I’ve Flown the Coop

poultry

While Kelly restores our breakfast nook, I’m at a two day poultry seminar sponsored by the California Department of Food & Agriculture. The point of my attendance is to learn good husbandry practices and share them with you, our dear readers. I’ll break down the voluminous information into a series of future blog posts. The takeaways from yesterday’s session:

  • Buy chickens that have been vaccinated for Marek’s disease. This is the most common problem with backyard chickens and it’s entirely preventable.
  • If you have a sick or dead chicken and live in California, send it to the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHHFS) for a free necropsy. Here’s a list of the labs and their contact information. Call for instructions and don’t freeze the carcass. If you bring a sick chicken they will euthanize it for you.
  • UC Cooperative Extension has a

new backyard poultry website

    .

Thanks to Craig Ruggless of Winnetka Farms for tipping me off to this class.

How do I keep squirrels and rats from eating my grapes?

My beautiful picture

I’m running an experiment this summer on our grape arbor. Using our CritterCam, I’ve photographed both squirrels and rats munching on grapes. I decided to see if either paper bags or plastic clamshell containers would deter the daily and nightly mammalian fruit buffet. Preliminary results:

  • Clamshells don’t work. The fruit fermented, and not in a nice way.
  • Paper bags seem to work, but probably only because I left a lot of the fruit exposed in the hopes that they would eat that first and leave the bagged fruit alone. It’s also hard to tell when the fruit is ripe when it’s in a paper bag.

I’m thinking the long term answer is to make custom fruit cages out of hardware cloth. If the grapes were neatly tended on a vine it would be much easier to net them. Netting is not an option on our arbor.

Look carefully in this image and you can see one of the “perps” reaching out to grab a tasty grape:

My beautiful picture

Have you tackled the mammalian grape buffet issue? How did you deal with it?

So Cal Alert: Polyphagus Shot Hole Borer

fusariumdieback

Polyphagus Shot Hole Borer, from UC Riverside’s Eskalen Lab

Seems the greater LA area is ground zero for the introduction of yet another exotic beetle which is killing our our beautiful native oaks and sycamores, our landscape trees, even our beloved avocado trees.

The good news is that the fungal disease propagated by the beetle can be treated if detected early. You’ll need the services of a professional arborist, but the cost of treatment will likely be less than the cost of tearing out a mature tree.

Look at this link to UC Riverside’s Eskalen Lab. Here they have several PDFs on identifying and treating the disease. They also have a map showing the spread of the disease. Of course, these are only reported infections–it could be much more widely spread.

(Note: a separate invasion was recently detected in the commercial avocado groves of San Diego county, so folks further south should be on alert too.)

Continue reading…

049 The Fierce Green Fire: Natural Beekeeper Patrick Pynes

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Our guest this week is organic beekeeper and gardener Patrick Pynes. I met Patrick through a comment he left on a blog post I did about Africanized bees. We talk about this subject as well as top bar hives and what it means to keep bees, as Patrick puts it, “beecentrically.” Patrick’s website is Honeybee Teacher. During the podcast we discuss:

  • Les Crowder
  • The language around beekeeping: “beecentric” vs. anthropocentric approaches to honeybees and “Bee-having” vs. “beekeeping”
  • Dealing with swarms
  • Golden Mean Top Bar hive, which you can see at backyardhive.com
  • Africanized bees
  • Aggression vs. defensiveness
  • Top bar hives and Africanized bees
  • Inspecting bees
  • Advantages of top bar hives
  • Eight frameĀ Langstroth hives with foundationless frames
  • Diseases

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.