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Starting a small farm...

Discussion in 'Farming and Gardening Forum' started by Diy mechanic mike, Jul 24, 2018.

  1. Diy mechanic mike

    Diy mechanic mike ArboristSite Operative

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    So my parents just bought a piece of property and were beginning to develope it how we want it set up.... Were wanting to grow multiple kinds of berries, also some cherry and pawpaw trees on contour terrace/swale setup. Being that were wanting to farm on the hillside because the terrain is rolling hills and lots of erosion issues, so the terrace/swales being on contour will eliminate the erosion issues and store the rain we get in the ground/irrigation ponds. Any way "tmi" already haha, were clearing lots of smaller brush grow up from someone logging here n there about 10-15 years ago so if you can imagine how that would look after logging and no maintenance, quite a task let me tell you lol. But how do you go from timber stand to field of cover crop for nitrogen. like best tractor attachments for ground work to plant and harvest the said cover crop. thinking rye,crimson clover,alfalfa being that they are all nitrogen fixers great for erosion. Basically what were wanting to do as we clear more sapling wooded area for farming were bushhogging it to a grass maintenance and then wanting to plant cover crop for a couple years til we can afford a dozer cut the terrace/swales on contour then we will have a good cover crop top soil sod so we have cover crop growing in our berry area rather then weeds growing at random. So fyi we do have a tractor not a glamorous one either but she works like 10 men so that's a bit of a back saver. It's a massey ferguson 3165 (industrial 165 heavy front axle) has a front end loader and the shuttle shift so 12 speed trans. And we also have a 6 way 3pt blade, two bottom plow, and bushhog. Obviously items for clearing/minor dirt work. So what I'm thinking would be best for tilling/planting the seed on our hillside would be a rotary harrow(after we bushhog to a grass turf), any of you that have experience with these have any Input on this working ok for lightly tilling so we dont just loose our top layer to erosion and I figured it would leave aerated holes in soil so if I rigged up a seeder behind the rotary harrow it would poke holes perfectly for the cover crop seed to go into instead of just being washed down hill during a rain. Any experienced input would be greatly appreciated as I'm just getting into it and need as much good info as possible so I can do it right the first go.....
    Thanks mike
     
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  2. Ryan'smilling

    Ryan'smilling Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Hey Mike, quite the project you're taking on.

    I'm gonna shoot you a private message. I have a friend who lives in South Eastern Missouri who is knowledgeable about this stuff. He's got a lot of experience putting in prairie in that area.
     
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  3. 066blaster

    066blaster Addicted to ArboristSite

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    not sure if you started your project or not? i would not worry to much about a cover crop for adding Nitrogen, as your crops will need supplemental Nitrogen anyway. I would be more concerned with killing existing weeds and grass. I would spray it good with round up or a generic brand. wait a few weeks untill you see some growth starting and spray again. wait a couple weeks and then start your tilling. for perennials (strawberries, asparagus, raspberries, ect) we keep the ground black for a year before planting. this really helps prevent major weed issues, as well as keeps it loose and easy to work with. when we have an area that we a letting rest for awhile we plant winter rye mid September, it comes up in a few days if there is some moisture in the ground. around June the next year we cut it with a haybine or sickle mower, and rake and bale. you could mow with a brush hog at anytime in spring if your not baling it.
     
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  4. Diy mechanic mike

    Diy mechanic mike ArboristSite Operative

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    We have started project before i even made the post haha. it was all grown up not even much access pathways which is what we have mostly got done already. We have cleared a few patches here and there but we got a big patch(around a acre) down in the bottom semi flat area next to flashflood creek/erosion ditch which we planted 50ish black walnut trees in late October on 10' grid pattern(for timber not fruit) for a retirement plan for when im 60-70 years old(I'm 26 now). Obviously as we clear more lower area near ditch/creek ill plant more trees. But we are gonna be growing the berries and other produce on a south southwest facing hillside. That were gonna be putting swales/terraces on contour as a water catchment system for the crops and to eliminate erosion issues. The ocean has been getting so much of our top soil cuz of erosion its crazy. But our swales/terraces will be spaced 15ft apart so we can plant cover crops in between rows and get two passes with tractor to bale it, kind of a agroforestry technique but instead of timber trees and cover crops were doing berries/produce and cover crops and walnut trees in low lying more flashflood prone area but we dont actually have standing water just a big sheet of water draining, while its raining because of the funnel shape our land creates. the rain can only drain one direction.

    But were trying to stay on the organic side of farming and i think instead of killing the **** grass and all your beneifical soil microbes with that cancer causeing round-up id rather just disc the area and seed it with cover crops to get that established for a year maybe reseed second year and once that cover crop turf is established third year then we will cut swales and obviously reseed inbetween and only grow clover on the swales with berries/produce. Were just now clearing the canopy thats been established for 10+ years so there really isnt much **** grass mostly saplings and sticker bushes lol. If we sprayed and killed everything on our hillside like you said we would loose so much top soil in that time of waiting for it to die it would be devastating, imagine 2 acres of hillside with absolutly nothing growing on it to absorb the rain for as long as you were explaining(seemed like a 2month process with all that waiting weeks), pssht anybody down for a muddy slipnslide event with mud wrestling at the bottom lol cuz that is what would happen hear. i live in the mississippi valley of southern illinois and we get lots of rain you could probably pull your plan off out west where there burning up from no rain/moisture but not here. We did have a bit of grass growing in a area on the hillside were clearing now that we had clear last summer which was just random weeds and some wild ceral rye i think or just a survivor from 20+ years ago when i think it was cattle pasture. But there wasnt much growing and thats how i know how much soil we would loose if we went a month or more of 2 acres being cleared with nothing growing cuz we lost alot of soil in the little area that nothing was growing in this summer.

    Are there any cover crops you can plant in spring or early summer? Cuz were gonna have the whole 2 acre hillside mostly clear by spring and are looking into stuff to plant to keep the erosion to a minimum this summer. And we dont really wanna be mowing weeds in there cuz of spreading seed so be best if we get something beneficial growing with the few established weeds we got, then as summer goes on our beneficial stuff can dominate and once fall gets here disc it all and reseed with rye and clover and that next year we should have a good base to maintain to start the swale project. Were not trying to rush the whole process, we want it done the right way and using chemicals is never the way cuz there is always another chemical to fix the issues the other chemical caused and so on so forth why do you think commerical farming is slowly fading, cuz the chemicals cost to much to really make much at end of year with all the different things they need to just get a crop outta their field. Its like big pharma with pills but in the farming world.... the corporate ways need to stop screwing everything they can.
     
  5. Ryan'smilling

    Ryan'smilling Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Before you go cutting swales and terraces on a property that isn't in an arid climate, you should check out keyline design. It's not his design, but Richard Perkins has a lot of good YouTube videos and a book on laying out your property in a great way that concentrates on water management. Swales are great in some places, but they're not parallel and that's pretty problematic in an agricultural endeavor of any scale. Plus, swales are pretty expensive.
     
  6. 066blaster

    066blaster Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Not sure what kind of soil you have??? I'm in southeast Wi . it's pretty hilly by us , but every farmer here sprays and tills their land. It takes a major rain storm at just the wrong time to create any major erosion. If you want to farm organically, thats great, but keep in mind probably 99% of the produce people eat is not grown organically. Most crops, unfortunately are almost impossible to grow organically.
    Insects, weeds, fungus, bacteria,rodents,birds,deer,rabbits are all a problem. Have you ever observed people buying produce? they inspect it!! smell it, squeeze it, turn it upside down. If there is any blemish or imperfection, they put it down and grab a different one and start the inspection process over again. We inspect all of the produce we sell and if there is a blemish it gets thrown out, or possibly sold for a 1/4 of what it should sell for. So if there is a major insect problem or disease your whole crop can be worthless. Even with using chemicals it's not easy. I hate spraying, it's time consuming, expensive, and yes I hate the exposure to the chemicals. It also has to be done correctly or you can damage your crops.
    I think some people think there is some evil chemist farmer mixing stuff together to try to poison people. Thats not true. The chemicals are FDA and EPA approved and have strict guidelines to their use.
    I guess I'm not sure if you are growing just for yourself and family or to sell? but i have been involved in produce since I was 4 and just turned 43 and still have plenty of problems. There are new insects and diseases all the time ,followed by new tools and chemicals to combat them. I won't even get started on Excessive rain, drought, hail, frost, winter kill, Excessive heat, sunburned fruit.
    I have seen many a organic "farmer" come and go. It's usually A first generation farmer who knows nothing about growing anything, and doesn't have any of the expensive equipment needed.
    Good luck to you, It's not easy.
     
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  7. Diy mechanic mike

    Diy mechanic mike ArboristSite Operative

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    We have seen every video and got richard perkins book, he definatly has it going on for sure. But our hills are definatly steeper and more rolling from erosion then his, which is why we were gonna introduce the key line concept in between our swale rows where we will be growing cover crop to harvest. So we would be able to make two guaranteed passes with tractor between swales for ripping key lines for even more water catchment but the swales are gonna be filling to a certain point and then drain into a small pond for storage in case of drought. So basically the swales will store water for the berries/produce/fruit trees and the keylines will store water for the cover crops. once the cover crop cant take anymore it drains into the aquifer storage from the swales and over flow into small pond. Like i said we get alot of rain so we were gonna go full blast water catchment cuz of our hills grade and our climate. since we are on a premium ssw facing hill our cover crop and produce should just explode with growth with all that water storage/sun and ground shouldnt be to mushy downhill of swales.

    Check out "geoff lawton" on youtube.

    And were not trying to go large scale here, eventually 6-8 acre market garden, but were only planning to farm the 2 acre hillside at first to get all the kinks out of water catchment system and pest issues manageable via companion planting and organic pesticides then to conquor/manage other 4-6 acres. But i get you cant not spray a thing on your produce but you dont have to use deadly chemicals that are known to cause cancer. Fyi round up has just recently been sued for it and its probably not the first health lawsuit they have had against them. But i hope you atleast try an organic garden for your own produce for your health to fight off any cancer your exposed to. Cuz i totally get most ppl are stuck in the material world bubble and want perfect looking food but that same group of most ppl are also on loads of pharmaceuticals and a list of health issues. You can thank corporate america for letting big pharma pay off the fda to look other way and cause problems so big pharma can make more money to fill the big dogs pockets who run this place. Damn commies. Lol.
     
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  8. Diy mechanic mike

    Diy mechanic mike ArboristSite Operative

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    @ ryan, what exactly do you mean swales are expensive? Maintaining? Or the making of them?
     
  9. 066blaster

    066blaster Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I'm not convinced yet that round up(glyphosate) causes cancer. I mean I really hope it doesn't, but it just seems like there are just a bunch of lawyers trying to get rich off it. I know there is one guy that won a lawsuit ,but it will go to appeals court and get thrown out before the guy gets a dime. even if they determine it can cause cancer , I doubt it will ever be pulled from the market. It might have to be stated on the label.. There are plenty of known carcinogens that are sold to consumers everyday.
    I also believe if it was pulled from the market millions of people around the world would starve to death. And you also have to consider the chemicals glyphosate replaced,,they were a lot worse. Sorry, not trying to get in a debate with you. I just see so much stuff on Facebook about roundup, and people that don't have a clue about making stupid comments. some people think it is injected into to corn and wheat, some people think farmers spray it on fruits and vegetables before harvest, some think it is an insecticide. The public is really being mislead by lawyers.
     
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  10. Diy mechanic mike

    Diy mechanic mike ArboristSite Operative

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    Yeah your probably right about it getting thrown out because big pharma will provide the best defense lawyer for the round up company to keep causing issues for ppl so big pharma can treat it and keep making billions off pharmaceuticals. And i know you dont wanna spray atleast the last 2-3 weeks before harvesting but you dont think that the spray soaks into the skin of fruits/veggies while spraying for months on end even tho you rinse off the residue? And i know carcinogens are sold to ppl everyday like tobacco (big pharmas right hand man), but do you think thats ok? I guess for population control but is the round up company gonna have to start running ads like tobacco are doing to get ppl to stop by showing all the terrible things it causes to get us to realize were killing ourselves? But hey its america were free to kill ourselves how ever we want, even if it is to the other guys financial gain. Money can make alot of corrupt things happen if you dont already know that, look at our celebrity president haha what a clown. "The biggest and best clown around", might i add for the sake of his ego... wouldnt wanna undermind him any. And i stay away from social media, its mostly crap and ppl arguing about whos life is better or who life they would like to live. I personally think the government is to thank for the misleading. Look at cannabis they been telling us its in same class as lsd,meth,and heroin and no health beneifits for ever. Can you grow lsd,meth, or heroin? Didnt think so so how is this classification valid? And what are we up to now 25 states with medical use. But alcohol, any health beneifits there? I get the government needs there fire water to fall asleep at night after a long day of manipulating ppl to believe their lies but damn cant we just blaze one for our aches and pains instead of taking a pain pill and signing the addition dotted line? its just sick how society has reached this level of corruption. Im honestly scared for our country.
     
  11. Ryan'smilling

    Ryan'smilling Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Yep, I meant the making of them. Earth moving in general is expensive. But maintenance becomes more of a hassle too. Obviously they're tough to mow and you limit the routes you have to travel over the farm, but if you plan out their placement well, that may not be an issue.
     
  12. Diy mechanic mike

    Diy mechanic mike ArboristSite Operative

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    Well it could be expensive if your paying someone to come in to do it, but were planning to do the excavation ourselves so its done exactly how we invision it. Which i get that doesnt make it free but definatly half the expense. We have done some small scale swales at our house the old fashion way with hand tools and used our chickens to pack the loose soil making the swales burm and it worked great and now they have a rain water catchment to drink from. Making my life easier now that i dont have to worry so much about their access to water. Were gonna be planting some cover crop their this spring for the chickens once its harvestable. We have alot of pashion for this so we were willing to do a few "hardway" swales to get some experience with them before we go big. We also did a few using our bottom plow on tractor which worked really great, cuz our backs didnt hurt that night haha. But those are pretty small scale versions compared to what we are wanting. If we could find a jumbo bottom plow that our tractor could handle pulling that would be the idea i think but obviously a bulldozer with 6way blade would be the ticket. And at this point in time we cant afford one, but were getting pretty heavy into tree work for the materials, mulch/firewood for greenhouses and possibly logs for milling with our alaskian mill. And obviously the decent money you can make doing removals. We also have a woodchipper and dump truck for that stuff. So hopefully in the next few years we can manage to set some funds aside for a dozer.
     
  13. Diy mechanic mike

    Diy mechanic mike ArboristSite Operative

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    And mowing/ maintaining grass on burms wont be a huge problem til i hit 60 cuz as crazy as it sounds i actually like weedeating. We got a couple weedeaters with the handle bars and backpack straps and omg idk why they even make regular weedeaters anymore. Id never go back. I hear alot of ppl complain about them but thats cuz they havnt found the right way to adjust straps or they just really like wearing their shoulders out. With the backpack straps and handle bars you actually get a core workout from twisting at hips rather then straining shoulders and arms.
     
  14. CentaurG2

    CentaurG2 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    We farm organic. No fertilizers or pesticides. Weeds are a constant battle and you literally need to plant twice as much as counter losses to disease and pests but it can be done and you can generate quality produce that actually tastes good. Now can you make money at it??
     
  15. muddstopper

    muddstopper Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I will disagree with having to plant more to get more. I got 6 bushel of whitehalf runners off a 2oft row. Tomatoes rottening because I couldnt eat or can all of them. 150lbs of potatoes off a 50ft row and that was after eating on them all summer. Still eating zucchini bread my wife made back in season. Corn, onions, squash, okra cukes, bell and cayanne peppers, I had more than enough and gave lots to my neighbors. All this grown on waste dirt from a highway contruction project.

    Everybody has their own methods for organic growing. Some methods work better than others and some methods are limited simply because of where someone lives. I will pass on a few things that have worked for me in the past. For weed control, nothing is easier, cheaper and more effective than mulching. Once my plants are up, I spread generous amounts of mulch around the plants. This keeps the weeds from coming up. I use mostly wood chips I have from right of way clearings. I get the power company to dump truck loads on my property and than turn the material whenever the mood strikes me. They will dump enough in one year to keep me in quality mulch for years. A side benefit is that as these wood chips breakdown, they add necessary carbon back to the soil, along with other nutrients. Google remial wood chips for more info. Another benefit is moisture retention. I like to fill the valleys between my potato rows after hilling. I get taters big as footballs. They grow into the mulch and dont get sunburnt as they do when growing in just dirt. After the taters are dug and garden harvested, I simply till the mulch into the soil. about the only thing I add to my garden is dolomitic lime. If your soil dont have it, you got to add it, pure and simple.

    Insect control is more insect prevention. Bugs breed and reproduce very fast. Start with a few and you have a big problem in just a couple weeks. The best way to control the bugs is to stop them before they get started. Chickens and hogs are your best tool to do this with. Of course you cant raise hogs and chickens in your garden, but if your garden has a fence then putting the animals in as soon as you have harvested the garden will get rid of most of the bugs, their eggs, and lots of weed seeds that wont be their next growing season. Also chickens and hogs are great areators and will scratch and root looking for those grubs that turn into potato and japanese beetles and they do a excellent job of mixing your soil with your mulch. also the benefit of added manure. Now I realize not everybody can grow chickens and hogs in their neighborhood, but if you can, its a good way to control weeds and bugs for the next growing season. Plus you get fresh eggs or fresh chicken and pork if you know how to butcher your own.

    My biggest pest are deer. My 2000sqft garden has a 4ft wove wire fence around it. In the spring after planting my garden, I stretch string across the garden, from fence post to fence post. I go back and run more string at angles, sort of making the strings pattern diamond shaped. I then go back and tie the bright colored flagging tape to the string. Letting it hang down just about 2ft. The flags move with even the slightest breeze. I found that not only does the string and flags keep the deer out, but crows dont like the flags either. Havent seen a single deer track in the garden during growing season, but after I cut the strings down, tracks where there the next day..
     
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  16. sonny580

    sonny580 ArboristSite Operative

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    A big venture and sorry to say that you will run into big problems, also very expensive ones. You will have to focus on a few things at a time then when you master these, move to the next level. Insects and weeds will be your worst nightmare. Also you will need lots of fertilizer because plants have to eat just like humans. What you are doing will take years to do and will be very expensive up front but may pay off. Just not anytime soon! thanks; sonny580
     
  17. muddstopper

    muddstopper Addicted to ArboristSite

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    You havent said how big a piece of property or how much of it you plan to tend. I have seen folks make terrances and plant trees on the top. Sound like a good plan, until you start trying to keep the grass and weeds off the steep part of the terrance. Personally, if you can mow or maintain the land as it lays I would forget doing terrance and swales you cant drive a tractor over. You can still plant your fruit trees in rows like on a terrance, only now you can drive around the trees with equipment. As for clearing, consider putting a fence around the area to be cleared and put a few goats inside the fence. You will be surprised as to how much underbrush they will get rid of. If you cut a tree down, they will eat most of the limbs and debark the larger stems. I have seen them eat the bark off fallen pine trees, including any small limbs, leaving it laying like a white skeleton. Best part is goats dont care much for grass and the grass will grow thicker putting a stop to any erosion. I you plan on any cattle or horses, just put them in the fence with the goats. The goats will eat the weeds and the horses and cows will eat the grass and cut any mowing or bushhoging down to nearly nothing. Also, goat meat is eaten by more folks than beef and selling goats isnt a problem.
     
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  18. Diy mechanic mike

    Diy mechanic mike ArboristSite Operative

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    I did say 2 acre hillside to start and then additional 4-6 acre hillside after we master the 2 acre side. And i love your idea of the pigs, goats, and chickens being the hired help cuz thats what we were thinking for the 4-6acre future site since we have the 2 acre side pretty well cleared by chainsaws/bush hogging. And while we are mastering the 2 acre side we can fence in the 4-6 acre side and let the hired help frolic around for a few years and we can also chainsaw a bit here and there to clear it up for the big project. We are a completely plant based family now becides our dogs they eat meat so the livestock will actually be long term pets i guess cuz we won't eat them. And that being said whats a good number for each type of hired help without getting super expensive to feed considering were not wanting to butcher, just have around to help work the land. Fyi we did start our first chicken farm venture with 30 chickens for eggs as we used to eat eggs alot before going plant based and we also make our dogs food using alot of eggs. So 30 birds was decent labor to care for collecting, washing, boxing, ect. but since we did eat alot it wasnt a big deal, but now since we dont eat them, collecting washing boxing isnt worth doing for 2-3 bucks a dozen(my areas prices due to the flood of backyard chicken farmers) there are some ppl who pay the government for the organic label and can sell theirs at the stores willing for 5bucks a dozen labeled organic farm eggs. But for the work that goes into that and paying the outrageous fee annually to be certified organic, im not sure its really worth it unless that is all you wanna do with your time and care for alot of birds. Being plant based now thats for the joes lol i just want about 20 birds max and a couple roosters to impregnate the eggs so they hatch instead of needing collected cuz i dont want them to become a huge chore like the 30 female laying birds we had. Any input on types of chickens good for my intended use would be gladly appreciated???
    And goats/pigs i have no clue about care for either of them other then i know pigs need buddies. There is a person near our property that has this super narly looking goat with long black/white/grey hair with a twisted rack on his head that i would love to have a few of just cuz he looks cool lol. So from looks of that goat doesnt look like much grooming is needed for them/that type whatever it is.
    But the big question is how to manage 2-3 "excavation type" pigs, maybe 10 "minimal maintenance/excavation type" goats, and 20-30ish "minimal maintenance" chickens without spending alot on feed during winter when grazing is very limited? Please keep in mind i have no clue on pig/goat care. Obviously shelter/ water access and feed are big keys but beyond that im clueless.... input please???

    Thanks Mike
     
  19. CentaurG2

    CentaurG2 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    We tried the wood mulch weeds down root many years ago. Turned out here that the short-tailed vole likes to nest in bark mulch and the “meadow mouse” was devastating on most vegetable crops including root crops. We switched to a heavy barrier fabric. Not only does it give the garden a very proper “English look”, it keeps both weeds and rodents down. It also works very well at warming the soil which helps out in our cold climate. The only problem is the fabric need to be removed every fall before tilling and put back every spring.

    We always have about 24 or so chickens running about. They are free range and do a good job at insect patrol. I would caution against pigs, dogs or cats anywhere near an organic garden. Best to raise pigs on your neighbor’s property.

    We have deer here but according to my game camera, they seem more interested in drinking out of my fish pond vs eating my produce. They only thing I raise that they really like is flowing okra. In spare rows, I usually grow cutting flowers and herbs. Once upon a lifetime, I purchased a pack of flowing okra seeds from Monticello. I usually grow them every year and the deer with trip over prime lettuce to eat the okra plants. I now mix them in with caster.

    We also grow all organic corn. About every third ear with have a corn borer in it. While I don’t mind snapping off the end of an ear to remove the damage, few other folks will put up with the worms. You need to inspect every ear and we cull a lot.
     
  20. CentaurG2

    CentaurG2 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Eggs sell well around here. They fetch about $3 a dozen but you can ask more for fancy colored eggs. I would much rather gather eggs than pick strawberries or tomatoes. Despite being free range, most of our flock are very good about using the provided nesting boxes. If you can’t sell, don’t want or can’t use or give away to your local food pantry your excess production, you can always hard boil them and feed them back to your flock. Boil and cut them up, shells and all. If you want chickens but few eggs, the Cochin is a good candidate. They produce very few eggs, are very winter hardy and about as bright as a 3-watt bulb. You want a good tasting chicken that doubles as an excavator, the barred Plymouth rock is the bird of choice. Their unique coloration makes them predator resistant. Far better to rent goats than to own them. Best to raise pigs on your neighbor’s property.


    https://www.mypetchicken.com/catalog/Baby-Chicks/Partridge-Cochin-p728.aspx

    https://www.mypetchicken.com/catalog/Baby-Chicks/Barred-Plymouth-Rock-p231.aspx
     

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