Earth Haven Farm
Earth Haven Farm BLOG
Raising Baby Chicks

Not only are our chickens FREE RANGE, but we also allow our flock to reproduce naturally, meaning that eggs are selected to remain in the nesting box.

A hen that has natural brooding tendencies will soon take up the task of sitting on the eggs and claiming them as her own. She will become very protective of her eggs.

Chick in Egg21 days after the hen begins to sit on the eggs, the chicks will begin to hatch. The mother will naturally select the healthiest of her brood to survive.

Within a day they will be running around, learning all about what it means to be a chicken. Once out into the barnyard with the main flock they will still remain close to their mother.

At night she will return to the coup and roost with her chicks tucked under her wings. Within a week to two weeks they will be independent and start venturing further from their mother and exploring their environment.

As time goes on the chicks become more and more independent. Roosters and hens will easily become distinguished. (Roosters are fancier, with plumed tails frequent crowing) The new hens will not start laying eggs until they are 18-20 weeks old.

Yes it does cost a lot to feed baby chicks the first year that they do not produce eggs.

A good laying hen can lay eggs up to ten years, but most hens will decline in their egg production after two years of age.

Culling the flock and allowing new chicks to replenish the flock is a must to keep things healthy and productive.

Raising free-range chickens is not recommended for producers that want to make a lot of money as chickens will lay their eggs in all kinds of places except the coop.  They are also more susceptible to predators, especially baby chicks at all stages.

Predators may include foxes, coyotes, hawks, owls, weasels, mink, fishers, skunks, raccoons and yes even the beloved farm dog or cat.

 

Mother Hen and Chicks

Mother hen attentive with newborn chicks in nesting box.

One Week Old Chicks

Day old chicks hatched from an incubator group together for warmth and companionship.

Mother Hen and Chicks

Mother Hen teaches chicks how to scratch and forage in the safety of the coop aviary.

Mother Hen taking her chicks outdoors to forage.

Mother Hen brings her babies inside the coop at night.

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Farm Fresh Eggs

Have you ever compared a home-grown, farm fresh egg with an egg from a big chain supermarket? Naturally raised chickens produce yolks that are a deep orange-yellow and taste like the old fashioned farm eggs your Grandma used to make in the mornings!

Farm Fresh Egg Yolks
 
Our eggs are 'non-graded' meaning that they are not sorted by size, weight, shape or colour at a certified grading station.  Because they are 'non-graded', we can only sell our eggs direct from the farm.
 
We will sort some of our eggs by colours and that is simply because some customers have that preference. However, a carton of eggs will vary from small to extra-large and you may even get a double yolk in the mix. What a treat!
 
Once eggs are collected, cleaned and dried, they are packaged into egg cartons and labelled with the date they were collected. Eggs here at the farm are stored in the refrigerator until they are purchased from the farm.
 
It is recommended that you store your eggs in your refrigerator. You don't have to store eggs in the refrigerator, but they will last longer this way. Eggs are good for one month after the date of collection when stored in the fridge. Actually they are good for a few weeks after this, and best used for baking or hard boiling.
 
Use the float test to check egg freshness: fill a bowl with water and place eggs in it. An egg that floats has too big an air pocket inside the shell; the contents have evaporated too much and it's likely spoiled. Compost it. You can also use a strong light to see how much air space is inside an egg; this is called candling.
 
"Candling" an egg is the process of holding a light or candle near the egg to see the inner contents. It is used to see whether the egg is fertile or not. Looking at the color, shape and opacity of the egg contents can help a farmer determine whether there is a chick inside or not.
 
We do keep a rooster or two in our flock which means that our eggs are "fertilized".  We collect eggs on a daily basis, wash and refrigerate to ensure that you do not get a yucky surprise when you crack one open.
 
Coloured Eggs
You can go into any grocery store and buy white eggs, and many stores carry brown eggs.
 
But what if you really want green eggs and ham?
Green Eggs
Well you would have to know someone that raises Ameraucana Chickens, and we have just that breed of chicken.
 
Our hens lay eggs in a variety of shell colours from turquoise to pale-green to pinkish-tan to burnt-orange.
 
The insides are all the same as white or brown eggs: delicious!

Egg Yolk

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Jade Plants

Jade plants are succulent houseplants, which make them fairly resilient and easy to grow indoors—plus, they’re long-lived. 

Jade plants prefer full sun with preference to four or more hours of sunlight each day.  They flourish in a room with south-facing windows. 

During the spring and summer months, jade plants should be watered often so the soil is moist but not wet.  Drainage of excess water is crucial.  Reduce watering to monthly during the winter months.

With their thick, woody stems and oval-shaped leaves, jade plants have a miniature, tree-like appearance that makes them very appealing for use as a decorative houseplant.  They live for a very long time, often being passed down from generation to generation and reaching heights of three feet or more when grown indoors.

Jade plants may be grown outdoors as landscape plants in areas with a mild, dry year-round climate, typically Zone 10 and warmer.  They are very susceptible to cold temperatures and must therefore be grown indoors in Zones 10 and colder.

How to Plant Jade Plants

Choose a wide and sturdy pot with a moderate depth, as jade plants have a tendency to grow top-heavy and fall over.

Use a soil that will drain thoroughly.  Excessive moisture may promote fungal diseases like root rot.

After planting a jade plant, don’t water it right away.  Waiting anywhere from several days to a week before watering lets the roots settle and recover from any damage.

How to Start a Jade Plant from a Leaf or Stem Cutting

As a succulent, jade plants are very easy to start from single leaves or cuttings.

Remove a leaf or take a stem cutting from a well-established plant.  An ideal stem cutting would be 2–3 inches in length and have at least two pairs of leaves.  Once you have your leaf or cutting, allow it to sit for several days in a warm place.   A callous or scab will form over the cut area, helping to prevent rot and encourage rooting.

Use soil that is slightly moist, but not wet.

Take the leaf and lay it on top of the soil horizontally, covering the cut end with some of the soil.  If you have a stem cutting, place it upright in the soil. 

Place the pot in a warm place with bright, indirect light.  Do not water.

After a week or two, the leaf or cutting will start sending out roots. 

Once the plant seems to be firmly rooted, water it deeply and carefully.  Make sure that you don’t just get the surface layer of the soil wet, as you want to encourage the roots to grow downward for water, not towards the surface.

Let the soil dry out between watering and keep the plant out of intense direct sunlight until it is well established.

 

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Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is a member of the mustard family and has a noticeable garlic aroma — hence its name.  Also known as Hedge Garlic, Jack-by-the-Hedge, Garlic root, Sauce-Alone, Jack-in-the-Bush, Penny Hedge and Poor Man's Mustard.

This wild flower appears in shady hedgerows, waste placed and open woodlands, mostly on fertile moist soils, in early Spring sometimes growing to over a metre tall. Garlic mustard has leaves that are broadly heart shaped, stalked, with numerous broad teeth, and clusters of small white cross-shaped flowers.  The whole plant smells of garlic when crushed.  It is a biennial plant, so takes two years to complete its life cycle.  It grows young leaves in its first season, which it keeps over winter, and then flowers in the spring of its second year.

The fruit is an erect, slender, four-sided seedpod called a silique, containing two rows of small shiny black seeds which are released when the seedpod splits open.  A single plant can produce hundreds of seeds, which often scatter several meters from the parent plant.

The seeds have been taken like snuff to cause sneezing.  Garlic mustard is one of the oldest spices used in Europe.  Country people at one time used the plant in sauces, with bread and butter, salted meat and with lettuce in salads.  In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was used as a flavouring in sauces for fish and lamb and as a flavouring for salt fish.

Today, the chopped leaves are used for flavouring in salads and sauces such as pesto, and sometimes the flowers and fruit are included as well.  The leaves, best when young, taste of both garlic and mustard.

Its traditional medicinal purposes include use as a diuretic.  Garlic mustard was once used as a disinfectant and was sometimes used to treat wounds.

Those that know the weed well will tell you that the only reason this plant is deemed intolerable is because we are overrun with it from not using it.  If only we ate more of it, we likely would feel differently.

Beneficial Properties

Garlic mustard is good for you, hands down.  It is a most nutritious leafy green plant.  There are few other greens that are higher in fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C, zinc and vitamin E.  In addition, garlic mustard beats spinach, collards, turnips, kale, broccoli and domesticated mustard for all nutrients and is high in omega-3 fatty acids, manganese and iron with substantial amounts of vitamins A, C, E and some of the B vitamins.  In addition this wild weed contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, iron and manganese as well as omega-3 fatty acids.

How it Spreads

Garlic mustard, like other weeds, spreads by seeds that fall just a few feet from each plant.  With the help of animals and humans, it gets transported.  The first year the plant is small with inconspicuous leaves that blend well with other native plants.  They look like violet leaves or wild ginger leaves.

In the second year, a flower stalk shoots up and thousands of seeds are scattered.  This aggressive plant soon takes over as its roots exude chemicals that keep other nearby native plants from germinating.  This is a problem for areas that contain native plants, as the mustard will soon take over and will eventually ruin the natural diversity of an area.  This is why natural foraging is so important, because it helps control the spread.

Identification

One of the best ways to identify garlic mustard is by its unique underground stem that curves twice as it leads to the root.  The first curve is just below the leaves, bending the stem almost on a right angle.  The second curve is less acute and further down where it looks like the true root begins.  Young leaves can be difficult to spot because they can be rounded, kidney-shaped or even arrow-shaped, depending on the age of the plant.  Because of this, foraging novices may be best to look for the unique stem and pungent garlic aroma (crush the leaves and smell).

Once the stem gets large enough, it is easy to spot the changes in leaf shape.  The leaves closest to the ground are rounded or kidney-shaped and they become progressively more triangular in shape as they move toward the top of the plant.  Flowers appear on the top of the stem in clusters.  Each flower has four white petals and a six-stamen set-up that includes four long and two short.

Harvesting

Larger-rooted, second-year plants are best because they produce more food for the effort.  Leaves begin to multiply when temperatures range from the mid-50s during the day to the mid-30s at night.  This is usually around the same time that daffodils are blooming.

When you are harvesting in a natural area that you are trying to preserve, it is important to take the whole plant.  Use a digging stick or a pick-shovel to uproot the mustard — roots and all.  Keep roots with some dirt separate from the leaves if possible.  The best way to achieve this is to place the plants in a container with roots down.  The best time to harvest is usually after a light rain, as more dirt will stick to the roots.

If you are harvesting in an area that is not already overrun with mustard, you don’t have to be concerned about taking the whole plant.  Use sharp and clean scissors to cut the leaves.  Gather all of the leaves and cut the cluster at one time.  Place the leaves in a clean plastic bag and spray a bit of water inside before tying shut.  Harvesting this way leaves the roots intact and you can return to the same spot to harvest over and over as needed.  Be careful not to let the plant go to seed if you do not want it to spread.

Be very careful about tossing unwanted roots into your compost bin—they can often regrow and will spread seeds.  If you wish to compost them you can cook them first in the microwave; this will kill the seeds.  On the other hand, if you wish to have more plants, simply throw out roots in the desired area, rake them a bit underground and water.  Soon you will have mustard plants springing up.

If you are interested in preserving natural areas, learn how to forage for garlic mustard.  You will have an abundant supply of nutritious greens and be making a great conservation effort in the meantime.

Using Garlic Mustard

Leaves: It is best to keep the leaves in water and to use them right away.  You also can place them in your fridge where they will keep for up to 10 days.  When you are ready to use, simply remove the leaf stems.  Because it has a bit of a bitter taste, it is best to chop leaves up into smaller pieces before using.

Stems: If desired, you can use the upper stems–usually about four inches.  Find the place where the stem still snaps cleanly and remove about an inch more.  What remains should be good to eat.

Roots: The roots are edible but need to be fairly large.  The core can be woody or crunchy and the outer rind will be mildly sweet.  First-year roots are more tender than second-year and both have a slightly peppery taste.

Flowers and Buds: You can use these like you would the leaves.  They add interest and texture to any dish.

Seeds: Some people use seeds for condiments or spices.

Eating Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard is not one of those plants that most of us will bite into and eat freely.  It is strong and fairly bitter and therefore better in small bits.  Garlic mustard connoisseurs delight in its bitter, garlic and peppery taste that seems to commingle well together.

Garlic mustard is an enjoyable addition to any salad when it is chopped in fine shreds.  You also can go ahead and throw in some of the flower heads and buds for good measure.  Some recommend pairing garlic mustard with meat dishes and meat sandwiches, as well as bean dishes, eggs, quiche and soups.  Garlilc mustard pesto is delicious any way it is served. The key is to start with a little and add more as you desire.

If you wish to eat the leaves as greens, you can place them in a pot of boiling water for about six minutes and then eat like you would spinach.  Add a little lemon juice and salt for a delicious side dish.  You also can steam and sauté the leaves and stems for about 10 minutes.

 

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