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Leaf Cutter Bees – Super Hero Pollinators!

When Jay Williams from Williams Honey Farm approached us about a pollination test this Summer season for Solitary Bees (Mason & Leaf Cutter Bees), we didn’t really know what to expect, but he made it very easy. Jay basically did all the work and we reaped all the benefits. We only paid him for cost of the bees and materials. He placed two T-Post Hives on our farm. One T-post Hive was in the area of our U-Pick Community Garden and the other post hive was in our rental gardens. (We rent plots to local people who are either learning how to garden or do not have the space at their homes or apartment communities.) Jay placed approximately 1,000 Leaf Cutter cocoons and bees at each T-Post Hive for the test.

Leaf Cutter Bees 1

He placed the bees in early June and they began their pollination cycle. We have never seen anything like it before! We are only estimating, but feel that they at least tripled our pollination rate. We began to feel overwhelmed because we do not have a large enough staff (just the two of us and two volunteers) to keep up with the production of vegetables we were picking every day…much more than in the previous 5 years we have been open. We started out with 6 rows of green beans (4 rows less than last year) and we were not able to pick all of the green beans on two of the rows, before they got dry on the vine…there were just so many beans.  We are determined next year to be more prepared, because we lost a lot of veggies…we just couldn’t harvest it all!

We sold more squash, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and berries than any previous year we have been open and we feel it is due in a large part to the increased pollination of the leaf cutter bees.

We opened the garden in mid-June and closed in 6 weeks, 2 weeks earlier than usual. Increased pollination may have played a part, but the heat and excessive rain definitely accelerated plant deterioration.

Even though we closed two weeks earlier than usual…we still increased our sales 35% above 2015 (and 2015 was higher than any previous year). We had more produce than we could sell so, we also donated almost 1,000 pounds of produce (estimated worth of $1,000) to OneGenAway (www.onegenaway.com) which distributes food throughout our community to the needy and homeless. We felt very blessed this year!

If you have an interest in getting some Solitary Bees (Mason and/or Leaf Cutter) for your farm, garden or landscape, we definitely recommend Jay Williams and his little Super Hero Pollinators. Contact him at jay@williamshoneyfarm.com.

Last Week of the Summer U-Pick Garden

2016 has been a blessed year for sure at Stoney Creek Farm!  We’ve been blessed with a new source of pollinators called “Leaf Cutter Bees” (http://www.williamshoneyfarm.com) which have tripled our pollination rates of our veggies and berries (we are guessing, but feel pretty confident about that ratio). So we have had more produce than ever before and been able to sell more to the community and donate more to needy families through an organization called One Gen Away ( http://www.onegenaway.com)…so it has been a very successful Summer Season.

All that to say…we are winding down and this will be our last week for the Summer U-Pick Garden.  We will be open two days this week:

Wednesday, July 20th, 7 am – 7 pm
Saturday, July 23th, 7 am – 7 pm

Pesticide Free Berries and Produce available this week:
Slicer Tomatoes
Green Tomatoes for frying (be glad to give you my superb recipe too!)
San Marzano Roma Tomatoes
Grape Tomatoes
Red Cabbage
Brussel Sprouts
Cucumbers
Squash
Zucchini
Okra
Blackberries
Peaches, dwarf limited
Sunflowers
Cosmos
Zinnias
Basil/Lemon Balm
Thyme/Oregano
Rosemary/Sage
Mint/Choc Mint
16 oz cup of flowers and herbs are only $5 cup stuffed full
Dirt Rich Book by the Funderburks
Cracked Pot Herb Book by Cindy Shapton
Thanks for supporting our Volunteer’s Annual Trip by buying a Farm Temporary Tattoo for $2

 

 

 

tomatoes in buckets 2016Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

Every year we grow less tomato plants, but we produce more tomatoes…maybe we are figuring out how to grow healthy ones without pesticides finally?  It’s either that or just dumb luck…ha.  But one way or the other, we have tons of tomatoes and they are beautiful this year!

We always have mostly hybrid varieties, but always at least one heirloom and this year it’s “Beefsteak”.  The hybrid varieties are:  Amelia, Merit, San Marzano Roma, and Sweetheart Grape.  Regular price is $1.75 lb and if you buy 30 lbs or more for canning, you get a discount to $1.50 lb, if you buy even more, then the discount will be even higher.  We do have some tomatoes with blemishes, slight bruising, etc which we will sell for 1/2 price, so ask about those if interested.

A lot of farms do not sell green tomatoes, but we do…because we LOVE FRIED GREEN TOMATOES and so do our customers.  (We have a lot of customers who make green tomato pickles too.)  Here is my fried green tomato recipe and I hope you do too:

fried green tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe
-Use ½ bisquick and ½ stoneground cornmeal plus Tony’s Creole Seasoning (to taste – I use a lot) as the dry mix
-Use one beaten egg and ½ cup milk as the wet mix
-Heat at least 1”-1 ½” of oil in the skillet on medium heat – do not turn on high, just let it heat while you are battering the slices
-Core the green tomatoes and slice them into ½” slices
-Coat each tomato slice in the dry mix, then dip them into the wet mixture, then coat them again in the dry mixture, set on a plate
-Repeat with each slice
-When you get enough slices to fill up the skillet, make sure the oil is hot enough by putting a pinch of cornmeal mix in oil to make sure it will fry.
-Fill the skillet with slices and after the first side is medium brown, then flip and brown the second side.
-Repeat with the rest of the tomato slices.
-Enjoy!

tomato pie

 

If you have never tried Tomato Pie, you have really missed out…there is nothing like it!  My family never made it while I was growing up, but I had a friend who introduced me to it in my late 20’s and I’ve been making it ever since.  It’s incredibly yummy and a definite comfort food.

 

Tomato Pie Recipe:

Ingredients:
4 large tomatoes, ripe, peeled and sliced
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion
9 inch prebaked deep dish pie shell
1 cup grated mozzarella
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Layer the tomato slices, basil and onion in a pie shell, season with salt and pepper. Combine the grated cheeses and mayonnaise together.  Spread the mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cut and serve warm

This recipe was adapted from a Paula Dean recipe.

Visit Stoney Creek Farm and our Pick Your Own Summer Garden on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 am – 7 pm and Sundays 1-7 pm  to enjoy a relaxing afternoon of family fun picking veggies and berries.  We also offer a playground for the kids, a big Toy Box on the porch and free ice pops to help the kids keep cool.  Come back to the farm and remember what it was like to visit the grandparents….step back in time…

 

    Dirt Rich

    Here’s the story of a couple who jumped off their corporate ladders into a small farm…finding a more peaceful and joyful life.  They want to share their journey with you, the difference it made in their lives and how you can live sustainably too, whether that’s in your backyard or on a few acres.

    Dirt Rich Reviews

    “In Dirt Rich, Leigh and Olin Funderburk lay out a beautiful plan for a simple, sustainable life style. Not one that strips the joy and beauty from life, but one that enhances those very characteristics. They guide us through their model of enriching their lives and those of the people in their community, and how you can do the same.”

    Dan Miller

    Dan Miller, New York Times Bestselling Author of “48 Days to the Work You Love”

     

    “Before making the jump to homesteading, you should definitely get the inside “dirt” on how to turn your dream into a profitable reality.  In this charming and insightful book, Leigh and Olin Funderburk, owners of Stoney Creek Farm, share their journey towards a sustainable lifestyle.  Teachers at heart, you will learn (and laugh) as they share what worked for them, and what didn’t, and the (sometimes surprising) lessons they learned along the way.”

    pic of Cindy

    Cindy Shapton, Herbalist, Speaker, and Author of the “The Cracked Pot Herb Book”

    “If you are interested in a practical guide to sustainable farming, begin with this book.  Nothing beats hands-on experience, and in Dirt Rich, Leigh and Olin Funderburk, owners of Stoney Creek Farm, effectively and succinctly share theirs.  Dirt Rich is one of those rare books that simultaneously stakes out an engaging read filled with useful, real-world content, one which is sure to have you out searching for a farm of your own!  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a jump-start on the journey to sustainable living.”

    Clark Gaither

    Clark Gaither, MD, Bestselling Author of “Powerful Words”

    To get your own copy of “Dirt Rich”, simply click on the link below:

    Buy “Dirt Rich” Now

    Melinda Hadaway is a good friend and sustainable-minded gal who makes many of her own cleaning and personal products out of all natural ingredients.  I asked her to share some info on herself and the reasons she is living a more sustainable life…

    Melinda Hadaway

    I am currently a homemaker. I enjoy sewing, cooking ,gardening, and creating watercolor art. I am also passionate about healthy living….including exercise, healthy eating, healthy relationship building. My goal is to live to the age of 100 ( and beyond ) and do that the healthiest way possible. I am a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. I embrace simple , sustainable living. Above all I am passionate about living everyday to serve God, and put a smile on someone else’s face!  

    Maybe 5 years ago, I started being interested in sustainable, simple living. I guess mostly I was intrigued with the idea that I could make some of the everyday products that I use around the home using products that I had on hand or could purchase less expensively . I liked the idea that I could simplify my days and create a clean, chemical reduced environment . Honestly, I feel good about using more natural ingredients in and on my body as well as for cleaning. It began as more of a hobby and interest, and now I like the way we feel and hope it contributes to a long happy life. Hand sanitizer, hand soap, all purpose cleaner, shave cream, bathroom cleaner are some of the products I make. I have several more recipes I will try as time permits. They are easy enough for me to make. Once you get the basic ingredients it takes little time to put together.

    melinda hadaway toilet cleaner melinda hadaway shave cream

    It does save some money, but I think the best thing to do is weigh the cost: that means think about the amount of time you want to spend and the cost of purchasing the products.  If you can save time and money….homemade is good. 

    Sustainable Farm Conference at Stoney Creek Farm

    I went to the Stoney Creek Farm Sustainable Conference on April 14-15 this year.  I loved the fact that it was on an actual farm right here I the city I live in, and hosted by two amazing people my husband and I have come to love and appreciate .?  I learned a lot from the conference and here are a couple of “take aways” I got from the : herbs – so many more uses than I had known about before, the book is a great tool for reference.  (The Cracked Pot Herb Book by Cindy Shapton  www.cindyshapton.com).  Because I really like honey, the lecture on bee keeping from Jay Williams, Williams Honey Farm https://williamshoneyfarm.com/ was informative and interesting as well. 

    bee 3

    The most important reason I want to live and share my ideas with others about sustainable living (repurposing, recycling, taking care of the earth) is…for me it makes sense and it’s all connected: simple, more minimal living, creates space, I like to call it margin. You see, even though life is full for me and my husband right now we are not “busy” this life we live is full, full of happy times, simple living, and beautiful relationships because we have created that “space” we call margin.  And here are a few more…

    1. I want to share this with others because I want them to experience the same contentment we have found.
    2. I believe I have found a healthy balance in using natural products, repurposing items around the house. I don’t like to think that I will ever plan to go overboard in any one area just learn the balance and keep it simple. I have recently began reading Joshua Becker’s new book “The More of Less”. He is known for his becoming minimalist initiative . I would highly recommend this book as he explains how to find the life you want under everything you own. Less stuff to manage means more time to learn and share what God has blessed me with.
    3. Also, I find in the kitchen as far as cooking, using foods that are not processed, cooking more at home vs eating out, planning meals ahead( which I have been doing for 39 years), preserving herbs and other things I grow are among the things I do to keep us healthy and hopefully live longer .

    Melinda and I are kindred spirits about sustainable living.  If you would like more information about Melinda and how to contact her…see her card below:

    melinda hadaway business card

    Learn how to grow your own Healthy Food on a local farm in Franklin, TN.  Stoney Creek Farm rents gardens and teaches you (and your family) how to grow your own Healthy Food without the use of pesticides.

    Rent a Garden to Grow Healthy Vegetables for your entire family.  We teach you how.
    Garden Rental Plots sizes and prices (for the entire season May – October):
    10’x10′  $75
    10’x20′  $100
    10’x20′  $125 (best value)

    Stoney Creek Farm is located at 4700 Coe Lane in Franklin Tennessee, near I-65 and Hwy 96.

    To sign up for your own Garden Rental click the link below:
    Garden Rentals

    Call/text 615-591-0015, e-mail stoneycreekfarmtennessee@gmail.com, or visit our website http://www.stoneycreekfarmtennessee.com

    Speaker List for the Sustainable Living Farm Conference

    portrait of Olin and Leigh

    Leigh and Olin Funderburk
    Owners of Stoney Creek Farm
    and

    Authors of “Dirt Rich – How to Experience More Joy and Less Stress Through Sustainable Farm Living”

    Leigh Funderburk was born in Humboldt, Tennessee, and grew up most of her life on a small family farm.  She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1982 and had an extensive 30-year corporate career, most recently with Xerox, before “going back to the farm.” She retired from corporate life in 2013, to better devote her energy to sustainable farming.

    Olin Funderburk was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, and, as a “preacher’s kid,” lived all over the Southeast. Olin has a BS in Construction, Engineering, and Technology, and currently owns a construction company with three other partners, where he still works.

    Olin and Leigh have been teaching people how to live a more simple and sustainable life since they opened Stoney Creek Farm to the public in 2010. Their dream is to help everyone become “Dirt Rich,” whether they live in the country or the city.

    pic of Cindy

    Cindy Shapton
    The Cracked Pot Gardener

    Cindy Shapton speaks, writes, designs and coaches when she is not working in her own garden.  She has been a regular on local television with ‘Talk of the Town’ and has appeared on Volunteer Gardener.

    Known as The Cracked Pot Gardener; the title of a column Cindy wrote for the Williamson Herald. Cindy writes articles for many magazines and is a regular contributor for State-by-State Gardening and The Tennessee Gardener as well as a contributing garden expert to Tractor Supply Company’s ‘Know How Central’.

    She is the former owner of Hyssop Hill Herb Farm and Coyote Herb Ranch both in Franklin, TN. Cindy is past president of the Williamson County Master Gardeners.

    Cindy is the author of “The Cracked Pot Herb Book” – Simple Ways to Incorporate Herbs into Everyday Life. Visit her website www.cindyshapton.com  

     

    David Cook

    David Cook
    TN Agricultural and Commercial Horticulture Extension Agent

    David Cook works for the UT Agriculture Extension Office in both the Agricultural and Commercial areas in Davidson County.  He is a tremendous resource in many aspects of Agriculture and especially in organic methods to control insect populations and reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides.  He is a “bug fanatic” and teaches the identification of beneficial insects and how to use them to eliminate pesticides.  Always a favorite speaker, David will WOW you with his knowledge of beneficial insects and using Nature’s resources.

    Jay Williams

    Jay Williams
    Williams Honey Farm

    Jay Williams has been in the family bee business since he was very small.  His dedication to preserving and protecting our pollinators has been nonstop and deserves recognition.  He describes his Honey Farm in the following way…

    “Williams Honey Farm is just like a bee hive. We have many moving parts that all work together for 1 common goal: Survival of the honeybee.

     We accomplish this goal through 4 main avenues:
    Educate the public through visits to schools, churches, garden clubs, and beekeeping events.
    Feed the bees in new and interesting ways and at the same time create bee conservationists we affectionately call “Polleneers”.
    Produce 100% natural products of the hive through sustainable beekeeping practices.
    Give back to the bees through annual projects including free Seed Bombs to Nashville Area school children.

    1 in every 3 bites you take is thanks to a honeybee.  If you feed the bees then you’ll feed the world.  We are ready to do this one flower at a time.”

    paul deepan

    Paul Deepan
    Reiki Master

    Paul became a Reiki Master to further his passion for peace and healing in a fallen world.  Reiki is a Japanese form of energy healing that originated as a desire to heal as Jesus healed. Paul will cover a description of Reiki and how modern science is starting affirm some of the insights that we have had from ancient days.

    Paul Deepan was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and in addition to the United States, has lived in Trinidad, England and Canada. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto, and Master’s degrees in Biology and Business from the Universities of Waterloo, and Western Ontario, respectively. Paul is the author of the award-winning fantasy novel, The Fruit of the Dendragon Tree, and has written and taught in a variety of niches.  Paul ghost writes book-length projects for people who may be too busy or too overwhelmed to tackle this daunting task on their own.

    marc-smith

    Marc Smith, DVM
    Natchez Trace Veterinary Services – Nashville  Veterinarian · Alternative & Holistic Health
    Even if I didn’t use alternative veterinary medicine techniques in my practice, I am definitely a better practitioner and veterinarian because I know the options and techniques. People ask questions, and they want credible answers. Non-traditional veterinary techniques have forced me to become a better communicator, a more critical thinker, and better diagnostician.”
    -Marc Smith, DVM

    Since 2005, Marc Smith DVM has been a pioneer in the field of integrative veterinary medicine.  His mission is to help pets live longer, happier, and healthier lives and strengthen the human/animal bond.  Dr. Smith accomplishes this goal by empowering pet owners by educating them in pet healthcare choices and the vast array of options available in veterinary medicine.

    After graduating from University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 1998, Dr. Smith founded an equine practice in his hometown of Nashville, TN. Since then his focus has expanded to include small animals, alternative medicine, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) and animal chiropractic.

    Dr. Smith’s services include:

    • Acupuncture
    • Alternative Cancer Treatments
    • Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine
    • Herbal Medicine
    • Chiropractic
    • Prolotherapy
    • Specialty Surgeries including TTA and TPLO for Cruciate Disease
    • Stem Cell and Platelet Rich Plasma

    question mark

    Surprise Guest Vegan Chef

    The Friday night Conference Dinner will be a Total Healthy Learning Experience as we taste and learn about healthy juicing and easy to prepare vegan food.

    Nutritious Food (to live a long and healthy life) that you can prepare even on a week night.

    _________________________

    In addition to two full days of learning how to have MORE JOY and LESS STRESS through sustainable farm living, attendees will receive:

    Dirt Rich
    by Leigh and Olin Funderburk

    The Cracked Pot Herb Book
    by Cindy Shapton

    48 Days to the Work You Love
    by Dan Miller

    barn house plans for your homestead

    greenhouse construction plans

    Sustainable Living Farm Conference Notebook

     

    How to Find the Right Breed of Chicken

    When considering purchasing chickens for your farms, there are some very professional, reputable online hatcheries that will send you chicks, and we recommend you consider going through breeding programs such as these. We order our chicks from McMurray Hatchery based in Iowa, and their website is https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com

    Most breeders will provide certain guarantees with them (e.g. certain number of males, females etc.) but this is not 100% reliable, as sexing eggs is ridiculously difficult. You will always get a couple of roosters (which you won’t want as, surprise, these don’t lay eggs). Our most recent breed is a sex link chicken called Red Star. They are brown-egg layers and consistently produce an egg a day from each hen. The Hatchery guaranteed all hens, since the sex link showed the females as reddish brown chicks and the males as yellow chicks…easy to separate.

    chickens - poultry of the world

    Three Main Breeding Birds:

    Leghorns: This is the breed that was popularized in cartoon form on The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Show@. They lay moderate-sized white eggs, and are well suited for uninterrupted laying (280-300 eggs per year). They have two laying cycles and will start out slowly, and then a good layer will lay once to twice a day. Then, after 50-60 weeks, they will stop producing for a month or two, during their “molt” cycle (when they will regenerate their lost pin feathers). After the molt, they will then proceed to their second laying cycle, which is less productive. After the second molt, laying becomes sporadic.

    According to the McMurray Hatchery website: “Over 45 years of scientific breeding research have gone into the development of this layer through a blending of special strains of White Leghorns. These pullets weigh about 4 lbs. at maturity, start laying at 4 1/2 to 5 months, and will continue laying 10 to 12 weeks longer than most good layers. Livability and resistance to disease are very high, and the feed to egg conversion ratio is excellent, holding down the cost of egg production. When our local farmers ask us to recommend the pullet that will lay the most eggs of top grade and size, of uniform shape, good shell, and highest interior quality, and do it on the least feed and in smallest amount of space, we suggest the Pearl.”

    Plymouth Rock: This bird comes in many different colors, have red earlobes, with a deep full breast and abdomen, which are great attributes for laying eggs. They live longer than other breeds, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they will produce eggs longer. These birds are great in cold temperatures. (Note: chickens are not as temperature robust as other animals, such as goats. Many breeds don’t like the cold, and in cold temperatures you will likely need a heater in the coop, while when it is hot, you should probably open all the doors, and perhaps even put in a fan, as we do).

    Plymouths are pretty docile, and lay large brown eggs. Egg production varies among the various subtypes of this breed, but mimics the output of the Leghorn. The McMurray website states: “Prolific layers of brown eggs, the hens are not discouraged by cold weather. Their solid plumpness and yellow skin make a beautiful heavy roasting fowl. Their bodies are long, broad, and deep with bred-in strength and vitality.”

    Rhode Island Reds:  This is one of the most, all-time popular breeds of truly American chickens. Developed in the early part of this century in the state of the same name, they have maintained their reputation as a dual-purpose fowl through the years. Outstanding for their egg-production qualities, this breed has led the contests for brown egg layers time after time. No other heavy breed lays more or better eggs than the Rhode Island Reds. Baby chicks are a rusty red color and the mature birds are a variety of mahogany red.

    This is definitely the most popular breed for backyard layers, which may be the type of small flock most single-family farms will have. They are very cost-effective, but our experience has shown that they are not one of the most docile, so although you will have the usual “pecking order” you may want to consider another breed for a backyard flock. If you are raising them strictly to sell the eggs… then they are one of the best, usually laying over 300 large brown eggs per year per hen.

    Fun fact: About 90% of the time, you can predict the color of the eggs a chicken will aly by the color of the earlobes.  Chickens have a little tuft of feathers right over their ear sockets, and if white like the Leghorns, they will lay white eggs, and if brown or red the eggs will be brown.

    Next week…”Fancy Chicken Breeds”

    If you want to learn more about Farm Animals and how to have your own homestead, click on this link: Sustainable Living Farm Conference April 14-15 2016

      The Chicken, or the Egg?

      Deciding the answer to this question is the critical first step, before you actually get the chicks. Consider whether you really want to raise meat birds. They’re very different from egg-laying hens. You’ll have a lot (usually 50 or more, although you could just raise a few) of fast-growing birds, which means a lot of poop. And perhaps the biggest question to answer is: can you handle saying goodbye in a relatively short time? Whether you slaughter them on-farm or take them to be processed, if you’re a new farmer, you will need to face this reality, or be a vegetarian farmer. It’s up to you, but don’t agonize it after the fact: it’s considered cruel to let meat birds live longer than a few months as they are heavy-breasted and can die of heart failure if they grow too big.

      Some breeds can be used either for meat or for egg production. Assuming that you aren’t looking to invest in a huge broiler facility, our discussion on chickens will focus mostly around how to produce fresh eggs. You may or may not want to use the chickens for meat once their laying cycle is done, but by then they are literally not spring chickens anymore, and not as tender as they might be, so you’d want to think about this too, before slaughtering your previous egg layers for meat consumption.

      Should you get a rooster?

      Contrary to popular misconception, you don’t need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs. A rooster is needed to fertilize the eggs, to hatch them into baby chicks, but hens will lay just as many eggs whether there’s a rooster around or not. Some farmers would rather keep an all-female flock, and urban or suburban homesteaders may not have a choice, due to zoning laws that forbid roosters.

      When you keep a rooster, you have to be careful about broody hens (who will sit on the eggs, hoping they will hatch), because the eggs will start developing into baby chicks if fertilized. You can use the broody hen to hatch eggs, but this involves some decision making and supervision, so that the eggs you eat aren’t the ones she’s sitting on.

      Some farmers prefer to have a rooster, because he does offer significant protection for the flock. He will guard against predators and sound the alert if there is any perceived danger. We prefer to have a rooster because we think the girls get along better… but that is personal preference.

      rooster 3

      Pros of Having a Rooster:

      Roosters will protect their hens from predators, keeping them safe by keeping them together and sounding the alert if a predator approaches. He will also defend them bodily against an attacker!  They also complete the natural order of the flock. Chickens naturally live with males and females mixed, so you’re allowing your hens to live as “normal” a life as possible with a rooster in the mix. And owners have reported that roosters will break up “hen fights,” (think cat fights with feathers), find and give treats to their girls, encourage egg-laying, and even monitor the nest boxes.

      Roosters are iconic farmyard animals, and they are gorgeous to look at in many cases. They also have a lot of personality (think of the terms “cock of the walk, “ or “cock-a-hoop”). Many folks find that roosters are very entertaining and interesting creatures to have around.

      rooster 2

      You will need one if you want to naturally hatch baby chicks. My granddaddy Parker raised natural flocks, and the roosters were good daddies to their babies and took care of the mother hen too.

      Cons of Having a Rooster:

      One of the biggest cons of having a rooster is that his presence may violate your local zoning laws.  obviously, if your city or county doesn’t allow them, don’t get a rooster! You’re just asking for trouble.

      Even if your local laws don’t prohibit them, remember they can be noisy. Yes, they do crow, and yes, in the morning, and yes, at other inopportune times as well. Think of how you will like this when it happens, and also about your neighbors’ reactions, especially if you live in close quarters.

      Roosters can also be aggressive. They have spurs on their ankles that can break skin. You need to stay on top of “training” them that you’re the BIG rooster, so they respect you, and you might want to think about it if you have small children or lots of farm visitors.

      Roosters_preparing_to_fight

      They can “wear out” hens. Mating between a rooster and a hen is, of course, a natural process, but if you have too many roosters and too few hens (one rooster can “take care of” up to 30 hens), your hens will start to show the wear: (backs rubbed clean of feathers, for example), they’ll be just plain worn out. So keep your rooster to hen ratio in the healthy zone!

      Next week…fun facts about breeding hens

      Goats:

      Goats can be a great animal to add to your farm. They’re easy to handle and produce lots of delicious and healthful milk as well as low-fat meat. Plus, goat manure makes great fertilizer.

      Should You Raise Goats?

      One doe will produce 90 quarts of fresh milk every month for 10 months of the year, with two months off right before she gives birth. That said, you can’t keep just one doe – you’ll need to keep two goats, a doe and a wether, or two does, at a minimum, so they don’t get lonely.

      Each castrated male goat, or meat wether, will produce 25 to 40 pounds of meat. And each bred doe will give birth to, at minimum, one kid annually.

      Goats don’t need fussy housing, but they do require some serious fencing to keep them where they belong. They will graze pasture but are great browsers, who will eat bushes and other brush. Dairy goats will require some hay and commercial goat feed, though, too, so you’ll need to be prepared to feed them. Meat goats do well on just hay and browse, unless they’re nursing or growing kids.

      Raising Goats for Milk or Meat

      Like cattle, goats can be used for either milk or meat production. They can also be used for wool and hair production, although because these breeds have such thick coats, most farmers in Tennessee, where it can get very hot in the summer, still mostly use sheep for this latter purpose.

      Goat meat is not a typical staple in most of Tennessee, and is not commonplace in the US in general. But there is a demand for it from certain religious and cultural groups who predominantly eat it, and it can be a profitable niche if you find the right market. There is in fact such a demand that goat meat must be imported into the US every year. It’s fairly easy to keep dairy goats and raise the bucks for meat, since you have to breed your does to keep them in milk and roughly half of all kids are male. However, the Boer is the main meat breed in the US, primarily raised for meat not milk. Another option is to breed your milking goats to Boers or another meat breed to produce crossbred kids for meat, while still keeping does for milk.

      Housing and Fencing Goats

      Goat housing is simple: just keep them dry and draft-free and they are happy. A three-sided structure is enough for mild climates. It’s helpful to have a small stall for isolating a sick or injured goat or for a pregnant goat to give birth. Packed dirt will suffice for a floor in the goat house, but it should be covered with a thick layer of bedding: wood shavings (not cedar), straw, or waste hay. Since hay is goats’ primary food and they tend to waste up to one-third of it, you can pitch the waste hay into the bedding area each day, saving money. Keep bedding clean and dry, spreading new layers on top and removing and replacing all of it as needed.

      Fencing is a little more complex. Goats need a very strong fence that they can’t climb over, knock down or otherwise escape from. If there is so much as a tiny hole, they will find a way to get out. They use their lips to explore their world, so if a gate latch is loose, they can wiggle it open with their lips and escape. They also chew almost everything – rope, electrical wiring, and so on, are all fair game. And goats can jump and climb. Your goat house should have a climbing-proof roof.

      High-tensile, smooth electrified wire is ideal if you want to take an existing fence and make it goat-proof. You can use a nonelectric fence at least four feet high, five feet for active breeds like Nubians. Brace corners and gates on the outside so the goats can’t climb up the braces. You can use wooden fencing, stock panels, or chain-link fence, or you can combine a wooden rail fence with woven wire.

      Feeding Goats

      Goats can be pastured on grass or browse in the woods, eating shrubs and young trees. It’s important to rotate goats to new pasture so that they graze it evenly and don’t foul it up, which can lead to a buildup of parasites.

      Goats require additional hay even when they have pasture, as they can’t eat all fresh grass. You can feed hay free choice – give them as much as they desire. Young goats and pregnant or milk-producing does require some goat “concentrate,” or goat chow.

      Goats are super fun to have around the farm, as they tend to have very definite personalities. We have three goats on our property. We had more, but the coyotes sadly killed all the babies one year and we haven’t had the heart to start another herd. Donkeys and mules are often pastured with other livestock, as they are an amazing defense against coyotes. Llamas are interestingly also good as anti-predator animals.

      We are investigating the possibility of fostering a donkey. They could protect our kid goats and the feed can be tax deductible…a win win.

      Goats are typically frisky and energetic, and have a great ability to forage and adapt to almost any environment. They are easy to manage and very low maintenance. You can raise them without any supplemental feeding, but as with cattle this somewhat depends on the grass mixtures on your property. Yes, goats will eat garbage, and could potentially eat the tin can they find lying around, but it won’t get any nutrients from it. They will clear the brush and clear your garbage, but you do want to ensure they are getting good nutrition as well.

      One thing you need to watch out for is if you have hemlock on your property, goats will eat it and it will kill them. They will pretty much eat anything, including shirts (while being worn), hair (while on your head), and any stuff you have on your hair.

      Meat Breeds:

      Boer: We have Boer mix goats. These can grow to be very large (recall how beef cattle tend to have large bodies as well). Boer goats tend to have full white bodies, with darker heads, and long droopy ears. Just as an aside, it can sometimes be hard to goats and sheep apart. Goats’ tails go up, and wag upright, while sheep tails hang down. Goat tails are also typically longer, and sheep tails are what we call “docked.” This is because since they hang down they can get a lot of fecal matter on it, so their tails are cut at a very young age to prevent this.

      Boer goats are probably the most popular meat breed in the world, not just in the US. They have a really fast growth rate, and high fertility, which is good both in terms of turnaround of investment and if you suffer herd culling from predators. The quality of the meat is typically very high and like many goats these have an increased resistance to disease. Vaccinating your goats is still optimal, but there is a lower risk of them getting sick than is the case with other animals such as horses and cows.

      Goats are usually friendly, although they can be more territorial if they have a lot of kids around, in which case take a branch with you and smack them on the head if they get too belligerent. This might sound a little mean, but you have to show goats who is boss, and, in their eyes, be the goat who isn’t backing down.

       

      Kiko: They are pretty common in Tennessee. Generally very Large-framed, all white, hardy and able to thrive under poor conditions, the Kiko was developed in New Zealand and brought to the US in the 1990s. They are a bit friskier than the Boers, and are known for substantial weight gain without any supplemental feeding.

      If you have a lot of range available, Kikos may be a more economical breed than Boers for you to raise. 

      kiko goat

      Spanish:

      Before Boer goats became popular in the US in the late 1980s, Spanish goats were the standard meat-goat breed, especially in the South. They are so named because they are descended from goats first introduced to the Americas by Spanish explorers. They were originally bred for brush and pasture maintenance, but then due to selection they became mixed with other breeds to become a meat breed. They’re medium-sized and lanky, mostly short-haired, and come in all colors. Don’t need a lot of supplemental feeding and can breed out of season. This means a higher production of kids (like, everywhere). They have long, often twisty horns.

      Dairy Breeds:

      The three most popular dairy goat breeds (though there are others) in the US are the La Mancha, Nubian, and Toggenburg.

      La Mancha

      These are friendly goats that come in a variety of colors and patterns, La Manchas usually have small ears (sometimes so small as to be unnoticeable) of two types: gopher ears, small and rounded, or slightly larger ears, shorter than two inches, that some people call “elf ears.”

      This is one of the smaller dairy breeds, but they tend to be very high milk producers. They are very popular in Middle Tennessee, and you’ll find them at many county fairs.

      la mancha goat

      Nubian

      Nubian goats are one of the most popular dairy breeds in the world, and the most popular American dairy breed. With their floppy, long ears and rounded, convex noses (called “Roman” noses), they are large goats producing a rich milk high in butterfat. Goat-cheese makers often choose Nubian milk because of this quality. They don’t produce the same volume of milk as the La Manchas, but they’re sometimes called “the Jerseys of the dairy goat world,” because like Jersey cows, they produce a milk so high in protein and butterfat.

      One thing to be aware of that Nubians can be very loud, and they have a distinctive cry that may annoy your neighbors. They are also not quite as manageable as other more docile breeds.

      Toggenberg:

      Toggenburg goats, or Toggs, as they are sometimes called, are a very sweet-tempered, medium-sized breed, coming in a variety of colors: from light brown to chocolate. They are known for having attractive markings such as white-sided tails, white muzzles, white ears, and two stripes down the face. They are one of the only dairy breeds with erect ears, and tend to be a little shaggier than the other more straight-coated breeds. Spirited and playful, Toggs are average milk volume producers (lower than La Manchas, for instance), and their milk is lower fat than the Nubians. But they have extra long lactation periods, which means they provide milk for more days in the year.

      Goat milk is very different than any kind of cow’s milk. It’s a different, stronger flavor, thickness and texture. Feta and goat cheeses are made from goat’s milk, as is the white queso dip you see at many Mexican restaurants.

      The full pasteurization process (for both cattle and goats) is very involved and beyond the scope of this book. It is possible to drink unpasteurized milk, but its important to remember that there is a risk of bacterial contamination (from bacteria already present in the milk), which can lead to infection of us humans if you do this.

      “Fun” Breeds:

      Pygmy Goats:

      Pygmy goats are highly domesticated and are mostly pets, but they are actually officially listed as meat goats because they have a compact and meaty body and are fertile out of season.   They are very energetic, and very entertaining to watch, and a lot of fun. They do tend to poop when and where they want, but the upside is their poop is pellet-like, and very easy to clean up.

      pygmy goat

      Tennessee Fainting Goats:

      Tennessee Fainting goats are, in fact, from Tennessee and are also called myotonic goats, Nervous goats, Wooden goats or Stiff Leg goats.

      When startled, these goats go rigid and “faint” or fall down. This is actually a painless genetic disorder that has been intentionally perpetuated by breeding (for reasons I can only guess being to serve the demographic that enjoys seeing goats fall over).

      If you have these goats, you do need to keep them confined, because they are easy prey for predators (fainting and falling down is not a great survival strategy when the coyotes are coming). Myotonic goats are hardy, fertile, and have a long breeding season.

      Standard Care of Goats:

      Despite their general hardiness, goats can be susceptible to certain strains of Clostridium bacteria, and also tetanus and there are core vaccines for these.

      As with other animals, you will need to worry about flies and ticks, as well as intestinal parasites. The number one intestinal parasite of goats is called Haemoncus contortus, otherwise known as the Barber pole worm. This is an almost ubiquitous worm that is found in almost every goat, and which can be fatal, so treatment must be followed per your local veterinarian.

      Yes, there is a lot to consider when raising goats….

      To learn more about farm animals and sustainable living click the link below:

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