In the winter here in North Alabama, we have hard cold weather only a few days a year. When they come, they come with fury, and honestly, our infrastructure is not ready to handle it. Schools shut down with a slight threat of freezing rain or snow. Our civil services don't have the snow plows or salt trucks like northern states, in fact our budget for such things is very limited. But hey, we like it that way. When a light snow comes, the world seems to shut down for a bit, the slow moving south moves even slower, and family is forced to snuggle around the fire place. Here at Parson's manor we take time like this to remember the blessings from God, and eagerly look for Spring!
Animal care during the winter is not something we take lightly here. Squanto takes it serious too. Our farm cat is an indoor/outdoor cat. In the cold winter months he can be found snuggled up by the fire most evenings, but here is a rare glimpse of him braving the frozen pond.
It might not look exactly like these ladies here working on the farm, but I can assure you, my wife gets busy pretty often in the garden. Its not a full time job, but its one that has its "seasons" and when the season hits, you have to get it while its ready, or you will lose it.
Nothing like fresh greens, or late onions, and that is something we have been enjoying lately. Adding the onions to everything from hashbrowns to Potato soup has been so enjoyable.
What does your day look like around your home? Are you enjoying any late harvests, or just relishing in the cool weather?
Bee Season is winding down.
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?
USDA Hardiness Zone Update
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.
First Swarm of the Season
Infants and Childrens Clinic Florence Alabama. Took these girls home and got them situated. Hopefully I got the queen.
Bees working hard at the Manor!
Watch a chicken lay an egg!
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
Check out our new page!
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:
Spring is nearly here!
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.
Our favorite bird
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.
Creative Country Living
Greg Webster produces the Creative Country Living" Website and always fills it with interesting articles, helpful tips and a vast array of videos and product listings. Check it out and see the latest "fine folks" article featuring Parson's Manor! Click HERE to read the article now.
Fall is here! Now what?
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."
Getting into Eggs in a BIG way
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
Summer Maintenance a MUST!
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....
June 11th, 2013
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.
The Parson is Published
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!
Bee swarm at Parson's Manor!
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!
Dog Vs. Cat on the farm
Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
A self-styled agrarian wanna-be, enjoying the goodness of the Lord.
Journey To Natural Living
Usda Hardiness Zones