Amelia B. Edwards’ Legacy, 125 Years Later

Amelia B. Edwards was a noted nineteenth-century author who wrote travel books and novels. She fell in love with Egypt in the 1870s and wrote a wonderful book on her travels, A Thousand Miles up the Nile. I liked it so much I brought it back into print!

More than that, she founded the Egypt Exploration Society, which still funds important archaeological research 125 years later. In her honor the EES has their Amelia Edwards Projects, which are clearly defined, affordable field projects that are funded by donations from members and supporters. read more...

Feeding Scraps to Chickens

It’s harvest season, so gardeners have more produce and garden waste than they know what to do with. A few neighbors see my flock of chickens as a handy way to ensure that nothing goes to waste, without having to actually eat over-ripe or oversized produce.

Feeding scraps to your chickens isn’t rocket science, and there are only a few rules:

  • Don’t feed anything rotten to the chickens. Chickens will usually turn up their beaks at anything unwholesome, but let’s not take many chances. Mushy apples are okay, and a mold spot here and there will just be avoided by them. Don’t feed them anything that smells funny!
  • Don’t take away their chicken feed. You get into trouble when feeding surplus and scraps and waste to chickens by trying to force them to eat it. Chickens like variety and like unprocessed food, and they have a pretty good “nutritional appetite,” so they’ll eat at least as much of anything new as they should. If you keep their chicken feed available, you won’t poison or malnourish them with ill-considered offerings.
  • Remove anything that attracts flies and rats. When feeding things that will attract unwanted visitors, don’t offer the chickens more than they will eat in a short time. Since you often don’t know how much this will be, be prepared to take away the leftovers soon after feeding.
  • Slice or break open things with thick skins, like squashes. Chickens can’t handle the rind but love what’s inside.
  • Be aware that most waste and scraps have few calories. Vegetables and garbage, for example, usually have very few calories per pound. Vitamins, yes; calories, no. Calories are concentrated mostly in grains and fats, which usually aren’t what people are pressing on you.
  • If you have a lot more scraps than your chickens can handle, consider pigs. Pigs are better than chickens at dealing with agricultural surplus, if only because they eat so much more!

Want to learn more about feeding your chickens?
And I have more blog and web site articles about chicken feed!

But what you really need, if you want to sink your teeth into the topic, is a copy of Heuser’s Feeding Poultry. I republished this book because there wasn’t anything good and accessible in print. In addition to discussing everything you can imagine, it covers topics like green feed and feeding scraps. read more...

Why Chicken Feed?

People often ask me if chickens on free range need to be fed, or can they get what they need by foraging? And if they do need feeding, what kind of feed to they need? Just grain, or what?

In the old days, when people in town threw their garbage into the street and those in the country threw it out the back door, chickens and pigs ran around taking cleaning this up for you, and this kind of feeding would support some number of creatures, which would in time grow up and provide you with eggs or meat. On farms, the horses and cows would be spilling some of their grain, too, and other kinds of wastage would contribute to the chickens’ diet. read more...

Finally Back in Print! Gardening Without Work by Ruth Stout

ruth_stout_gardening_without_work_cover_200pxAfter many years out of print, I’m proud to reissue Ruth Stout’s organic gardening classic: Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, the Busy, and the Indolent.”

I’ve been a fan of Ruth’s since I was ten years old, when her column was the first thing I read in each new issue of Organic Gardening magazine. Practical, funny, and irreverent, her books are even more compelling than her columns.

Gardening Without Work¬†introduced the “permanent mulch” system of gardening, which replaces weeding and plowing with a thick mulch of straw or whatever else is available. The mulch conserves water, smothers weeds, prevents erosion, and fertilizes the soil. Perhaps it was the inspiration for modern “no-till” farming? I don’t know. Although
Ruth died thirty years ago, her writing has legions of fans, and you’ll see why
when you read it! read more...