2.2.2012 Soil Tests, Match Making and Sick Chicks

The test results came back from Virginia Tech today and surprise, surprise.  The pastures need lime and the blueberry patch needs lots and lots of acidification.

Test Area pH P(lb/A) K (lb/A) Ca (lb/A) Mg(lb/A) Zn (ppm) Mn (ppm) Cu (ppm) B (ppm)
Garden 6.4 27/M 238/H 3104/VH 360/VH 4.2/SUFF 21.2/SUFF 0.5/SUFF 0.6/SUFF
Blueberry 6.3 36/H- 292/H+ 3441/VH 460/VH 4.1/SUFF 19.2/SUFF 0.4/SUFF 0.7/SUFF
East Pasture 5.9 14/M- 55/L 930/M- 197/H+ 1.0/SUFF 6.4/SUFF 0.6/SUFF 0.2/SUFF
West Pasture 5.8 11/L+ 83/M- 887/M- 178/H 1.0/SUFF 5.3/SUFF 0.4/SUFF 0.2/SUFF


Va Tech recommended I put down ¾ tons of lime, 40 pounds of Phosphate and 50 pounds of Potassium/Potash per acre in the west pasture. For the east pasture, the one I’ve run chickens over, they recommended a ton of lime, 30 pounds of Phosphate and 70 pounds of Potash.  That accounts for most of the farm.  For the smidgen that is the vegetable garden, they recommended 10-10-10 and for the blueberry patch with its obvious pH issue, they recommended . . . Nitrogen, 150 pounds in three applications beginning in April, with two follow up applications in 5 week intervals.  Nitrogen?  I was expecting aluminum sulfate.  Nitrogen was a surprise.

Tonight, after it got dark, I went down to the coop and started weighing my sleepy hens, checking their name tags (if they still had them – ankle bracelets don’t always stay on.) and comparing results to my lists of potential breeders.  When all was said and done, I pulled out three Speckled Sussex hens from Mt. Healthy and two Dorkings from McMurray.  To my delight, one of the Dorkings was Debbie, the poor little girl who spent many long days in the house this summer after I broke her leg during the morning chicken tractor move.  These five girls are now out in the chicken tractors with an appropriately colored stud muffin.  My Mt. Healthy roo, #33, clocked in at 9.8 pounds and he didn’t complain (much) when I clipped his spurs.  Those spurs had grown into extremely sharp, pointed, lethal daggers that I don’t want him using on me or his girls. He’s a big boy and so far, not at all aggressive.  Want to make sure he stays that way.

In the last two weeks, I’ve also been having some problems with some of the hens.  First one of the Sussex put herself in neutral and just stood around looking all puffed up and miserable.  I put her in isolation and she didn’t eat for almost three days and it took a tin of cat food to finally entice her to eat.  After a week, she was functioning normally and I put her back in the coop.  While she was in isolation, the Dorking hen that the ducks resurrected a while back had another attack of … bad plumbing.  Sinuses swelled up, blood everywhere.  It was bad.  I put her down when I processed the roosters.  Now I have another Dorking hen down.  She came down with tremors on Tuesday. That’s a new symptom to me.  She’s in isolation now and hasn’t eaten for three days.  I will offer her some stinky cat food tomorrow.  Sick chickens like stinky cat food.  I’ve disinfected the feeders and waterers and given everyone a dose of cider vinegar.  Most of the hens are fine and the rate of lay hasn’t changed.  Just a couple of sickos.  They need grass and room to run.

The maples say spring is very near, the pastures, thus far, do not agree. According to my favorite meteorologist, the pastures are correct and the maples are doomed.  The polar vortex over Alaska is breaking down and winter is on the move.  The cold is coming.  Not bitter cold, but definitely more seasonable than the 70’s we’ve seen this week.  Because of the weird winter weather, we were unable to tap the maples this year.  That’s supposed to be done before bud formation when the nights are below freezing and the days are above.  The maples have been budding since Thanksgiving.

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