KW Homestead

Pasture Raised Poultry from Our Family to Yours

Month: June 2014 (page 1 of 2)

first salad of the summer!

it’s a little late in the year for first salads, because this year it took us way too long to transplant our lettuce varieties into the soil. once they were transplanted, they quickly took off and i finally cut a few of our varieties for a salad this week. i mixed it with a few of our little cabbage heads and enjoyed the salad with a few other additions and salad dressing. so far, delicious!

my yummy lettuce/cabbage salad!

my yummy lettuce/cabbage salad!


time management during special occasions

well, here’s the thing…

we don’t seem to have great “time management during special occasions” skills, as evident by our lack of posts on wednesday, thursday, and today (well, this is a post, but not a very valuable one!).

we’ve noticed that whenever we have family visiting (i.e. we are having tons of fun and not really in our routine) we just can’t find the time to write a post. and we’ve had family visiting since wednesday.

what we’ve also learned: we need to write our posts in advance so that we can still post them in a timely manner! we plan to do this from now on, and the test will be coming soon: our wedding shower is this coming week and the wedding is  just 3 months away! these occasions will keep us busy and give us the chance to prove to ourselves that we really can be proactive and write our posts a few days early so we can keep up our monday-friday schedule.

here it goes!


Sprouting Grains for Chickens

Sprouting grains to feed chickens and other poultry is a great way to supply top quality nutrition in a cost effective way. We try to avoid feeding GMO feed whenever possible and 1 great way to do that is by sprouting whole grains and seeds into fodder and feeding that instead of pre-packaged chicken food. It’s very easy and only takes a few minutes a day. Our system involves plastic buckets, a scoop, and some grain. That’s it. We modeled it after Jack Spirko’s Dead Simple Fodder Technique, and the birds are loving it. We take grains like wheat, barley, millet, sorghum, and black oil sunflower seed, and transform them into sprouted fodder. This increases their nutritional value, almost doubles their protein, and makes more of the nutrients bio-available to the flock.

sprouted grains for chickens

3 buckets with holes in the bottom is how we rinse the sprouted fodder.

First, I drilled holes in the bottom of the buckets with a 1/8th in. drill bit. I drilled a lot of holes, maybe 40 or so on each bucket. These buckets hold the grain, and allow the sprouts to get rinsed off at least twice a day in order to prevent mold growth. That’s really the only setup involved, as everything else is the sprouting process.

The sprouting cycle begins with an overnight soak of grain. We do about 1 qt. at a time, but adjust this to suit your needs and your flock size. The next morning this grain gets dumped out into one of the drain buckets with holes, and rinsed. That night, a new batch is soaked overnight, and then dumped into a fresh drain bucket that is stacked into the older one. This flushes all the buckets with water, rinsing all of the grain. This process is repeated until the sprouts reach the stage you prefer.

sprouting grains for chickens

Soaked wheat and millet in one of the drain buckets.

Right now, because it is so hot, we are only going 3 days before feeding, and only have tiny sprouts forming on most of the grain. The chickens seem to like it this way. You could let it go 7 days, and it would form a dense mat of grass and roots, which would be great for animals like horses, goats, sheep, cattle, and pigs.

sprouted wheat for chickens

The end product after 3 days.

By soaking and sprouting the grains, we change their nutritional profile, and when we add a mineral mix and other high quality supplemental feed, as well as food scraps and garden waste, our chickens get a healthy and well rounded diet that allows them to lay delicious eggs. If you have chickens look into sprouting some grains for them. Go to your local  feed mill and ask for untreated barley or wheat and give it a try. If you decide it’s not for you, the chickens will eat the unsprouted grain as well, so there really isn’t much to lose.

molting time is here in gooseland

about 2 weeks ago the geese started molting, dropping their old, tattered feathers and bringing in the new!

interestingly, i noticed that the white geese, audo and china, started molting a full week before the africans, houdina and iza.

china's new-growth wing feathers... see how white they are?

china’s new-growth wing feathers… see how white they are?

you can see how iza looks a little scraggly as she loses her old feathers.

you can see how iza looks a little scraggly as she loses her old feathers.

i collected the wing feathers that they dropped and now have a collection of lovely goose feathers! the pure white new-growth feathers are amazing to see. everyday they get a little bit longer. china and audo sure look like fresh, new birds!

how large and lovely goose feathers are!

how large and lovely goose feathers are!

my feather collection: goose feathers on the left and rooster tail feathers on the right.

my feather collection: goose feathers on the left and rooster tail feathers on the right.


outcome of the rain dance post!

today we saw different weather than we’ve seen for the past few days!

yesterday, jason posted about wishing for rain. he hoped that by posting about it, perhaps it would work as a rain dance and we would finally get some precipitation.

watch the video below to find out if his “rain dance” actually worked…


Rain Dance Blog Post

This is an official rain dance blog post. It has been really dry here in Stokes County, and we need some rain to recharge our ponds, swales, aquifers, and forests. Somedays I can even hear the thunder in the distance but not a single drop falls on our homestead. It just feels weird without summer storms that sweep in and dump a bunch of rain, and this post is an attempt to change that.

It seems like we are following the model for an El Nino year, a warm and dry summer, but hopefully we’ll swing the other way soon. Some rain would be much appreciated. That’s it. Let it rain!

red onions galore!

this post is to show one of the delicious crops that my father raised this year… red bulb onions!

he’s been growing onions ever since i can remember, and i have never seen the onions get as big as they have this year. impressive, dad!

in the past, he grew a red, a white, and a yellow bulb variety but after seeing how much larger the red onions got this year than the other varieties, he’s planning on only growing the red onions from now on.

my dad's red onion and garlic crop this year, drying before being stored.

my dad’s red onion and garlic crop this year, drying before being stored.

we went to visit for father’s day, and he sent us home with a bag of crunchy and intense bulbs. i’ve been enjoying them in salads and we’ve even munched on a few slices raw… they are so juicy and crunchy!

look at the size of those babies!

look at the size of those babies!


The Chicken Bucket

What do you do with your food scraps? You know, those tiny bits of leftovers, peels, and stems. Some people toss them on the compost pile as a decent source of nitrogen, or in the trash, but we are lucky enough to have a flock of 28 avian composters right outside our door. Our chickens readily devour anything from pizza to outer cabbage leaves from the garden. In order to separate these nutritious treats from the rest of our waste, we employ a simply, yet effective strategy.The chicken bucket.

chicken bucket

Old ice cream containers make great chicken buckets for holding and transporting food scraps.

chicken bucket

Almost everything except coffee grounds and eggshells go into the chicken bucket.

We have found that an old 1 gallon, plastic ice cream container works perfectly as a chicken bucket. The cheap, store brand version is best for the application. It has a handle that makes for easy transport, is made of rigid plastic that holds up at least 6 months, and is easily rinsed and cleaned. Right now we have our chicken bucket on top of the trash, and any time we peel sweet potatoes, snap green beans, or have leftovers that are just a little too old for our taste, we dump them in the bucket. Then, about once every few days, we dump the contents into the chicken yard and stand back and watch as they turn our leftovers and waste into high quality eggs. What do you do with your food scraps? Let us know in the comments!

uncg family matters magazine features emma and jason!

thaks uncg!

i graduated from university of north carolina at greensboro (uncg) a little over two years ago. i made a lot of great friends there, particularly in my professors. one of my professors asked me if jason and i might be interested in being included in a small feature in one of the school magazines, family matters. family matters is a product of the human development and family studies department, and highlights important research and activities from the department’s faculty and past and present students.

we sent in a little blurb about ourselves and a photo, and you can see our cute little feature on page 10 of the june 2014 edition of family matters. thanks for making this happen, folks! and another thanks to my department and to uncg for taking the time to think of us since we graduated two years ago…

and what a two years it’s been! those of you who are new to our website will find some highlights of our homestead here…

when we first got our home and land in march of 2013, there were no gardens in place. we built our first beds and started with chickens as soon as we could. later we cleared more of our land and harvested many of our delicious crops! the chickens have taught us about the cycle of life and our dogs, bridey and bolt, and our cat, dodger, have made us laugh. we’ve started making videos to share our experience with the world, particularly in a way that is accessible to children, and we’ve started plenty of new experiments along the way with growing food and cooking new and exciting recipes.

thanks for your interest in what we do here… we can’t wait to share more with you in the near future!


sick chicken?

when i went into the chicken pen today to collect eggs, it appeared that one of our bantam hens was feeling sick. i could see that she was walking around under the house (while almost everyone else was outside eating) and hunkering down low to the ground. she would wander a little and then stop and crouch, all the while holding her beak open and panting. later, when she came out from under the house for a little while, roosty tried to jump on her (you know why!) and she looked so beaten by this. she kept her head down on the ground for a while afterwards, looking asleep.

i decided to go get the net and catch her to check out how she was doing and to put her in her own little cage to give her a break from all the other chickens. i also wanted to quarantine her just in case she was contagious.

upon further inspection, i saw that some of her feathers were missing in places and she looked a little scraggly. i think this is due to old age (she’s one of the older hens my dad had a while before giving to us). but, i also noticed that the area around her vent was missing feathers, and there was a little bit of goo in the area. it just didn’t quite look right.

the hen's vent area. you can see that she is missing a lot of feathers.

the hen’s vent area. you can see that she is missing a lot of feathers.

our bantam hen, hanging out in her temporary cage.

our bantam hen, hanging out in her temporary cage.

i haven’t yet had the chance to look up more about what could be wrong with her, but in the meantime she is spending the night in the carport in her cozy little cage. she has food and water and a little roost bar. luckily, when i put her in the cage this afternoon, she livened up a good bit and walked around a bunch clucking. so, hopefully that is a good sign! tomorrow i’ll look into what her ailment might be, and go from there!


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