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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chicken March Madness: Second Challenge

Here is our second group of contestants. Another set of strong candidates. Vote at the bottom of the post for the one that you like the best.

Chicken (Rooster) A

I wanted to enter my little bantam rooster into your chicken photo contest.  My blog is:  http://lana88blog.blogspot.com/ and I am Lana.

Chicken B

We call her PigPen - because she's really that messy. :)


Monday, March 25, 2013

Chicken March Madness First challenge

Last week we announced our Chicken Madness Contest. You send us your pictures of chickens. We pit them against each other and have everyone vote on which picture they like the best. We will continue from round to round. The ultimate winner will win the book "Your Farm in the City" by Lisa Taylor.

Here are our first two contestants. They are both great pictures. How could you not want chickens after seeing these two competitors? Vote for your favorite chicken at the bottom of this post.

Chicken A

This is for the chicken contest. her name is Mohawka, she is a buff lace polish and yes her hair/feathers is pulled back. she's a diva chick.


Chicken B

I have so many pictures i had a hard time choosing, but this one is a New Hampshire Red named Annie. :) 

My blog is: www.mercyisnew.com 

Vote for your favorite chicken below.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Matthew 13:3-9
Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:  Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chicken Madness Contest: Win a Book

NCAA march madness is my favorite sporting event. Nothing beats watching athletes compete in a single elimination tournament. Anyone can win, dreams are realized, and hopes are dashed. We are going to do our own Backyard Farming bracket over the next few weeks. We aren't going to pick games, we are going to pick chickens.
Here is what I want you all to do. Send us a picture of one of your chickens. We are then going to pit the chickens against each other (this isn't a real fight, just a comparison of the pictures popularity). Everyone will vote on which chicken they want to advance to the next round. It will be single elimination. If your chicken ends up as the champion you will win the book Your Farm in the City by Lisa Taylor.

Send your picture and chicken name to backyardfarmingblog@gmail.com. If you would like us to list your name or blog as a source let us know in the email and we can give you credit and link to your blog. If you don't want your name listed, let us know in the email as well. Once the contest is finished we will have you provide us your address and the book will be mailed to you.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013


By Uncle Dale

Spring equinox is here! With the earth on a tilt, today is one of two days of the year that the Sun is on the same plane as the Earth’s equator. The practical meaning for us is that on March 20, day and night are approximately equal, hence the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night).  For Keedysville, Maryland where I live, this actually happened last Sunday as the sun rose at 7:19 am and set at 7:19 pm because of our latitude. Of course that doesn't really matter, for in the hills of Western Maryland, the sun rises and sets several times a day as you drive down the road.

But today is the day to rejoice! I love Winter, but Winter is dead and Spring is born. I arose at 6:00 am and shaved off my winter beard. Like so many snowflakes melting under a Spring sun, the whiskers disappeared down the drain and I am renewed. It is Spring break at the University of Maryland so I am off work. I will celebrate Spring by planting peas and onions. I will take the tank heater out of the watering trough. I will clean the winter accumulation of manure out of the chicken coop. I will open the windows to air out the cabin down by the creek. I will let the horses celebrate by turning them out of the sacrifice lot for a few hours. It is amazing the effects an obscure astronomical event can have on your emotions. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Backyard Farming and Under Armour?

by Uncle Dale

Kevin Plank was a University of Maryland football player who got tired of his teammates complaining about sweaty, chaffing t-shirts so he developed t-shirts that wicked away moisture and were comfortable. As a result he started Under Armour, which made him a Billionaire and a major competitor to Nike, Adidas, and Reebok.

Phil Weiner was a University of Maryland student in my AREC 306 course on farm management and sustainable agriculture. As a result of the course, he became interested in sustainable agriculture and started a company (Earth Starter) to develop an innovative gardening product called “Nourishmat” which he is now marketing.

So what do these two have in common? Kevin Plank started an entrepreneurship competition that awards people who develop new and innovative ideas and products. Kevin chose Phil as one of five finalists for this year’s competition.  Phil will present Nourishmat to Kevin and the competition committee on April 5.

To see more about Nourishmat go to the following websites:

If you have never gardened and would like to start, for under a $100 and no experience, you can buy a Nourishmat and have a beautiful little nutritious garden with hardly any work.
Nourishmat inventors Phil Weiner and John Gorby show their product to Dale

Friday, March 15, 2013

Backyard Farming and a Culture of Guns

by Uncle Dale

My backyard farm and a .22 caliber rifle has been a good place to teach my children respect and safe handling of firearms. They have experienced the satisfaction of sighting in a rifle and grouping 20 bullets (.22 shorts) from the tube magazine around a bull’s eye. I look forward to teaching my grandchildren to shoot. When not in use, my guns are secured in a safe.

I have used a rifle to dispatch that possum that killed my hens and the groundhog that destroyed my children’s patch of beautiful pumpkins. On a Sunday afternoon, when the neighbors came to me with the dilemma of a severely suffering pet dog and no veterinarian available to relieve that suffering, I was able to solve their problem although I am grateful there was a veterinarian available to put down my own pony and pet dog. One day my son called me from the goat farm where he was working. A big buck had got hung up in the limbs of a bush and broken both its front legs with the bones protruding. The farm owners were not around and he didn't know what to do. I went over and solved that problem to the gratitude of the farm owners upon their return. It was not without grief that I assisted my neighbors or my son’s employers. I did not feel bad about killing the possum or the groundhog. I wish I had gotten that fox that killed my turkeys.

When I was a child and shot my first sparrow with my new Daisy BB gun, I learned immediately that I did not share my hero Teddy Roosevelt’s love of killing animals and I never shot another animal without a reason for shooting it. However, I did feel an intense satisfaction when I killed and dressed my first rooster ring neck pheasant for the dinner table. I always wished my father had taught me the real skill of putting barbecued venison on the table and I will likely never have that opportunity nor teach my offspring this ancient art. I enjoy the kick of a shotgun, that sharp crack in my ears, the smell of spent powder, and the vision of an exploding clay pigeon.

Through endless debates in my mind, I have resolved that I could never shoot another person to protect my own life, but I could do it to protect my wife, child, or grandchild. I pray to Heavenly Father I never have to test this tenuous resolution. With my backyard farm being more than minutes away from a peace officer, I have prepared for that worst contingency and I didn't need Joe Biden or the National Rifle Association to tell me how to prepare. The current gun debate is ravaging our country and I wish that common sense could prevail - the common sense that can be gained from experience on a backyard farm.  
My children with their Henry Golden Boy lever action .22 rifles
 (Sarah was not a round for the photo)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Many of you know that I am a little obsessed with robots, cyborgs, and the idea that we will one day be taken over or assimilated by sentient machines. I do not consider most robots as friendlies as I have seen the Matrix and Terminator. However, even with my prejudice, I can see how robots might help the world. Here is an interesting example.
Photo Credit

I have written on this blog several times about Colony Collapse Disorder. Bee colonies are mysteriously dying off. Bees pollinate our plants and without them we are in trouble. The Harvard Microrobotics might have something to help alleviate the loss of bees.

According to their website, the collaborators "envision that the Nature-inspired research could lead to a greater understanding of how to artificially mimic the collective behavior and intelligence of a bee colony; foster novel methods for designing and building an electronic surrogate nervous system able to deftly sense and adapt to changing environments; and advance work on the construction of small-scale flying mechanical devices." They think that they will be able to make small robots that can autonomously pollinate a field of crops.

I hope that it never comes to this and that our bees are pollinating when my great grandchildren plant their gardens. It is interesting to think that we might be able to make machines that pollinate and I wish the Harvard Microrobotics luck. It will be hard to replicate something as beautiful as a bee colony.

One suggestion, don't give them stingers. I don't want to be stung by a Robobee.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring - daffodills, crocuses, eggs and ... potatoes?

by Uncle Dale

Last week I frost seeded red clover into the pastures. It was perfect timing because winter gave one last burp on Wednesday with 3 inches of snow which was gone by Thursday. Today, Saturday, the sun greets us with 65 degrees under bright blue skies. The crocuses are blooming with daffodils on the way. This was our first day in the garden this year. I spread compost on the raspberry and blackberry patch and repaired the trellising. I also composted and pruned the kiwi vines. LeAnn cleared last year’s tomato vines off the trellises, weeded the border mums, and planted lettuce in last year's potato patch. She dug up a treasure of a few unfrozen potatoes. Our layers are back to full production after a light production during the winter. Today I got a dozen eggs out of our 14 hens. We have 8 turkeys on order and this week we will order 50 broilers. Spring is just around the corner.     

Friday, March 8, 2013

Join Your Local CSA

It's time to find a CSA in your local area that you can support. The following post that was originally published in 2008 talks about CSA's and tells you how to find one in your area.

I have fond memories of growing up on a farm in Idaho. I loved playing and working outdoors. Even now, when I work in the garden and watch my seedlings sprout I can feel my blood pressure drop. I live in the city now, but my heart always turns back to my peaceful, childhood memories of the farm. I think many people want to participate in the romantic lifestyle of farming. Community Supported Agriculture programs provide us "city folk" with a way to do this.

Community supported agriculture allows individuals of a community to pledge support or buy shares of a local farm. After becoming a shareholder you will have rights to receive a portion of the output from that farm. Most of the participating farms use organic, ecological or biodynamic farming methods. As a shareholder you participate in the benefits of a bumper crop or the disadvantages of a bad growing season. The output usually consists of produce, flowers fruits, milk, eggs and they are usually distributed on a weekly or monthly basis throughout the growing season.

These programs provide many benefits to the farmers. Their own personal risk from bad weather or crop disease is reduced because the risk is spread across all of the shareholders. The farmer also receives his working capital in the beginning which is rare for farmers. They also generally get better prices for their crops and there is less waste.

As shareholders, our benefits include: fresh, organic produce weekly, satisfaction from supporting your local farm, and the peace of mind that comes from helping our environment by buying locally and reducing our carbon footprint.

The following website will give you a good list of local CSA's that you can support http://www.localharvest.org/csa/. I would encourage you to look into it. Let's help our local farmers and turn our hearts to a simpler healthier way of living.

~Michael Johnson~

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Question: Chickens Not Getting Along

Hi Backyard farm,

I have 5 chickens who are close to a year old.  Recently, one was attacked by a opossum. She received some puncture wounds to her head and neck but did not physically look bad.  I isolated her for a couple of days in a dog cage on our back porch.  She would not eat or drink much.  I was worried about her vision too.

I took her for a visit with the other chickens and she seemed to perk up a bit.  I reintroduced her late at night in the coop.  For the first couple of days, she seemed to be
happy to be back but now one of the other chickens is picking on her.  Her personality is different now too. I am still curious about her vision--she bumps into the other chickens, etc.  but she is able to find her way into the coop in the evening.  She is always the last out of the coop in the morning.  She is still laying eggs.

My husband said that the bully chicken had her by the neck yesterday but let her go when she started squawking.  Should I let the pecking continue, should I isolate her or the bully chicken?  They live in a very large, fenced in, grass area.  There is plenty of room for her to get away from the bully chicken--she does isolate herself from the others.

I am frustrated and confused about how to handle them