I didnt know there were so many gardeners here! We just bought a small farm in the hills of central ny. We are stoked to grow a greater portion of our food right here next year. the challenge is finding a way to pay the taxes and small debt without having to drive long distances everyday. I bought a 1982 troybuilt rototiller and tilled and covercropped a 60x30 garden, plus dug a few 30 foot beds by hand. Also put in some plum and pear trees, and some blueberry bushes. we have a little attached greenhouse for salad greens, but things arent growing too quickly now since it is 15 deg out.
having chickens is one of the best things since really good eggs are either hard to find or expensive. we have 8 which even in the winter lay 2 eggs a day. they make good use of the garden and kitchen scraps. they also have access to pasture which makes the eggs have a higher vitamin content.
Do you guys have or purchase raw milk/butter/cheese? I discovered those things three years ago when i was working on a small mixed farm, and couldn't believe that i had missed out on that for my whole life. The taste is way better, and the health benefits are impressive.
We are living off the grid, heated by wood with solar electricity. It is great for me, but it is challenging for my wife, who has to "sit in the dark all day" when we have 8 cloudy days in a row. then again, she stays at home most days all day so i can't blame her. She loves it in the summertime though.
Wow...James you're really kickin it! We just have 2 lots in town, so we can't do a whole lot. We're extremely fortunate to have friends who have about 90 guinea keets, so we're in free eggs for about 7-8 months out of the year. Can tell a HUGE difference between home raised eggs and store-bought!
Unfortunately Kansas is really paranoid about raw milk. Dairies are supposed to sell it for "pet consumption", but lots of humans consume it. Raw milk is much better for you than what is available at the grocery, which is basically dead, white water. I grew up on a small farm, and if you take care of your cows (or goats) you don't have problems with the milk.
Perhaps they're protecting the commercial dairies, because if raw milk were more available, they'd take a big hit on production.
Its probably good that raw milk is not commercially available on a large scale. It would seem risky to mix the milk of thousands of cows together without pasturization. But from a small farm or family cow nothing beats fresh milk.
I grew up in the suburbs on supermarket food, and can really tell the difference in nearly everything, but especially eggs, butter, meat, and greens. Things like onions are more subtle. Also my apples have scab and other imperfections on the skin, so sometimes they are bitter if not peeled. i will try a seaweed spray next year.
what are guinea keets? do they lay small eggs?
we were thinking about bantams because they multiply automatically, but for now we just have rhode island reds.
Do you have super fertile soil where you are in Kansas?
Our soil is rocky clay, kind of a pain.
Guineas are a really ugly bird, about the size of a chicken. Most people keep them because they are voracious bug-eaters, and make an excellent alarm system...they raise a hell of a racket when strangers (man or beast) approach. Their eggs are smaller, but have a very yellow yolk and rich flavor. The shells are harder, takes a while to used to whacking them hard to open. Most folks let them run during the day, pen them up at night...bobcats and coyotes are rather fond of them!
On the raw milk, I meant the small dairies should be allowed to sell milk for human consumption...but that would put a kink in the commercial dairies' production, so it probably won't happen soon.
We have really good soil here, some areas are rather rocky, though...we live in the "Flint Hills". Sometimes put a little sand in our garden to help loosen the soil.
Dad told me stories of Grandma's guinea hensand him having a multi-year war. They won, of course, since they meant food. But he won a few battles.
I saw them around farmhouses in the country through the 70's, but you really don't see them much any more around home. They're a close-to-the house thing and the kind of farms that have them are far enough from the main road where you don't get close unless you have business there.
I think i have seen guineas once before, I remember them making a strange sound. I would really like to get ducks both for laying and for meat. Hopefully there will be time for that in the spring.
We used to live in vermont, and raw milk could be sold on the farm, though it was illegal to advertise and the limit was something like 6 gallons per day, so nobody could make a living doing it. Here in NY I think it is legal, but i dont know the limit. We buy some from an organic dairy,and i have seen a sign out on the highway before. It is good for us, it tastes so much better, is certified organic, the cows are out to pasture a lot of the year, and the price is the same as conventional milk at the store. the only problem is that we have to drive for 30 min to get there, so when we go we get 3 gallons. Also there is this farm called hawthorne valley in ny that packages it and sells it from the farm with a real label and everything.