Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms:
Well, it has been a wet week, with Friday delivering about 5 inches of rain throughout the day. We have still been unable to bring hay up for the chickens.
It seems that our Fire Ants thrive on rain. Last year we did not see many mounds around the farm, but earlier this year they started showing up again. Now, they are all over. We can only presume that they like the moisture the rains bring.
|Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis Invicte)|
Courtesy of OSU
Why are we concerned about Fire Ants? First, they hurt when they bite. They are small and tend to attack you in great numbers, and you do not need to be standing on their mound (of course, it is hard to stand anywhere on the farm right now without standing on one of their mounds). Second, the feeding on the young tender growth by fire ants occurs through the year, causing damage to soybean crops, citrus, corn, okra, bean, cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, potato, sweet potato, peanut, sorghum, and sunflower crops during critical times of growth. They can even move into your house if there is enough rain. Prior to the heavy rainfall Friday, we had isolated problems with them in our house, but Friday they started coming in droves.
A good percentage of the south is quarantined due to the Fire Ant population. The items quarantined include live plants, hay, soil, firewood, soil moving equipment, and unprocessed plant products. The southeast corner of Oklahoma is still in the quarantined area, and LeFlore county is the northern most portion of the state that is under the quarantine.
The problem at Baker Heritage Farms - we are following organic standards and most of the control methods require unapproved chemicals, so we are just living with them for now.
Due to the rain, not much work was done on the farm this week. The turkeys are proving to be a handful. As they grow, they fly higher into the trees at night to roost, and some of the higher branches spread to the outside of the fence line. We are finding the majority of the turkeys outside of their pen each morning. While they are fairly easy to roundup and get back in their pen, they are starting to fly into the chicken pens, which is not good.
We are currently trying to come up with a solution; however, with the size of the pen, its location in the trees, and the configuration of the fence line, we are facing an uphill battle.
The chickens still have their escape artists, but they are not so bad. While we are afraid the turkeys will get into the woods behind the house, the chickens tend to stay close to home. We are currently looking into enclosing the chicken pen with shade cloth, using PVC piping to frame the cloth.
With all the rain, we have wasted a lot of feed. Even though the feed is under cover, it still gets wet, either from blowing rain or wet birds. The chickens are very picky and will not eat wet feed (and it is not good for them as it starts to ferment quickly). The turkeys are not quite so bad. We are looking at ways we can build low cost feeders that will provide cover, keep the feeders further off the ground, and provide full-time access.
We are also looking at converting the little barn into a hen house. It is only a couple of feet away from the current hen house and it will allow us better control over the nesting area (as well as keeping it dryer). It will entail cleaning out the big barn and moving some of the stuff from the little barn to the big barn.
We are getting more eggs as each day passes. Debbie is now using them for baking so we will see how that goes. Once we have an ample supply, we will start sharing them with others before actually selling them (right now they are still to small to sell).
Donald and Debbie went out and picked up more chicken feed today (250 pounds) as well as poultry grit. The chickens are going through a 50-pound bag about every 4 days. Fortunately, the turkeys do not go through as much.
Until next time, Blessings to All from ...
Baker Heritage Farms
"We can't all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by." Will Rogers