The Weekly Digs #85

by Becky

On Monday, I woke up and was checking my email and realized the place I planned on ordering chicks for spring was beginning to take orders. I’ve never ordered from McMurray Hatchery before but they had all the rare breeds the kids wanted for egg laying chickens. 

The kids plan on starting up a chick breeding business to sell chicks locally. I had to limit kids to 10 chickens each and we still managed to purchase about 60 chickens! I ended up getting a few breeds I thought would sell well in addition to the kids picks. 

Next, I went through and picked meat chickens to raise for us. After our experience butchering the Cornish Cross last year and how they dropped like flies, I opted not to get any of the industrial frankenbird. Instead, I got 60 of a heritage breed (Delaware Broiler) to try and 50 of a hybrid breed (Ginger Broiler). 

Cornish Cross we butchered June 2020

As long as we are happy with the heritage breed, we plan on holding back the biggest and the best for breeding. The Ginger Broilers I got just for comparison. They are supposed to plump up fast but not have the some leg and heart problems the Cornish Cross do. Since the gingers are hybrids we won’t breed them.

Next, I called Cameron at work and said, “Do you want to get a few turkeys and what kind?” He replied to just get the minimum amount and we should get a heritage breed. I added 7 Chocolate turkeys and 8 White Hollands. 

About 200 birds later, we were ready to place our order. A combination of excitement and nervousness went through my brain. That is a lot of chicken tractors and infrastructure that we’ll need to build to house them plus the cost of feeding them.

 But I tried not to think too much about it and rushed to put our order in because the hatchery doesn’t have a large volume and they sell out quickly.

A couple hours later Cameron calls me and says, “I put out a little advertisement out and asked if anyone would be interested in a fresh turkey NEXT Thanksgiving. I already have about 40 people interested. There is definitely a lot of interest in a pasture raised, gmo-free bird.”  

Wow! He didn’t lay out any pricing yet because we need to figure that out still. The heritage turkeys take longer to grow and consequently need more food. Even though I’m a huge believer in heritage birds, I’m not sure if the sticker shock would scare everyone off. 

We talked back and forth a bit, and thought maybe we should get a few of the Broad Breasted Whites (fast growing, industrial version of a turkey) to sell in addition to the heritage turkeys. If the Broad Breasted Whites are anything like the Cornish Cross though, it may be a one and done experience.

We are waiting to figure out some details before we decide if we will purchase any more and what kind.

In the garden:

Planted about 400 cloves of garlic so far. About 200 are the hardneck garlic and have massive cloves! The other 200 are softneck and are much smaller. Varieties I chose are Amish Rocambole, Chesnok Red, and Music for the hardneck. Silver white and Lorz Italian are the softneck.

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Katie C. November 8, 2020 - 1:58 pm

Let’s see if this works now.

Garlic. We have tried soft neck and hard neck. The resulting garlic has not been very large. I read something about replanting using bulbs from the resulting garlic. That’s what we are going to try this year. Do you have any tips about why our garlic might be coming out so small? We are planting in a raised bed in good sun. This year we added a bunch of (purchased) composed dirt to try and help things along.

theseasonalhomestead November 8, 2020 - 3:32 pm

Wahoo! I’m so glad your comment came through 🙂 I’ve found there is a direct correlation between large garlic cloves at planting and large garlic bulbs at harvest. I try and save our biggest garlic cloves each year for planting and we eat the tiny, hard to peel ones. It sounds like you are doing everything else right with good sun and rich soil. I’m sure the compost will help it grow large! Garlic does like compost or a slow release fertilizer especially at the beginning of it’s growing season. At the end, I hold off on any fertilizer.

I bought some additional garlic this year from a place called Keene Garlic. I’d never heard of them before but the place I usually order garlic from had a crop failure. They sell by the bulb size and you can get “jumbo” or “large”. I was very impressed with what I received in the mail. The cloves are the biggest I’ve ever seen. It’s a source high quality seed stock you can start over with if for some reason your garlic still doesn’t quite get big enough this year. Good luck! Let me know how it turns out!

Nell November 23, 2020 - 11:22 pm

Where do you buy the garlic to plant?

theseasonalhomestead November 30, 2020 - 7:57 pm

I got a few varieties from High Mowing Seeds and some from Keene Garlic. It was my first time ordering from Keene Garlic and I was really impressed with the size and quality of the bulbs. I will order all my garlic from them if I still need to next year!


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