The Gray Fox Farm

Hudson, Ohio

Welcome to The Gray Fox Farm! We're a small produce and poultry farm in Hudson, OH. We sell our vegetables, chickens, eggs, and turkeys through a combination of our local farmers market, CSA, and directly to customers at the farm. Then we obsessively blog about it all. 

 

 

My rooster can't get laid.

Remember that chicken we got as a freebie from the hatchery? You know, the one we couldn't identify for the longest time and who we continually refer to as "the black chicken" because we don't know the breed? Turns out he's a she!

This is the third accidental rooster we've had on the farm. All of them showed up the same way; as a freebie or mistake from the hatchery. And it's not like it's the same hatchery, we order from all over. Sexing (the identifying of chick gender at hatch time) is difficult. Chicken man bits are hidden inside and very tiny in a baby chick. And there's something about checking wing feathers, but those take a couple of days to come in. The fact that we've had hundreds of chickens specifically ordered as "all female" and ended up with just three gents means that the people doing the sexing are actually pretty good at it. 

Much better than me. Since it took me until I heard cock-a-doodle-doo to realize it with this guy. Roosters starting roo-ing at the same time that hens start laying (17-25 weeks). The chicken equivalent of hitting puberty. Since roo-ing and laying are both related to mating it makes sense that you get all the junior high activity at once. Although these girls are a year older than the rooster. Poor guy is like the freshman band geek trying to get the attention of the senior cheerleaders. No one will sleep with him. He tries. I've seen him flap his feathers and do the rooster mating dance, but the girls just run away. He doesn't really have any game.

He's been through a lot though. The girls threw him out of the coop this winter... 

He gets yelled at a whole bunch. I imagine the girls are saying, "Get away from me, loser."

image.jpg

The girls don't even want to sleep on the same perch as him! How dare he try to sneak into bed with them. They engage is some pretty cruel hen-pecking to remind him that he's not wanted. 

I feel really bad for him until I remember that in a few months he'll be full grown and the ladies will all be gaga for him. He'll have sex for breakfast every morning. He'll show his flock where all the good food is, he'll take care of any broody hens, and he'll protect the birds from any potential predators. I happen to enjoy roosters, as long as they don't try to kill me, so we'll see how this guy does. If the girls let him get any peace. 

How to Start Seeds in a High Tunnel

Starting seeds is easier than it sounds. Especially if you have the right equipment. We are lucky enough to have a high tunnel that lets us get a head start on starting seeds indoors. A high tunnel is like a huge warm sunny window. You know, ideal conditions for starting plants. The tunnel is heated up by the sun and keeps seedlings warm and cozy until the weather outside gets more hospitable for delicate, baby plants. 

image.jpg

In the above picture you can see our super fancy seed tables. Yes, they are 2x4s and saw horses. We like them because they are quick to set up, easy to store, and a cinch to tear down at the end of the seeding season. Plus they are cheap and can be reused for other projects all year long. That's a win-win-win if you're keeping track. The tables can be whatever length you choose (customization is as simple as on cut with your saw) and each fits two rows of seed trays.

We use 50 cell trays and we consider them disposable. We love the earth but the basic trays fall apart after one season. To make up for that we use the hard 128 cell versions of those year after year. Especially for winter or hardy greens. We fill each tray with Pro Mix and drop 2 seeds in each seed compartment. We utilize a standard #2 pencil to poke a hole in the soil mix and then add the seeds. Why two seeds? Because then we can pick our favorite once they germinate and kill off the ugly one. Life can be cruel. 

image.jpg

And then we water. Once you start watering you can't stop. In the tunnel you are the sole source of water. There's no rain (and if there is you should see yesterday's post about how to repair your high tunnel) so if you're not watering no one is. We check the seed trays twice a day to see if they need water and to monitor the daily temperature inside the tunnel. The tunnels can get wicked hot if you get a sunny day and you'll need to ventilate (roll up the sides) in order to bring down the air temp. Because our tunnel is close to the house we can use a thermometer in the tunnel that sends it's reads to base camp in our kitchen. 

image.jpg

We'll spend the next few days getting more seeds planted. Leeks and onions are on the list for today! Next week: tomatoes. 

Getting Ready for SPRING

The countdown to spring is on! We've had temps in the 50s and our high tunnel is warming up so we did some farm spring cleaning. 

1. Lay landscape plastic in the tunnel.

We use the high tunnel (passive solar greenhouse) that's closest to our house as a propagation (prop) house. That means we don't plant anything in the ground for the first round of planting. Everything goes into seed trays. Then we'll pull up the fabric plant in the ground once all of those seedlings go outside. The plastic gets anchored to the ground with sod staples and we set up tables for the seed trays. 

image.jpg

2) Repair any winter damage to the tunnel walls

Ohio winters can be rough and this winter was a doozie. The broilers that we had in the tunnel last fall scratched up the bottom of the front wall (so rude) and I had to tape up a few other tears, too. The walls are made out of greenhouse plastic and there's a greenhouse plastic tape that we use to make repairs. 

image.jpg

3) Set up the tables. 

We use saw horses with two by fours. This lets water drain through the seeding trays and makes for easy set up and tear down. Plus we don't have some big, bulky tables to store all winter long in our (already full) garage. 

image.jpg

Next step is filling trays with potting soil and getting the seeds in! Yay spring!

An Open Letter to the New Woodpecker

Dear Mr. Woodpecker:

It has come to our attention that you are pecking trees at the farm. We welcome a diversity of bird life and are happy you've chosen us as your new home. However there are some ground rules of which you should be aware.

1. Pecking between the hours of 10pm and 6am is strictly prohibited. As you are not nocturnal this should not be problematic.

2. Please select trees away from the house, outbuildings, trails, and farm fields. This keeps sawdust and droppings away from the public areas of the farm. 

3. Gray Fox Farm boasts ten acres of woods providing myriad dead or semi-dead tree upon which to peck. LIVE TREES ARE OFF LIMITS!

image.jpg

Should you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us however you deem appropriate.

Sincerely,

Management 

2015 CSA Info is LIVE!

Spring is almost here! My curmudgeon-y nature says it's never actually coming since we've had one nice day and there's still half a foot of snow on the ground but I have to believe that eventually everything will thaw. We're supposed to start planting next week and the little bit of sun we're getting has warmed up the high tunnel so we can get some seeds started. 

As part of the plan for this year we're making some changes to the CSA. We think everyone will be happy with the opportunities to buy produce from us. To read about how this season will work please visit our CSA page

Subscribe to Blog - Gray Fox Farm by Email

 Subscribe in a reader