The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Urban Gardening

So, we know that farming can be a very rewarding experience. Hard work, but rewarding. The food is always fresh and you know what goes into what you’re eating. But, what if you don’t live in an area that you can have livestock and garden veggies galore? Urban living gives us access to a lot, but also limits us to the supermarket or your local farmer’s market. So, whether you have an apartment, a studio, or even maybe a little land outside your house, here’s our quick guide to getting started with some urban gardening.

Finding a spot

Before you start planning out and mapping the (possibly) limited space you have for growing, you need to find a spot that is going to be able to get six to eight hours of sun per day and has easy access to water. Some great spots could be your patio, balcony, roof eaves (for hanging plants, more on that later). Additionally, as long as it’s not against fire code and not preventing your use, you could even use your fire escape if your building has one.

What to use

Now that you have a spot picked out, the next step is to figure out how you’re going to plant your garden. There are different ways to go about this. However, you want to make sure of a few things before you buy pots. Make sure your container has draining holes (these are easy to make if you want to save money, just poke some holes in the bottom of the container that you’re planning on using), isn’t transparent since sunlight will fry exposed roots, will be big enough to support the plant, and to use good draining soil.

What plants to buy

While you can grow any sort of veggies in pots as long as they have room to grow. IF you don’t have a lot of space certain types of plants fit better with certain types of pots. If you’re using hanging pots, ‘tumbler’ vine tomatoes are great because the vines will just bush out over the sides of the hanging pot. If you have more room you can use a trellis planted into a larger planter for vine plants like squash, beans, or peas. Spices have shallow roots so smaller planters can be great for them and they end up not taking up a lot of room.

If you’re really looking to dig your hands into the dirt, and see how much of a green thumb you really have, try finding out if your community has a community garden. These spaces are great to come together and share the work to maintain a great garden for your friends and neighbors.

Well I hope this quick guide helps, and even though it’s the dead of winter, now is a great time to start seedlings and figure out what space will work perfect come spring and summer.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Featured Post: 10 Tips to Keep Your Dog Healthy This Winter

Today we had a special guest write us a post for our Blog. Tim Pink is the owner of Saratoga Dog Walker and was kind enough to write us a few tips on how to keep your canine friends healthy and active in the very sedentary time of winter.

dog-on-walkLife in the Northeast presents many challenges in the winter when it comes to the health and wellbeing of your beloved dog. Here are 10 tips to help keep your dog safe and healthy this winter.

#1 – Make sure your dog isn’t left outside (or in a car) for too long and keep an eye on his body temperate. Remember, the wind chill will make it even colder and dogs can also get frostbite. Keep a close eye on their ears and paws as they are most susceptible. If your dog starts walking funny, lifting his paws, or hunching over than it’s time to get him inside!

#2 – Use jackets. Depending on your dog’s coat and the amount of time you plan to spend outside he may need an additional jacket. They make jackets for all occasions but the best jackets will cover the chest, be water resistant and tight fitting, easy to put on and off, and have a reflective material.

#3 – Mushers Secret. This stuff is great for paws! It’s a wax based product that helps shield their paws from harmful salt and extreme cold. Always a good idea to wipe and clean off your dog’s paws after a walk so he doesn’t lick any salt that might be stuck on them.

#4 – Keep your dog well groomed. Your dog’s coat will perform its best when it’s well groomed. Extra fur and matting will not help its insulating properties. Also, be sure to trim the fur on his paws so snow doesn’t build up on them as this can be painful and debilitating to dogs.

winter dog walk

#5 – Salmon Oil and water. The lack of moisture in the air may leave your dog’s skin dry and flaky. To help your dog have healthier skin in the winter give him salmon oil. It’s healthy and he will love it! Don’t mix it in his dinner though, or he may start to demand it all the time. Also, just because it’s cold doesn’t mean your dog can’t get dehydrated. As always, make sure he always has fresh water available.

#6 – Be careful playing with your dog near ice. When playing on ice your dog could easily slip and injure himself (ACL etc.), cut his pad, or fall through the ice into a lake etc. Stick to areas that you know and steer clear of ice!

#7 – Holiday dangers. The holidays present a slew of new dangers for your dog. Take a moment to think of all the new things around your house that your dog could get into. Things like the tree (needles, tinsel, ornaments, lights), extension cords, gifts (for people or your dog), holiday nick knacks, as well asholly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants which are pet poisons. As a rule of thumb if your dog can get to it, assume he will and take the necessary steps to avoid tragedy. Oh, and don’t forget to keep the alcohol and chocolates out of reach!

#8 – Antifreeze. Dogs tend to be attracted to the smell and taste of antifreeze but it is highly toxic! Be sure not to leave any around and promptly clean up any puddles.

#9 – Extra food. If your dog spends much time outside in the winter he will probably need more food in order to keep his body temperature up. It takes more calories to keep warm, and the last thing you want is for your dog to lose weight in the winter.

#10 – Exercise! Keep your dog healthy physically and mentally by maintaining his exercise schedule through the winter. Tis the season for dog’s to start “acting up”. This is because they tend to get much less exercise in the winter which leads to excess energy and boredom. If you’re unable or unwilling to walk your dog in the winter call a professional dog walking service.

Well we hope that helps, if you’re curious about Tim and Saratoga Dog Walker, make sure to check him out at the link above, or if you’re in the Saratoga area, you can reach him at 518-390-8613.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

 

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Tips for Raising Sheep

sheep

A couple of weeks ago we released some tips on lambing that will help you make it a smoother process. There are many reasons to raise sheep and it’s important to first find out your reasons for wanting to raise sheep in the first place. They can be great for improving your agricultural landscape as livestock grazing helps to to control vegetation and preserve open lands. Also, they can be great to raise for profit, and it isn’t as hard as some think it is. But, whatever your reason, here are some tips to help you get started if you want to start raising sheep.

Tip #1 – Housing

Traditional barns are, by far, the most standard choice for housing when raising sheep for profit. While they might be expensive, they give the best protection for sheep, the feeds, and the equipment. If you’re looking for something less expensive, a hoop house can be a good alternative. Additionally, you’re going to want to make sure where you put the barn is on elevated ground, has good drainage, wind protection, electricity, and easy access for deliveries and trash collection.

Tip #2 – Feeding

Whatever you plan on doing with your sheep herd, I would recommend that you invest in some feeders, not only will it make feeding easier, it will also reduce the risk of your sheep contracting diseases. Feeding sheep on the ground can increase this risk because your sheep are likely to use the same area that you feed them in as their bathroom, which means that the feed can get contaminated.

Tip # 3 – Handling

Sheep are very tame and sociable creatures, like goats, they strive for an environment that follows a routine and is peaceful. Also, make sure to keep your sheep together, this will help foster a sense of home and helps them stay comfortable. The more comfortable your herd is, the healthier they will be.

two lambs

Tip #4 – Management

The style in which you manage your herd’s breeding schedule is also extremely important. There are three different styles of lambing. Early lambing takes place from January to February, and then selling the lambs in early summer. Late lambing, which occurs between April and May, which will reduce production costs but the lambs will also be sold for less. Finally, there is also accelerated lambing, which increases production, but also puts additional strain on the sheep and needs extremely close attention to your herd.

We hope that these tips will help you with your research into raising sheep. For any identification needs, we carry a wide variety of animal ID tags, and Tambra Brass Tags!

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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7 Tips for Raising Goats

Out of all the animals that you can raise on a farm, the most fun animal to work with are goats. Goats are extremely sociable, have unique personalities, and are easy to raise on a small farm. You need very little capital to start, and require very little maintenance. So without further ado, here are our top 10 tips for raising goats.

Goat Kid on Bench

Tip #1 – Goats are social creatures

Goats are a very social creature, they belong in a herd, and are used to that environment. When starting out, make sure to purchase more than one goat, to keep them healthy and playful. Make sure to never just keep one goat.

Tip #2 – Stubborn as a goat isn’t just a saying

When you hear the phrase, “stubborn as a goat” you usually think of someone who is hard-headed and has a one-track mind. Well, goats are the same way. To be able to get around this, you have to learn how to think like a goat, if something is blocking their way from getting food or water and they don’t know how to solve it, they need the one with the higher mental power to solve this puzzle for them.

Tip #3 – Make sure you have a strong fence

The grass is greener on the other side isn’t just an old adage for goats, it’s their primary thought. Since goats are foragers, they will go wherever there is more food, and in some cases that can be in fields that you don’t want them to be in. The best way to deal with this is to make sure that you have a good fence to keep them in, and make sure you keep up the maintenance on it, because they will find the flaw or weakness if there is one.

Tip #4 – He’s not fat he’s just got a big rumen

Goats are not supposed to be skinny little things, they’re foragers, so if you see one that is starting to get a pot-belly, leave them alone. They are supposed to have a little bit of pudge to them, since they like to forage for extra food.

Tip #5 – Not a living garbage can

You know when you went to the petting zoo you saw the sign, “don’t feed the animals human food” they put that up for a reason. Just because goats will eat anything, doesn’t mean they should. They’re not like their looney tunes version, eating metal just because it’s there. Make sure that you work with your vet or an animal nutritionist to make sure you’re giving your goats the best diet possible.

Tip #6 – What’s your goal?

This one is pretty self-explanatory, what’s your goal with your goats? Are you raising them for meat? For milk? Or are you planning on raising show goats? Make sure you have this planned out before hand, because not all goats are raised the same way. You don’t want to take nutrition advice from a farmer who is raising show goats when you’re raising them for meat. If you do plan on doing more than one, make sure to Identify them properly and that they are segregated. We do carry farm animal ID tags if you do plan on trying to take on more than one goal.

Tip #7 – Goats are farm animals, not pets

As the title says, they are farm animals. They cannot be domesticated, and you should not treat the goat as the family pet. They have a social pecking order and will stick to it. Treat them like farm animals and you and your goats will get along fine.

Well, I hope that this helps. If you’re looking for some more tips, there is a great texas goat rancher who has some thoughts on it. But this should be good to help you get started.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Cow Tips Pt. 2: Maintaining your Cattle

Last week, we talked about some general tips for raising your cattle and making sure that you have the infrastructure in place to make sure they stay healthy. This week, we’ll be expanding on that with some more tips on maintaining your herd and what to do to get your beef cows ready for market.

Black Angus Cows
Feeding your Cattle

Hay – Good legume hay will produce great beef and usually help turn a profit. When feeding your cattle hay, you’ll usually go through about half to three-quarter of a ton of hay when fattening them for slaughter or sale. For types of hay, alfalfa is kings when it comes to beef cattle. It’s usually the standard when comparing other  hay, but, it is also the most expensive hay to purchase if you’re buying. Under most conditions, it produces a greater yield than other hay types as well as produces more per acre than most common crops. Additionally, alfalfa produces more than twice as much digestible protein as mixed clover-timothy hay, a common hay mix used by farmers, and more than three times as much protein as corn as well as it’s richer in vitamins and minerals. A good rule of thumb if you plan on using alfalfa hay is to mix in some timothy or other grasses with the alfalfa. This will help reduce bloating and allow the meadow to last longer.

While alfalfa is the best hay, there are other good legume and legume-grass hays that make very close seconds to the king of hay. A few examples are red clover, sweet clover, and soybeans. Interestingly enough, soybeans are a great hay to use when we have a late, wet spring and the seeds get into the ground late.

Ground Feed – When doing ground feed, corn is king. If you plan on supplementing your hay feeding with ground you might want to consider mixing your corn feed formula. Whatever you do, make sure that salt is included in your feed formula. All cattle require salt to stay healthy.

Keeping your Cattle Healthy

Finally, you’re going to want to keep your cattle healthy. Providing your cattle medical care when they’re sick or hurt is great, but being proactive and preventing the sickness or injury is even better. Here are some general tips to make sure that your herd stays healthy.

Make sure to provide a stress-free environment for your cattle. Stress makes us run ragged and makes us more susceptible to sickness, and cattle are no different when dealing with stress. So, when interacting with your herd make sure to stay calm and don’t rush, this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Additionally, make sure to create a vaccination schedule and keep to it. This will help make sure that all of your cattle stay healthy and you don’t have to worry about any respiratory or other illnesses spreading through your herd.

Raising and maintaining cattle is a lot of hard work, and cattle don’t take a vacation. If a calf is coming on Christmas you’re going to need to deliver it on Christmas. However, for all the hard work that you put in you get it reciprocated in spades. Even if you don’t have a desire to raise cattle for sale, you can still raise the best beef you’ll have ever tasted, and you’ll know exactly what went into it, and more importantly, what didn’t.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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