Tag Archives: Mulberry Tree

Narrow Crotches and Slime

My Mulberries are trying to be bushes when they are supposed to be trees, so this week I performed corrective surgery and amputated the extra trunk on each of my two largest trees.Mulberry #1 Mulberry Tree #1

Two different views of the first Mulberry Tree I planted in my orchard last spring. In the lower picture you can clearly see where I cut out the second leader.

Mulberry #2 Mulberry Tree #2

This Mulberry was planted mid-summer of 2012 and has done very well, again in the lower picture you can see where the second leader was removed. All 4 of the Mulberry trees I have are Pakistani Mulberries. I probably harvested 4 quarts of long, dark, very sweet fruit from the trees pictured above. There is still fruit on all 4 of my trees that look like they should be ripening over the next couple of weeks. We are really looking forward to next years production seeing as how even after cutting half of the tree off they are still over double the size they were last fall.

Butter Lettuce Bok Choy

Fodder production has been highly variable lately due to low germination rates and slime. I think the heat is finally interfering with my setup (we officially hit 100 F for the first time this year monday) and I am pretty sure my sweety Karen wouldn’t tolerate my dripping trays inside the house so it’s back to alternative foraging from my favorite oriental restaurant. The manager is super cool and even personally delivered this batch of greens for my gals. Fermenting though is really cooking in this heat, cranking out a good sour-smelling mash in 2 days easy. The flock is swelling again and I really do need to cull but aint quite ready yet…. I’ll get there though. Maybe when it officially hits 110 f for the first time this year?  Nahhhh probably not.

 

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Fruits of my Labor

Today was a big day, I harvested and consumed the very first fruit ever from my orchard!

Mulberries fresh from the tree!

Mulberries fresh from the tree!

We had a big wind storm last night and this morning I found several ripe mulberries on the ground around my trees. This weekend I had noticed one or two were starting to turn colors but not on the tree I found these under. All total I found a good handful under the 2 trees outside the chicken run. They were very sweet but lacked any sense of tartness. Not exactly what I was expecting but very good for my first mulberries ever.

These were hidden in my #1 raised bed.

These were hidden in my #1 raised bed.

Sunday I had chopped and dropped all the cover crop/weeds in my #1 half-assed hugel bed, under all that muck I discovered 3 strawberry plants doing well with ripe fruit on them. The strawberries were a bit tart but balanced out well with the sweet mulberries.

I think we are up to a dozen now!

I think we are up to a dozen now!

Silkie Chickens

Momma sure makes it hard to get an accurate count.

While they aren’t technically “fruits” and I didn’t experience “labor” in their creation these little puff balls are definitely another milestone for my little endeavor. They are the first chicks produced by my girls without any outside assistance. I love my fluffy butts that are hatched out in my incubator but there is just something magical about these little puff balls.

 

 

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Hot Enough to make your Butt Sweat

Yes it is hot enough here in Las Vegas to make your butt sweat, but thats an improvement. For the last month we have been having afternoon thunderstorms that didn’t do much other than make it muggy. A few clouds in the morning, intense sun at noon, with a nice afternoon thunderstorm makes for days that are hot enough to soak your shirt not just your butt.

Today I worked on pulling out that burned up corn you can see above.

Moving the shade cloth to protect my tomatoes and peppers

And trying to protect my newest half-assed hugelkulture bed from the miserable flock of pigeons that my obviously misguided neighbor gets such enjoyment from feeding. I have a very effective pigeon control system manufactured by AirForce Airguns that works very well. Until, that is, my dink of a neighbor comes out and blows his weeny little airhorn to scare the pigeons up to his roof so that they can add to the lovely white wash effect he must be trying to achieve.

In that bed I am trying to get a cover/forage crop going. For seed I put a big handful each of buckwheat, soybeans, and the pigeon feed I am currently fermenting for my hens. That pigeon feed contains several types of field peas, wheat, barley, milo, and millet. With all of that in that little 4’X4′ bed something ought to come up. Did you know that if you forget to pick up a dead pigeon from your chicken run it will magically vanish by the next day? leaving nothing behind but feathers and maybe a foot? Amazing! More evidence of those crafty space aliens visiting my coop.

These are my 3 mulberry trees, the top 1 is the survivor of the 2 originals I got from over the hump in Pahrump while the bottom 2 are the ones that my Sweety, Karen, got me during our trip to the birdmart in Pomona. They are doing a lot better than expected and I am looking forward to shade and fruit next year!

 

 

Those furry little caterpillar looking things are blooms that hopefully will mature into Mulberries in a month or two, meaning I might actually get to harvest fruit from my orchard this year!

My flock gets a rather varied diet, Why? mostly because buying pellets and pouring them in a feeder is kinda boring. It’s a lot more work to gather, grow, and ferment stuff for them but it makes me feel more involved in their welfare. Does it make them healthier? I honestly don’t know but it sure makes me healthier. If everyone had chickens and a garden maybe the pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t be making such a killing on antidepressants and other mental health medications. Chicken Therapy! Thats what America needs!

 

 

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Update! Schmupdate:(

A week of plusses and minuses. On the plus side my two new Mulberry Trees are doing great! They have already started putting out new growth, they do appear droopy at mid-day but by morning they are perky as can be. Currently I am watering them daily and probably will for the next couple of weeks, by the end of July I hope to have them down to an every other day watering cycle. All four of the comfrey plants are sending up new leaves and seem to be doing well on the greywater irrigation system. I did hit all of them with a shot of miracle grow solution with a bit of Sprint 138 Iron Chelate thrown in  for good measure.

I have mentioned Sprint 138 on this blog before but it bears repeating, this stuff is great! Expensive yes, but it works to correct chlorosis caused by Iron deficiency extremely fast and effectively. Our soil here is heavy clay and very alkaline, two things that hinder plants access to iron. I have used Ironite and Sulfur but neither one work very well in our soils and what little gain you get is gone by the next year. As of now I can’t talk about the longevity of Sprint 138’s effects but I can say that a week after applying a half a shot glass of the stuff around the base of a bunch of anemic looking yellow leafed fruit trees they were a healthy dark green.

On the Minus side I may have caught one of my egg eatin bastards but I ain’t caught em all yet! I still got eggs disappearing even with a couple that I caught red-handed, so I’m moving on to phase II.

Over on the TBN Ranch Blog I read some good information about controlling this nasty habit. My Granddaughter, Alexa, is going to help by collecting eggs more often, My sweety, Karen, is going to make a couple of mustard filled eggs, and I installed privacy screens over all of the nest boxes today. I am leaning toward the outta sight outta mind theory, in the juvenile pen where all of the suspects, and convicted felons are hanging out I have been getting 4-5 eggs a day out of 6 hens and no evidence of pecked eggs. I believe that even though there are proven egg eaters in there they aren’t breaking them because they can’t walk by and see the eggs in the back of the pet carrier they are laying in.

Another minus was the loss of the two spraddle legged Barnevelders I mentioned last week. Realistically their loss at this stage is more of a -/+ in that their passing now saves them a lot of suffering for little gain.

On the plus side is the 2 healthy Barnies I still have!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also started a new fermented feed batch, I dumped out and thoroughly cleaned my buckets, enlarged the drain holes a bit then put fresh scratch in the inner bucket. This time I am starting the fermentation culture with both Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and Yeast. The yeast was just plain old bread yeast that I proofed in some warm water with a bit of sugar, when it was good and frothy I dumped it on the scratch and filled the buckets with just enough water to cover. After working in the orchard for a half hour or so the mix was bubbling slowly and smelling yeasty so in went about a cup of ACV and a 1/4 cup of brown sugar for good measure. This batch is gonna set till at least Monday and maybe longer so it gets a good start. Additionally I found a bag of raw soybeans in the barn, so I boiled 2 cups of those to toss in the batch to boost the protein.

It’s been hot as hell here lately and fixin to get humid due to the monsoons sweeping up outta Arizona, but I gotta say that even a smoking hot, muggy, sweaty day spent working in the Orchard/Chicken is hard to beat!

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Caught the Bastard……I think

My egg production had dropped precipitously, 3 weeks ago I was collecting a dozen a day then it dropped to only 1 or 2 eggs a day seemingly overnight. For a while I just ignored it thinking that it was the heat. Last weekend it penetrated my thick skull that there were eggshell pieces in the litter inside the coop, I got an Egg Eater!! What to do? 

I rounded up the usual suspects, these three are always malingering in the hen house just looking guilty so Wham! They went into the juvenile pen. What happened? Three eggs in the little pet carrier the quail hide in inside the juvenile pen but only 1 egg in the henhouse and no telltale shells in the litter.

So I targeted the shifty looking ones next. Brian, one of my trusted minions, was sent on a midnight raid to round them up. This group consisted of the remaining three easter eggers. Did this rectify the problem? NO!! All it did was add some green eggs to the daily hoard in the quail box! What to do? Run a sting operation, Thats What!

Yesterday while planting my new fruiting Mulberry Trees, I note “fruiting” here because fruitless Mulberry Trees have been outlawed in Las Vegas, I placed 2 chicken eggs from the quail box into one of the nest boxes in the henhouse. There was also one egg in a nest in the corner of the henhouse that I left alone due to the fact that there was one very angry duck sitting on it. I kept my eye on the bait box, kinda like a bait car for chickens, while doing my chores in the orchard but other than a couple of nosy Nora’s nothing happened. I collected the eggs from the nest box and left the angry duck to her sitting.

This morning I went back up to water my Mulberry Tree’s and Comfrey plants that I set out yesterday. Additionally I had potted up a couple of trimmings from the Mulberry’s and some Oldham Bamboo culms that I am hoping will root that need a drink. When I checked the henhouse the angry duck was gone as was her egg! I looked but couldn’t find any shells around nor did any of the nest boxes contain any eggs. In the juvenile pen were three eggs in the quail box, so i reset the trap just like yesterday. I had a big black sex-link hen that was hovering around watching me, so I made an unsuccessful attempt to catch her but then promptly forgot her. After starting the hose I went up to the house to fill the surge tank and got sucked into fixing the dryer for my sons fiancé.

That took about a half hour and when I got back down to the orchard what do I see? A big black feathered butt stickin out of the baited nest box! Hurrying into the henhouse I grabbed the hen and sure enough it was the same black sex-link, and in the nest box was a freshly pecked open egg.

Now I have a confirmed egg-eater on lockdown in the juvenile pen. Only time will tell if this problem has spread to the other girls in my flock but for now I’m hopeful that the main culprit has been uncovered. If my egg production in the henhouse goes back up this week I plan on releasing the earlier suspects one at a time back into the general population. Those girls ain’t off the hook yet though, they’re gonna have to prove their innocence before a full reprieve from the Santa Ria priest is given! As to the fate of the one I caught red-handed, or should I say yellow-beaked, maybe my minion and I will try our hand at butchering our first chicken. One things for sure she is not going back into my chicken yard!

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Barney(s), Comfrey, and Mullberry’s

My Barney hatching went off OK I guess. A 25% hatch rate ain’t great but at least I got 4 cute little Barnevelder chicks in the brooder. WOW that sucks! I just went in to take a picture of my 4 Barney’s and noticed that two of them are having leg issues. 😦 Karen and I just put hobbles on them but I don’t have very big expectations, I tried this once before and all it did was delay the inevitable.

You can see the one in the foreground that is rocked back on his bum, him and the one behind him are the two having issues. They were fine yesterday, I wonder if I am doing something wrong during incubation? Karen thinks maybe the flock they came from is inbred? If you have any ideas let me know!

Tomorrow I am going to plant my two Mulberry trees, one positioned on the west end of my orchard to provide shade from our brutal afternoon sun. The other I am going to plant just on the outside of the Chicken run so that eventually its canopy will overhang the run to provide some shade and drop fruit into the run. Both trees need a little trimming so I bought some rooting hormone and am going to try propagating a couple new trees. While I’m at it I am going to cut a stalk from my Timber Bamboo and try potting up several cuttings to see if I can get the start of a windbreak going.

The 4 comfrey plants are going to be planted in my orchard, two at the head of the lanes between the first two rows. I think I am going to put the last two at the bottom of the center two lanes where the ground dips a bit causing the area to be a little moister than the rest. I’m not quite sure on that though, the idea of putting in a fourth 4’x4′ raised bed keeps popping back up in my head so we’ll see.

Lastly I am struggling with an egg eater(s), I have isolated the likely culprits but my egg production hasn’t gone back up. Before putting them in quarantine I would find 4 or 5 broken eggs a day now I’m not finding any broken eggs or shell remnants but am only finding 1 or 2 eggs daily.

If you have any advice I could sure use it on any of these issues.

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