I broke down and bought another 1000 watt metal halide grow lamp for the farm.  It will broadcast a light foot print of 10 X 10 feet of useable light.  We will need to rotate the plants around every week or so to keep the ones on the outside edges from getting leggy but this seemed to be the best answer.  I am not feeling too guilty about it as it will only be on about 8 weeks per year.  It is our goal to go wind and solar at the farm as well.

I transplanted 55 of the 150 tomato plants into larger pots today; then, of course, I ran out of potting soil with the nearest nursery a two hour round trip drive.  Oh well, something to do next week to keep me busy!  The peppers and egg plants will get repotted as well but they will be put under my T5 light banks.  They put out a ton of light and aren’t terribly hot.  All in all everything appears to be doing well.  Outdoor planting will commence with the cool weather crops in the city in about two weeks.  I have to get out and repair some of the hoop huts from the gale force winds we had this winter.  The rest, mid – May.  In the meantime, I am building wind-breaks in the garden area.  Some tips from the folks in town here indicate that the high winds here can desiccate a garden in no time so the more wind breaks the better.  I am probably going to be using drift fencing attached to steel T-Posts along the garden paths.  I suspect that mid-summer I will be needing shading cloth for the tomatoes too.  What a fun experience but such a challenge at the same time.  Will it work?  Stay tuned, we haven’t written that chapter yet!

Happy Spring!IMG_3216 IMG_3217 IMG_3218 IMG_3219 IMG_3220