Saturday, April 27, 2013

Starting to get caught up!

Finally I think my medical issues have come under control. I am getting back to my exercise program as I can. With this happening I am getting back to my projects around the place. There are loose ends all over the place but they will be dealt with as can be. The yard/ trees/bushes/plants are a major concern. I’ve made the rounds with an organic 15-15-15 fertilizer and what I thought I had bought, Cal-Dolomita, not. I’m not sure but it acted like plain ol’ lime/calcium. To use it, I mixed it with wood shavings so it didn’t set up like cement as it did when I first tried it. I had to go back and break it up to get it to mix into the soil. That was not what I wanted, Cal-Dolomita does not clump, it readily goes into the soil when watered or during rain fall.
CaO (Soluble en ácido): Min.32,5%
MgO (Soluble en ácido): Min. 17,5%
P2O5 Total (de lenta asimilación): 1.0%
Carbonato de Calcio (CaCO3): Min. 57,8 %
Carbonato de Magnesio Min. 36,7%
Humedad Máx. 1.0%
I like using it and apparently the plants love it, they responded with all kinds of new growth when I used it for the first time. For the bushes and small trees I added about 1 cup to the soil, plants got ¼ to ½ cup depending on their size. I will get another 50 kilo next week.

Back to a project that has taken way too long to complete. I have now finished the water system for the raised bed garden.
 The two pipes extend the full length of the garden.
I had previously drilled the holes in the PVC, there are 3 rows of holes, now I get to go back and clean many of the holes. Then everything just sat and waited for me to get around-to-it.  The tomato plants are so big that I’ll spend some time just getting the spacing of the pipes.
Our water pressure varies a lot during the day so I plan on an early morning to do my watering. The timer, that I didn't show, is a mechanical timer which works fine, depending on needs I can set whatever time needed (when I get around-to-it). I can set it quickly then go do other chores. I can now put seedlings or seeds in at most anytime. The big thing will be figuring out when to plant what for the micro climate at 3,800 feet where the garden is but the temperature and the clear poly roof will allow me to plant a lot of things year round or close to it.
Some tomatoes are ripe, would have been bigger had I been up on my watering. The large leaf plant is a lima bean, that too needs to get its water regularly. The white quail in the lower left has a nest in the grass, she had 4 eggs yesterday.
I thought the caladium was done for when it died off last season but it has came back nicely, perhaps we can find a better home for it in the near future. Today they look even better after getting watered yesterday.
To give the Trueno trees (chinese privet) a better start in life I put two of them in 5 gallon buckets, the other two will be put in buckets this week (lots of new leaves already). Once the winds die down then they’ll be planted along the fence. The two pomegranates in the block planters on the right are starting to take off as well, they will stay in this are for a little protection from the strong winds out of the north north-west.

The CX chick in the foreground is the same age as the chick on the rock which was the only chick the mama hen hatched (she is back behind). The meat chick is one of the 6 I bought for her to raise with the 1 chick which has worked out really well. That hen is one furious mama, even now the cats don’t go near.

One of the pullets we hatched here that is starting to lay. We are now getting at least 6 eggs a day, more to come.

Well, even though it is Saturday I’ll still fuss with something that has been waiting.

For ya’ll up North, spring is coming!


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Where does time go?

I try to keep things up to date but with all the things going on sometimes time just seems to pass on by. I'm sure you remember the 36 chicks I got that were general purpose chicks.  
I was so happy that Mama PJ took them as her own. Did they ever grow!
They grew and grew and then some started to try to crow. well that was OK as what I was told they were a regular run chicks which should come out 50/50 pullets and cockerels. Well the person that told me didn't hear the person that told him right, they weren't 50/50 they turned out to be all cockerels. The freezer is full, some of our friends hide when they see me coming but all are gone except 1 and he isn't going to last next week. It was pure bedlam in the yard and coop. We had not planned on processing this many cockerels and couldn't process them all at once. The hens were so harassed that they all but quit laying. They were constantly on the run avoiding cockerels becoming roosters. I guess that I really need to improve my Spanish.
In the meantime our favorite silkie hen, Mama PJ went broody and hatched 10 eggs, some hers and some from the other hens helping her fill the nest box.
All 10 lived, 4 of the silkie chicks have already go new homes, the other 2 silkies (1 female, 1 male) are available for free adoption. The other 4 appear to be 3 pullets and 1 cockerel. If that be the case the 3 pullets are welcome to say the cockerel will either be up for adoption or will jump in the freezer.
One of the other new hens went broody and sat on 3 eggs, 1 hatched the other 2 weren't fertile. I went to town to the local granero and bought 6 meat chicks. That night we put those chicks in with the new mama and they scooted right under her. In the morning all 7 were running around very happily while mama clucked to them . Let me tell you she is one furious mama, all 7 chicks are well protected.
With all this happening 2 laptops got taken in and updated to Windows 7 Ultimate, one was real slooooow and the other needed mother board repairs. My friend from Wisconsin/Arizona came for a weeks visit, we had a good time. I got tired of trying to find a watering wand so I made one with an old shower head and PVC, works great and the plants love it. The weather has been awesome, I've been able to do my spraying/fertilizing as I want (the plants are showing the results). 
Well it is time to do some of my other chores. I am sorry for those who were waiting for some pullets, they can't be much more disappointed than we are.
I'll get busy and take some yard/chicken photos and post them this week. Till then you all take care and be well.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Plants and things!

I was doing my morning chores outside and thought that I should take a couple of photos for saving, then I thought that you might enjoy something from someone who doesn't have that white stuff hanging around. So I took a few more, enjoy!
I have forgotten the name of this little ground orchid but they sure are pretty this time of the year, they don't last but a few days.
When the blossom dies it is replaced by this large leaf plant but even this plant doesn't last a long time but now is the only time it is possible to locate them for transplanting if so desired. 
This plant came from seeds from a neighbor, I don't think they knew the name of it.
The plant will grow anywhere the seeds fall.
Funny but all the different colors came from the seeds from one plant's pods, there is one plant that the blossoms are all white.
It will popup most anywhere.
Spinach is doing real good, we are having to water, it is the dry season. Just about every morning there is nablina, clouds on the ground plus fog and mist but not enough to completely satisfy the plants need for water.
The jade plants got moved into the garden area until I can figure out where to put them so they are as happy as they are in the garden area.
The lima bean plant is starting to do well, it had a leaf fungus for a short time. I don't know if this problem is caused by the amount of moisture we get here or what but the good thing is I have good natural sprays that I can apply as often as weekly to clear it up plus the spay also has a foliage fertilizer which helps over come the stress caused by the fungus.
Here is an example of what being lazy and in a hurry can cause. this tomato plant was growing fast and falling over so in my haste to get by I just stuck these sticks in the soil rather than go and get my tomato cage and put it in place (I put the cage in place after I took the photo).
Hey, there is a tomato in there! I suckered the two tomato plants and removed all but 4 main stalks so I can keep the plants under control, not allowing them to get excessive like they have done before.
It is a beautiful day, I may get out and take more photos and post them. There are a few plants that are in need of transplanting and the wind isn't bad so I can spray and water in areas where I couldn't yesterday.
Oh, I am looking to come up with a format that allows me to post large photos and not crowd the side information and followers.

       Art Sulenski
So much to do so little time!

Tickle it with a hoe and it will laugh into a garden....

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Momma PJ is in a class all her own!

Momma PJ, our silkie hen, is something else, you might remember her adopting the 36 new chicks that I put in the brooder when she was sitting. Overnight she decided to abandon the nest and took over being/trying to be Momma to all 36 of the chicks. It was funny to see all of them trying to get under her at once, some of them were pushed up under wings.

This was taken the morning after I placed the chicks in the brooder area. There were two heat lamps in the brooder area already but only a few of the chicks got under them, most wanted Momma PJ.

This is the new hatching from Momma PJ, they are a varied mixture. It seems that while Momma PJ wasn't sitting but laying her clutch of eggs other hens also laid eggs in the same nest. In fact there were so many eggs in her nest many didn't hatch as she couldn't cover them all. We decided that even thou she couldn't cover them all we would let chance decide which eggs hatched as we had no idea which ones were viable. Notice the water container, Momma PJ is a good scratcher, she fills the waterier at least once a day with wood shavings.

She is proud of her brood, there is always one or two who will get under her when she starts clucking and avoid being in a photo. Yesterday, we let her and the brood into the other part of the coop to give them a change but the guineas wouldn't leave them alone. When they get a little bigger then they will be let outside where the two roosters, PJ and Juan, will help her when the guineas get too close. Juan has found out he has spurs and how to use them. All four of the guineas will challenge him till he goes after them with his spurs then they run for their lives, it is about time he took his job of "cock of the walk" seriously. 


I have done some extra reading and found out that there is a better way of fermenting the chickens feed instead of my using bakers yeast. Just soaking their feed overnight is better than feeding it dry but fermenting is much, much better. In the states folks use apple cider vinegar with mother as a starter, something I can't get here. What I thought of and has been verified by my chemistry professor friend, Dr. Michael Kesling, was to use my natural raw milk yogurt as a starter. I took a large jar, put a 1/3 cup of yogurt in, added some cracked corn and grower feed then added enough water to cover by about an inch. In 36 hours it is bubbling away. Now I have a starter that will produce a lactic acid ferment which produces more good probiotics for the chickens. We have way too many chickens for the size of coop that we have which in most cases would be stinking to high heaven by now but due to the deep litter on a dirt floor and the fermented feed it has almost no odor at all, even today, with the temperature about 75 degrees. I'm adding more wood shavings continuously as the chickens and their scratching kicks a lot of the shavings out the doors so there is a little turn over of the shavings. Adding fresh shavings on the floor opposite the doors allows the chickens to start scratching in the fresh kicking the older shavings out the door. They get lots of scratching and we get what is kicked out to put around our plants.

Now as to my garden, shame on me, I haven't been doing all I can there. My tomato plants are doing well, I should have started them sooner for transplanting but then that is what all of this is about, learning what to do when and how. I'll get some photos of the area soon and post them. Too embarrassing to do them now. I may have mentioned that my bell pepper plants didn't make it so I am starting new ones. Other than a couple of beans plants and the tomatoes the garden looks sad. 

Well I am retired and with all the chickens and other chores something gets left behind so the garden suffers. Oh the Christmas Cactus that bloomed for Christmas is blooming again, one blossom is just about to open while another is only about half ready as a blossom. Sure is nice to see something that I like in bloom.

Until next time, keep on gardening and having fun!

 Art Sulenski
So much to do so little time!

Tickle it with a hoe and it will laugh into a garden....

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New happenings in the brooder!

Things are happening fast, not only are the black chicks filling out real nice but there are also new additions. Momma PJ, our awesome incubation silkie hen has had new babies hatching out.

She has been setting on a lot of eggs, some hers and some from our other hens. It seems like the other hen thought it would be good to lay their eggs in the nest where Momma PJ was laying hers. Well when she started to set we just decided to let things happen as they will.

The little fellow under her head is still damp from just hatching, when I took these photos yesterday there were 7 chicks, Caroline went in earlier today and there were 9. These you see will most likely be silkies but there are other chicks with a black strip on their heads and lots of black feathers, perhaps from the black beauty hen or as one reader named her, Flo, as the feathers on her neck and chest looked like lava flow.

Someone else had asked about the black chicks, they did not understand that the chicks were hatched somewhere else (they are from the Costa Rican Agricultural Administration), they are provided to home owners who want to have their own flocks of good layers and meat chickens. I like them as they are unique to Costa Rica and the eggs are large (they are supposed to be from relatives of Flo). You may remember the photo that I took the next morning after I brought the chicks home.

This was the photo that lead to the confusion, I don’t think I explained things correctly. Momma PJ had been setting on eggs in a nest in the brooder area when I brought the chicks home. I had heat lamps already set up for the chicks, what I didn't think of was Momma PJ getting off her nest and adopting the chicks. As you can see they took to her right away, the heat lamps were left on as not all of the 30 chicks could get under her at once although they tried.

The chicks now considered pullets and cockerels are 11 weeks old and filling out very nicely. We've had some strong winds and have all kinds of debris floating around the yard, the 3 pullets in the left background are just starting to lay, they were from some eggs Momma PJ hatched maybe last July or August. Some of the chicks Momma PJ is hatching now will look like these older pullets.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a nice sunny day without wind so Momma PJ will have the chicks out in the brooder and I can get good photos of the chicks which I will post to my blog.

More goodies to come from Costa Rica!

     Art Sulenski

So much to do so little time!

BTW, the feed the pullets and cockerels are eating is the fermented feed that I have been making for them. The FF is a mix of regular growth feed and cracked corn, fermented for 3 days. Also included is some raw milk yogurt that I have been making, the chickens, cats and dogs like that and it is good for them too, the process of making yogurt changes the milk sugar, lactose, into good stuff that cats and all animals can tolerate, the raw milk yogurt is even better as it has more good probiotics. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chickens and chicks, yes we've got em!

I have been asked how the chickens and young chicks are doing so I thought a few photos would be the best way for me to answer. Even though the rainy seasons has slowed the winds are still making it hard to get good photos. With my recent medical issues I cannot spend much time in the cool weather and the wind so I haven’t even tried to take photos. Today it is still windy but fairly warm so here is a little photo update of the flock.

Here is a good photo of the yard boss, Juan, and one of the young pullets. Juan has filled out very nice as is the pullet.

Juan, the black beauty (don’t know what to call her) 2 of the young pullets and 1 of the young chicks.

A fair photo of the black beauty.

This really shows some of her awesome markings.

The best side shot I manage today.

A few of the 10 week old chicks, some are getting to be a nice size. You can just see part of Momma PJ’s head in the brooder pin, there were several of her eggs and others in the nest when she started setting, it will be interesting to see what comes forth when they hatch soon.

Another older pullet, nice size.

One of the pullets that had to have her wing clipped.

The light green leaves are on the golden dewdrops, the chickens, chicks and guineas spend a lot of time under them when the winds blow like today and also when it is raining. You can’t see her here but one of the pullets is under the golden dewdrop behind the orange pullet.

The chickens and the chicks are doing great on the fermented feed. Some of the pullets have started to lay eggs which for pullets are large; the yokes are a nice bright reddish orange, standing tall with whites that don’t run all over like store bought. The hens’ eggs are large to extra-large and of course have the same coloring and firmness. Good strong shells even from the pullets. It will be interesting to see the first eggs from the chicks in a few more weeks. I’m hoping they lay eggs similar to the black beauty hen, nice large eggs. As I’ve mentioned we plan to keep 10 of the chicks and one roo. Having to figure out which roo gets to be the daddy of future chicks will be the hard choice unless they both produce the good traits we are hoping for.

The garden has 2 tomatoes, 2 lima beans and 1 jalapeno growing, photos to come. I don’t know what happened to my bell peppers, they just didn’t sprout, I guess I’ll have to fix a hot house just to get the going. I need to do that soon.

Tickle it with a hoe and it will laugh into a garden....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Time has slipped away again!

Would you believe???? Well it has been too long and there have been a few things happen. I could list them but they would just be excuses for not doing what I should have done. The weather hasn’t been bad for a rainy season till hurricane Sandy came along. It seems like Sandy was pulling air/moisture from the Pacific across the country giving us lots of rain. The 6.6 shaker didn’t help to settle the nerves either. I did not realize how long it had been since the 7.6 shaker that I updated the blog, oops! Trying to keep up with everything else has been interesting too. The sun is shining now, hopefully that will last all day, we sure could use a drying spell.
I sent some an update on the chicks we finally got after 4 months, they are sure something. Of the 30 we only lost one. Momma PJ did it again, she really surprise me. She was in a nest box in the brooder area of the coop when I brought the new chicks home. They immediately tried to get under her, they were hatched in an incubator but still had the “I want under momma” instinct. That was the morning of the 10th, sometime either during the night or 1st thing in the morning she abandoned the nest to momma the chicks.

Would you believe that all of those chicks were trying to get under her and she just kept making her momma clucks. This was the morning of the 11th.

This is what they should look like when they grow up. She is a good layer, nice size eggs and she has good weight to her. These have been bred to be a dual purpose chicken, good egg layers and good meat cockerels. I did ask and they don’t have a bred name, they are just called “general utility chickens” or something like that in Spanish. The plan is to keep one roo and 10 hens that should provide all the eggs we can eat plus eggs to share with our neighbors. I also plan to hatch 6 to 10 chicks right along, some for replacements and some to share as well as some for the freezer. I got caught with the first hens I bought (ponedoras), I did not know that those hens were good for only one laying season and then you can’t fatten them up so they wouldn’t even be good for the stew pot.

This is the flock this morning the 27th. They have grown a lot and are eating a lot. The second green tray hadn’t got cleaned out yet. There were two heat lamps till one of the bulbs broke/came apart at the base now a water container is in its place. Probably don’t need the heat lamp that is in there now but it is a just in case thing.

The chickens and guineas are doing very well with the fermented feed and the yogurt (in the dog bowl), they will have both cleaned up by dark. Notice the yogurt splattered on the metal siding. BTW, the trough for the FF is a piece of 4” PVC pipe cut in half length wise, it is 24” long with caps also cut in half. The chicks are also eating the FF every day and I think their growth shows that it is a good thing for them too.

I’ve got plants started in the window greenhouse, the lima bean plant is taking off for places unknown. I started them just to see if the seeds/beans were viable, now I’ll have to see if they will transplant OK. There are tomatoes, flowers and peppers growing, some soon will need trans-planting.

Caroline thought that I should include this photo she took of me napping with Aly sleeping on me and Miss Kitty sleeping behind me on my easy chair. It doesn’t take much for me to sneak in a nap, it was nice and warm and of course with my two amigas snoozing too who could pass up the opportunity????

I’ll be squeezing in the garden work and maintaining the chicks and the rest of the flock.

Oh, something that has me really upset is someone took a swipe at Desi with a machete, cut the side of her face and broke her left K9s. I would really love to let that person know what I am feeling, perhaps they will fall and knock out a couple of their teeth.

It takes a coward to hurt a nice lady like this. Here she is following me around the yard, while I’m fertilizing plants, telling me to make sure I do it right. I brought her home from the vet early (took her in yesterday), she spent at least an hour on my lap, she usually doesn’t spend that much time being still.
The other night when it was raining Caroline thought she could hear mewing out in our front yard, going to check this is what she found. . . . .

Four wet and cold little kittens, someone had stuffed them thru the top part of the gate allowing them to drop 4’ onto the concrete. Sorry about the photo, I was trying to get all 4 in one shot. They are lapping up the raw milk yogurt that I make, good stuff for them. We are busy trying to find homes for them. I will take a better photo and send it, if anyone would like 1 or 3 (1 of the girls is spoken for), give a call, 2445-1565 and I’ll deliver. There is another person I would like to share my feelings with. If Caroline hadn’t heard them they most likely would be dead, lucky for them we had a nice fire going in the sunroom with the ceiling fan going so they dried off and warmed up right away. They do appear to be in good health except for a load of fleas, they are being powdered and will be free of fleas soon.
Well I guess that sort of brings you up to date. As I said I will take more photos of the kittens and plants. Prayers for Desi and the kittens will be gladly appreciated.
Tickle it with a hoe and it will laugh into a garden....