Week 2: The plot chickens
I can tell spring is in full swing on the farm when I realize I have more radishes than I know what to do with. But the full diversity of the small, local farm is on the way! Every day, we are planting seeds and moving transplants into the field (including tomatoes next week!)
The most notable marker of the season, though, has to be the baby animals.
On Wednesday, 150 baby chicks arrived to the post office for pick up. That’s right—you can order live chickens by mail! The chicks are mailed out shortly after they hatch when they are still surviving on energy from their yolk, so they do not need food during the 72 hours or less it takes to ship them. The Organic Farm School ordered these chicks from Jenk’s Hatchery in Oregon so we were all happy that they had a short trip to the farm!
As a class, we took them out of the box, inspected and counted them, and dipped their beaks into the water to teach them how to drink.
You might be wondering—are these meat chickens or egg chickens? These chickens are Freedom Rangers, a meat production bird. They will be in our care for the next 10 weeks and then we will harvest them. This first round of 150 chickens is the first of 3 cycles we hope to go through for a total of 450 birds this season.
Many of you know that we used to follow vegetarian and then vegan diets and this was largely motivated by CAFOs (Concentrated animal feeding operations) and other unsustainable livestock and dairy farming methods that are harming our health and the environment. Unfortunately, these factory-scale animal operations are the source of most of the meat and dairy we Americans choose as a part of our daily diet.
We firmly believe that animals raised on small, local farms like OFS not only experience a very high quality of life, they produce a much healthier source of meat and are sustainably managed so as not to cause harm to local ecosystems or the environment as a whole. We’re happy to participate in this part of the Organic Farm School program and excited to learn if regenerative animal agriculture could play a part in our future farm business.
This week, we also made strides in our mushroom project! We’re happy to announce our little jar of Lions Mane mycelium has finally found its new home at OFS.
On Friday night, we got together with our classmates and drilled evenly-spaced holes in three two-week-old alder logs, and filled them with the wooden dowels from the jar. Then, we sealed the holes with beeswax. Soon, we’ll move them into a shaded area and partially bury the logs in an upright position where they will hopefully wick up moisture from the soil and keep the mycelium healthy and happy until it’s ready to fruit.
We plan to leave the logs at OFS as a legacy for future students to enjoy. They should start producing mushrooms in about a year or so and we can’t wait to hear how they do from next year’s trainees!
It was so much fun to see everyone working together on something none of us had tried before. Being surrounded by so many other curious, beginning growers for the last two weeks has been so inspiring. We are in a constant state of wonder and together, we are finding ways to facilitate life, work with nature, and grow downright good food.