Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Waterproof Chickens and Garden Update

With the recent rains, our chickens have been looking more like drenched wet rats than birds. I've actually been a bit concerned. Though it's been a semi-warm rain, being wet = being cold = not fun.

My neighbor agreed to loan me his tarp this winter. It's HUGE. I got it Sunday evening, so yesterday, I set it up.

Believe me, hanging a tarp is not as easy as it looks. First off, it's butt-heavy. Really. Secondly, the tarp had been used recently to cover delivered piles of compost, so you can imagine the smell and grime. I went from clean to FILTHY in seconds.

But finally, great care has to be taken with hanging waterproofing materials so that no water pools. Pooled water is heavy and can collapse whatever structure the tarp is hanging on. I also wanted the water to run off outside the pen (there's one area in the bottom where it doesn't, but I'm ok with that), not inside.

So, for eg, in the picture below, you can see why I couldn't lift the tarp up to the top of the fence; it would have created a huge pool. Right now, all the water slides down to a single drop-off point on this side.
It was a crazy project, needless to say. The tarp is also HUGE (I think about 30'x40'), so I couldn't use all the tarp.
But, after the excitement of the invading blue thing, the girls are back to normal. I suspect I may not get any eggs the next day or two due to the stress, but we'll see.

The tarp also goes down on a couple of sides. The purpose? Keep out the wind. There are two and a half sides that are open, so hopefully, this will provide enough ventilation to be safe.

After a few days of being covered, I'm hoping their pen will dry out sufficiently so that I can put down lots of hay. Fluffy hay. This will help keep them entertained and help keep them warm this summer. Right now, it's pretty mucky and nasty in there. As much as I want to fix it right now, I can't. It has to dry first. Sorry girls.
In other news....

The sweet potatoes are actually coming in. The vines have been growing fairly significantly, so I finally poked down in the dirt by one plant. And there were tubers. AH! So exciting. B isn't a huge sweet potato fan, and they don't store long enough for ME to eat all of them. But, I'm planning on drying slivers for doggie treats. Not too much, just treats (too much carbs/starch= not great for doggies).
The potatoes and broccoli are gone. The broccoli needs a better place next year, if I do broccoli. They always get infested with aphids, and then I can't tell where the aphids end and broccoli begins. This was not a problem this year-- they got fed to my chickens, who loved both the broccoli AND the bugs.

The carrots are still growing strong. That's one thing I love about carrots; you can plant a bunch at one time, but they'll come in gradually. No need to stagger the planting time. So far, the best ones have been my territorial seeds. My goodness those are good carrots.

My walla walla onions are just about ready to be picked. They're still green on top, but with all this rain, I'm worried about mold.
My basil... um, needs to be plucked or something. It's a bit insane. I had been plucking the flower sprouts (keeps it leafing and not getting straggly), but I finally gave up at season's end. Now I have this to deal with.
Green beans. Yum.
Yin Yang beans. Yes, they actually look like the symbol. I didn't get too many, but I do need to pick what I got and dry the beans. I will grow these again, but next time: sunnier location. The filbert tree filled in a bit too much this past year.
Trifono Violetto: Purple pole beans.
Pineapple Tomatillos! They are really coming in strong. I love them.
See! Look how many!
Squash is still coming in, which is great. I've been drying it this year. This is my middle eastern hybrid.
The crookneck squash is also coming in strong....
Here's another one...
My tomatillos are finally ready. Not all of them yet, but some!
Gypsy peppers....
One. single. pumpkin. But that's ok; I didn't expect to get much more than that. I have a spot for pumpkins to buy them cheap, so I'm not worried.
Tomatoes. I have finally been getting some tomatoes, but not TONS. The rain last week has caused many to crack too... sad! But I found some cheap locally-grown, organic tomatoes, so I do have many in my freezer.

There are many brightly yellowish ones though, so there is still some hope.
But see? Cracking.
I do have lots of yummy yellow pear tomatoes though. Mmm.

And I have harvested a few big bertha tomatoes. YUM!
My rhubarb are still producing... I need to freeze or use these soon.
And I have a few patty-pan squash.
The scarlet runner beans did not to great this year... They did not do well when they were stressed during a heat spell. Wimps. I have some beans, but not a TON.

And the rattlesnake beans are pretty much done for the year.
I do have four new baby rhubarb to plant though! Less than $2 apiece. I'm very excited.

See? Aren't they cute?

And finally, here are a few shots of my garden helper. And by "helper", I mean she never hops in garden beds, and she keeps stupid cats out of the yard. :)

Happy dog.

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