Cricket Song Farm

Cricket Song Farm

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ordering Chicks

Picture of a few of my favorite breeds:
Ameraucana, Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, and Golden Comet

I especially like the Golden Comet, a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Leghorn

I generally order my chicks in the fall of the year.  Late September when they arrive I put them in the smaller of my two coops.  As they grow through the winter they are kept cozy and warm in the small coop with a heat lamp hanging from the ceiling.  In the early spring  (when they have grown sufficiently enough not to be eaten by the cats) they are let loose to roam in the gardens and begin the tilling process.  As they scratch the ground, eating the weed seeds, finding the grubs that have wintered over and sometimes a mouse or two, I enjoy watching their antics as they enjoy their freedom.  However, once the gardens are planted in late June I begin penning them in the Large coop where they will spend the summer laying beautiful, nutrient rich eggs. The older hens that were living in the large coop have been sold as 2 year old layers, or put into the freezer.  I rotate the hens out every two years.  This keeps egg production high, and allows me to try new breeds.

If you are ordering chicks for the first time, research which breeds will do well in your area. I like the dual breeds best for my area.  The long cold winters are hard on the lighter breeds, frozen combs and  feet are common with the light breeds even though their egg production is better.  For the past 30 years we have raised chickens.  Sometimes up to several hundred at a time.  I raised the Golden Comet, along with my other favorite breeds, the past 5 years.  I personally really like this hen.  They handle the winter weather fine and  begin laying earlier than the other breeds (about 18-20 weeks old)  .   Their egg production is good, but the light brown eggs are a little smaller than the dual-purpose, heavier breeds.

If I were to list my favorite breeds, they would go in this order:

1. AMERACANA, because they lay gorgeous, green eggs, and I think the eggs taste better!  This breed is not real productive as a laying hen, but I love the variety of colors the hens come in!

2. RHODE ISLAND RED, a good layer, sensible, and seem to be more hardy than the other breeds.

3. GOLDEN COMETS, great egg production and are quick to mature and begin laying.

4. BARRED ROCKS, I think they are beautiful and produce eggs fairly well.  Very Hardy. Dual-purpose.

5. AUSTRALOP, lays well, but is also a good dual-purpose breed.  The beautiful dark black feathers glisten with green and purple in the sun.

6. BUFF ORPTINGTON, very friendly, docile breed, does not lay as well as the other breeds, but tastes great for Sunday Dinner.

I have ordered from several companies over the years and have found Cackle Hatchery to be the best company to order from.  Quick, friendly service, and if there has ever been a problem they are more than willing to make it right.

gathering the eggs from the straw filled laying boxes attached to the outside of the coop

What is your favorite breed of chicken to raise?

Monday, February 9, 2015


                            STARTING SEEDS INDOORS

        CROP               WEEKS BEFORE
                                   SETTING OUT             
ONIONS, LEEKS                      10-12
CELERY                                     8-10
TOMATOES                              8-10 
EGGPLANTS                             6-8
PEPPERS                                   4-6
CABBAGE                                 4-6
CAULIFLOWER                        4-6
BROCCOLI                                4-6
HEAD LETTUCE                       3-4
MELONS, SQUASH &              3-4

Note add in the recommended days listed on the seed packet for seed germination.

Gather containers to plant your seeds in. Poke holes in the bottom of the container.   Fill with moist soil.  I recommend using 1/2 purchased organic potting soil and 1/2 of your garden dirt.   Plant 2-3 seeds per pot. Place plastic wrap over containers to help keep them moist.  Setting them in a tray and placing on your refrigerator generates heat from the bottom for better germination.  When seed have sprouted and grown an inch, cut off the weakest sprouts, leaving one per container (use this method for cole crops and vine crops.    Place seedlings in a sunny south window, turning daily to prevent legginess.

  When raising tomatoes or peppers, I plant a group of seeds into a container.
                                                                     an Heirloom Tomato, PURPLE CHEROKEE

placing containers (recycled yogurt cups) in a plastic container helps keep the seeds moist enough to sprout

                              When seedlings are about 3 inches tall they are carefully removed, separated, and transplanted into  larger separate containers and placed in the sun room to await planting.  They can also be kept in an outdoor cold frame.  Just remember to vent them during the day and cover at night.

Cumber and squash plants are planted in individual containers.  A good recyclable pot is made from newspaper, paper eggs cartons, or toilet paper rolls. They do not transplant well so plant them in a container large enough for growth until you plant them in the garden.

Be sure to harden off plants before setting them in the garden.  It takes about a week.  Put them outdoors in the shade for a few hours on a mild day, and leave them longer the next day.  On day 3 move them into the sunlight for half the day, shade for the other half.  Bring them in at night.  On day 5, leave them in the sun most of the day and overnight (if there is not a threat of frost).  By the next day, leave them in the sun all day and night.  Don’t forget to water several times a day!  It only takes a short time for the plants to burn and dry out.  Transplant in the garden. Keep a careful watch over them.  Cover with a shade cloth if needed for a few days.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

If I can't GROW them, I PAINT them

During the long winter days when it's too cold to be out working in the gardens, I spend much of my time in the studio painting flowers.

ideas are sketched on large drawing paper

I sit on my old, soft and comfy, vintage foot stool to paint

getting the basic shapes and shadows blocked in before I begin painting the details

sometimes I paint people

once I even painted a "self portrait"

I like to paint cows

This large painting "THE LEAD COW" framed in old red barn wood is available for sale.
It can be purchased at "Gypsy Mama's" in Fort Duchesne.

this 11x14 painting is available for $65.00

8x10 on canvas board $45.00

My original art work and signed prints can be purchased at the store, or 
contact me.