Sunday, April 24, 2016

Moving day for the babies

Yesterday we finally were able to move the new baby chicks from their brooding box to their new (to them) coop.  This past week I worked on cleaning the coop, the nesting box, etc to get it prepared for their new adventure.  They have grown so much in the last 10 days.

So tiny when we first got them.  Really no bigger than the egg they came from.  This was not a problem for us even though our brooding box is actually a lighted seed starter box and really not very deep.  It didn't take long before we started to have issues due to their growth.  One afternoon, while in the living room, I began to hear a loud chirruping coming from the direction of the brooding box.  I went to investigate thinking one of them must be panicked about something.  She was.  This is what I found

The gap you see below her is much smaller than the picture portrays.  How she was able to get out of the box thru that gap is beyond me,  but she did.  After that I made sure there were no more gaps and everyone stayed where they were supposed to.  However, I set to work getting them in their new home before they got so big it was uncomfortable for them.  Now I can say they are in their home sweet home.

They seem to like this corner, even though there is a nesting box on the other side.  We put them in the nesting box and they still made their way over to here.  They look so small in the coop and I guess they think so too.

This is the rest of the space.  You can't see them.  They are behind the water bottle.  I would say they have plenty of room to grow.  It won't be long before they get brave and start to explore their surroundings.  So now that they are settled it's time for my next project!

Have  great day!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The benefits of Trench digging, Black plastic, and raised beds

Every year I analyze what went wrong and what went right with my garden.  I'm always tweaking it to see if I can get better results.  Although I can't really say production has been an issue, I do have problems with weeds (as I'm sure does everyone).  I also want to have my garden be as sustainable as possible without added chemicals and I want to do this with as little money as possible.

One of the things I've been using for weed prevention is Black plastic.  You can find it easily at any hardware store.  Last season I used it again, but more of it.  In other words the whole garden was covered at the end of the season.  It sat under the plastic for the whole fall and winter.  Once uncovered a miracle had happened.  Weeds were gone.  The plastic not only keeps the sunlight from reaching these pesky weed plants, but also heats the soil up to the extent any left over seeds quickly die.  Now don't get me wrong, the weeds can come back, but in limited number.  This makes things much more manageable;especially if I keep the black plastic in between my beds and rows.  If I keep this process up each year, I'm thinking the results will get better each year.  Another advantage of the plastic is the fact that the ground underneath is easily turned due to the weeds being gone and the garden being loose from last year.  This is a win win for me.  You see, like most gardeners, I normally use a tiller for turning under my garden.  So far this year I've been able to turn under my beds with a shovel.   That's right a shovel. Makes for a good workout I must say.  And not only my raised beds, but the part of my garden where rows still reign supreme are seeing this shovel phenomenon.  Maintenance in my raised beds has always been less than that of my rows.  Since they aren't walked on the soil stays looser, less water is used, and it's easier to work around.  I must say though the maintenance level between beds and rows has gotten closer since the advent of black plastic cover.

So how does this shovel phenomenon work you ask?  (I know you didn't ask,  but I'm a gonna tell ya any how).  Trench digging.  That's the real name of the shovel phenomenon.  I would like to say I invented it, but alas that would not be true. I just learned it for myself, but this process is old as the hills.  Contrary to popular belief, motorized tillers haven't always been around.  I know, I know.  I was just as shocked as you are.(smile).  So here goes.

Now if you are a stickler for a straight bed, this is the point you would carefully mark off your area, stake it and tie string around the stakes to create the shape bed you desire.......I don't have the time or patience for that.  I eyeball the size and attempt to make it close to the size of the bed next to it.  It is not an exact science.  But you know what?  The dirt still works the same, and it gives my garden a rustic look (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).  So anyway, my first step is to dig a trench the depth and width of a shovel, and the length you desire,  As you dig you will remove the dirt to either a waiting wheelbarrow or tarp placed on the ground.  You will use this dirt later in your bed.

Once your first trench is done, you move over a little and begin digging another trench with your shovel edge slightly overlapping the side of the first trench.  As you dig this time, you will turn the dirt into the first trench, filling it as you go.  Now would be the time to break up any clumps of dirt with your shovel or cultivator.  Kinda hard to tell with this picture,but what you see below is the new trench to your left just getting started and the loose dirt in the first trench to your right.

 Disclaimer*** you will burn calories.   Keep digging trenches, filling the previous trench as you go til you get your bed the width you like.  I usually do about 4 trenches.  But wait!  Your last trench has no dirt!  Never fear!  That is what the dirt from your first trench is for!  Yay!  Problem solved!  What you see in the above picture is a bed I currently have in progress.  Below is an example of a bed I have finished.

Once I finish this last bed all I will need to do is cultivate three rows from last year and I will be ready to plant corn which is my last thing to get in the garden.  If I can do this, I will have put my garden in this year without the use of a tiller which means NO GAS USE!  I hope this post has been helpful.  Go dig up something!  Who needs a gym when you have a shovel!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

I know you have been neglected of late.

And I have to say part of the problem is the "e" key on my computer.  It keeps sticking so keep that in mind as I attempt to write this.  I have to say though that the main problem is writers block.  What can I write to you that isn't already in the pages of past blog entries?  Always one to face a challenge ( Ahem...); I will attempt to impart something useful in today's post.

   For all you  Bread makers out there!  I know a lot of you may already know this, but I will spread the word to those of us newbies who are still in the learning process.  Slash your loaf!  By that I mean put a light cut front to back along the top of your loaves.  This keeps air bubbles from forming under your crust and messing up an otherwise perfect loaf.  I particularly hate it when the air bubbles aren't seen until after you slice the pretty loaf.   Drives m crazy!  I think I can safely say this one thing alone has been one of my greatest epiphanies.   Well at least one of my greatest Domestic Diva epiphanies.

   Yesterday was my scheduled grocery gettin day.  I haven't had a major grocery gettin day in a while.  I have been trying to combine trips to save on gas and as such I've just been grabbing sale items or what I had to have after dropping my son or now sons off for work.  Yesterday was a bit of a change.  I still dropped my oldest son off for work yesterday morning but this time I did some of my major grocery shopping.  I still have one trip to make to Sams and then I will be done for the month.  Well unless a great deal comes up.  I always hold back some money for deals or fresh items (fruit, veggies).  In preparation for the major haul, I defrosted my freezer and cleaned out the fridge.  This was easy because, after months of just getting what was one sale, both were about empty.  What items were in the freezer and fridge (mainly the fridge) were put to the front and used up.  I also did some other baking; bread, granola and cookies in order to have those things already on hand and in their place before I shopped.  This also keeps me from being tempted to buy breads and cereal when I'm at the store.  I mean let's face it.  Buying those things is easier, just not better for us anyway.

  The garden is just now starting to produce.  The cooler weather crops are starting to come in.  It's nice not having to add lettuce or spinach to my shopping list.  I've planted the rest of my seeds with the exception of corn.  I'm glad I held off putting my tomato and pepper plants in because we've had a late cold snap.  I should be able to put them in finally next week.

Looking forward to the upcoming season.  Our future holds more chicks (hens) for more eggs, and some much needed repairs and upgrades to our little piece of heaven.  So hopefully I can have more things to write about that might be more interesting that what I have written so far. I am also looking at some topic changes in the near future, but that is a work in progress.  Stay tuned.

So what great things are you lookin forward to?