Saturday, May 9, 2015

closing the nutrient cycle

One of, if not the greatest challenge in the post fossil fuel future will be transitioning agriculture to run with on farm natural inputs, and still get  a yield which we can live on. I need to do more study on the local geology and resultant soil makeup, especially phosphorus, as the surface geology here is very old. Regardless, trainloads of rock phosphate will not be shipped around the globe forever, so we all will need to be better at husbanding what we have here now.

This spring, we took one more step in that direction, with the introduction of livestock to our farm. We just started 30 Black Australorps and 25 New Hampshire Reds, both straight run.

Our plan is to put nearly all the cockerels in the freezer in good time, and get eggs from the hens. All the while, the chickens will be adding to the ecology here, by foraging in pasture, by eating garden vegetable processing scraps, and returning good fertilizer to the soil. Over time, we hope to do more and more to keep improving the nutrient cycle, by adding more livestock, by expanding our composting quantities, figuring out no till gardening, and doing more and more perennial food crops.

We ordered these chicks through the local feed store, but long term plans will include broody hens, selecting for breed improvement, and hatching our own chicks. Harvey Ussery deserves another shout out here, as his book is great for describing all these steps, as well as integrating chickens into an overall farm ecosystem, and will be my main reference as we proceed. Since the photo was taken, we've hung a nipple waterer, and are getting them trained to it. We have also started tossing in plants for them to peck at and get used to being part of their diet.

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