Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Thar be chickens here!

When I need to use a new software tool or programming language, I generally poke around on the web looking for information. When I find a block of information that is commonly sited by many different sources, I go to that resource. Sometimes that's a web site, sometimes it's a book. I study it and then start to try and use it, usually on a small scale at first.

I've been doing this successfully for more years than most computer geeks out there have been house broken, if they are house broken.

When I decided to take up farming, I did the same thing. This is a sort of agriculture 101, with no single instructor. Now that the process has started, I know for sure I'll pay the tuition. I hope I'll also learn the lesson, but that is less sure.

The very first beasties on the place were 26 chickens. Well at least potential chickens. Peeps about 3 weeks old. I built some pens, the style called "tractors", and became, if not a farmer, at least someone responsible for the welfare of a group of critters.

Road Island Reds and New Hampshire Reds, about 4 weeks old

This group is down to 22, it seems the local raccoons like chicken too. Three of them woke up headless a few days after they got here. I did not witness the deed, but I have books that suggest this indicates raccoons.

One more met its fate at about 10 weeks old as breakfast for a hawk. I thought the birds were too big to be prey for the hawks we sometimes see around, but I was wrong. They no longer get to run around inside the fence, they stay in the pen.

These birds were hatched about the first of June. The goal is to get them into egg production.

Road Island Reds and New Hampshire Reds, about 12 weeks old

There are about four cockerels (males) in the bunch that do not qualify for that job description, so they are scheduled to meet their fate this weekend. The farms first harvest, yummy.

One of the "spare" roosters, next weeks dinner

We also started some broilers, a breed of chicken designed to eat, gain weight, and get eaten. The order of 50 arrived by mail (true, that's how they come) on August 4.

Cornish Cross peeps day 1

It is amazing how quickly these birds grow.

Cornish Cross peeps 1 week old

These birds are now about three weeks old and are on the pasture in a hoop pen. Not nearly as cute, much, much, much bigger.

Cornish Cross 3 weeks old

The pens I'm using for all these birds have no floors. I move them every day, just one length of the pen, to clean ground. This eliminates the need to clean out the pens, and give the birds a cleaner place to hang out, along with a dietary supplement of green grass and the occasional bug.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Farm

The farm is located about 25 miles east of Gainesville Florida, USA. It consists of just less than 20 acres of land we own, and a bit less that we lease. It is almost all pasture, with a few scattered trees.

The Name "lazyJa3"

The name "lazyJa3" refers to "Lazy Jim's adventures in alternative agriculture".

My first name is Jim, Lazy jim refers to me. In this context I call myself lazy because of the way I go about razing livestock. I strive to avoid strenuous physical work in favor of having the animals do all the heavy lifting.

Specifically I will not go out in the fields, harvest feed, haul it into the barn, feed it to the critters, clean out the barn and haul the manure out to spread it on the fields.

At our farm, the animals must go to the fields themselves, harvest the feed, and spread manure around with no direct help from me.

Typical harvesting equipment used on the farm