Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chickens 2013

The chickens are huge.

They used to look like this.

We used to hand feed them.

We don't do that anymore.  It hurts.  And there is one - a Red - that purposefully bites fingers to make us drop all the feed.

We try and keep the feed to the feeder so they will churn up the dirt and the greens from the garden I throw in their enclosure.  This is one of the benefits/reasons for raising chickens - compost.  Or I should say - compostors.  I throw weeds, trimmings, fallen tomatoes, the plants I pull out as I rotate crops into their enclosure.  They LOVE it.  They eat the worms and snails and bugs on the plants and in the roots and scratch around.  And poop.  They poop a lot.

Then I throw some hay on that and they scratch some more.  This turns all the veggie matter over and over and mixes it with the dirt and the poop.  I throw on some dirt and then start the layers again.  In no time we should have lovely, well-turned compost.  Free, high in nitrogen fertilizer.

It's a win all around - the chickens get to scratch and eat veggies and bugs.  They don't poop as much in their coop.  They are eating all organic stuff that will improve their health and the quality of their eggs and we get super compost in much less time than if I was in charge of turning the stuff.  Pretty cool, huh?

South Texas Gardening Seasons

I am super lucky to live in South Texas for about 8 months of the year. The end of September ‘til May I can plant almost anything because whenever really get very cold. If we do have a freeze it doesn't last long here at my house. We live about 4 blocks from the water and that means we are always warmer than other parts of South Texas. I can literally plant and grow all fall, winter, and spring.
Summer? Summer is a whole different thing. It gets HOT here. Like days of 100 degree temps. Keeping the garden going means A LOT of water and that can get expensive and wasteful. So when I redid the garden I put in soaker hoses. I figured as hard and yucky as our water is I wouldn't get very far with a drip irrigation system. The soakers run for less than 15 minutes and do a fine job right now, in February, but I'm waiting to see how the summer goes.
Last year, in September, it was still super-hot. I wanted to get some peppers and tomatoes in so I tried something new - making shade. I used old sheers and lace curtains that were just taking up space in the cabinet and shaded the plants from about 3 o'clock until the shade from the garage hit them - about 5 or so. It seems to have worked great. This tear I'll be looking to put the material on frames or something to make it easier than trying to sort of drape the material over the cages.
We'll see. Half the fun of gardening is trying to figure out ways to work with Mother Nature. I love a challenge!


I planted pole beans and peas this year so I have to come up with trellising options. Last season I had some cucumbers in pots that grabbed the plastic fence that used to be around the garden so I want to trellis those. And I have some watermelon I might try it with as well.
Going vertical can save A LOT of room in the garden and because I sell at the market, more room for plants means more money. So vertical I go.
We replaced our old wooden windows this winter and I have a lot of the old windows stacked against the back fence. I wanted to do something with them that didn't involve just throwing them out, so I never had the construction guy take them to the dump. Turns out we used some on the chicken house, so that was cool. And I am thinking of attaching a couple to the fence to block where Winchester keeps trying to rendezvous with his Husky friend next door. I might paint the panes on those so they add art to the yard.
But I am definitely using several for the trellises I will need. I think it will look really cool in the garden to see these old windows there. Here is what they look like before I mess with them.
And here is what they look like when I take out the glass panes.
I plan to run garden twine in the openings because the plants will need that support, and I am also going to put them in with stakes that will let me make them two frames high. I think it will be awesome when the vines are wrapped around frames. I'll let you know!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fez is a Dog-Cat-Chicken

Fez thinks he's a dog. Always has. He hangs out with the dogs most of the day. If they are laying in the sun, so is Fez. I call the dogs in, Fez comes running. He grooms them and greets them with a shoulder block and rub. He thinks he's a dog.
So now I guess he wants to be a chicken. After the pitiful thing this morning he started trying to rub on the chickens. He followed one around and tried to scratch around on the ground. Again - weird. Really, really weird. Fez the Dog-Chicken-Cat. Jeez.

Fez and the Chickens

Fez is my cat.  He’s wonderful.  Fez is super independent most of the time. Unless he feels needy. Then he's super needy. He does this really pitiful thing where he meows and blinks really slow at the same time to add extra emphasis to how pitiful he is.
This morning he was sitting near the chickens again. But instead of stalking them or staring them down, he was doing the pitiful meow at them. He tried it on a couple of different hens. They just "bokked" at him and kept scratching and wondering around.
Pitiful. And weird. But that's Fez - weirdly pitiful.

Plans, plans, plans

Today was actually pretty decent around here. We've all been feeling a bit under the weather, so chores have been piling up (the dead dryer didn't help) and the house feels out of sorts. So I went outside to work. Ha. That's me.
I've decided to clean up the patio and backyard. Getting the garden in and then expanding it, getting the chickens into a house and the house in the right place, growing stuff . . . well, let's just say it's a mess out there. Since I spend do much of my time out there - I want my comfy, welcoming patio back!
Here's a picture of the mess.
Here's another.
You see what I mean?
Pretty bad. It doesn't help that this winter we had our old windows replaced and that means there's chips of old paint and little pieces of wood and masonry everywhere.
So I started with scrubbing off the patio and rearranging things. Here's a picture. Better already, no?
I have some plans for this space, some projects to make/do. I'll post my progress as I move through them, but for now my focus is figuring out who needs a new pot and dividing and repotting my plants.
Here's the list of the rest of what I have in mind:
1. Finish painting the furniture bright blue.
2. Repaint the posts and framing on the patio cover.
3. Replace cushions on loveseat and chairs.
4. Add lighting - maybe string lights?
5. Make planters and shelves for the plants.
6. Install rods to hold hanging plants.
7. Paint back porch and steps - maybe a funky color?
I'll think of more, but that's what I will be up to for a while!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Booots :)

I FINALLY got garden boots.

Well, if you're form Corpus, they're shrimper boots.  Because shrimpers wear knee-high rubber boots.

And I notice that lots of girls on the campus wear them.  Which I do not understand because rubber boots are HOT and they have to get stinky.

But that won't matter for my boots. They are intended to get stinky.  I am going to wear them in the garden as much as possible.  I think they will really help when it's time to weed-eat.  I spend 10 months of every year in shorts and weed-eating is a dangerous issue to say the least.  The boots should protect the tender bits on my lower legs.  

For now, they are really warm, and really dry, and really easy to wash various kinds of poop off of.

Which is the biggest bonus.

Well, no, the biggest bonus is that they are blue.  And really cute.

Hey - priorities!