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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ramblings on the chickens, Mantis tillers and local resources...

Howdy Folks,

Today I decided to block off about 1/3 of the chickens outdoor run and sow it in fescue and I even threw in some scratch grains in the hope some of it will come up. The chickens have laid waste to the grass that once covered the run. I now understand why those 'chicken tractors' are so effective since they really work the soil over.

I placed chicken wire from the back of the chicken bunker to the back fence and staked it to the ground. Later on, I would love to divide the coop into thirds and be able to rotate the runs. In fact that was the original plan back in May, but time constraints only allowed for the bare minimum of work.

The idea is to give the chickens something green to nibble on during the late winter months as they love their 'salad'. Once the run is nice green and tall, I will let the chickens have access.

On the same side I plan on adding 3 6'x10' chain link panels ,I scored for free, in a L shape configuration to mesh with the existing fence to give them a little more pasture. Also I will fence on the same side to surround my west orchard to allow for an open pasture for the chickens. Hopefully when the bugs come out next year, my hens will be patrolling and getting some all you can eat, free buffet style bugs!

Later on toward March I will temporarily block access for the other side and begin prepping it to grow a garden INSIDE the run. You can not beat soil that is picked free of weeds, grass or ANYTHING GREEN to plant in. Not to mention that the chickens have been fertilizing it for me for 9 months prior! Talk about a garden spot!!!

For those of you who are still on the fence about getting chickens, I say "GET SOME". Of all the things I have begun, raising chickens is the easiest way I have tried to become more self sufficient!!!

Local Resources:

As I tilled up the soil to loosen it up to plant some fescue and wheat I realized that the soil was so rich from chicken poop I was not going to have to use fertilizer. I was using a local resource, chicken manure, to give my seeds the food they would need! I compost all my chicken manure but this was what was already on the ground just waiting to be tilled into the ground. Before the poop, I would use 10-10-10 fertilizer to do the same thing I now get for free! Granted the 10-10-10 smells a little better, but I still like FREE!!!

I needed a ground cover to cover up the bare soil and retain moisture after I tilled, raked and sowed. In the past I would purchase a bale or two of straw to cover up bare spots, but today I decided to use my almost unlimited resource of pine needles. I have many acres of pine trees and well they shed pine needles, which is another free resource! I went to the woods and gathered up 2 wheelbarrow loads and spread it out. It looks like it will allow water and air to get down to the seeds below without smothering them. Did I mention they were free???

Mantis Tiller:

Other than my Husqvarna chainsaws, the Mantis Tiller is one of my most used tools on the homestead. For those of you unfamiliar with the Mantis Tiller, it is a lightweight 20lb 2 cycle power house. The tines give you about 6" to 8" of tilling width (I never measured it so can't say for sure) and it will DIG!

The way it pulverizes the soil really allows your seeds/plants to have and easy time to go deep. When planting fescue I usually just go down 2-4 inches. In a matter of 5 minutes I had an entire 160 square foot plot ready to plant!

I still use my large tiller to prep the larger gardens, but I use the Mantis Tiller to prep my rows.

So get a Mantis Tiller, they come in handy!

Thanks for reading and 73!


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