Sunday Homestead Update – Apples & Foraging Chickens

As I said last week, we were given the opportunity to pick apples from someone’s farm. They invited us to come back and we ended up getting about 200 lbs of free apples. What a blessing! And it was a blessing to the owners too since the trees were breaking from the weight of the apples on them. Gotta love a win-win situation!

So we have had a sticky, apple-filled week as we have been processing all of them. We picked three different kinds of apples: crabapples, a golden delicious type, and a gala type. We made the golden delicious type into applesauce and canned it, we made the crabapples into jelly and canned it, and we made the gala type into apple slices canned in honey syrup.

Chickens

At our previous farm we kept a mixed livestock barnyard and put our compost heaps in the middle of the barnyard. We did this so the chickens could free range safely in the barnyard, protected by the LGD, and they could eat off the land so-to-speak as they picked through the compost heap and the livestock bedding etc. We don’t really like to keep chickens in a dry-lot pen. You can read more details about how we used to keep the chickens and make compost by clicking here.

At the new farm we are not set up in a way that makes it so we can keep the poultry in the barnyard with the other livestock. There was a shed when we moved in that we very quickly converted into a coop and an enclosed exterior pen for the chickens to keep them safe from predators (mainly aerial ones). We sold most of our flock so we were down to just 10 standard chickens and 5 bantams to make the move easier and so they would fit in the smaller housing. The standard chickens live in the bigger shed coop, and the bantams are living in their smaller coop which we brought with us from the other farm. This is all a temporary situation as we figure out how exactly we want to handle our poultry housing here.

We continue to do research and discuss plans. We have built two duck tractors and have been working them across one of our fields and seeing what the results are like. They will need something more substantial as far as housing goes before winter hits. We are building a guinea house in hopes that once we release the guineas to free range the property they will still come home at night to roost. If not we plan to use that house for turkeys. And meanwhile, our chickens are living in a dry-lot enclosed pen all summer. We throw them kitchen scraps and the kids catch grasshoppers for them, but we really would love it if they could be foraging more and working on our soil. We could just free range them. But our neighbors started the summer with over 20 free-ranging chickens and now only have 2 left because of aerial predators. We don’t want to risk losing the few chickens we have right now.

Additionally, we continue to battle weeds all around the house and buildings and everywhere we walk. We have been pulling them all summer and they continue to come back. Mostly goat heads. We realize that this is going to be a long battle that takes us years to win. For now, we continue fighting them.

The other night, Daniel and I were discussing the chickens and we decided to try something out. This area around the chicken coops is overgrown with weeds and driving me crazy.

We decided to put up a temporary barrier, using some of our panels that have wire on them. And we put up a gate in the smaller opening.

Then we opened the door of the exterior pen and let the standard chickens out to forage. Their wings are clipped, so hopefully they won’t jump the shorter gate. And we are hopeful that the contained feeling of the area, with the building all around, will keep the aerial predators away. Our goal is to let them forage and eat, while getting all these weeds under better control for us. We will see how this experiment turns out.

2 thoughts on “Sunday Homestead Update – Apples & Foraging Chickens

  1. I have been looking for a recipe for canning apple slices. What type of honey syrup do you use if you don’t mind me asking? I can’t wait to get my hands on some local apples soon! 🍎🍏

    Liked by 1 person

    • I use the recipe for light honey syrup in the book “Putting it Up With Honey” by Susan Gieskopf-Hadler. We used to do our apples, pears, and peaches in a regular sugar syrup. When I got that book several years ago, we tried it out and we haven’t gone back to sugar since. It is SO yummy and compliments the fruit beautifully. We use our canned apples, pears, and peaches over oatmeal, in baked oatmeal, in pies, cobblers, and crumbles. Plus the kids sometimes just eat them straight from the jar.

      Liked by 1 person

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