Heather Sharpe

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since Feb 05, 2019
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forest garden fungi foraging trees urban chicken medical herbs ungarbage
Central Indiana, zone 6a, clay loam
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Recent posts by Heather Sharpe

We had to bring one of the roosters inside to sleep last night. Our house is quite small, so I could hear him in his crate from my bed. He had been asleep for some time and as I was starting to drift off, I heard a small sound coming from the crate. He was tidbitting in his sleep!

I've witnessed the same rooster hanging out in the nest box, making a low clucking sound and scratching around. I assume this is just good rooster behavior. The funny part is that anytime he realizes I can see him, he walks out, puffs up and pretends like he wasn't in there.
1 day ago
Megan, thank you so much for sharing this! That design seems like it would work so much better at protecting the girls! I really like that it doesn't have elastic too, since it seems to pull in weird ways and I worry they'll manage to pick at and eat it. The saddles you made look lovely too!

Your timing is excellent, since I had tried my two ideas at modifying the existing saddles without any luck and was at a loss. When I added an elastic strap that went underneath, it did hold it down better. Her natural movements caused the whole saddle to shift forward and bunch up though, leaving some of her back exposed. Plus I imagine how awful too tight pants feel on me and imagine the snug elastic must've been equally uncomfortable pressing on her keel. Moving the position of the wing elastics further back was even worse, as it just made the saddle bunch up and not sit flat at all.

Thank you again!
1 day ago
They are quite bitter, to most palates. I've only eaten it raw. Would be curious to hear how the boiled with butter approach turns out. If they're anything like the ones in my yard, spreading them should be almost effortless. Though some creature here really, really likes eating them. Never figured out if it was groundhog or deer. Or both.
3 days ago
Definitely looks like wild lettuce to me. Those spines on the underside are pretty distinctive.
3 days ago
When your meals change based on what "weeds" are overabundant in your yard throughout the year. First it was nettles, chickweed and violet. Then goldenrod shoots. Now onto grape leaves and soon lambs quarters.

When you've done so much scrounging through other people's trash that you have a favorite alley and sometimes not-so-jokingly talk about the night before trash pickup being "Trash Day Eve" as if it were a holiday.
5 days ago
You might try using a smaller jar next time. That way you won't have to use so much alcohol to cover your herbs. I don't think there's anything wrong with the tincture or that it needs anything to be "saved". It just won't be the ratio you were perhaps imagining. The only real downside is using more alcohol, which can obviously be expensive. I really like the perspective and advice on making fresh tinctures offered in this video. He specifically talks about how to get the menstruum to cover the herb as well as the idea that a greater amount of menstruum relative to the herbs means the tincture is "weaker".
5 days ago
I can't know for certain if volcano mulch is harmful or not. I know the trees I have seen treated that way aren't doing well and often appear to have fungal issues or be dying. Mostly, mulch volcanoes seem like a pattern I don't see much in nature. So even if it isn't always harmful, I don't feel inclined to do it. I also find it ugly, personally. I would much prefer to see the beautiful trunk and root flare of the tree with some plants growing around it.

I see the mulch volcanoes most often in super manicured yards and around street or parking lot trees. The first I suspect is mostly aesthetic and/or motivated by not wanting to mow around roots. The second context makes less sense to me. Often, those trees are transplanted in as quite large trees already with a small root system. Usually in a limited space surrounded by pavement. I don't know how or if they are watered to establish properly. It seems like spreading the mulch out further from the trunk would be more beneficial for improving water retention and root development further out from the trunk. Or depending on rainfall and location, maybe the tree planted in a mulched basin. I guess I just don't understand the mulch volcano as helpful strategy to grow healthy trees. I've seen a variation, with an elevated mulch ring about a foot or more out from the tree, but not against the trunk. This seems to make more sense to my brain. Interesting too that it's usually landscapers doing the mulch volcanoes and organizations planting trees for environmental reasons that use the mulch ring strategy.
5 days ago
I made some hen saddles for my chickens in the hopes they'd protect them from rooster damage. Alas, I find that they frequently flip up and I spend a lot of time chasing hens around trying to adjust them so they cover their back. Even doing this multiple times a day, it seems that even when the saddles stay in place, the rooster's nails always end up under the edge of the saddles and the girls are still getting cuts. I'm a beginner at sewing and not very good at figuring out how I can alter things to make them fit better. Especially when I don't have a cooperative model to try things on, as is the case with the chickens. Has anyone had success getting hen saddles to stay put? A different design for one that works well? Or perhaps ideas about how to change this design to make it more effective?

This is the pattern I used:

The ideas for changes I have so far are to change the point where the elastic attaches so it is further back, hopefully holding down the saddle more effectively. I don't really know if this will lead it to being more uncomfortable where it sits on the wing and/or fall off completely. An elastic strap from one side to the other that would go underneath the hen to hold the sides down seems like it could work. Except I can imagine problems with it sliding around lots or possibly pressing on the crop. I need a hen mannequin so I don't have to stress the girls trying ideas! I'd prefer to modify the saddles I have, if possible. If there's a better design out there that works well, that would be great too.
1 week ago
I've been giving my chickens an herbal formula for worms to keep them healthy and their immune systems strong. They think the herbs are weird and decidedly not food. Unless I mix them with some black soldier fly larvae. Then they go so crazy over it I have to try to give it to them one at a time in the coop so they don't fight. The only problem is, one of the roosters is so good at his job that I have to work to get him to eat any. He always grabs a huge mouthful and then tidbits with it. Even if he's in the coop alone, he still does it while the girls go nuts trying to get in. While adorable, it is problematic as far as making sure he gets his dose. I never imagined I'd have to fight to get a chicken to eat bugs! He always picks out all the BSFL to give to the girls and then eats whatever herb mush is leftover. So the only way is to give him the herbs by themselves. I find this hilarious, since I have to resort to bribery to get the hens to eat them.
1 week ago
I love moss and think this is a great idea! I bet spring ephemerals could be a good fit in such a guild since they only exist for a short time and usually want similar conditions to moss. I've seen Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii) growing with moss in their understory. Since their habit is more upright, they allow space underneath. There's a guild in my yard of Cup Plant, Chickweed, Sweet Cicely and many others where moss grows in the understory. I didn't plant this guild, but it does amazingly well. Elderberry or similar could be a good possibility for a larger plant in the mix. Wild Ginger might work, though it can spread quite a bit and might be too aggressive, not sure. Looking forward to what ideas other folks might have! When I have the time, I might have to reread Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer to see if that yields any ideas.
1 week ago