Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ready for an Omlette

There's not much better than coming home to this every afternoon.

These ladies are hard working girls!

Morning & afternoon, I give them scraps from the garden. Special occasions (barbecues?) gets them scraps from the table.

Other than that, it's just chicken feed & water.

And who knew how affectionate chickens could be? Weird, eh?

Friday, August 23, 2013


Note to self. When you spend the evening cutting and grilling ten pounds (!) of peppers, do not then rub that tender place on your cheek, or wipe your eyes, until after you have carefully scrubbed your hands. Repeatedly. Use nitrile gloves next time!

The peppers, now well roasted, went into the dehydrators.  24 hours later (active dehydrators), we ground them into powder.
Some mild ones: bell peppers and Anaheim. The other batch is made up of serrano, poblano and jalapeño. Got some oregano done while we were at it. 

Might consider a respirator for the grinding process next time.  

Good spices.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Early Fall Harvesting

This is maybe a quarter of the squash.

Zucchini, of course. The white ones are pattypan. The yellow crookneck are self evident.

The big orange ones are interesting. It's apparently a Japanese pumpkin, which we discovered in Germany. We brought some seeds home with us. They're prolific.
Harvesting the first couple tater towers.

I did not plant them right. I should have let the seed taters get started, developing eyes. I didn't do that. As a result, the harvest was fairly wimpy.
This is the first part of the harvest. I was hoping for twice this or more. 
And just a sampling of some of the 'maters and cukes.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Building the Drainfield

We needed to build a drainfield. It's for the water that doesn't end up in the rainbarrel.

So we ran a drainpipe over to the garden, dug a hole, and filled it with rock.

Danny dug it pretty deep. 
For the record, the drainfield works perfectly.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Special Ed Chicken

This is a special ed chicken.

Her name used to be "Lady Lazarus" because she was literally raised from the dead. She and her sisters had died from a cold snap when they were tiny chicks. The girl raising them brought this one back from the great chicken coop in the sky.

So her name is still Lazzie, but we have dubbed her Dingus. She is something special.

She won't fly up to the perches just over her head. We know that she can because she regularly flew over the 4' high fence around their play yard. But she won't. We suspect that she may be insecure: she is the last one to try new things.

So I made her a special perch, only a foot off the floor. But she won't even get up on this tiny little thing. I have to put her up here every night, and she squawks and fusses when her feet are off the ground. (Her sisters love to be picked up and petted.)

We think that when she was dead, she must have sustained some damage to her little pea brain.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Our First Egg!

Last night was their first night in the new diggs.

This morning, I'm presented with this.

The ironic part is that they were fighting over who gets to sleep in the nest boxes (my answer: they're not for sleeping!), and she let it go from her place on the perch. It's dented on one end.

But it's our first egg!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Building a Chicken Coop

So we haven't been impressed with the suburban use of a tiny little chicken tractor. It houses them just fine, but it's a bear - and this is more because of the way I made it than the idea of a tractor - to fill the food and water.

When we added a couple more chickens, we realized it's time for a real chicken coop.
So this is the place where we're going to build the coop. We're clearing space in what was once a fairly unruly garden.

Laying out bricks for a foundation. These were part of our fireplace at one time.

While Milady was preparing the area and laying out the foundation, I was building the base of the coop.

First: I laid out the perimeter with treated 2x4s. These will set on top of the bricks. 

I reinforced the corners.

Then I installed treated 2x4s vertically on the perimeter.

Here's a close-up of the corner's construction.

And the wooden base installed on top of the brick foundation.

If you look closely, you'll see a layer of chicken wire dangling from the bottom of this base.
Here's the closeup: the chicken wire was about 12" wide. We buried it in the dirt around the coop. This is designed to discourage whatever creatures wish to dig under the foundation to get at the Ladies.
Then we set up the studs.

The orange gizmo is a level to help me identify "vertical." It doesn't go there automatically.

Getting a start on the frame for the roof.

We're planning an exit on the end, under the coop itself, to let the chickens in and out. We have odd ideas for this, involving a "chicken tunnel" to another area for them to roam.

Getting the screen up under the coop. Milady does details so much better than I.

 And we have a roof up.

First wall is up.

Time to make a floor.

A good floor will be easy to clean. For this coop, that means linoleum. I've glued it on, and now I'm applying pressure the best way I know how.

Nicest linoleum floor around. Nicest floor in a chicken coop we know of.

There is a drawback. We've since found out that if they're tweaking out about something, then the pine shavings on the linoleum is awfully slippery. Several of them fell on their feathered little kiesters when they first arrived.

It was really funny, actually. I tried not to laugh. I failed.

Second wall is up. This one has the nesting boxes sticking out.

Nesting boxes protruding out of the coop is traditional for a couple of reasons:
  • It keeps the birds from roosting (and pooping) on the nests or nesting boxes.
  • It makes it much easier to get at the eggs: don't have to go into the coop. 
  • It looks kind of cool.
Nest boxes will get a divider and a lid soon.

Got a lid on the nest box. Had an inspiration to seal the joint with a piece of innertube.

Looks kind of glorious here, doesn't it? 
And got the inside wall finished. Got a door for chickens. Studies have shown that chickens like doors.

Time for a door. The best way is to make our own.

Beginning to hang the door. Actually, the door is hung, but there is not yet a door frame. That's next.

Now we need a cleanout door on the back of the coop. We wanted the boards to match the rest of the wall, so we built the entire wall, and then cut the door out.

The semi-final coop. "Semi" only because there are some details I need to finish, but the Ladies moved in this afternoon.


The old coop, withe the pen now removed, looks a little forlorn.

Since it fits the raised beds, we might use it for a "mobile office" for the Ladies in the off-season.

Or we might sell it next spring and "re-coop" some of the costs of building the big one.

Needed to block the nest boxes off. They were fighting over who got to sleep there.

"No, girls. Those are for laying eggs, not for sleeping and pooping in."
So we needed to pick up the ladies and set them upon the roosts for the first night. They squawked (like chickens!) when we lifted them up, but they seemed to like it up there.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Few Fruits

Been running so fast, haven't had much time to post.

Peppers are coming in. This monster red pepper came from a tiny little pepper plant. But it poured its heart into this one, epic pepper. 
Begun the tater harvest. I realized a mistake I made in planting, but not until after planting: I needed to let the seed taters actually sprout before planting. I planted taters too fast.

This is 2 of 5 tater towers (plus another pot), so maybe a third of the tater harvest. I hope the others do better.
This is an awesome year for squashes! This was a little more than one day's harvest.

The orange things are a Japanese pumpkin (and a yummy one!) that we discovered in Germany. We've barbecued (like zucchini) slices when they're young. Probably steam or bake the more mature ones.

And zukes, pattypan, yellow crookneck. Also a couple of tiny orange peppers.

I already reported on the garlic & onion harvest. I'll be harvesting the red onions soon. And I'll have to take pictures of the kale trees soon.