Brooding Chicks Without Electricity [Video]

How did people brood chicks before electricity? Lots of ways, and a few are still useful today. just posted an article about  how to do January(!) brooding without electricity, using a heavily insulated brooder with bubble-wrap insulation to reflect the baby chicks’ body heat, allowing them to do well without supplemental heat.

The article kindly credits my insulated pasture hover page, which discusses these topics.

Generally speaking, the body-heat-only technique has been around for 150 years or so, and has been used with several variations: read more...

Your Chickens in January, 2016 [Newsletter]

Yes, it’s been a year since I sent a newsletter out. It probably had something to do with having four part-time businesses and a full-time job! Citrix Systems and I have parted ways, so I’m back to just the four businesses again, which seems more plausible, doesn’t it?

(For those of you who are counting, the four businesses are: Norton Creek FarmNorton Creek PressHigh-Tech Technical Writing, and Robert Plamondon Hypnosis.)

January, Already?

January’s not so bad. No, seriously! (If you keep rolling your eyes like that, they might fall out.) The hatcheries send out their catalogs in January, which is always fun, with early-bird discounts to tempt you to place your orders early. (Hint: the discount is often for ordering early, even if you select a much later delivery date.) read more...

I’m Tired of Chronic Fatigue

In a previous post, I talked about my fatigue and my diagnosis of sleep apnea. I mentioned that I’ve been prescribed modafinil, a wakefulness promoter that’s not really a stimulant, because using the CPAP machine every night did not restore my energy right away.

I’ve been taking my modafinil faithfully, and it helps a lot, but not enough to wean me off pretty high-dose caffeine—not yet. I seem to be slowly gaining energy, so I might be able to stop using this stuff eventually. In the meantime, though, it’s very helpful. read more...

How Many Chickens Per Acre?

Free-range hens on spring grass on my farm.

What’s the maximum number of hens I can keep per acre? And what’s the downside of exceeding this? Why do I get answers all the way from one to a thousand? And, for that matter, what are the best tips for keeping free-range chickens?

After all, it’s discouraging when your chickens turn their nice grass range into a sea of mud. Here’s how to avoid this.

Chickens are Hard on Grass

It’s discouraging when your chickens turn their nice grass range into a sea of mud.

By default, your chickens will destroy all the ground cover in the immediate vicinity of the chicken coop. They do this through a combination of eating the plants, scratching the ground cover with their claws, and covering everything with manure. This process is quite fast in the area around the house, especially in wet weather, when the ground is soft. Even a flock with just a few hens will denude the area right around the chicken coop. Further away, the process is slower. read more...

What To Do When Your Friend Is Really Sick

So I’m recovering from that nasty cold that’s going around. It hit me pretty hard, so I’m taking prescription medications, and over-the-counter remedies, and herbs, and rest, and plenty of fluids. And that’s just fine: I’m getting better.

But a friend of mine, who had the exact same thing, was spending the weekend with some very nice people who told her that her prescription meds were nasty, and the Gatorade she was drinking because it was the only think she could keep down was nasty. It took her a while to shake off their influence and go back to doing things that actually worked. I’m not saying that she’d have avoided that trip the the ER if she hadn’t listened to them, but she might have. read more...