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Monday, October 30, 2017

Hitchhiking Bird!

I ordered some day old ducks and geese and when I received the box and removed them, there was a little bird in the bottom of the box.    I wasn't sure what it was.   Looked like a pheasant, but was too small for a pheasant.   I called the hatchery which shipped the ducklings and goslings.    They didn't put him in there so what we figured that it escaped from a box at a post office somewhere in transit.   The postal employees caught it and put it in my box. 

Here is a picture of the ducklings and goslings in the box they were shipped.
 Here is the picture of the bird that was hitching a ride.

I kept the bird for 3 months until it was bigger.   It turned out to be a chukar partridge.   I found someone who was breeding pheasants and partridge in Jurupa Valley and donated the bird to them.

Here is a picture of an adult chukar

Pilgrim Geese - New Addition to the farm!

I purchased some pilgrim goslings from Metzer's hatchery in Northern California.   I also purchased some ducklings and they all arrived in the same box.
Pilgrim geese are an old breed that is listed as threatened by the Livestock Conservancy.    They are a calm and friendly breed of geese.    They are also an auto-sexing breed which means you can tell by the color of the babies which are male and which are female.   Males are white as babies and females are gray.
I received one male and two females.    Here are pictures of them as babies.

Here are some pictures of them when they are bigger

This is what the geese look like when they are mature.  You can tell the male (white) from the females (gray)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Pest Control on the farm - Preying Mantis Egg Case

I was walking through the orchard the other day and noticed something on the branches of a young apricot tree.   I stopped to take a closer look and also take some pictures of it.   I then searched under insect egg cases and realized its a preying mantis egg case.   This makes me happy as preying mantises are insect predators and will help control the insect pest population.     This is also a by product of utilizing organic growing methods because if I sprayed insecticides, there wouldn't be any eggs cases of good or bad insects.

Preying mantises are insects that are closely related to cockroaches.   They will eat almost any other insect they can sneak up on and will also eat smaller preying mantises.   They will also eat small lizards or frogs if they can catch one.     Here is an image of a typical preying mantis found in most gardens or farms.

Here is an image of a baby that I found last summer so I took a picture of it before I released it.

Here are images of the egg cases on the apricot tree along with a picture of my finger along side for scale.    I will watch it closely and hopefully take some pictures of it when it starts hatching.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Planting Update - Carioca Lettuce

I have started planting all the seedlings that I have started.    Today I planted a 50 foot row of carioca lettuce.   This variety is a red lettuce that forms loose heads.     I plant 3 rows within each row that is about 3.5 feet wide.   The seedlings were started in a plug tray.  

Here is a image of the seedlings.   They have decent roots so should start quite easily.   Lettuce plants are very easy to transplant.

Here are images of the rows after they were planted and finally an image of this variety when it's mature.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Battle of the Rabbits - aka - The Rabbit Apocolypse!

I have been having an awful problem with rabbits.    As anyone who grows vegetables will tell you, rabbits love to eat and will eat everything if not kept in check.   I planted 1000 lettuce plants and they ate them all over a week.   They also ate 200 feet of pea plants down to the ground.   They also ate the trays of plants that I worked hard to plant and grow.     Here are some pictures of the damage.

There are quite a few rabbits on the farm.   They come from the neighbors who have a big back yard that is full of weeds.   There are holes in the wood fence.  They may also come from the river bottom which at at the back of the farm.   Here a picture of one of them out during the day.   They are so common, that it hopped right by the chicken and the chickens are so used to them, it didn't even react.

I don't really mind them on the farm as they keep the weeds down.   The problem is they spend all night eating in the vegetable growing portion of the farm.  I am fine with mother nature taking some of the plants.   I consider it tithing.   But instead of taking 10% and leaving the rest for me, they take 90% of the plants.   The vegetable growing area is surrounded by a horse corral with some fencing, but they crawl right through.    I stopped planting until I can get the rabbits under control.   I decided to enclose the entire 1/3 acre corral fence with rabbit fencing at the bottom.  Rabbit fencing is very narrow at the bottom so they can't crawl through.   Here's some picture of the regular fence and the rabbit fencing attached.   If this doesn't work, I'm not sure what to do.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Rain and Drought Update - More Rain is helping!

We had a series of 3 rainstorms over the last 5 days.   The last one was the strongest which left 2-4 inches of rain in Southern California.   2-4 inches of rain is what some cities receive in a month during the rainy season.      I haven't had to water on my farm since Thanksgiving which is reducing my water bill tremendously.   The average water bill is around $500 a month so having a financial break is good.   Here is a picture of the water gauge after the 3rd storm.  
Here are the pictures of the orchard and farm after 4 days and 4 inches of rain.
There is a picture of the pond which is almost overflowing.   I haven't added any water to the pond since thanksgiving.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fox Farm - A Urban farm is also wildlife habitat series - Hummingbirds

One of the benefits of a urban farm is a farm provides habitat for wildlife that would not do well in a suburban neighborhood.     I have quite a few hummingbirds on the farm.    They were wonderful birds and its fun watching them dart around the trees, and flowers on the farm.   They also will be flying above the pond catching mosquitoes in mid air.    The hummingbird is a small bird that will thrive in any urban neighborhood, so don't necessarily need a farm to survive.   If you want to see their antics, just place a hummingbird feeder near a window and they will arrive shortly.

I noticed a hummingbird buzzing around the front gate of the farm and saw it land on a branch.  I realized it was sitting on a nest, so I took some pictures.   I am amazed how big the eggs are compared to the size of the humming bird.   The nest is very small and about the size of a half walnut shell.   Its made out of leaves and spider webs.  The hummingbird will spend a lot of time, collecting enough spider webs to make the nest which looks nice and soft inside.  

Incubation last around 14 days.   After 5 days, there were babies in the nest.   Here is a picture of the babies,   They are really small.   

They seemed to grow fast, and I took another picture about 5 days later.   You can see one of them begging for food with it mouth open.  

They were gone a week later.  Hopefully they were all big enough to fly away and make more nests to raise babies.