Four-legged Lawnmowers

The ramlings have been separated from the ewes for about a month and have been grazing in the back pasture. Since the back lawn is in need of mowing, I moved them to where they could access it. I refer to this bunch as the “Shy Guys” with good reason. It took them a couple of days to venture onto the lawn. They prefered to graze in the tree line and underbrush at the outskirts of the yard. By late this afternoon they were grazing the back lawn with gusto. It doesn’t mean I won’t have to mow at all, but I only have to mow what they won’t eat.

My Newfangled, Sturdy Chicken Tractor

We’ve had our share of chicken tractors through the years. We started with the Salatin low-to-the-ground style. The birds really didn’t get a fair shake in them. Then we designed a multi-purpose, knock-down range shelter. The sides are panels made of hardware cloth that hook together. The roof is lightweight and easy to remove. This is a great day range house for meat birds, but not easily moved on a daily basis. When I saw this … Continue reading

Planting Garlic Behind the Chicken Tractor

The laying hens have been moved back and forth all summer over this bed. The three hens succeeded in removing all the vegetation, making my job easy. The bed is wide enough to have a narrow footpath down the middle. I loosened the front part of the bed with a turning fork and raked it smooth. My husband made the garlic dibble that is lying on the bed. This handy tool is one of my favorites It is easy to push into the soil and makes 12 holes that have the correct depth and spacing. I still have to crawl around to stick the cloves in the holes and cover them with soil, but the dibble eliminated a lot of work.
Early next week Chet’s Red Italian garlic will be planted in this spot. This bed will hold enough to provide all our garlic for cooking, and seed for the next season’s crop. It is a soft neck variety that does well in Northern Michigan and is so easy to braid.

Farming Without Pain

I’m a 50+ year old woman who is not particularly strong and vertically challenged to boot. Arthritis and lower back pain are becoming chronic. Please join me as I look for ways to reduce the hard physical labor on this small farm, so I can continue farming into my 80s.
There are products on the market today that either reduce the work or are ergonomically designed to prevent strain. All manual labor can’t be eliminated. Using these innovative products can, at least, prevent the painful aftermath. What are these products and where can they be found?
Of particular interest, to me, are small scale agricultural systems that reduce heavy work. Chicken tractors and pigs for tilling benefit the animal’s natural inclinations to scratch and root. Their actions till and fertilize the soil, making less work for the farmer. Sheep grazing in the yard feeds them and eliminates  having to mow. Companion planting to enhance plants growth and protect against disease/bugs saves having to find an organic pesticide. Season extension in the garden gives fresh produce over a longer period and eliminates unnecessary canning and freezing.
Please share any experiences you’ve had. What worked well or didn’t? How would you do it differently?