Gardening, Bee Keeping, Farm Animals in the suburbs

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mespe
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Gardening, Bee Keeping, Farm Animals in the suburbs

I'm preparing my family by gardening, I just (this year) became an apiary (bee keeping) also started Aquaponics which is food and fish, the fish pooh feeds the plants, the plants and the fish, feed me. checkout diyaquaponics.com for some examples of aquaponic systems.

When The SHTF is not a good time to learn how to garden, learn now while there is still food on the shelves.

I started a strawberry patch in between a sidewalk and my garage.  Grapes on a Pergalo. I have four chickens that I'm fighting city hall about. 

I guess what I'm getting at is you need to prepare for what is to come.  If you don't know what to do, just ask yourself, what did people do 150 years ago?

Edited by admin on 11/08/2014 - 06:07
Pax Argentum
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Our town allows up to four

Our town allows up to four chickens (hens only, no roosters for obvious reasons) and gardens are a-ok.

While we don't have chickens yet, we did triple our backyard garden space this year and we're looking to move in the next twelve months to a horse and goat property.

Good luck with city hall.

Pax

John Law
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Luckly I live out in the

Luckly I live out in the middle of no where so there are no limits on what I can grow and animals I can raise. Like I mentioned in another post, I'm currently sufficient in eggs and by this fall I will be sufficient in meat with the chickens I'm raising.

I currently have 65 but if all you're looking for is just eggs then it doesn't take many. If get a good production breed of hen you can easily get 20-25 eggs a week from 5 hens. They only require about 4sqft per bird in a coop and they're omnivores so they can get just about any thing. Best prepping animal to have in my opinion.

If any is interested in chickens and need help getting started, the best place I found that's free and has all the info you need is backyardchickens.com They helped me get started last year.

CoalCracker
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Garden

I live on a half acre lot in a small town in North East PA.  Although I would love to, we are unable to keep bees or chickens because of the city ordinances.

But we do have:

1 Cherry Tree, 4 Apple Trees, Grape Arbor with 6 mature vines, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, arctic kiwi and 1000 square feet (so far) of vegetable garden with sweet corn, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, string beans, radish, lettice, onion, red beets, carrots, bell peppers and cantelope.  I have been gardening for many years and we do make our own wine from the grapes each year.

There is only one other guy that I know of in town that has anything edible growing in their yard.

CoalCracker
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Chicken Question

I've looked into raising chickens and most people say to start with three hens and they recommend Silkies.....Do you have any suggestions?

atlee
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I used to have a chicken.

I used to have a chicken. Hard to train though. I had to choke it daily. And don't even get me started on my monkey!

Swift Boat Vet
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choking the monkey

I will NOT  comment .... I will NOT comment!

dckfr
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look into ducks if possible

I was surprised when my wife decided on Khaki Campbell Ducks before chickens. Turns out they are more prolific layers than any chickens and much more durable to weather (lows below 0 F and his above 100 F). The books suggest the may lay up to 340 eggs a year. I will say don't let your youngsters toss them off rock ledges when they are young; their necks break (we are down to 3 ducks).

We have chickens too, but the ducks do have a little personality when compared to the chicken. We also let them roam the garden to eat slugs and bugs. You must wait until your garden is mature though and keep them away from any sprouts or young greens.

That's my two cents or grain of salt...

I think the grain of salt will be worth more in a couple years! Either way Good luck with the garden. We love doing it and my kids don't spend nearly as much time asking for TV or computer time!! Bonus.

dckfr
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Ducks Birds Animals

Get any of the Storey's Guides to Raising _______ (insert animal).

Absolute must and a great wealth of information.

John Law
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I don't have any experience

I don't have any experience with silkies but from what I've read they're more of a pet than anything else. I started out with light brown leghorns. They lay about 3-4 white eggs a week and the roosters will dress out at about 3lbs.

If you're looking for just eggs I would go with a good production breed like Rhode Island Red, Golden Comets, etc.

If you're looking for eggs and meat that you can sustain yourself on and not have to buy new meat chicks every year then I would go with a good dual purpose bird like Barred Rocks or White Rocks. Both breed of hens will give you about 4 eggs a week and the roosters grow out to about 8-9 lbs (I haven't processed any yet so I don't know the dress out weight)

I figured when SHTF there probably wouldn't be any power so I figured incubating my own eggs was out of the question. So this spring I bought a variety of different breeds to meets these needs. I bought 5 Rhode Island Reds to top off my egg production, 6 Barred Rocks, and 11 each of white rocks, buff orpingtons, new hampshire reds, and black jersey giants.

The barred rocks and white rocks are my primary meat birds, I can either breed them straight with their own breed or cross them and get a good meat bird also. Then I have the black jersey giants and buff orpingtons to hatch them out for me since both breeds like to sit on eggs and hatch them.

Pining 4 the Fjords
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Chickens in PA

CoalCracker -

I also live in PA and have started raising egg chickens this year for the first time (Wyandottes and Barred Rocks) but what I wanted to pass on to you is that a friend of mine who lives in the suburbs near here just successfully lobbied the local township to change the ban on livestock including chickens that was written into the ordinances 30 years ago.  She went to the meetings  and made her case for her backyear chickens:  Took in 2 pictures to show-  one was of the five large hunting dogs barking like hell in the backyard of her neighbor, then she showed a picture of two chickens waling quietly near a small backyard coop-  she basically said, "Explain to me why the first one is just fine, but the second one isn't?"  Nobody had a good answer, and they are changing the law this year.  So what I am saying is, it can be done if you want to take the time.

Best of luck!   - Pining

John Law
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Poultry laws can be changed

On backyardchickens.com they have a section on their forum where you can get help and advice on changing your local laws. I've seen many people on there get their laws changed also.

NCdirtdigger
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One should learn to can and

One should learn to can and stock up on jars and especially lids. Vinegar and canning salt as well as spices.

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urban beekeeping (the ninja way)

Urban beekeeping usually means urban guerilla beekeeping. Sometimes it's best to ask for forgiveness then ask for permission.  There is much myth and fear around bees. But a hive or 3 shouldn't be an issue.  Urban beekeepers that wish to stay below the radar of their neighbors will put a hive facing a tall fence or hedgerow, that way the bees need to exit/enter vertically.

Usually, more experienced beekeepers don't wear the whole get-up. The veil will be tucked in their pants, just in case they make a mistake.  Usually mistakes happen from not listening to the bees. Finding a mentor helps. Once their is a familiarity and connection with the bees, one won't need much to take care of them and won't need to dress up so conspicuously as well.

CoalCracker
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How are the ducks with other animals?

My boys are in their teens so I won't have to worry about them; but what about other animals like our dogs and cats?  Do you think the duck or the chicken would be better adapted if someone left the dog or cat out when they were walking around feeding?

CoalCracker
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Bee Hive Idea

I want bees (mostly for pollination) but unfortunately cant - I did although, have an idea about making a bee hive in the shape of a Cupola for the roof of my garage.  That way nobody would know, it would be out of everyone's way and would be a safe place for the bees.  Not sure about issues with it like temperature control or high winds but its the only thing that I can think of in my area.

CoalCracker
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Bee Hive Idea - OOPS, Duplicate

I want bees (mostly for pollination) but unfortunately cant - I did although, have an idea about making a bee hive in the shape of a Cupola for the roof of my garage.  That way nobody would know, it would be out of everyone's way and would be a safe place for the bees.  Not sure about issues with it like temperature control or high winds but its the only thing that I can think of in my area.

CoalCracker
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Thanks for your input

Pining 4 the Fjords - "what kind of talk is that?......He's not pining, he's passed on"

I don't have really a similar situation (with the neighbor dogs) but it is a great idea.  I was thinking about maybe starting chickens at a relatives house due to its importance.

John Law also provided great info but the only two questions remain:

1) If you were to only start with 3 chicks, what kind would you buy?

2) Where do you get them?

I must say, what a great blog!

mespe
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I spent a little time trying

I spent a little time trying to locate the laws in PA.  I was not successful. Maybe you can answer your question by following what I did in Ohio. Ohio Revised Code 715.23 states in the section pertaining to political subdivisions of the state and the powers granted to them.

“and, on notice to the owners, authorize the sale of the fowl or animals for the penalty imposed by any ordinance, and the cost and expenses of the proceedings.”

As you can see. the city may only impound and sell the fowl THAT's it, no court costs, no expenses, no $$$ penalty.

So if someone really wants to keep chickens, and the city really doesn't want them to keep the chickens, it'll be a battle in the courts, filing motion after motion (for free), will get expensive for the city.

mespe
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I don't know why anyone would

I don't know why anyone would recommend silkies. Silkies look neat, but they lay small eggs. Personally, I got Silkies because they have 4 toes.

If you want chickens for the eggs, then New Hampshire Reds are good birds.

John Law
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If you're only starting with

If you're only starting with 3, then I would go with either Rhode Island Reds, Golden Comets, or Black Australorp. All of these are great eggs layers, each bird can easily give you 5 eggs per week and they have a good food convertibility rate.

The hatchery I used this year is Meyer Hatchery. I'm very happy with them, I ordered 44 and they sent 45, all alive and healthy after two days in the mail and they have good prices. Some others are Ideal Poultry, Murray McMurray, Welp Hatchery, and Cackle Hatchery.

If you're only getting 3 though, I would look into buying them locally at a Tractor Supply or some other fed store because even though a lot of hatcheries will ship only three chicks, shipping will be probably be outrageous (I just checked shipping for 3 Rhode Island Reds from Meyer in Ohio to me in North GA, and shipping is $37) and some hatcheries will use "packing peanuts", meaning they will put unwanted roosters in there to help keep the others warm. So it's usually best to order from a hatchery only if you're going to buy 10-15 or more because that's when shipping becomes more reasonable (for my 44 shipping was $16).

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