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Personal blatherings, living simply, gardening, cooking, canning, dehydrating, knitting, spinning and more.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Long time, real busy

Whew...

In August, we dealt with high winds and downpours. The garden weathered them well. Then. in September, we were told we would reach a light freeze two nights. We covered the tomato beds. There was nothing we could do about the beds out in the meadow. It was NOT a light freeze! It hit 28°F and stayed for hours, only warming up to the 40's. We went out to the meadow when it warmed up. Most of the spaghetti squashes and pumpkins were fine, but the vines were toast. We cut them from the vines and we are still sitting them in the sun daily to finish ripening. The last stragglers of green beans could of been used as darts, then they thawed to mush. Luckily, I had harvested all the dry beans in August. The artichoke plants did not even wilt and their leaves were fine. The summer squashes were burnt. The tobacco leaves, one week from harvesting, were limp. We cut them all down and hung them from the rafters. They are drying, slowly, but the leaves are fine. All were in bloom. The deep scent of the flowers were amazing. Ah well...

A collage of some of the items in the garden, taken in August. Click on it for a larger image.

I am clean out the beds. We had a high-end spa that was left here by the previous owners. It needed some work after the last use. We already had to secure a small loan to get the chimney installed for the wood stove, (which we had to buy an "approved" one so the insurance would not go ballistic), meaning we could not afford to maintain the spa any longer. One of the owners of the chimney/wood stove business gladly came and hauled off the spa. Yea! That freed up a lot of room on the south side of the house. Himself spent two days dismantling the deck the spa sat on. There was nasty indoor-outdoor carpeting. Sadly, it rotted some of the 2x6's under it, but the rest of the those that formed the floor of the deck will become kindling. The other 2x6;s will be used to make the lean-to for stocking the wood for the stove. The previous owners also left behind some metal roofing. That will be used for the roof of the lean-to. We have to clear off an area and get pallets this weekend.

Oh yeah, those beds in the meadow? All beds, dirt and all, will be moved to where the spa was after rotilling it. The meadow area will be used for growing wheat. There is t-posts around it already. We will put fencing to keep the deer, elk and moose out and we can grow enough to feed the family for a year. A few of the beds will be moved to an area that tends towards cooler temps. They will be perfect for spinach, lettuce, brassicas, etc. Potatoes do well there, but they will be rotated out next season.

During all of this, I have been canning and dyeing wool to be used for lockerhooking rugs for the house. Luckily, I did not start on the rugs! The one for the main room would of not worked. The hearth and stove changed the layout of the room a lot. I am making the hearth. That is for another post.

I have been cooking, baking and canning. That is for another post, too. I have a bushel of tomatoes yet to get canned up. There is a few things in the garden left to be canned soon. I will photo some of it all, including some delicious, naughty goodies I baked.

The chickens are doing well, now. We first set up a fence that was not high enough. Stew escaped on an hourly basis. The cockerels were fighting so much and all were thorns in the pullet's sides, we put up taller fencing and divided a bit of the yard for three of the cockerels. That night, the tarps we had up to shade and keep the rain off the Boys hit. They made it through but it was an unpleasant night for them. Himself made them a small lean-to to go over the roost he made to protect them better. Within a week, Floppy (comb) got into it and somehow messed up a foot. We thought the toe was broken. (Luckily, it was sprained and he was fine in a week.) The fighting was also because of the pullets being in sight? No, even with a tarp hiding them from view, they fought. Elvis did not help, mounting the pullets right next to the Boy's fence. (One got him in the butt, putting an end to that.) We put Floppy in the tractor so he could heal, then went over what we had on hand to separate "The Boys".

We got six 10' electrical conduit pipes and bent them like our garden hoops. Instead of using the bit of fence that cut off the yard from the main chicken coop, we cut off the fencing that poked out for the Boy's yard, We would of had to take it off anyway, That is the area by the carport where the snow falls off into. (The Boys should be in Freezer Camp by then.) We did not want crushed chickens. We cut the fencing into three sections and bent them over the hoops, after adding more pipes on the bottom for the frames. Get PVC elbows. The metal ones are priced in the Gasp! ranges. I then zip-tied the fencing to the frame. On the back, I cut regular chicken wire to fit and zip-tied it down, then covered it in an old bit of tarp, also zip-tied down. The front door is zip-tied at the bottom so we can open them up like a mailbox. Himself made pieces of 4" pipe into nipple waterers. They are bungee-tied to the top, as are the "front" doors. There is no bottom. We drag the boys over the meadow to peck and scratch daily. The cages are 3 1/2' wide and 5' long. They are about 28" tall or so.

Every night the cages are in a line and covered in a tarp we clip down to small posts hammered into the ground. It is not perfect, but it keeps them from killing each other before we can get them processed. If we do let a hen have a nest, these will be handy for the next batch of Freezer Camp Boys.

The pullets are laying. The first eggs were very tiny. They are now med-large and large. Marsala's first egg was large and double-yolked! She was the last to lay. The first was Dumpling's, shown in the photo. Yes, that IS a dime next to the egg. laughing...



We put the lean-to and longer roost in the main chicken yard. The Girls like to use it to preen in and rest from scratching and pecking all day. Speaking of which, Scratch and Peck is their food for the last couple of months. What a booger to find soy-free, GMO-free chicken feed!

I am up to 1 tbsp a day of scrambled egg with no side-effects at all. It was the soy in commercial and local "organic" eggs I was allergic to, not eggs. I am still slowly building up to more and more egg, just to be safe. It has been over 15 years since I could eat eggs. That 1 tbsp. would of had me doubled over with cramps and more. I SO want an egg salad sandwich.

The hens liked their nest box, but it was a tad light inside. I have seen curtains on the boxes. How silly? It turns out some chickens prefer a dimmer area. So... I had an old pair of flannel PJ pants. I stapled the top to the box, pulled the crotch up a little and stapled it so the entrance was not covered too much, and pulled the legs "open", stapled them to the side, (like cafe curtains). It worked. Before we put the box in, Elvis was in the corner, butt in the air, cooing and digging around, then settling down like he was going to lay an egg. It was cute. He did the same thing when we put the next box in, approving of it, I guess. Why, yes, those pant-curtains do have Sponge Bob Squarepants on them.

The photos below is of the chicken yard, after we moved the Boys to "death row", of the pullets and the cockerel. First row: Happy chickens, Nugget and Dumpling. Second row: Biscuit, Marsala (fluffed and with Elvis), and Elvis.

Did you notice Elvis' comb? No? Look closer:

When Mr. Elvis gets "frisky", his comb gets black at the tops of his comb. The friskier he is, the more of the comb goes black. (He is only mildly frisky in this photo.) It freaked us out at first. I never read anything about this occurring. At least the Girls get a warning? Do they notice it? His routine is hilarious: First coo over a tidbit and get the Girls running over to see what he found. Fluffy bloomers in the air while they are busy pecking. Elvis first pokes out his chest and flaps his wings a few times to show off his chest and wingspan. Next, Chicken Yoga. This entails stretching one leg and wing back, slowly and with balance to show his powerful legs and wings. Next, The Pose. It is better than on the cereal boxes. It makes the boys at Muscle Beach look like amateurs. Then- The Eye. Either the girl submits; turns around and confronts him; or dashes off. He goes for the next next if unlucky the first round, going through his routine again. And again.

In the morn, I release the trap door. Elvis emerges, check around and then watches the trap door. Three things can happen: The Girls all emerge at once, (which is hilarious, considering how small the trap door is), staying in tight formation. Safety in numbers, you know. Or- one emerges dashes around while Elvis chases her, with her running interference so the other girls can come out and she joins them, standing in a united front. Or, one comes out, submits and they go about their morning. Elvis is frisky in the morning. And mid-morning. And noon, And...

Next post? Recipes, making a hearth pad from scratch, photos of canned stuff, photos of foo-foo Sally, and who knows what else. I will leave the "chicken scratch" alone next round. (laughing...)

1 comment :

  1. Love how you two are living! I especially enjoy how you enjoy your chickens.

    I have 39 (after 6 go to Annie and her family, 5 to a neighbor) new chicks coming second week in October. This will be my first journey into brooding in quite a while. Had a Mama Bear hen hatch out 4 Sexlink X Wheaton this July. Just in time for when son Geoff and his family was here. Genna (8 yrs) loved it!

    Take care.

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