Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chicken Abundance

All six of our chicks have survived chickhood and are now living outdoors with the hens. I opened up the second coop to provide enough housing for all. The hens and the adolescents do not co-mingle. The hens chase the newbies around, pull their feather out, and just outright terrorize them. As a result, we decided to expand the free range area to give everyone enough room to roam.  The new birds spend their day in the northwest corner of the yard, and the hens occupy everywhere else, definitely showing their rights to the fiefdom.

The original space was the area where the grass has all been eaten.

The new space is quite a bit larger.

The footprint of the chicken yard is larger than the footprint of our house!  We also let our indoor cat have a little free range time in the chicken's yards. He loves to be outside, but wild outdoor smarts . . . not so much.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When the Sun's Out

Finally summer has arrived, it's shorts and T-shirt weather today. A perfect opportunity to go out into the garden and see what's been happening.

Nestled in the grass next to one of the garden boxes, a bird has made a home. The inside diameter of the nest is a little smaller than a tennis ball and the mother looks somewhat like a black capped chickadee. It seems like an unusual place for a perching bird to build a home.

The first dahlia buds of the season are ready to burst open. I can hardly wait for the dahlia bed to bloom into full color. For me, all the colors from the dahlia's really say summer is here.

Oh yes! The Meeker raspberries are ripening. I found five and immediately ate them all. They were delicious! The salmons berries are also looking good.

The nemesia flowers are this spectacular orange outlined in red. They are planted with the lavender and I'm sure the two flowers will look spectacular together.

The incessant rain we've been experiencing has really taxed the fruit trees this season. I have 18 trees and I'll feel lucky if I get a handful of plums and apples. Here is one happy apple.

And one super unhappy, moldy, cherry. I'm wondering if I should pick all the cherries off the tree to prevent any diseases from hibernating in the soil when they drop. I see research in my near future.

The rain and cool weather has also caused the peppers and egg plants to struggle as well.

Our new batch of chicks have grown into five hens and a rooster. Our rooster is the big, black bird on the right.  I'm thinking it might be interesting to keep him around and let a hen hatch some chicks, but I'm not sure the family or the neighbors will appreciate a crowing rooster.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Color From the Rain

The rain seems never ending this spring and the forecast looks like rain, rain and guess what? More rain. In a moment of brief, early evening sun this weekend, I snapped a picture of this incredibly vibrant rainbow. What a relief to see colors other than green and grey!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Time to Think About the Fall and Winter Crops

It seems like I've just finished planting the seedlings for the summer garden, and it's time to start thinking about the seeds I need to sow for the fall and winter garden. The first seed catalog for winter harvest veggies arrived and I must say I get the same excited feeling as when the spring catalogs start filling the mailbox! I'm kind of like Pavlov's dog.

This will be my first serious effort trying to growing veggies through the winter. I'll be utilizing the portable hoophouse I designed early this spring and will set a second one up on a new raised bed I hope to add later this summer.  The other boxes will get a cover crops to add organic matter and help improve the overall structure and health of the soil.

So far here is what I'll be sowing in the winter garden:

Swiss Chard

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Snap Peas

The first snap peas of the season are always a welcome delight. The sweet, crunchy, juicy bites  are definitely an appreciated addition at our table. Today's snap pea harvest was a bowl full!  This evening, we enjoyed our fresh peas with a delicious hamburger.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bunnies in the Garden

Saturday was beautiful and sunny. A time to go into the great outdoors and tend to the gardens. The birds were chirping, the bees were buzzing and the baby bunnies were screaming. A bunny scream is a horrifying sound, and when you hear it, you know that something very bad is happening.

I rescued this batch of baby bunnies I found in the yard after a crow flew off with a couple of them. I secured the nest so the mother can get to them but the crows can't. I know when they grow up, they may be a nuisance in the garden, but I just couldn't listen to more screaming and watching the mother chase after the crow in vain. I'm hoping my good karma will come back to me by encouraging the bunnies to eat things other than my veggies!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Deer Solution

My neighbor loaned me her motion activated sprinklers for the deer problem.  I installed one and the raspberry bushes seem to be recovering, at least somewhat. The shape of the bushes reminds me of the trees in the book The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.

I've unintentionally tested the sprinkler on the way to feeding the chickens. So far, I've been hit on my back and the side of the head. I hope the deer feel the same way I do when hit with a cold blast of water. I get a little irritated when the sprinkler looks like it's laughing at me after hitting me with a jet of water.  I'll be installing a second one next to the fruit trees in the front yard.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Green Green Green!

The sun finally came out yesterday, so I dropped everything and ran outside to clean the chicken coops and survey the gardens.  The temperature has been mild and many days of rain has made everything green, green and green.

This is the garden box I built the hoophouse over. When I took the plastic off, I decided to leave the pvc pipes in place and use them to support the pea/bean trellis. Here you can see spinach, Butterhead lettuce, Iceberg lettuce, and Sugar Snap peas. We've been munching on the leafy green for about two weeks now and are really enjoying that.

The asparagus is coming along nicely. The fern fronds are beautiful and very delicate. The Ladies like to forage in the bed and haven't disturbed the newly formed plants. Yea!

Green blueberries

And the potato plants seem to be growing vigorously. I'm trying out a soaker hose, but it has been raining since put it down about two weeks ago. Water, it's a good thing.