Farm Expanded, Winterized

We are more and more in love with our no till vegetable production methods. As the gardens finished up, we moved the chickens through with intentional overgrazing. They devoured all the weeds and crop residue, scratched the soil, and left a thin layer of manure. All that was left to do was apply a foot of rotted hay mulch and come spring the beds will be ready for planting. No carbon emissions, no tractor, no hand tool weeding.

In areas that had not previously been cropped, we followed the chickens with a few inches of compost purchased from a dairy farmer. Then we applied the same thick layer of hay mulch. The sod will be smothered and we’ll hand dig new beds in the spring. Our crop area is now 0.4 acres, which sounds pretty small but 16,958 square feet is some serious growing area, believe me!

Our last order of business this fall was to set up the 120 hens in their winter condo. We set 4 12×6 hoop coops on a rectangle of hay bales. This elevation created a cavity that will be filled with more hay and chicken manure gradually through the winter. A recent, exciting development with the hens is that our English Shepard, Rowe, had her herding instincts kick in and now gets all of them properly into the coops with little to no effort on our part. Somehow she “remembers” that she is supposed to chase them into the pen and for those who are resistant, gently pin them with one paw and wait for the human to retrieve them. Amazing!