Saturday, April 11, 2015

Let's Talk Water; New Chickens In The Hen House

We have all been concerned about water and heard in the news about everyone having to do our part to conserve. Farmer's are no exceptions. I am sure you have heard some rumblings from people talking about farmers using too much water to grow food. I want to re-assure you that from what I have heard from Butte County farmers, they are truly concerned as you are and are doing everything in their power to be good stewards of water usage.  Do people think the owners of farms don't give a heck about other people; about abusing water? And what would be the alternative to not giving farmer's water, government to pay them to not grow food at all?  Possibly some people think it is OK to just import all our food, but for our family, I like to really, really know where our food comes from; and how it was grown.  That's our opinion.

If you give me a minute, I would like to tell you what we have done to conserve water.
Here at our farm, Frank anticipated we may have to reduce our water usage even though we already used drip systems AND we used timers in the past seasons. We talked about ways that we could continue to water our vegetables using the drip system but asked ourselves how we could reduce the length of time the water was being used. All our rows were on one main watering system, one timer and because all the rows were on at the same time, it reduced the water pressure. The result was we had to water longer in order that each and every row received enough moisture.
What Frank did was pull up all the old watering infrastructure and divided the fields into different zones-each zone having specific vegetables. He then put each zone on a different valve and a different set time to run. With that change, we have been able to water in minutes, instead of hours. The surprise result was the change is the water pressure. With less rows to spread out the water, more water is being filtered to fewer drip tapes, having the plants watered in more than half the time. And we have better control on each type of plant's moisture needs.  He even put up a light because sometimes we water at night so need to be able to see what valve to turn on.


As an example, corn may only need to be watered maybe when hot, 2 x a week; tomatoes may only need to be watered 2-3 times a week; but my beets and Swiss Chard may need watering every other day. I was having to previously water everything the same - turn the timer on, shut it off a couple hours later. 
Frank is so clever, this time he even got creative and used up some of his old spray paint cans to help me know which zone references his specific colored valve and timer. We are also hoping we will possibly save on our electricity bill this summer running the ag pump less; saving water being the most important!!  We are excited to see how this big change will effect the growth of our plants
I purchased 12 new Heritage Breed Barred Rock 10 month old laying hens a few weeks ago. I put them in with the rest of my hens, but I must say they weren't received very well. The first night, they weren't allowed inside the hen house. The second night I picked up each one of them and put them inside. Since then, the family of hens have been fine.

Well, maybe not perfect, I am still getting some laid eggs in the corner, on the floor, instead of inside the egg laying boxes. Have you ever heard of the expressions, "hen pecked"? Or "pecking order"? Well it is true, the queen hens (Usually the oldest hens) have the best sleeping spots (at least they think so); their favorite nesting box WHEN they decide to lay; and want to eat the food first. They soon sort out their "pecking order" and live happily together, as long as the younger princess hens abide by the queen hen rules.
That is the latest here at the people's hen house-Windmill Farm.  Come back again soon to hear more of our farming, growing flowers, decorating projects, classes, just some plan fun too.




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