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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Your Backyard Farm

 Some pictures from the Brewer Family's mini-farm in Northern Idaho! Our dog, Davidson, thinks the chickens are his...

I got a good laugh out of that second picture!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Your Backyard Farm

Kristina of www.ProverbsThirtyOneWoman.blogspot.com sends us these pictures.

Aren't these pictures just beautiful? 

I'm so glad we are featuring other backyard farms. It is so inspiring.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Your Backyard Farm

Here are some pictures from the backyard farm of:  http://isagoodone.blogspot.com

 Chickens.  We have 6 Partridge Chanteclers.  One has been laying for just over a week.  Hopefully the others join in soon as well.  We originally raised 30, but took 24 to the butcher last month.

Raised beds.  I have 4 of these.  This one has tomatoes, an artichoke plant, and a few onions from last year.  The one to the left is just strawberries.  The other two of peas, beans, cucumbers, zucchini, winter squash, and asparagus.

Bees! (Don't you love my Mister's bee suit?)

Beans and corn, with squash around the edges in an attempt to create a prickly fence to keep out critters.

Thanks for sharing your backyard farm with us!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Your Backyard Farm

Brett and Christine sent us pictures of their parents/in-laws yard that they helped make over. As you can see, this is quite the makeover!  

The retaining wall was hired out, but the rest was compliments of family members blood, sweat, and tears. 

They currently have:
over 20 citrus fruit trees
6 laying hens
3 grape arbors
compost bin
worm bin

Future plans include:
expansion of the raised beds
aquaponics project
long term food storage in the garage
Even more sustainable living! 

And just take a look at what they turned it into!!!

That's a backyard I would LOVE to spend some time in!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Your Backyard Farm

Raeann from My Simple Victory (mysimplevictory.blogspot.com) has a small property in a suburb near Winnipeg, Manitoba that really packs a punch. Whenever she tells someone everything she is growing on the property they say, "Wow! You must have a big yard!" she responds by telling them that it is just "well planned".

- 12 Roma Tomatoes
- 8 Celebrity Tomatoes
- 12 Juliet Tomatoes
- 1 San Marazano Tomato
- 100+ bush green beans
- 100+ carrots
- 1 pumpkin
- 2 butternut squash
- 36 onions
- 1 swiss chard
- 10 potato plants
- 10 sweet red peppers
  She also has perennially grapes, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, sour cherries, red currants, mint, chives, garlic chives, saskatoons, roses (rosehips), poppies, bee balm, and catnip. Not to mention a pond, iris's, lilies, peonies, babies breath, brown eyed susans, lilac trees, and more. 

And this is only her second year gardening! 

grape vines crawling on fence, mint, strawberry batch, raspberry patch, and future chicken coop site.
Raised garden beds (she made them her self!) Using some recycled materials they only cost her $100 for all 3, which included a Starbucks iced latte. Tomatoes, squash, and green beans.

Isn't this a great use of space? 

Green beans, potatoes, and carrots.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Your Backyard Farm

For the next couple weeks we will be featuring YOUR backyard farms. To kick it off we are featuring: 

Dog Island Farm in Vallejo, California. 

And Sheri's Backyard Farm
Bountiful, Utah

Friday, July 22, 2011

We Want to See Your Backyard Farms

We received an awesome set of pictures from one of our readers. It is a four part series showing his daughter trying to pick up on of their chickens. He wants everyone to know that his chickens are very happy and his daughter normally does a good job of being gentle. Many of the factory farm chickens would love to be held by this cutie. This instance turned out to be a bit awkward, but it is fun to see one so young developing a love for backyard farming. 

The photos got us thinking. You all get to see our backyard farms often, but we don't get to see yours. Here is our challenge to you. We would like to make this blog about you next week. Send us a picture or a few pictures of your backyard farms and we will post them next week. We would be glad to include your blog address along with your picture if you would like. Send your pictures backyardfarmingblog@gmail.com along with your blog address if you want it included. We are excited to see what you have to show us. Let's show the world the part we are playing in being self sufficient.

And now, on to the pictures from our reader Michael.

Easy as 1............

 Mission Accomplished

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A New Home for the swarm

There is an old saying that goes: 

A swarm in May is worth a load of hay;
A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; 
But a swarm in July is not worth a fly’
for it is then too late
to store up honey before the flowers begin to fade.

But we are giving it a try anyways.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Just Caught a Swarm of BEES!!!

I can't believe it. Last week there was a swarm of bees on our trampoline. Today I looked out my window to check on my fruit trees and there was a swarm of bees on my little baby apple tree. 
I learned my lesson from last time. I knew that I needed to work quickly and that I couldn't wait for Michael to get home or the swarm could be gone. I grabbed the bee veil, a long sleeved white shirt, and got the smoker going.  I found a tupperware box and drilled some little holes in it for air and put a couple marshmallows in the box. I then remembered that a Backyard Farming reader, Michelle, had emailed me her phone number in case I ever had any questions about bees. So sweet of her! So, I took her up on that and gave her a call. She was awesome and walked me through the process. 

The bees had broken off a branch and it was laying on the ground covered in bees. I started with putting that in the box. I then held the box right under the clump of bees and shook the tree as hard as I dared (I didn't want to break my tree). I probably only got about half the bees in the box. Michelle explained to me that I probably got the queen in the box because the bees that didn't make it in the box were trying to get into the box where the queen was. 
The next step was a labor of love. Using a bee brush I would tip the lid and brush the bees into the box. I then would have to wait for the bees to calm down and regroup on the box, then repeat brushing them into the box. 
I have them in the shade for now, and I'm going to try to round up another bee box. 

Wahoo! I'm on a little adrenaline rush right now!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Readers Question: Chicken Lice

 I am new at raising chickens we have 18 between 2 separate houses. The one has ten 20 week old hens, 1 red sex link that started laying in April and one rooster. Roughly 2 weeks ago our sex link started to sit so we assumed she was going broody, but had noticed white bugs crawling on her head…lice. We bathed the whole flock in an organic tea tree and peppermint, cleaned the coop, dusted with De. She seems to be doing better but still have not received an egg from her in these 2 weeks.  Our other girls which are 6 red sex links in the other house started decreasing in egg production also within the past 2 weeks….we would get 6 a day….to gradually 5….then we went to three…. to two….one….then none for two days. These girls were treated the same within 1 day apart from the first one mentioned above other… and we just started getting 1-2 eggs a day a few days ago, still not at normal. Nothing has changed in diet (other than brand of feed) they were on pellets, but went to local feed store and got them a layer mash (which they had on one other occasion with no troubles) there are no predator issues, it has been hot but not to terrible, they have access to dust bathe. So I am stumped to what else might be going on. They all are eating/drinking well and look healthy and no missing feathers. Do you have any ideas or no how long it takes them to bounce back to laying after an infestation of lice ?

Thank You,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tomato Hornworm

We've been infested!
 It seemed to happen so quickly! The tomato hornworm is difficult to see, it's like playing "Where's Waldo" since they are green and just lay along the stems and sometimes hide under leaves. Their damage is easy to detect,  the hungry munchers eat all the leaves and just leave the stems.  My running partner wanted to see our garden,  and instead of a morning run, we spent a half hour searching for these little buggers,  we found over 20! The best and most organic thing to do is to keep watch, pick them off, and smash them. I've told the kids that there is a 50 cent bounty on each hornworm brought to me dead or alive.

Beware! check your tomatoes, but they can also infest your potatoes, eggplants, and peppers. 

Update: in the comments someone asked what the moth that lays the eggs looks like. Here it is:



Bee Swarm- Update

Michael checked our hive and everything looks normal. We think that maybe the swarm was checking out our hive and decided to go elsewhere since it was already occupied.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Swarm of Bees

The kids discovered a bazillion bees on our trampoline. I really hope our hive didn't decide to swarm! From my estimation, it looks like about 4 lbs. worth of bees, so it could be. 

I need Michael to get home so he can check on the hive. 
Any suggestions for us?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Grocery Game

As food prices rise higher and higher, we are all trying to find ways to save money on our food. Starting a garden is a great way to save on produce. The initial cost may be a little high, but year after year, you will reap the benefits.

As I was driving last Saturday, I was listening to a radio program that promised if you went shopping with him, he could show you how to buy 15 meals worth of food for just $35. I just needed to be one of the first 20 callers. I pulled over and called right then, and I was one of the first 20 callers.

Shopping day arrived and I decided I would buy whatever he said to buy, even if it wasn't something I would normally get. As we walked down the aisles in a caravan of shopping carts, I just couldn't stop saying, "oh, my kids are going to be so excited, we never buy this" and, " wow, we sure are getting a lot of treats,  the kids are going to want me to shop with him every week!"

As I was checking out, my total came to $38 due to the tax and the extra head of lettuce I bought. I have to admit, my cart was pretty full for such a small price  because of the coupons that were provided by my shopping guide.  As I looked at the individual items in my cart, I realized that only about half of it was actually "food". 

He wanted a $10 tip at the end and another $10 for more coupons just like we used that day. I had to smile and pass him by. It is against my moral code to tip him for encouraging people to shop and eat that way.  And there is no way I'm going to get the coupons if it is going to encourage me to buy those types of items. I will stick to price matching, that way I'm getting the best deals possible on my produce, which normally would fill up at least 1/3 of my cart.  I use this website for my price matching. (I have not been paid or endorsed for linking this website, I genuinely like it, and want to share what I like.) 

Here is what ended up in my cart. 
This is what I actually consider "food"

What are your money saving grocery tips?


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

93 Days in Jail for Planting a Vegetable Garden

Michigan Woman Faces 93 Days in Jail for Planting a Vegetable Garden

This is not some gated community with HOA regulations. This is an ordinary, working class neighborhood in Oakland County, Michigan.

It just doesn't get more ridiculous than this.
Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan -- a mother of 6, law-abiding citizen, and gardener -- is facing 93 days in jail after being charged with a misdemeanor.

Her crime? Planting a vegetable garden in the front yard.

Bass says that she planted the garden after her front yard was torn up for some sewer repairs. Rather than wasting the opportunity to start with a clean slate by planting a lawn, she decided to really put the area to use, and plant a vegetable garden.

Her garden consists of 5 raised beds, where she grows a mix of squashes, corn, tomatoes, flowers, and other veggies. Bass received a warning from the city telling her to remove the vegetable garden, because it doesn't adhere to city ordinances (more on that later.) When she refused, she was ticketed and charged with a misdemeanor. Her trial, before a jury, is set to begin on July 26th. If she is found guilty, she can be sentenced to up to 93 days in jail.

Read the article here, and read about what you can do to help!


Saturday, July 9, 2011

More Ways to Eat Local

You visit farmers’ markets. You shop by season. You buy loaves of bread from your local baker. But now you want to do more. Don’t worry, there are plenty more ways to implement local eating into your meal planning! Try these tips to take your local eating habits even further.

Grow a Garden 
It’s time to bust out the spade and gloves and get dirty. If you want to go ultra-local, grow a mini-garden in your backyard! There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that are fairly easy to grow, like chives, basil, carrots, lettuce, and berries. If you aren’t sure which foods will work best in your region’s climate, take a trip to the nearest garden nursery and ask lots of questions. You could also join a community garden if you’re feeling less confidant about your gardening abilities. Visit the American Community Gardening Association website to find a community garden near you. 

Join a CSA 
If you haven’t already, you should join a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. A CSA allows you to get food items fresh off of the farm in exchange for a personal pledge, paid up front. Prices can vary for different farmers and depending on their portions so find a CSA near you on the Local Harvest website and inquire about prices. If you like to cook, the CSA program could be a wonderful way to experiment with new fruits and vegetables.

Get an Animal 
For the meat-lovers out there, get an animal! All right, this may sound a little cuckoo, but small farms are starting to sell animal shares. The farm raises, processes, and packages the animal and you simply purchase and devour. For a list of farms that sell beef, check out EatWild.com

You may also try buying a few chickens. Anyone who has had an egg straight from the nest knows that there is simply no comparison between fresh and store-bought eggs. Not only does raising poultry provide eggs, it can also rid your backyard of pesky insects. Chickens provide one egg every 24-48 hours, so make sure to buy enough for your morning omelet. However, some cities do have limitations on backyard livestock, so make sure you have the green light to get poultry beforehand.

So there you have it, a few more ways to eat local. There are always more ways that you can get fresher food and help your environment.

James Kim is a writer for foodonthetable.com.  Food on the Table is a company that provides online budget meal planning services.  Their goal is to help families eat better and save money.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Take It With a Grain of Salt

Take it with a grain of salt....unrefined salt. 

All salts are NOT equal. Our bodies need salt, it is essential in the balancing of water in our bodies. Regular table salt is refined and stripped of everything good, and as a result you are left with plain old sodium chloride. Did you know that natural salt has up to 84 minerals in it? Table salt has maybe 2. Those are minerals that your body needs!  Just like refined flour, refined salt should be kept to a minimum. I never thought I would say this, but you need to check the label of your salt, it may even contain an anti-caking agent. The back of your salt container should have a long list of minerals. 

We've made the switch to "real salt", and I just can't understand why it is so much more expensive. Shouldn't the refined and processed salt be more expensive? I would think that something that has to be refined and go through extra steps would cost more. Can someone educate me on this? 


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

True Urban Farming

By Allen Johnson

I’m Uncle Dale’s son and Michael’s cousin.  I’ve been reading backyard farming for a couple of years now and I’ve been mentioned in some of my father’s articles (Broiler Apocalypse, Proper Snake Removal).  My father asked me to describe our urban farm on this blog.  I hope that my backyard farm might inspire you to get creative with your situation and start to grow something.

My wife, daughter, and I live in an urban jungle – Arlington, Virginia.  Our house was built in 1945 during the post WWII defense boom as part of Ft. Barnard.  The army built it right into the side of the steepest hill in Arlington to use every square foot possible.  Being on a hill, we have more stairs than anything; 25 to the front door, 15 from there up to the back door and patio, 9 more take you to the highest terrace, and 30 inside that connect each room which is on a different level.  As part of an urban neighborhood, our entire property is barely larger than the US median square footage of new homes - 2,600 sq feet. 

Last summer we started a garden in the only truly flat piece of land, the 7.5’x13’ patch of soil next to our patio.  This year with a toddler we decide that our flat plot needed to be a place for her to play so we had to get creative to grow a garden.  We installed raised beds across the front of the house.  We built shelves into the retaining wall to support flower and herb boxes. On the highest portion of the hill we pulled out the thick underbrush that occupied the space and put in terraces. We use trellises for vertical gardening. Most of the crops are irrigated with soaker hose. Fortunately, our property has a southern exposure so we get plenty of sun. 
We now grow a variety of crops including lettuce, chard, tomatoes, cucumbers, black berries, broccoli, green beans, egg plant, peppers, raspberries, sunflower, squash, and many varieties of flowers and herbs. My father has been jealous of the quantity and quality of our produce. Small gardens produce proportionately more that large gardens because you have to maximize every square foot. My father’s large garden has wide walkways (more room for weeds) and plants that get neglected because of the volume of work to be done. 

I hope that our success with a small property will inspire you to find ways to turn your home into a productive backyard farm. If we can do it, anyone can do it. You don’t need the acres that my father has to have a several nice meals a week from your garden all summer long. Grilling fresh vegetables alongside chicken from my father’s farm is a treat after a long days work. If you haven't started yet, get creative and start today. You still have at least 90 good growing days in most of the US.

 Urban Arlington Virginia

 The hillside challenge

 Blackberries in the front yard.

 Interplanting vegetables and flowers in raised beds  

 Front door surrounded by garden

  Patio, planter boxes for herbs, and upper terrace

 A steep hillside with poor soil, yet the garden is thriving

 The reward