Getting Ready for Spring on the Homestead
Starting Chicks In The Spring
So I like to start my flocks in the early spring. We live in northern Michigan and our winters like to linger and I feel like starting them in the early spring gets them ready to be out in the coop by the time we have nice weather. Typically chicks need to stay in the brooder for about six weeks. This gives them time to get their feathers and for there bodies to learn how to regulate body heat. Just for all you new homesteaders out there that think brooders have to be fancy and elaborate, they do not. I currently use a plastic tote with a heat lamp and a waterer and a small bowl for food. I can hold about twelve chicks in this brooder. Yes, we will build a nicer one in the near future just to be able to start more chickens at once. I always make sure I have two of the same totes that way I can put wood shavings in the new tote when their old one gets dirty and transfer the chicks their water and their food into the new tote easily and clean the other with soap and water after I have dumped the old shavings covered in magic chicken poo into my compost pile.
I only feed my chicks non-medicated starter crumble. After about three weeks start mixing in a little of my homestead mix feed of cracked corn, black oil sunflower seeds, whole oats, and diatomaceous earth. While still giving them the starter crumble as well mixed in so that they can get used to the feed. I add diatomaceous earth to all my feed for all my animals. Including my dogs and cat. It has amazing health qualities that we will talk about in a later blog.
Be sure to clean your chicks brooders at least every two days there health is very important. You don't want to spread disease in your flock. Make sure you also keep there food and water full. You will notice your chicks consume a lot of feed and water. We also interact with the baby chicks as well so that when they are older there is not a lot of fear when we enter the coop. We want our chickens to live a calm and happy life. Happy healthy chickens mean big and beautiful eggs. When they reach about five our six weeks old is when you would move them to a coop. We currently have a coop of 6 golden comets and 1 bantam, but we will put these new chicks in a coop by themselves because I like to keep age groups separated.
Planning Your Spring Garden
So spring is in the air, and what comes with spring? Planting comes with spring and in my opinion, is the best part of homesteading. I love to grow things and I'm very good at it. Don't worry because in time you will be very good at it too. One thing I find that is the hardest part of growing is the planning phase. I'm not a good planner. Planning has to be based on what you are trying to accomplish with your garden. Are you planning a market garden, do you want plants that grow quickly for the market. Or are you planning on selling later in the season? As a homestead one of our sources of income is selling at the farmers market. Let me tell you about how we planned and what went wrong.
So planning the garden is an exciting time. We order only heirloom and organic seeds here on the homestead. We only order form Baker Creek Seeds http://www.rareseeds.com and Burpee seeds http://www.burpee.com. Baker Creek being our favorite seed company for there great prices and extensive inventory. We ordered a little late this year from Baker Creek and had to get some organic seeds from Burpee Seeds. Like I have said before we live in northern Michigan so our growing season is shorter than most so to combat that this year I bought a greenhouse. Not a huge one just a 12x7x7 from Vivosun on Amazon. My ultimate goal is to grow year-round here in Michigan I will let you know how that goes. For now, the idea is to start seeds as early as possible. If you live in colder climates like we do cold at night is a problem. My solution to this is heat lamps hanging in the greenhouse with a temperature monitoring system. You want to keep the temp between 80 and 85 degrees. With heat lamps, it shouldn't be hard after the greenhouse has built up its temp from the sun that day the heat lamps should be able to keep the temp up to where it needs to be overnight. If they are having a hard time keeping up I will place some barrels of water in there to help absorb some of the heat during the day. I may do that anyway to help keep the humidity up in there. I will write a blog on using a greenhouse in the future and I will also do a product review on the greenhouse next year after I see how it holds up.