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!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Introducing Spring Chicks

We picked up our chicks at Abendroth's Hatchery on Monday morning. The hatchery was clean, friendly and well organized. Our girls were carefully packaged and ready to go when we arrived.

In previous years, we've gotten our chicks delivered by US Postal, so the "day old" chicks were really three days old upon arrival. Now that we've experienced true day-old chicks, we can clearly see a difference in size. What a difference a day makes in the life of something so small and fragile!

And now, without further ado, here they are:

This is Little Mittens, an Easter Egger. She will grow golden brown plumage and lay green eggs. Her name is a long-standing family joke. We haven't allowed Kavi to name any of the animals around here until today....for obvious reasons. He says he's going to get a mastiff or an Angus bull and name it Little Mittens, which he pronounces Wittle Mittens in a very high voice.

Pictured above is Queen Latifah, a Black Australorp. She will grow into a beautiful bird with shiny, soft black feathers, black legs and black beak. Right now she has a little white diaper butt. She will lay light brown eggs.

This one is Marilyn, a Silver Laced Wyandotte. She'll grow silvery white plumage with black edges outlining most of her feathers. We expect her to be the glamour girl of the flock, with her curvy body shape and fancy dress. She'll lay light brown eggs.

These three are Ping, Pang and Pong. They are White Plymouth Rock, an excellent dual purpose breed. Their names come from Puccini's opera Turandot. Yeah, you knew I couldn't stay out of the naming process entirely. But I tried!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Collapsible Brooder Box

This morning we reassembled the brooder box in preparation for the arrival of day-old chicks on Monday. This is the fourth year we've used this box.

Our brooder box is stored in six (relatively) flat pieces: the base/floor, four side walls, and the screen top. The entire design grew from an old window frame found at the curb. Using hardware cloth as a screen, the window frame is the top of the box. The hardware cloth is sturdy enough to keep out our cats and hold up the heat lamps.

The base/floor of the box is covered with cheap vinyl squares, making clean up easier than scrubbing a rough plywood base. In the photos, you can see the 1x2 wood frame in the corners and around the top perimeter. The design is easy to screw together now and unscrew for storage later. Be sure to keep the screws properly labeled in a container during the off season.

It's much too cold in the garage right now, so the chicks will begin their lives in the basement. They're adorable at first, but soon begin to toss around their bedding materials. It's a dusty mess. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tomorrow we'll add the heat lamps and thermometer. We need to get it around 90 degrees before the arrival of the babies on Monday. We're nearly ready!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ginger Lemonade

Are you suffering from late winter creeping crud? Here's an easy recipe that will sooth a scratchy throat.

Ginger Lemonade

6. cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup bottled lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a pot, simmer and steep. Simple!

I use a variety of ginger. You can buy crystallized ginger in little bags (shown above). If you feel ambitious, you can buy fresh ginger root and grate it yourself. We buy grated ginger in small jars, found in the ethnic section of the grocery store. We also just discovered a jar of dried ginger slices from Penzeys in the back of our cabinet. I suppose you could even use dried ginger powder.

Any unused portions can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated later. Try it!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hooped Raised Beds

Last fall, this covered raised bed grew spinach, Swiss chard, arugula and kale, which we harvested by Thanksgiving. After harvest, we decided to retain the hooped cover over the winter months so that (theoretically) we could access this bed in early spring. Since then, Old Man Winter has completed buried the whole thing until this weekend, when my boys shoveled out the excess snow and tossed it downhill. We hope the sun will warm the raised bed in the next few weeks to allow planting of early spring greens. Meanwhile, I'm sowing seeds--indoors, of course--in 4" containers for transplant when the weather allows, perhaps late March or early April.

Gardening under snow? Well, maybe.....