Friday, March 19, 2010

Our Newest Family Members Arrived This Morning

We have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of our baby chicks for about a month now. While we were waiting on them this week we began to build their coop for when they are big enough to be put outside. The coop project has been a great experience, everyone has been able to participate, and despite all the usual snags in construction, not using actual plans, the extra trips to the store and the fact that not everything is square or level, overall we have done a really good job.

Yesterday, most of the framing and half of the walls were put into place. Today we were able to finish the walls and put on the roof. Tomorrow we are hoping to finish it up with the screening and the nest boxes before the rain starts. Next week we will begin painting and sealing any areas that could let in predators. Our next step will be adding the chicken run. Here's hoping that can get done before June when the baby is due.

This morning I went to the post office and picked up our peeping box of chicks. I have been told that the first few days are tricky when getting the new babies settled and sometimes there is trouble with a few dying. I am hoping that we are lucky and got a good healthy batch. When we opened the box to put them into their new crate they were so wild that one even jumped out and began to run around so I am taking that as a good sign. They are adorable and the boys are having lots of fun watching them. To start out with we decided on just hens. We have ten Americanaus, they are also called Easter Egg chickens because they will lay eggs that range from brown to a pinkish and also blue to green. I figured these would be fun for the boys because we will always be surprised when we go to get eggs. The other five are called Silver Laced Wyandottes. They are supposed to be a gentle breed that lays well and we thought they were pretty, their markings are black, silver and white. This year we are trying just laying hens. In the future, if we are successful and like keeping chickens we may try to raise some meat birds also. The hardest thing about having them so far is keeping the boys' hands out of the box for a few days, and not sitting and watching them all day...they are really cute to watch.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Garden Preparation Continues

In between the cool rainy days and early warm days we have been actively been preparing the garden spot. This weekend we began tilling the areas that we are going to plant, removing grass and roots from the tilled areas and moving rogue flower bulbs that have popped up as it gets warmer. This week I am hoping to add compost to the rows, add a couple of logs to terrace the areas that slop down hill to help keep the soil from washing out, and add some organic fertilizer to the rows. Our seedlings are growing beautifully. So far in the last couple of weeks we have planted onions, lettuce, green beans, yellow wax beans, tomato, cucumber, eggplant, lots of herbs, sunflowers, Shasta daisies, spinach, and sweet peppers. I am hoping to plant something each week until there is no more room this year. I would really like to create landscape gardens and integrate the decorative plants and the edibles to get the most out of our yard during each season.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring Clearing

Today, we started clearing out some of the property. Where the garden is located for this year, we cut down five smaller trees, mostly pines and cedars, to allow more light in. On the other side of the yard, we started removing the privet that is starting to take over. So far we have cleared out about eight trees and although it sounds like a lot, it really has not affected the look of our yard yet.
I really like the seclusion that is created by the heavily wooded areas, and want to preserve it, but it is so overrun with vines, brambles, privet, and lots and lots of unhealthy little trees that are starting to affect the health of everything around them. I think that by replacing much of what is there with native species it will be much easier to maintian in the future. Besides, it would be so much nicer to walk through the woods and not get tangled the thornes that have taken over.

Most of the trees we are cutting down will be re-purposed. The trunks will be used for garden borders, fence posts, and other projects. Some of the smaller branches are being kept for trellising, plant stakes, and other crafts and projects. If we have enough wood in the future it would be really fun to build a fort.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Time For Spring! Time For Spring!

For some reason this winter has been way too long, just dragging and lingering. Maybe it is because we have all this new yard and I am really itching to dig into it, literally. The boys and I have been planting seeds for weeks now in anticipation of getting the garden started. This morning Jacob and I went out to clear our new garden area. This area is a tempory spot for this year until we can decide exactly how the yard will be used.

We are situated on a hill that is heavily wooded. Although this can be a disadvantage because of the extra work of clearing out some of the land, it has mostly been untouched for the last thirty years or more and is very fertile soil.

One of our goals going forward is to keep some of the wooded areas especially where the land will be too difficult to plant. Thinning out some of the flatter areas but keeping the larger trees. Filling in with native plants, gardens interplanted with flowering plants, herbs, and edible plants. Hopefully finding an area for fruit trees and berry bushes. It will be a long, tedious journey and a very, very big undertaking.

The first step besides the temporary garden is going to be watching to see what is already here. There are lots of daffodills, iris, strawberry, and herbs near the garden area and in the front yard that died down during the winter; waiting to see what comes back as it warms up. There are several large rose bushes and azalea bushes that are oddly placed, but could be moved or just removed eventually.

Time to trim some more limbs and vines.