The brooder box we built several years ago (instructions here) is terrific for babies when they are small, holding well over a hundred for several weeks. But when the young'uns begin to feather out, it's time to move them out and into a more spacious environment.
In the past, we have used the goat stall pictured at the top of this page for a sort of "finishing" area for the little chicks and turkeys, but in wrapping it with protective wire we typically did so in a more temporary manner. Once the chickens were allowed to range freely and the goats gained access to the stall once again, the protective wire didn't last long at all. So we decided to do it differently this time, attaching the wire on the outside of all but one of the four walls, away from the goats who will, once again, eventually have access to the stall.
My daddy always told me that having the proper tools was the first step toward doing a good job, and boy was he right. Using a stapler powered by an air compressor made quick work of covering the stall with chicken wire down low and 2X4 welded wire above that, and the 1/2" long staples ensure that the wire is there to stay. By the way, we put chicken wire around the bottom for two reasons: 1) the chicks could possibly still squeeze through 2X4 openings if they were really determined, and 2) chicken wire will make it a little more difficult for predators to climb. At least we hope it will.
darker feathers served as a cutting guide
We made sure to trim one of each chicken's and turkey's wings to keep them grounded. If you trim both, they can still fly. Although the stall is mostly enclosed, there are some openings high on the walls, and we don't want the little rascals getting any ideas. Better safe than sorry, you know?
By the end of the afternoon, the new tenants had moved in. They weren't thrilled at first, which is always the case after moving young birds from the comfort of their cozy brooder. But it won't be long until they are ruling the roost in their new quarters.
Below is the accompanying video of the process:
And here is the YouTube link for those who can't view the embedded video:
~ Tommy A.
"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." ~ Proverbs 22:6
The Biblical admonition to "raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" is not, of course, a direct command to teach my grandson how to operate a tractor & front-end loader. Nor is it a promise that he won't forget, either. In fact, Solomon wasn't making any sort of promise, but simply expressing a principle. Dr. John MacArthur explains it this way: "How many times have you seen a parent cling to that verse in desperation as they watch defiant children forsake all they were taught? Some children sit under loving, prayerful instruction from their parents, only to later shame them with a scandalous lifestyle. It’s heartbreaking, isn’t it? But Solomon’s proverb is not meant to be a gilt-edged guarantee your child will eventually trust Christ and live righteously. Solomon is simply saying early training usually secures lifelong habits. It’s a charge to give great care and consistency to how and what you teach your children. God promises to bless us for parental faithfulness, but that doesn’t necessarily mean our children will be saved. They have their own relationship with God to work out. (emphasis mine)" [Source, "Parental Mythbusting]
Certainly, our primary responsibilities as parents and grandparents is to teach our young ones to love their Creator, to help them understand their need for a Savior, and to train them to be obedient servants and courageous witnesses for their Master. When we do such, we pray that the principle spoken of by Solomon will hold true for our little ones - that the lessons will take hold, that the Spirit of God will use the implanted Seed of His Word to draw them to the cross, and that they will live their lives as active, attractive Believers - even into old age. But the principle has value even beyond those primary, most-important considerations.
We should also be teaching our children the value of hard work, the truths associated with sowing & reaping, how a single grain produces abundance, and other such agricultural principles - all found in scripture, and all having application in life, as well as the garden.
"In all toil there is profit,but mere talk tends only to poverty." ~Prov 14:23 (ESV)
JUST before he heaved it up... ;-)
"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox."
~ Prov 14:4 (ESV)
"Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it."
~ Prov 13:11 (ESV)
"As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same."
~ Job 4:8 (ESV)
"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap."
~ Galatians 6:7 (ESV
"The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." ~ 2 Corinthians 9:6 (ESV)
"For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." ~ Galatians 6:8 (ESV)
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." ~ John 12:24 (ESV)
It's never too early to begin imparting truth to children. When they are young, they soak it up like water into a dry sponge. Their ability to grasp hold of concepts is astonishing: our grandson, who is not yet two years old, has been learning sign language for months. Patti has taught him how to say "please," "more," "food," "I love you," and "on." The last one is his favorite anytime he gets near Paw Paw's tractor, as he frantically slaps the back of his left hand with his right palm as if to say "ON, ON, ON, ON!!" It's entirely too cute. And there's nothing sweeter than for him to sign "I love you" without being prompted to do so...except for when he offers a kiss on the lips, just because he thinks about it. My heart melts.
And I am amazed at what he picks up just by observation. You should see him when he sits on my tractor: he works the steering wheel, then his little hands go from knob to knob, grabbing and wiggling every lever within his reach. He doesn't understand what they do, but he already knows they do SOMETHING. Well, he knows for sure what one of them does:
Click here--> watch him in this video clip. ;-)
Yeah, it's too early to really teach him the meaning of the scriptures quoted above, but it's not too early to begin preparing the soil of his heart. How can I do that? By involving him. By loving him with my time.
Parents, take note: when your children are little, they want to be like you. They want to do what you do, so bring them in. Sure, part of the reason my grandson loves PawPaw's tractor is because he is a little boy and there's just something about little boys and big ol' machines. But I also believe that he loves PawPaw's tractor because it's PawPaw's, and he loves PawPaw.
We spent a couple of hours yesterday, just walking around...climbing on and off the tractor...sitting by the woodpile...sitting on logs...watching the dogs play. As "work" is measured, I didn't get much done. But my prayer is that the soil of his little heart was turned yet again, making it more and more receptive to the Good Seed headed it's way.
This post shared at Homestead Abundance Blog Hop
We don't have enough mulch in our Back to Eden Garden yet, but Patti found these little alien egg-looking potatoes in our outside fridge (which we use for chilling milk), so we decided to plant them and see what happens!
We filmed the process, and the video can be found here: Plantin' Taters
If you've been to our Acknowledgements page, you know how much we owe to Mr. Thomas Carl "Stump" Easley. We think about him often, but especially today, which would've been his birthday. In honor of his memory, we are reposting the very first instructional YouTube video from Alderman Farms, "How to Set a Corner Post WITHOUT Concrete!" (Click the title to open the video).
Mr. Stump taught us many things, but setting corner posts without concrete has by far been the most useful and time-saving thing. Thanks, Mr. Stump!
You know, it's kind of embarrassing to admit that although we've lived here since August of 2000, this will be the FIRST time that I will be certain to have enough firewood to last through the following winter. What? Yep. It's not that we've ever completely run out - we live on 116 acres...it would be impossible to run out. But the truth is that every year including this one, I've had to scout the property for a downed tree and split 'er up in order to have something to burn. But not this time, pal.
Cory and I have already been scouting for next year's supply, and the tree in the photo was the first volunteer. It was also the first time I've cut a tree that was still standing, but I don't feel bad because it was only partially standing: it was rooted in the side of a hill that had given way and the tree was leaning on a 45-degree angle into another tree. For the health of the other tree, we thought it best to speed up the process and get this one down.
It is a huge sucker, too, so we had to cut it into six or seven lengths in order for me to be able to drag it up with the tractor (using the boom pole seen in the background, behind the spitter).
My Troy-Bilt 27-ton hydraulic splitter has been such a huge blessing for us, and well worth the money we spent. I can split so much more wood, in such a small amount of time, that it's almost silly. So glad we got it.
It's such a good feeling to look at that pile. I just might fix me a cup of coffee, head back out there and look at it some more.
We just posted a little video commentary, too. Take a look at it by clicking this link:
The man upon whose gardening techniques the "Back to Eden" film is based, Paul, talks about the properties of tree limb mulch in great detail. One that caught my ear is that when there is too much water, it spreads it out and eliminates mud. The pathway that leads from our back deck toward the barn has long been a muddy mess, staying muddy long after a rain, so we decided to cover it with tree-limb mulch and see how it performed.
It POURED rain here last night. There was enough rain to drown fish, so it was a perfect test of the mulch and I couldn't wait to get a look at it this morning.
I certainly wasn't disappointed - it worked just as we'd hoped that it would.
I walked to and fro (I love saying "to and fro"), and though there was standing water all over the yard, there was none squishing beneath my shoes - absolutely none. You'd have to really know how much rain we got to fully appreciate that, I reckon, but color me impressed.
Here is the link to a video I just uploaded: Mulch Pathway Update.
Thanks for reading!
The 116 acres of land that is "Alderman Farms" just outside of Brookhaven, Mississippi was originally part of an entire Section of land (640 acres) obtained by Tommy's great-great grandfather, Enoch, as a land grant from the United States government in the 1800's. Through the many years since then, a good many of those original acres wound up in the hands of now distant relatives, plus the section of land directly south of the original came into the family through marriage. Eventually, approximately 360 acres of land remained in Tommy's line, from Enoch to William Thomas Alderman, then to John Wesley Alderman, Tommy's grandfather.
Tommy's father, Ralph Thomas Alderman, was one of four children born to John Wesley Alderman. When the time came for John Wesley to distribute the land to his children, he did so in the following manner:
The oldest son was to get 80 acres and a house.
Each of the two daughters would also get 80 acres and a house (one of which was in the southern section mentioned above).
That left my Dad's portion, which was 120 acres instead of 80 for two reasons - there was no house on the portion, and it was covered with "worthless timber." Funny how things change. In those days, pine trees were things that got in the way of farming - they needed to be removed in order to plant crops. Today, however, pine trees are the number one cash crop in Mississippi. Tommy's father smiled about that turn-around many times.
It was also just as well that there was no house on the portion deeded to Ralph, as he had no intention of living there. When the opportunity to move to Baton Rouge for an excellent job at the Exxon Refinery (now ExxonMobil), he jumped at the chance. He would ultimately retire from Exxon after a long and prosperous career.
Ralph settled his family in Baker, LA, just north of Baton Rouge. Tommy was born in Louisiana, and his only sister, Sheila, spent all but her first few years there.
Throughout most of his younger days, Tommy can remember only a few trips to the "family property" in Mississippi. With both of his parents growing up during the depression, working their fingers to the bone from daylight to dark, neither held particularly fond memories of the land. Therefore Tommy didn't have much of a chance to develop fond memories of it either. Until he met Patti, that is.
Patti's father, who died when she was eight years old, had instilled a love of camping in his youngest daughter. Though Tommy hadn't done much camping in his life before marrying Patti, he was happy to take up the pastime in order to please her.
Coincidentally, a favorite childhood camping spot for Patti's family was the "Clear Springs" recreational area near Roxie, MS, not far from the land of Tommy's heritage. After several camping trips to Clear Springs, Tommy said to Patti one day, almost in passing, "You know, we have some property not too far from here."
It was love at first sight, and they never camped at Clear Springs again.
Before long, in fact, Tommy solicited the assistance of several friends with carpentry skills who chipped in to build a camp house on the very spot where the "old house" used to sit - the house in which Tommy's dad was born. That house burned to the ground when Ralph was 10 years old, and was completely consumed except for portions of the brick chimney and brick walkway.
After spending an entire spring holiday in the cabin, camping for a little more than a week in the fresh air, it wasn't long before Tommy and Patti knew that they'd found their home.
So in the fall of 2000, Tommy & Patti loaded up the family (including the goats & chickens), and headed for the hills. The rest is, as they say, history - but it's history...and heritage...still in the making.
Edited to Add: Here is a link to a video supplement to this blog, filmed at the Alderman Family Cemetery:
Homestead Heritage - Alderman Ancestry - How we ended up here at Alderman Farms
[Note: the Alderman Family Cemetery was established by W.T. Alderman, who deeded 1 acre of the property to the cemetery itself, thereby ensuring it could never be sold. That transaction cut the 120 acres down to 119. Additionally, he deeded another 3 acres to establish a small church nearby, which explains the 116 acres Tommy & Patti now occupy.]
What a gorgeous day here at Alderman Farms!!! Sky is as clear as a bell, blue as "all get out," with Spring temperatures. Birds are chirping, baby goats are bouncing around, and there are young 'uns in the woods chopping things. All is right in our world.
So the question is, when the clock strikes 5PM, what to do, what to do??? Do I split wood in order to get a head start on next year's supply (or more for this year if we hit some more cold weather)? Do I hit the woods to search out downed trees for the same purpose?
Do I work on the pile we'll use for a bonfire tomorrow night, or put that off until tomorrow?
Or do I grab a folding chair, a big cup of sweet tea (hey, Jack!), and enjoy the day among the goats and other critters with my lovely bride? Decisions, decisions.
Tell me what YOU think I should do - and while you're at it, tell me how you'll spend your evening on this fine day, and what plans you have for the weekend.
Click HERE for a YouTube video complementing our previous blog post "Surprise for mom..."
Patti is out of town this week, staying with her mom, and yesterday Cory said "You know, it would be a great surprise for Mama if we could get the garden ready before she gets back."
I confess that his idea tickled me for a couple of reasons: first, I'm proud that he thought of surprising his mom, and secondly, it makes me happy that Cory isn't afraid to roll up his sleeves, break a sweat, and get his hands dirty in order to pull it off.
It was late in the day when he made the suggestion, but we decided to get started anyway, and worked until dark removing the two raised beds in the area we wanted to cover. The first one was no trouble at all, constructed of treated lumber. We just had to pry it up to loosen it, then it came right up. The second box was a booger, though, formed from cinder blocks. Both holes in each block was slap full of tightly compacted dirt, and we wanted to clean them out, so that took time (by the way, we will re-purpose those cinder blocks for a fire pit later on). Then we had to remove the 24 (or so) rebar stakes Patti had used for tomato stakes. WHEW - much easier said than done. But, a front-end loader is invaluable for many things, including pulling stuff out of the ground. I simply eased into the stakes, Cory would push the rebar against the leading edge of the bucket, and then as I tilted the bucket up and slowly raised it, the little ridges on the rebar would catch and up the bars would come. Machines are awesome.
Once the raised beds were completely removed, I used the discs on my tractor to break the ground until it was too dark to see. Had we started getting our mulch weeks ago, I wouldn't have broken the ground at all, but because we will be planting less than 30 days from now, I figured I'd give it a head start by breaking up the top. It's odd to realize I'll never have to do that again on the areas we are covering.
While I was doing that, Cory was in the barn, collecting manure to spread before we spread the mulch - again, just to provide the ground a little head start.
Once we were done for the evening, I asked Cory if he wanted to get up early and try to finish what we could before my work day started, and he eagerly said "yes sir!" Proud of him.
Cory, laying it on thick
We knew we didn't have enough mulch to cover the whole garden at the proper thickness, so Cory only gathered enough manure to cover that part of the garden we guessed we could cover with mulch. In the photo to the left, there are two shovels in the barrow. I used one of them to help Cory, but I couldn't do that and take a picture at the same time. Together, we made pretty quick work of the load.
Cory, the Groundskeeper
Once the manure was spread, the fun started.
We made a pretty good team, Cory and I: I brought him load after load, and he spread each one as evenly as possible and was waiting on me when I got back with the next bucketful.
Again, machines are awesome. Because of recent rainfall, we had to have the tree-limb mulch dumped in an area of the yard near the gravel driveway, which is quite a distance from either garden plot. How thankful we are for this tractor and front-end loader! Sure, it would be great exercise to move the load using the wheel barrow, but it would take a month to move it. Whew.
Remember, I mentioned two surprises: one for Patti, and one for Cory and me. Our surprise was that as big a pile of mulch as we had, it would cover only about a third of the first garden! Maybe it covered only a quarter of it (I hate math), and not even to the depth we eventually want it. That's ok, though, because the fellas in the big trucks PROMISED they'd be back again and again. So we will eventually have more than enough.
I do wish I hadn't broken up the ground in this whole plot, though. It's gonna rain today, which means "mud," but not where we've applied the mulch, at least!
PS - below is a video update as well.
This post shared at Black Fox Homestead's HomeAcre Hop.