It’s been one year since we moved to the “farm” and we’ve made a ton of progress on our journey of becoming more self-sufficient. Here is a recap of all that we have accomplished in the last 12 months.
– We started with 3 hens but slowly added a few more here and there. We now have 10 hens producing about 6-7 eggs a day. With production naturally slowing in the winter we estimate that they’ve laid well over 1500 eggs in one year. We have become quite an egg-eating family. We use the deep litter method for our chicken coop so they also provide a great deal of of fertilizer for the garden and fruit trees.
– We have 2 rabbits which are mostly fun for Avery yet produce some fertilizer as well. We haven’t had much luck breeding them but hopefully that’ll change this spring.
– Planted 22 fruit trees, many varieties of apple, peach, plum, nectarine, apricot, pear, mayhaw and fig. All our trees were planted along permaculture swales to capture water from the natural spring and rain so we shouldn’t need to irrigate the orchard.
– Planted 20 fruit shrubs, many varieties of blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, goji berry, june berry and gooseberry.
– Planted 10 grape and kiwi vines along swales. Yes, you can grow hardy kiwi in the DFW area.
– Built 3 Hugelkultur-style vegetable garden beds with over 220 sq ft of growing space
– One aquaponics system with about a dozen catfish and 20 sq ft of growing space
There was also a good deal of infrastructure work required including…
– Installed 20 cubic yards of mulch and 5 cubic yards of compost soil. The ultimate goal is to reduce “inputs” required by building up the soil structure and utilizing nitrogen fixing plants. Initially we needed a good deal of materials to get things started.
– Remodeled the chicken coop with an automatic waterer and feeder as well as easier access to the eggs so we don’t need to enter the coop to get the eggs. We also installed a solar-powered coop door that opens and closes at dawn/dusk to let the hens into the chicken run during the day.
– Converted the peacock coop to a 3-hutch rabbit home with automatic waterer.
– Built two compost bins, a worm farm and biopod for harvesting black soldier fly larvae.
– Dug 300+ ft of swales to hold spring water and rain for trees, shrubs, vines and hugel beds.
– Rebuilt deck stairs and foundation.
– Pulled dead trees out of pond and trimmed up dozens of trees.
– Oh ya, and remodeled the entire house.
What’s next out at the farm?
– Adding additional fruiting trees and shrubs including persimmons, pomegranates and elderberries.
– Planting more perennial herbs and vegetables such as asparagus, artichokes, chicory, lemon balm, etc.. Also trying to add more companion plants to the garden.
– Planting nitrogen fixing plants, shrubs, and ground cover that naturally add nitrogen to the soil.
– Creating more biodiversity, specifically around the pond area to encourage bats, birds, dragonflies, reeds, frogs and more.
– A greenhouse for year-round growing
– Bees? Pigs? Ducks? Who knows!
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