Uncategorized

Composting Everything!

Here at Dare 2 Dream farms we get a lot of compost going all year long. between the many chicken droppings, to bedding of pine shavings, and tons of vegetable matter that is pulled from the garden, there are mountains of compost created each year, which we put back into our garden to recycle the health of the soil.

Our composting systems are “no turn” and do not get rotated on their own. Unlike composting bins, with aeration and a turning mechanism, out piles break down at a slower rate. The mix of Carbon based additives and Nitrogen based additives compliment each other and create a compost rich in nutrients, not too acidic and not too alkaline, for seeds to grow in the garden.

Compost is like the special medicine for a healthy soil. When adding compost, there are an abundance of nutrients, vitamins, and other living substances that work with the soil to create life. When compost mixed in to the soil, each layer of the plant roots has a chance to take up any nutrients that it will need for growth.

Activators, such as chicken manure, young weeds and grass clippings, are all still “living” and actually bring life to the compost. Since weeds and grass break down easily, they start a process of breaking down with the rest of the food waste and ingredients within the compost. Chicken manure, since it is digested and broken down with enzymes, can be a great way to kick start the break down process as well. Activators are a great additive to any compost to initiate the decomposition and prevent plant matter and food waste from just sitting in a pile and rotting.

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A compost pile or bin is ready for use when it looks dark brown and shows consistency in its composition. The temperature can be too hot to touch. You can always use a thermometer to test your own compost and make sure it has reached a level between 130-150 degrees F. At this temperature, all unpleasant bacteria has had a chance to break down and be recycled into the rich compost to be used.

If planning on using compost to incorporate into your vegetable garden beds, it is not recommended to use any chemicals, grass clippings that may contain pesticides, or unnatural substances. Steer clear from things that you would not normally consume. Everything that is adding into your compost will be absorbed by future seedlings.

 

Written by: Kelsie Crane

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Uncategorized

The Benefits of Raw and Cooked food.

All of our vegetables picked fresh throughout the week are unprocessed, raw, and living whole plants. If you have ever been here to Dare 2 Dream Farms, you have probably seen the rows and sections of different crops growing.

When the plants are cleaned up and shining with life, they are still full of energy from the sun and dirt that supplies a plant with life force. You can see the difference when you watch spinach wilt down in a steam bath or when cooking a squash and watching the colors fade to a neutral, soft, edible medium.

When plants are still in their raw form, they are full of plant enzymes that were used to grow the food and maintain the structure of each leaf and plant cell. Plants plucked from the ground that contain water soluble nutrients, such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B, are better left uncooked.

What happens to water when heat is applied? It steams, evaporates, and eventually disappears. This is similarly what happens to plants that contain a lot of water. In their water molecules are many nutrients living and flowing through the plant. Once it’s picked from the ground, the plant is no longer connected to the source of water, but they are still circulating life within each leaf.

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Some plant nutrients are only able to be absorbed by human anatomy when a plant is cooked. Squash, for instance, is a excellent, nutrient rich plant, that takes a long time to grow and gathers up a lot of beneficial vitamins and minerals during the time it takes to mature. Chickens can eat squash and pumpkins raw, but we would have a difficult time chewing through a squash, and it may taste pretty bitter!

Fat soluble compounds, like Vitamins A, D, E and K are better off cooked or boiled, to allow for us to get the most out of them. Carrots, Zucchini, and Broccoli or Romanesco are all better off steamed before consumption.

Leafy greens such as Chard, are hardy and difficult to enjoy sometimes when eaten raw. A vegetables like this contains a good amount of vitamin A, making it a great vegetable to steam up or add to a quiche. It is also a decent source of vitamin C, so great to enjoy raw in a salad as well.

When is comes to watery greens, such as lettuce, celery, and cucumbers, it is best to eat them in their raw state. Some say that eating these and other vegetables raw and fresh from the ground actually allows you to get much more energy from them. That energy being from the sun and ground that is still circulating through the plant.

For those hardy squash, beans, and root vegetables, you can try to eat them raw, but it may just end up in a challenge for your teeth and stomach.
Written by: Kelsie Crane

Backyard Chickens, Fresh Eggs, Pecking Order, Uncategorized

4 Important Things to Consider when Ordering your First Chickens

In addition to looking forward to scrumptious and beautiful eggs, as backyard chicken keepers, we also hope that our feathered, breakfast-making ladies will be our pets too. As you prepare to get chickens for your coop and backyard, there are a few important things to consider in order to foster a flock that is healthy, happy with each other, and happy with us. (Note: this will certainly make for the-most-delicious-tasting eggs.)

  1. Choose wisely when deciding on the number of chickens you’ll get. First, check with your city ordinances to find out if there is a limit to the number of chickens you can keep. Next, determine the maximum number of chickens you can keep based on the size of your chicken coop. Chickens, like most living beings, need personal space and some freedom to move about. If you pack too many hens into a small area, you’re asking for heavy cleaning and loads of bickering (or worse), somewhat like taking kids for a long car ride! You can generally assume that about 10 square feet per chicken should be sufficient, less if you plan to free range them outside the coop. Lastly, determine how many eggs your household will reasonably use, sell, barter, or give away. On average, a good laying hen will give you 5 eggs per week.
  2. Keep pullets around the same age or size. We recommend keeping adolescent pullets within a couple months of age of each. If you’re starting with baby chicks, keep them all within a few weeks of each other – they will need much different heat requirements if they’re too far apart in age. If you’re starting with mature hens – they’ll all be the same size and the age does not matter. It may seem like a great idea to get some chickens that are ready to lay to appease our excitement to harvest fresh eggs, and some chickens that are small and fluffy that we can bond with. Unfortunately, putting together a group of chickens of wildly different ages can be really tough on the little ones, and its never okay to put baby chicks together with adolescents or adults who are not currently broody and ready to be mothers. Younger chickens in a flock of older birds will often get ostracized from the group, kept away from the food and water, and subjected to a much tougher and lengthy pecking order. Baby chicks will not survive the cold or the pecking order, and getting just one baby chick for your brooder will make it lonely, stressed, and cause other health problems.
  3. Avoid including just one chicken who looks different from the rest. Surely you’ve heard the saying “Birds of a feather flock together,” and it’s true: chickens seem to know when they look like each other. They’ll pair up or stay in groups that look alike and the one chicken that doesn’t look like anyone else will get left out. Our favorite recommendation is to get all different breeds. Chickens become like pets and will probably all get names, and this makes it easy to tell them apart. You could also get all the same breeds, get pairs or multiples of different breeds, or make sure there are at least 2 chickens that look different from the rest.
  4. Integrate chickens as few times as possible. It may seem like a good idea at the time to start with a couple, and get more as you go but the pecking order can be a nasty score to settle for some chickens. This is not to say it isn’t possible or it’s too hard, but it’s not pleasant and it can be quite a bit of work.  Unless you’re absolutely not prepare to bring your ideal number of chickens in all at once, or your heart is set on breeds who will hatch in different times of the year we recommend getting everyone at once.

For more helpful information on getting started with chickens, purchase tickets to our Backyard Chickens Classes or browse our free Care Guide!

by: Megan Raff

Community, Farming, Uncategorized

Come Together: Lets build community

Here at Dare 2 Dream Farms, we have been pondering new ways to get involved in our community and support some of our local organizations. Because we are an organic produce growing farm, with an abundance of chicken eggs… we decided last fall to start a Farm Stand here at the farm! This gives our customers and members of the community an opportunity to come and visit the farm and pick out fresh produce, picked that morning!

We have decided to reach out to 12 local organizations this year, 2017, to support and donate proceeds from the farm stand. Every First Thursday of each month we will be donating to a different Lompoc club, non-profit, or community outreach program. Between November and January we donated to Planting a Seed, the LHS Girl’s Basketball Team, and the Boys & Girls Club. For the rest of the year we will be partnering with:

  • February: Planting a Seed Foundation
  • March: Lompoc YMCA
  • April: Lompoc High School’s FFA (Future Farmers of America)
  • May: Supportive Services for Veterans & their Families (SSVF)
  • August: Children’s Resource Network of the Central Coast
  • October: Lompoc Food Pantry
  • November: Lompoc 4-H Chapter

It is rewarding to be able to support some of these community organizations that are out there helping so many others in our community. Please feel free to join us on any given Thursday to support our local Farm Stand. Look for the sign at the end of the road with an arrow pointing our direction!

farm-stand-sign

Lastly: If you know of any organizations that would greatly appreciate local fundraising, please urge them to reach out to us!

Written by: Kelsie Crane

Uncategorized

The Benefits of Eating Local, Organic

Globally

There are so many reasons to eat local, but one that many seem to oversee, is that it saves our planet! When we purchase produce at the grocery store, most of the produce is in packaging, shipped from states or countries away!

When you think about all that goes into getting a bunch of bananas from Costa Rica, you must remember that they have to get here somehow, either by boat, truck, or train. Each of these modes of transportation uses fossil fuels to motorize and is a big carbon footprint on our environment and natural resources that sustain a healthy planet. The emissions also pay a tax on our atmosphere, diminishing the amount of healthy air for our plants to continue growing healthily, without chemicals and additives.

A banana tree that has to be fed chemicals just to sustain the atmospheric chemicals that are threatening it’s health, makes a cycle of destruction in our ecosystem.

Did you know bananas can grow in the Central and Southern parts of California and in some other southern states as well! We can also grow an abundant of vegetables and fruits in this area all year round. YAY!

Community

Eating locally, by visiting farm stands, local farmer’s markets, and growing in your own backyard, is a great way to support our community. When you support local farmers, you are supporting a cycle of regeneration in our ecosystem and environment around us. By keeping business in the community we are able to build a much greater network of resources. You may trade your plumber weeks of fresh produce for replacing your bathtub.

This way of support allows for a growing local economy. We can grow a small business and sustain it by visiting often and sharing your experiences with your community. When we outsource our goods, household items, and foods, we are giving our money to a much larger group of people.

The money used for a purchase of a grocery basket is distributed to the person at the check out, the store location, the driver who brought the produce to the store, the business growing the produce, and then the gas company who supplied the gas, and the electric companies who supply lighting for the stores. This may be an extreme way of looking at it, but if you dig into discovering all that is affected by outsourcing food, it is a rabbit hole of many forgotten factors.

By supporting our farm, you are supporting our local Lompoc community and the central California coast.

Health

Above all, eating local, organic produce and eggs will provide you a healthy life which can sustain you through trials and tribulations, as well as support your vitality to be available to your community.

When we eat healthy, we are giving our bodies the nutrients it needs to make clear decisions, be successful in our chosen field of work, and also support our futures!

Organic produce does not contain any added chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers with additives, or any added hormones. These can cause long term damage to our bodies.

To eat organic is the best way to get the most nutrients out of your produce, meaning you don’t need to eat as much! The energy and life force from our sun gets entangled in the cells of fresh produce that grow out in the garden. When you consume these crops, your body has access to all of these amazing benefits to make you feel good and live happy!

Also, by eating local, you are consuming the fruits of your local land, which will contain different elemental components than food grown in other regions of the world. You can get better connected with your local environment!

 

Written by: Kelsie Crane

Uncategorized

Fill me up Buttercup

The holiday season has passed, and the sweets and grand meals cannot last all year…

That goes the same for chickens! There are differences between chicken feed and chicken “snacks and treats”.

There is a long list of things you can give to your chickens for munching and pecking. Aside from the extras, it is very important that chickens get regular chicken feed daily. Chicken feed is formulated to provide the correct amount of nutrients for healthy digestion, egg production, and immunity from illness. There are different stages of feed for different ages and this is based on what the chicken needs during different stages of development. Chicken feed is the most important part of a chickens diet.

In addition to feed, there are always kitchen scraps to give your chickens. You can give them endless kitchen scraps, as long as they  are getting their food still. The things you may want to avoid are onions and garlic, which can leach flavor into the eggs, and avocados and corn, which are too high in fat to have consumed often.

You may also give your chickens bugs that you find in your home or garden, as they are fun to catch and chase after. Weeds from the garden are also always great! There are some to avoid. Grains, such as bread, crackers, cooked rice or pasta are all great but should be fed sparingly to prevent them from over eating them. Dairy, such as yogurt, is also great for chickens digestive tracts.

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Drum roll please… brrr brrrrrr brrrrrr brrrrr brup

Scratch. A chickens favorite treat, yet one to avoid over doing.. Chicken scratch, found at feed stores, is a Snickers bar for chickens. It can cause morbid obesity, and other health issues that go along with obesity, such as stroke and fatty liver disease.

Please don’t give your chickens scratch as feed. It can make their eggs unhealthy and your chickens will surely not have a very long life indulging in the cracked corn, whole grains, and seeds. USE SPARINGLY.

 

Written by: Kelsie Crane

Uncategorized

The Happy Home for a Chicken

A chicken house, aka chicken coop,  is very important for a healthy, happy flock.  Chickens need a place to sleep, to have clean food and water, to lay eggs, and to be sheltered from any harsh elements. Although we are located in Central California, there are many chickens who live in the driest desert landscapes and who also survive foraging for little leftovers in the snow. Chickens are highly adaptable to their environments and can live long lives in a clean and comfortable living space.

The size of a coop is best determined by the number of chickens, or visa versa. If you have a coop in place, it is best to measure the dimensions before determining how many chickens your coop should house. Not all chickens are the same size. With Bantam breeds, you may be able to consider two Bantams for every one Standard sized.

It is suggested that each chicken have four square feet inside the coop itself, to maintain a positive environment for the chickens to get along. As you may know, with every flock, chickens tend to have friend or foes and with a proper amount of space for each chicken, you will allow them each to have an ample amount of space to feel content.

For coops with an outdoor run, it is suggested to provide 10 square feet per chicken. This allows room for each hen to rummage through the dirt, sand, and grasses that are inside the run for them. This will also allow for your chickens to find the right place for a dust bath to lay and bathe in. If you have ample room outside in a run or free ranging, you may be able to make up for having a slightly smaller coop, though it is still important to have as much space as possible for the coop.

Chickens who will live happily in a coop and run with be more likely to lay their healthy amount of eggs and also be less likely to acquire illnesses.

In addition to the space within a coop, it is important to have enough nesting boxes for egg laying, roosts for chickens to sleep on, and windows, doors and vents for air circulation within the coop. Four chickens can share one nesting box! You may always supply more, but with a smaller number, your hens are going to be less likely to use their nesting boxes as a place to sleep.

Roosts supplied need to be eight inches long per chicken. This gives each chicken room to stand and sleep throughout the night. This is the most common way chickens sleep.

For windows and vents, it is important to make sure you can close them if you end up with some rough weather. It is also recommended to cover any holes greater than 1/2 inch with hardware cloth to keep rodents out and keep chickens in.

Make sure you are not using hay or straw in your coop, because these things can house bugs such as lice and mites, which can infest in your chickens feathers and cause problems. Dirt or pine shavings are great ground covering and bedding for your chickens! They will be happy and healthy for years long.

coop

 

Written by: Kelsie Crane