Archive | January, 2014

Permaculture – The Safe and Sane Way to Proceed! – Learn Along With Me

Last evening, Tuesday, January 28th, I traveled over to Montpelier for the Transition Speaker Series topic ( Home Resiliency: Staying Warm, Fed and Watered in a Very Cold Climate) being held in the Hayes Room, Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

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Ben Falk

Ben Falk was the speaker, discussing the most essential systems needed in our region to maintain a failure-proof source of the basics: heat, hot water, food, light and communications. Ben used his own home systems as a case study and explored the particular resiliency challenges we have always faced in Vermont, and how they are being exacerbated by a changing climate and economic conditions.

I have followed Ben Falk on Facebook for some time now to better know him as a person  and I have studied his website and watched many of his educational videos to be introduced to Permaculture.

I wanted to be in the same room as Ben. I wanted to hear him directly. I wanted to check out and verify his Energy. All is good!  Ben Falk is a young man who is “walking the walk” as he devotes his energy and expertise to educating and helping people prepare for as secure a life as possible in a rapidly changing world.

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Ben Falk’s Recently Published Book.

I have a friend in Maine who received Ben’s book for Christmas!  He talks about it consistently.  It is on my list as the very next book I buy!

“The Resilient Farm and Homestead is a handbook for developing regenerative human habitat systems adaptive to drought, flooding, heat, power outage, price spikes, pest pressure, and the multitude of challenges brought by climate change, peak oil, food system contamination and economic decline. The book also details leading-edge strategies for regenerating soil, water systems and human health through the design and operations of the homeastead and farm.

The book covers the groundbreaking systems Ben Falk, M.A.L.D. and his team have established at the Whole Systems Design research farm over the past decade. The book includes detailed information on earthworks, water systems, rice paddies (likely the first on the planet in such a cold climate), livestock, species composition, site design and management, fuelwood production and processing, human health-soil enhancement strategies, topsoil production and remineralization, nuts, perennial food and medicine crops, and high performance buildings.

The Resilient Farm and Homestead is more than just a book of tricks and techniques for site development, but offers actual working results of agricultural ecosystems and presents a viable home-scale model for food-producing intentional, ecosystems in cold climates and beyond. Real world farm and homestead systems are articulated with gorgeous full-color photography and dozens of landscape architectural drawings.”

For myself, I look for the plants and systems I can use here on our own small .6 acres (remember that point before the 6!) Our small endeavor will involve more layered plantings and perennial edibles.


Paradise Lot – 1/10th of an acre – Less than our 6/10ths!

“Jonathan and Eric and their families manage a 1/10 acre urban backyard garden in Holyoke, Massachusetts. This edible landscape features little-used edible native plants as well as useful species from around the world. Over forty species of fruit and seventy perennials with edible leaves make for a long season of foraging. Many are arranged in an edible forest garden, an edible ecosystem composed of perennial polycultures of multipurpose plants. Other components include a tropical crop garden, edible water garden, poultry, annual beds, and bioshelter greenhouse with aquaponics under development. The book Paradise Lot tells the story of the development of the garden from a bare slab of ground to a diverse and productive demonstration.”

So with Ben Falk’s Recently Published Book and Paradise Lot, I have my text books for learning what I need to do to maximize the small piece of earth we are taking care of so that it can be left better than we found it.  These two resources located in Vermont and Massachusetts function in my climate.

All you who read this are not fortunate enough to live in New England:):):)  While you can easily Google resources local to your area, I will mention Adam Remkes and his Cedar Springs Farm out in Utah.

I also recommend that everyone with any interest in maximizing food production in a small area like and follow Jonathan Krausert who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah!  He has been a role model and a mentor for me for a couple of years now!

I invite you join me in this important journey and encourage you to share your experiences, your successes as well as the things that did not work well for you.

We can lean from each other.


Feeding Fayrehale Fowl Fermented Feed!

How is that for alliteration !

Last Monday we were fortunate to have Lisa and Frank Richards of Mack Hill Farm in Windsor, Vermont attend our local poultry group’s monthly meeting.  Lisa was invited to speak on feeding fermented feed to poultry.

The next day I started fermenting!

I started immediately because I learned I could start by fermenting the feed I was currently using!  People ferment various whole grain combinations and I will make some minor changes as I progress with fermented feeding.  For now, the important thing to me was the fact I could take the feed I use and thus have and start fermenting!

That means layer pellets, cracked corn and water.

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 Let the fermenting begin!

Last Tuesday I started 3 buckets  and did two more Wednesday night. First feeding was  Saturday with a 3 day bucket. I used a 4 day bucket today (Sunday)  and will use  a 5 day bucket tomorrow  Monday) so I can see where in the 3-5 fermenting range we want to settle.

Because you can start with what you are currently feeding!, we started with a mix of layer pellets and corn. I checked to see if mash was less expensive as it soaks to mash and decided that the one penny extra per 50# bag for pellets was worth it to have less dust in the kitchen.

Pic #1 & #2 show the mixture in the buckets. Cheap bird feed (for sprouting) added to two (added to third after pictures taken). Middle bucket is just feed mix before bird seed

Pic #3 – water added to two – add tepid water  The two on the right already need more water:)

Pic #4 – no covers available when I picked up the buckets so I  used saran wrap to cover until I got covers yesterday.

Make sure you fill shy of 3/4 full w/ dry feed!  It swells and bubbles as it ferments.  I had to scoop  out feed as I learned the right level!  Keep adding water as needed and keep a little water over the top of the mix.  I now add the birdseed after the initial swelling has happened.

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There are currently six covered buckets in the kitchen! (only place warm enough for us to ferment right now)  I have friends that do it in their basement. You want a spot where you can maintain 60-70 degrees,  The open bucket is a 5 day bucket and will be fed tomorrow (Monday).  The second picture just shows who the nose in the first picture belongs to!  Abigail has been very intrigued and actually tried some before I found the covers.

You will note that I have the buckets sitting on boot trays.  They have swelled and bubbled over as I learn the amount of feed to start a bucket.

Fed Fayrehale Fowl First Fermented Feed

Yesterday (Saturday)  I took a 5 gallon bucket of fermented feed (3 days fermenting) and fed the birds. The 4 chicken pens attacked it like one would go after an addictive special treat! Crazily eating it.

The ducks and geese were more cautious and not so sure that “slop” was appropriate. The Saxonys dove in first and then the geese decided they were missing out on something good.

I was using 100# every 2 days of dry. 100# made 6 buckets of fermented so if there is a 50% cut, I will use 1.5 buckets a day. If a 30% cut, I will use two buckets a day. I will get this fine tuned!

Either way! 30% to 50% is a significant decrease in feed costs and the birds are healthier and the yolks will be larger!!!

Today, Sunday, was day 2 of feeding fermented feed! The birds were all excited and got right down to the business of eating. I like seeing all that moisture going in to them too during this cold weather!  I used 1.5 buckets today.

Looks like I am using about half the feed that I was using before. Will keep working on portions and number of feedings until I am sure they are satiated each day.

I plan to stick with this system for now with a minor addition or two!  I will add some dried kelp (a cup or two per bucket)  AFTER I check to make sure it is Atlantic Coast sourced and not from the Pacific Coast!.  I will also add my food grade DE (diatomaceous earth) to the mix when I feed it.  In the spring I will switch out the cracked corn for crimped oats.

That is what I am doing to start!  I will post several good links for you to use as resources and there is lots of research out there.  Fermented feed not only saves feed and cuts feed costs, it makes healthier birds.


Mack Hill Farm Fermented Feed

Mack Hill Farm Fermented Feed Follow-Up

Mack Hill Farm Fermented Feed Finale

10 Foods to Ferment For Chickens

Benefits of Lacto-Fermenting Feed For Chickens

The Science of Fermented Feed

Backyard Chicken discussion – Fermented Feeds

Why and How to Ferment Your Chicken Feed

The above will give you a great start. Our birds all seem happy with the change and I sure like to see all that moisture going in to their system during this frigid weather.  I feed twice a day so it is consumed before it freezes. You just have to work with your birds until you find the amount they will consume.  I still scatter some scratch (after morning feeding which is the larger feeding) to keep them occupied and to keep the bedding worked.

 Monday, January 27, 2014

Day 3 –  Feeding Fayrehale Fowl Fermented Feed –  observations and conclusions about feeding fermented feed! WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG ??

I had been verbally told that it was a good way to feed. I could have done research and started way sooner than I did! Thank goodness Lisa Richards of Mack Hill Farm came up to speak to our local Poultry Group!

It absolutely saves 30-50% on feed. Thinking that I will fall in the 40% area? 4 bags out of 10 not used, $40 out of $100 saved — I can handle that!!

I used 1.5 buckets yesterday (that would be 50% less) and I fed 2 buckets today (that would be 33.3% less). My feeling is that the amount needs to be in between these two amounts.

I will continue to observe — Thinking I may end up alternating days — 1.5 buckets one day, 2 buckets the next … all depends on clean up today. I am no more into creating frozen feed than I am in making ice w/ water:):)

Speaking of water! They get fresh water after they are fed (and clean it up) so fresh water taken around in the afternoon. They seem to be “washing their beaks”! and then it freezes over night.

Will keep observing this too. They are getting lots of water in the feed now. You will be amazed at the amount of water absorbed by the feed.

So I am thinking that real savings will be 40-50%.

The birds themselves appear much more content. They are excited to see the feed bucket and dive right in but it is not frantic! They tend to business and once satiated they roost for a while. AND, NO, they are not drunk! fermented feed does not have that high an alcohol content! I think they are pleasantly satisfied!!

Besides kelp (EAST coast sourced) I will also add a little alfalfa pellet — The Chanteclers, particularly, love hay and consume the best of what I put in their hoop.

So, I will keep observing, and continue to wonder! —




How We Ship Fertile Hatching Eggs — Successfully!

My apologies to regular readers who may not be interested in this specific post. I attempted to title it in such a way that you could skip opening it when you received your email notification if you were not interested.

Here at Fayrehale, we successfully ship fertile hatching eggs from our Chanteclers and our Icelandics all over the country. Including into the true wilds of Alaska! This particular Alaska mailing took 10 days and had an 80 something percent hatch!

I have been asked repeatedly how we package the eggs for shipping.  The easiest way to respond is to do a pictorial tutorial here, as a blog post, so that it has a URL that can be shared.


Tri-Fold Egg Cartons

We use a tri-fold egg carton that is perforated to that it can split in half making two, six egg components.  Now, you don’t buy eggs! so you need to know someone in the neighborhood or at work who does and can save the cartons for you.  We are lucky!  Our Village Church has a monthly breakfast, Pete & Gerry’s donates the eggs, and they save the cartons for me! These tri-fold cartons play a large role in our success.


Yes!  Toilet Paper!

Nothing fancy or pretentious about us!  Toilet paper is always handy and we use it to wrap each egg.  Roll the egg six or eight times in the toilet paper. The egg is in the middle so that there is extra paper at both ends. Stand the egg in a compartment as shown above. The extra paper on the bottom squishes around the bottom of the egg — remember this is the narrower end so that the air sac is up.  Repeat until six eggs are standing like the one pictured above.


Snugly Encased

As shown on right side of picture above, the tri-fold is carefully closed. Extra paper nudged if necessary into its own egg shaped compartment. This folds the extra toilet paper over the top. Tape closed. Now each egg is gently and snugly encased in an individual egg shaped compartment.  Wrap each 6 egg unit separately in bubble wrap and tape.  I save and reuse bubble wrap.  If you do not have any, someone you know does!



Thicker (or more) bubble wrap is put around each 6 pack. The bottom of a Priority Mail Box is layered with bubble wrap or styrofoam peanuts. The 6 packs are placed side by side in the center of the box. Narrow egg end down.  Bubble wrap and/or styrofoam peanuts used around all four sides and over the top.  The box is sealed with tape.  Everything is now snug. The eggs are very well protected.

We use regular Priority mail and insure in case package is destroyed en route.  Remember you are mailing fresh, unwashed, clean eggs. There is plenty of time! Remember the eggs we mailed that took 10 days to reach their destination in the wilds of Alaska! When a hen starts a clutch she selects a nesting spot and lays an egg every day (occasionally skips a day) until she has a clutch of 16-20 eggs.  That means the eggs sit for three weeks or so before the hen judges the clutch big enough and settles on the nest to incubate. 

The point of that reminder is to let you and your customers relax! The eggs you mail will be received and will start being incubated faster than a hen would do it naturally!

IMPORTANT Note:  We do NOT annotate the package in any fashion! We do NOT say “fragile”, We do NOT say “Fertile Hatching Eggs” – We just address and mail the package as if a regular (light weight) gift!  This is important. It is known, and has been confirmed to me by people in the Postal System, that there are postal employees who will deliberately mishandle packages that are so marked. No need for them to know!

This system has worked very well for us and our customers have been very happy.

Three weeks after receipt they see the results!


Happy Mailing – Happy Hatching


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