November 29, 2011

Ugly Chicken Photos Soon To Come!

I've been wanting to post some photos of my ugly chicken that's going through a pretty extreme molting session at the moment. She has lost all of the feathers on her head and neck and all the feathers on her rump. In addition to looking really mangy, she's also acting really spastic, which is pretty funny to watch. Unfortunately, my camera cord (or possibly the plug on the camera) no longer works. I ordered a USB memory card reader, so hopefully I'll be able to download all the photos on my camera pretty soon.

I guess I'm not surprised that something on the camera has broken. I've had the thing for almost 7 years (and it has gotten lots of use)

November 22, 2011

New Favorite Find

I finally finished watching all of the Tales From The Green Valley, Edwardian Farm, and Victorian Farm videos. I was a little sad when I finished watching the last episode, but they I found a new show series called River Cottage (there's actually a bunch of shows such as Escape to River Cottage, Return to River Cottage, River Cottage Forever, River Cottage Spring, River Cottage Summer's Here, etc). Unlike the previous three series, River Cottage does not recreate historical farm life, but rather discusses a variety of modern homesteading techniques and stories.

Here's a link to one of the many River Cottage shows:

All of these shows I really like are British show! How come the U.S. doesn't have any great shows like this?

November 18, 2011

Seed Catalogues Already!

I just received my first two seed catalogues for the 2012 growing season (the Pinetree Garden Seeds and the Stokes Seeds catalogues)! I hear that the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalogue is also supposed to arrive by December.

I know what I'll be reading this weekend!

November 17, 2011

50% off 2011 Seeds at Seed Savers Exchange!

Attention all you frugal gardeners out there! Seed Savers Exchange is having a 50% off sale on select varieties of their remaining 2011 seed stock. The sale ends on November 30th. I just finished ordering 6 packets of seeds. This has to be my record for earliest seed purchase for the subsequent year!

They have approximately 100 varieties on sale and the selection is actually pretty darn good (although there seems to be a overabundance of pepper varieties on sale). I don't usually buy from Seed Savers Exchange because their prices are higher (probably because their packets contain more seeds) than my favorite seed company, Pinetree Garden Seeds.

Here's what I purchased:
Bean, Golden of Bacau
Cucumber, Mexican Sour Gherkin
Soybean, Envy (2 packets)
Squash, Galeux d'Eysines
Pea, Golden Sweet

And all that for just $11.28 (including shipping)

November 16, 2011

Chickens as Time Keepers

My chickens have been producing really well this fall, despite the shortening daylength. About a month ago, I put a desk lamp out in the coop to supply photoperiodic lighting for the hens. Chickens need at least 14 hours of light per day to continue egg production in the winter. Since the photoperiod in my area is currently less than 10 hours, I have used a timer to turn the lamp on from about 4:30 am to 8:30 am.

The last couple days my egg production has been lower than normal. I went into the coop to adjust the time and increase the duration of light from the desk lamp...but found out that the light bulb had burnt out. So that solves it! The hens weren't laying as many eggs as normal because they weren't getting their usual morning supplemental light.

I swapped out the incandescent bulb for a brand new compact fluorescent, so hopefully it won't burn out for a long time.

P.S. It's funny that I'm witnessing such strong photoperiodic responses from my chickens because my graduate research happens to be on the effect of photoperiodic lighting on plants. We are basically testing the effects of different types of light (e.g., incandescent versus fluorescent versus LED) given during the middle of the night on the speed at which plants flower.

November 11, 2011

Introducing: The Lansing Urban Goat Movement!

It's just a coincidence that I've happened to start a second blog right around the 1-year anniversary of the Green Zebra Market Garden blog. 

To some of my readers, this might sound a little out-there, but I've become quite interested in the possibility of raising miniature dairy goats in my backyard. However, it's currently not legal to do so in my city and county. So I'm here to introduce the Lansing Urban Goat MovementI decided to start a blog about my path to goat legalization (assuming I'm successful). For all I know, I'll meet a lot of resistance and the "movement" may fizzle out pretty quickly, but it's worth a shot! More than anything, this blog will be a place to keep my thoughts organized and a place to document all the steps I take towards my goal.

Here's a little bit of background about why I'm doing what I'm doing:
In 2009, my county amended its Animal Control Ordinance to allow for the keeping of backyard chickens on residential-zoned land (hence, the backyard flock you've heard me blog about). As a strong supporter of the local/slow food movement, I'd like to continue the process of legalization of miniature dairy goats. I feel that miniature dairy goats have just as much right in the urban backyard as chickens (or dogs and cats, for that matter) and would make an excellent addition to any urban garden or homestead. The Lansing Urban Goat Movement site will attempt to cover as many pro-urban-goat arguments as possible, as well as dispel the common anti-urban-goat arguments. 

Access to unadulterated, humanely-produced, and reasonably-priced milk is limited for most Lansing residents. Backyard dairy goats take up very little space, are just a quiet and gentle as dogs, and are a logical and economical source of milk for citizens who care where and how their food is produced!

This post was shared on the Prairie Homestead Barn Hop #36!

How Do You Find The Time?

I thought I'd share a little nugget of information I just learned about, but first, here's the reason why I'm sharing it...

On many occasions, I've had friends, coworkers, and even my parents ask about how I find the time to do all the gardening/cooking/chicken keeping/crafting-related stuff that I enjoy. I'm not sure why, but this question always makes me kind of annoyed and defensive. I feel like they're secretly thinking "she must not have a whole lot going on in her life in order to have time for all these shenanigans."

So here comes the info-nugget I mentioned earlier: The average adult American watches between 4 and 5 hours of television EVERY DAY! Can you believe that?


I was so shocked by this figure when I first found out, I couldn't shut-up about it for almost an hour (which annoyed the boyfriend quite a bit). This is hard to believe because I can easily go several days without ever even turning on my television! I'm not saying I don't watch TV (I happen to love GLEE, Big Bang Theory, Community, and pretty much everything on PBS), but I can't even imagine logging 28 to 35 hours per week of TV time. That's almost a full-time job!

So if you're ever wondering how people like me find the time to do all the stuff we do, just remember that we're fortunate enough to have dozens of hours of free-time that the average American spends watching sit-coms.

P.S. Today is my birthday, so that means I have permission to write a grumpy post AND it means this blog is celebrating its 1st birthday! Huzzah!

November 9, 2011

Free Leaf Mulch!

One of the students in the horticulture lab I teach offered to deliver some chopped leaf mulch from his landscaping business. How could I turn that down?

I got four garbage cans full of mixed chopped leaves and grass. Although 4 cans didn't sound like much, it was enough to cover almost my entire garden in a couple inches of the stuff.

Mulch waiting to be distributed to other beds.

Now I have the majority of my garden cleared, weeded, and tucked-in for the winter!

November 8, 2011

Getting Started in Urban Agriculture

I recently came across some clips for a documentary called Growing Cities: A Film about Urban Farming in America to be released in late 2012. The clip called "Farmer D's Young Farmer Advice" is especially inspirational. If you are trying to find ways to get started in urban agriculture, he gives a long list of great ideas!

If you've got some time, why don't you putter around their website. They even made several stops in Detroit including the Eastern Market, and Earthworks Urban Farm.

November 7, 2011

Green Heart Daikon Radish

One of the few crops I planted late summer that actually amounted to anything was Green Heart Daikon.   I really like these pickles they serve at my local Korean restaurant. I have convinced myself that they are pickled strips of daikon radish. I thought I'd grow my own and try to replicate the pickle.

I hadn't checked on these things in a long time....and suddenly they're huge!

P.S. I served some of these at a party cut up into sticks and they were a big hit!

November 4, 2011

Kaleidoscope Carrots

I was finally able to grow some multi-colored carrots to (almost) full size. I think the white one in the front is the first carrot I've ever grown to reach more than 6" long!

I chopped these all up and added them to some soup made with a can of tomato-bisque soup, a can of chicken broth, a can of pinto beans, and some leftover refried beans. Yum!

November 2, 2011

Garlic Planting Time

Garlic should be planted after the first good frost. I feel like I've been waiting forever for frost this year, but we finally got some close to Halloween.

This year, instead of gambling with grocery store California grown garlic, I was smart and purchased some heads from the farmer's market. I got them for 6 heads for $5. Try to beat that price in a seed catalogue! I bought 3 heads of Spanish Roja and 3 heads of Wolfmoon. I'm excited about growing garlic that is actually supposed to be grown in Michigan. In addition, these two types will produce garlic scapes (which is a nice harvest in unto itself). My California stuff doesn't produce scapes.

I weeded what was my zucchini bed this past summer, added a random bag of manure I had laying around, and forked everything together to get ready for my garlic planting.

The heads of garlic were broken down into individual cloves. In addition to the Wolfmoon and Spanish Roja, I also planted about 10 cloves of the California-origin stuff I grew this summer and 3 cloves of "Bob" (which I got from a professor in my department who got it from his neighbor Bob). In total I had about 75 cloves to plant.

I laid out the cloves in a 4" by 4" grid (I just eye-balled it). Then I used a trowel to cut a slit about 3 to 4" deep and dropped each clove in (stubby root-side down). Then I smoothed over the surface and covered the whole bed in chopped leaf mulch. 

If these behave anything like the garlic I've grown in the last two years, they will start poking shoots out of the ground in a few weeks before winter really hits hard.

P.S. This post was shared on The Homestead Barn Hop.
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