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This blog is meant to be a chronicle of the (mis-) adventures of my family and I as we adjust to country life. I'm a hands-on kinda guy, so many of the posts will take the form of illustrated How-Tos.
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Moving the Chickens from Brooder to Mobile Coop

May 20th, 2010 by Blogging Farmer

A Feathered ChickenAfter about 4 weeks, Cornish Cross chickens are ready for the move outside. Cornish Crosses are very fast growers. Most other breeds take more like 5-6 weeks to reach this stage. What you want to look for is feather growth. Remember, the reason chicks are placed in a brooder is because they can’t control their body heat and need to be kept warm. Feathers provide the insulation for them to do this on their own. So as soon as your chickens look like the fine specimen on the right, they’re ready for the great outdoors!

(Note: actually, because of the weather… early May was unusually frigid this year… we put off the move about a week to a week and a half. The chickens in the picture are actually a little older than normal.)

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Posted in Chickens, Country Life, Healthy Food, Healthy Living, Organic | No Comments »

How to Run a Chick Brooder Properly

April 25th, 2010 by Blogging Farmer

Our Chicken Brooder

Newly-hatched chicks, just like human babies at the beginning of their lives, cannot maintain their own body temperature and so are susceptible to cold or over-heating. This lasts until their fuzz is replaced with feathers, at the age of 4-5 weeks or so. In the wild, chicks are cared for by the mother. However, if you’re hatching eggs in an incubator or ordering day-old chicks, you don’t really have that option — not to mention the fact that domestic hens often make terrible mothers, because of breeding that focused on egg-laying rather than mothering skills.

This is where a brooder comes in. This can be something as simple as a big cardboard box you keep in your bedroom to a setup like we have: an 8′x9′ manufactured wooden shed. The principles are the same though. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Chickens, How To | No Comments »

All Men to Battle Stations: Chicken Hawk, Incoming

April 8th, 2010 by Blogging Farmer

Cooper's Hawk, also known as a Chicken HawkWe’ve had chickens for 2 full years now, and our only problem with predation had been our own dogs and passing coyotes. Coyotes are shy of humans and only come by night when the chickens are safely locked up. I’ve only seen one on our property during the day, and it was gone as soon as it saw me. The dogs are not shy at all, and it’s hard to convince them that small running animals should not be chased, but it can be done with a little gentle persuasion.

This Monday, we faced an entirely new kind of predator: Chickenhawk! Specifically, a Cooper’s Hawk. (Photo is courtesy of Wikipedia.) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Chickens, Country Life, Guns, In Local News, Pest Control | 2 Comments »

Fair Weather!

March 30th, 2010 by Blogging Farmer

Last week, we had a dry, sunny spell that was all too brief, but it allowed us to get started on a few summer projects. Most importantly: expanding our garden. In the picture you can see our current garden as it appears currently (it’s greener later, I promise). This year, we want to incorporate the area in the background, between where the soil is tilled and the fence at the back. In the foreground is our tiller. We got it before we had our Kubota tractor. A tiller for the tractor is a much smarter idea, and they actually cost about the same. But oh well, we’re working with the tools we’ve got.

Garden Expansion Plans

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Posted in Camping, Country Life, DIY, Garden, Hammock Camping, Healthy Food, How To, In Local News, Organic, Vegetables | No Comments »

How to Build a Fluorescent Grow Stand to Start Seeds Indoors

March 16th, 2010 by Blogging Farmer

A Finished Fluorescent Grow StandThe growing season in Upstate NY is not nearly as long as one would like, so it’s helpful when you can start seedlings indoors, while it’s still too cold outside. However, commercial grow lights can be expensive, starting from $129.00 for this Tabletop model to $569 for this heavy duty 3-shelf model. In this tutorial, I explain how you can make a 4-shelf one for around $140. Assembly time is also under an hour.

You can see the finished version on the right. The bright lights contrasted with the dark interior of the room make it kinda hard to photograph this thing well. However, you get the general idea. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Country Life, DIY, Garden, Healthy Living, How To, Organic, Vegetables | No Comments »

The DIY Gun Vise Project

March 8th, 2010 by Blogging Farmer

An important piece of equipment for any gun owner is a stable gun vise to enable you to clean or tinker with your firearms safely, easily and without damaging them.One of the hobbies that I took up after moving out to the countryside was firearms. Many people living in cities don’t like the idea of guns, and I agree to an extent. A packed, stressful environment like the city is probably not the best place for people to have guns. Out on the farm, things are different.

An important piece of equipment for any gun owner is a stable gun vise to enable you to clean or tinker with your firearms safely, easily and without damaging them. You can buy one, of course, but frankly most of the products out there are either made out of flimsy plastic or over-priced. With the help of this guide, you can build a nice wooden vise in just a few hours. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in DIY, Guns, How To | 7 Comments »

Spring is in the Air (for us Farmers, that is)

March 6th, 2010 by Blogging Farmer

Though our fields may currently look like THIS (poor Tuna sinking in the snow up to the ears!) it’s the time to start gearing up for the growing season.

Tuna Sinking in Snow
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Posted in Chickens, Country Life, Winter | No Comments »

Clearing Snow with a Front-End Loader

February 27th, 2010 by Blogging Farmer

This is How Real Men (and Women) Do It!A.k.a How Real Men (and Women) Move Snow

Clearing the driveway next morning is my least favorite part of any snowstorm. On the farm, we have a very convenient driveway that loops all the way around the house, making it really easy for multiple cars to get in and out. Easy, that is, unless it’s packed with about 20 tons of sticky, wet snow. This was the situation we awoke with this morning.

In the past, we’d moved snow the hard way with either a good old-fashioned shovel or a cheap, bad snow-blower (which actually saved no time or effort, as the thing is underpowered and clogs ALL THE TIME). Inspired by something I’d read on the TractorByNet forums, I decided to put our Kubota L4630 to good use. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Country Life, How To, Winter | No Comments »

Winter Comes to Central NY

February 26th, 2010 by Blogging Farmer

There’s no surprising most Eastcoasters with massive snowfall this year after the series of blizzards that battered the Eastern seaboard over the past couple of months, but Central NY has been relatively left out of the party. The snowstorms that dumped feet of snow over places like Virginia and North Carolina gave us scant inches. I haven’t even been out cross-country skiing this year. Until, that is, today.

Snow on our Ford F-150

A good gauge of just how much snowfall we got: that car was clean last evening. In the picture, it has about 8 inches of snow on the bed cover. The snow is still falling as I write.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Country Life, In Local News, Winter | No Comments »

How to Make Beef Jerky

February 14th, 2010 by Blogging Farmer

Loading the meat into the dehydratorDelicious, delicious jerky!I absolutely love beef jerky. Not only that, but it can be very good for you. Unfortunately, my family has been eating only organic beef for over a decade now (since 1997… at some point, I will probably explain our reasons). While the “organic revolution” has been making great strides recently, organic beef jerky is not yet really widely available, especially in backwater Upstate NY where we live. Armed with an Excalibur Deluxe Food Dehydrator, I set out on the quest for beef jerky. This is the method I worked out after a few trial runs.

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Posted in Healthy Food, How To, Organic | 1 Comment »

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