Do you have friends jumping on the chicken bandwagon this spring? Then I hope you’ll point them toward my Getting Started With Your Working Chicken, entirely free in ebook form and dirt cheap even as a (brand new!) paperback. I think of this title as a bit like the bare-basics books at pet stores intended for folks impulse buying a new type of animal. The goal is to bring new chicken keepers up to speed in half an hour so they don’t get overwhelmed by the deluge of options right off the bat.
Meanwhile, we’ve been hard at work coming up with a new ebook in the Permaculture Chicken series. Building a DIY Chicken Waterer will launch next month, and you can preorder the ebook for a buck off. (There will be a paperback too, but I’m still working on it. As you can likely tell, the font size needs increased. Stay tuned for a preorder announcement soon!)
And, finally, the third chicken book on my plate this year is an update to Thrifty Chicken Breeds. Want to share your wisdom and win a free copy of the ebook? Just comment below with your favorite breed(s), a photo (which can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org if it’s hard to leave in the comment), and a short writeup of why you prefer the one(s) you prefer. If I use your info, you’ll get a free copy of the revised ebook once it’s ready to go.
(Oh, and in case you’re curious what Mark’s up to this photo, it has nothing to do with chickens. He’s adding a clear roof to his newest porch planter box to prevent roof runoff from swamping our crops. I’m hoping this will also make for an even lower-blight situation for tomatoes this summer. Stay tuned to find out if it works!)
If you have a solar pool cover lying around unused, it might be worth using to preheat your garden soil. We had the pleasure of seeing one in action this past weekend…
…and were impressed by the results. Under the pool cover, soil was 43 degrees on an overcast day. Outside, the soil in an otherwise-identical raised bed was 39 degrees.
Is that enough extra warmth to start your spring crops now? I’ve always tried to jump the gun using the absolutely minimum germination temperatures. Based on that, the soil under the pool cover is warm enough for most spring crops.
However, I generally get very spotty germination when I plant so early. No wonder since, I learned this week, peas planted at 42 degrees will take 36 days to germinate!
We’ve gotten into starting unconventional seedlings inside as a result, but more on that in a later post. For now, that old truism about planting peas on Valentine’s Day — we won’t.
Would you like to start 2023 with a little (or a lot) of homesteading inspiration? If so, I highly recommend this limited-time bundle of $285 worth of ebooks and videos, marked down to $35 for a couple more days. The massive compilation includes a Joel Salatin video, books I’ve read and recommended on the blog previously (including Understanding Roots and Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist), and my own Weekend Homesteader: Winter.
On an unrelated note, Mark and I are slowly figuring out how to live with a septic system instead of a composting toilet. Our health department comes out to inspect new systems every five years, and we got a B on our first report card. Apparently we need to tweak our flow levelers for more even distribution, to clean the filter under the outlet riser every six months, and to keep woody plants out of the leach field.
We’d mowed the septic field when we first got here, but we’re not lawn aficionados and I wanted to develop better pollinator and firefly habitat so I started letting things grow up. In lieu of mowing, we’re instead hitting the autumn olives, blackberries, and rose bushes with the chainsaw, figuring the same treatment annually might do the trick. It was either that or succumb to the always-present urge for goats…
Replacing a bathtub faucet turned out to be much easier than either of us anticipated. Turn off all water to the trailer, unscrew both hot and cold water hoses along with the hose leading up to the shower, then slip the old faucet out and the new one in. There’s nothing complicated going on with the shower — water pressure is what makes water flow uphill.
The only real roadblock came when Mark noticed that an old leak (long since fixed) had weakened the wall the faucet was going to be screwed onto. How could we strengthen that area in a quick-and-dirty manner that would also hold up over the long term?
The back plate from the old faucet turned into a perfect solution. Applying it to the screw side of the wall while the new faucet’s back plate stayed on the faucet side of the wall resulted in a much stronger sandwich. Ta da — running water with no leaks!
On a semi-related note, Mark has been busy turning Trailersteading into an AI-narrated audiobook. You can enjoy a sneak preview above, then if you enjoy what you hear you can buy the full shebang on Kobo or Google. Enjoy!