Urban Farming

My experience with urban farming has been very enjoyable, even in the winter when we have to trek through freezing temperatures, wind, sleet and snow. Every morning before I get ready to go let the chickens and ducks out of their coops I look out my kitchen window and see them eagerly awaiting my presence. Our pet chickens, ducks, muscovy, quail, and turkeys bring me joy. They each have their own personalities, likes and dislikes. The best thing is the eggs. They are beautiful, green, blue, cream colored shells with rich orange colored yolks. I find that the eggs are better quality and taste like real eggs versus the eggs you buy at the grocery store. Chickens and ducks do not lay much or at all during the winter. From my experience you will most likely have to buy eggs in the winter.

Urban farming also involves growing your own food. Whether you want a strawberry patch or grow your own vegetables. The possibilities are endless! But beware! If you use your own compost for the soil in your garden beds, be prepared to have unplanned plants grow in your neatly planted beds. The best practice for finding out what can grow in your area is to research where your city is on the Plant Hardiness Zone Map. This tool will help you learn what plants will do well in your area. If you want to really get into Urban Farming, do a soil test. You can buy these at Lowe’s or Amazon. These will tell you the composition of your soil and help you level out the playing field so to speak, when it comes to what nutrients are needed for your crops to thrive.

If you are planning on selling your crops at a local farmer’s market, I would recommend looking into your state’s Cooperative Extension office and seeing if they have any classes you can take on the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and take it! It will be very informational about the correct way to harvest crops as well as the do’s and don’ts for what you can and cannot sell. I would also look into any classes they may offer, there are also grants out there to offer agricultural classes for free. I would highly recommend looking into your state’s Cooperative Extension office for classes in general. Knowledge is power.

I hope you enjoyed reading my perspective and personal experiences on urban farming. If you have any questions and want to talk about how to start up your own Urban Farm, please feel free to send me an email and I can give you helpful advice. I am by no means an expert!

Feeding Pet Pigeons

The last bird you want to feed is a pigeon because they like to stay close to their food supply. And wherever you feed them is where they will hang out, and where they will use their ultrasound bird calls to help map the area for their mind. Once they decide to live in a certain area, it’s almost impossible to get rid of them. Sure, you can put up bird spikes and many business owners do, and many homeowners associations and high-rise condo complex managers attempt the same. Still, it’s hard to get rid of these birds as they will find somewhere to land, you can’t put the spikes on every single horizontal surface.

Pigeons really only need a couple of inches against a wall to perch – and, wherever they perch is where they let loose of their waste, and they seem to have indigestion, and diarrhea judging by what they discharge when they eat people food. Yes, the story gets even worse when you start considering the challenges of things like bird flu. Worse, if you feed the pigeons, they don’t just cause a problem in your vicinity, but all of your neighbors have to deal with the ugly stains of pigeon poop everywhere. Pigeons are very good at begging and they remember the types of behavior which garnered the most free food.

They are definitely scavengers, and if you feed one more will come into the area, which means more pigeon poop and more problems, including more bacteria, and the chances of getting bird flu someday. None of this is very good, so even if you think you are doing the pigeons a favor, and you like to go bird watching, feeding them isn’t very smart, not even in someone else’s park. Suffice it to say, pigeons don’t make very good pets, and there’s no sense in you learning the hard way. Please consider all this and think on it.

 

Bird Feeding

People feed wild birds to bring beauty to their outdoor spaces, for therapy or relaxation and for educational purposes for themselves or others. Some put bird feeders in their yards, hang them from trees, and put them on fences and in gardens or patios. Wild birds can be fed in your gardens or patios anytime of the year.

The Fish and Wildlife Service estimate in the spring there are approximately 10 billion wild birds in the United States and in the fall approximately 15 billion wild birds. This large increase in the fall is due to the fact that all the babies will have hatched.

Of those that feed birds, approximately $3 billion a year is spent on bird food by backyard hobbyists. They also spend $800 million a year on accessories for birds such as bird houses, bird baths, bird feeders, and other birding accessories.

There are all types of feeders. Here are just a few examples of the types of feeders that are available. There are also many more varieties of bird feeders constructed of many different materials.

  • Suet feeder
  • Open hopper
  • Single tube feeder
  • Twin tube feeder
  • Free standing feeder
  • Circular bird feeder
  • Liquid feeder
  • Fruit feeder
  • Platform feeder
  • Ground feeder

There are different types of feeders in relation to the types of birds you are trying to attract and the region of the country you are located in.

For example, the Blue Jay, can be found in almost every state in the country depending on the time of year. Blue Jays like a variety of feeders and a variety of bird food.

The types of bird feeders Blue Jays prefer vary in size and type. They like tube feeders, covered platform feeders, suet feeders, large open hoppers. They also like to eat on the ground to forage for whatever they can find.

Blue Jays like to eat seeds; safflower seeds, black oil sunflower seeds and hulled sunflower seeds. Here is a list of some of the other foods that Blue Jays enjoy to eat.

  • Cracked corn
  • Fruit
  • Mealworms
  • Milo
  • Millet
  • Peanuts
  • Peanut hearts
  • Suet

There are all types of bird seed and bird food available on the market today. It is best to know, as in our example, the Blue Jay, the types of environment for housing and the types of food they prefer. Most feed stores that also sell bird see will be able to help you with the types of food and feeders for the birds in your region of the county.

Proper Bird Care for Your Backyard

Bird Houses

If you didn’t clean your bird houses last fall after all the birds left, then now is the time to do so. Here are some things you should do to make sure your bird houses are ready for the new arrivals this spring.

  • First of all, if you have followed me at all, you will probably have a bird house with a hinged roof. This just makes it easier to get at the old nest in there and clean things out.
  • Using rubber gloves, lift the roof of your bird house up and clean out the old nest and any loose material still left over.
  • Make a solution of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water to clean your bird house. Yes it is safe. This will clean the house and prevent disease. Remember bird safety is the goal here.
  • Using a stiff bristled brush scrub the inside of the bird house with the solution that you made. Be sure to clean the house thoroughly.
  • Once you have finished cleaning your bird houses, rinse them off thoroughly using just water. As long as you rinse the houses well, using the bleach solution is no problem at all.
  • Make sure your houses are completely dry though before you put them back up.

Bird Feeders

There are so many different types of bird feeders out there for sale and they all should be cleaned from time to time. Depending on the feeders you are using, after a while, you will have bird droppings and old decomposing seeds at the bottom of your feeder. This all breeds disease that will hurt your birds.

However taking some time to do a little spring maintenance on your feeders will go a long way to keeping your birds healthy, safe and coming back year after year.

There are a number of feeders on the market today

Platform feeders are just what they say and rather straight forward. Same with window feeders. Hopper and house type feeders are usually harder to get at depending on their design and of course you have the tube feeders just to name a few.

In most cases, unless your feeder is in really bad shape, you can get by with a stiff brush and soapy water to clean them out. Depending on the type of feeder you have, you may have to lift the roof off or in the case of a tube feeder take it apart, but cleaning them out is not a big chore.

If your feeders have gotten really bad, then I would suggest using a cleaning solution that consists of 9 parts water and 1 part bleach to soak your feeder in. In this case, once you have cleaned the feeder with soapy water, just soak the feeder in this solution for a few minutes. Maybe 10 to 15 minutes will do just fine.

Be sure to rinse your feeders out thoroughly when you have finished cleaning them and be sure they have completely dried out before you use them again.

Another thing to remember when cleaning your feeders is to clean the ground below them. The seeds and droppings that have fallen to the ground will decompose as well and some birds will eat off of the ground, so if you really care about bird safety in your backyard, do clean up the mess there as well.

Hummingbird Feeders

Hopefully you have cleaned these up last fall before you put them away however I do know how busy we can all get and I do know how time can get away from us all, so if you didn’t clean them last fall, then when you are doing your spring cleaning is a perfect time to get this done and here is how you do it.

If you have followed me at all and have taken my advice, then you will probably have a hummingbird feeder that is easy to take apart. Because of the solution you make to feed them and depending on the air temperature outside, their food can get moldy quite quickly and if you have tight spots in the feeder it could be difficult to get to the mold.

Usually you can use a solution consisting of 1 part white vinegar and 4 parts water to soak you feeder in. While soaking you can use a brush to make sure you get it completely clean.

If you have waited too long and the feeder is really bad you can us a solution consisting of 1/4 cup of bleach to a gallon of water to clean your feeders. Soak the feeders in the solution for a while and then try to brush out the mold. Be sure to use rubber gloves.

In each case, no matter what solution you have used, be sure that you rinse your feeders completely before you use them.

Bird Baths

Whether you have a heated bird bath that you have used all winter long or an unheated one that you are going to begin using again, I would make cleaning them out as part of your spring cleaning routine.

Just use a stiff brush and hot soapy water to clean them out. Again be sure to rinse them well before you use them.

So… get all your spring maintenance and bird care chores completed early and then just sit back and enjoy your backyard birds.

You can follow these links if you are looking for ideas and suggestions for attracting birds [http://www.grandpas-backyard-fun.com/attracting-birds.html] to your backyard or if you want additional information on wild bird seed.