Skip to main content

Chickens, Rabbits and Fruit Trees

We have been busy here at the Bossy Hen Homestead. After a household bout with the flu in February we were all eager to get outside and enjoy the unseasonably warm temperatures that have settled in southern New York State.

Our doe had a liter of six healthy rabbits so we went to work building a larger pen for her and her little family. It was a crash course in power tools since I bought a miter saw and a drill this winter. Previously I had been using hand tools that were long past their prime. (That is another very long story!)

The rabbits on our little homestead have been a focal point of late. One of our bucks passed away. We sold another at a local livestock auction. We have decided that we will keep a buck from the new liter. We then purchased a doe from a local farmers market to keep our bloodlines strong. Though our established doe and buck are doing rather well at some point it will be time to let them retire. They have really made me appreciate how lucky we are to have such healthy livestock.

We have weighed the options in regards to raising our own source of animal protein for some time and finally with the help of a local farmer are going to explore rabbits and chickens. It is never an easy decision. I take each life very seriously. I am not interested in getting on my soapbox but after much internal dialogue I felt that this was the healthiest option for my family. We eat meat and I am having a great deal of difficulty with the failing factory farm system.

Obviously our rabbits are already here and in a week or so our broiler chicks will be arriving via our local feed store. We will be getting about a dozen chicks for our initial attempt. If all goes well we will reexamine our effort next year.

Since we are an urban farm with limited space we do not have the option to raise heritage breeds for meat. We just do not have the space to raise additional birds for nearly 5 months, certainly not as long as we have hens for eggs as well. So we went with the Cornish Rock hens. Simply put they will be mature enough for slaughter within two months and it seemed like the most reasonable option given the circumstances. Someday we will explore heritage breeds but I do believe the Cornish Rock will provide us with a good learning experience.

So with that said we are in the process of building a brooder for the chicks and preparing for their arrival.

While all of that is taking place we are also trying to prepare the property for the arrival of two dwarf pear trees and a witch hazel. In order to do so we had to remove a dwarf peach that was simply not producing as well as an old lilac tree. Two out, three in. Seems like a good trade to me.

We also have plans to build a few new raised beds to better utilize an area of our property that historically has grown nothing but jewel weed. It is in a location that receives plenty of sunlight and will not interfere with the children's play space. The goal is to grow peppers and tomatoes in the beds in an effort to increase yield and production.

As you can see we have our work cut out for us but we are excited for our new ventures. We will keep you informed!

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here


Popular posts from this blog

Swedish Flower Hen

The rare Swedish Flower Hen has a unique story. Called Skånsk blommehöna(Bloom Hen) in their native country of Sweden this landrace breed was thought to be extinct in the 1970's. (The term landrace refers to the fact that S.F.H.'s were free to develop for nearly five hundreds years without interference from man, so to speak). But in the late 1980's the Swedish Poultry Country Club located isolated flocks in the villages of Esarp, Tofta and Vomb. The gene bank that was eventually created by the S.P.C.C. was successful and there are approximately 1,300 Swedish Flower Hens currently in Sweden.

While enthusiast of rare breeds continue to work hard to increase the numbers it is painfully obvious why they slowly fell out of favor nearly 100 years ago. Though rare and visually stunning they cannot equal the number of eggs some of the top laying hens produce in a peak yearly cycle. Swedish Flower Hens average around 150 eggs over the course of 12 months. Compare that with the nea…

In Winter

I enjoy winter when it arrives at the homestead. Though the gardens are long since dormant there is still plenty to do.The rabbits and the chickens need constant care. A couple of times a day I have to break ice from the animals water and make sure they have enough warm bedding.

I don't mind though. No matter how cold it gets. There is poetry in the garden during summer. Birds sing with triumphant melody. Soft summer rains baptize new growth. But the winter features a more solitary form of art. For the most part there is a resonating silence that is a canvas for the occasional temperamental gust of wind and snow. These same squalls force the breathe from my lungs and scatter the frozen mist before my eyes. Then, once again, there is silence. As any good steward I try not to disturb this peace. If anything, I try to move unnoticed among it.

When it is cold enough the trees will produce an individual moan as they threaten to splinter in the darkness of the woods. They all have their…

The Land of Plenty

The idea that I am about to present to you is certainly nothing new. Wonderful organizations such as Ample HarvestPlant a Row for the Hungry and countless food banks and pantries across the country have been confronting the issue of hunger in our communities head on for some time.

Food insecurity is a cornerstone of the human condition. A little research will lead you to discover a long history of charity in opposition. For example, the seventh century Irish Benedictine monk St. Fiacre who was a master herbalist eventually settled in France and practiced a reverse tithe by keeping 10% of his harvest while giving away 90% to those less fortunate.

Life is complicated, as we all know. There are no easy answers to any of the problems that plague our society but there are some very simple issues that could be addressed that could in turn have a ripple effect on a number of other dilemmas such as poverty, health and even violence.

According to the USDA 40% of the $161 billion dollars’ (yo…