mid-winter integrated crop and animal rotation

Which is  really just a bunch of words to say…we gave our new chick half the greenhouse!  The winter greens we did in there have pretty much stopped growing at this point due to the cold and lack of daylight.  We got a lot out of them for our own consumption and also sold a good amount to the natural food store we sell to, Lois’ Naturals.  We had a little bit of downy mildew problems on some of the lettuce varieties, due to the level of moisture and lack of ventilation.  We now know why the seed catalogs charge so much more for ‘downy mildew resistant’ varieties of greens.

I’m so happy that we can give these chickens at a young age, despite raising them in the winter, a natural habitat.  They love taking dust baths, digging up worms, and eating greens.  I can’t help but assume these chickens are going to be healthier the rest of their lives given their access to dirt and greens at this age in their life.  Otherwise they could still be on sawdust and under a heat lamp.  Which you can see in the photos below, they still have access to for warmth at night, but they have other options as well.  The picture below also gives you a better view of the ‘Ohio Brooder’.

Daniel and I have talked about how most systems of raising animals have been changed to be more natural, making for healthier animals and thereby healthier food, weather it be eggs or meat.  But not often do we hear about changing the first stage of poultry.  We’re really excited about this new brooder because we will be able to put it right on pasture!  We did a few trials like that over the summer and the birds were by far healthier and heartier.  Our mortality rates went way down.  It’s expected to loose 10% of each batch, but in most cases, we lost no birds this way.  I say it’s because of their green start.  Just something to consider if you raise poultry.

While Daniel and I enjoyed working in the warm greenhouse others of us enjoyed the fireside.

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