Reinventing the Farm!
Sometimes we feel like we are trying to reinvent the wheel. In reality here at Jehovah-Jireh Farm we have been facing the technological challenge of "reinventing" lost farming methods of years gone by, plus trying to incorporate modern technology. It is amazing how quickly details become forgotten. The poultry industry in America has changed so much in the last 75 years that there is very little current information available about raising poultry on pasture on a larger scale. What works for a person with 10 or even 100 hens can become very labor intensive when you have 1000 or more hens.
On several occasions we went to the Library of Congress and researched how poultry was raised on pasture in the early 1900's. We regularly search the internet to try to find things that might help us. We have called out to God and asked Him to teach us to farm. Little by little, the pieces are coming together.
One of the challenges we have faced is dealing with dirty eggs. Whenever it would rain, the hens would go into the nest boxes with their muddy little feet and invariably get some mud on the eggs. The eggs had to be cleaned and it became a laborious task to clean all those dirty eggs. The children got tired of it and so did their dad! It seemed like the only solution was to get a large commercial egg washer, but the cost was prohibitive for the number of eggs we had.
The Lord led us to a better solution: keep the eggs from getting dirty to start with. After five revisions on the nest boxes, we now have a nest box system in which very few of the eggs get dirty. Now, there really is not a need to get a commercial sized egg washer. The eggs are much more fun to gather, the children rarely complain, and you get a better egg! There are a few more ideas that we want to try that hopefully will make the system even better.
Often we find ourselves needing to make what we need rather than buying it. Either the items that we need are not available, or what is available is not quite what we need or it is cost prohibitive for our scale of operation.
The egg washer that we "invented" for washing the eggs that get dirty is a good example. It consists of a three foot long piece of copper pipe that has one end smashed to create a high pressure like spray nozzle. The pipe is connected to a hot water hose. The eggs are placed in an egg basket and "pressure washed" with hot water. The eggs are then dried with a paper towel and usually any remaining dirt wipes right off. There are no chemicals or detergents, and the eggs do not sit in water. A normal garden hose nozzle did not work because there was too much hot water wasted and the volume of water tended to break the eggs. The small scale egg washers that are available require detergents, immersion of the eggs in water, and they do not clean the eggs very well.
We enjoy the challenge of researching, inventing, building, and modifying. In addition, the farm provides a great oportunity for our children to learn a lot of different skills, and that is one of the big purposes of our farm.