Matt McSpadden

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since Feb 24, 2021
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homeschooling kids trees chicken woodworking
Eddington, Maine
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Recent posts by Matt McSpadden

Hi Barbara,
That is beautiful water feature. If it was smaller, I might suggest emptying it every few days to avoid mosquito larvae, but it is just big enough that that would be big task.

I don't like the idea of poison in the water either, though putting something like BT in, would probably be effective.

Given the restrictions, my two suggestions would be to encourage the dragonflies and frogs in the area to use the water. Perhaps some ramps or steps up to it would encourage frogs, toads, and other amphibians to help eat the mosquitos or add some sort of minnow. (Maybe both, but someone with more experience would have to let you know) If the minnows don't survive the winter, they can be fertilizer for the garden and are not too expensive to replace in the spring. If they do survive great.

**edited for clarity
4 days ago
Apparently it is my day to resurrect old posts. I came across a youtube video of Julie Engel who had some interesting research into pastured rabbits. I don't remember hearing a lot about predators, but I do know she mentions a visual barrier at the bottom helped to reduce the rabbits desire to dig in that direction.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz8o2uh9Lkw
5 days ago
I'm not sure why this old of a post popped up for me, but I thought I would throw out an idea for anyone else coming across this post.

Why not create "frost wall" out of stones and mortar? Instead of a slab, dig a trench around where the walls will be, down below the frost line. Build stone walls with lime based mortar. The middle still has dirt for a deep litter on the floor, and chances for bugs and worms to come in or still be there, but the edges are protected against digging predators.
5 days ago
Hello All,
Both my wife and my neighbor insist that chickens attract rats. My argument is that the chickens do not attract rats, chicken food does. My chickens are moved around our field every couple of days. Their food is put on the ground and the majority is gone in the first 15 minutes. The remainders are scraped clean by the end of the day. So there is not food left out for them. There are eggs, but I don't think the rats are getting into those.

The feed is in my garage (not rat proof) in a metal (rat proof) trash can. Every once in a while one of my kids (or myself) will forget to put the lid back on the trash can, but that is rare. We have seen a few more rats this year, but it was a mild winter, and I've been disturbing some places they probably were, while re-modeling my porch. Frankly I'm not convinced I attracted the rats with the chickens, I think they have been around, and we are simply seeing more of them this year. And by "more" I mean, I killed 2, found 1 dead, and saw what was probably a rat run around the corner. So not, hundreds or anything.

Can anyone share experiences, thoughts, or opinions?
5 days ago
Unfortunately feeling them at night is not really an option. The door is 2x2 so I don't exactly fit and the coop is 6x6 so I can't reach back as far as they are.

I like the idea of taking a picture and then counting them. That seems like a really easy solution.
1 week ago
My question is just what the subject says. How can I count my chickens?

At first glance, this may seem like a stupid question, but I have approximately 30 chickens. I lost 1 for sure (EDIT - lost it to a fox), because it was one of 2 juveniles I had. I think I lost a full grown hen, but I'm not sure. Why, you ask? Because they are all black australorps. When they are in the run they are constantly moving and I can't count that high before they move and mess up my counting. At night they snuggle in so close to each other, I have trouble telling where one chicken ends and the next begins. When I close the coop door to move things, and let them out, there is such a flurry of chickens flying out that I can't count them as they come out either.

Is there a secret I don't know about for counting chickens? Or is it just a manual process of forcing them to come out 1 at a time, or catching them and putting them in a separate pen or something?
1 week ago
Also, when trying to bait the rats (or other rodents) that they will only eat where they are somewhat comfortable. Some people put traps right in the path of travel, but no where the rats are actually eating. Make sure its not placement of the traps rather than choice of bait.
1 week ago
I do not have experience with citrus, but I have put my chickens under some old apple trees before. One thing is to make sure the trees are big enough to handle the disturbance. Do not put chickens near young trees. Secondly, timing can help a lot. If you can time it so that the larvae (grubs) are hatching just as you put the chickens in there, they will be so busy eating the grubs, they won't bother the plants much. (Other than scratching around, which is just chickens being chickens). Knowing the cycle of the pests and when to put the chickens under the trees to have the biggest benefit is important.

If you want to just put the chickens there and leave them you will have a lot more work and things to consider. You will need to do what was already suggested, bringing in carbon and plant matter, as well as fencing out the trees themselves. Depending on the number of chickens and the size of your space, if you move them in for just a day or two at a time, with a month or two (depending on your land) of rest in between, I think you will have less to worry about.
2 weeks ago
It is expensive, and I have not personally used it, but I have heard really good things about the GoodNature A24 Rat and Mouse trap. It uses a small CO cartridge like from a pellet gun to fire a metal piece to kill the rat mouse. The rodent falls down, and the trap is automatically reset for another rodent to come in and be caught. If it is mounted outside, it allows cats, racoons, etc to come and pick up the free food. If its inside, you still have to clean up, but it should be pretty hard for a chicken to get hurt with it as is... and I think I have seen some boxes that could help as well. It should not be hard to set. And it will kill instantly.

https://www.automatictrap.com/collections/shop/products/home-trapping-kit-a24-rat-mouse-trap

Someone mentioned Shawn woods reviewing traps, and here is a video of him reviewing this trap.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqlwUXP-ubI

Here is one of their promo videos, showing the trap being effective.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6s2PcbFu0nw
2 weeks ago

Larry Versaw wrote:And the weeds are not having any trouble growing either



Lol

You mention the sunflowers, tomatoes, and corn is all doing well. However, I see similar yellowing and spots on both the sunflower and the tomato. One of the tomatoes appears to have blossom end rot (though the picture is not good). Yellowing of the leaves is almost always a nutrition deficiency. However, the cause could be the nutrients aren't there, or there is not enough water to make it available, or there are pests stealing the water or nutrients.

I'm not an expert, just trying to throw out ideas to see if something matches or gets the experts thinking. I would check water. Dig down a few inches or try the chopstick method. Check all the leaves at different times of day to rule out pests. Do you ever move your plants around? Could this be a disease built up in the soil? You mention the last couple years have been the worst. It definitely sounds like something is out of whack and the plants can't get the nutrients or maybe there is disease built up.

For the future, do you have the space to try a garden in a different spot? Maybe till some manure into this garden, plant clover or something and let it sit for a year?