Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Egg Production Increase

At long last, all our hens are back in production! Crocus the Easter Egger laid a beautiful green egg this morning, her first egg since October 26. Her molt took a looong time and she's very well rested. Daisy the Delaware lays a shiny medium brown egg nearly every day, and Squill the Speckled Sussex lays a perfect tan egg several times a week. The Buckeye-Delaware hybrids lay dark brown eggs just like clockwork. Since beginning artificial lighting in mid-January, our egg production has increased from zero eggs per week to two dozen eggs per week. The hens are more active, look healthy and talk happily when we step outside. Remember, folks, it's not the snow that effects egg production, it's all about light.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Honeybee Cleansing Flight

On Monday, February 18, daytime temperatures at Red Bucket Farm approached 45 degrees with full sunshine. The honeybees in two of my topbar hives took the opportunity to come outside for quick cleansing flights (they poop outside of the hive). You can see them in this brief video. Unfortunately, my third hive appears to be dead. We hope to have enough surviving bees to make splits in the spring. Stay tuned for further developments!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snow Maintenance

Snow removal and maintenance has become a daily ritual at Red Bucket Farm. The hens are snug in their coop in spite of the awesome snow curl extending off the roof. They have access to the outdoors and will occasionally venture out to their little day coop (left in photo above). Rain doesn't bother them, but they don't like the snow. We shovel snow out of part of the chicken yard so they have a little space to wander. We need to be careful that the mounded snow piles don't create an easy-access ramp for the foxes and coons.

I clear off the beehives following each snow fall. Snow is a good insulator and it's not necessary to remove it from the sturdy wooden boxes, but I like to think that the sunshine on the tar paper and insulation blankets will help keep them a few degrees warmer.

These low hoop houses grew greens successfully until Thanksgiving. I should have taken them down at that time, because sweeping snow off the fragile plastic covering is high maintenance. There is still a little spinach growing inside there, but it would survive beneath the snow. Next year I'll use the portable hoops until Thanksgiving and then disassemble them until March.

I love the simple peace of a snowfall and the restfulness that winter brings to the earth. Too bad I didn't remember to rescue St. Francis!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Return of the Eggs

The hens at Red Bucket Farm are laying eggs once again! After a long winter rest, the girls are back to work. Supplemental lighting has been very helpful and we will make this a regular part of our flock maintenance.

Daisy the Delaware began laying last weekend and is producing daily. She was quickly joined by Squill the Speckled Sussex. Now the Buckeye-Delaware hybrid pullets are getting into the action, too. Our Easter Egger is still finishing her molt, so her green eggs will be delayed until she is ready.

The flock is noisier and more active than they have been in months. It's still snowing outside, but spring is on the way and the chickens love the increase in day light, both supplemental and natural.

To celebrate the resurgence in egg production, tonight's menu includes tortilla espanola, a Mediterranean potato and egg omelette. Hooray for backyard hens!