Building more raised garden beds

Today was a bit too cold and windy to work outside on the chicken coop. Instead we set up in the shop to work on building two more raised beds. They will be in addition to the 4' x 16' raised bed we put in back in 2009. This time we used green treated (arsenic free brand) 2 x 6 x 8's. Dale cut everything to length and used screws to assemble them into 4' x 8' boxes, two rows high so they will be 12" deep. Then we ripped a 2 x 4 in half on the table saw to use as extra bracing in the corners.

Now we need to put landscape fabric over the bottoms and put them in place. We will use a mixture of peat moss, vermiculite and compost to fill them up with. Our compost pile from last year looks pretty good but we will need quite a bit of it. Our neighbor gave us a load of cow manure to, but it's too fresh to use right away. Once that's had some time to age it will be a great addition! 

Our next project will help us make more great compost and make it faster too! I will post about that as soon as it's finished.


Concrete work this week

The concrete guys called and said that they would be out to work on our job this week!

It was a fun process to watch as they compacted the sand then leveled everything off.

The forms went up and then the re-bar went in. Very efficient workers!

The came back the next day to pour the concrete. It's nice living only a couple miles from the concrete supplier too! Very fast service!!

Last night we had a hard freeze here so they covered it with tarps and now today they took off the forms and sprayed on the sealer. The kids can't wait to ride their bikes on it and to play basketball once we put up the hoop!


Weekend progress

Last weekend we had perfect weather! Which means we were outside working on the chicken coop.
It started out with moving the chicken coop out of the pole building so the roof work could start.

Then next step was putting up the rafters.

Of course Buffy had to come around to check out the progress too!

I think she approved!

After the rafters were up then the OSB, tar paper and drip edge went on. The rest of the siding was next. It's really looking nice now!

On Sunday the windows went in along with some blocking work on the interior.

You can see the two windows on the east side and the chicken pop door. The cutout in the peak will have a vent in it. Eventually it will all be painted to match the pole building and the other chicken coop too. That will be my big job.

This week the concrete guys have been out and finished getting ready to pour the slab in front of the shop and along the east side where the coop will eventually sit.If the weather holds out they should be here to pour today!! The weekend will have us working on shingles and hopefully more interior work. We will need to wire everything then insulate before putting up the interior walls.

I hope to have a feeder built into the wall for this coop. An idea I got from the forums on Backyardchickens. It will be nice to not have the feeder hanging in the middle of the coop taking up floor space and I will be able to fill it from the storage side of the coop and not have to go into the chicken's side!

The latest word on my order for chicks is three more weeks. I'm waiting for some Swedish Flower Hens! They are still pretty rare and hard to get. The people I'm getting them from only had 4 hens and are hatching all the eggs they get but still can't keep up with the orders. All the Swedish Flower Hens in the US have come from Green Fire Farms. They were first imported to the US in June, 2010. They are a very colorful breed that's extremely winter hardy! I can't wait to get them!!!


Another sign of spring!

When I was outside planting some onions and spinach yesterday I spotted this in one of our pine trees.

We have quite a few robins so I'm sure this isn't the only nest around!

Broody hen

I have a wannabe broody hen.

This golden laced Wyandotte has taken up residence in the favorite nest box. She's all puffed up and actually growls when you try to move her. She isn't even sitting on any eggs! If we had a full sized rooster I'd let her sit and hatch out some chicks, but our rooster is a Silkie! I don't really want any Silkie/heavy breed cross chicks.

I keep evicting her from the nest box hoping she will just give up. We will see!


Mini hoop house is up!

The mini-hoop house is set up on the square foot garden. We have peas and arugula already sprouting and the asparagus is poking up too. Some severe weather is possible tonight so I'm hoping the plastic holds on and I don't find it out in the field next to us in the morning!

Up, Up with a new Coop!!

We are building a new chicken coop!

You know chickens are like potato chips... you can't have just one! Or two or twelve! ha ha

If I wanted to add a few more fluffy butts around here there needed to be another chicken condo. Our current set up is maxed out. The 8 x 8 barn style garden shed that was re-purposed into our coop is serving us well but the 11 large breed hens and our one Silkie bantam rooster pretty much fill it up.

He's a handsome boy isn't he?

The new coop will be an 8 x 10 salt-box style with a 10 x 10 fenced in run. This coop with have two operating windows and two stationary ones so there will be lots of natural light. In addition there will be two 12" x 12" vents in the roof peaks on the east and west sides giving us plenty of ventilation. We will have an automatic pop door for the chickens in this coop like we have in our current one. That makes having chickens so much easier! Dale started building it a couple weeks ago inside our pole building.

Here's a few pictures of the progress.

Insulating the base.

Two side walls framed up, looking at the north wall here with one window.

Four walls framed out and the rafters ready to go up.

Looking at what will be the east facing wall with two windows and the chicken pop door.

Not much more can be done now until we pull it outside with the tractor, the rafters won't fit out the door on the pole building. We are having concrete poured and once that is done the coop will be moved into place and the rest of the work can start. 

Here's is a look at our current coop with the 5 x 15 run.


Where oh where has this little blog gone?

I totally de-railed at writing this blog. Bad bad blogger!! lol I'll try to do better! I promise!!

I may go back and add some photos and information from last years gardening experience if I have time. One thing I will say, we learned that the large garden in front of the house was not a good idea. Some things grew well others did not. The two main troubles were keeping up with the weeds and the poor soil conditions. Tomatoes and beans did well; peas, cabbage and cauliflower did not. Sweet corn did ok, but not great, as did the cucumbers, pumpkins and peppers. The carrots and onions suffered greatly from weeds.

The square foot garden did very well once again! This will be our 4th year planting it and every year it surprises me how much it allows me to grow in such a small area. It took a fraction of the work, weeding and watering as did the traditional row style of garden we added last summer. We enjoyed some new for us veggies that we haven't tried growing before. Beets, kale and bok choy all did very well! Kohlrabi and diakon radish performed well too.

With the warm spring we've been enjoying, I went out and planted some cool weather crops already. Nothing is coming up yet but the seeds don't mind waiting for their preferred temps before sprouting. We have asparagus poking up now too! This week I will put the plastic up on the mini-hoop house we built last year and start raising the soil temps in there. That will surely get things going!

I also plan on starting some seeds yet. It's quite a bit later than I started last year, but here in our zone 4 area our average date of last frost is May 26th. That gives me plenty of time to get a few things started under lights in the basement.

I will give you an update on the animals here later. For now take a look at the basket of eggs the hens gave me for Easter!

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