Mail Call: March/April 2013

Letters to the editor written by GRIT readers include modern homesteaders, Christmas tree recycling ideas, nut cracking tips, keeping chickens, an update from our friends in Chicago, and more.


| March/April 2013



a chicken tractor in a field

A view of the chicken mansion perched on the field of dreams that Julie and Leonard Hess call home.

Photo Courtesy Julie and Leonard Hess

The good life  

We enjoy your magazine and have gotten a lot of help from its pages. Recently, Leonard found an ice cream recipe in there, and we now own a shiny new ice cream maker. Because of that article, I get to enjoy homemade, delicious ice cream, and for a fraction of what it costs to buy.

Our garden has done even better than last year, and we have learned so much. We learned that cornmeal in the cabbage will help get rid of the worms and ants. We learned that kosher salt in the asparagus will help keep the weeds down. We’ve pulled a lot of weeds, and carried a lot of water with the dry summer that we experienced. We share our hard work with our children and grandchildren, and sell the rest at the farmers’ market in town. It’s a great time at the market meeting new people and learning new tricks. Our next project is to finish insulating the chicken mansion and hang some solar lanterns in there. We also want to figure out how to catch the rain and store it for the hens and the garden, so it doesn’t drain the well so much.

A little over a year ago, we bought two acres in the country. It possessed a 700-square-foot house, a shed, and a field of dandelions. We called it our field of dreams. We planted peach and pear trees, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, grapevines and an acre garden that takes up every spare minute of our time. Last April, we purchased 20 little chicks of five different persuasions (silver-laced Wyandotte, Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire, Barred Rock and Leghorn) and kept them warm and fed and entertained. It was great fun watching them turn into hens, and we built them a chicken mansion from scrap, donated lumber and an old porch. We went to some auctions as well and came up with the rest.

We’ve gotten into the habit of letting the chickens out and then sitting down with coffee and zucchini bread to watch them, a permanent smile on our faces. This has evolved into feeding them the bread, and they have gotten bolder about getting their share. My husband has charmed them into eating from his hand and from his lap. He enjoys them, as do I. They are laying eggs now, which has become a daily Easter egg hunt for us two kids at heart. We hope everyone who keeps chickens takes the time to enjoy them. They have given us many laughs and much less stress in our day.

Julie and Leonard Hess
Northwest Ohio 


Thy leaves are so unchanging

As a Christmas tree grower, I would like to commend the editors for writing an article (On The Garden Path which appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of Capper’s Farmer) to promote the real Christmas tree as a part of the family tradition during the Christmas season. Year after year, families return to our farm to create memories while picking out their tree.





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