Thursday, February 26, 2009

Another Happy Day at Rich Heritage Farm

We sold another 52 quail today! One lot of 30, one of a dozen and a third of 10. All were sold as meat birds, so not quite as profitable as breeders. I not complaining, the profit will cover the quail bills for a couple of months even if we don't sell another single one in that time. Actually, I have sold out of meat birds for now. There are 35 that will be ready in about two more weeks and 40 more three weeks behind them. Repeat customers are becoming the theme and definitely one of our main goals. I would never turn away a call today for birds customer if birds are available; however, it's nice to have a customer who request a specific number to be filled on a date in the future.

We collected 72 eggs yesterday, which is our largest collection to date. Today was only a measly 51. I am still experimenting with shipping containers so we can get the shipping egg business underway. If I can't be sure the eggs get were they are going without damage I don't want to send them.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Will you give this to my Daddy?

This is an e-mail I received today and I just couldn't help posting it here. My kids know how it is to miss their Daddy, and I know how hard it is to miss my kids. Even if it never happened and is completely made up. I know a brother/sister in arms would do this for a child.

Will you give this to my Daddy?

As a Company, Southwest Airlines is going to support 'Red Fridays.' Last week I was in Atlanta , Georgia attending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me beginning to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed one of the greatest acts of patriotism I have ever seen. Moving through the terminal was a group of soldiers in their camos. As they began heading to their gate, everyone (well almost everyone) was abruptly to their feet with their hands waving and cheering. When I saw the soldiers, probably 30-40 of them, being applauded and cheered for, it hit me. I'm not alone. I'm not the only red-blooded American who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families. Of course I immediately stopped and began clapping for these young unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line everyday for us so we can go to school, work and home without fear or reprisal.
Just when I thought I could not be more proud of my country or of our service men and women, a young girl, not more than 6 or 7 years old, ran up to one of the male soldiers. He kneeled down and said 'hi.' The little girl then asked him if he would give something to her daddy for her. The young soldier, who didn't look any older than maybe 22 himself, said he would try and what did she want to give to her Daddy.. Then suddenly the little girl grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest hug she could muster and then kissed him on the cheek.
The mother of the little girl, who said her daughter's name was Courtney, told the young soldier that her husband was a Marine and had been in Iraq for 11 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her daughter Courtney missed her father, the young soldier began to tear up. When this temporarily single mom was done explaining her situation, all of the soldiers huddled together for a brief second. Then one of the other servicemen pulled out a military-looking walkie-talkie. They started playing with the device and talking back and forth on it. After about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked back over to Courtney, bent down and said this to her, 'I spoke to your daddy and he told me to give this to you.' He then hugged this little girl that he had just met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by saying 'your daddy told me to tell you that he loves you more than anything and he is coming home very soon.'
The mom at this point was crying almost uncontrollably and as the young soldier stood to his feet, he saluted Courtney and her mom. I was standing no more than 6 feet away from this entire event. As the soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate, people resumed their applause. As I stood there applauding and looked around, there were very few dry eyes, including my own. That young soldier in one last act of selflessness, turned around and blew a kiss to Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek.
We need to remember everyday all of our soldiers and their families and thank God for them and their sacrifices. At the end of the day , it's good to be an American.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Raising Quail to Sell

I get ask often about the way I do this or that, or why do I feed this and not that. My quail are livestock, and are hatched and raised to the correct size in a sufficient enough quantity to keep my little side line business operating. I am not an expert! However, I have learned a few things that I wish I would have known at the very beginning. The reason I didn't know these things was entirely my fault. You see, I didn't go to the right source. I asked the people who only raised a few as pets and maybe processed a few culls for the table every once in a while. Don't get me wrong their system worked just fine for them and I praise them for their constant dedication to their birds.

The problems I started having with their system started when I began hatching more birds at one time then they ever had in their entire life put together. When I had my third batch of eggs to hatch (87 out of 100), I began to see the fallacies of the small pet flock holders compared to what I needed.If you are raising any number of birds I hope these suggestions will help you. Some of these suggestions will cost a few dollars up front and possibly a little research up front but it will save you money and most importantly time (If you don't think time is money try feeding 500 quail with the wrong feed and wrong equipment.)

1. Find a supplier of quality feed. I feed game bird starter to all my quail except for the breeders, who get game bird breeder/flight conditioner. (absolutely no exceptions) Yes they can and will eat chicken feed, but I'm raising quail. Yes, you can add things to up the protein in chicken feed and it will be as high in protein as the game bird feed. That may be a possibility for 5 birds, but not for 500, because of the time it takes.

2. Use adequate sized appliances for you quail. A baby quail is born trying to commit suicide and thinking they are ducks. Have quail size waterers and still put marbles in the founts for the first week. By the time they are 3 days old they should be eating out of feeders to stop some of the feed waste. I use the plastic trays cookies come in. They are very similar to a plastic ice tray, which I will use to replace the trays I'm using right now when they become unusable. (I'm not a cookie eater and I don't have a clue which cookies they came from.)

3. Clean waterers every day and disinfect all appliances at least weekly. This applies if you have 5 or 500.

4. Collect eggs at a minimum of two times a day. Store eggs little end down in a cool place with a lot of humidity. Batches of eggs being incubated should all be the same size and if at all possible should have been collected within three days of each other. While in the incubator I always keep at least 45% humidity until day 15. At day 15 I remove them from the turner and raise the humidity to 70%. I remove the trays from the turner, but keep the eggs in the trays. I use a hovabator forced air incubator that will hold up to 120 eggs. Strong chicks should pip, zip and pop out of the egg quickly. The egg trays keep the ones that have just hatched from kicking the other eggs all over the place.

5. Every time you open the incubator you are endangering the chicks that have not hatched yet. A newly hatched chick can stay in the incubator for up to 72 hrs. (I've never had a hatch to be that spread out, but I have left them in there for over 12 hrs. The same people who feed chicken feed to their quail will tell you that the quail chicks metabolism is so fast it must have food and water within 12 hrs of hatching. Yeah, when you figure that one out, please draw me a picture! Eggs that fail to hatch, fail for a reason. If you assist a weak chick to hatch, you will have to assist it from then on. I am not heartless, it's just the truth of the matter.

6. Baby chicks are only cute for about 4 days. They start growing feathers and their poop starts stinking right about the 5 day old mark!

I hope this info can be useful to someone, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Y'all Come Back!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I have been researching aquaponics for over a year, and we're finally on the verge of diving in!

Aquaponics is the combination of Aquaculture and Hydroponics where you raise fish in a tank and plants in grow beds. The system is a closed loop (with the exception of the fish food) where the fish tank water is filtered by the grow beds and the plants get all their nourishment from the water and in turn clean and hep oxygenate the water that is then returned to the fish. The system can be a constant flow or a flood and drain. Our system will be a flood and drain. If you have never heard of aquaponics before please do a search on the Internet as my description is just a country boy's thumbnail.

Ahhhh, the Internet such a wealth of information. As with searching anything, I found almost as much confusing information as I did straight forward helpful information. A lot of the web pages I visited were wanting to sell me their systems and each would contradict the last page. Another problem was that the few people I could find using aquaponics in the U.S. are in a completely geographical section. I wanted to use a fish species that I knew could survive in our climate and not use some tropical fish I had never heard of before that would die on me the first day. I had placed the idea on the back burner, since to be honest I could just continue to expand my square foot gardening and traditional gardening and put up a green house with the knowledge I already have.

However, my fortune changed last week. I made contact with a great guy in South Illinois, on Homesteading Today, who is running a system like the one I'm wanting to start. He and his wife have been running their system for a few years and they have been nice enough to answer questions I have had. They even sent me pictures of their system. They are having great success growing catfish and vegetables from March to November. With their help, I know I can further my path to self sustainability and increase the profit margin on the farm.

I will start a scaled down prototype system in the next few weeks to operate and experiment with while we're still learning. I will also learn to take pictures and post them here on the blog so everyone can follow our progress and see if it's something you would like to try.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Finally an Update on the Quail

The quail business is moving steadily for us. We have sold a number of meat birds and the orders keep coming in. As a matter of fact we are kind of caught in the middle right at this moment because I have a customer requesting 30 and the oldest batch I have is still has two weeks grow out left. This is a great problem to have though!

We are hatching 200 a month for sale and this will probably triple after April 1st, since we will be able to house them in outside pens. Our oldest breeders will be replaced at that time too. Currently they are all housed with the breeders in the garage turned aviary. We have grow out pens set up and could place more into the current aviary, but it's the amount of manure that is hard to deal with not the actual number of birds. The dropping from Texas A&Ms contain more moisture than other quail like the bob whites. The ammonia overload in the manure will start burning your eyes after about three days, so keeping the place clean is a constant chore. The hot one day then the cold raining 40 mph wind days the next, seem to be stacked against our clean-out schedule.

Hopefully, we will be able to start selling hatching eggs by April. This past Wed, I collect 51 eggs of which 43 of them were perfect. By perfect I mean correct size, shape and weight. Although, I never plan to sell a thousand eggs at a time. I would like to sell up to three dozen to a customer and they know that they are getting the freshest best hand selected eggs they can get. Uniform egg size also helps with uniform chick size after they hatch. I have actually tested the theory. The larger the egg the larger the chick, at a glance, that sounds ideal, but in my personal experience the largest eggs produce lethargic chicks and the smaller eggs produce small weak chicks. The best chicks come from well shaped eggs just shy of the largest eggs. If I am going to sell somebody something it's going to be the best I can produce. This might cost me some money due to not selling every product available, but I can live with that.

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