Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Silver Cross Chicks, Peach Tree Pruning, and an Unusual Garden Varmint

These guys are a lot of work (vegetarians beware of the next pic!),

But they are completely worth it!

I don't always think of it or give thanks, but food never appears instantly. It takes great care and hard work to provide humane and healthy food. We're grateful for the privilege of raising the grilled chicken you see in this picture and of knowing how it and others like it make their way to our table.

We brought a new flock of 25 home last week.  They'll give us what we need to get through the winter.

We prune for ladder-less harvesting.
Before the highest branches were 14 -16  feet.
Now nothing is above 10 feet.
C. James proudly standing over a fresh cut bow.

We gave our peach trees an irregular late summer pruning. We've read that the best time to prune stone fruit trees is in the spring when they have lots of energy and fast healing power. The problem with spring pruning is that it can impact fruit production. We've also heard that it's not a a good idea to prune them in the fall when they are dormant, bare and most susceptible to disease. The good thing about fall pruning is that when spring comes you don't have to trim new growth. Peach buds appear on new growth.

This year we took the middle road by pruning late in the summer. We're hoping that this will help clean away some of the fruit rot disease that decimated our harvest this year. Plus, in the spring we won't have to mess with the new growth. Will the 7 weeks before our first average frost date be enough time to heal? We hope so.

From garden helper to garden varmint in a snip.

Q. James is the culprit -our unusual garden varmint. He's not a raccoon. He's not a ground hog. He's our tool toting two-year old. In his left hand are the clippers I was using to trim the peach trees. In his right hand is the leafy top of one of our cauliflower plants, and there in the dirt under the almost perfectly positioned shadow of the clippers is the clipped stem.  He got two plants before C. James saw him and screamed "Paaapaaa". If it weren't for his older brother Q. would have snipped the entire row. Why not, he was "helping" papa with the pruning. What can I say, he loves gardening!


  1. Awe! At least he's a cute little varmit! :oD Big smiles and kudos to you for getting the kids involved! That's how we learn best!

    You will have to let us know how the late season prunning works out. Ours are still so small it's not an issue yet. Then again, I don't know when you are supposed to even start?

    So your chicks, how big or how many weeks did you raise them to? One week or was the photo of the previous flock cooked up?

  2. I think that's the cutest garden varmit I have ever seen!!

    Oh, lucky you to be able to raise your own meat chickens! We so need to move back to the country! It would be a new experience for my hubby!

  3. How blessed to have chickens for dinner that you raised! We cut a limb off our Peach tree last fall, but this year the Peaches were full of worms like last year...and we had it sprayed..this year we are trying a home remedy.

  4. Hook the kids early. it'll be something that they'll want to do for the rest of their lives :) I know I did!

    Poor, poor delicious chickens :(

  5. You must save a lot on fertilisers since you have chicken manure available at your place. Ah my 2 year old is the same as yours so adventerous in the garden. My 2 years old within minutes in the garden, I have many plants uprooted which are not ready to harvest yet or bald plants if I don't keep my eyes on him.

  6. Apple Pie Gal, you may want to start soon with the small peach trees, I wouldn't go past spring of next year. I'm going to trim our young plum tree this fall. It's 3 years old. We've trimmed it every year. I'll post a before and after picture with the steps we take and the goal we have for the way we prune it. You probably know already, but the idea is to establish 4 or 5 main branches, evenly distributing them in a circle around the trunk. It's kind of hard to cut branches off a small tree, but when you've chosen the 4 or 5 leads, you'll want to remove the rest.

    The chicks in the picture are just 1 week old. We'll let them grow to 9 or 10 weeks, to sometime at the end of October, or early November. The barbequed chicken is from our last flock. They were silver cross too. We let them go for 9 weeks. We butchered them about 6 weeks ago. Thanks for commenting.

    Robin, thanks we think he is too. And boy does he know how to get what he wants. He's a charmer, let me tell you!

    Ginny, I'd love to hear about your home remedy. We need to figure something out.

    Ben, we're working hard to hook them. Gardening is something you learn to love. It's not automatic.

    You said it, poor, poor delicious chickens. We take good care of them while they're with us. It's a trade off. We give them healthy food for their tummies, shelter from storms and protection from predators in exchange for a meal. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

    Hi Malay-Kadazan girl, we definitely compost the manure. It makes for a very hot compost pile, with fast results. I'm so glad you mentioned your two year old. My first reaction is to pull my hair out, but he's so eager, how can I be upset. I hope both our kid's eagerness for gardening never slows down.

  7. I have some garden helpers like that too! :) Her job is to pick the basil and cherry tomatoes - it's an easy job and she loves it. I have some 2 year old peach trees...haven't thought about pruning yet, but I probably should!

  8. It is very reassuring that there are people out there like you that are taking the time and effort to raise their own meat! Kudos!

    We are going to be planting some fruit trees soon, so I hope you update on the outcome of the pruning. I will take every bit of advice I can get!

  9. Hanni, I read through your blog. It's really good. Thanks for sharing your gardening talents with us. Also thanks for that little detail, "Hanni like Connie". I would not have known. I hope your little garden helpers love gardening as much as you do. We hope the same for ours.

    f your peach tree is two years old, then yes, I definitely recommend pruning it this spring. There are many very helpful tutorials online. I offered a few pointers to Apple Pie Gal in the comment above.

    Hi Prarie Cat, Thanks for the word of encouragement. It is a lot of work. But we think it's worth it.

    We'll post a play by play of our pruning work with a very young plum tree. Maybe that will be helpful. Thanks for your comment.

  10. Oh I so admire you for raising your own chickens! I love having fruit trees and harvesting the fruit to have during the Winter months. I think you all are so awesome for all the great ways you are living off your land!!!!

  11. Woo hoo! I'm back online after 2 weeks of broken network card and no internet!

    My, my, what a helper you have! Awful cute; must be hard to stay mad at him. :)

    Good point about our food. And, I was very interested in your research on peach trees. We need to do better with ours this year as well.