Monthly Archives: March 2012

Easter egg colors from nature

I found this knowHow feature in the Grow Magazine Spring 2012 edition from University of Wisconsin-MadisonCollege of Agricultural and Life Sciences Communication Program: and set it aside to try out with my niece Kelsey.

We tried it today and had a lot of fun.  We made all 5 of the colors from the article: Blue from red cabbage, Yellow from Turmeric, Orange from yellow onion skin, Purple from grape juice and Pink from canned beets.  I thought the Yellow, Orange and Purple were fantastic, but was less than impressed with the Pink and Blue.  If I try them again, I will reduce the dilution.

Dyed eggs on the drying rack

In the upper left of the photo are the results of the red cabbage blue – not very impressive.  To the right are the grape juice eggs – I’m thrilled with the intensity of the color!  The lower left are the pink from the beet juice – I was really surprised by how little color transferred to the eggs.  The lower right are the orange from the onion skin – incredible!  My mom was inspired by seeing these to try some quilt fabric experimentation.  The yellow in the middle is from the turmeric – again, very nice coloration.  Note that my hens lay a rainbow variety of colors, so some of these eggs began as white eggs, some were brown, some pinkish and some greenish.

We dyed 24 eggs.  There was plenty of liquid left to dye many more.  I recommend doing this for a pre Easter party.

We generally have all the necessary materials on hand – water and white vinegar, of course.  The onion skins came from my own homegrown onions and the grapes for the juice were picked at our friend’s lodge, the beets and red cabbage are readily available at the grocery store, but I also intend to grow both this summer.  And, the turmeric is always on had at our farm for its antibacterial effect.  I sprinkle a bit over the feed while my chicks are in the brooder to keep them healthy and help them avoid coccidia.

We enjoyed this fun experiment and will continue to dabble in natural dyes.



Filed under Family and friends, Farm, Local Food, Natural world, Research, Sustainability

Research final report submitted 3/1/12

Starting in 2009, I have been working on a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) funded Farmer/Rancher research project entitled: Low input pasture renovation through multi species intensive grazing.

The premise of the project was tracking data for a pasture that was management intensively grazed by more than one species to determine if the pasture could be renovated with little input of outside materials.  I did not plow up the field and replant it nor did I add fertilizer or lime to the soil.  I did add a very limited amount of clover seed in select areas.  I kept a lot of records: dates when each of the 12 paddocks were grazed and how tall the forage was before the animals were allowed in and after they had finished grazing; weights of the ruminants when they came on the farm and when they left the farm.  Soil testing was done in the spring of 2009 and again in the spring of 2011 and forage analysis was also conducted for 2009 and 2011.  Cindy Banh conducted plant surveys for me in the spring of 2009, 2010 and 2011 and also in the fall of 2011.

Plant survey example

In 2009 I raised 18 feeder lambs, 6 young goats and 200 broiler chickens on the pasture.  In 2010 I had 34 lambs, 5 goats and 300 broiler chickens and in 2011 I had 35 lambs and 200 broiler chickens.

All of the data was compiled and analyzed to determine trends and changes within the pasture.  Three years is actually a very short time for determining changes to a pasture through grazing, but some changes could be noted.  For instance, the amount of undesirable red fescue decreased overall while the more desirable reed canary grass, Kentucky blue grass, timothy and quack grass all increased overall.

But, the pH and organic matter results from the two tests indicate that both were consistently lower in 2011 than they were in 2009 and this is puzzling.

It seems that I will need to continue to track data to monitor the changes that continued rotational grazing impact will have on my pasture.

My final report was submitted on March 1st and will soon be available at this link:  An overview of the project and annual reports are currently available there.

In 2010 I was also involved as a part of a three farm team in a project called: Alternative Broiler Breeds in Three Different pastured Poultry Systems.  The final report for this project can be viewed at:


Filed under Farm, Research, Sustainability