I have been wanting to start raising my own Cornish-rock Cross chickens, but was not sure where to begin, which breed for the hen and rooster? Also you mentioned breeding back; can you explain that to me? I already hatch my own chicks for egg laying.
We’re not sure, either; we’re just experimenting now. We’re going to cross the crossbred chicks back to a White Rock rooster, then those chicks back to a Cornish rooster and see what happens. We’re not going commercial here, just trying to find the best cross for our homestead. The “mistakes” are all good meat birds and we’ll have plenty for the pantry as we go along! — Jackie
Sweet potatoes and poison ivy
This is the first year that we have planted sweet potatoes….is there anything special to do after digging them up? I thought I read somewhere that they had to get a “second skin”, so how long do we have to wait for that to happen? Also, how long can I expect to store them?
Also, for the first time, we have poison ivy (the five leave type) coming up everywhere. What can I use to stop this plant other than using “ROUND UP”?
There was a recent article in BHM (May/June 2011, Issue #129) on sweet potatoes, which was very good. You should allow your sweet potatoes to cure for a week or so in a dry place, out of the sun before storage. Then store them in a cool, dry place where they’ll develop their sweet taste. They should store for at least 4 months, and often longer under good conditions.
I don’t think you have poison ivy. Poison ivy has leaves in a grouping of three, thus, the old saying: “leaves three, let it be!”. There are several good photos online of poison ivy in all seasons for you to check out. You probably have Virginia creeper, and most folks think of it as a bonus in the yard. You’ll often find it climbing on folks’ chimneys and on brick house walls. — Jackie
Meyer Lemon tree
This summer our relative from Jacksonville, Florida brought us a Meyer Lemon tree. We planted it in a large (18-inch diameter) pot. We live in zone 5 and plan to bring it inside when the temps drop. It will be in a southwest facing window. Will we have to give it supplemental light? We keep the house at 68 degrees during the day and 58 degrees at night during the winter. How much water should we give it and how often? Any hints on the care of the tree would be most welcome.
Mount Vernon, Ohio
Lucky you! That Meyer should begin to produce a few lemons within a year’s time! You shouldn’t have to provide more light than it will have in that southwest facing window. They do like quite a bit of moisture, including a good misting a couple of times a week with a spray bottle. But let the soil in the pot dry out on the surface before watering again. Make sure your pot has drainage holes in it. I planted one in a large pot and thought it had holes. No holes. I drowned the tree! Do keep watch for spider mites, which will kill it (webs on leaves and branches) and aphids on the undersides of the leaves. — Jackie
Help! There seems to be something wrong with one of my chickens. Tonight after filling their feed trays, I noticed this chicken was lying flat on the ground and was letting the other chickens stand on her. Earlier, I noticed her kinda holding her wings out.
Last week, a different chicken, with similar markings, was also acting ‘weak’ compared to flock. I decided to separate her, she seemed to be all feathers and no meat on her. She had food, water and I thought shade. I found her dead later that day. Either I was right that something was wrong with her or really mistaken about the amount of shade and the heat got her.
Does this sound familiar to you, at all? The birds are only 13 weeks old.
Are these birds Cornish Rock meat chickens? I’ve had them do this, as they’re very susceptible to the heat and also have a lot of heart problems due to their weight and the fat around their hearts. The heat can also get other breeds, as well. Be sure they have plenty of shade and fresh cool water at all times. — Jackie
Peaches and apples
How do you start a peach tree from seed? So far I have had no luck freezing it a little to splitting the seed open. Any suggestions?
Is there any way that I can find out what kind of apple tree we have? The apples get a little bigger than a golf ball, but not by much. They have light red stripes on, they tend to also have knobs on them. Are usually hard to cut, BUT oh so sweet, I can make apple pies or apple sauce with them and either not need sugar or very little. I asked our Ag Ext agent and got the answer that the apple type was “ugly but sweet” apples.
Ralph C. Lincoln
The easiest way to start a peach tree from seed is to plant several pits out in the yard in a corner of your garden or in an enclosed bed, such as a tire full of soil, right after harvesting the peaches dead ripe. Let them winter over and chill naturally. In the spring, the little peach seedlings should emerge. If you have squirrels, you might want to lay a wire over the area until next spring; they will sometimes dig them up and eat them. Understand that peaches from seed may or may not produce a tree that will have good peaches. Some do and some don’t. That’s why most modern fruit trees are grafted onto hardy rootstock. That way, the new tree will be exactly like its parent tree.
Unfortunately, that’s probably what happened to get your bumpy sweet apple! It’s probably a chance seedling that turned out very well. You might get a FEDCO tree catalog; they have great descriptions of a wide variety of apples — many old, heritage varieties. You just might find your apple tree listed there. Good luck. — Jackie
You mentioned putting wire around your apple trees this fall. Can you tell me why?
Do you have a solution for tree robbers? We have never been able to harvest our apples in the three years they’ve been producing, and now this year the peaches all went too — before we could harvest them ourselves. We think it may be raccoons, but it is possible it is possums. I just don’t know for sure. Any advice?
Brush Creek, Tennessee
We wrap the trunks of our fruit trees with metal window screen or small-mesh hardware cloth, up to at least 3 feet or farther if the trunk is tall enough. This protects the trees from having their tender bark eaten by voles and rabbits during the winter.
As for critters robbing your trees, about the best solution is to keep the trees out in the open; no long grass/weeds around them or other places for these animals to hide in. The don’t like to cross big expanses of open ground. Then use electric fence around each tree or orchard, after mowing the grass where the fence will be. Have the bottom wire about six inches off the ground, with four more strands about six inches apart, above that. There is also an electric netting that works well for this application. If the trees are where there is no electricity, use a solar fence charger and be sure to install either the electric or solar charger properly. This will keep all but birds away from your trees during ripening time. — Jackie