Wild Muscadine Grapes: Reclaiming a Wild Planting

Reclaiming, Raising and Maintaining Wild Muscadine Grapes

Reclaiming, raising and maintaining wild muscadine grapes can be both a joy and a heartbreaker at the same time! We just found a piece of property that we could afford and are quite happy with it! It has sandy loam soil and wild muscadine grapes! We were getting pretty frusterated with the black gumbo “dirt” we now use. You know the kind……………………………. one minute you bog to your freaking knees in the wet stuff OR when dry.. you lose your small dogs in the cracks! The property is totally invaded with wild muscadine grape vines! We are excited and hope to improve the planting after  years of neglect.

Wild Muscadine Grapes: Information

SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION FROM WIKIPEDIA: 

Vitis rotundifolia, or muscadine,[1] is a grapevine species native to the southeastern and south-central United States from Florida to Delaware, west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma.[2] It has been extensively cultivated since the 16th century.[3] The plants are well adapted to their native warm and humid climate; they need fewer chilling hours than better known varieties and they thrive on summer heat.

Muscadine berries may be bronze or dark purple or black when ripe.[4] However, many wild varieties stay green through maturity. Muscadines have skin sufficiently thick and tough that eating the raw fruit is similar to eating a plum and may be an acquired taste.[5] Muscadines are typically used in making artisan wines, juice, and jelly. They are rich sources of polyphenols.[6]

In a natural setting, muscadines are important plants for improving wildlife habitat by providing cover, browse, and fruit for a wide variety of animals.[7]

VINES ARE INCREDIBLY LONG LIVED!

Vines can live for decades and are very disease resistant. Check out "The Mother-Vine" which is thought to be 400+ years old and still growing strong! It covered 2 acres at one time! Now contained in a much smaller area but still thriving and managable!400+-year-old wild muscadine vine! It once covered over 2 acreas!400+-year-old wild muscadine vine! It once covered over 2 acres!
Muscadines are heart healthy! They contain lots of anti-oxidants!

Our Project: Tame the Grapes!

Here is what we basically have with the new property. LOADS of grape vines! They are totally wild. They have not been cultivated and are not producing a fraction of what they could with good stewardship. Armed with Google and the unreal excitement that owning a prize like this, we hope to change this wriggling mass of vines into a productive arbor both for grape production and a comfortable haven to relax in. The soil is perfect for grapes! A sandy loam that drains well and the hot climate makes the perfect storm.

 WILD MUSCADINE GRAPES FACTS:

  • In the wild, muscadine grape vines are from 52-72% male plants.
  • Male plants do not produce grapes!
  • Grapes grow on new shoots from one year old canes or vines.

The Batchlor Parlor: Our Male Planting

Old planting of mainly male wild muscadine grapes. Phase 1 of the reclamation process Above is the large male vine cluster on the property. It is overgrown and the vines were laying on the ground for up to 6'. It seemed that originally, the vine grew up the trunk of the small trees and the poor tree kept growing from the roots and spreading hoping to get some light to grow.  As the vines kept covering the trees, they died, in some cases and became support for the thriving vines, some of which are about 4" in diameter! The previous owners bush-hogged the area and that was a brutal pruning in itself which negates the theory of imp[roper pruning. After such an event, there would have been 1 year old canes capable of making the fruiting canes in the current season. The entire planting being comprised of only male plants and therefore not able to produce grapes was the cause!

The picture does no justice to the stand without something for a reference scale 🙂

So, here is Sheila, all 5-1/2' of her for reference! The vines were running on the ground 6' when we trimmed them! Loads of vine and not a dang solitary grape! It turns out that the vines are all male!Sheila standing by the wild muscadine grape "Woman Haters" area.Sheila standing by the wild muscadine grape "Woman Haters" area. It is occupied only be male plants that produce no grapes! She is about 5 1/2' tall which makes the stand of vines about 24' tall and 60' in diameter!
Sheila being dwarfed by the male planting!
The male planting is dwarfing Sheila!
She is an old hippy :) Well at least she is 100% country anyways :)
She is an old hippy 🙂 Well at least she is 100% country anyways 🙂

The pictures below are a part of the large and tall female vine cluster!

Sheila standing under the female wild muscadine grape vines. The grapes go up in the tree over 40' ! The base of the main vine is 4-5" in diameter and no telling how old!
Sheila standing under the female wild muscadine grape vines. The grapes go up in the tree over 40′ ! The base of the main vine is 4-5″ in diameter and no telling how old!
The wild muscadine grapes are the size of small cherries on our plants with domesticated varieties having larger fruits. Sheila wants jelly and I want wine...... I think we will have enough for both when harvest is complete :)
The wild muscadine grapes are the size of small cherries on our plants with domesticated varieties having larger fruits. Sheila wants jelly and I want wine…… I think we will have enough for both when harvest is complete 🙂
Loads of wild muscadine grapes in a heavenly canopy of sweetness!
Loads of wild muscadine grapes in a heavenly canopy of sweetness!

Currently we are thinking we have 2 main female vines. The leaves are the same but the grapes certainly are different sizes and also a little behind each other in ripeness. Some almost ripe and other whole clusters are green.

Whole bunches of green full sized grapes in the presence of strands of almost ripe grapes seem to indicate 2 individual female vines :)
Whole bunches of green full sized grapes in the presence of strands of almost ripe grapes seem to indicate 2 individual female vines 🙂
Pretty huh! We love it! Loads of free wild muscadine grapes in this tree stretching upwards to 40'
Pretty huh! We love it! Loads of free wild muscadine grapes in this tree stretching upwards to 40′

Front Fencerow: Happy Mix of Sexes

The front of the property has an overgrown fencerow with producing vines. While removing the Johnson grass and assorted underbrush, we found a nice amount of grapes in the cleared area and towards the uncleared end.. not so much. There is also a few mustang grape vines but none have grapes on them.

We have the front fencerow almost cleared. We should have it cleared this weekend. There are also mustang grape vines in the planting but no grapes this year so far. Probably males too :(
We have the front fencerow almost cleared. We should have it cleared this weekend. There are also mustang grape vines in the planting but no grapes this year so far. Probably males too 🙁
This corner of the front fencerow contains no vines to speak of and we will open it to make a circle driveway
This corner of the front fencerow contains no vines to speak of and we will open it to make a circle driveway

Future Restoration Steps:

 

  • Finish clearing undergrowth
  • This spring we will most likely cut a few of the smaller vines down and graft female buds on them. The female buds remaining female even though the rootstock is male. Hopefully, we will get the large male stand to produce grapes as well as encouragement.
  • Plant a few more self-polinating varieties to produce budstock
  • Decide wether to totally remove the tree growth and train in an arbor of sorts

Dried Tomato Powder Recipes and Uses

Dried tomato powder is a handy thing to have around! It reduces the storage space that conventional tomato paste and sauce cans once took up and is quite tasty as well.

Drying tomatoes saves space!
Drying tomatoes saves space!

We started with 10# Roma tomatoes which we dried and ran the result through a Bullet type blender. We got about a pint of finely ground super rich tomato paste!

Here is how to make paste!

Drying Tomatoes for Soups and Sauces

Drying tomatoes just makes sense to us. Tomatoes by nature are highly perishable and seasonal. They are used for flavoring and take a lot of room to store whole. You can enjoy the flavor using dried tomato products and make them at home for a fraction of the cost of store bought. If you are a gardener this is ideal for preserving super small batches as all you have to do is slice and place in the dehydrator a few at a time instead of cranking up the canner.

Drying Tomatoes
Easy and quick instructions to dry tomato for later use
Author:
Recipe type: dried
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • tomatoes of any kind
Instructions
  1. Cut and slice your tomatoes. Choose fresh and un bruised fruit only
  2. Place on dryer trays allowing room for air to pass from layer to layer
  3. Dry at 140 deg F until crispy.
  4. Store in mason jars for 10 days to check for any moisture developing signifying that they need to be dried a little more. This is called seasoning.
  5. Once seasoned, you can store in mason jars or vacuum pack. Make sure to label your container with packed date and contents.
Notes
Dried tomatoes can be used in slices or ground into powder for quick and easy seasoning. Great space and time saver!

 

Once dried and packaged, you can throw in a handful into a quick soup or sauce in a fraction of the time of slicing fresh. They make good healthy snacks as well.

 

Simple Food Dehydration to Store and Preserve

Simple Food Dehydration to Store and Preserve is a great way to cut storage costs, save storage space, extend shelf life, save money and utilize your garden to the max!

We have a large chamber we converted to use for curing tobacco and it now is used for a large dehydrator. It is as big as the now extinct “telephone booth” . It is great for large batches but not so great for those small picking that are common in a garden’s early life and later towards the ends.

We bought a cheapy model from Ebay for $37 and it does great! I will not say how long it will last but so far it is doing what we wanted it to do.

How does dehydration work?

Dehydration removes the water from the object being dried and does so at a temperature that discourages mold from forming during the drying process. Mold and bacteria need water/ moisture to flourish and spoil our foods. Removing the water to a safe level extends the shelf life of the dried foods.

How long will dried foods last?

They will last in most cases well through our desired goal which is from season to season but properly done they can last many years! Google the “prepper” and “homesteading” sites for more detailed information.

How much space do they save in your food pantry?

LOTS! We dried 12 cans of whole kernel corn and 2 cans of carrots and the result fit into 1 quart mason jar! We also dried 10# of roma tomatoes and had a little over 1 pint of tomato paste!

What is the taste of the dried product?

Very similar in taste and texture is sometimes noticed but not a problem. You can add directly to stew and such or re-hydrate to be used similar to fresh

What other way does dehydrating foods help me?

  • Dehydrated foods do not require electricity to store
  • They take up less space to inventory
  • They save you precious time when cooking
  • You can introduce your family to healthy snacks like banana chips
  • You can make your own jerky for a fraction of the cost of store bought
  • You get the pride that goes with doing something yourself
Another use for fully ripe cucumbers. Make sure the cuke is not bitter. The result is sweet and crunchy. Use like croutons on a salad!
Another use for fully ripe cucumbers. Make sure the cuke is not bitter. The result is sweet and crunchy. Use like croutons on a salad! We got this little dehydrator from Ebay for $37 introductory priced
Dried hot peppers
Dried hot peppers! Use these later to make hot sauce or crush for pizzas .
Dried cucumberss were a surprisingly tasty snack even for us not-so-healthy-nuts
Dried cucumberss were a surprisingly tasty snack even for us not-so-healthy-nuts
You can feel the heat and almost taste the flavor!
You can feel the heat and almost taste the flavor!
Dried green beans and tomatoes! Blanche the beans for 3-5 minutes then dry until crispy. Saves freezer and shelf space
Dried bell peppers and tomatoes! Saves freezer and shelf space as well as cooking time.
10# of fresh roma tomatoes were turned into tomato powder in a few short hours. You can leave in pieces instead for addition to pizza, stews and sauces.
10# of fresh roma tomatoes were turned into tomato powder in a few short hours. You can leave in pieces instead for addition to pizza, stews and sauces.
Soon will make a healthy and tasty shelf stable food by drying .
Soon will make a healthy and tasty shelf stable food by drying .
Drying and fermenting are 2 so good ways to store and preserve your foods! Always something to do but the rewards are priceless.
Drying and fermenting are 2 so good ways to store and preserve your foods! Always something to do but the rewards are priceless.

Quail Growth Record for our first Quail Hatch

Quail Growth Record for our first Quail Hatch : first 4 weeks

Our first hatch and there growth record. We will weigh them every 7 days and select breeders based on growth and laying rates. All birds in same brooder and fed same food.

 Hatch 1 EGGS FROM KENTUCKY
DATE SET  NA
AMOUNT SET 62
INFERTILE 20
ROTTEN 9
DIED 12
DOB 7/30/2017
AMOUNT 21
COLORS HATCHED
WHITE [Texas A&M ] 9
BROWN [Jumbo Pharaoh ] 12

Here are the growth charts. All birds in same brooder!

We started weighing on 8-1-17 at 3 days of age and every 7 days after. Weighed all birds and divided by amount living. As of day 10 no fatalities 🙂 This period is using total weight of both sexes as we can not distinguish the 2!

 

 Quail growth in our first hatch.
Quail growth and Weight gain in our first hatch.

As of 8-17-17 we have not had any mortalities ! They are almost big enough to tell the sexes apart and we will start following the weight gain by sex and breed.

NOTE: As of week 3 it seems that the whites are falling behind on growth!
NOTE: on 8-15-17 we moved the hatch to regular pens with 1"x1/2" wire bottoms. They were a little hesitant to move around for a few hours and we also introduced them to the new watering system. This is a shock to them as they lost their racial diversity and some heat from the heat lamp in the brooder. We hope it does not effect the weight gain.
NOTE: On 8-17-17 we moved the birds outside where nights are about 85 and days are 90. Again, we hope for no slowing of growth but anticipate it.

Here is a short video showing this hatch compared to another hatch a week later!

Quail grow Quick!

This little fella or gal showed up in the eggs from Kentucky. It looks like a tibetan or rosette variety. And we are seeing males and females! Breeders all 🙂

Little Red is born!

UPDATE 8-22-17:

After a rough week outside , the birds adapted rather well as their number showed BUT we lost a bird! No… I really mean we lost one! No idea on earth where it went! No sign of trauma or struggle. We are putting a game camera on them to see if it was a snake but rather doubt that as we are not in the country and there are lots of cats around! We had expected a slowing of growth as the birds were usd to 70 deg F temps and their 24 hour a day light but it seemed not to matter 🙂 The browns are outgrowing the whites a little bit. 4.94 ounces to 6.42 is a huge difference!

Here is an update of quail growth in our first hatch. The birds were moved outside and had their brooder light cut off and still prospered!
Here is an update of quail growth in our first hatch. The birds were moved outside and had their brooder light cut off and still prospered!

Quail Growth Record for our first Quail Hatch : second 4 weeks

UPDATE 9-13-2017:

A lot happened since last update! We had a hurricane hit and  lost power for a week or so. So we missed weighing the birds one week. All the cages were re-modified also, going from 1″ clearance to 5″+ clearance between bottom  of the cage and the poop tray! Opted to get a 6HP shop vac to deal with the poop collecting! Things were getting a little “Shi**y”

Anyway, with all the commotion from running 2 generators around the birds 24 hours a day plus the activity of us working on the cages , the flock went from 12 eggs a day to 10! No great loss. We made our first sales also! Sold 36 babies and 8 3 week old birds before Facebook stopped our ad on a group sales page 🙁 Facebook can ruin about anything they touch sometimes!

What we did find is that the birds are starting to slow down in weight gain! They are crowing now but no eggs.  Here is the latest weighing chart:

Quail Growth record of our first hatching of jumbo and Texas A&M quail
Quail Growth Record of our first hatching of jumbo and Texas A&M quail. We were hoping for eggs by now 🙁

Our goal of 400 grams probably wont be met as the growth curve is flattening out a little AND the fact we are not allowing the birds to be empty of feed before we weigh them. They do have a craw like a chicken and it can hold a lot including water! It is hot and they are always drinking it seems. Time will tell.

UPDATE 9-14-17: First egg from the Kentucky Jumbo Whites!

UPDATE 9-15-17: First egg from the Kentucky Texas A&M!

7 weeks old tomorrow!

DIY quail pen plan using pre-made shelving system

 

Another way to configure your quail pens. SPECIAL NOTE: Use 3-6″ below floor wire for poop tray removal! We learned the hard way with only 1″. EZ to fix though!

 

DIY quail pen plan using pre-made shelving system:

Here we give you our take on a complete balcony/porch/garage DIY quail pen plan using pre-made shelving system for breeders , layers and even for brooders. It is designed to last a long time and be pretty well self running. We have seen plans for units made of PVC and the sittings for joining the PVC are pretty high. We used a ready made shelf system from Walmart.

  • There in very little possibility of rotting
  • Easy to build. Few special tools needed.
  • Simple to run once set up
  • Makes a 4 tier breeder/ cage system. Our pens are 10″ tall.
  • Instructions include plans for waste-less feeders and automatic water system
  • Has sliding “poop” trays for easy odor free removal

For this project we used:

  • 1 shelf system from Walmart [ $35 ]
  • 1 roll 1″x1/2″ x 10′ welded wire [$25 ]
  • 1 roll 1″x1″ X 16 welded wire [$25 ]
  • j-clips [lots of them.. at least 1 pound ] [$6 ]
  • 30′ Edge trim [ for sharp edges of egg tray and doors ]
  • 3″ pvc pipe [for feeders. You can use knock-out caps if you can find them ]
  • 3″end caps for pvc pipe [ for feeders ]
  • 1 sheet 4’x8′ cheap paneling [ for poop trays ]
  • 2″x2″ wood strips [ for bottom wire support ]
  • 1 8′ 1″x2″ wood strip for poop tray handles
  • 10′ 1/2″ PVC pipe [ for water system]
  • 1 5-gallon bucket [ for water system]
  • 2 4way 1/2″ PVC fittings [ for water system]
  • 4 1/2″ end caps for 1/2″ PVC pipe [ for water system]
  • 1 90 degree elbow 1/2″ PVC fitting [ for water system]
  • 1 1/2″ bulkhead fitting [ to connect bucket to pipe]
  • 1 1/2″ removable union [ for water system]

Tools needed:

  • a good comfortable wire cutting tool!
  • J-clip tool
  • 2″ hole saw [for feeders]
  • hack saw
  • ruler or measuring tape
  • power drill

Walmart Shelf System we used:

The unit we got for this project from Walmart
The unit we got for this project from Walmart

 

Bar code for the Walmart unit
Bar code for the Walmart unit

Here is some info on the unit

Shelf unit before many alterations to make our DIY quail pen plan using pre-made shelving system. Our unit will be about 18" shorter!
Shelf unit before many alterations to make our DIY quail pen plan using pre-made shelving system. Our unit will be about 18″ shorter!
All molded plastic and easy to assemble instructions included. Price was $35 when we bought it. Seems almost made with our purpose in mind!

General Layout: Bottom panel

STEP 1:  Lay out the bottom panel. Make sure it is flattened out.

SPECIAL NOTE: Also note that the wire that runs front to back should be"on top of" the sideways running wire to allow eggs to travel to collecting trough!

"This

This shows the bottom layout and cutouts. Make sure to pre flatten your wire. Also note the direction of the bottom wire. SPECIAL NOTE: The wire that runs from front to back of the bottom wire MUST be placed as shown with the wires running front to back on top of the wire running side to side or the eggs will not roll!
 STEP 2: Cut the front corner cutouts: On front side of the bottom panel make corner cutout shown here.  This will allow corners to be stronger.


This is the front bottom corner cutout. You will bend the short part to form the egg catching tray. NOTE: You can stop wire at the top of the cutout OR fold it over a few spaces for added strength
 STEP 3: Cut the back corner cutouts:  On the back side of the panel, make the cutout shown here. Do not attach side wire to the single wire left after making the cutout shown here. You will want to bend the side wire around the corner pipe tightly.
This is the cutout for the bottom back corner of the pen. NOTE: do not attach side wire to the single wire left on outside of the cutout. You will want to bend the wire hard against the corner tube

This is the cutout for the bottom back corner of the pen. NOTE: do not attach side wire to the single wire left on outside of the cutout. You will want to bend the wire hard against the corner tube

General Layout: Side and Front Panel

STEP 1: Making the side wire panel:

1] Cut the wire as tall as you want the pen. We went 11"
2] Cut the wire from your roll across the edge of the roll to avoid waste.
3] Cut enough to reach all the way around the entire floor keeping in mind to stretch the wire tightly at corners to help keep wire tight. You can trim wire a square or so when making final joining.

STEP 2: Attaching the side to the floor:

  1] Once bottom panel is cut and joined, start adding side wire to the bottom panel starting 2" from the edge of the egg tray as shown below. You will leave 1" on the front edge of the bottom to bend upwards later to form the egg tray.


  SPECIAL NOTE: IT IS BETTER TO START THE WIRE 4" PAST THE CORNER AS SHOWN BELOW. BEND AROUND THE CORNER AND CONTINUE TO ADD WIRE FOR THE FRONT. THEN TRIM 1" FOR EGG SLOT!!!!! IT MAKES IT A LOT EASIER AS USING THE METHOD SHOWN IN THE PICTURE BELOW ALLOWS THE WIRE TO SLIDE DOWN!!!
Front corner showing front and side wire configuration. Keep in mind that the egg tray does not need to come all the way to the end and can be stopped at the inside edge of the corner tubing
Front corner showing front and side wire configuration. Keep in mind that the egg tray does not need to come all the way to the end and can be stopped at the inside edge of the corner tubing
SPECIAL NOTE: Details of the end of the egg tray. It will have trim installed on all sharp edges when finished. NOTE: Make sure your bottom 1x2 wire is running in the direction in picture WITH the wires running front to back ON TOP> Otherwise eggs will not roll! 
Sheila has worked the side wire almost half way around the bottom panel as quick as I could cut her more side wire to clip on! Start anywhere adding the sides to the bottom but pay attention to the corners and the front where egg tray will be formed later.

Sheila connecting all the wire as I was cutting it. A sharp pair of wire dykes is a must! Also a "J-clip" tool
Sheila is so patient and supportive!
Sheila connecting all the wire as I was cutting it. A sharp pair of wire dykes is a must! Also a "J-clip" tool.
Make sure to flatten your wire more than we did here as it is easier now than later!

TIP: Flatten your wire before connecting! Makes things a lot easier later on!
TIP: Flatten your wire before connecting! Makes things a lot easier later on!
TIP: Flatten your wire before connecting! Makes things a lot easier later on!
You can use some really small upholstery clips or hog rings as well as the J-clip pliers. There are some automatic feed hog ring pliers that we may check on but they will need some modifications to hold the rings tighter than they currently do.

Using the "J-clip" tool has a learning curve. Very small hog rings would work also
Using the “J-clip” tool has a learning curve. Very small hog rings would work also
Using the "J-clip" tool has a learning curve. Place the wires to be joined in the "J" [bent] side of the clip and then press to deploy them correctly.
It goes really fast once you understand the procedure! There is a new tool out that would work great with a small grinding on the tool face to get tighter crimp. It is Dewalt P7DW Hog Ring Plier and Ring Kit
Top view of the quail pen coming together. You should remember to tighten wire when completed on frame
Top view of the quail pen coming together. You should remember to tighten wire when completed on frame
SPECIAL NOTE: Here is a closeup of the back corner bottom showing the wrapping technique used to get tighter stretch of side wire. DO NOT attach side wire to the single wires left after making the corner cutout!

Here is a closeup of the back corner bottom showing the wrapping technique used to get tighter stretch of side wire. DO NOT attach side wire to the single wires left after making the corner cutout!
Here is a closeup of the back corner bottom showing the wrapping technique used to get tighter stretch of side wire. DO NOT attach side wire to the single wires left after making the corner cutout!
Closeup of bottom back corner cutout for the quail pen. The rod is used to level the cage at final installation. It works well and holds almost no "poop" compared to the 2"x2" used on back and front of cage.
Wire all secured and joined. It is now ready to be trimmed to allow it to be inserted into the slots in the bottom of the shelves. Disregard the extra square on the left side of the front panel by the corner tubing.

"WireWire ready to be trimmed to fit into the top shelf groove

Step 3: Installing the “poop tray”:

Our DIY quail pen plan is easily adapted to any shelving system. Regardless of the frame, one requirement is sanitation! Also the manure is so good for your garden. Especially our bucket garden!

  • Take a 2″ x 2″ or  a 1″ x 2″ and lay the 2″ side down.
  • Using a 2″ hole saw, center the bit on the wood and drill all the way through.
  • Measure 31 3/4″ to the closest point on a circle drawn using the 2″ hole saw and again drill.

Corner details for back floor brace:

This brace does not reach the floor but sits on the collar as shown. You will run a screw through the tubing into the end of the wood to assist in it staying in place [ we did not use this wood as it was not needed! ]

Note how wood will fit over the raised collar on the corner tubing
Note how wood will fit over the raised collar on the corner tubing
Measure twice and cut once!
Measure twice and cut once!

"<yoastmark

Poop tray and cage bottom brace in place
Poop tray and cage bottom brace in place
This will result in a bottom for our pen to sit on.  Note that the wood will not sit directly on the shelf! This is to allow the tray to slide under it
CONSTRUCTION TIP: The "Poop" tray will have a wood piece attached to it both to stiffen the tray AND to stiffen the wire

Step 4: Adjusting tubing height:

Our DIY quail pen plan is easy to alter to fit your needs. We used 11″ of wire for our pens. We had to cut 3 1/2″ off the tubing on each level.

Adapting  your  choice of height to our DIY quail pen plan requires you to keep the following variables in mind:

  • Height of your wood
  • Height of your wire
  • Depth the tubing goes into the shelf itself
  • How much wire will be inside the groove in the shelf bottom

Step 5: Installing the top:

  • Once all sides and front are attached to the bottom, we will trim the corners to fit into the groove made into the shelf bottom. The corners of the shelves do not have the slots and the wire needs to be trimmed 1″ to allow the wire to fit properly.
  • Place wire on tubing and press down to even out the wire. Make any last minute flattening to wire now
  • Place shelf on tubing and work wire into slot in bottom of shelf as you push shelf downwards. It is best to work one end down then across the back and then leave front until last.
  • Once all wire is in place you can use a small large-headed self tapping screw to hold wire in place and keep it from falling down until corner supports are in place.
SPECIAL NOTE: LEAVE WHOLE SQUARES , NOT LONG WIRES LIKE THIS PICTURES SEEMS TO BE SHOWING! You will be hiding 1 square into the bottom of the top shelf which will hold wire steady and prevent escape.


Top corner before cutout to allow the wire to insert into the slots in the shelves
Top corner before cutout to allow the wire to insert into the slots in the shelves
Top corner shows cutout to allow the wire to insert into the slots in the shelves. LEAVE WHOLE SQUARES , NOT LONG WIRES LIKE THIS PICTURES SEEMS TO BE SHOWING!
This photo shows the molded in groove in the shelf bottom that we use to secure the wire to the shelf. No need to worry about this until all sides and front are installed.


Closeup of the bottom of the shelves showing the handy slot for the wire. It is not on the ends, only the long sides.
Closeup of the bottom of the shelves showing the handy slot for the wire. It is not on the ends, only the long sides.
SPECIAL CONSTRUCTION TIP: You will see that the ends do not have the groove. The short distance will not allow escape of the birds if it is tucked in as shown.
Here  is completed end showing proper placement of wire. It still has about 3/8" further to go down as back and front wire is not fully in the groove in the underside of the "roof" shelf

End view showing top ready to pushed downwards for final placement
End view showing top ready to pushed downwards for final placement

Step 6: The Poop Tray:

We will use a 1″ x 2″ wood strip nailed to a sheet of painted cheap paneling for our tray. The wood will help catch and support the bottom front wire if it tries to sag at a later date. It will also stiffen the painted paneling as well. It will fit under the wood at the back of the pen bottom.

SPECIAL NOTE: We had planned for a single poop trap but to cover the high traffic ends [ especially the feeder end ] we will use a split tray

Step 7: Final leveling and fancying:

Once everything is positioned correctly, you will need to fasten them permanently:

  • Add a screw into every top or bottom of the tubing.
  • Add 1 screw into each end of the back bottom wood brace
  • Add the wire rod to the front corner of bottom so that the bottom sits flush on the 1″ x 2″ poop tray brace

 

Waste Less Feeders:

In our version of the DIY quail pen plan, we made ours 13″ so they would fit between the corner tubing on the outside of the pens. We used the recommended 2″ holes placed evenly on the top of the pipe. At this point we will wire tie them in place until we see how an actual bird will “work” to get the feed out and hard attach them when we find the angle that reduces waste the most. Made from 3″ PVC. We decided to use a long continuous slot instead of holes."Feeder

Automatic water system:

No DIY quail pen plan is complete without an automatic water system. We have 2 types to use. 1 uses an on-demand trigger and the other uses a float valve which allows more water to stay in the cup. Both are super low pressure and we plan to rig a 5 gallon bucket sitting on top of the battery to supply water to the system.

Waterers in place in the Walmart shelf quail penThe waterers are the on demand type. We may change them to a float type later

Here we moved the quail pens into another useful configurationWe added a coupling to the pipes for easy removal of bucket and a drain valve to make flushing easier.

ADDING TRIM: Reduces harmful scratches:

NOTE: The trim can be hot glued or even stapled.

Add to the bottom of the front panel and to the top edge of the egg tray. Work it around the door opening and the door itself!
We installed some of the trim on the sharp edges of the front panel to protect eggs and hands! We will add another piece on the top of the egg tray also
We installed some of the trim on the sharp edges of the front panel to protect eggs and hands! We will add another piece on the top of the egg tray also

Pen Configuration Ideas:


We were going to stack all 4 but the bottom one would have been a killer to tend to AND varmint paradise! SO we changed them up a bit.

Here we moved the quail pens into another useful configuration

If you need additional information, post a comment and we will get right back to you!~

Raising Quail for food , enjoyment or profit

Raising Quail for food , enjoyment or profit:

Raising quail can certainly provide some relief from your food bill while providing some fun and possibly added income as well!

Quail are deemed easy to grow, cheaper to feed and more free from problems than even chickens are. We have raised plenty chickens and are going to try this venture.

NOTE: Chickens are outlawed in many cities and quail could fill that need for those of us who want a taste of the country life! They are less noisy and since they are in a cage should be easier to maintain.

We will use our own experience in the quail arena as a way to convey to you how easy, fun and rewarding this project can be.

UPDATE: 7-13-17: We built the pen and have the incubators set up and running at the right temp. Sheila ordered 6 dozen eggs and they came today! Lost 10 in transit but that is really the last of the problem. The high temps was our main concern! We got them nestled into the incubator and are on our way 🙂

Here we moved the quail pens into another useful configuration
Here we moved the quail pens into another useful configuration
Our incubator. Auto turning , digital humidity and temp and forced air
Our incubator. Auto turning , digital humidity and temp and forced air

UPDATE: 7-19-17: We received 15 adults from Keith our friend from work and got them settled into our pens! They eat about 1 quart of food a day on average!

 

UPDATE: 7-30-17:  Our first hatch came today! Sheila’s son and wife gave us a new incubator to hatch in and that helped a lot! We can keep our main one turning and separate when the lock down time comes for a hatch. It is important to have the temp on all incubators adjusted prior to using! We had 22 born and lost 1 as he was late and did not fully draw the yolk into his belly like he should have. We had 15 that did not develop at all and another 15 that did not make it through the hatching process. Due to the long in transit time in the middle of July and the rough handling they got, we feel ok with the results. Quail typically do not have the hatch ratio of chickens.

We are on our first bag of feed and as of 7-31-17 we still have over 3/4 bag full!  We are feeding 15 adults and get an average of 5 eggs a day from the 10 hens! Some of the hens are young and may not be laying yet.

Today we are boiling 3 dozen eggs we gathered and are going to pickle them. We have some quail egg scissors ordered that work like a cigar cutter and help to open the eggs without a lot of undue trouble! The eggs are thick shelled and ever so small 🙂 I want to make fried eggs and eat on crackers. We will post the recipe in another post soon.

3 dozen quail eggs ready to pickle!
3 dozen quail eggs ready to pickle! Need 2 more dozen for a full quart 🙂

COST UPDATE:

  • pens and waterers =-$115
  • Incubators = -$135
  • 1st bag of feed = -$27
  • hatching eggs = -$39
  • laid eggs = $9 [3 dozen @ $3]

So far $316 out and $9 in! $307 left to break even

FIRST WEEK FOR HATCH #1: Stay tuned for the details of first week for this hatch! We will start weighing them and looking for breeders.

UPDATE: 8-3-17: HATCH 2: We set a few eggs from Keith and hatched 7 Texas A&M whites. Check the size difference in the 2 hatches!

What a growth rate huh! We are weighing them as they grow and will post results.

*Our egg production is at an astonishing 90%! 9 eggs a day from our 10 hens!

COST UPDATE: 8-9-17

  • pens and waterers =-$115
  • Incubators = -$135
  • 1st bag of feed = -$27
  • hatching eggs = -$39
  • laid eggs = $24 [8 dozen @ $3] [WE PICKLED 3 AND SET 5 ]

So far $316 out and $24 in! $292 left to break even

NOTE: BIRDS PUT ON ALMOST 400% WEIGHT IN 7 DAYS FROM 8-1-17 TO 8-8-17~~~~~~~ They went from 12.28 grams to 45.99 grams for the Texas A&M whites and from 13.7 grams to 50.56 grams for the Jumbo Pharaoh  browns!

UPDATE 8-15-2017:

19 days old and growing strong! Our 1str quail hatch

COST UPDATE: 8-18-2017

Started 2nd bag of feed. Keep in mind the babies are also now eating the adult food!

  • pens and waterers =-$205 [Added 4 more pens]
  • Incubators = –$135
  • Feed = –$54 [on second bag ]
  • hatching eggs = -$39
  • laid eggs = $48 [16 dozen @ $3] [WE PICKLED 11 AND SET 5 ]

So far $433 out and $48 in! $385 left to break even! We are going to try to sell some pickled at $6 a 1/2 pint jar!

COST UPDATE: 9-13-2017

Started 3rd bag of feed. Keep in mind the babies are also now eating the adult food! Raised 36 birds to 2 weeks old and 8 to 3 weeks old which we sold!

  • pens and waterers =-$205 [Added 4 more pens]
  • Incubators = -$135
  • Feed = -$81 [on 3rd bag ]
  • hatching eggs = -$39
  • laid eggs = $108 [36 dozen @ $3] [WE PICKLED 11 AND SET 15 ]
  • SOLD BIRDS! = $81 .. Then FACEBOOOK busted us for selling animals  GRRRRRRRRRRR

So far $460 out and $189 in! $271 left to break even! We are going to try to sell some pickled at $6 a 1/2 pint jar!

Incubating and Hatching Your Quail Eggs

Incubating and Hatching Your Quail Eggs:

Incubating and hatching your quail eggs is the key to successfully raising quail. You must first incubate them as the broodiness has been almost bred out of the present day quail commonly raised nowadays.

We choose the Pro-Series brand Circulated Air Incubator with Automatic Egg Turner, Model number 4250 ,which is one of the styrofoam types but has all the bells and whistles of more expensive brands.

This unit has:

  • Plastic coated Styrofoam construction with plastic coating on the outside to reduce breakage and make cleaning easier. It also helps hold temperatures constant
  • It has various size self turning egg racks available
  • Unit has digital temperature controller
  • Unit has DIGITAL humidity indicator!
  • Unit has automatic forced air circulation which greatly improves hatches!
  • Unit has a count down timer to help you remember hatch date!
  • Package contains standard thermometer also provided.
  • Unit has closable air vents built in
  • Unit comes with a candler but is to large for quail eggs.

Out of box to full usage was less than 30 minutes! We removed the regular egg racks and replaced with the quail size ones. Added water, added an external thermometer through one of the ventilation holes and plugged it in to allow it to cycle. It did this inside of an hour!

We have a few eggs in the unit to test it. It is holding temperature perfectly. The digital controller cycles often and temps hold within 1/2 degree at most.
We have a few eggs in the unit to test it. It is holding temperature perfectly. The digital controller cycles often and temps hold within 1/2 degree at most. We ordered these from Kentucky and it was a very hot trip for them. We lost 10 due to breakage and do not expect a very good hatch rate.
Future meals in the making :)
Future meals in the making :)Notice th elow
Probably the best looking unit we found so far in it's class for incubating and hatching your quail eggs. Maybe when I retire we can go to the Sportsman model cabinet model.
Probably the best looking unit we found so far in it’s class for incubating and hatching your quail eggs. Maybe when I retire we can go to the Sportsman model cabinet model.

UPDATE: 7-31-17

Our first hatch came off without any major hitches!. The egg were delivered to us from Kentucky and in early July with temps in the mid 90’s, we were surprised to get such a good hatch!

We lost 10 from breakage and 15 showed no development. From these we hatched 21 babies! The eggs were from 2 strains and it did seem that the brown ones hatched 12 hours ahead of the white ones!

We also scored another incubator from Sheila’s son and family which she set up to hatch in. It is the Hovabator and has better water rings than the one we used to incubate in.

It took only a few hours to get the little fellas to eat and drink. We did have to grind the food in a “bullet” as these wee ones are really “wee ones” 🙂

New quail babies!
New quail babies!

We will start another post and follow this hatch from egg to table. I already have one little fella nicknamed “Pork CHop” 🙂

Chayote Mock Apple Pie

Chayote Mock Apple Pie claimed as being sold by Big Burger Giant!

In Australia, where it is called choko, a persistent urban legend is that McDonald’s apple pies were made of chayotes, not apples. Also during the depression in the USA rumors were that canned pears were actually chayotes.

Regardless the chayote will definitely make a suitable apple pie replacement in areas that do not allow fresh apples to be picked or purchased cheaply.

Chayote Mock Apple Pie
Author:
Ingredients
  • Crust:
  • 2-2½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅔ cup oil
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 4tbls cold water
  • 2 tbls butter
  • Pie Filling:
  • 5-6 Chayote Squash
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 tbls corn starch
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 3 tbls lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. For the crust, combine the flour and salt then cut in the oil. Combine the vinegar and 2 tbls of cold water and stir in until smooth. Roll out the dough with a pin then press it into your pie pan making sure to leave a little sticking over the top of the edge for sealing to the top and making the decorative edging that classic pies have 🙂 Bake for 15 minutes in pre-heated oven and set aside.
  3. Wash and cut the chayote squash lengthwise into quarters and remove the seed in the center. Place in a suitably sized pot and cover with water. Add 2 tbls of apple cider vineger and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until tender 9about 25 minutes]. Drain and cool quickly in cold water. Once cooled , slice as you would normally for a regular apple pie. In a large pan, bring ¼ cup of water, lemon juice, and spices to a simmer. Add the sliced chayote and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, add the sugar and cornstarch and mix dry. This will help prevent the cornstarch from forming chunks when mixed into the simmering chayote mixture. Stir the dry mixture into the chayote mixture and cook until thick. [The mixture should resemble canned apple pie filling]
  4. Pour the mixture into your pie shell.
  5. For the topping, use the other half of the pie crust to form the top crust. Crimp the edges and make slits to allow steam to escape while cooking.
  6. Cook for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F.
  7. Cool until safe temperature and eat hot or cold.
  8. Enjoy!

This is the recipe we will be trying. It is adapted from a recipe from a recipe the Pam posted on her page. Her’s is for a crumble type topping and sounds great. Actually it probably would be better than ours for a first try as it would allow better control of the filling thickness than a traditional pie like ours 🙂

THIS IS ROUGH DRAFT AND WE WILL UPDATE AS WE TRY RECIPE:

Pineapple Sauerkraut: a gourmet adjustment much loved

 Sauerkraut is so easy and rewarding to make!

This recipe was inspired by one offered at MakeSauerKraut.com by Holly Howe. She is a real sauerkraut and fermenting expert and is our go-to source of inspiration. A great coach for all fermenters!

Pineapple Sauerkraut
A simple recipe for home made fermented sauerkraut with a pineapple flavor. Using the small batch methods , one can whip up many flavors at one time and be able to sort out the recipes they enjoy most. Easy to change to suit anyone's taste!
Author:
Recipe type: Fermented
Serves: 3 quarts
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 1 20 ounce can of preservative free pineapple [drained]
  • 2 medium heads of cabbage
  • caraway seeds to taste
  • ground cloves to taste
  • nutmeg to taste
  • 1 tablespoon UN-iodized salt per 2 pound sliced cabbage [we use a fine grind. If using coarser grind use a little more]
Instructions
  1. Slice your cabbage to desired thickness. The larger the shred , the longer it will take to ferment to desired taste.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon salt to each 1.8 pounds cabbage [this will allow salt for the pineapple when added later].
  3. Massage the cabbage and salt until it is showing about 2 ounces of liquid from every 1.8 pound used.
  4. When desired brine liquid has appeared, add the pineapple and mix well.
  5. Divide the cabbage mixture into 2 pound batches and add your desired seasoning. We made a caraway batch, a nutmeg/clove batch and used the larger leftover pieces from the slicer to make a mix of both to use in stir frys!
  6. Mix spices and pack firmly into the jars. Fill to just below the jar throat and place your weight on top of the packed cabbage.
  7. Top with left over brine. Sprinkle a little extra salt on top of your brine for a little extra protection against unwanted molds and we recommend using a tight lid and airlock.
  8. Place on counter [ place in shallow plate or container to catch any overflow from the active fermenting process ] out of direct sunlight in a temperature of 68-78 deg F for 10 days before checking flavors. We leave ours for a minimum of 3 weeks.
  9. Keep an eye out for overflow and open only when you suspect there could be a problem developing due to color change etc.
Notes
Please read our other articles on home fermenting. There is not a thing as "Set it and forget it" You should take the time to learn the fermenting procedure and signs to look for as your ferment progresses.

Sauerkraut is such a variable food. It is not just the type eaten on the hot dog anymore. Ok, “anymore” is not a good word here. There has always been specialty krauts but have been hidden from us and usually only available in ethnic markets and restaurants.

Today we will try some different flavors and see how they turn out. Sauerkraut is easy to make at home and very economical as well.

Pineapple Sauerkraut

We sliced the cabbage and the larger pieces that were unsafe to continue running thru our slicer were used to make a blend suitable for a stir fry.

This turned out simply awesome! We would never have tried this in the old days but am very thankful for Holly for showing us the way! Simply awesome! It is now a regular here in our home.