The Yardstead - Farm Your Yard!

 Our new baby chicks have arrived! We ordered 100 baby chicks from Privett Hatchery in New Mexico. They were shipped on a Monday and arrived the following Wednesday. Our order arrived in two days and all 100 were alive and chirping when I opened the box. We are not keeping all 100, we split the order with a couple friends in order to meet the minimum order requirements.
The minimum order for chickens from Privett is 25 which fills one corner of the shipping box seen here. With 25 baby chicks packed into the corner they generate enough heat to keep each other warm during shipping. When we checked around for someone to split the order with, three other families wanted to order, so we ended up with a full box of 100 baby chicks. I could hear the chicks chirping in the background when the post office called to tell me.....

This Yanmar tractor is our main workhorse here at the yardstead.  This has been a great little tractor.  We have had a lot of interest in our Yanmar tractor articles, so I thought I would post this article with more detail about this model.  The YM1300d is a 16hp 4wd tractor with gear transmisison and 13hp PTO.  It weights approximately 1135 lbs. 
When I was shoping for a tractor, I had never heard of Yanmar, so I did a little research and found out a good bit about Yanmar tractors.  Yanmar was founded in 1912.  In 1930 they designed their first diesel engine and  built the first small horizontal diesel engine in the world in 1933.  Yanmar manufactured a number of compact tractor models for John Deere and by 1986 had shipped over 100,000 tractors to the US for John Deere alone.  Today Yanmar is considered a world leader in the diesel engine market, with their engines under the hood of many tractors by numerous manufacturers.


 The eggs shown here are all from free-range chickens here at the Yardstead.  You can see they are all different colors including green, blue, pink, beige, brown and white.  They vary in size a bit as well.  They all look the same on the inside though, and taste the same, which is far better than mass produced eggs from large poultry farms.  They have more flavor and many studies have shown they are more nutritious. 
The first thing most people notice when they crack open one of our fresh chicken eggs is the thickness of the shells.  Because these chickens eat a more varied diet than "sweat shop" chickens, they get more nutrients such as calcium (good for shells) in their diet.  The fresh egg yolks also look different.   They are more orange than yellow and appear thicker. 
I was going to crack a store bought egg and one of our's side by side on a plate to illlustrate the difference, but I couldn't bring myself to buy eggs at the store.   It is interesting  to see them together.  I will post a picture for comparison later in the forum.  I'll just borrow a store bought egg from a neighbor.  
One of our goals here at the Yardstead is to produce as much of our own food as possible.  By growing our own groceries we have much more control over what we put into our bodies.  We feed our chickens mostly garden waste, grass clippings, food scraps and occasionally scratch feed to supplement when things are slow in the garden.

Other than a small garden or a few fruit trees, I believe that raising chickens is one of the easiest ways to gain some self-reliance in your food supply. It can also be a very rewarding and enjoyable hobby for adults as well as children. An adult chicken only needs 3-4 square feet of space. Hens do not need a rooster to lay eggs (only to reproduce). Anyone can have a few chickens and their own natural egg supply. Here are a few reasons why I think raising chickens is a great idea: Chickens are easy and inexpensive to maintain Home raised eggs are great tasting & nutritious You are in complete control of what goes into the production of your eggs. Chickens are fun & your children can get involved in their care (maybe even show one in the state fair) Chickens provide free fertilizer Chickens eat bugs! What a great idea for pest control Everyone has a dog or cat. Why not be the interesting neighbor raising their own hens and eggs? Now that I've convinced you that this is a great idea...Where do you buy chicks?

Garden ToolsWe use our hand tools everyday here at the Yardstead.  Because we are a small scale urban homestead, we don't really need to use power tools that often.  Sure we use a small tractor to till the garden and power tools such as drills and circular saws for construction projects, but most of the daily business gets done with hand tools.  Many of our hand tools have been around for years now and their handles are worn smooth from use.  We have also disposed of a lot of tools which seemed like good bargains when they were purchased, but failed shortly after being put to use.  Over the years I've learned a few things about selecting tools, and these days our tools fail a lot less often.  I love my trusted, reliable tools and I will share with you a few things I've learned about selecting quality tools.  
One of the most common gardening tools is the garden hoe.  Used mostly to eliminate weeds in the garden,  the simple hoe design has been around for a long time.  As with many hand tools there are no moving parts and the design is sturdy enough that even the cheapest models will usually be sufficient for its intended purpose.  I have never broken a hoe while cutting down weeds in the garden, but because of the useful design of this tool, it frequently gets used beyond the garden.

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