Raised Box and Container Gardens…

When we purchased our house we painted inside and then the outside. We positioned the furniture where it could fit and then started on the curb appeal.  Our friends told us we would soon have a “Green Thumb.” First shovel into the ground we nearly broke our backs!!!! Rock everywhere…. Shale? Whats that?

We bought a house that sits on Shale?!?!? The entire county sits on Shale!  I never knew that one of the questions to ask when you purchase a house is; “How is the soil?” It never occurred to us.  We knew we wanted to have a vegetable garden and flowers too, so on to

Plan B:  Above ground container gardening or raised box / beds (as some people refer to them).  Our only choice!

My husband went out one morning and came home with ruff cut wood (all natural), untreated wood / planks and started putting our first box together… we added soil (organic mixed with top soil). It measured 4 x 8 !!!  Our first season we grew tomatoes… Since then we have expanded, expanded, and expanded again.  We are up to 17 boxes this year and it’s been a work in progress.  A true labor of love…

In our experience, we have found that the raised beds are easier to manage (not as back breaking) then long rows of veggies in the ground.  Each box can have a different vegetable or you can combine vegetables that grow better with less sun exposure (cooler dirt temps, e.i lettuces). Another great plus is you can keep logs of what and where you plant so that rotating each year is simple (take pictures of your gardens to see the fruits of your labor). Also, as boxes need to be maintained (weeding, cutting back, tying up and or harvesting), you can work one or two boxes a day and not feel so over whelmed.

We get creative each year… sometimes we plant tomatoes growing with basil ~ LOL  and sometimes when we want to grow in a straight line (for carrots and radishes), we run a string across the box.  Planting in circles for herbs is also very fun (you can find an old bicycle tire or wagon wheel and use the sections to divide your plants).  I always save a box to grow flowers. I LOVE fresh cut flowers on my kitchen table and I always have enough to share with friends. Most importantly it brings the bees for pollination which is what you need for a beautiful gardens.

I run a compost pile that has chicken poop, goat poop, pine shavings, leaves, grass cuttings, egg shells, coffee grounds and scraps from the garden. All of the above will get turned into these beds as needed, and every other fall we will spread some fresh organic manure.

As fall approaches, I let my chickens break down what I have not used….all the kale that I could’t finish or the parsley that grew out of control, the hidden cucumbers under the trellis, the tomatoes that reached the ground. It’s beautiful to watch if you raise chickens!

The task at hand this coming spring after adding the additional boxes will be a NEW fence for our vegetable garden (the deer, rabbits and other animals finally caught on to what we are growing).  In addition last year we added a pergola to grow gagootz (cucuzza) squash (a dear friend gave us a seedling). So interesting this vegetable is… I cant wait to get it started in a few weeks!!  The possibilities are endless!  I have ordered my seeds from a seed exchange that is certified organic and wait patiently for them to arrive.

If you can dedicate an hour in the morning for a water and again in the evening to your raised beds, you will be pleasantly surprised as to how easy, clean looking, and very rewarding this alternative can be.. I sometimes cant  wait for the moment to pull up a stool and work on my vegetable gardens or sit off the deck and read a book with the beautiful gardens as my back drop.

I was briefly disappointed when we found out about our ground and soil conditions, but ever so happy for the way it has turned out for us.

If there is a will there is a way 🙂  Additional pictures to follow in late spring early Summer when we have completed the fence.  Thank you for visiting this page 🙂

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Mini Farmer 101

Ask, ask, and ask again….  I asked so many questions and graciously received an enormous amount of good advice.  Everyone’s experiences contribute to the successes of “mini farms.”  The local tractor supply and feed stores are always a good start (especially with feed and medicine), but I went a step further and visited people who raise animals for a living.  They were all very willing to answer my silly questions as long as I walked and talked and of course…. that was just fine for me 🙂

From a small barn, coop or 3 sided shed… you have to think of weather, water, shelter, drainage, food, and protection from predators (fencing which requires electricity). For me, the electrical parts are always most complicated for one to do without professional help. The fencing which comes under shelter was another important part of the process.  Who knew goats could be so clever, and chickens can dig to china?!  Automatic censored lights that come on at night and or trail cams are not expensive for the most part and are well worth the peace of mind.  So once having all my questions answered (animals are occupying the garage makes for a quick turn around – LOL), make your decisions on what will work best for your circumstances.

What I felt was very helpful were the online forums to see others opinions on the topics at hand. Also, before buying any material you have to do a little research for where you can pick material at a good price.  When ever we could, we kept money local to help our community (i.e., rough cut wood vs. home depot lumber).  Of course, recycle when can and Craig’s list is good for certain things (feeding bins, waters, feeding scoops, old fencing, milking stands).  Of course you will build the perfect set up and 6 months in you will want to change or add something to make your “mini farm” life so much easier.  Could have, Should have, Would have – hahaha

Like I have stated in other writings, I never thought this would be me!  Living in the country is easy, but having live stock that count on you day in and day out…. is another entire story.  I love the greetings every morning, it brings so much joy…. With that being said, it brings me to another important point…. having a back up to help you with your animals!!!  Everyone wants a vacation, a long weekend, and someone is always getting married. Then it hits you!  “The animals.” For us, our neighbors are wonderful, but we can’t always depend on them entirely because of their schedules so I have a service that comes to me.  I find most charge by how much they need to do in the visit or a flat rate each visit. Have the back up in place and you can pack your bags with the comfort of knowing your livestock will be safe 😉

Update: My boys came through the castration with no complications (thank goodness). All ready I have noticed the one goat has lost the “goat stench” that is supposed attract the females during breading time.  He stunk so bad, even after washing up his stench lingered. But now all is well and we enjoy our time together 🙂  I’m looking to add another small goat in the spring.  I have the room, but most of all I think it would be good for the boys to have another to occupy them and change the guard over the bale of hay they seem to fuss over.  Doing my research now 😉  We will see!!!

In just a few short weeks we will be preparing for what will go into the ground for the 2017 harvest this summer and fall…our list of organic seeds has reached it’s max.  We use container gardening here because we live on a bed of shale rock and it’s impossible to have gardens in the ground. My next blog will be on Container Gardening.

Enjoy your animals and enjoy the process of putting it all together!  It’s worth the time and effort I assure you…

Looking forward to the spring 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He’s thriving … continued

A rough start this little boy had… because of careless and irresponsible people.  I don’t like to judge, but in this case I have to.  If I didn’t intervene, this baby goat would have been dead if not by me hitting with my car (because he was in the middle of the street at 10 pm in the pouring rain), he would have starved to death by parasite or succumb to white muscle disease.  So, this past summer goes on the books for interrupted sleep, baby bottles, and cuddle time. I never thought in a million years that I would become so attached to a goat, a baby Nubian goat!   I couldn’t be happier…Mr. Lucky is  doing well!!! His friend Slappy (a Nigerian cross), is a food monger and a little bit of a bully, but is just as cute in his own way.

Everything that we did this summer was for Mr. Lucky.  All our summer plans came to a halt. The boyz have their own barn now and a fenced in area they can call their own. The summer was spent bottle feeding, administering medicine and watching them grow.  We loved every minute of it and looked forward to baby goat antics and bleating calls. They bring smiles from ear to ear.

The weather is changing now, cooler nights and not so hot days… We have been told with males goats that they will need to be castrated by fall time (less risk of infection due to fly’s) so that they don’t stink so bad… So here we are … Fall is upon us and my baby boyz are maturing, thriving and growing horns.

 

 

A time out for junior…

The most sweetest teenage rooster you will meet.  He will eat out of your hands, follow you around the yard, come when he is called and he will let you pick him up….But when his girls are around, he turns into a hormone driven dog!  I mean Rooster 😉

Junior will be 1 years old in a few weeks.  I look into his eyes every day and see Frankie (his dad). His crow is almost the very same.  He’s not as tall or as heavy as his dad, and he has most of his fathers good qualities except for one… He torments the hens!!!!

He is out of control to the point he is stressing my girls into not laying on regular basis.  I feel so bad for them. The girls look at me like “Really? Do we have to have a Rooster?” He is on them continuously through out the day.  Of course he has 3 or 4 favorites, but not one is safe.  Great Rooster, he attends to their every need, looks to protector them, nice crow (compared to a lot of other roosters voices), and he is handsome to look at!!Junior April 2016

I don’t want to re-home him. I divided the coop and he has own section and the girls have theirs.  I let Junior out first thing in the mornings while the ladies fight over nesting boxes. I then switch them out and the girls get the yard to free range after 1 pm. In the past I have put saddles on my hens for over breeding.  This was more than over breeding. Junior is WAY out of control to almost stupid rough and I can’t take the stress anymore. Junior gets a Time out!

I’m dissapointed…Maybe he will calm down in 6 to 8 months (I’m hoping), but in the meantime, this is how it will have to be…. I do feel bad, he LOVES them, but I’m tired of seeing missing feathers from necks and heads and my girls running away from him instead of to him.

My hens are back to laying eggs every day and all is calm in my backyard world 🙂

#juniormyrooster #Ilovemychickens #mylittleeggheads #Roosterstories

Hen Spa Treatment

Who would of ever thought that a chicken would like taking a bath… a good long soaking bath???  Well, they do 😉  I guess with “Spring Cleaning” in Spring, it should only be normal for me to give each of my girls a “Hen Spa Treatment.”  If I had more hours in a day and these spring temperatures would act more like Spring, I could get all my ladies done in one day!

So I take the task on….I made sure the water temp was just right (not too hot, but more then tepid).  I put white vinegar in the water with dawn soap and massaged her legs and vent area to get off all the yucky stuff.  Changed the water out and just added Epson salt to the water.  I moved the water up and over her entire body (avoiding the very top of her head and eyes),  I then noticed that at the base of her tail it looked very dirty… remembering that this is normal ~ I removed some, but not all the grime.  This area at the tail base is where an oil gland is located.

My baby girl was so relaxed from the warm water she fell asleep and didn’t have a care in the world (don’t leave unattended, there head could fall below water). She trusted me to handle her 🙂 another bonding moment.

I changed water out again for a good rinse and had a towel ready… she was like a bowl of jello.  She snuggled in my arms as I walked her up to the bathroom where I had a small space heater working, I shut us both in the bathroom (avoid a drafty area) and gently (she didn’t have her chicken legs) placed her on the floor.  She couldn’t walk if she wanted to… I helped her preen – LOL, it just seemed like the natural thing to do 🙂

When she was almost dry I put a diaper on her so that she could walk around the house. We are still using the wood burning stove, and the temperature in my house is 74 degrees. When she was really dry I moved her to the garage which is somewhat cooler before moving her back to the coop with outside temps at a steady 40 degrees during the day.

She loved it and it gave me a chance to check her out from top to bottom. As one chicken owner to another (if you have a small flock its much easier) we should all periodically check our chicks over to make sure nothing is amiss. We don’t have to give them the “Spa Treatment”, but a once over every month or so ~ certainly keeps us in the loop to whats going on with our hens.

Happy Spring Everyone !!!

 

the VOICE

My baby boy is getting so big!  Growing into a very handsome Rooster.  In this picture he is four months old and has just started to find his voice.

I had walked outside to retrieve something from the car and there it was…. This strange noise coming from the yard.  It’s Junior trying out his vocal chords!!!  I had a grin from ear to ear 😀  It’s almost a pathetic attempt to sound grown up, but I didn’t care.  It will only be a few more weeks and he will be perfect at it!

Junior hasn’t started to feed his ladies yet (it’s November), and is still very much part of the pecking order at this point.  I’m hoping that the switch will come soon, because he thinks he only has two hens (the ones he has grown up with), not realizing the other 13 that he’s staring at through the fence or free ranging all day with are part of his flock.

 

 

 

Feathers, Feathers EVERYWHERE!!!

I can not believe the feathers, they are everywhere!!!

I do not know how my other chicken keeper friends are finding their feather issues, but mine are awful this fall!!!  I have never seen it so bad…  Not only are we having a bump crop of apples and acorns, but now feathers!!!  Could this mean that we are in for a rough winter ahead?  Not sure, but I will have to prepare myself and my ladies + one Roo (junior) very soon.

To leave or discard (if at all possible)?  My concern are the little mice that LOVE the environment the feathers + food provide….  I have already had to break up 4 very carefully placed piles of feathers forming above the chicken run.  I feel bad I have to disturb the little vermin’s new home, but I can not allow them to make homes where my chickens live, and that’s mostly for me…  Chickens would LOVE to fight over the mice ~ hahaha.  So, everyday I’m able to remove the feathers from the chicken run, but I’m finding it very difficult to get under the coop (my girls favorite spot).  I’m thinking that in a couple of weeks, I will take a leaf blower from the outside and blow them into the open part of the run to scoop them up. Or should I leave them for the winter time to keep the chickens feet warm ~ LOL

Another day with mylittleeggheads,

~anna

I can do hard things.

A wonderful read…Thank you @almostfarmgirl 🙂

Almost Farmgirl

Jeremiah pulled the covers back and kissed me goodbye at about 7:30.  I was still in bed, unmotivated to get up and start my Sunday.

“I put fly masks on the horses and scrubbed the trough.  The stalls are clean, and the water buckets are filled.  The chickens are fed.  The barn cats are let out.  And don’t let our cats convince you to give them second breakfast” [for those of you who haven’t met them, our house cats are basically hobbits…] “because I just fed them too.”

I rolled over to say thank you when a rooster crowed in the distance, as though he knew he’d been left out.

“Oh, right,” Jeremiah continued, “I let the chickens out too.”

Jeremiah is gone a lot for work, especially lately, but when he has time, he does a sweep of the barn before leaving so that I don’t have to worry…

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