I always love a good reminder. Here is a helpful picture that gives us an idea of what we look for in a healthy frame. This is inspection season for me. I will be pulling a lot of frames and making sure the girls are ready for winter. What do you do this time of year for your hives to insure safe over-wintering?
It looks like the USDA has now got a really cool feature on their website: An interactive Hardiness Zone chart! Check it out: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/#
I am always trying to push the envelope on growing things that are outside our growing zone. I want to make another go at Olives. I would like to have a nice arctic Kiwi that actually produces... But so far...nothing. :(
Is there something you have learned to grow in your area, even though it goes against the hardiness zone chart? What is your secret?
One of the challenging things that is ever before a small operation like Parson's Manor is the budget. Nothing can be done for free, and any time a way to save a dime or make a dime presents itself, we take it seriously. Thus, a Broom Business.
Hoping that future generations will be interested in folk art and hand crafts we have launched into a small but interesting addition to the Manor.
Finding the metal mechanical parts to various pieces of broom equipment, we have painstakingly reconstructed the equipment that was used in the late 1800's. Some of the equipment even has 1878 stamped on the metal work. Having a local mill run some oak lumber, then David and Tammy Springer donate some solid Cherry lumber, we went to work.
None of this would have even been possible without the gracious and patient help from Wayne and Lisa Thompson of Leighton Alabama who not only are good godly friends, but master craftsmen in the area of broom making.
None of this could have been accomplished with out the incredible help of my Dad, Edgar Michael. His ideas and tips as well as his skill as a woodworker were invaluable.
Below are some photos of the process and end result of the equipment.
These are three year old plants. They were cut back pretty hard last year so we could build this Arbor. Wasn't sure what the result would be, but here it is... still alive. For me, that is success! These are the Artic Kiwi variety, not your Grocery store fuzzy type. Check out my other article on them by clicking the link on kiwi's in the column on the right of this page.
Infants and Childrens Clinic Florence Alabama. Took these girls home and got them situated. Hopefully I got the queen.
Have you ever wondered where your eggs come from? Nope, I don't mean Walmart! Or the Grocery Store!
Yep, they come from the chicken, which, by the way, came first.
Watch this video and realize that this chicken does this every day for years before she is too old to lay any longer.
Certain breeds can lay upwards of 300+ eggs in a year.
Some lay Brown Eggs, others White.
The color of the egg in no way affects the nutritional value of the egg.
However, what is FED to the chickens can greatly affect the egg.
We recommend chickens be fed a non-GMO, no-antibiotic food source and be allowed free-range (which means they can wander around and enjoy the sunshine, eat bugs and grass, and get some exercise every day.
We borrowed this video from a fellow farmer at homefarmideas.com
The View from the Country will include photos and videos from our camera and YOURS! If you have any pictures you would like us to share, email them to us at our EMAIL, and add a caption and comment as to where the picture is from and what it is! Also mention that we are able to use the picture freely.
We hope to get some great country shots of anything you find on your own property and anywhere your travels may take you!
Today I went to the Apiary to see what I could see. I was dissapointed that at least two hives had no sign of Queen bees. After careful inspection I could not see any eggs either. No brood, no queen cells, no queen.
It is much too early to order queens for this area, so I am going into some healthy hives in order to pull frames of day old brood and put them in the "queen-less" hives in hopes that they will "pull" a queen cell and give them selves a new queen. If they have not started working on this with in a week or so, I will have to hope for the best till I can order a new queen for the hives.
Below are some pictures of queens, queen cells and brood:
Even though Spring has not officially "Sprung" yet, there are already signs of spring in the air: grass is starting to green, and we had a hen become broody recently and she hatched off several chicks. The rain has been non stop for the past few days, so I imagine that to mean we are getting closer to warm weather!
There is so much to be done around the Manor, and I hope to share most of our successes and failures with you this year.
When it comes to Chickens, one can find so many varieties to suit one's taste, that it can finally become confusing.
Determining what one is looking for in a chicken is critical.
The above ideas are certainly not the only thoughts, but our favorite by far has become the Barred Plymouth Rock.
The roosters are docile, the hens are friendly, and they are a very hardy breed giving medium to large eggs at the rate of around 250+ a year.
These birds are great foragers as well, doing good on their own.
For more information on this breed of chicken, check out : The Livestock Conservancy site.
For ordering this breed, check out our store. Local Pick Up Only.
When the leaves start falling, and there is a regular chill in the air each morning, I know it's time to start thinking about winter weather. It may be just bringing in some citrus plants, or covering that "favorite mum" but for some of us it means getting the chicken coop ready, laying by the last of the firewood and insuring that all the outdoor pipes are covered and prepped for our bitterly cold winters (okay, that last part was a joke).
It's also a great time to read. Winter means I can read all the beekeeping magazines, poultry magazines, seed catalogs, and finish that long book I started last year. Now, if that was all one had to do in the winter, that would be great, but the truth is on a piece of property that is anything larger than a postage stamp, there are constant things that have to be tended to. As we move further into the season, we will talk about many of those.
I asked my wife what her thoughts were as we moved into the fall season in full swing and she sent me a small note:
"Our trees are turning vibrant's of red, mellows of orange, tangs of yellow and will soon be meadow brown and musty grey and Squanto the cat has acquired his place on our braided rug in front of our low burning fire.
The mums have broke forth with the singing of autumn. The scarecrow is still watching over the garden, but all he sees is the upcoming winter greens and carrot tops. Gone are the ripe fruits of summer.
Our pumpkins and hay bales line the front lawn with whispers of cool winds blowing bits of straw along the browning grass and tumbling leaves."
Egg production is a science: one that I have not mastered! Everything from weather, to feed changes to simply spooking the chickens seems to affect how they lay. Getting the right protein in the food, making sure there is clean water, insuring that they have free range and many other simple things are all important. But with so much involved in producing a consistent amount of egg volume, really, the Lord is in charge. You can't tell a chicken to lay, and you can't even tell them WHERE to lay. But rest assured, in time, they will lay.
Making sure eggs are organic has become very important to us. If you are planning on getting the most out of your chickens, you want the healthiest choices possible. So going with Non GMO feed, and avoiding use of antibiotics and pesticides is a great start.
But that is not the end of a good organic regiment. One should consider also the benefits of having an area for the chickens to "free range." Literally, giving them some yard space is all that is involved. We give our chickens about 2 acres to graze and work. They take care of all sorts of pests, all the while pecking at our blueberries, figs and other low hanging fruit. A few holes in a fig is well worth the price of a good egg!
The egg I am standing in front of in the picture was taken in Kansas this year, as we passed through the town of Wilson, KS. It is supposedly the Largest Czech egg in the world. I just wouldn't want to meet the chicken.
Check out the latest Article on Garlic at http://www.journeytonatliv.com/1/post/2013/07/harvesting-garlic-from-your-garden.html
Every season brings about new duties. The dominion mandate brings about a flurry of activities on any piece of property, large or small. While Parson's Manor is not a big place, the jobs can seem overwhelming. With only a day or so a week to devote to such projects, they have to be chosen carefully, and one such project is to fix a leaky roof on the barn, and replace the siding that has been "self-removing" for some time.
The barn was built in the early 70's and is showing its age. Untreated Oak lumber has withstood the test of time pretty well, but again, all of creation is groaning for redemption, and this barn is no exception. So with some recycled pallet boards, an 84 year old Dad, and about a day and a half, new life was breathed into this old barn. I am thankful for the help, and the time to spend with Dad, and there is never a time that I don't come away saying, "I learned so much today."
Fathers walking alongside their sons is an experience that can't be replicated in any other way. We both celebrated Father's day together and share June Birthday's. Then on top of all these blessings, my brother Steve (also born in June!) and his son Kevin, along with two Kevin's sons joined in before we were through, and now I have power, lighting, and a pretty sturdy, leak-proof barn. So this is the "generations barn" now, and to see it all coming together, check out the slide show on the PARSON'S POND page....
Baby Chickens have just hatched!
These little ones (14 in all so far) are now ready for sell. Email me for quantities and pricing and pick up times.
Barred Plymouth Rocks.
Some Mixed chicks as well.
I had the honor of getting to write an article for Deborah Tukua and her great website last week, and you can read it HERE.
Deborah started her online magazine, "Journey to Natural Living" a little over a year ago and with her 20+ years of writing she has produced an informative, helpful site.
Don't miss an issue!
Also, Don't forget about our new Bee DVD, you can order it right here!
This DVD is chocked full of God honoring information on the Bee. Instead of wading through the evolutionary theory in most DVD's such as this, we go to the heart of the matter: God created the bee, and man is expected to take dominion over it.
I don't suppose we will get an academy award for this DVD, but we are hoping it helps folks shed their fears and wrong ideas about the honey bee, and that God might be glorified in the process.
The following is taken from the back of the DVD.
Have you ever tasted the pure sweetness of locally produced honey, right from the hive? Have you ever wished you could produce your own? Perhaps you are eager to keep honey bees, but are unsure of where to begin...or maybe you are simply interested in learning more about this incredible insect. In either case, Beekeeping Basics will enlighten your understanding of how to keep bees and harvest their honey safely and efficiently. Whether you are new to beekeeping or a veteran of many seasons, we welcome you to join us on this adventure!
Topics covered: The History of the honey bee and its domestication, How to obtain bee equipment, The process of honey extraction from the comb, Pest management and hive care, Medicinal use of honey.
Released by "Repairing The Breach Media"
Produced by Garrett Stowe, Hosted by Daniel Michael, with Anna Michael and Edwin Moore, Cover design by Julia Stowe
DVD Running Time 52min.
Want a copy? Head over to Parson's General Store and get yours today!
Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Manor is full of life this time of the year. Everything is greening up and blooming. And one of the most spectacular sights here is the beautiful Spanish Black Heritage Breed Turkey.
This big boy is the King of the hill around here. His name is Jr.
And I don't turn my back on him, as he likes to catch you without an eye on him, and he will put all his weight into a rear assault. 25 pounds of turkey plowing into your back with both feet is a wake up call for sure! Strangely enough, he is not aggressive in any way to my wife or my daughter...hmmmm. Must be a macho male thing he is trying to prove.
Otherwise, he is as gentle as a dove; as long as he knows you are looking directly at him.
Aside from his overtly protective attitude, he is an excellent breeder; something that heritage breeds still have as a distinct advantage. Most turkey's raised for meat today are of the broad-breasted type and are so huge, they cannot reproduce naturally. They have to be artificially inseminated in order to reproduce.
(Does this seem like a problem? Am I the only one who thinks so? Something is not natural with that picture!)
The American Poultry Association doesn't even recognize the Broad Breasted Franken-Turkey as a breed, but defines them as a "non-standardized commercial strain that do not qualify as a variety."
Hmmm, It can't breed on its own, it is not a variety, yet it is the only one you can buy at the grocery store at Thanksgiving??? Sounds scary, but hey, you can eat what you want. I will stick with something natural.
So what is a Heritage breed? Simply put, Heritage breeds are the breeds of farm animals that existed before large farm operations started raising animals for bulk and quantity production. These Heritage types were created by farmers who crossed various breeds and got a hardy, healthy animal that could reproduce after its own kind. Most Heritage breeds are considered on the "critical list" or the "watch" list for endangered farm species. According to an article published by Sustainable Table, "Within the past 15 years, 190 breeds of farm animals have gone extinct worldwide, and there are currently 1,500 others at risk of becoming extinct." This is one of the reasons why it was important to us to raise a heritage breed.
Large industrial farming that focuses on volume realized that by manipulating the animal further than natural breeding practices would produce an animal that would produce an amazing amount of eggs, milk or meat. The trade off was that often that animal would be subject to various inherent problems such as an inability to breed naturally, or would become subject to disease. Many would have to undergo heavy hormone treatments to jump start their growth. Genetically Modified anything is still open to many questions, so I just avoid it completely.
So why the Spanish Black? The Black Spanish is one of the oldest turkey breeds recorded. They were recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1874. The breed was popularized in Spain, where it was so named. They have a calm temperament (HA! They have not met Jr.) and great reproducing abilities. They are a stunning bird with black shiny feathers that turn an iridescent green in the sun. They are also noted as one of the tastiest breeds, with juicy, self-basting meat and great flavor.
Honestly, my other Spanish Blacks are quiet gentle. In fact, Tig, our smaller Spanish Black insists on being rubbed, petted, and loved on every time someone is outside! We are taking him to a petting zoo for the weekend in May because of his docile spirit.
If you are ever in the area, give us a call and stop by and meet our Spanish Blacks, buy some turkey eggs and try your hand at "turkey herding!" You will find the Spanish Black to be a rewarding, enjoyable breed.
Check out the Turkey Slide show.
Close Pruning encourages new growth
As Spring arrives, so do the blooms and buds. It is beautiful at Parson's manor this time of year. The contrast of the still brown turf with the vibrant variety of blooms and buds on trees and bushes alike is in stark contrast to the dull gray of winter, that hopefully, has gone to rest for several months!
The pruning for the year being done a couple of months ago is now giving way to new growth. The thought of hurting the plant and injuring it to the point of death always haunts me when I take up the shears. But experience and lots of advice from superior gardeners has shown we are doing the plants a favor. It seems that a close, careful pruning rewards one with an exciting burst of new growth. The Gala Apple tree in the upper left is showing promising signs of growth that encourages me to believe I pruned it correctly this year. Time will tell, as we labor to shape the trees into forms that will allow the most sunlight to the middle and air flow around the branches. This aids in a reduction of disease and insects that might take advantage of dense foliage, and limbs that would cross or rub one another.
Each type of tree needs a different approach in pruning, as some will be cup shaped, others will spread with the tops truncated and still others will thrive with a round, umbrella shape. Martha Stewart has a stand of apple trees that have 4 main limbs on each tree, that have been forced to grow along wire leaders situated between posts, looking a lot like a vineyard. While it is ascetically pleasing to gaze upon, it does nothing for increased fruit production, but if one has the room, it seems pruning approaches are limited only by ones imagination.
The clump of blooms on the pear tree below will have to be pinched back, or have the small early fruit picked off due to the density of the flowering. This is common at a fresh cut early in the season, prompting quick, thick growth that the tree can't easily sustain.
What ever the tree or bush you are working with, remember that pruning is helping, not hurting. Remember the words of Jesus, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:2)"
A self-styled agrarian wanna-be, enjoying the goodness of the Lord.