2019: Resolutions For You and More

2019: Resolutions For You and More
By Marissa

As we jump head first into 2019, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions and why we make them at the beginning of the year.  My hope is to inspire you with some history and maybe a slightly different perspective.

I also am sneaking a peek ahead to things that are coming up for all of you here at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply.  We’re excited to be adding or expanding upon some new things that we know you’ll enjoy, and that will help you. I also wanted to highlight some of the great resources we already offer you, in case you haven’t discovered them yet.

But first:

Speaking of traditions, are you making Hoppin’ John to eat on 1/1/19? That simple tasty dish of black-eyed peas is said to bring you good fortune all year if eaten New Year’s Day.  I know I’ll be making some.

What other New Year’s traditions do you have in your family?

Resolutions:  Why do we make them?

The practice of resolutions is taken from the concept that the year represents the span of one lifetime of “Father Time” – he is a baby on New Year’s Day, and an Old Man on December 31st, who passes on at Midnight to be replaced by the New Year Babe. Each year is the lifetime of the “Brothers of Time”, as the years are all “related”, in a sense.  Considering that, could you imagine having 2,018 brothers? Fun to think about.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day is a tradition passed from our pagan ancestors, who made material offerings to the god Janus for a prosperous and healthy year.  The month of January is named after this ancient deity. 

On New Year’s Day, think of your life as being renewed, like a newborn baby.  Being newly born means that you have your whole life ahead of you, and you can make anything happen during the time that we have on this Earth from here forward.  The concept, really this frame of mind, allows you a new chance to define yourself, be “resolved” to change things about yourself that you want to be better about, and to release the bonds that hold you back from anything you want to accomplish.  At the New Year you can decide to shed your past, shrug off grief and malaise, take a deep breath, and truly walk forward again, in full control of your own destiny.

How cool is that?

People joke about resolutions, and how nobody actually achieves them, they’re just a way for advertisers to make money off of your vulnerability at the passage of time. I think that if you are determined, and really put your mind to it, nothing can stop the human spirit. And I love nothing more than rising above the status quo and popular opinion. Being average isn’t any fun.

Another tick on the date calendar reminds us of how fast time goes by rather pointedly, and poignantly, this time of year.  But really, the creation of resolutions are based on a kind of magic from our pagan ancestors who believed in the inner power of themselves and their spirit relationships to the earth, elements, and sky. So when you achieve something you resolved to do, you are, by proxy, a magical being! (OK, maybe I’m stretching a bit – but I’ve always wanted to have a bit of magic working for me…haven’t you?)

My point is, I know I have never underestimated the power of a determined child.  As it is a new year, and you are “reborn,” you now have another chance to be that determined child and follow your own path.

I’ll share my resolutions with you, and I hope you’ll share yours with me.  My path this year – aside from doing work for the store and making us better equipped for the digital age, is for me to actively spend time creating things that I love.  Sewing, crochet, and crafting is one way I do that, writing is another. I really enjoy making something useful out of the materials around me.

Also this year I’m going to do more of something that I shared with my father, who passed on many years ago.  I want to spend significant time doing the work to grow food to provide for my family and share with my friends.  If you’ve read my blog from the beginning, you know that my father was a subsistence farmer in North Florida, grew what he ate and ate what he grew, traded the rest to a neighbor who raised pigs and chickens for meat, eggs, and composted manure. He also raised worms and fished the plentiful lakes up there. So I will be making efforts to spend time in the dirt every day, doing what needs to be done to have a garden flourish.  I’m excited and anticipate having lots to share with you, I hope you’ll share your adventures with me too.

Join me in growing something of your own – even if it’s just one tomato plant, or one sunflower.  Growing something yourself has a sense of satisfaction that is hard to find anywhere else. It acknowledges the beauty of new life and the cycle of living things as it sprouts, grows, matures, fruits, and eventually is spent and returns to the Earth to start the cycle all over again.

Just like Father Time on New Year’s Eve night.

So let’s look at some resources we have for you right now that can help you on your own journeys through this next year, especially if you have resolutions to garden, raise chickens, or take better care of your pets.

The Chicken Report

I post the chickens we get in each week on our website.  The post is made on Saturday mornings because we usually don’t get our chickens until Thursday or Friday during the week.  The link is: shellsfeed.com/chicken-report.  Make sure to bookmark it and check every week to see what’s new!  I also post a reminder message on social media about the list update – usually with a cute picture of chickens – first thing Saturday morning. Make sure you join us on Social media so you don’t miss an announcement!

 

Garden Guides

We publish garden guides in-store throughout most of the year that tell you what to grow when, as well as what maintenance and feeding need to be done to maintain your lawn, landscape, and gardens.  They are based on information from UF/IFAS and county extension offices for the areas we serve as well as the USDA Agricultural Zone (which we serve areas considered 9a, 9b, 10a). Our next one comes out in Spring, but we still have copies available for previous months.  They’re great to have for your garden notebook to refer to when you’re planning your garden. They are a free resource, ask for them when you come in.

 

Free Community Seed Swaps

We took a break for the Winter, but the free Community Seed Swaps will be back, starting in February.  We started doing these in August of 2018, and the community really responded! Bring something to trade – seeds, cuttings, seedlings, potted plants – whatever grows! – and leave with new goodies that you trade with other gardeners.  We hold it on a Saturday morning from 8:30am – 10:30am once a month. Keep a lookout for flyers in the store, online social media messages, and join our Facebook group for the swappers so that we can all talk to each other! More information about how a seed swap works is here:  https://shellsfeed.com/monthly-community-seed-swap/ They are a great place to meet with your friends and neighbors who garden, you can get advice, swap stories, and have coffee and treats too.

 

Shell’s Workshop Series

Also in August, we started offering workshops at the store for various things.  I want to bring you great content that you’ll be interested in, and engage with.  Our most successful class was the How To Plant an Earthbox class, and it was wonderful.  We plan on doing another one in February, so don’t miss that! Stay tuned for dates. Everyone had a fabulous time – our teacher, Susan, is a real hoot!  More details to come soon for the Spring 2019 class, and other classes to come.

The Learning Center

I created this area on our website quite awhile ago, and it’s constantly “under construction” because really, when do we ever stop learning? There’s some useful stuff in here, so check it out!  The Learning Center

 

 

Buy Online, Pick Up In Store

We are working to add all of our inventory to our online store so that you can order and have it waiting for you to pick up.  Currently our selection in the webstore is limited, but by the end of January my goal is to have all inventory appear there, along with an upgrade to our webstore payment system.  Initially, all products will only be available as a “buy online pickup in store” option, which can be super helpful – you can place an order on your lunch break and swing by on your way home to pick up!

I’ll be posting a bit about my adventures here on the blog throughout the year, so I’ll update you as progress happens with that.  In the meantime, tell me what you’re looking for from us in terms of learning opportunities, workshops, etc., that we can do for you!  I’m listening.

Thanks, and Happy New Year to all of you!  We are entering our 58th year serving Tampa, and we couldn’t have made it this far without you!

Sincerely,

Marissa

 

 

 

Marissa – Writer for Shell's Feed & Garden Supply

I'm an over-educated, passionate, gardening and pet enthusiast, and I have found the perfect job! My writing is based on my studies in Biology and Health, and my experiences from gardening with my family as a child. 
The great thing about gardening is that it is a life-long learning process. The many blunders and successes of my own gardening projects over the years have been invaluable to me.  The late, great, J.C. Raulston once said, "If you're not killing plants, you're not stretching yourself as a gardener." Learn by doing, gain knowledge from the failures, but more importantly, relish the successes, (because they're delicious!)  Thanks for reading!
Special thank you to Abby's Farms, where the photo on the left was taken. Shell's Feed & Garden Supply sponsors the chickens and chicken coops there. Visit their website here.

 

Our Top 5 Winter Gardening Ideas

Our Top 5 Winter Gardening Ideas
By Marissa

Many people leave the garden completely alone in the winter. Especially up north that’s just fine, because it is covered in snow! Down here in Florida, winter can be another productive and pleasant growing season, albeit a bit colder. It can also be a time to get ready for spring planting.

What can we do in the Winter? Here are a few ideas:

1. Grow Winter Crops

‌Believe it or not, there are some great garden crops that prefer cooler weather. Some of your favorite plants can barely survive the July heat anyways, so why not grow it in the winter? Many veggies will tolerate the mild freezes we get pretty well. While you might get some superficial leaf damage the plants will usually survive and continue producing when they warm up again.

Some great winter crops are:

  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Onions
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Celery
  • Greens, like turnip, mustard, collards
  • Celeriac
  • Rutabaga
  • Strawberries
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Cauliflower
  • Potatoes
  • Leeks
  • Chard
  • Broccoli and broccoli raab


For tips on helping your garden recover from a freeze,
check out this article. For more information on what to plant, when – come into the store and pick up our Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply Garden Guides. It’s a great tool for knowing what to do and when!

2. Clean, Repair, & Replace Garden Tools

‌During the winter, your urgent garden tasks slow down a bit. It’s a great time to take stock of your tools and supplies and ensure that everything you need is clean and in good working order.

A solution of 10% bleach and water is a perfect all-purpose cleaner for tools and pots alike, and a drop of detergent goes miles to foam dirt out of textured surfaces and cracks. A bristly scrub brush is a perfect sidekick to loosen up dry dirt before washing.

Wash your gardening gloves and look for holes, and oil up mechanisms for clippers and moving parts to have all of your equipment ready for the spring when it arrives.

If there is a tool you are missing or one that you have been eyeballing for a while, shop around a bit and see if you can find what you like for a price you want to pay. Depending on your priorities you may prefer online shopping for deals, or going to a store to get a sense of what you’re buying. Coming into our store can help you determine if you like the weight and feel of the tool before purchasing – and pick up some great knowledge from our staff on the way.

3. Build New Structures

‌In my opinion, there is nothing worse than trying to build something large for the garden when it is 99 degrees outside with 100% humidity. Take advantage of the cool weather and build those garden structures now during the winter weekends. Want a new raised bed? Put it together and place it where it’s going to go, with the soil and compost too. Water deep, then cover it with black plastic so weeds don’t grow, and so the soil stays warm from the decomposition of the composted organic materials.

How about a pole bean tower or teepee? A greenhouse? A compost bin made from old pallets and chicken wire? A new trellis system for cucumbers and peas? Install hoops over your raspberries/blackberries to attach bird netting on to keep birds and squirrels out. Repair your fence around the garden to keep the dogs out. There’s so much that can be done, I can’t even list all the possibilities! Don’t get overwhelmed. Pick a priority project and pick a weekend to dedicate to it.

4. Plan Your Spring Planting‌

Spring will be here before you know it. I pass the coldest days of the year dreaming up the next season’s spring garden – complete with fresh-picked organic tomatoes and squash to be planted. When I’m planning up my spring garden I like to draw it out on graph paper and make my wish list for what I want to be growing in the spring. Next comes the balancing act of trying to make it all fit – do you need another bed or more containers? Or do some of the items on my list not make the cut?

Planning lets you optimistically dream up the next season during the cold and miserable days of winter. It also means accounting for all the supplies your grand plans for spring will need. Don’t forget the starter pots, soil, fertilizer, perlite, and transplant pots!

5. Chicken Projects

‌Do the chicken projects ever end? Not really. But it’s a labor of love. Are you thinking of expanding your flock? You might need to add on to the coop or add another coop altogether. Speaking of coops, did you know Shell’s Feed has coops that are already put together for you? Just place and play! Maybe it’s just time for a good coop scrub, repair, and re-paint. Whatever you decide to do, Winter is a good time to get those labor-intensive projects done for your fluffy-butts. It’s all so that you can play with them more when it’s warm!

I am quite sure you can find more to do in the garden than this. But if you were looking for suggestions, these are what I’ll be working on during the winter. What are you going to get up to? Tell us in the comments below. Thanks, Marissa

Marissa – Writer for Shell's Feed & Garden Supply

I'm an over-educated, passionate, gardening and pet enthusiast, and I have found the perfect job! My writing is based on my studies in Biology and Health, and my experiences from gardening with my family as a child. 
The great thing about gardening is that it is a life-long learning process. The many blunders and successes of my own gardening projects over the years have been invaluable to me.  The late, great, J.C. Raulston once said, "If you're not killing plants, you're not stretching yourself as a gardener." Learn by doing, gain knowledge from the failures, but more importantly, relish the successes, (because they're delicious!)  Thanks for reading!
Special thank you to Abby's Farms, where the photo on the left was taken. Shell's Feed & Garden Supply sponsors the chickens and chicken coops there. Visit their website here.

 

Oh My, Where Are Her Feathers? The Molting Hen

Oh My, Where Are Her Feathers? The Molting Hen
By Marissa

It’s Fall, and daylight hours are getting shorter and shorter. One morning you have your coffee, and walk outside to collect eggs like you always do… and one of your hens is naked.

Big patches of feathers are missing, and clumps of them are scattered about. She’s not bleeding, and doesn’t seem stressed, she’s just letting it all air out like nothing’s different. Not only is she looking a bit disheveled, she also didn’t lay any eggs. A couple of days later, another couple of hens are missing feathers, and only 1 egg from all of them combined.

It’s ok! We promise, it’s nothing you did! You’re not a bad chicken parent!

What’s Up with the Naked Chickens?

The temporary loss of feathers is called molting. Don’t panic! It’s very normal, especially in the Fall. For chickens, the molt is a time when their bodies shift from making eggs to making new feathers, which are really important for the coming cold weather to keep them dry and warm.

When the molt is completed, chickens have begun a new ‘egg cycle’. Their reproductive systems get a chance to rejuvenate while their feathers get some new life too.

The first drastic molt usually happens at about 18 months from hatching (give or take) and then annually after that. The initial transitions from baby ‘fluff’ to feathers are also technically molting cycles, but they do not have the drastic ‘naked’ appearance.

What Causes Molting?

Molting is usually triggered by changes in daylight. If you have a hen raising baby chicks, they will usually start the molt after they finish raising the chickens. Raising children can make you all kinds of worn out, and the hen will need new clothes and a vacation after all that work!

#ProTip: You can artificially extend your chicken’s day by having lights in their coop on timers to mimic a long summer day. Don’t leave the light on all the time though! Eventually they will need to molt.

During this feather-replacement time, they usually don’t lay any, or very few, eggs. It takes protein to make an egg, and all their dietary protein is being used to make feathers when they are molting. Your chickens might all molt around the same time, decreasing your egg production for a little while. But it’s ok! When they grow their feathers back, they will be renewed and the egg production will start up again.

How Can I Help My Chickens?

Even though you didn’t have anything to do with the fact that your chickens are molting, you can indeed help them through the process so their molting ends faster and they can get back to the good stuff – laying eggs.

Here’s a few things you can do:

1. Switch to a high-protein feed. We recommend Purina Flock Raiser during their molt to help them get the protein needed to make beautiful new feathers quickly. This feed is meant for meat birds, so it has more protein than the food for laying hens. This can only be done for a short period of time – during the molt and a few days after. Constant high-protein diets can cause health problems for your eggers, so don’t do it!

2. Add a little more protein treats to their routine every few days, but only by about 5 percent, or 2 Tablespoons per chicken. Mealworms are a great protein supplement that chickens LOVE, as well as options like black-oil sunflower seeds and tuna fish (in water, low sodium). Overall, treats of any kind should never be more than 10% of their diet.
 1.

SIDE NOTE: Some places say you can feed them cat food while molting, but I don’t recommend it. It can cause unpleasant and even dangerous deficiencies in your chickens. 


3. Keep plenty of clean water available. Growing feathers is thirsty work!

4. Vitamin and mineral supplements are very helpful, as are probiotics.

5. Don’t change anything drastically in their environment, such as moving them, or introducing new birds to the flock. It can wait. They don’t need the extra stress.

6. Don’t handle a molting bird unless absolutely necessary. The emerging feathers are very sensitive, quite painful, and can break, causing a lot of bleeding. In the case of a breakage, clean them up with Vetericyn to prevent infection and separate the bird from the flock for their own safety until they are healed.

#DidYouKnow #DYK #FunFact: Chickens that get through the molt the fastest are almost always your best egg layers!

Molting is a natural process of feather replacement, and a chance for the chicken’s reproductive organs to rest. Most of the time you get bigger, better eggs after a molt is complete, and your chickens will look fabulous in their new clothes! Take good care of them and they will take good care of you.

Thanks for reading!

Marissa – Writer for Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply

I’m an over-educated, passionate, gardening and pet enthusiast, and I have found the perfect job! My writing is based on my studies in Biology and Health, and my experiences from gardening with my family as a child. 

The great thing about gardening is that it is a life-long learning process. The many blunders and successes of my own gardening projects over the years have been invaluable to me.  The late, great, J.C. Raulston once said, “If you’re not killing plants, you’re not stretching yourself as a gardener.” Learn by doing, gain knowledge from the failures, but more importantly, relish the successes, (because they’re delicious!)  Thanks for reading!

Special thank you to Abby’s Farms, where the photo on the left was taken. Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply sponsors the chickens and chicken coops there. Visit their website here.

 

Backyard Chickens? Oh YES!

backyard chickens fresh eggsIn August of 2013, the City of Tampa, Florida enacted what I refer to as the “Backyard Chickens Act” and city chicken lovers did a happy dance. This law changed the classification of chickens from “livestock” to “pets” and that change is what allows chickens in city yards.

The Ybor City and West neighborhoods of Tampa have been home to wild free-range chickens that are descendants of the chickens kept there since the area was settled. They are protected as icons of Tampa.  Now, anyone in city of Tampa can have chickens.

City of Tampa has a few rules that you have to follow, but they’re not terrible, promise! We want to assure you that you can easily have a small flock to help feed your family, AND have adorable feathered pets too!

The Rules for Chickens in Tampa:

backyard chickens fresh eggs

Here’s the rules:

  1. You must have a single-family home.  Chickens not allowed in apartment or condo spaces.
  2. You can have 1 chicken per 1000 sq ft of lot space. This means typical city lots can have 4 or 5 chickens.
  3. Must have a coop. The coop must be no more than 6′ tall and 125 sq. ft.  Most coops are smaller.
  4. No roosters. This is due to noise issues.

That’s pretty much it! Told you it was nothing to worry about.

For Hillsborough County, the restrictions are much more loose.

  1. Not more than 50 birds per acre if uncaged, maximum 200 birds.
  2. Not more than 100 birds per acre if always cages, maximum 200 birds.

Update as of 10/16/17: I received a response from one of the County Commissioner’s offices in regards to Hillsborough County Chicken Keeping.  It very much differs from what I was told by the Extension Office.  

“The County’s LDC <Land Development Code> defines a chicken as a Farm Animal.  As such, the keeping of a chicken is only allowed in agricultural zoning districts.  There is an option to consider ownership on a case-by-case basis, and in that regard, you should contact Joe Moreda, Director of Planning & Zoning.  His phone is 813.276.8379 and his email is moredaj@hillsboroughcounty.org.”

I will say that when two authorities differ in information, it makes it very confusing for potential chicken owners!

According to State of Florida law, and again for Agricultural-Zoned property per the above, if you want to move further and sell your eggs or processed chickens, you would then be considered a Limited Poultry & Egg Farm Operation and there are rules surrounding that as well (very generous allowances, in my opinion).  You can sell up to 30 dozen eggs and 384 processed poultry per week (<–Click there for more info)! Here’s more information on this kind of farm operation from the Hillsborough County Extension Office’s Small Farms group: Limited Poultry & Egg Farm Operation FAQPlease research fully with the Extension Office, State of Florida guidelines and/or your local Code Enforcement to ensure that you are not breaking any rules before you take on this endeavor!

If you’re looking for rules for an even larger operation, we suggest contacting the Hillsborough County Extension Office.

New to Chickens? That’s OK!

So, you’ve never had chickens before? That’s ok. There is nothing to worry about! We here at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc., have all the knowledge and supplies you need. We can get you started now with little peepers here in the Fall, and come Spring you can have lots of cluckin’ eggs!  We have a great FAQ for you right here about baby chicks as well.

backyard chickens fresh eggsIn between purchasing baby chicks and getting eggs, great fluffy-butt moments await you watching your chicks grow into chickens.  If you have kids, even better! Teaching them responsibility for animals and where their food comes from are lessons they will appreciate, share with their friends, and most likely continue for their families.

We hope all of this sounds good to you, because we love to spread the love when it comes to chickens. Whether you want to collect fresh eggs for your family, start a family business selling eggs, or just have a new set of feathered friends, they are a wonderful addition to any family.

 

 

Special Announcement: 

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply is looking for a carpenter/woodworker, to build City of Tampa code-compliant coops for our customers to purchase.  Sell-able in-store display pieces would be built by you based on our price point and size needs.  Serious inquiries only. Must be reliable and able to deliver on a deadline, as well as willing to collaborate with us so we can offer a quality product at a reasonable price.  

backyard chickens fresh eggsDo you fit these criteria? Leave a comment below to let us know you are interested!

(Do yourself a favor, put your email address in the format of:  janedoe at gmail dot com, then it won’t be picked up by spambots).  

Thanks,

Marissa, Director of Communications

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc.