Planting Update – Paw Paw, Wood Phlox & Comfrey

Wood PhloxAn update on some of what we have growing.  Many of the areas we only mow a couple of times a year now have wood phlox growing.  While we did not plant it I think it is very pretty.



Paw Paw TreeSeveral years ago I planted a couple of Paw Paw trees.  They are native to Michigan and are supposed to product a fruit that tastes like banana custard.  This fruit isn’t commercially available do to the fact it doesn’t ship.  The trees are just now starting to grow, this one being about 4′ high.





Finally our comfrey is doing quite well so now I’m cutting it and feeding it to the chickens.  It is reported to be high in protein and good as livestock fodder.


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Hen Sheltering Chicks

It was a cool evening and the chicks were out running around and one of the hens kept her wings out a bit form her body and the chicks would go in and out as they felt they needed warmth.  There are at least two hens looking after these 3 chicks, kind of a “it takes a village” type of thing.

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Quick Video of Hatched Chicks

Here is a quick little video of the chicks that hatched for us when a hen went broody.

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Trying Beekeeping Again

I got two packages of bees and installed them in hives.  When I tore the have apart in the spring I found a family of mice had moved in and I believe that is why the bees didn’t make it through the last two winters.  I thought that I had solved the problem last fall by turning over the bottom board to the narrow opening.

This year I’m going to try Michael Bush’s method of only having a top entrance created by putting shims under a migratory cover.  This creates an opening that in theory mice cannot get into.  However I had 10 frames almost full of honey so I put 5 in each hive so this should get these off to a good start.

Beehive Top Entrance



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Mice In My Beehive

I broke down my beehive to see if I could tell what happened.  I discovered that there was a nest of mice in the bottom hive box.  I suspect that is what did in my hive.  I was surprised because I had the bottom board turned over to the narrow opening.  How they got in through that small slot I have no idea.  I’ll have to make sure they do not get in next year as I think that is why I lost the hive.  There was plenty of honey in the hive and the remnants of a cluster.

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Chick’s Have Hatched

I went out to collect eggs  and heard peeping. I was only able to see two of them as the hens were not really inclined to let me take a good look under them.  I’m hoping to see maybe 20 chick’s out of this.

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Future Vegetable Garden

Previous locations haven’t worked out as a place to grow vegetables so my plan is to clear the brush and garbage trees in this area.  This shot is looking south so the good Black Walnut in the foreground can stay without shading out the garden.  While it is hard to judge the scale it is plenty far away to keep from having a negative effect on the garden.  The chickens spent a winter here a year ago and to my knowledge hasn’t been dug up for decades, if ever.  Further this is river bottom land that has flooded a couple of time in the last 10 years that I know of, further depositing organic material



My plan is raised beds with some half-rotted logs laying on the ground that I plan on burying in the beds and I can get 2 yards of compost from the township.  I have a large pile of wood chips that I got a tree clearing crew to dump when they were working about a mile away that will be paths.

Here is a little video clip from closer.

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Broody Hen

She is giving me the “Keep your hand away look”


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We Have A Broody Hen

We appear to have a hen go broody.  The last couple of days the same hen is in the same nesting box, refusing to leave.  Time to do some research about broody hens and chicks hatching.

There is no telling what the chicks will be like, I have a Rhoad Island Red Rooster and one that is reported to be a Black Java, but I’m not sure how much “Black Java” it is.  I also have a variety of hens including White Leghorn, ISA Brown, Barred Rock, Black Australorp, Rhoad Island Red, plus a couple others of uncertain breed.  Therefore it’s hard to tell what will come out of the eggs, if they even hatch.

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Plans For 2015

This is the year I get back to some vegetable production and maybe some other annual plants.  I have found a few places that have not done so well in the past, this year I’m trying a new plot.  This is an area of some brush and a few garbage trees that I will be clearing.  This area hasn’t been disturbed for years so there has been leaf drop and other organic material building up.  Further the chickens spent several months here last year so that adds some fertility to the soil as well.

My plan is to build raised beds in this area.  There are some small logs that have been sitting around for a couple of years that I’m going to try burying under the raised beds plus I can get 2 yards of compost from the township that I will also add to the beds.  According to what I’ve read this will help with keeping the moist and provide a good environment for fungi which also is reported to help plants.

I also need to setup some more area for the chickens that has overhead cover.  Last year I lost more than 40 birds to the hawks and owls.  Previously I had only lost a few per year when I moving them around the open ground, but once the birds of prey discovered an easy meal they hit me hard.  I’m thinking an area with some small trees and pollard them off as high as I can reach and run some bird netting over the top.

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