Trying Buckeye chickens

Hard to believe it’s the 2nd week of June already! The tomatoes, zucchini, and other vegetables are almost all in the ground and calving is well under way. Everything is bright green and the wildlife is out harvesting the grass along with the cattle and sheep.

To better harvest the bounty of our pastures in the future, we are trying a chicken experiment. The broiler meat chickens
we raise on pasture do eat some green stuff but on the whole they have too little of their natural instincts left to do more than scarf down feed and grow large breast meat. To try and move away from these chickens we are trying Buckeyes, a native Ohio breed (and created by a woman, an unfortunate rarity in the livestock breeding business). The Buckeyes are smart and nimble dual-purpose chickens, able to lay eggs and be meat chickens. They can forage for a large portion of their own food.

They will take longer to raise (16 weeks instead of 8) and they will have less white meat and more dark meat. However, they will be able to live happier, healthier lives, get more of their food from our great pastures, and we hope that the flavor will be excellent. Let us know what you think about the Buckeyes!

Considering Red Wattle hogs

We are considering another new operation here on the farm. Last week I went to visit 1000 Hill Acres farm run by Mark and Tory Reed. They have a number of different ventures underway including a herd of Red Wattle Hogs.

Red Wattles are a breed of pig believed to be extinct until they were rediscovered in the wilds of Texas. They are calm and good at foraging for their own feed and both hardy and tasty! I hope that soon we may have our own Red Wattle hogs and try breeding them ourselves. They will be more self-sufficient than our current feeder pigs and can hopefully live happier, healthier lives as a result. One more step on the path to greater sustainability.

Living fence progress

Recently, we tried a new experiment; a living fence. Okay, that sounds a little creepy.
It's actually a cross between a fence and a hedge row made out of willow stakes cut from trees in the homestead. The test fence will form a perimeter around the orchard. I try to get more mileage out of the larger diameter stems by splitting them. We'll see if they can survive this process.

The hope is to create a livestock barrier that requires less maintenance, produces livestock browse, and looks cool!

In the photo, you can see the untreated stakes have buds on them that have started to open!