Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Coop Coming & more

Chickens: With our first coop we were thinking easy, mobile & simple. It has worked great & we've liked many things about it--namely being built on a wheel barrow base for easy transport.
chicken tractor

Well, Drew got it in his head to switch things up & there's never a way for me to convince him that what's working is working. So, he came up with a plan & used me only for re-thinking measurements & such.

He started on Friday & it's almost done. We'll save the big reveal for after she's painted, but it's pretty exciting to see a new home for the birds...I think they'll approve.
backyard chicken coop
sneak peak.
Bees: We've found a gentleman who is willing to let the bees sit on his property while we're in transition. Some folks are terrified of bees & the thought someone might now buy our house because they're out back has crossed our minds, so they'll be visiting a friend for a while...
Also, Drew is reading this book (per my request). He's read much of it outloud to me (it is, afterall, a grouping of speeches). Rudolf Steiner is the founder of Waldorf style education, what we're loosely basing our Homeschooling on. He's an extreme naturalist & his vision of bees is fascinating. It has really opened our minds ideas outside modern science, which leaves a lot of holes in bee-understanding that Steiner is filling. If you're a beekeeper you should take a peek. Even if you're not, Steiner's theories are real mind benders.

On the garden front: things are really coming along. Asparagus is shooting out like crazy, peas are making their grand entrance & other seeds--namely spinach & lettuce, have been planted & are beginning to sprout. As for the seedlings, well. Not much great to say there, but I think we've learned that our issue was having our light too high, it sounds like 2 inches would be a better height, and possibly a system that can be raised as they grow. Thinking...

I (lacey) have not given up. I intend to try some heirloom variety tomato seedlings. Drew is going with the farmer's market plants. I think this is how it goes down every year.

We got some great mulch from this local mulch yard for the pathways & our front landscaping. Things are looking fresh & bright & we're enjoying it until the battle of the weeds begins. Soon we'll mow & that will REALLY put us in summer-mode.
backyard garden

On the home-front: We're still looking. We took a major hit a week or so ago. We suddenly were hopeful that we'd be able to purchase this property. Well, as soon as we called & started discussing details it was under contract. Huge disappointment, but we're trying to push forward. We have the distraction of Passover this week & are really trying to take advantage of the cleaning-out spirit to keep the house in a sellable state. We will list it via MLS this week.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Here it Comes

I know it is still early to say finally spring is here, I have to remind myself that our worst snow storms are usually in march. But man it sure does feel good to get out side and work the garden. We have been working on quite a few projects since the last post.

1. Snow Peas planted
2.Kale planted
3.Carrots planted
4.Potatoes sprouting
5.feeding bees
6.chicken waterer project

We planted two varieties. The one kind is the normal hybrid that you get from lowes and the other is the "asian" variety also from lowes. I tired English snow peas last year and the yield was very poor, so this year we are going with the hybrids. We planted them the day before the last snow that we got so I am hoping that the snow didnt zap them. They are called SNOW peas though so they should be fine.

Kale and Carrots we planted last weekend. I am giving up one of my 5x5 beds to Naomi so she can start learning the way of the gardener. She chose carrots from the store and chose one of the traditionally long varieties which grow funny around here because they cant push through the clay. So it should be fun to see what we get with them.

Snow peas in the bright sunny dirt

I have really been wanting to try some colored potatoes so I found a place online that sells all the good colors and got a few of each from a place called the Potato Garden. Shipping was quick and they let you pick when you want them shipped which was nice. if you need potatoes give them a looksy. From what I have read the best this to do is let the little spuds sprout a little before you put them in the ground. So we have them sitting under the grow lights, this week and then next weekend its off to the dirt for them. how do you know when to plant your potatoes? ( when the grass starts to turn green.)
Interesting fact that I learned is that you can grow potatoes in a bale of hay. Has anyone ever tried this?

Our Purple and gold potatoes

Winter has been rough on the bees. Out of the three hives that I had in the fall one has passed away. I have been working really hard to make sure the other two survive. All that you can really do is make sure that they have all the sugar water that they can eat and force pollen on them. Although things are already blooming now so they are not really interested in my pollen. Which is good, because now that they have pollen the hive population will start to rise now. hopefully this year will be a good nectar year too( which means not to wet that it washes all the nectar out of the flowers, and not to dry that it withers all the flowers) We have two more packages of bees on order and we will hopefully be moving the hives soon. So stay tuned for those fun adventures.
Bees bringing in the pollen, see the little yellow sacs on their legs.

Unlike bees, chickens are the dumbest animals in the world. I would put them a step under goldfish. Give them a bowl of water and they will take a drink out of it, then stand on the edge of it until it tips over, and then terd into it. It has been a constant battle between the chickens and I to keep them with fresh unfecaled water. I have been searching for some time for some sort of solution that would solve the problem once and for all, and I found it. The Chicken Nipple. I got a piece of tubing from lowes and a few fittings and made a five gallon waterer that they will never knock over. So that solves my issues with them for now...
The Chickens peck the end and a drip of water comes out, its gravity fed from a
bucket on top of the coop.
Lastly the seedlings, I must confess and struggling. When we went to lowes on sunday if Lacey hadn't been there I would have come home with some store bought seedlings. We are going to keep going for it with the seedlings but I just don't know what the deal is. They have grown and are sprouting secondary leaves but, they are scrawny and now standing up on their own. They are nothing like what you see at the farmers market. Some day I am going to figure this out. Do any of you grow seedlings successfully? how?

Secondary leaves starting to emerge