Thursday, September 1, 2011

Veggie Explosion!

Well, the garden update from our return from vacation cruising while long overdue is finally here.
The tomatoes are on the left of the photo, and the bean trellis is on the right.  The Nasturtiums in the fore front draw the aphids, a real problem here, from the beans and Toms,  as the aphids seem to like the Nasturtiums better.

At bottom left you can just see the Faba beans, (Actually harvested now, and eaten last night. (Amazingly, my daughter said that was the best thing she had ever eaten, and could tuck right into a big bowl of them....)  The Zucchini are huge in this photo, (these have since been harvested and we got 20 small salad slicing Zukes, and 12 large shredding Zukes before dusty mildew set in (also a problem here) and I had to pull the Zucchini so the dusty mildew doesn't set into the Cucumbers next to them before they start fruiting.  Just to the right are the tomato plants spilling over the garden bed.

And speaking about tomatoes, here is my experiment from last year.  I took all the green tomatoes, at the end of last season, and through them in this garbage can (previously used as a potato bin about 8 years ago) with holes drilled into it, and 8 or 9 shovelfuls of dirt and compost.  Well these Volunteers are going strong! (We have been picking cherry toms off this now for the past few to love Open Pollinated varieties!)

My heirloom shelling beans are going nuts!  Everyone who walks by wants to know what they are.  In the bed on the right, is Cranberry beans, and Jacobs Cattle.  In the bed on the left are Canelli Lingot, and Hidatsa Shield beans.  These being Dry shelling varieties, I will let them fruit, then dry on the vine, collecting them when they feel like little stones.  Yes I know that dry beans are super cheap, but from experience, I know that the Cranberry and Canelli Lingot I grow taste infinitely superior to anything I can purchase.  These beans serve as a protein in Soups, stews, and risottos we will eat throughout the Winter months.

Harvesting of the garlic.  Got a good haul, from the 4x4 bed pulled 48 head of garlic out.  Most medium sized, but some good sized ones I will save for starter seed, and some small, I will chop up and use in sauces.  These are now finishing their drying in the Garage, and will begin using them this week.  This is an Italian Heirloom variety of purple tinged Soft Neck Garlic, it is one of the best I have ever tasted.

Carrots!!! Real Carrots!!! Wow, I have tried carrots over the years, but my 8" tall beds just didn't give good results.  So putting them in my 24" tall bed, really worked.  Also, the TP seed tape worked wonderfully!  Not sure what type of carrots these are, as I forgot to label them when planted.  I just know they are tasty as all get out!  These have been used, and the bed still holds 35+ more carrots, so we pull them as needed.

As of this writing, I have harvested much of what was planted earlier, here is a brief synopsis of harvest so far:
Faba Beans - 4 lbs
Zucchini - 30 lbs
Cucumbers - 12 lbs and still going strong
Onions - 10 lbs with another 30 lbs in the ground still
Garlic - 8 lbs
Green beans - 6 lbs and still going strong
Kale - 2 lbs
Beets - 10 lbs and still going strong
Spinach - 3 lbs
Peas - 4 lbs
Lettuce - 3 lbs
Raspberries - 2 lbs
Blueberries - Scant Handful....but hey, they are still young plants
Tomatoes - 2 lbs, with approximately 40 lbs at the breaker stage on the plant, and another 20 lbs green.

I have also planted, Butternut squash, and Small Sugar Pumpkins, with the weather we've had, I don't expect to get pumpkins by Halloween, but since I these are for Culinary use, if they come in November I'm happy with that.

And my experiment for this year is Watermelon and Cantaloupe.  These have gone bonkers in this warm weather we are having, and I have tons of little flowers, and 12 visible small watermelons and 8 visible small Cantaloupe.  I have not dug through the morass of vines to see whats on the inside of the 4x8 raised bed (the vines have spilled 3 feet out from this bed onto the rocks around the bed!)  I am optimistic by nature, but realize that I need strong weather we are not normally known for through September to call this experiment a success.

Next post will be an update on the Girls...big news there.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vacation in Alaska

The family, my wife, daughter, aunt and I boarded the Golden Princess on July 31, 2011 bound for the great state of Alaska.  Our trip would be for 7 days, and visit the ports of Juneu, Skagway, Ketchikan and a swing though Glacier Bay State Park before stopping in Victoria the night before our return.

We had made this trip 2 years prior with the rest of the family, and now it was time to take Auntie along.

We left Seattle at 5:00 PM and started cruising up the west coast.  As it was sunny, we took advantage of the big screen and nearest bar and started the trip off right!

There is a bar right behind the photographer, and the big screen showed new movies, concerts etc. all through the day. What a cool way to take in a flick!

On the trip up, our first day was at sea, so we tooled around the boat, ate to our hearts content, relaxed on deck, and kept on watch for local wildlife....but it wasn't until we hit the inside passage that we began to see whales....

We saw Humpback whales for about 3 hours, most were way out from the boat, this one spouted within 50 yards....yep, this big ol' planet, and we are just along for the ride....

In Skagway we had a little over 10 hours in port, and decided to splurge on two excursions.  First we took the White Pass Rail trip, up to the Canadian border along the route used by gold miners in the 1800's.

We were sitting in an original rail car, that had been updated, but was still hardwood floors, tiny little seats, so I stood on the back deck shooting photos like a madman.

The 2nd excursion of the day was to visit a dog sled summer camp.  This was really cool, we learned a bunch about the history of sled dogs, the dogs they use today, and got to hold the puppies!  People live out in the bush, and during the winter, dog sleds were the only form of transportation they had, until snowmobiles came along.  Some still use dogs, but the Iditarod was run in the 70's to hold on to this way of life.  Today, competitive mushers, keep 50 or more dogs, and use these summer camps as a way to keep them in shape, and teach non-mushers (that'd be me) about the dogs.

Notice these aren't traditional Huskies...we learned that the first Iditarod was run in 29 days.  This past year was won in 9 days.  The Husky isn't a strong runner over the long haul, so they have cross bred Greyhounds, Salukis, and Labradors with the Husky to keep the dense winter coat of the Husky, the endurance of the Lab, and the speed of the Greyhounds/Salukis. These dogs, will grow their coat when winter rolls around, and just love to run.  They towed us around a 1 1/2 mill course on sleds with wheels, it was a rush!

But let's be honest...where are the puppies?
For some reason this pup thought my beard was a treat

Now he's munching my hand.

My daughter, something makes me think she likes this tour.

The next day was cruising through Glacier Bay Park...we saw Glaciers, more whales, and Calves...well glaciers calving really.  This was the highlight of the day.  We were at Marjorie Glacier, this glacier is still moving at a rate of 7' per day, it is 30 stories high, and over a mile wide.  We were 500 yards away, and when chunks of ice the size of an apartment building are breaking loose...well, it was like standing at the door of creation, and realizing you forgot a change of undies...It was loud, surreal, exhilarating, and beyond awesome.  Unfortunately I can't show the step by step photos I took, but this is one shot out of that series:
While this was a smaller calving, about the size of a bus, larger ones the size of an apartment building fell apart, into the ocean to become icebergs.  Simply awe inspiring.

This was a trip well worth the time and money.  We were gone for a week, fed extremely well.  Saw stage shows, magic shows, comedians, and movies.  We saw Glaciers, whales, gardens, city's built on stilts over the water and Eagles.  We went white water rafting, took a rail trip, and rode on a sled pulled by dogs.  Can't wait to cruise again.

But upon our return, I found the vegetable garden had exploded.  That's the next blog...though.

Mea Culpa

I have been a bad bad little blogger....

I have been remiss in my posting.  I have been out and about, working on the homestead, and hording the memories all for my lonesome...I am sorry.

It all started with a well deserved vacation, where my family all went off to Alaska on a wonderful cruise (thanks bro for looking after the girls for me (more on the girls later....)

I didn't write upon my return as my garden had gone completely gonzo while I was gone.  Up in Alaska, it rained just about daily, but here on the homestead it was sunny and in the 80's every day, and the Veg just lapped up the sunlight.

By the time I got the garden under control, I ran into a chicken issue...when I realized I hadn't written about the trip or the garden, and now a major development with the "girls" and wow, was I behind.  So I did what anyone behind on projects does...I ignored it, hoping it would go away....

Yes I know this to be wrong, but my denial ran deep, and only now allows me to say Mea Culpa.

So I am going with the multiple post on the same day attack.  First up is this apology.  2nd will be the Alaska trip.  3rd will be the garden, and last but definately not least, 4th will be the girls.

Again, for those following and felt left out, that was not my intention, and I hope to get caught up here and now.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Yes, I fell off the earth....

I know, I know that it's been an awful long time between blogs.  Really, I wasn't trying to avoid anyone or anything, I just ran out of steam...

I got busy with project after project around the house, and the next thing I knew, the chickens had grown, and so had my garden.  In spite of all my best efforts to ignore them as well.

First off the girls:

Here's Twinkie our Buff Orpington.  She is quite the individual.  She is the only one to like being picked up, and can often be found scratching and pecking away to her own tune...She seems like she doesn't need the rest of the flock, as she can take being with them or alone...

Here is Hayden, our Golden Laced Wyandotte.  She and Little Red our Silver Laced Wyandotte pal around like twins...and neither want to be picked up or handled.  

And speaking about Little Red...well, I no longer worry about HER being a roo...

And finally, Rosalina, our Welsummer.  She is the vocal one, and like Twinkie, doesn't mind being picked up.  In fact, Rosalina is usually chasing after Twinkie, trying to get her to join the others, or pairing up with her when that fails.

The chickens have had free reign of the backyard for the past week.  It has been wonderfully exciting to see them explore, and just be chickens.  Unfortunately, they in all their chicken-ness, have wrecked havoc on my wife's flower beds, and the free reign has been curtailed.  Basically they get supervised time out of the arc now.  Are they not so much, but this is an experiment in chicken keeping so I will keep adapting, and so will they.

The best part about the chickens is they see me and come running...guess that has something to do with I'm the one that feeds them...but who cares, seeing them come running up to me is too cool!

Now for a veggie update:

I harvested the spinach, and froze a bunch up, and ate spinach salad for almost a week.  We have also been harvesting Lettuce and Arrugala for salads every night.  We also harvested Parsley, Oregano and mint, and they are hanging in the garage to dry...cause we don't have a dehydrator, so it's old school for us.  The smell when the garage door opens is to die for...

The rest of the veg is still in the ground, and coming up at varying degrees as you will see in the following photos:

Some folks said I was optimistic when I built my Raspberry cage so tall...well, optimism or realism, either way, those canes are tall!  I had flowers earlier, now lots of little raspberries are beginning. 

The garlic is almost ready to stop watering...This bed will next up be used for Butternut Squash.

The bush beans are coming up!  I originally planted Tiger's eye and Yin Yang in the closer bed.  Germination rates weren't phenomenal, so I interspersed some Jacobs Cattle Beans I got from the Mother Earth News Fair.  The further bed, has Cranberry Beans, which came up fantastic, and Canelli Lingott, which only produce one measly plant...ugh!  So, in went Hidatsa Shield Beans, another Heirloom seed obtained from the Mother Earth News Fair.  As you can see they seem to like the bed they lay in.

Lettuce just waiting to become a heavenly salad.  I have to be honest though, I can't tell the difference between Salad Bowl and Pom left.  The Flashy Trout back top right is tasty.  The Mache bottom right is a sweet subtle addition, and you can just make out the lone Butterhead that came up...again, planted a gazillion little lettuce seeds, and only one!  Ugh.  The red lettuce is called Revolution.  It is a quiet revolution though...not much on the flavor dept. but does add color to a salad.

Here's my current favorite salad recipe.  Picked this up in Argentina, where the family down there eat it all summer long, and I get why.
1 Big bowl of leafy greens (I use all my lettuce's, mache and arugala)
1 - 2 tomatoes cut into small bites and sprinkled over the leafy greens
A pinch or two of salt sprinkled over the Toms and Greens
Canola oil sprinkled over the salt, toms and greens
Rice wine vinegar sprinkled over the oil, salt, toms and greens.
Mix and serve.
This salad is so simple and goes well on it's own or with anything off the grill.  

The peas are going like gang-busters.  I have a ton of flowers, and some have started to fruit!  Which is for the best as we are almost out of the peas we froze last year, and will need a new harvest soon.  Unfortunately the broccoli goes to flower as soon as the heads form.  It's just to warm for them now.  I will leave them to go to seed as I will need new seed for a late summer planting for fall harvest, as well as next year. Just to the left of the bed, you can see the mint invasion we have.  This is spearmint, and makes wonderful Mojitos which I make it a point to enjoy as often as possible!

Well, the experiment has continued.  I was told we couldn't grow melons here, but I had to try.  The first attempt with indoor starts failed miserably...the melons began to vine into my tomatoes, and broccoli, and the weather was still too ugly, but I put them out under a hoop house, and they simply withered away...just too cold.  So I re-planted in hills direct seeding.  This is what is up.  Not sure if they will make it before September brings wet weather again, but like I said, this is an experiment.

Here is the bed dedicated to Asparagus...amazingly even though I planted them late, I got 5 asparagus stalks!  This is whats up with the carrots we planted, not a great germination rate with the homemade seed tape, but decent.  I know we didn't use the freshest of seeds on this tape project, so not sure if it was the flour glue we used, the toilet paper being two-ply...or old seed.  Perhaps just the fickle finger of fate, who knows.  But we will have a few carrots this year.  

This bed has big hurkin Faba Beans bottom left, with cucumbers to their right.  Behind the beans is a mess of Arugala (great peppery flavor in salads) and to their right are Zucchini.  Behind all this climbing the trellis is the pole beans.  Need those to mature to harvest stage as we have only one meal left frozen from last year.

This bed is home to 4 surviving tomato plants, little pepper plants and the big leaves up front are Nasturtiums...they control aphids (a pesky problem here in the pacific nw, and if not aphid infested, are a tasty addition to a salad as well. Yes Nasturtium flowers are edible!

Is that, yes I believe it is, A tomato or two!  I thinned out some the the leaves, as the tomatoes were getting to bushy, and lo and behold, tomatoes were seen!  Come on warm weather, without tomatoes, salsa aint a happening...and we need salsa as only two or three pints remain in storage.

Well, that rounds out the growth in the garden.  So as you can see, in spite of all my hand wringing about the sorry weather, and feeling sorry for my self, the chickens and veg follow a different drummer; and are growing wonderfully.

I hope to blog more often, and hope that time will allow me to spend it amongst the chickens and veg.

Night all.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Great Weekend at the Fair!

Whew, what a whirlwind of experience and knowledge.  Right now I feel like a kid just getting off the carousel; dizzy, giddy, tired, and ready to do it all over again.  June 4th and 5th, I attended the Mother Earth News Fair at the Puyallup Fairgrounds here in Puyallup, WA, just a hop, skip and a jump from my homestead.

I have subscribed to this wonderful magazine for the past few years, and was totally envious when they announced last year that the first ever fair was being held in Virginia :( so never in my dreams did I think I would be able to attend a fair like this.  When 3 months ago, they announced that they were expanding the fair to 3 cities, and that Puyallup, WA was the first stop, I immediately bought my weekend pass, and was as excited as a kid on Christmas eve!  I eagerly awaited this weekend, and Saturday, woke up bright and early so I could make the 1+ hour drive South to Puyallup.  Unfortunately, my wonderful wife, was under the weather, so couldn't make the trip with me.

At 9:00 when the fair opened, I was one of the first to walk in, and attended my first of many lectures that day, this one called Herbal Apothecary 101, which was followed by Cheese Making: Fresh Mozzarella, which led me into the lecture I was pumped up to see: Ballet in the Pasture, by one of the true "Rock-Stars of Sustainability" Mr. Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms:

The man truly is a rock star in this field, this was the single most attended speaker of the festival, and his book signing line  went on for more than 2 & 1/2 hours.  Needless to say, I didn't get a chance to speak to him :(

From here, I attended a lecture on Solar Energy in the Pacific NW, and then realized I hadn't had anything to eat since o'dark thirty....and found myself munching down on a gyro.  Which meant I missed a lecture from 2:00 to 2:45, but used that time to peruse the vendors.  Of which there were plenty.  I connected with a group that sells and installs made in WA solar panels, tucked that one away for future reference.  Then met another group that sells and installs innovative solar hot water heaters:

These tubes, heat the water without glycerine, and though this is a sample setup, the real deal has 20 tubes, and will heat enough water for a family of 4, using direct sunlight and UV rays, so it can be overcast and still work.  Total cost of install, is just shy of $2,500.00 more affordable than I thought.

I also found myself at the booth of Seed Savers Exchange, and chatted with those folk for 20 minutes or more, and walked away with Jacobs Cattle Beans, Hidatsa Shield Figure Beans, Amish Snap Peas, Borage, Vining Petunia, Love Lies Bleeding, and Sky & Ice Petunia seeds.  What a haul! 

I was left with enough time to make another lecture on Cold Process Soap Making.  Looks simple, this I will have to try.

From here, I went back out, and found myself mesmerized by people cooking in solar cookers:

Man, this is so easy, cardboard, white glue and tinfoil...I am so making one of these this week!

I did a turn around, to catch my breath and bearings, and saw this sign, and had to snap a picture:

This tent had some good info, many animals, from Cows, Pigs, Alpaca, sheep and goats...hmm no chickens anywhere??? Show me a homestead without a flock of girls, and you got nothing...We don't need no stinkin' cows :) It was still cool though.

I had planned to make another lecture, but was tired, and had a long drive home.

So up early again, and again, the wife was under the weather, so my bro (sinfonian) joined me for the ride down (hey carpool lane...luv it).  We got to the fairground and in just at opening 9:00 and were able to make a lecture called Backyard Bounty:

Payback for the posting photos of me in your blog... Glad you could make it Bro.

We got some good info at this lecture, but most of it was old news...guess that means we've learned something over the years...

We then walked around the vendors, my second time around, and my bro, seemed awfully interested in...bees?!? could the little buzzers be in his his blog carefully.  Heck I'm family, and even I don't know.  When we broke for lunch, he spotted another blogger, and we struck up a conversation.  She was there with her family, so we weren't the only ones to attend...glad others could make it.

Well, we then sauntered off to the keynote main-stage to find seats for the main speaker of the day.  So we got there early and saw a lecture about of all things...Beekeeping???  While it was a snooze fest for me...I lost track of my Bro, and if he was taking notes...or what???

Then it was blessedly over (not really, the Bee Dude had some great points about keeping bees sustainably, and had his own theories about Colony Collapse a nutshell, survival of the fittest, and was really at odds with most of the beekeeping world. 

But now was the time for the speaker I had come to see today...a man who needs little in the way of introduction:

Mr. Ed Begley Jr.

Would you believe my bro had to leave part of the way through this lecture??? I understand bro....really I do.  Ed Begley Jr. was eloquent, funny, a true professional.  Great points about being able to effect change, and it begins at home.  Amen.

Unlike the day before, where I missed a chance to meet Mr. Joel Salatin, I made sure I got to meet Ed Begley Jr.:

He loved the shirt, proudly made for Mother Earth News, it asks the question; " 40 years of oil left, 5,500,000,000 years of sunshine left; choose wisely.

Well, after chatting a bit with Mr. Begley, I made my way outside, fully intending to make my way back up I-5 and home, but the display on living roofs caught my eye:

Now to convince my wonderful wife, that since our backyard roof faces North, I have to pressure wash moss off every year. Making that part of the roof, living, with sedum's, and grasses, well who cares if moss comes to play as well.  I got some strong 'splainin' to do....

Now it was really time to go, but a demonstration on making and using an outdoor clay oven was to interesting to pass up...especially when they were baking bread in an already finished...

I can definitely see one of these...much larger of course, you really couldn't fit a pizza in this one, and if you can't do pizza, why build it???

Well, there was nothing between me and the exit now, so it was out the door, back to the car and 1 hour and 15 minutes back home...where I could relax, check on the girls, and share my day with my wife.  

Let me tell you, if you ever get an opportunity to attend a Mother Earth News Fair, I suggest you do so.  The amount of knowledge shared, by the speakers, and vendors is phenomenal.  I brought a notebook to write down all the wisdom I uncovered.  I know that info is probably out there in other places, but I got to speak to so many well informed, wonderful folks, that it didn't seem like learning, it was just chatting. Wow, I knew I forgot something...they had an organic beer and wine garden that I completely missed...dang

Well, it's now tomorrow, and I am truly spent.  Hope you enjoy this post.

Night all.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Garden Update

Well folks, the weather here has turned up at last, June 3rd, and we nearly hit 80 today.  I made sure to get out and water deeply every bed, and I noticed that things are starting to come along nicely.  The pole beans are popping up (peeking I call it, when they aren't fully out, but bending to get out into the open...) the arrugala has sprouted, and the carrots are finally on the way.

I ended up with 4 asparagus, heck they didn't know they were late.  And I have Cantaloupe peeking from the mounds I planted them in.

The tomatoes are all in flower, as are the red bell pepper plants.  The Peas are about 6 inches high now, and found the string on the trellis'.  And the broccoli and cauliflower are taking off, now that warmer weather is around.

The biggest thing that I noticed was that I needed to do some serious weeding.  So I worked on the lettuce/spinach bed, and found that the beets, and swiss chard succumbed to the weeds, and were wiped out.  But Kale managed to survive, and is growing strongly.  I replanted beets in the cleared out area, and hope they will work out (my faith in nature is being restored slowly....)

Now in my weeding, I found 7 Japanese Maple starts (from the mid size tree in my garden area...) and I put those in a pot and watered them...they will go nicely with the 5 Golden Chain Laburnum starts I have from last year.  Saving these up, with an eye to selling them...who says nursery's should have all the fun.

Well, it was such a wonderful day, and I was having so much fun, that I plumb forgot to break out the camera, so no photos today.  Sorry.

I will try to remember my camera tomorrow and Sunday, as I will spend both days at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup!  I have subscribed to that magazine for years, and now get to attend the festival.  I will get to see a Hero of mine, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, and listen to his lecture.  While I will never be to that level of farming, I hope to do what I can where I am at.

night all

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Garden Update...with a surprise!

Yes, it's been awhile since the last post, but it's been slow here on the homestead.  Been helping my Bro with his chicken coop, and the weather hasn't been much help to the veg.  Now the weeds, they are loving this weather...oh well.

I finally got around to cleaning up (tilling under) my winter cover crop in the last two 4x4 beds...I let them go seriously long...I had winter wheat forming heads!  I'll have to keep that in mind for a later experiment, but for now, I need those beds for beans!  So with my daughter's help, we got it all tilled in, and weeded.  Then we planted using the BioIntensive plan (big thanks to GrafixMuse for reminding me about Mr Jeavons wonderful words.)  We got about 60 bush bean plants into each 4x4 bed.  This year we planted 4 varieties of bush beans; Tiger Eye, Yin Yang, Canelli Lingott and Cranberry.  The last 3 I grew last year, and had great success, and Tiger Eye is one that came recommended from a former co-worker as a great tasting bean.  I let these dry on the vine, to use in soups, stews, chilis and risottos throughout the winter.

So here are some shots I took this morning of the gardens:

This is a composite shot of the 4 driveway beds I have.

This is Spinach, Beets, and lettuce...lots o' weeds to.  Need to get to this sometime soon.

Peas are coming up, and broccoli and cauliflower have somehow avoided the creepy crawler leaf munchers.

It doesn't look like much, but this is my dedicated asparagus bed, planted this year with 3 year old crowns, I didn't figure to get any asparagus, so overplanted with carrots that are now coming up...sporadically at best.

Lo and behold, Asparagus...SURPRISE!!! 


This bed is 4x8 and holds Pole beans (well the trellis is visible) arrugala, Faba Beans, Zucchini and Cucumbers.

Tomatoes, Red Bell Peppers, Jalepenos, cayennes, and pepperocinis.  A few basil struggling along to fill in some gaps.

I see that I have neglected to snap a photo of the onion bed, but that's okay, something for a later post.  

Now if the weather would just cooperate.  We have had ridiculous 70+ days with 40 something nights that have everything but weeds on hold...Though I do have flowers on the tomato plants, I hope that they are strong enough to bear fruit.

Well, that's the update, hopefully the weather will come around, and the veg will prosper.

Night all.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Coop's Done, and Chicks play in the sun!

So sorry folks for all the chicken updates, but the garden is really at a standstill, we've only just hit 70 degrees (yesterday 5/19) and nights are still in the mid 40's so everything is in hold mode...

But, the Chicken Coop is now DONE! and the chickens have officially moved in!

What's the first thing chickens do when moving into a new domicile...check out the buffet!

So today after running errands, I finished up the Ark, and brought the chickens out into the sunshine.  Wow did grass confuse them!?! But they soon warmed up to the green under their feet, and started pecking away, eating bugs, weeds, pulling up grass and having a good 'ol time!

This is one of the prettiest sites in our already gorgeous backyard.  My dream of 5 years has become a reality...there are chickens in my backyard!

It was really cool to have them outside with me as I put the wired gate on the lower run of their coop.  This was the last thing to do before I could move them in.  The gate is made from 2x2 lumber, and then 1/4 inch hardware cloth is on top of that.  I put hinges on the side, so that the gates open outwards, like cabinet doors.

I'd like to think I was so smart as to think this up beforehand, but circumstances led my hand.  In the end, I like this better than what I had planned, which was to have the gate lift up from the bottom with hinges on top.  The use of 1x2' would have worked like that, but using 2x2's made it tricky to impossible to make work, so I improvised, and actually like this result much better!  Go Figure.

Well, this was all done by about 6 pm, and needing to get the girls into the coop before we left to see the farmers market down the road, I moved them in and they took to the new place likes kids in a candy store.

Tomorrow I will work with them on the ladder to the lower run.  I will also have to purchase a larger waterer for them.  I will likely use the same feeder though as it is still working.  They are just going through more water than a quart mason jar holds.

Sorry, writing this up, got me thinking about the chickens, and I had to go see how they were doing.  Well it turns out, they are chirping away, eating.  I could see that my plan to minimize the bedding isn't a rousing 100% success, as the ramp ladder is covered in bedding now!  Not sure if I can do anything about that at this stage, but once they grow bigger I can increase the size of the wall around the opening.

Tomorrow comes the task of cleaning the garage.  That's were the brooder box ended up, and there is a fine layer of dust over everything within spitting distance of the box (that would be camel spitting distance I'm discovering...)  Oh bother.  That will have to be done before we attend a play, and then scurry to see my daughter perform in her high school play.  So Busy day tomorrow.

Night all

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coop Update: Chicks to go out tomorrow!

Well, nice weather has arrived!  Days up to 74, though nights still in the mid 40's though.  The day being nice allowed me to get work done on the Chicken Coop.  I am 97% to 98% done, with just finishing up the gated wire on the bottom front of the coop, and the chickens can move in.  They should be in their castle tomorrow, keeping fingers crossed (which makes typing difficult to say the least....)

Well, here are some photos of the coop;

Got it into position.  Had to put wheels on, as this is one heavy (sturdy too) coop.  Wire is in-place on the back and sides, just need wire on the front, which will be in the form of two gates that lift up to allow access.

My brother (sinfornian) wouldn't take a photo unless I was in it.  Thanks for the help Bro!

This rope closes the trap door that completes the ladder to the lower run, pull it and the door closes.

Now it's open...

and  a pull of the rope closes the door!  The wood around the door is to try to minimize the loss of bedding when the door opens in the mornings...try, try, oh well...

These doors open to access the nesting boxes, and collect the eggs.

The two roosts are in place, and the vent in back is secure.  

These past few days have been long, but the reward is knowing the the chickens have a safe secure coop to sleep in.  It will stand up the worst weather we get here, and stay warm and dry.  The only drawback to this design is the lack of roaming room, yes they lower run is some room, but they need a bit more.  To that end, I am building an ark, 7' by 4' A frame style so that I can move them around the yard, and after harvest the ark will fit nicely over my garden beds.

This is the framing for the arc, after shooting this photo, I put the poultry netting over the to long sides, and one end.  That's when I ran out of daylight, and turned in.

Well, tomorrow is supposed to be nice as well, and I hope to be able to finish up the coop, let the girls roam the lawn out back, and plant some veg, I need to get pole beans, cucumbers and bush beans in the ground.  I was able to put out my first basil starts, and my ground cherries.  The tomatoes, and peppers are flowering, and the melons vining.  All is starting to look like Spring, the bees are buzzing, hummingbirds feasting on the flowers instead of the feeder, blooming happening all, life is good!

Night all