“Welcome to Idaho. Here, our seasons are summer, almost winter, winter, and still winter.”
Fall has long-been my favorite season.
I believe it started in childhood as fall almost completely meant to me that it was time to go back to school. I loved everything about school. I loved to learn, I loved my mentors, I loved seeing and meeting new friends, I loved new books, and all the before- and after-school activities offered.
The coming of fall meant I would be seeing, hearing, and talking about new things on a nearly daily basis.
While I loved the long summers that my family spent traveling, I also dearly loved to be home. Fall always meant it was time to be home.
We never have purchased 100% of our chickens’ diet from a store–and we don’t plan to. I’m not comfortable with all that processed stuff, and I’m not sure where it all comes from. When we do purchase feed, we prefer organic feed so we know what we’re giving our beloved chickens. This kind of feed is usually expensive.
Let’s also take a second to point out the obvious: chickens had been around for years figuring out what they wanted and needed to eat long before man domesticated them and started supplying them with the food man decided was best for them. So…why not let them have some more natural choices?
These are two things we think about when we consider interfering with our chickens’ diets.
We’re all about self-sustainability around here, so it only makes sense the chickens should live that way too. However, although ours are free-range, we do limit where they can and can’t go. That means we take responsibility to make sure they have access to natural foods they can’t obtain due to their impaired freedom. Some things we grow, some we gather.
Here are 12 things we grow, gather, and store in the fall to feed our chickens in the winter.
Irises are a beautiful addition to any flower garden. They can be up to 48 inches tall, and bloom in early to mid summer. This makes them an ideal centerpiece in a large garden, or perfect backdrop to a shallower plot.
On top of being a perfect visual reminder of spring’s promise of new life, they are also pretty easily taken care of once they get established. This makes them perfect for a homestead flower garden that often receives much neglect as the vegetable gardens and orchards hog all the spring and summer attention.
Fortunately, they are forgiving and the little care that they do need can be done after the harvest is complete and the vegetable garden is put to rest for the winter.
Green wood is that which is still alive, and by default is not dry; or is from a dead tree that has died but not yet fully cured.
There are plenty of reasons one would not want green wood. Most notably for a homesteader (or anyone with a fireplace, really), green wood is not good for burning in your stove–and it’s not safe either.
While all wood will burn, before curing wood is extremely difficult to get to burn. It’s hard to start on fire, and it’s hard to keep on fire.
One of the byproducts from the smoke is creosote. Creosote is a black tar-like coating that formulates from the resultant reaction of moisture from the green wood and the smoke. Creosote is highly flammable once a thick enough layer develops.
The creosote layer in your chimney can combust during a future fire, and result in a chimney-fire. A bad chimney fire can ruin your chimney, or even burn down your entire home.
The chances of this type of chimney fire can be minimized by using fully dried (or cured) wood. Fully dried wood may still result in a creosote build-up, but at a much slower rate that can be removed every year during your annual chimney cleaning.
So knowing all this, why would anyone want to collect green wood?
Every two or three years, I have to take some time to prevent weeds in my perennial plant areas. That’s right–I have a trick that means I work hard for one day every couple years to save myself from pulling weeds for a couple years.
This is one of those things you’ll pin, think about, and one day you’ll try. Once you try it, however, you’ll be hooked. It’s that good.
August is the time when a homesteader is not only packing away the harvest like a mad squirrel, but also a time of taking a mental inventory of how much was obtained in the garden, and how much more will need to be secured before the snow falls.
At first glance, one might think that what you’ve got in your garden is the food you put up—and if you didn’t have a bountiful garden, then you are going to have a hungry winter. But this need not be the case.
Here are some options for obtaining food to put up when your garden just didn’t produce everything you needed.