The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Urban homestead permaculture

Espaliered apple trees with chickens running beneath

Tim Hensley holding trifoliate orange fruitsEven though he had customers to the Urban Homestead showing up right and left, Tim Hensley was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his Saturday afternoon to give me a quick tour of his backyard.  There, I learned answers to three pressing questions that I've been pondering for a while.

How do you keep enough adult apple trees on hand to provide scionwood for 100 heirloom varieties in a tiny city lot?  Tim espaliers many of his apple trees so that they can fit in a small space, then he adds a permaculture twist, running his chickens under the espaliered trees to prevent populations of bad bugs from building up.  In addition to planting these espaliered trees just a couple of feet apart, he has a few rows of adult trees in his nursery planted five or six feet apart.  Clearly, close spacing is okay if you're growing the trees for scionwood (or, presumably, as a test orchard.)

Trifoliate orange fruitsI've read that the triofliate orange is a species of citrus that is hardy enough to fruit in zone 6, but I've heard varying reports on its flavor.  What do you think?  Tim Hensley just happened to have a Flying Dragon trifoliate orange on the side of his house.  It was loaded with lovely fruits, and I could tell the mass of thorns would make good hedge material.  However, Tim was less impressed by the flavor.  Trifoliate oranges are really only good enough for making lemonade or marmalade, and Tim said that the resulting food had a "plasticky" flavor.  I guess I'll stop considering planting a trifoliate orange.
Chicago Hardy fig
Will my hardy figs survive the winter and fruit?  Tim has two huge and lovely fig trees growing in his yard.  The first --- LSU Purple --- has never fruited for him and he doesn't recommend it in our climate.  On the other hand, he told me that his Chicago Hardy fig has never been winter-killed, perhaps because it is tucked into a beautiful nook surrounded on two sides by his house and with the dryer exhaust vent coming out nearby.  I feel like he told me he wasn't getting many fruits off of the Chicago Hardy, but all of the information I was trying to take in is starting to get mushed up in my head.  Maybe Mom can chime in with her memory here....

Body from DamascusFinally, I enjoyed trading broiler tales with Tim and one of his customers, Brody from Damascus.  Brody told us that he likes to soak his newly killed chickens in a bath of icy saltwater, which he said hastens the end of rigor mortis so that he can freeze his chickens nearly right away and still get tender meat.  I'd be curious to hear if anyone else has had any experience with the saltwater trick.

Keep your chickens happy and healthy with a homemade chicken waterer.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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the meat chicken farmer near me uses the saltwater bath for 24 hours before freezing and says it is recommended by the state ag extension.
Comment by brett Mon Nov 8 11:32:18 2010

I plunge in an ice water bath after gutting to remove the body heat immediately, but also because I'm usually doing more than one bird at a time. After moving into the kitchen and a super cleaning out of the insides, I coat the gut with a handful of kosher salt to pull out the extra blood from the meat for 10-15 minutes and do a cold water rinse. Personally I don't like salt all over my food before cooking. YMMV

Comment by Titus Mon Nov 8 12:04:52 2010
Sounds from your experiences like the salt might be used for something other than relieving rigor mortis. I wonder if it might even have an antibacterial purpose. Thanks for chiming in!
Comment by anna Mon Nov 8 14:52:05 2010

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