Welcome to 112 brand new chicks! We have a new flock from McMurray Hatchery, including Rhode Island Reds, Americanas, and a mix of heavy brown egg layers. They are cozy in the brooder under a red lamp and on a heating pad. Neshima spent a good hour hanging out with them today and took this photo.
To make way for the babies, we had to move our mature layers into their new hoop coop. This is a low cost, lightweight, all season structure. It consists of a 2×4 frame of rot resistant lumber measuring 12 ft by 6 ft. We have 5 pieces of 10 foot electrical conduit bent into 6-foot hoops using a “Quick Hoops Bender.” These are attached to the frame with pipe clamps and covered with a skin of 2″x4″ welded wire fence followed by bubble wrap and greenhouse plastic. Roosts made of hardwood garden stakes are built off of the 2×4 frame as well as nesting “shelves.” The whole thing is set up on a perimeter of 10 straw bales for the winter, allowing us to fill in the cavity with bedding hay as the winter progresses. In the summer months, the hoop coop can be easily moved by one person to fresh pasture. In the summer, the greenhouse plastic is covered with shade cloth.
Jonah tried his hand at plowing today, turning over about 1/4 acre using a borrowed, beat-up, 2-bottom moldboard plow. We are philisophically “no till” folks and have had good success with intesive mulching to establish small areas. For these larger areas our plan is to plow once and then go to permanent raised beds with lots of mulch for maintenance and fertility. Leah was working on hand digging the garlic beds in preparation for tomorrow’s planting.
The brooder is complete and will serve as the temporary home for our small flock of hens who have been waiting patiently in foster care. Free range, pastured eggs will be available soon, delivered to your doorstep in downtown Albany and Troy. The next infrastucture project is the layer hoophouse. Stay tuned!
We have had some excellent work days on the farm this fall. Check out the picture of Rana and Neshima preparing a new box for the honey bees. We also framed out the chick brooder in preparation for 100 day old chicks arriving late fall.
We are intensively managing 6-acres in East Grafton, NY for organic pastured poultry and eggs, heirloom vegetables, and uncommon fruits. Over the next few years we will be expanding our orchard with an integrated diversity of fruits, nuts, herbs, and other fun stuff. We are also creating a management plan for 65 acres of forest to produce food, fuel, shelter, and beauty.