Robert Plamondon's Poultry & Rural Living Newsletter, September 25, 2010
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News From the Farm
Wow, what a summer that was! I hope you were as productive as I was, but less busy! I didn't get the August newsletter out at all, and you can see how lat the September one is. Whew!
Among other things, we had the house repainted, had foundation work and other repairs done on the barn, ran out of water, had a new well drilled, and the list goes on.
One of our local supermarkets, Richey's Market, is closing its doors this week. They've been a good customer for our free-range eggs for over ten years. We'll miss 'em! For that matter, so will everyone else, as you can see in this article about Richey's Market in the local paper.
Our eggs are available at the Corvallis Albertson's market.
We're already seeing the first rains of fall. The chickens don't mind, and at least the fire danger is done for the year. The grass is becoming lush again, which is good for the flavor of our grass-fed products.
Slow Water Wells
Water wells are no joke if you live in rural America, a fact that was brought home to me when I nearly ran out of water this summer. Yipe! Running out of water is seriously Not Fun. But in the end, we declared victory. How did we fix the problem? Read my Living with a low-yield well page.
Painting the House
We'd been putting off painting the house for a while, but enough was enough. The house had cedar siding with a stain that had begon to fade badly, and we had decided to go to paint instead. Actually, a recession is a great time to get work done on your place, because, for once, the best people are available!
We went with Doug Engel, and were glad we did. He was amazingly energetic and did many tasks that weren't technically part of repainting the house, and gave us good advice about what needed doing. But don't take my word for it! Take a look at the before and after pictures:
(The "Before" picture is actually after the house was pressure-washed and the trim around the windows was painted.)
Doug also had an unusual rig. Instead of the usual 10 MPG contractor's van, he had a compact car with his extension ladder mounted cleverly on the top, using big blocks of foam rubber on the roof instead of a rack, and tie-downs to the front and rear bumper. Secure, easily attached and removed, and allows the use of a high-MPG vehicle: always a plus in the conservation-conscious Corvallis area! It's simplicity itself. (Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of this.) I recommend him highly.
I make a pitch every year for fall brooding. It's at least as easy as spring brooding and probably easier. Most hatcheries still have baby chicks through September or October, and a few have chicks year-round. In most climates, it's not too late for either hybrid broilers or egg-type pullets.
Brooding in both spring and fall lets you get twice as many chicks started with the same equipment, which has its advantages, and gives you a chance to boost flock sizes if your flock isn't up to strength. Chicks hatched around this time of year will be in full lay in March, or even February.
We brood year-round, and this works just fine -- you'll be amazed. We have it down to a system. You'll learn all about year-round baby chick care in my book, Success With Baby Chicks.
It's also not to late to build the chicken coop of your dreams! And to make your dreams more vivid, read Fresh-Air Poultry Houses by Prince T. Woods, M.D., which is full of great housing ideas and poultrykeeping lore. It's an oldie but a goodie, with lots of fascinating information you won't find anywhere else. It's our most popular book!
Norton Creek Press Best-Seller List
I started Norton Creek Press in 2003 to bring the "lost secrets of the poultry masters" back into print -- techniques from the Golden Age of poultrykeeping, which ran from roughly 1900 to 1950. I've recently started adding an eclectic mix of non-poultry books as well.
Here are August's top-selling books:
All of these are fine books (I only publish books I believe in). If you're like most readers of this newsletter, you want to buy Fresh-Air Poultry Houses and Success With Baby Chicks first. These cover the basics of healthy, odor-free, high-quality chicken housing and zero-mortality chick brooding, respectively, and get rave reviews from customers, who often buy extra copies for friends!
September To-Do List
September 1 is the traditional time to turn on the henhouse lights. If you keep the day length at the traditional 14 hours between September 1 and April 1, you'll get more eggs during the lighting period and fewer during the spring, which is a good deal for most people, well worth the cost of electricity.
The folklore about lights turning the hens into zombies that shoot out eggs like machine guns is not true, by the way. Lights are infinitely less effective than this. Their effect is subtle and gentle.
I give a full treatment of henhouse lights in one of my earliest newsletters (from 2003). I don't use lights anymore myself. Dealing with a thousand feet of extension cords zig-zagged from house to house across the pasture eventually became too much of a hassle. But your setup would probably be far less complicated than mine.
As already mentioned, September and October are good times to brood baby chicks, so call up your favorite hatcheries and see what's available. Usually only commercial breeds are available in the fall, and sometimes even these sell out. So get your order in early!
More to-do items:
List inspired by a similar one in Jull's Successful Poultry Management, McGraw-Hill, 1943.
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Copyright by Robert Plamondon. Permission is granted for copying if it's attributed to me, and if it includes a link back to the original page on www.plamondon.com.
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