Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NRCS Visit

We recently attended a Buckeye Conservancy workshop and met a lot of people who gave us  ideas of ways we can be better stewards of our land while still being profitable. 

Matt from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service was one of these helpful people.  The NRCS has many cost sharing programs available that we might qualify for and Matt came out to get a tour of the land and come up with a list of possible programs we might be interested in.

 He identified this mushroom for us too.  We had been wondering what it was and if it was edible.  It is called chicken of the forest and it is good to eat.  This one, unfortunately, had worms because it was too old.  It is still beautiful though and I wonder how big it will get.  We've been watching it grow for a couple of months.   

 This small fir was in an oak woodland area and wasn't doing so well.  He took a sample of it's core to see how old it was. 

 It was very old for it's size.  Over 80 years.  

 One of the programs that is available is to pay you to remove firs from oak woodland areas to help the oaks do better and provide food for wildlife.  We have some decent fir growing areas that we want to improve, but they aren't in the same places that the oaks generally grow, so we are thinking about applying for this in some small areas.

Matt was on the lookout for mushrooms and he found this kind in a tan oak thicket.  Unfortunately, I can't remember it's name.   Starts with a C.  It begins in the ground looking a bit egg shaped.

Then it grows and looks like it has frosting on it.  I would never eat this one as he said that if you get it wrong, you could die, as there is a poisonous one that looks very similar. 

He was very excited to see the Jeffrey Pine forest on the front of our ranch.  They are very rare in our area.  they could use thinning as they will grow better and be safe from fire.  There is money for this too.    I like the idea of thinning these as well, because it will help more grass grow for the cattle too.

We've been talking to a private forester to get an overall ranch managment plan with areas prioritized for work needed and we found out that their is a cost share program for this too. Mark has been thinning some of our tan oak thickets and guess what?  Yep,  there might be funds to help with this too.   There is also a range-land management adviser that will help us with our prairies and possible grants to help pay for fencing.

And all of this came about because Mark and I got off of our hide away and spent a couple days mingling at a workshop.  Who knew.  

Matt is coming out soon to pick specific sites and help us apply.  Hopefully, it works out.  You never know for sure when you partner with our government.  That's the scary part. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Case Cracked

It took me a while to figure out, but I have solved my chicken egg dilemma.  As my previous post mentioned I kept finding eggs cracked like the one in the above photo or completely smashed.  I thought I had a hen who  took it upon herself to have breakfast.

 My first suspect was my hen who didn't act like the others.  I put her in the green house overnight.  In the morning there were still broken eggs laying on the floor.  It must not be here.  When I let her out of the greenhouse she hurried into the hen house to lay her egg in the nest box. Some other bird is the rotten egg.  Or so I thought.  Next night the fluffy hen got her turn in the hen house.  She did not like it.  In the morning, when I inspected the hen house  I discovered that their were no broken eggs and her egg lay smashed to pieces in the green house.  Aha,  I thought, I have my bird.

I hurried into the basement and got my big pot and filled it with water and put it on the stove.  I sharpened the knife and got the trash can that I put them in after I take off their heads.  I  picked up the fluffy chicken and just when I was about to do the deed, I felt a little check on my spirit.  Maybe I should give it another night.  Maybe I should give her another chance.  Maybe Jo and Eric would want a pet chicken.    I just didn't want to kill and eat this bird.

I decided to just let it be for now and I spent my time cleaning out their house and putting lots of fresh shavings in the nest boxes and then on the floor of the hen house too.

Next morning I discovered 4 unbroken eggs laying in the deep shavings under the roosts.  There was another egg in the nest box, unbroken as well.  Hmmm.  A flash of insight and I realized that my hens were laying their eggs from the roost.  So weird.  I googled it and discovered that sometimes hens get their clocks off and lay at night when it is too dark to navigate to the nest box.  The only hen on schedule was my friendly hen.  I was glad that this mystery did not end in bloodshed.

Hopefully, their internal clocks will get back on schedule soon, but until then I just keep the shavings deep.  Bomb away birds.