Birds Of A Feather …

Place / hang your feeders in location(s) so they can be easily observed by you, your family and friends.

A cold hungry bird will attempt to eat almost any kind of bird seed you have in your feeders. However, large hard seed can’t be eaten by many types of birds. Select your seed type based on the type of birds you want to attract.

Some types of birds like doves and pigeons are ground feeders and will sometimes refuse to eat from feeders placed off the ground. It feeders are elevated off the ground, Doves and pigeons will require a large landing perch. A flat surface like a 12 to 18 inch wide board works well.

Others have a minimum and maximum height off the ground that they seek when feeding. Hanging to high up or to close to the ground and they will refuse to feed at your feeders.

It has been my experience that almost all birds will feed from feeders located from 4 feet [1.3 meters] to about 6 feet [2 meters] off the ground. Hanging feeders have the advantage in not attracting as many unwanted visitors like rabbits, squirrels, rats and mice.

Some of the general purpose seed I buy is black [oil] sunflower seeds. They are small enough and the hull is easily removed and can be eaten by many different type of birds.

Nyger or thistle seed is the most popular seeds to feed goldfinches.

Safflower is a white seed, slightly smaller than black sunflower seed. Chickadees, titmice, chickadees, and downy woodpeckers will eat it. 
Squirrels don’t like them neither do grackles, blue jays, or starlings.

White millet and dark eyed Junco Millet is generally the least expensive bird seed. Almost all birds can and will eat millet. It is a very good seed to scatter on the ground for sparrows, house finch, doves and other ground feeding birds.

Don’t forget the Water! In both Summer and Winter birds may suffer more from the lack of clean water than a food shortage. Birds need a steady, reliable supply of clean, unfrozen water year around. There are heated bird baths available for providing unfrozen water in winter, as well as in summer. Replace the water everyday or two, keeping fresh water available is very important to the well being of your feathered visitors.

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Miniature – Dwarf – Semi-Dwarf Fruit Tree Orchard

Headline News :-) You can’t make this stuff up!
Dog Robs Dollar General

A dog, named Cato, in Clinton, S.C. was apprehended (arrested) last week after he was caught on security camera taking off with pigs ears, beef bones, dog food, and treats.

Miniature Fruit Trees

Control Fruit Tree size by growing them in Pots, with top and root pruning. Fruit trees can be grown in large pots (10 to 15 inches). Growing trees in pots will restrict their size even without pruning. Fruit trees in pots should be grown in fertile soil with 1/3 of the soil mix being perlite or vermiculite to keep the soil from getting waterlogged. Fruit trees require regular watering and good fertility. You can use slow release fertilizer pellets, or feed them every two weeks with a high potassium liquid fertilizer. Fruit trees in pots should be re-potted every other year.

Meyer lemon trees are popular as both a Miniature and a Dwarf decorative Lemon tree.

Dwarf fruit trees
Dwarf fruit trees generally reach 8 to 10 feet in height at maturity. They produce regular sized fruit on smaller sized trees.

Almost all fruits trees can be had grafted to genetic altered dwarf tree root stock, Dwarf trees have altered DNA root stock that causes them grow very short and fairly heavy branches.
Apple, Apricot, Nectarine, Peach and Pear as well as Almonds are common dwarf trees.
Hint Fruit tree breeders have not been very successful in dwarfing Cherry trees. Even so called dwarf cherry trees may still reach 20 to 25 feet in height at maturity.

Semi-Dwarf Fruit trees
Are commonly available in most nurseries and give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Semi-dwarf fruit trees are medium sized and very productive, they give you maximum fruit yield per square foot of tree foot print.

Semi-Dwarf fruit trees do not require any special attention. Water, fertilize, prune and treat for insects just as you would do for your standard size fruit or nut trees.

Proper Pollination
Pollination is vital to the successful fruit production. Inadequate pollination is the #1 reason why trees produce poorly or don’t bear fruit at all. To create the best pollination environment for your fruit tree, check tree description to see which pollinating varieties is recommend. Even trees listed as self pollinating will benefit from having a pollinator tree near by. If you have room, always plant another compatible variety for optimum fruit production.

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Berry Good Day For Gardening

Head Line News Report Hehehe, you really can’t make this stuff up.

A man was alarmed when the police helicopter swooped low over his property.
Soon, Bartow County, Georgia, deputies “strapped to the gills” with guns and with a drug dog in tow onverged on his doorstep.
They had the grower dead to rights.
Except the plant that cops had spotted from the air was … Okra.
Grin maybe I won’t grow Okra next year!!!

Berry Garden

Probably the 2 most important considerations in planning your berry patch is ample moisture and your soil pH.
To measure the acidity of a substance, scientists use the pH test. The abbreviation pH stands for parts Hydrogen. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, 0 is a highly acidic, 14 is highly alkaline and 7 is perfectly neutral. Soil pH is normally in the 5.0 to 8.5+ pH range.

Many soils have a pH in the slightly acidic range (the upper 6’s). Only soils that have a high lime content running into the alkaline end of the scale. Most plants require a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0(Neutral pH). Wet soils tend to be more acidic than dry soils. Acidic soils 5.0 to 6.0 pH, Neutral soil 6.0 to 7.0 pH and
alkaline soil 7.0 to 8.5+ pH.

Berries don’t like me very much In my part of Southwest Oklahoma my soil is about 7.9 pH. way to alkaline to make most berry plants happy. Our high summer temperatures and dry winds do not favor berry crops.

Yes your right. There are things that can be done to admin soil to make it more acid based. However that is a never ending yearly project that I am not willing to start or do every spring.

I have included a U.S. map to help you determine your soils pH. Any area colored blue / blueish is basically alkaline soils. The brown / brownish areas have acid based soils. Click Map To Zoom In
usa pH map

Blueberry – perennial
Wild (lowbush) blueberries are smaller than cultivated highbush berries and are prized for their intense color. The lowbush blueberry is found from the Atlantic Canadian provinces westward to Quebec and southward to Michigan and West Virginia.

Highbush cultivars of blueberries are available, with each variety having a unique flavor. Rabbiteye blueberr is a southern type of blueberry produced from the Carolinas to the Gulf Coast states. Other important species in North America include the hillside or dryland blueberry. It is native to the eastern U.S. and is common in the Appalachians and the Piedmont of the Southeast. Sparkleberry is a common wild species found on sandy soils in the Southeast.

Raspberry – perennial
Many of the most important modern commercial red raspberry cultivars derive from hybrids between R. idaeus and R. strigosus.
Raspberries can be cultivated from hardiness zones 3 to 9. Raspberries are traditionally planted in the winter as dormant canes.

Warning Raspberries are very vigorous and can be locally invasive. They propagate using basal shoots (also known as suckers), extended underground shoots that develop roots and individual plants. They can sucker new canes some distance from the main plant. For this reason, raspberries spread well, and can take over gardens if left unchecked.

Blackberry – perennial
Blackberries can be grown in almost all locations in the United States and are hardy in zones 3 to 9. There are 375 or more species of blackberries growing worldwide.
Hint Blackberries like Raspberries can be locally invasive.

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Chicken Coop Poop – Build A Coop – A Winter Project

University building plans are an excellent source of free construction plans. However you may need to ‘scale’ down some of their building plans to fit your project. Not to worry, scaling down a building plan is easy to do.
Plans often have a complete building materials list as well as a cut-up list to help you construct your building whether it be a chicken coop or a rabbit hutch.
North Dakota State University Has an extensive list of building plans for poultry and all kinds of livestock.

The-Practical-Poultry-Keeper was first published in 1867, however information it contains is free and it’s information is still just as valid to day as it was in 1867. It is a very useful book with a lot of useful information and it contains many very nice chicken breed pictures. It is in a downloadable PDF file so you can download this book for a handy reference.

If you household is anything like mine there is little spare cash. It seems like everything has doubled in price this past year. Getting Free building plans is always a good thing.

Google-ing ‘chicken coop plans‘ I found page after page of plans For Sale but few that were really Free. Being disappointed but not to be deterred, I continued searching – Guess What I discovered… There are a ton of truly Free building plans for storage sheds that can be easily adapted for use as chicken coops.

Using plans for a storage shed of the size you need for your very own chicken coop. All one need do is to add a few nest boxes and a stick or two for your hens to roost on and you have a great chicken coop.

Free Chicken Coop Plans website You may find this site of interest. It’s a fun website and is even useful.

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Chicken Coop Poop – Poultry Coop – A Fall And Winter Project

The term chicken coop is a generic term. Your coop will work equally well for housing chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese or game birds.

Many people raise ornamental birds. When considering raising ornamental birds it is advisable to make your coop and outside runs at least 2 or even 4 times normal size to prevent plumage damage from outside run wire or a smallish coop.

If you put a poultry wire top on your outside run to prevent them flying out of your pen. You can also raise game type birds like guinea fowl, quail, pigeons, and pheasants. Some people refer to this arrangement as a fly pen.

When designing and constructing a fly pen don’t make the mistake of making it so low to the ground that you can not walk erect in the pen. Unless you are 3 foot 9 inches tall, a four(4) foot tall fly pen is way to low. Think about making your fly pen at least 6 feet tall.

Being frugal ‘Not Cheap’ I always start my new projects by visiting my local hardware (lumber) store. I ask them if they have any ‘Damaged’ lumber on sale at a bargain price. Warped or bowed lumber will work just fine in constructing your poultry house, outside run or fly pen. Damaged lumber can often be purchased for less than 1/2 the price of prime construction materials. Your poultry really will not care if you use a few damaged 2X4’s.

Don’t skimp on buying good quality hinges, latches and poultry wire. Using good quality hardware makes it much easier to keep predators like cats, dogs, racoons, skunks and such out of your poultry run and coop.

Sizing your coop to best fit your needs. Different birds have different space and roosting needs. Chickens benefit from having a roost. 12 inches of roost space per bird is recommended. Turkeys will seldom use an indoor roost. Ducks and geese are ground roosters and have no need for a indoor roost. With the exception of guineas most game birds are ground roosting birds.
Pigeons have quite different roost requirements. Please research their roost needs ‘before’ buying or trapping pigeons.

Chickens require at least 2 square feet of coop floor space. Ducks require 3 square of floor space and geese need 4 or more square feet of floor space.
A 4 foot by 8 foot 4X8=32 square feet. However you must remember some of that floor space will be occupied by roost, nest boxes, feeders and water containers. A 4×8 coop will house about 10 or maybe 12 laying hens. 8 ducks and about 4 turkeys or geese.
The outside run should be 2 or 3 times as large your coop floor space.

A coop that is 8 foot by 8 foot in size is a good size for the average backyard or tiny farmer. Healthy happy birds produce many eggs and quickly gain weight.

If you are unable to design your coop there are many University sites with fact sheets and design plans to assist you in designing and constructing you coop, outside run or fly pen.

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Seed Saving A Crash Course

It is time or very near the time of the year to be collecting flower and vegetable seeds for next years gardens.

I have posted about seed saving in the past. Saving berry, flower or vegetable seed can be as easy or as hard as you make it. I believe in working under the KISS principle….(K)eep (I)t (S)imple (S)tupid). Don’t make easy thing hard to do.

Some people will say that only so called heirloom plant seed(open pollinated plants) is worth saving. I say that’s a bunch of bull. Saving both heirloom and hybrid plant seeds for over 50 years I will say the number of times I have been disappointed with plants from saved seed has been very few.

There are many websites and books that will give you a detailed, blow by blow description on how to save flower and vegetable seeds.
The truth is you don’t need to invest a lot of time or money to become a seed saver.

Saving seeds, it’s not that hard! Mother nature manages to reseed plants of all kinds by simply allow seeds to fall from flower heads onto the ground or allowing plants like vegetables to lay on the ground and rot.

You will know your vegetables are ready to be harvested for seeds when that become soft and over ripe for table use. Some vegetables like cucumbers and peppers will change colors indicating that have reached maturity.

Flower seeds in general are the easiest seeds to collect and save. Cut and save when seed heads have dried and turned brown.

Peppers are easy. You will know the seeds are mature when the peppers have changed color indicating the fruit is ripe. Cut the peppers open, scrape out the seeds dry in a warm dry shady place.

Tomato seed saving requires a bit more work. Harvest ripe tomatoes cut each across the middle, and squeeze the juice and seeds into a bowl. Each tomato seed is encased in a gelatinous coating. Remove this coating by fermenting it.

To ferment tomato seeds, add about half as much water as there are tomato seeds and juice. Stir this mixture twice a day for about 3 days. As the mixture ferments, its surface will become covered with white or gray mold. When bubbles begin to rise to the top of the mass, or when a thick coat of mold has formed, stop the fermentation by adding more water to double the mixture, and stir vigorously. The clean, good seeds will settle to the bottom. Gently spoon or pour off mold, debris and any seeds that float.

Saved your seeds by pouring the remaining liquid through a strainer, dump the seeds on a plate to dry. Stir once or twice a day to prevent the seeds from clumping or sticking together.

Cucumbers, Melons, Eggplant, Squash and Gourds of all kinds. Allow these vegetables to become ‘Over’ ripe before picking. Cut ripe fruit open, scoop the seeds into a strainer, rinse, and set out to dry. Winter Squash and many Gourds, pull the seeds from the attached fibers, rinse, and dry.

A word of caution, do not store your saved seeds in air tight plastic bags like the popular zip lock bags. A small paper bag or paper envelope works much better and will not allow your seeds to germinate in a moisture filled plastic bag.

Grin … As for me I use the low tech method when I save seeds, I just scrape the seeds(including tomato’s) onto a paper plate. After drying a few days I remove the unwanted gunk scrap the seeds off of the plate and put my seeds in a small brown paper bag for winter storage. I get free or lost cost brown paper bags from my local hardware store.

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DIY Projects Around My Tiny Farm And Garden

This posting is a bit picture heavy. Please click the picture to Zoom In, enlarging the photograph to it’s original size.

new-roof This is mostly a project being done by my son-n-law(snl) and grandson.
I don’t understand why but this is the 3rd roof in 5 years for this house. The first two roofing jobs were done using 35 year asphalt shingles. They stayed on the roof until we got our first hard (70mph) southwest wind. FYI, 60 to 70 MPH winds are not all that uncommon here in SW Oklahoma.

I talked my son-n-law into re-roofing this time using 26 gauge high ridge sheet metal this time. The sheet has what the seller claims is a 30 year paint job.
The number and placement of the sheet to wood and the sheet to sheet lap screws was based on based on my 50 years experience constructing sheet metal covered metal buildings. ‘Self Brag’ of the 75 or more buildings I have built over the years the only building I have lost the roof sheet off of one building that was the victim of a category 2 tornado.

ford tractor grill You are looking at the front end of a 1967(I think) Ford model 5000 tractor that my snl found and bought well worth the money. However the sheet metal and grill were in very bad shape or missing. I was able to salvage the sheet metal parts using steel and hard rubber hammers. Knocking out dents and refitting as necessary.

Researching this thing I found that originally it came with a white plastic grill. I found a replacement grill on the internet but it was priced much higher than I was willing to pay for a piece of plastic. Being the frugal guy I am. I cut and fitted a piece of 20 gauge sheet metal(the black part) and then cut, fitted and welded up a grill to fit the space in front of the radiator. Both the sheet metal and the grill still need painted white, but even without paint the grill is functional.

trailer hand This gadget I call my trailer hand. When mounted on the 3 point tractor lift arms you can pull and move any tongue or ball hitch trailer. The pipe extending 3 feet or so in the air allows me to pull any 2-5/16 ball goose neck or 5th wheel mounted trailer.
Located at the bottom is a piece of 4X6 soft ceder timber. This allows me to bumper push almost any car, pickup truck or other types of vehicles where I need them.

harron on a 3 point hitch This is my salvaged and rebuild one row horse drawn spring tooth harrow. I discovered 2 one row harrows that were in near un-salvageable condition. They were very nearly buried in a pile of blow sand in the corner of a local farmers field.

After digging them out of a sand pile, I rebuild the original harrow frame, attached the 2 harrows side by side and then constructed a 3 point tractor hitch. This harrow has been garden tested and works very well.

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