News from the Farm
- Happy New Year! We’ve been having unusual cold this winter. Not record-breaking, but with more cold and snow than usual: many days with snow on the ground and temperatures down to 17 °F or so. That counts as cold by Western Oregon standards.
- Before the cold set in, we took our last two pigs to the Woodburn Auction Yard. While selling pastured pigs at auction is no way to make money, it cuts our losses. (We raised a record eight pigs and sold six to our customers.)
- Around here, the nastiest weather and the biggest chance of power outages happens between December 15 and the end of January, so we tend to take it easy this time of year. We’ll be brooding more and more baby chicks in a little while.
- The chickens are holding up well. They don’t mind this kind of weather if they can stay dry, stay out of the wind, and have plenty of feed and water. Of these, the water is proving the most troublesome, since our pasture watering system is mostly just endless lengths of easily frozen garden hose.
Farmers’ Markets? In Winter?
Our local Corvallis Indoor Winter Market has been highly successful. It’s been operating for more than a dozen years and gets bigger every year.
How do you do an indoor winter market? Not by importing produce from sunnier climes! In January, local producers have root vegetables, nuts, eggs, poultry, cheese, meat, baked goods, honey, and other products. And soon the local greenhouses will provide flowers, early vegetables, and vegetable starts. Winter markets are apparently still unusual, but they can probably be duplicated anywhere. Ours gets positively mobbed!
The Corvallis Indoo r Winter Market runs every Saturday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM from January 14 through April 8.
Win a Free Copy of Genetics of the Fowl!
Genetics of the Fowl is everyone’s favorite chicken genetics book, much more readable than most genetics texts, and written for people who aren’t geneticists, but poultrykeepers. But it’s a big book, which makes it sorta pricey. So let’s give a couple of copies away this week!
To enter, use the following link to enter the giveaway. When you enter, you have a random chance of winning a copy of the book free, gratis, and for nothing. You don’t even pay for shipping. The link expires in a week, so do it now! (You need to have an Amazon account to enter, and it’s one ent ry per customer.)
Good luck! And may the odds be ever in your favor.
These are my top-selling books from last month:
- Gardening Without Work by Ruth Stout.
- Plotto by William Wallace Cook.
- A Thousand Miles Up The Nile by Amelia B. Edwards.
- Genetics of the Fowl by F. B. Hutt.
- Gold in the Grass by Margaret Leatherbarrow.
All of these are fine books (I only publish books I believe in). If you’re like most readers of this newsletter, you’ll enjoy starting with Fresh- Air Poultry Houses and Success With Baby Chicks. These cover the basics of healthy, odor-free, high-quality chicken housing and zero-mortality chick brooding, respectively, and get good reviews.
I started Norton Creek Press in 2003 to bring the “lost secrets of the poultry masters” into print—techniques from the Golden Age of poultrykeeping, which ran from roughly 1900 to 1960. I’ve been adding an eclectic mix of non-poultry books as well. These include everything from my science fiction novel, One Survivor, to the true story of a Victorian lady’s trip up the Nile in the 1870s, A Thousand Miles up the Nile. See my complete list of titles.
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.)
And we’ll tend to look good for the next few months because egg production starts increasing as soon as the days start getting longer, in spite of the nasty weather.
If you sell eggs at the farmer’s market, chicks hatched in January will start laying sometime around Memorial Day, the traditional start of the season. If the thought of brooding January chicks appalls you, you should read the winter brooding tips in my book, Success With Baby Chicks. January brooding is perfectly practical, and I spend quite a bit of time in the book showing you how.
January To-Do List
Inspired by a similar list in Jull’s Successful Poultry Management, McGraw-Hill, 1943.
- Take stock of your chickens, housing, and equipment. What do you have? What do you need for the coming season?
- Clean up your brooder houses before you even order baby chicks.
- Clean, repair, and install brooders. If you use heat lamps, inspect the sockets and the bulbs, since both tend to burn out over time
- Purchase brooding equipment if necessary: brooders, feeders, waterers, etc.
- Decide what records to keep during the coming year.
- Look at last year’s records before you invest in this year’s project.
- Continue using artificial lights on hens if you already are, but don’t bother starting them now if you aren’t. (Traditional usage is to use 14 hours of light, between September 1 and April 1.)
- Deal with damp or dirty litter. If you heap up soggy or yucky litter, it will drain and start to compost, and it will be ready to spread out again in a few days.
- Keep waterers from freezing. Chickens prefer warm drinking water in cold weather, and it takes longer to freeze.
- Always give chickens as much feed as they want during the winter, when they need extra calories to stay warm.
More Winter Chicken Care Tips
Here are links to p ast articles on winter care:
- Brooding Baby Chicks in Winter
- Winter Chicken Care
- How to Have Grass-Fed Eggs in Winter
- Cold and Snow vs. Open Chicken Housing: Who Will Win?
Adventures in Social Media
And if that’s not enough, you can use social media to stay up to date:
- Friend me on Facebook. I’m more active on Facebook than the other social media sites.
- Follow me on Twitter
- Follow me on Google+
- Follow me on LinkedIn