April was an exciting month on the farm. We got our first egg! The big hens have officially supplied us with enough eggs that we can mark that one off of our grocery list.
The red rangers are getting bigger everyday. We have affectionately nicknamed them, “The Psychos.” I have never seen such hyper birds. If you do not have any experience with the red ranger let me fill you in…the red ranger is a meat (broiler) chicken. They are popular on small organic farms. These birds can be harvested anywhere from 9-11 weeks.
But, what’s crazy about them is how they run around like they each drank a pot of coffee! It is very evident they were bred to EAT and eat they do. They get large quickly, so they outgrow their feathers on their bottom side.
We have them in a chicken tractor that is moved regularly to fresh grass and bugs. I hands down prefer the egg layers’ personality. They are more laid back and can be trained to a pattern. The rangers seem to be in their own little world.
This year’s garden is comprised of sections using companion plants. Using a companion app on my phone and the “Sow True Seed” Catalog I have marked out a plan of placing plants which help each other. Let me share a few examples with you.
Tomatoes are helped by basil, borage, and marigolds. They are hindered by potatoes.
Cauliflower is helped by carrots and carrots by sage. I planted cauliflower in a circular pattern. Moving into the circle was planted carrots. The center of the circle is sage which helps the carrots.
In another circle bed I have planted gem corn, a lovely corn which resembles jewels. After the corn is up I will plant a green pole bean that will be trellised on the corn. At the bottom will be planted acorn squash. It will shade the ground around the corn and bean, keeping it from becoming too dry.
Living in the Ozarks lends to rocky soil! This, of course, makes digging a challenge. The plan is to use some of these rocks to mark paths. Others will be used as plant markers. After cleaning off the rocks I write the plant name on the rock with a sharpie. And, for some, the boys will paint as decoration for different areas around the farm.
In April, we had our land surveyed. Soon, we will fence off the back pasture and begin rebuilding the soil. It has been overgrazed for some time. Our plan is to plant a cover crop to restore nutrients and let it rest until next spring when we will move chickens out there and plant trees/bushes. Shaun wants to build swales to retain water on the property.
Another possibility we have discussed for the back pasture is raising lambs. Lambs will give us another source of meat and more sustainability. Unfortunately, this will not happen until next Spring.
As I write this, we eagerly await Shaun’s return from his hands on Permaculture workshop. I can’t wait to get our farm’s permaculture plans finalized. Ready to see some permaculture action around here!
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Have a blessed week,