Wednesday, March 30, 2011

One Project Done... only a Zillion more to go!

I am happy to report I have completely finished the new chicken coop! I spent over an hour the other night, moving all my laying hens into the field. I did a count as I moved them. I have 47 hens! I didn't realize there was so many.... and this doesn't count my Dorkings! It took me four trips with a dog crate and the wheelbarrow in the dark to get them all moved, but they are all safe and sound and getting adjusted to their new digs. The first day was hard, as they all kept running wayyyy up to the fence, flying over, and getting chased by dogs. I kept going into the field to give them more food inside the coop, as it was ME they were following out. The chickens see me as a source of food, and follow me everywhere.  I used to think it was cute, now it's just annoying.
Yesterday was better. No one got attacked, and the chickens mostly hung out in the field.
The only other difficulty I've had is with the horse and the pony. They keep shoving the coop door open (even though I put a huge rock in front of the door) and putting their heads in to eat the hay and the chicken feed. They are such little piggies! I haven't quite figured out how to keep them out of there yet. They are moving to their own property soon, so will only be here for another week or two, anyway. Although, in that time, I may go broke with them eating all my chicken feed.
New Field Chicken Coop. Looks ramshackle, but it's really very sturdy.
Here are my easter eggers, finally out of my bathroom and in their new digs! They are doing really well outside, and seem to be thriving.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Sad, sad day

Today is a sad day. My goat, Burley (who came with the property, and has been here since I took possession) died last night. The last few months, I could tell he was winding down. I think all the rain and wet we've had this year may have speeded up the process. It was just too much for the old feller. I just spent the last hour attempting to bury him. This is very, very difficult right now due to the fact that it has been raining nonstop for weeks (at least it seems that way) and the field is just thick, sloshy mud. Every shovelful of mud stuck to the shovel, the hole was filling with water as I was digging, it was wet and slippery, and just plain hard to do. I didn't bury him as deep as I wanted, and I'm just hoping the critters in the wild don't make me pay for that.
THEN, to top it all off... as I was dragging poor Burley to his resting spot, I spied Dumbass. Dumbass used all his lives up, and something got him last night, too. Poor Dumbass. I just knew he wasn't long for this world. So, he went into the hole with Burley.
Sometimes farming can suck. Someone told me once that 'if you have livestock, you have deadstock'. I am beginning to see that this is a very true statement.
Now I'm getting more goats.... I am feeling a bit trepidatious about this right now. I feel like I am a bit cursed with goats right now. Hopefully, it will be different when I can raise them from little babies.

RIP Burley

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Building in Progress...

After all that planting yesterday, I still had some energy left, so I started working on my new chicken coop again. I was procrastinating this part a bit, as I really wasn't certain how I was going to do it. I had already placed the lower level of pallets, and secured them. This time, I had to put up the upper layer, so the building will stand about 8' high. The pallets were heavy, and unweildy. By the time I had manhandled the first two pallets up on their ends, and screwed them into place, I was sweaty and shaking like a leaf. Part of the shakiness was from exhaustion, the other part was from some adrenalin from trying to get the pallets up on end, line them up, balance them, and secure them all by myself. I was terrified the entire time that a pallet was going to land on my head, then that would be the end of Kelly! I would be lying in the field unconcious, and no one would know I was there. EEEK!

By the end of the evening, I had raised 4 pallets, and secured them. Pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. I have 3 more to go (if it ever stops raining again!). Then the roof. Oh, I have no frickin' idea how I will get that roof on! For one, my ladder is too short. For two, I am terrified of ladders. I can happily go up 2 or 3 steps, then I freak out. It's not a fear of heights, it's a fear of ladders. They are rickety at the best of times, but with no one to hold it tight while you try to lift a big pallet or plywood over your head....
Well, you get the idea.
I need help! I hate asking all the time for help. I feel like I've asked enough favours lately, but I'm pretty sure it's the only way to finish this thing. Sigh. I will have to cajole someone into coming over for a building party soon!
I need to get it done.. the chicks in my bathroom are outgrowing their brooder, and I have no place to put them until I move the other chickens into the field.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Start of Spring

What a great day it was today!
I got up early, exercised all the doggies, and ran up to my greenhouse to plant. I planted all my peppers (6 different varieties) and a few tomatoes, plus some new varieties of kale that I didn't have last year, and a few other assorted things. I watered everything with EM, and was happy to see what I fertilized last week with my compost tea looked FANTASTIC! I was actually going to bring a flat of lettuce home with me to harden off, and plant. But I forgot. Gee, that almost never happens;-)
Oh, well... I'll grab it next trip.
The weather was so warm when I got home, that I decided it was time to start planting in the garden beds, too. I planted 2 beds each of carrots, peas and beets, and half a bed of radish. The peas I tried an experiment with - I just broadcast them over the bed, then covered them with a loose layer of hay. That's it! It was so easy! I am REALLY starting to get into this no-till method. I've only been doing it for less than a year, but already you can see a difference in the soil, and the size of the earthworms. I've never seen such big, juicy earthworms ever! They are humungous!! Oh, and the weeds.. I mostly have buttercup in my gardens - looked smaller and weaker than they did last year. I am hoping I am making it harder for them to make a living, and they will slowly die out.
It is a bit harder to sow little seeds like carrots and beets. You have to pull the resting hay off a little row, then sow your seeds. I am wondering something, though.... the last 2 years, I lost my early crops due to a late, extra cold spring. This year, I am hoping that even if it does get cold, all the composting hay and organic material will help to keep things a bit warmer... would be nice! I checked the weather report before I planted.. it is supposed to be showery, but warm all week, which should give the little seeds time to germinate before we get a frost again.
It felt so good to get out in the gardens again and do something constructive.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Waiting for Spring!

I am impatiently waiting for spring to arrive. However, I am certainly not bored while the wait goes on! I have so many projects on the go right now. I am working on my field chicken coop, and have done as much as I can while I wait for someone to help me get more much needed pallets. The good news is that what I have put up so far... is still standing!! ;-) It's a miracle, I tell you. I am not known for my building skills. I had to change my plan for the coop at the last minute. I put some of it together, then realized it was going to be wayyyy too small for all my chickens and ducks, so I expanded it before it got to late to do so. So, now I need almost double the pallets than what I needed before.

I also got a load of gravel to help temporarily repair my awful driveway. I am busily moving wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow full into all the humungous potholes. I had a guy out to give me a quote on fixing it permanently. I have to get proper ditches built, then resurface it. It will only cost me about $2000.
Guess I need to sell ALOT more veggies this summer. OUCH!

I am also busy making more garden beds. This is a slow and ongoing process, as I need to get a cardboard base down to kill the weeds first, before I add compost and soil on top. My friend John picked up a big bunch of cardboard for me yesterday, and is going to get a bunch more for me in about 2 weeks. Then, good news.... another friend of mine found me a utility trailer for my car! It is the back of a truck, and has a canopy for it. It will cost me $100, plus whatever it is for a hitch. I am THRILLED! This will save me from having to annoy all my friends for the next few years everytime I need something! I can use it to take my turkeys and chickens to the processor, to pick up hay for my gardens and chicken coops, for bringing home my little baby goats, and for picking up cardboard. To name a few uses! This will be a very well-used trailer!

I have been up a couple of times to the greenhouse. Planting, planting, and replanting. The mice and the birds are doing a number up there. I put out traps, and so did Elliot. He caught one mouse so far. Hopefully we will get more of the little buggers! All my pretty green shoots got snipped off at the quick. I've had to replant my spinach three times so far, and a few other things. A bit frustrating.
I fertilized my healthy green shoots with my homemade manure/compost tea today. Will hopefully make everything big and strong.

I bought two new fruit trees today. A Red Haven Peach tree, and a Fuji apple. I only need four more trees, and my orchard will be complete! I need 2 more apples, 1 pear, and 1 plum. The pear and the plum will be easy, but the two apples I want I am having a hard time finding. I figure you only plant these trees once, so I might as well get the kinds I want!

Dog boarding has been insanely busy of late. Last year, this was my 'slow' time. Not this year! I am going crazy. The dogs keep me so busy, I sometimes find it hard to find time to do all my farming duties. Sigh. Oh, well. At least it is paying the bills!
I joke that the dogs are getting in the way of my farming. I guess it's just growing pains, and it will settle out in the next few years.

I named my other two Dorking roosters last week. We all know Bully, the boy who is shooting blanks. Then, I had the 2 roos that I raised this past year for breeding. Well, one of them beat the bloody crap out of the other. The winner's name is Bloody Monday. The loser is Dumbass. I swear that bird has a death wish. He keeps coming out into where the dogs are. I can't believe I've been able to save him so many times! Then, if he's not trying to get eaten by a dog, he flies back in with Bloody Monday, who beats the crap out of him again.
That's why his name is Dumbass.

Flooded Driveway

Flooded Driveway
Too much RAIN!