Category Archives: Small stock for the City

Spiderpig!

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The side yard went through some radical change last week.  Two of the principle players of the Carondelet Urban Farm, Mark and Handy Dan came over and set up this lovely functional pig pen in the side yard.  The farm has a pair of pigs at another location breeding for food.

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In about an hour and a half, Spiderpig was in his new home!  What am I going to do with him you ask?  I don’t know.  My main concern was a constant source of manure.  The rabbits and chickens just don’t provide enough.

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He’s a neat little guy, a micropig.  We feed him restaurant scraps and help the community be more sustainable.  He couldn’t be easier to take care of and he is enjoyable company.  I keep straw for his bedding which keeps the smell down and look forward to cleaning out the hog floor for the garden.

The chickens like him too.

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Adding livestock to the garden increases the output of vegetables and makes gardening a more satisfying experience overall.

This is what I am reading this month. (Click on the picture to buy and help support this blog!)  Hopefully I can get a review out soon.  It’s really geared to raising regular hogs in a hog operation, but I think it will provide useful information to having a pig in the yard.

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Turkeys

Here are our new turkeys.  They don’t get to roam free, but the turkens are working hard to dig them out.  Sweet little guys currently. Hope I can fatten them up in time for the holidays.  It will be an interesting experiment to see how they do in this setting.

Notice all the apple carcasses?  We are always overrun with fruit flies in the summer because of all the fruit trees.  This year, the chickens are doing a good job keeping up with the dropped apples.  Boy are the eggs good right now.  As an added bonus, we don’t feel like the fruit flies are going to carry the house away.  This is pretty great in my mind.  I feel bad because we like to take the dropped apples to my brother’s pigs, but their share will definitely be smaller this year.  There are still plenty of bird picked ones on the trees.

World’s Ugliest Bird Competition

I prefer Turkens to any other variety of chicken which I’m sure I’ve stated before in this blog.  Food to egg and meat ratio is excellent, personalities are excellent.  They are just an all around good bird.  EVERYONE who sees them for the first time comments on their looks though.  These are not attractive chickens.  Last week I added four turkeys to the flock.  Just every day run of the mill white turkeys.  They were a month and a half old when I got them and the price was too good to resist.   I was immediately surprised at the adorable noises they make.  Even so young though, they are the same size as the chickens.

We have had a horribly hot and dry summer so far.  Weeks of 110 degrees plus weather have really taken their toll on the yard.  Usually I irrigate about four times a year, but this year I had to break down and put it at about three times per week.  It saddens me to use water like that.  With the new garden ground across the street however, I had no other choice.  There just hasn’t been enough time to condition that soil or get used to it’s needs for me to go on a low water regimen.  Regardless, I have kept everything happy and healthy except for Fred the pigeon.  He succumbed  to the heat about three weeks into the heat wave.  I work really hard to keep them shaded and watered, but there is only so much you can do.  The pigeons are temporarily in the house now, which freaks me out a little.

I decided Gracie needed some more friends so here they are:

I haven’t sexed them yet, I’m afraid they are too young for that.  I may try in a few days when they get used to living here and are more calm.  My intent was to pick up two and hope one turned out to be a boy.

Temptation reared it’s ugly head though and I had to pick up this other one.  I must now have a thing for hideous birds because of my devotion for my turkens.

He’s an english carrier pigeon.  Not at all fitting in with my goal of raising squab, but he/she and Gracie are getting along pretty well so far.  When it is standing up straight the bird is very striking and no more attractive.  One of my gardening friends and I have been discussing breeding carriers for sharing seeds.  Not for the ease of seed sharing, but just for the novelty of it.  Usually these guys seem to go for around $100 each.  I picked this guy up for $6.  He has a crooked foot, but it doesn’t seem to affect him.  For $6 I was willing to take the chance on him for a little neighborhood fun.  Now I guess I need to get serious about the pigeons and get some leg bands and flight cage finished.  Hopefully in a few days I can get some photos and show how to sex them.

I always read about how addicted people get to raising pigeons and never understood it.  They just never appealed to me.  I have to admit now, they are pretty awesome to have around.

Heat wave and new layers

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Its too hot here.  Its also too dry.  My chicks started laying two weeks ago and I have stopped locking them up at night or taking them out of the tree.  Its just to darn hot.  That has led me to a weird sort of daily egg hunt.  My husband and I noticed a preference for laying in some of the cooler areas of the back yard like the back porch.  Instead of forcing them to stay in the coop, I’ve converted some boxes into temporary nesting boxes.  This is working out very well.  I’ve placed the boxes around the yard and the daily egg hunt is over.  Hope the heat doesn’t keep this intensity much longer.

Fred and Ginger

Let me introduce to you Fred and Ginger.  The new additions to or sustainable food sources!  They aren’t old enough to breed yet, but if all goes well, by the end of the summer squab will be on the menu.  I’m anxious to find out what keeping them is like. 

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This is their temp housing since I literally just walked in the door with then.

Sustainable Backyard Tour 2012

While I checked out the yards for this years tour, I thought I would snap some pictures to give everyone a little preview.  I’m very excited about the Carondelet area offerings!  The area I’m coordinating is south St Louis near the river.  Take a look at some of the fantastic things you will see on the tour if you follow my node!  There are gardens, up-cycled elements,  unusual plantings, chickens,  rabbits, solar power, and composting just to name a few elements of our area.

Click on the link to register to go on the tour.  This signs you up to receive a map a few days ahead of time.  Its a lot if fun and free.  Meet some great people, get some great ideas and come out June 24

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These are pictures of right now.  Think how great these yards will look in five weeks!

Chicken Cam

This year I am working in cooperation with a dear friend to raise a new batch of layers.  We both live in the city and have kids so I thought it would be a great idea to broadcast the chicks so her kids can watch them at home.

Today started early with a panicked call from Heather saying the Post Office had called at 6 am saying the  chicks were in and they didn’t think they were in good shape.  Fortunately, I was still up having a manic knittingpalooza trying to meet a mailing deadline this morning.  By 6:20 AM she was here with a box of chicks in hand from McMurray Hatchery.   When she called I had dropped the knitting and frantically scampered all over the back yard collecting what I would need to get them hydrated and warm.  We opened up the box and carefully took out all the tiny little things and dipped their beaks in the water and got them under the heat lamp.  Usually I don’t raise chicks in a rubbermaid, but I had a huge one in the living room and it seemed like it would work for keeping them warm.  We sat vigil over them for the next hour and any that were unsteady or puny we kept taking to the water and making sure they were warm.  Only one feather foot past away in shipping, the rest are going strong!  Click on the pic to watch them by our ustream chicken cam!

Turkens are only cute when they are babies, keep an eye out for their little naked necks holding up a cotton ball with a beak.  (Looks like they will be black and red! Last year I had one white one we will see.) Enjoy!

Turkens

I am a total fan of turkens.  I’ve never had a bad one.  This breed is ugly, but seemingly perfect for urban agriculture.  They tolerate confinement, eat very little, can’t fly, and are very friendly.

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This year I have had Red Star, White Rock, Red Rock, Black Aurucana, one silver lace wyandotte bantam and Saipan Jungle Fowl in addition to turkens of many colors.

Today my partner in garden inspiration, Heather and I ordered our chicks for this year.  I think the plan we just came up with is 8 turkens, 3 white rocks, 5 red caps, 3 feather footed for the neighbor, 3 lakenvelters, and 3 black minorcas.  The second coop is open and I’m not sure when the delivery date will be.  I have to think about where I want to put it while they are growing, it’s more appropriately called a chicken tractor.  I may have time to do some renovations, may not.

The turkens lay daily never skipping a day.  They start out with fairly large eggs and within a week or two are regularly laying large grade eggs.  I’ve had really good luck with White Rocks and the Aurucanas as well.  Good reliable layers.

I won’t be able to tell the difference in feed with this batch since I’m putting them all together.  I know from past experience however that the Turkens eat far less than other breeds.  Very cost effective and they make good meat as well.  Excellent dual purpose breed and a joy to own.