Chicken Shade

We mentioned last week that our chickens have stopped laying. Most of this problem existed because we moved their coop a few weeks ago, to another area of the farm. We also needed to provide them with more shade, the coop wasn’t enough. So a week ago I built a simple A-frame shelter that was light enough it can be moved as needed. This took us less than $100 in materials and approximately 2 hours of labor (a second person does help for a couple of the steps).

Material List:

6 – 2 x 2 x 8′
1 – 2 x 4 x 8′
2 – 2 x 4 x 10′ (treated)
2 – 36″ x 8′ L Pro-Rib Steel Panel
1 – 1″ Wood Grip Galvanized Screw 1lb
1 – 2″ Galvanised wood screws
1 – 8′ Corner Flashing
2 – wheels (optional)
Axel (optional with wheels)

 

Chicken Run

Most summers here at Highland Heights are busy with different building projects, this year not with standing. One of the projects this year was to get the poultry moved out to a larger pasture. Quite frankly, while we loved the chickens near the house it became a constant battle cleaning up their mess, in the barn, on the porch or worse yet our picnic table. We needed to get them relocated.

With any project comes planning, so we spent a few weeks mapping out different possibilities. Adding fencing is always a big consideration, once built it becomes a permanent feature of the farm; not easily moved. We settled on dividing one of our pastures. This meant we could utilize two side of the existing fencing to save on cost. In the future we will be able to divide the remaining area of the pasture to make an area for our future goats and cattle.

With help of a friend and the use of his tractor and post pounder, we were able to put in the fence line in a few hours. We decided to put in standard farm fencing and over lapped it with a 24″ tall poultry wire to keep the chickens and ducks in and other predators out. Over the next few weeks we worked on stretching the wire around the new pasture. Our oldest daughter (4) and I then took a week putting up the poultry wire. We worked our way down the fence line with zip ties to secure it to the previously installed farm fence.

Hard Lessons Learned:

For the last six weeks our 30 chickens and 4 ducks have been enjoying their new digs. What I didn’t take into account for was how hard it is on the poultry to change their environment. Even if it was just a across our property. We quickly began to see a problem develop, our chickens stopped laying eggs. Normally for a short period of time this wouldn’t be a big deal but we have a lot of regular customers who stop by for their eggs, in addition to selling at the farmers market. At first we put it down to stress, but when it continued, we started doing some more reading and believe this is due to two things; first because of the move, we changed their environment causing stress to the birds, second their new pasture did not have enough shade. They had full access to their coop but that wasn’t enough to lounge outside and cool off in a dust bath.

The first problem will fix itself with time (6-8 weeks is not unusual). For the shade we build an a-frame shelter we are able to move around the pasture to give our poultry much needed respite from the hot sun. Watch for another post on how we built that shelter, including a full material list soon for anyone who would like to use it. Less than 2 hours of work and well under $75 in materials, making it cost effective and easy to make.

As we enter into fall I hope to see our egg production start to increase as the bird continue to get settled in. There are always lessons to be learned on the farm. Happy Farming!

Choosing a Farm Wedding

Congratulations! You are engaged and you have decided on a Farm venue for your wedding. Most likely you have seen some amazing pictures on Pinterest of glamorous Barn and Farm weddings and it seems like a Fairy Tale come true for your wedding day! However, the more you investigate, the more it seems like there are too many rules and regulations to make your perfect day happen on a farm. So, why should you still choose a farm wedding at Highland Heights?

At Highland Heights, our goal is to make YOUR dreams come true for your wedding day!

Here is what you need to know about holding your wedding on a farm, but still making it YOUR perfect day!
1. Be Flexible!
This is key to having a farm wedding be successful. At Highland Heights, we know how our farm operates in each season, where the best lighting will be at certain times of the day, and we want to help you make the most of all of these things! So, when you visit, keep an open mind for how the day will run and we will explore your options and suggest what we will think will make your day a success.

 

2. Be Understanding
It may seem like there are a lot of restrictions when it comes to Farm Weddings, and sometimes there are, but these are primarily to keep the farm running smoothly and safely, in order to protect all the livestock and guests. You want your day to go off without a hitch, and so do we! You chose a farm wedding, so enjoy the FARM! There are some unique features like the horses running in the pasture during the ceremony, kids feeding goats during the reception, sunsets over wide open corn fields, rustic barns for stunning pictures, the PROS of a Farm wedding are endless, so just be sure you understand the farms guidelines, and your day will be priceless!

 

3. Be Creative
Figure out the style of wedding you want to have, and then work with Highland Heights to create the exact feel you want! The wonderful part of an outdoor wedding on our farm is that the possibilities are endless. You can go rustic with hay bale seating, wildflower bouquets, and whiskey barrel tables. Or elegant with Chiavari chairs, white linens and full china place settings. There is also anything in between. Rent a dance floor. Serve prime rib on a hay wagon. A Spring or Fall evening with lots of fires in barrels for guests to keep warm. Maybe a summer afternoon with a S’Mores Bar is your preference. Whatever your style, we will help you create the memories you desire.

 

 

New Life

After the dead of winter we look to life that is the coming of Spring. The grass which has been dormant is beginning to grow. Our horses who have been cooped up in the barn eating hay over the winter are eagerly awaiting the new growth. In a few days time, they’ll move to another patch of grass, then another and another all throughout the spring and summer. I turned through Wendell Berry’s collection of poems, A Timbered Choir, and without going very far found some words to capture the feeling right now:

“The pasture, bleached and cold two weeks ago, Begins to grow in the spring light and rain; The new grass trembles under the wind’s flow. The flock, barn-weary, comes to it again, New to the lambs, a place their mothers know, Welcoming, bright, and savory in its green, So fully does the time recover it. Nibbles of pleasure go all over it.”

— Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir, 1982, III

Onion, Fruit of Grace

Onion, fruit of grace, you swell in the garden hidden as the heart of God, but you are not about religion. Onion, frying into all those Os, you are a perfect poet, and you are not about that. Onion, I love you, you sleek, auburn beauty, you break my heart though I know you don’t mean to make me cry. Peeling your paper skin, I cry. Chopping you, I cry. Slicing off your wiry roots, I cry like a penitent at communion, onion. Tasting grace, layer by layer, I eat your sweet heart that burns like the Savior’s. The sun crust you pull on while you’re still underground, I’ve peeled it. Onion, I’m eating God’s tears. Poem: “Onion, Fruit of Grace” by Julia Kasdorf from Eve’s Striptease. © University of Pittsburg Press

Vegetables Containers

Why Grow Vegetables and Herbs in Pots?

If you do not have room to grow lots of vegetables, grow pots of vegetables. Why grow vegetables in pots? The reasons are many, but here are a few:

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Large Fall Garden

How Much Do I Plant?

The perfect sized garden yields all the tomatoes and other vegetables that you need and some extra to share with friends. Please use this guide of how much you can expect to harvest from a 10 foot row to help you determine exactly how much of your favorites to plant.

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Urban Garden

Save Money Growing Vegetables and Herbs

Growing all—or even a portion—of your own vegetables and herbs at home pays you back in freshness and convenience. You’ll save money by eating what you grow and making fewer trips to the grocery store. In addition, you make a small contribution to overall energy savings in reduced fuel consumption and transportation costs of market items. And, a home garden lets you control what pesticides, if any, you will use.

If space is limited, containers are an ideal way to start veggie and herb gardening. All you need is sun and a source of water. From a small apartment balcony to the deck of a retirement-community home, containers can be productive, fun, and easy. Combining vegetables and herbs in containers gives you an attractive planting as well as a nice variety of edibles. An easy combination is a leafy plant such as Swiss chard or lettuce with rosemary, or a tomato with a basil plant in a 20-inch or larger container.

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