Sunday, January 19, 2014

Meet the First Residents of My Urban Micro-Farm

My current goal is to live in this house in the suburbs while paying off the mortgage within 4 years.  After that, I will probably sell it and move back out to my property, this time with more money and more skills so that I can stay out there permanently.  While I am waiting to pay off my mortgage, I thought that I might as well try some things that could be money making or, at least, money saving endeavors.  If the projects fail then I can try something else.  It is much easier to try things when I have reliable water, heat/AC, and stores nearby.

Backyard chickens seem to be all the rage but I had chickens when I was a kid and I know that they are noisy when they lay eggs and I do not want anything noisy.  Chickens also need a very secure pen.  Raccoons made a meal out of more than one of our hens.  Since I have dogs, I would have to make a separate space for the chickens and my yard isn't very big.  Plus, I don't really eat that many eggs.  But, I was reading different homestead blogs and I came across another bird.  The Coturnix jumbo quail.  They lay an egg a day but it takes around 5 eggs to equal a chicken egg.  If I get really brave, I can eat the quail (I don't know if I can do that).

I read everything that I could find on them and decided to buy a couple adult birds since incubators with the automatic turning trays are quite expensive and I can't stay home and turn eggs 5 times a day.  Craigslist had an ad for quail but the person never responded.  I found a website for a guy that lives a few miles from me and he said he could sell me 6 quail for $50.  That price is high but considering that I don't have to buy an incubator (yet) or build a brooder (yet), I figured it was worth the money to see if I could keep these birds happy.

So, today I brought home 2 female and 1 male Manchurian gold quail and 2 female and 1 male English white quail.  He didn't have any jumbo quail available but if I can keep these birds happy, then someday in the future I can buy jumbo hatching eggs.  My quail are living in 2 rubbermaid totes until I can build a cage on the porch.  I got one egg already.  Maybe by the weekend I will have enough for a quail egg omelet.

Coming other micro-farm project is going to be an attempt at aquaponics.  I'm going to start with goldfish and lettuce and if that works then I will work up to Tilapia.  I think growing fish will be fun (if they don't all die).  And I read that aquaponics uses 90% less water than gardening in the soil so I am excited about that.  The hardest part of gardening in Arizona is the brutal Summer heat that dries everything out.  This year I want to take advantage of the wonderful large covered porch that I have.  I don't have destructive foster puppies like last year so I think I'm going to have more success no matter what I do.


Lizzie@her MFW Homeworld said...

Brilliant. I love mew projects! They are so cute, i think only the eggs can go in the pan.
There must be some way to make growing food easier. In Africa dont they have some sort of thin fabric which tent on the kitchen garden which helps. I will investigate! or are you actually hotter and dryer than Africa. I cant imagine!

Daizy said...

They sell shade fabric here. Really expensive but I have some. The problem is that the wind tends to rip it off of whatever it is attached too. Last year I had some success with using sunflowers as living shade. For some reason my yellow squash refused to grow though. Maybe the sunflowers poisoned it.