Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Harvest log

Link to Harvest log

Since April 15th, we've weighed and recorded what we've harvested from our yard, to begin to quantify our caloric yield. We realize that we have way more greens than we need, and that the greens don't provide very many calories. We do not weigh or record excess greens that we cut down and use as mulch or feed to the chickens. So the calorie yield would be higher if we measured those as a potential export crop--but our focus is on feeding one or two people a balanced diet from this yard, so we're just tracking what we're actually eating and using.

We need to get more root crops in, but even those wouldn't get our calorie yield up very high--I don't see us eating more than 1 pound of roots per day per person, which would only supply 300 calories or so per person per day. Our berry crops will start yielding soon, which will increase our calorie harvests. I don't expect much from our young fruit trees this year--our Hollywood plum got hit hard by aphids and has dropped all but three of its plums; our Oullins plum in heavy shade only made a handful of flowers and I don't see any fruit, and our Stella fig has died back to the ground (I think I made a mistake cutting off its strong shoots from last year to propagate it). We might get some nuts in the fall, assuming we can get the harvest timing figured out before the squirrels & jays get them.

For this yard to provide a balanced, full-calorie diet, we'll need to focus on calorie-dense foods--seeds, nuts, eggs, and meat. We have four hazels, an english walnut, a black walnut, and a chestnut planted. (Plus one small live and one large dead yellowhorn, neither of which do us much good for a while--I'm pretty sure we need a pair for cross pollination.) I want to experiment with harvesting and using carrot seeds this year--fennel, coriander, Bunium bulbocastanum, maybe others.

We have a small ongoing egg yield, and have harvested two chickens in the last 40 days. These have provided more than half our harvested calories. But, probably half the calories we feed the chickens come from off-site resources from civilization's waste streams--not sustainable long term, and not indicative of what this yard can actually support. Also, we didn't harvest the two hens as part of a plan; one got sick (maybe a broken egg inside her), and a raccoon killed another before our neighbors chased him or her off, saving the hen carcass for us to eat. So our laying flock has dropped from 5 to 3 hens, which puts a big crimp in our ongoing egg calorie harvest. We did just get 4 new baby chicks, so the egg yield should pick up in 5-6 months.

I welcome questions and comments--I can add a lot more about my thoughts on our calorie measurements as I go if people want more. This measuring & calculating exercise has really helped me figure out some of the realities of feeding ourselves from this site.

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