Urbanstead Update March 2013

Urbanstead Update March 2013

It’s been a while so I thought I’d update whats going on in my urban backyard “farm”. I like to write these out from time to time to show you what I’ve accomplished, as well as to track where I’ve been. My memory isn’t what it used to be, so this works well as a journal for what I’ve done.

"Chuck" the AlTex Buck

Rabbits: As I mentioned a few days ago, I was finally able to acquire a colored New Zealand rabbit, thanks to the fine folks at Bogle’s Bunny Farm. I have rabbits in all stages of growth, those almost ready for Freezer Camp, little cute ones worthy of Easter morning, as well as three pregnant does. With the weather easing up, its not too cold that it increases infant mortality and not hot enough to cause male sterility. Happily, this is the peak of my rabbit breeding season.

I also have harvested enough lately to get ahead of the demand, allowing me to get some into the freezer, some of it having been smoked, thanks to BlueTang. The next month or so should have production ramped up to almost peak, so I’ll probably be pressure canning more, as well as making more jerky.


One Day's Worth of Eggs - 1 Muscovy, 5 chicken, 7 quail
One Day’s Worth of Eggs
1 Muscovy, 5 chicken, 7 quail

Chickens: With the days getting longer, egg production from the chickens, ducks and quail is picking up. We are averaging 5 eggs a day, giving us enough eggs for our daily consumption, plus enough for some neighborly good will too.

Amazing how adaptable a neighbor can be when they get a dozen fresh wholesome eggs….

Muscovy Ducks: We have 6 adults now, 1 of them male, the rest females. Currently there are two of the hens that are broody, one getting close to hatching (14 eggs in her clutch, I believe), the other only about a week in. Incubation takes 33-37 days, quite a bit longer than the Coturnix quail, but the meat is worth the wait….

Coturnix quail: All of my quail are now adults, though I only have a single male. I’ll be setting up my incubator probably within the week, as long as I get my solar powered 12v system all sorted out.

Solar backup system: Last weekend’s winds pointed out a fatal flaw in my setup, namely the post the smaller panel was mounted on not being pressure treated. It seems the termites had decided it was a tasty snack, and had eaten most of the way through, at least enough for the winds to push it over, breaking it.

I have now installed a new 4×4 post, and while I was working on the system, I finally installed my second panel that had simply been leaning against its post. This totale 98watts of solar power at peak, a LOT considering how little I am using it right now. I still have some minor wiring to get finished, but everything is back, up *literally), running, and charging.

The battery bank is up to three deep cycle marine batteries, providing me with around 300 amp hours of power. Right now, the system powers an LED light for the quail, and a timer running a 110v, 200watt inverter to power my pumps for my aquaponics system.

I plan on using the batteries to power my home-made incubator and the heat lamp for my brooder as well, not sure how well it will work, but I want to give it a try.

I may eventually run some conduit to my bedroom containing 110 off a larger invert to provide power to the master bedroom in the case of a long-term power outage. The master bedroom is our fall back location when there is no power, it’s easier to maintain the livable space in that section of the house using a generator. By implementing solar power there as well, we will add a bit of redundancy as well as providing power without the need for a noisy generator.

Aquaponic system: Thanks to Jeff at Bogle’s Bunny Farm, I came up with a better way to provide water flow without burning out my pumps. His method is simply use a timer on a 110v fountain pump. It had been working for him for quite a while, so I copied his setup. So far its worked very well. (Thanks Jeff!) This has allowed me to put the second bed into use, so I planted garlic chives. I saw my first sprouts this morning.

Gardens: Right now, I am growing more weeds than anything. Since I am taking this week off, I should have time enough to get at least one of the three idle beds back up into production.

Everglades TomatoesWe are growing lettuce, Swiss chard, and lots of Everglades tomatoes right now. I have also expanded my sugarcane planting, having tripled my plants (to a total of three :P). I also planted some beauty berry in the front yard, and am hoping to get some mulberry and false Roselle cuttings to take. And finally, I have a coconut that has sprouted that I plan on planting in the front yard to replace the gianourmous podocarpus we had cut down this week. (I know the podocarpus offers edible bits, but it also drops sap on our cars parked in the driveway, so it had to go.)

 More on the False Roselle from Green Deane:

And since I’ve mentioned Green Deane before and used several references in this article, let me add in this bonus for the local FloridaHillbilly readers:

“Eat the Weeds” Workshop with Green Dean

April 21st in St. Lucie County

Hosted by the Treasure Coast Environmental Education Council

Special early offer to ‘friends’ and volunteers …

We are giving you the first opportunity to sign up for this fun and informative workshop.

Green Dean has been foraging for wild edible plants for 60 years.

His You Tube videos make him the most famous forager on Earth with over two million views.

So, if you’ve always wanted to learn more about wild edible plants, here’s your chance!!

We’ll have more details soon, but the cost of the workshop will be approximately $30.

Let us know right away if you want to reserve a spot.

This notice will be sent out to the general public next week, and space is very limited.

To register call (772) 785-5833 or e-mail  bogans@stlucieco.org (please include a phone number so we can contact you directly).

I will be there, along with my wife, so I hope to see you as well. Be sure and let them know you heard about it here at FloridaHillbilly.com!

That’s it for now….I hope you’ve managed to stay awake through all of this, I know it can be boring to some. If you see something I’ve done wrong, or you know of a better way, don’t hesitate to let me know, I’ll appreciate the input!


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  1. I have Roselle (Zinger Hibiscus – Jamaican tea) seeds and False Roselle plants to share if you want to stop by.

  2. So I did it! I live just outside of Chicago in a little suburb and for a while I’ve made myself content with just a few rabbits. After reading a bit more about chickens I finally made the jump and purchased (using Easter as an excuse) four ISA Browns. They are small now and living in the house with a light but after a while they will go outside and I’ll be able to enjoy the homegrown eggs I knew as a child.

    Of course as excited as I am the hubby is worried. Our neighbors are very patient and we have only hens but I can only imagine how we are going to juggle the dogs and rabbits and hens with everything else. I guess we will just have to find a way. You said that you have ducks and we looked at a few when we were picking up our little guys but the owner said that the females are very noisy. Is that what you have experienced?

    1. Sorry to be so slow in replying…

      The ducks I have are Muscovy ducks, and are almost silent. The young ones do “cheep” a bit, but, other than when frightened, you never hear the Muscovies.

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