Monday, May 10, 2010

Weekend updates

Good gosh, what an insane weekend.

Friday afternoon found us out and about with friends. Amongst other errands, I swung by a super-cute, family-run nursery and found a fuchsia. Isn't it gorgeous? It's hard to tell, since this angle shows only how messy my porch is, but it does a lot for the deck. It feels lush and wonderful with this plant.

I also picked up four little succulents... they will get potted soon. Poor things are stuck in their little buckets still!
Then on Saturday, after volunteering to to more yard work for a local non-profit, B and I decided to go and get a second fuchsia. The pair work really well together.
Then, we stopped by the recycling place, where I found insulation for my cold frame. This way, I can close it and the seal will be airtight. I also found another hanging basket thing that grips the edge of the railing on the deck. Photos to come. $2 total, it was my kind of recycling store tri

When we finally got home in the early afternoon, I set out on one of my goals for the weekend: BUILD A NEW COOP FOR THE LITTLE CHICKS. The little chicks had been in a pen inside the older birds' pen. But, after almost a month (those little things grow!) and with the introduction of three new birds, and with the pending addition of KFC (kooky freaky chick), they needed more space. BADLY.

I worked like a crazy woman, and by Saturday evening, I had this:
Eventually, only 2-3 birds will be out here. The rest will be introduced to the red birds slowly, once they're all the same size. Luckily, our little chicks vary in age, so these introductions can occur gradually. If the red birds refuse to accept newcomers, I can build another one or two of these portable coops. For right now, it does perfectly well in housing EIGHT little ones.

I thought pretty hard about what coops like these need. I found several problems with a design like this one and this one: You NEED to have access to the coop part to clean, you need access to shut the coop door at night (and open in the morning), and you need access to their water. But also, you cannot have such large access that the birds may escape when you do these activities. So, with that said, here is my design. I'm sure I'll find faults with it, but here it is.

First off, there is a little door at the end where I can access their water. It's large enough also for me to hop inside, should I need to make repairs to a part of the interior coop (I could always crawl under the coop, but this saves that hassle). This door is also up a bit from the bottom of the coop. I normally won't open it while the chicks are in their yard, but this way, if I need to open it while they are, it's up a bit and thus more difficult for chickens to hop out.

I made this little teeny opening, so that I can reach my arm in and open/close the coop door in the morning/night.The birds are not coordinated enough to fly up and out of this hole, so it's a super-safe way for me to access the interior coop door!

Here is the interior coop door. It opens and the door forms a little drawbridge. By it being small, the hens have access to their coop, but they don't have the door taking up too much of their yard space. It's latchable (see the upper corner of the door) and reachable by the little door (see above photo).

See, this is the interior coop door, shut. And what an unflattering image of my arm. I swear I actually have Size Small arms.

Finally, we have the back door to the coop. If the chickens are out in their yard, I can close the interior coop door. Then, I can open this door. That gives me chickenless access to their coop to clean it. Or I can just quickly open it to have at eggs (when they lay).

The coop floor is lined with linoleum (leftover from the main coop construction) for easy cleaning. While it will get dirty, it is better than wood soaked with droppings.

I poured coffee chaff in the coop. The chicks went NUTS. They LOVED the stuff.

So that's the coop. I have 17 very happy birds right now: the 9 out in the big coop, and the 8 smaller babies out in the portable coop out back. LOVE it! Let me know if you want more photos or information on how I built it. Estimated total cost: $50-$60. Much better than the $250+ that is quoted in stores. Yes, it is EASILY portable, and it is a lot of space.

Sunday morning, I went to pull a few weeds in my boxes before we filled them up with dirt. And surprise, look what I found:

Can't see it? Look closer for the teeny snake:
I'd seen him/her before in this general area, so I wasn't pee-in-my-pants scared, but I still get a bit of a jolt. Non-poisonous, but still spooks me a little. A little prodding, and he went on his way.

Then Hank my yard guy came by. He brought over 5 cubic yards of soil (2 trips), which we unloaded into wheelbarrows and dumped into my remaining boxes. THEN, he got out his weedeater. Oh the bliss. The long tall weeds that were EVERYWHERE, despite out best efforts, are GONE.

No more weeds between the flower bed and the deck.

No more weeds by the rose bush.

No more weeds behind the one side of the chicken coop.

No more weeds on the chicken coop path by the strawberries and garlic.

No more weeds on the east side of the berries.

No more weeds on the west side of the berries.

And lo, here is our path from the front to the back yard. BLISS!!!! I now need to lay down materials and mulch. We went and got 2 cubic yards of mulch from the city... it's in a pile on a tarp on my driveway. Eeek. Now to spread it. FAST. Before the weeds grow again.
On to plant updates. As you can see, above, the peas are getting tall. Hurray!

The broccoli is coming in very well (the rain last night and today helps you really spot them).

My potatoes bring me such joy. Here are my yukons-- look how big they are!

AND, here are my 2 beds of fingerlings! I know. They're growing like weeds.

My onions are doing well, but I need to give them some attention. They are a bit sad right now.

And, my spinach is slowly coming in. The basil bed is next to the spinach, but I need to weed it and cover it (insulate it) before I take photos of that one. :)

That's it for now. I'm pretty tired, but wow, that yard is beginning to look good. I'm a fan of the weedeater. Talk about clearing things out! Now to keep those quickly-grow-back-after-being-cut plants from growing back! Mulch mulch mulch.

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