Broccoli Sprouts! Chickens! Soil Samples!

February 28, 2010


a small broccoli sproutOur broccoli sprouted this week, and we transplanted it from the vermiculite to potting soil. Here are some pictures.  We’re excited to see our first crop go from seed to sprout!  Next step – transplanting it to the ground once it thaws!

Also, today we went and visited Wendy & Jerry Custer, a family in our county that breeds chickens, to get an idea of how many chickens we want and what breeds.  We’re interested in getting at least 4 chickens.  Our top choices are the Araucana (a South American chicken that lays greenish-blue eggs), Buff Orpington (a docile bird good for laying and for meat), Plymouth Rock (a good layer), and Rhode Island Red (one of the oldest American chicken breeds).  Chanteclers have also been recommended to us, but they’re a rarer breed and we can’t seem to find anyone in the area that sells them laying-ready.  Feel free to vote for your favorite chicken!  We hope to buy some chickens as soon as Caleb is done with his very carefully designed, movable chicken coop.

Our other task this week is to get the soil samples we took from various garden locations sent off to the Virginia Tech Soil Testing Laboratory.  For a nominal fee, they’ll tell us how good the soil is, and what we may need to add to it to make our crops more productive.


I would go with the Orpington and Rhode Island Red. I hear the reds are good and who doesn’t like a bird that’s good for laying and food! 🙂

Libbi — March 1, 2010

Wow the site looks GREAT! Very spiffy, friends.

A. Fritz — March 2, 2010

I’m going to vote: Buff Orpington w/ the even temperament (would make sense esp with a little Lucy around), and I like the way the Plymouth Rock looks too.

Sonya — March 3, 2010

Hi guys, Pretty neat website. Kristin, you should have the solid backing of your husband on the chicken as a source of protein. You see, poultry and egg production are in his genetic makeup. I’m sure Virgil has regaled you with many tales of our grandmother Florence’s love for her chickens. She meticulously watched over her flock. As far as breeds go, stay away from Bantams. They are MEAN! We wish you the best of success in your new venture. Warren Carolyn and Christina

Warren Sancken — March 9, 2010

Have the soil sample results come back yet? What products do you have available to you to make any necessary adjustments. Maybe the size of the flock of chickens will be adjusted to meet the fertility requirements? Also interested in your soil type. It’s starting to warm up here and getting a little nicer outside. See ya

Warren Sancken — March 12, 2010

I think Orpington’s going to be the best for us, if we can obtain some. In addition to the docile and dual-purpose (meat & eggs) nature of them, I’ve also heard that they’re good foragers, potentially reducing feed costs by 30% or so.

I’m all on board with the chickens. I should ask Grandpa Virgil about his chicken stories and ask for another peak at his “All About Chickens” book.

Soil sample results haven’t come back yet; they should be in later this week. We will probably add an inch or two of compost regardless. For more nitrogen we can add an animal product like blood meal, manure, etc. For potassium and phosphorus we can add pulverized rock. We’ll need to look more into this if our soil is inadequate. We’ll try to use fertilizer that has “micronutrients” in it, is good for micro-organisms in the soil, and is released slowly so we don’t have to keep reapplying. If we wind up selling veggies at some point, we pretty much have to be organic (even if not officially certified) to make money as a small operation. Warren, how is the soil on the land you farm tested?

We only plan on having four chickens. They’ll be fertilizing our lawn.

The soil in VA has much clay in it…I’m missing the nice, black IL loam. VA has a nice growing season and has a great local foods market though.

Things are warming up nicely in VA, too, but it is wet, wet, wet.

Caleb — March 14, 2010

Hi guys, the soil on our farms is tested by using a soil probe. The core pulled is about an inch in diameter and a foot long. We sample in 2.5 acre grids and the center of these grids are GPS located. You drive to the center of the grid and pull three cores from various places near the center point. These make up the average test for the grid. When the results are in, a custom spread map is made based off of the results, directing the fertilizer applicator to spread the fert at varying rates as it drives across the field, each area getting just what it needs.

The compost should help add organic matter to your clay soils. Sounds like you all have this pretty well thought out! Yes we do have it pretty lucky here in Ill. with our darker soils.

To avoid random clumps of lush green grass maybe the chickens can be outfitted with variable rate technology?

Warren Sancken — March 16, 2010

Wow, that’s pretty neat. High tech! It seems like a great money saver and better for the land to only apply the amount of fertilizer that’s needed.

I’ll have Lucy outfit the chickens with GPS antennas in their combs. We’ll get that variable rate technology set up in no time.

Caleb — March 18, 2010

Although soil testing is valid as astm standard, soil conditions maybe change when the time passing.

เจาะดิน — January 19, 2011