Sunday, March 16, 2014

Chicken Update 3.16.14

So, the henhouse has been quiet....Housing the wife and daughters Holland Lop bunnies while the weather was at it's coldest.  But now the weather has warmed up sufficiently so that the water bottles aren't freezing in moments, so the rabbits are back in their hutch.

And it's time to start thinking about chickens again.  And boy did I have some grand plans!  I drew up plans for a brand new chicken coop that would sit inside an enclosed run that would measure 10 feet wide by 27 feet long!  Wow, I could have a mess 'o birds in this setup.  With that in mind, I set out to order my chicks.  I ordered 2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Barred Rocks, 2 Black Austalorps, and 2 White Rocks.

All was well in my little dreamland.  Then for some reason, I checked the City Regulations.  I had done this prior to getting chickens the first time.  Don't ask why I bothered this time, but I found in the past year the city has new chicken regs!  Some of the highlights, are they have to be in the backyard!  Drat!  My fancy new coop and run were slated for my side yard.  This means I am stuck with my old coop.

Now don't get me wrong.  There is nothing wrong with the old coop, but compared to the new coop drawings, it just isn't new!  Not that the chickens will mind, but I can't see that many chicks in the coop.  So I called the hatchery back and halved the order.

They will be coming mail order, my first time by this method, but I am told it's very reliable and safe for the chicks.  So now I have to do a thorough clean up job on the coop, as I plan to brood the chicks in the coop.  I have a heat lamp set up in there, and can block off an area to use while they are small, and can expand the area into pullet stage, and finally open it all up when they are full grown.

Really, I can't wait.  These past few months without chickens has been lonely.  I really miss the clucking and cooing.  Also not having Chicken TV has been boring.  Real TV can't compare.

And yes this post is about chickens, but as for a quick Veg update....I am going to get a bit of a late start this year, as I fear a freak frost is coming, so I don't want to start things at the normal time.  I will be starting much of what I grow in the Greenhouse.   Rather than heating the whole greenhouse with a portable heater, I am investing in Heat mats, and will heat them from below.  I figure that during the day, the temp in the greenhouse is in the 60's, but drops into the 40's at night.  But if the plants feet are warm at night they should be okay.

It's getting close folks.  I can't wait to get dirt under my nails again.  Spring is right around the corner and coming up fast!  Get out and plant something!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winter Wednesday

So the Holidays are done and gone, The house is back to normal, and the weather outside is still frightful!  Regardless, the Garden Porn in my mailbox is starting to arrive, and that along with the craving for dirt under my nails, lets me know it's time to start thinking about Spring.  Yes it's just a few months ahead, but as any good gardener/homesteader/project manager (yes that's what we are in the industrial world) we must plan ahead to take proper action for fruitful gains!

Last summer I completed the greenhouse, so that will be useful for starts for this spring:

I will need to run some electrical out to it for heating, I am under no illusions that this greenhouse will be able to support temperatures needed for germination in February here without some additional help!

So in looking at my master garden plan, I keep one drawn out on graph paper in pen, then input my plant selections in pencil each year (yes I am a bit of a geek like that)  I can see what I planted last year, and where they were planted.  I then thought about what we are eating up from last year, what we have bought, and then dreamed  about what we can try to grow this year, that we thought we couldn't grow before.  I try to give myself one challenge a year, just to push the boundaries a bit.  This year, with the addition of the Greenhouse, I am thinking Melons!  I almost got there with Melons a few years back, but just ran short on time.  I think starting them in the greenhouse will give me the time needed to make this a reality....fingers crossed.

The rest of my plan is to grow: Asparagus (yes I will try again), Arrugala, Beans (drying), Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cucumbers, Celery, Corn (another boundary pusher), Garlic, Green Beans, Lettuce, Mache, Onion, Peas, Radish and Tomato.

Small plantings of Beets, Carrots, Lettuce, Peas, Arrugala, Mache and Tomato: This year these will be for fresh eating only.  Last year we had a bumper crop of Tomatoes! So we have plenty of Salsa, Tomato Sauce, diced Tomatoes etc.  Not sure as to what variety of Tomato I will plant, but will figure that out shortly.

My large scale planting will be the Drying beans.  This winter has been big on soups, stews, chili's so we have gone through our bean supply.  Yes I know Dried beans are about the cheapest eats out there, but I get so much joy from eating my own homegrown, that you really can't put a price on happiness.

Cucumbers will be a good size planting, as I am out of Pickles.  An while I am the only one in the family that eat's them, by golly I like 'em, and since I'm the gardener/canner, I'll plant what I like!

Dreaming this year, are the Melons, Brussels Sprouts, and Corn.  I have tried the first two, with limited success.  So I will try them again, changing a few things and see what happens.  As for the Corn, My brother tried it, as did my Neighbors.  Neither had success.  Not sure if it was weather, fertilizer, variety they chose, or location.  But I'll give it a shot.

This year I am going to try companion planting.  I have been doing some research on it, and it looks promising.  I will try to keep this blog updated with that as a focus.

Another task is to replace the chickens.  This fall, I butchered the chickens as the egg production greatly fell off, and one started to go Roo on me.  This time I am looking to get 6 - 8 chickens, as the coop is big enough for more than that, and 3 just didn't give me enough eggs.

All in all, I have my work cut out for me.  Lot's to do, and not nice weather to do it in.  Currently it is 44 degrees, grey and rainy.  So I sit with my coffee, perusing my chicken catalog, and the seed catalog, looking at the seeds I still have, and determining what I will need to order.  And with the end of my cup of coffee, I too will end this blog.

Dream and plan my friends, for Spring is just around the corner, and we will soon begin the rush to get seeds in the ground!