Sunday, June 8, 2014

Catching up on things...

Lot's of things going on here in the spring and moving into the summer months.  Like everyone else, I suppose, there are more things to get done than time to do them, but one-by-one we're working things off the list.

I'll start with the garden:  We got all the raised beds cleared, planted, and where appropriate mulched. There are still two large plots to work up, but I should be able to get to them this week. We mulched with wheat straw this year and it seems to be fine so far.  I'm told you can mulch with grass clippings, and since I treat at least part of my lawn more like pasture and let it get long before I mow, I have them available.  I'd love hearing how well it works from anyone who has mulched with grass clippings.

I also got my water distribution post into the ground again.  Our garden is big enough that, if it stays dry for long enough that we have water, it requires several sprinklers.  I was simply taking the sprinkler from place to place for awhile, then got more sprinkler heads.  Even with more heads I still had to move the hose from one to another.  I purchased a commercial "T" that let me select which hose the water was routed to, but the throats on the valves were small enough it produced a substantial drop in water pressure.  A little head-scratching and a trip to my local hardware store yielded an answer.  I laid up a manifold of 3/4 inch galvanized pipe.  The hose goes into the manifold in an adapter that matches a regular female hose fitting to standard pipe threads. (Second from the right in my pic.) There are three outputs, although this year I may add more.  On each of the outputs is a wide throat ball valve (you have to look for that feature, not all have the wide throat.) and a standard male hose fitting just like the spigot on the house or in the barn.  In my case two outputs go to sprinklers and the third is for general use. Changing which sprinkler gets water is as quick and easy as closing one valve and opening another, with no noticeable drop in pressure across the valve. Adding on is as simple as removing one of the elbows on the end, adding a 'T' with another valve, and replacing the elbow.  I used galvanized pipe hangers to attach the whole thing to a scrap bit of 2x4 mounted to a 4 foot section of 4x4, and planted the whole thing next to the garden.

We also got part of the stone terrace beds planted.  The lowest level is an herb garden and the next one just to the left is a strawberry bed.  I still have 4 for terraces to clear and plant, but it's coming along.  We like this location because it puts the herbs (and yummy strawberries) right next to the house.

 Finally, on the chicken front, the pine tree roost is a hit!  Even though I saw (in pictures) roosts similar to this one before, this is the first one I've seen that uses a real tree trunk with all the branches right where God placed them.  (They may be out there, I just haven't seen them.) It's a little difficult to get a good picture, but if I get in with the birds and off into a corner I can get a pic that shows most of the birds on the roost.  They seem to be a little disgruntled at my poor manners in disturbing them with a flash picture while they are on the roost, but appear to be very happy with the roost itself.  It's nice to be successful as a newbie and it shows that even someone just learning the ropes shouldn't be afraid to try something different!

We are noticing there are a few birds that are always at the bottom, and some that are always toward the top.  We've read that the order of birds on the roost from top to bottom is a pretty good indicator of the pecking order.  We're starting to see, at least for the birds at the very top and very bottom, this is working out for us.

We're also teaching the chickens to come when called, at least when they believe it's in their best interest.  Using bread as a 'teaching tool' it didn't take long for De to have them mobbing her, begging and jumping for the next morsel, and following her around the pen.  We'd like them to get a bit bigger so they don't look like quite such a temptation to Abby the cat, but it seems a little bit of supervised free ranging could be in the plan for mid- to late- summer.

I've thrown in a picture of "Fred" our Golden Polish cockerel (our Golden Polish pullet is named "Wilma") just because he's a interesting looking bird.  I've also thrown in a picture of our Golden Lace Wyandotte "Henry", or is it "Henrietta"?  Can anyone help us out on that one?  Our birds are all about 10 weeks old.
Meet "Fred" the Golden Polish cockerel

Meet "Henry", or maybe "Henrietta".  Can anyone help?
I hope you all are enjoying your spring as much as we are.  It's wonderful to be out in the dirt and seeing God work the annual miracles of growth and renewal.

Col. 1:9-12,


1 comment:

  1. I love the chicken photo! We have a few Buff Orpingtons who refuse to use our roosting tree! Stubborn birds, LOL. Your garden and landscaping look super good, especially the watering system. That's on our to-do list, but you're right, there's always more to do than time to do it.

    My problem with grass clippings as mulch, is that I never seem to get around to mowing until after everything has gone to seed. I really, really don't want to put those grass seeds (well, actually weed seeds. Our "lawn" doesn't really have much grass) in the garden. I tend to use my clippings for chicken litter or goat bedding instead.