Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicken Tractor

Being a pastured-based, grass-fed operation has many advantages in terms of protection of the environment, healthiness of our meats, sustainability, and protection of heritage breeds. One of the major components of this operation is our pastured-poultry operation using our chicken 'tractors', mobile chicken coops on wheels.

The beauty of these coops is that they allow us to move the birds around the pasture evenly distributing manure and helping to keep our pastures fertile and clean.

Mesh floors allow for good air circulation and a clean environment that rarely requires cleaning, and windows let in lots of light and fresh air.

The interior features roosts made of natural treelimbs that accomodate the chickens feet and desire to roost. These roosts fold up to the ceiling to make catching birds easier and when cleaning or repairing the inside of the coop.

Our initial attempt at a chicken house was dubbed the Henmaster 1000, and we recently completed our Henmaster 8000. Each model has seen incremental and significant improvements in design as we learn from our mistakes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

For the past several years, I've been experimenting with hardy palms in our area. At first, these were in our VERY protected Zone 7 garden in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. and then on the farm.

I found the windmill palms, Trachycarpus fortuneii, to be completely hardy in D.C. with minimal protection, even when young.

I started with FOUR T. foruneii 'bulgaria', a strain from Soviet era plantsmen looking to increase winter-hardiness in subtropical plants. The seeds were obtained from large specimens in Bulgaria that had survived very cold temps without protection.

After moving to the farm, I transplanted my 3 surviving trachycarpus fortuneii 'bulgaria' into a bed of Ilex verticulata in 2007. Of those, because of their young age and the colder temps, only one survived the winter of 2007 and 2008.


In 2008, I added a second Trachcarpus fortuneii that I bought at a local nursery, at about 3 feet of height. palms weathered the winter of 2008 - 2009 with significant leaf damage, but both refoliated quickly during the summer.

Winter protection was provided by bales of straw with a
rigid, clear plastic piece overlying as shown in the picture. Both palms were treated with copper-based antifungal powder in their crowns.

Lowest recorded temp without wind chill for both winters 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 was approximately 8 degrees Fahrenheit, as recorded by our weather station.

This year, we plan on using clear plastic umbrellas or cloches if you will for winter protection. I have added
both Trachycarpus fortuneii Tennesee form and Trachycarpus Wagneranius to our collection during the summer of 2009 and will keep you posted as to how they winter over this year!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Good Shepherd Lamb Coats

Here's a pic of our Sasha wearing one of Linda O'Brien's fantastic 'lamb coats'.

This is a new business venture for our friend and we are excited for her. These fantastic coats are made from recycled, 100% wool blankets, and completely American made. No two are alike!

If interested, fire and email off to Linda.

Her web page can be found at:

Custom orders are accepted!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Almost forgot to credit Dan Goebel for those awesome pics of Rose and Will at the Buaghmann's Lane Farmer's Market...thanks Dan!

We are pleased to announce the addition of Mill Branch Katahdin WOLF to our pool of sires for our katahdin sheep. Thanks Linda! WOLF brings some really nice growth and a superb 120 day weight EPD to our flock. And, he's a sweet boy!

Will Morrow - how could you not buy meat from this guy! Boy does he like to cook (and talk) so don't be afraid to ask about our favorite ways of cooking your purchase.

Rose Woodsmall at the Baughman's Lane farmer's market during her first annual wool hand spinning demonstration, October 2009. We hope to add more events like this to our farm market routines next year.
Looks like another year at the Farmer's Market is over and we plan on keeping things more up-to-date next year using our new blog. Next year we do plan on continuing at the Rose Park Farmers' Market (Wednesday's, corner of 26th and P Street, NW - official hours 4 to 7 pm, un-official hours ~3:15 to dusk) and possibly another market on Saturday morning.