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Monday, November 30, 2015

A Farm isn't a Farm without Chickens!

I have started building a chicken coop with the remaining funds from the Kiva Zip loan.  

I am adding chickens for several reasons.   They will give me access to organic fertilizer to improve the soil on the farm.   They will be a source of income in egg sales.   Finally,  they will help with weed and pest control in the orchard.

I have chosen Silver Laced Wyandottes.    They are a multi-purpose breed as they are big enough to raise as a meat bird and also are very good layers of brown eggs.   Here are some pictures of this breed.  They are also know for being very calm.  

 There was an old chicken coop on the property, but it wasn't secure.   The racoons would have gotten them the first night if I would have used it for chickens.   Here are some pictures of the old coop.

I am placing the coop in the same spot, so the old coop had to be dismantled before building the new coop.

Here are pictures of the coop under construction.   The chicken run will be installed where the old one was located on the side, but with much stronger fencing to deter the racoons and fox that live on the farm.  

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Vegetable Cooler built by a community.

I needed a vegetable cooler for my farm.   Its very important as I don't have a produce stand where I can sell what was picked that day.   This is what a couple farms in Riverside without coolers do.  They sell their produce they pick that day at the stand and don't have a need for cold storage.

I pick my produce for sale at a day or two later, for delivery to restaurants.    Its also very important to get the produce cooled quickly.  The longer is sits in warm air, it starts to deteriorate and doesn't last nearly as long as produce that is quickly cooled after harvest.   This will allow me to sell a much fresher looking product.   This especially applies to lettuce that will start wilting immediately after picking if you don't get it into refrigeration

I applied for a Kiva Zip loan which is a interest free loan funded by friends, family, and 55,000 lenders internationally.    Thanks to 30 people I know and another 68 Kiva Zip lenders, I reached the $5000.00 loan by the 45 days.    I want to thank my friends, associates, and especially the RFSA (Riverside Food Systems Alliance)  and Riverside Food Cooperative who made a last minute appeal to the members who helped me reach the goal.    I have already made the first payment, so those of you who made a loan should see it in your account.

I was originally going to buy a commercial cooler and expected to spend 6000-8000.00  but after I started the loan, I learned of another method.   I saw a cooler at Uncommon good in Upland and they were using a basic shed with a window air conditioner.    They were using the coolbot controller which turns a simple window air conditioner into a vegetable cooler.

Here are some of the images with the coolbot system

I decided to utilize this method.   I hired someone to build the shed - so with the air conditioner with was $538.00,  The coolbot controller - $299.00 - and the shed with insulation for 1680.00  My cooler cost $2517.00.   Although I had received $5000.00, I only used half of it.   I am using the other half to build a chicken coop, which will help on the farm by providing weed control, bug control, organic fertilizer, and eggs to sell.   I will post about that on my blog in another entry.

Here are images of the shed being built and finished.