Explore the blog, Then Check out our website

Explore the blog, Then Check out our website
Chicken Scratch Poultry

Friday, June 17, 2016

Growing Elm Oyster Mushrooms - Monkey Mushrooms Garden Kit

Each spring Larry and I enjoy hunting wild mushrooms, we mostly look for Morels but have recently discovered that Oyster mushrooms are also very easy to identify.   We thought it might be fun this year to try growing our own Oyster mushrooms.  I began doing some research on growing mushrooms, inoculating logs with mushroom spores, and many other ways to begin growing mushrooms.  Then I came across this kit, they had a do it yourself YouTube video and several good reviews.   The name of the Company is 100th Monkey Mushroom Farm.  Larry is always looking for a new adventure, so when the mushroom farm showed up in the mail he could hardly wait to get his shrooms growing!


      Keep your box in the refrigerator until your ready to plant. 
The best time to plant is when your outdoor temps are consistently between 50 and 80 degrees.  There are many different options for planting your mushrooms.  You can inoculate logs, plant in a bucket, container or a garden bed.  We decided to plant in a garden bed.


As you can see he always gets ahead of me and my photos but the first step he laid down cardboard and wet it really well.  Then he added a layer of straw.  It says straw, dry grass or wood chips work well.


Remove your spawn from the box and bag.

   
Begin breaking up the spawn into small granules.


It has an interesting fermented smell, not a bad smell.  Now that it is all crumbled up it's time to spread.


Sprinkle the spawn on the first layer of straw.


Spray with water.  Isn't he doing a good job!


Apply another layer of straw, and sprinkle with mushroom spawn again and spray with water.  Top it off with another layer of straw and water again.


Once you have all your mushroom spawn layered into the straw and water well.  Cover with black plastic and water it once a week.  If it's raining uncover and let it get a good rain shower.  Leave the plastic on until you see growth.


When you begin to see this white webby looking stuff you know your close to getting mushrooms.  I'm sure there is a name for this growth...


About four weeks after we began this project we begin to see shroom growth, we were so excited because you know we checked it daily up until now.  Once you start seeing growth remove your plastic and water it 1 to 2 times a day until they are ready to pick.


I pick a handful of mushrooms everyday right now.  I pick them when they are small, our temps are getting pretty hot during the day and if I try and let them get very big they turn to mush fast, so I pick them small.  Cooler climates probably grow bigger mushrooms. 
 If your interested in growing your own mushrooms I recommend the 100th Monkey Mushroom farm.
Pretty tasty too!
Have a great day.
Angie 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pigs Grown Out And Ready For Processing



 You might remember back in January we traded three chickens for two little pigs?  It's been pretty amazing how quickly they have grown.  When they first arrived we offered them raw eggs on their feed and they looked at it as if we just ruined their food, they would push the eggs to the side and eat the dry feed.  After about a week they decided raw eggs were pretty good.  As you can imagine we have a lot of egg waste with eggs that are too dirty to incubate or eggs that just don't develop during incubation.  Well it didn't take long for these little pigs to know that eggs were like manna from heaven on the poultry farm and they began to grow very quickly.


Our plan from the beginning was to process the pigs on our own but plans can change.  The pigs would be ready to process in the spring during our busiest time of the year, so we decided to send them off to be processed by a professional, we'll save that adventure for another time.



The pigs could probably have still used a little more growth but the business that will be doing the  processing stops taking pigs at a certain time in the spring, so we're working with a deadline that we didn't want to miss.

Like I said before, when we began the growing out of the pigs we planned to butcher them ourselves so we really didn't think about where we set up their pen.  We put the pig pen way back behind our old barn where there is no access to it by truck or trailer, not very good planning.  When it was time to think about transporting them to the meat processor that's when we began to think, how are we going to get them there...
You can't really see the pig pen from this photo but it is back behind these chicken pens.  So we ran some wire up to the back of these chicken pens, opened up the chicken pens and ran them through the series of gates.


 Just a small amount of guiding them with a piece of ply wood and they went right into the stock trailer.


Into the stock trailer and away they go.  They'll be back and in the freezer in two weeks.  My bit of advise to you, if you plan on growing out your own pigs, it's not difficult at all and they grow very fast, just put your pen in an area with easy accesses for a truck and trailer.
Have a blessed day.
Angie

Friday, April 29, 2016

Catching Bee Swarms


This spring has been a busy time of catching swarms and working with our hives.  My parents have a wild hive in their front yard and every year just like clock work it swarms.  This year that wild hive did something we were not prepared for, it swarmed four times.  It's possible that it does this every year but we just don't always notice it each time.



The first swarm from the wild hive was pretty large and hung in two clumps, which a first we thought it was possibly two separate swarms but once we caught them and seen how they reacted we made the assumption it was one swarm.









 The swarm had landed rather high in the tree which makes it harder to reach as you can see.











We got them into the box which isn't difficult, just a couple of good knocks and they shake right into the box.  The question I get asked most often is, how do you know you have the queen.  You need to watch how the bees act once you get them into the box.  They won't stay in the box if the queen isn't in there.







Another way to tell if you caught the queen, watch the bees, if she is in the box, several of the bees will sit on the edge of the box and fan their wings sending out the scent to the other bees telling them hey the queen is in here.  Leave the box sit until every bee has went into the box. Then you can tape up the box and load it into the back end of your truck (I don't think I would transport them inside your vehicle) and take them home to their new hive.
Since this wild hive swarmed four times it was getting  expensive to set a new hive each time we caught another swarm.  It's about $140 - $200 every time you set up a new hive, if you don't already have the hive boxes to move them into.  So we started doing it a little different.
The second time this hive swarmed we tried something new that we had not tried before, we combined the swarms.




To do that we stapled news paper to the bottom of the brood box.







 Sit that box on top of the hive you are wanting to combine the new swarm with.  Once it is stacked, shake the new swarm into the brood box, add your frames and a hanging feeder to that box and put on the inner cover.







Watch the bees for a little bit once you put on the inner cover.  If the queen is in the box the bees will stand around the inner cover hole and fan like crazy telling everyone she's in the box.
Once all the bees go into the hive put on the outer cover.






Within just a couple of days the bees have removed the newspaper and now they have become one hive.  I think at some point one of the queens will be killed by the other queen.  Not completely sure about this since I am still very new to bees.  So far so good with this procedure.  A couple of days later we also took some brood frames and honey frames from one of our other hives and put them into this hive just to give them a boost and a good start.



Did you know that 42% of the bee colonies in the US collapsed in 2015?  70 out of the top 100 human food crops are pollinated by bees.  Have you noticed that the honey bee is no longer on the Honey Nut Cheerios box?  Does this concern you?  Did you know that once the honey bee is gone, within four years the human race will be gone?  What are we going to do about this?
Angie

Friday, April 22, 2016

Our Trip To Greenfire Farms


Last week the Chicken Scratch Poultry farmers took a road trip to Florida to visit the Greenfire farm and pick up some new breeds to work with on our farm.  It was a beautiful drive down and their road that lead to the farm was so pretty draped with in moss.


When you pull up to the farm you will need to wait at the gate for someone to let you in.  We need a gate at our farm.  You wouldn't believe how many people pull right up to our barns and just begin their own farm tour without ever even knocking on our door to see if we are around.
It was so interesting to see how another poultry farm works and operates.  I found that we are very similar in the hatching, vaccinating and shipping of chicks.  The one difference that I seen is that they don't raise up started pullets like we do.
What I was most curious to see was if they kept their flocks as small as they claimed and yes they do.  So if you wonder why it takes so long to get your chicks from us or them that is why.  We are working with small flocks also and when you get your chicks you will see the difference that it makes.  I often hear from our customers about how big and healthy our chicks are compared to large hatchery chicks.

With their warm climate in Florida they are able to keep their breeders outside all year long with no need for a 
barn.  

This is one of the new breeds that we picked up while we were there.  They are Malines.  If you notice they are the only birds here on the farm with their faces smashed up against the fence wanting attention.  Super friendly birds and suppose to be really good egg producers.  I think we're going to love this breed. Can't wait to share it with you!
We also picked up a couple others breeds but I'll share those in another blog.






This is their incubator room.  Lots of eggs in there getting ready to make some customers very happy.  









This is the room where they raise up new breeds. They mostly import  hatching eggs from other countries and not full grown birds.  It was very interesting to hear how they do it all.   




Hope you enjoy this peek into the Greenfire farm.  Please  keep in mind no matter where you order your chicks from, it's a stressful and busy time of year for farmers.  It doesn't make them able to go any faster if you call them weekly to check on your order and we can't make chickens lay eggs or grow any faster than what they already do :)  Please be patient with whatever farm you order from, It takes time to raise up beautiful birds and fill numerous orders.
Have a blessed spring!
Angie

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Alaska In March

We were blessed to be able to take a quick trip to North Pole Alaska a couple of weeks ago to visit family again.  I Thought you might enjoy seeing what's going on the month of March in the arctic.  There was still snow on the ground but the temps hovered around 0, the coldest that it got that week was -5.  The McEwen household is a busy bustling place of home schooling, birthing of baby lambs and goat kids. Andrea spent every night sleeping on the couch and getting up hourly to check on expectant mothers.


twins are born


So soft and sweet!


Sheep, goats and poultry do well here even with the harsh long winter months.


This is Brody's seven year old Blue Laced Red Wyandotte hen Whisper from Chicken Scratch Poultry.  You can also see Whisper on our website from her younger years as a blue ribbon winner at the fair in Fairbanks Alaska.



The dog mushers race was on Sat. March 19th so we took a ride out to the Musher Lodge to check things out.  It was very cold that day and Larry and I were not dressed appropriately for dog mushing and about froze our butts off.  The dogs were so excited, you could tell they absolutely loved what was about to happen!     










My hands and face got so cold I would have paid anything to get 
this guys beaver gloves and hat from him.













This beautiful little girl was snug and warm in her fur lined sled. 








It was neat to see all the different fur hats, boots, coats and gloves that the locals wore.  











The fur action was going on before the dog race. Lynx sold for about $400, fox $300, wolves $500, martins sold for around $100. 







All the trucks are equipped with dog boxes that held several dogs.









After the dog races we headed over to check out the ice fishing a Chena lakes.  We drove right out onto the lake to watch the fishing.  There were several tents and sheds set up for fishing.  We spotted a guy cleaning trout, they are very tiny trout though.



This guy was nice enough to open his tent flap and allow us to watch for a minute. 









He had a small heater inside the tent and it was surprisingly warm inside.   He has a camera that he lowers into the ice hole to watch the fish.






This is one of the fishing sheds.  You can rent them by the day and they will drill the fishing hole for you.  That's on my list for next year.


Hope I didn't bore you to death.  It such a beautiful place with so much to do and see no matter the time of year or season.
Have a Blessed day!
Angie