Monday, December 17th, 2012
We have been so busy over here at KiS Farm that we’ve neglected our humble blog, apologies for the delay. With colder temperatures headed our way we wanted to pass on a few tips about keeping chickens in winter.
- Make sure that your coop is draft free, and that there is a steady supply of fresh water (we have heated waterers available) and feed.
- Continuing to feed scratch through winter, in moderation, produces energy during the digestion process and also converts to fat, helping insulate your chickens. We now have a KiS Farm blend of scratch that you can find in our bulk section!
- When below freezing it is a good idea to add a brooder light. The red light will help keep your chickens toasty on those freezing nights, and won’t disrupt their sleeping habits. We have brooder lights (the bulb is covered by a metal cage that reduces the risk of a fire) and timers available in the store.
Hope everyone has a great holiday season!
Friday, September 14th, 2012
We have some good news for people who still want to add to their chicken flocks this year – we’ve placed an order for chicks! They will be arriving on Monday, September 24th, 2012 and will be all ready to be taken home to some very lovely coops. So, what breeds are we getting? We’re gonna keep that our little secret until they are here, but we can tell you a few things about them . . . They will all lay brown eggs, be considered a “good layer” (3-4 large eggs a week), and we will have at least three different breeds to choose from. Any guesses?
Typically people add chicks to their flock in the Spring, but there is nothing wrong with adding them in the Fall. You will just want to be extra diligent in making sure that they are kept in a warm and draft free area until they are fully feathered. When you introduce the younger chicks to the flock be prepared to see some aggression from the older ladies. They are letting the younger chicks know what the ‘pecking order’ is, and in time (a week or so) they should have things established between the two groups. The chicks that we are getting in this month will start laying around February to March. And don’t worry, once the chicks have arrived we will announce what we got in!
Friday, August 31st, 2012
One of the greatest joys that many people have when keeping bees is enjoying fresh honey. As the bees diligently work on pollinating and building the hive, they are also making and storing honey. Bees make honey, their source of food (especially in winter when fresh food sources are scarce), through a process of regurgitation of nectar that they have collected from flowers. As a beekeeper we are able to take some of the honey that the bees have made, it is important though to leave enough honey for the bees to have through the winter. Harvesting honey is not a difficult task as long as you have the proper equipment.
To gather the honey comb you have to gently remove the frames full of capped honey, remove any bees that may want to cling on to the frames, and move the frames into the “honey room”. As you are collecting the full frames you should replace this space in the hive with empty frames so the bees can continue to build comb and store honey. Once you have successfully collected your frames of honey it’s time to extract the golden bounty! You first need to uncap the comb with an uncapping knife (a sharp knife will work as well), place the uncapped frames into the honey extractor, and gently spin the frames. Once one side of the frames has been spun and the honey extracted, flip the frames and gently spin them again to remove the second side of honey. Once all of the honey has been extracted you can now strain the honey through a stainless steel strainer or a fine mesh cloth. After this the honey is all ready to be jarred and put into the cabinet. The best part though is the last step . . . tasting the honey! Enjoy!
Uncapping the comb
Thursday, August 16th, 2012
While most vegetable plants are in the peak of their production, others are just now reaching the perfect time to be transplanted. Mid to late August is the time to transplant and seed those cooler loving plants (hello arugula, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cilantro, leeks, and turnips). One of the more unusual fall starts that we have in the shop right now is brussel sprouts. Some people might not find this vegetable to be too appealing, but roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a dash of freshly ground pepper – trust us you’ll be wanting it all of fall (they are also a good source of vitamin C). Take note though one plant doesn’t produce a ton of fruit, so you may want a handful of plants to feed the family with.
Young brussel sprouts growing at KIS Farm
This is a crop that you would want to transplant at this time of year, but with the expectation of having a harvest in November – December. Brussel sprouts will grow best if they are transplanted in firm, fertile soil and spaced roughly two to three feet apart. As the plants grow keep an eye on them and pick off the growing head of the plant (it should look somewhat like a small cabbage) to allow for the plants energy to be focused on growing the sprouts. As always in the garden good maintenance is key – pull off those dead leaves, watch for pests, water regularly, and give the plants some organic plant food (like Hendrikus Complete 6-4-4) about six weeks after they are transplanted.
Brussel sprouts ready to harvest
When November rolls around your brussel sprouts should be ready for harvest. The sprouts at the bottom of the stalk will be the first ones you will pick, they’ll be between the size of a large marble and a golf ball, firm, and before they’ve started to yellow. The sprouts flavor will be at their best after a light frost, and the sprouts can even be left on the stalk right up until it freezes. And now for the best part . . . eating the brussel sprouts! Here is a great link for a dozen brussel sprout recipes – enjoy!
Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
Again there has been some changes here at KIS, including a few more critters that now call us ‘home’. There’s Paco, another Flemish Giant rabbit, and four Muscovy ducklings. Paco is younger then Luna and Beatrix but he seems to be getting along just fine, he also enjoys receiving pets from visitors. The ducklings are a tad more nervous around people, but we have a feeling this will change as more and more people stop by to say ‘hello’ to them.
Muscovy ducks are a large duck (some people say it’s closer to a goose then a duck) native to South America and are great to have waddling around your farm or garden. Why? Because they love to eat flies, mosquitoes, slugs, and pretty much any bug that might be roaming around. Besides being on bug patrol they are a great companion/source of entertainment and they will also provide you with fresh eggs. If you’re at the farm make sure you check in on our ducklings to see how they are doing (you might even be able to catch them swimming!).
Tuesday, July 17th. 2012
No two days are the same here at Keep It Simple, and yesterday was especially an exciting day. As you know we have two bee hives and yesterday one of them decided to swarm, most likely because of overcrowding. Once we realized that this is what was happening we quickly grabbed our cameras to document this natural phenomenon, and the supplies needed to catch our hive. An interesting thing about a swarm of bees is that they display no defensive behavior and have no interest in people, or much of anything besides the swarm. It is an amazing thing to walk through a cloud of bees and not have to worry about the potential of being stung. As we watched our bees buzzing about, they slowly began to form a cluster on a branch around the queen. Wherever the queen bee lands the hive follows and hang onto one another to form a cluster around the queen, while several worker bees take off acting as scouts in search of a new home. Fortunately our bees landed on a branch we were able to reach so that we could capture them and get them into a new hive before the scout bees returned to persuade the swarm to make a home elsewhere. Currently we are monitoring our hives, and preparing to reintroduce the swarm hive back into their original hive. A great website for anyone who has questions about bees and beekeeping is the Northwest District Beekeepers Association. We’ll keep you update on the status of our hives over the coming weeks!
Our bees forming a cluster around the queen
The swarm found a spot on a branch
A close up shot of the bees
The main branch that the swarm landed on
Sunday, July 1st, 2012
We’ve been so busy here these last few months with the opening of the store that we’ve fallen behind on updating our blog! While we are still busy tackling the list of projects, the critters who call KIS Farm home seem to be settling in nicely. Our 6 week old chicks moved into our Animal Garden, along with our two Flemish giant rabbits this week. They have all enjoyed scratching the mulch to find goodies to eat and investigating the new territory.
Luna, one of our Flemish giant rabbits.
Some of our chicks coming up to say ‘hello’.
Meanwhile, our two laying hens have fully embraced the meaning of ‘free range chickens’ as they have been able to explore the farm property during the day. Keep an eye out for these two when you stop by!
Our two hens taking advantage of the dirt for a dust bath.
Feeding our bees and checking on the hive.
A look in the hive, they are all busy at work!
A closer look at the inner workings of a bee hive.
Thursday, April 19th 2012
Yesterday I brought the chickens from my house to their new home at KIS Farm. Of course, one got out and I spent 20 minutes chasing it around the neighborhood before it settled in some heavy brush that I had a heck of a time getting it back out of. We received all of our organic fertilizers and nutrients the other day. I figured out that I must have lifted over 10,000 lbs. in the form of 50 lb. bags, just getting everything off the truck and into the storage containers.
The 1st building is almost done with the remodel. I’m going to start moving items into it today and setting up our displays. Already have a seed display from Irish Eyes. They carry all organic, GMO free seeds, with lots of heirloom varieties.
This weekend I should be picking up the bees!
Here’s a photo of the chickens last night when the escaped from the cage as I was trying to get them from the lower section up to the roost for the night.
Tuesday, April 10th 2012
Welcome to Keep It Simple Farm’s Blog!
I’m going to do my best to keep a journal of everything we have going on, as I find the process quite exciting. We got the property back on April 1st and have been scrambling to get everything up and running by May. Right now we are working with Jessi Bloom of NW Bloom and Dave Boehnlein (a Permaculture expert), in coming up with a design for the property. They’ve got some amazing ideas that we will be slowly implementing over the coming years.
Today I met Jessi over at her house to pickup some bee hives. Her bees were swarming all over the hive and the chickens were busy pecking in the driveway. Her cat was off chasing a butterfly and the dog, Spanky, was barking from the backyard. It was cool to see all the happy animals and how well they interacted. We talked about how we’re going to establish an area for chickens and rabbits, to begin building soil fertility.