Food IndependanceElsewhereThe Coming Storm
Soil CareCompostingGardenGreenhouseOrchardForest GardenHomestead ToolsLiving FencesFungi in the Homestead
PoultryCowsPastureBeesLivestock Overview
Harveys BookHarveys PresentationsIn the KitchenSeeds and PlantsToolsOrganizationsBooks and MagazinesBook ReviewsLinks
MusingsEllen's Little SoapboxQuestionsBoxwood StoriesShort Fiction


If you have questions on homesteading subjects, please be in touch. I'll try to answer if I can do so out of our experience here at Boxwood. Please remember to tell me where you live (and your hardiness zone, if known), so I'll have a better idea about your climatic conditions. (Maybe this section will evolve into an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), if that seems useful.)

Please remember to use the new Search bar before sending in a question. I hear from more site visitors all the time. While I want to be in touch with you, I do not have time to answer questions that could be answered on the site itself, after a simple search. Thanks. ~Harvey


Boxwood Broody Hen
with Chicks


Old English Game Cock


Cuckoo Marans Trio

Do I sell any stock?

Do you sell any of your chickens? I would be interested in a trio of the Boxwood Broodies. Is that a breed? I have never heard of them, but like the looks of the hen with her chicks. Tell me more about them please. . . [And how about] that gorgeous Old English Game Cock in the last Backyard Poultry magazine. Do you sell them also? ~Steve in Washington state

Steve, don’t forget to use the new Search function on the updated site. If you key in “boxwood broody” in the search bar, the top hit returned is a page describing my experimental cross to breed a larger hen with the same broody skills as the Old English Game.

So, bearing in mind that we’re talking about an experimental cross here, consider that:

(1) You seem to like the look of that hen you saw. But we’re talking about a cross that includes OEG, Dorking, Cuckoo Marans, etc.—the offspring will not all look like that hen, some will look quite different indeed.

(2) The Boxwood Broody is about breeding hens that brood—is that what you are interested in? If you are not looking for hens to work as natural mothers for you, you will be disappointed in the BB—the hens want to be mamas, will insist on doing so, and will be something of a pain for you if you don’t give them eggs to hatch out.

As for selling: I’m glad to help people locally get some of my stock. However, shipping live birds is out of the question. I’ve never shipped chicks, but don’t have any interest in getting into it. I once shipped seven Madagascar Games via Express Mail to the Midwest. Went well, actually, and the birds arrived in great shape. But I had to drive the birds in their box to National Airport to ship, and the packaging was a major project. I spent the better part of two days on the shipment.

That leaves hatching eggs—I’d be willing to send them. Two considerations:

(1) Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If I sent hatching eggs, do you have a broody hen to hatch them out? Or maybe you have a friend with hens that go broody? (During a certain maybe two-month window of opportunity—roughly March and April, maybe into May—I could send on your schedule, that is, when your hen goes broody.) If you are skilled using an incubator, of course, I could send eggs anytime during my breeding season.

(2) I’ve never sent hatching eggs through the mail myself, but from what I read, they have a dreadful success rate—they get pretty rough handling. All I can say is that for my part, I’m a demon on packaging, and would give the eggs their best possible protection for the trip.

If you wanted to get hatching eggs, I could supply (during the breeding season only—other times, I do not isolate the breeds from each other) any of the breeds/crosses I work with: Cuckoo Marans, Old English Game, and my Boxwood Broody. ~Harvey

Comfrey: How to Start?

Where do you find comfrey seeds? ~Suzan in Mississippi

I don't recommend starting with seeds. There are various comfreys, some that set seed, some that have largely lost the ability to reproduce sexually (and hence are propagated vegetatively). It's actually a good strain of the latter that you want: You don't want this particular plant “on the loose” by sowing its progeny everywhere—you want it to stay where you put it.

And be certain you want it where you put it—it is deep-rooted and very tough, extremely difficult to eradicate once established. (On the other hand, it isn't invasive—via underground rhizomes/stolons like Johnson grass, for example. That is, it stays where you put it.)

Comfrey is one of the easiest of all plants to propagate—once established, just cut plugs with some root and some top, and plant where you want it. So you can easily get plugs from someone who already has it if you know such a person.

However, my recommendation is to go ahead and spend the bucks to get superior clones. The best source I know is Richters in Canada. I already had some established comfrey, but ordered the two Bocking strains Richters offers in order to be sure of having superior strains (The Bockings are considered the most productive) to work with: #4 and #14—one is supposedly better for poultry (my geese love it) and the other for production for mulches, compost, herbal “teas,” etc. I ordered 6 plugs of each a couple of years ago, now am using that bed to propagate from. I'm planting some out on the pasture where I put the chickens in the green season, some under my orchard trees, some along property lines and other perimeters—wherever I can shoehorn them in to get more material for the many uses to which I am putting this valuable plant.

Get to know this special plant. I have come to feel quite intimate with it as I spend time with it, and as I ask it to take a more responsible role here at Boxwood. I know you'll like it too. ~Harvey