Friday, May 22, 2009

Additions to the farm hardscape

We put in an outdoor sink yesterday. It is made from all throw away stuff. A couple of old saw horses, a table top that Fred Meyer was going to toss out, a sink my contractor got on another job site, and a few new fittings from the plumbing supply house. It drains into plastic buckets so that water can be used on the garden. Why waste what you can re-use! Cold water only so no usage of natural gas to fuel hot water. It is going to be a great place to clean and top vegetables when the time comes. No mucking up the kitchen! I like that. It will also be a handy place to set up as a bar for parties. We can fill the sink with plastic and ice and put cups and bottles on it. Double duty is another good thing about living green. We won't need a bar! The chicks brooder can now become a tub for beer and sodas!

The other great thing that happened yesterday was the chickens first time out in the run. Jenn had to use a broom to get them out of their comfy digs, but once out in the sunshine they explored every little nook and cranny. They found worms and fought over them. They scratched, and pecked, and poked around for quite a long time. Because of their size, they cannot be left out unsupervised. Beefcake and Pig Bitch are trying to find a way to be there at the right moment when one of the girls sticks her head out of the wire. I think they would bite it off if they could. Jenn had the best time digging up worms for them. They really love the squirmy little things. Shirley, the littlest girl, loves them the most. Seems Dolly and Laverne have no interest in them yet.

Everything is coming along so well. Now, we move on to the patio and awning portion of the design. I did my first grilling of the season last night and it would have been nice to have the patio completed before hand. Guess the call of the grill will be incentive to do the project, once my surgery is over and I can at least direct the work of constructing the crushed stone patio and arbors.

It takes a lot longer to tend this farm than it did any garden I've ever put in, but I love my time in the early morning light with the plants and the hens. It is the best way for me to start my day.

Friday, May 15, 2009

What's Worse, permanent or one time use?

I am referring to coffee filters. I recently started using a hemp cone instead of the brown ones made from recycled paper. Now, I am wondering if washing out the hemp filter every morning is using up more water than in the making of the paper filters.

Christ! It is so hard to be deep green. If you buy paper filters there is water used in their making. How much? I need to find out. In using a hemp filter I run the water for approximately 45 seconds to rinse out what does not come off the filter when I scrape the grounds into the compost. I wash it with soap and water twice a week, so that takes more water. I don't know which is more ecologically sound but I am sticking with hemp until someone tells me it is the worst thing I can be doing for the planet.

Speaking of compost, I have a major overhaul planned for our triple bin system. It was constructed poorly by the people who stayed here while we were off on our fabulous adventure last summer. Although it held all the pieces parts in place, turning the sucker has been a nightmare. With some refitting, it will be easier to turn and a continued source of fabulous, rich, healthy humus for the garden this year, and next.

And, because Jenn has been a real trooper there are only a few more starts to plant. All the later crop seeds have been sowed and soon it will be a watering, and weeding, and waiting game. There tiny little starts on one of the strawberry plants. Five tiny little nubs that will be fruit. One of the pepper plants has a bloom and the blueberries are looking promising for this year. Lettuce can be harvested in about two weeks, and the broccoli rabe maturing quickly.

I love my time alone in the garden in the morning. Just me, and the plants and the chickens. I water with intent and with as much Zen as I can muster. I try and see the small changes taking place in the vegetables. I soak in the colors and the drops of water as they fall down the leaves and into the the rich, dark, fertile soil.

Life doesn't get much better than this.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Slow Progress

Life and the sudden rain showers keep me from having the garden completely planted. With Jenn's hard work yesterday, we are about half way there. Rain today and tomorrow means we probably won't get finished, but we plug along. My lovely partner is following companion planting fundamentals so the strawberries, tomatoes, and chives are all together with some marigolds in the mix for pest control. Cabbages, chard, and some salad greens occupy another space. The plan for the Three Sisters planting of corn, beans, and pumpkins is ready and the seed will go in the ground today. I am loving the look and loving all that digging in dark, rich, worm filled soil.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Just Some Things I'm Thinking About

I read a piece in the online version of the New York Times this morning about chicken manure being the best, least savage, kind of fertilizer. I am glad that we will have a glut to put on the garden this summer. Lesson learned: chickens poop, a lot!

The girls are getting so big and we are moving them to the hen house on Monday. With the heat lamp, and warmer nighttime temperatures, they will be fine in their new home. The brooder, which is not really a brooder at all but a galvanized tub, is just too small for all of them anymore. They are staring to bicker too much about space and food. The NY Times writer described chickens as, "savage and prehistoric, a fluffier breed of lizard". I would have to agree. They bite at each other and now they are pecking at me! Dolly and Bruiser in particular. I am hoping that with a whole lot more room they will leave each other alone until they can all go outside and play in the yard!

Speaking of the yard, the coop is finally finished! Completely finished. Screened in, tightened up and fully functional. In a few weeks, the girls can take time outside, according to what has become my chicken bible. "Keep Chickens!" by a lady here in Portland has become nearly daily reading. I watch the girls grow and then read about what is coming next. This is no easy task, this chicken keeping business. I sent Jenn a text message last night after the last creature had been fed and watered, and the garden had a drink too. I told her this was going to be a working summer instead of a fun filled one like we had last year. No long road trips, no week in LA or one in NYC. We are going to be home bodies. We will travel when the farm has been put to bed in the fall, as long as we can find reliable help with the dog, cats, and yardbirds!

The journey continues...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

When Will It End

Stalled by rain, and procrastination. But, the starts are healthy and so are the chicks.

The birds are growing so fast now. They have so many of their adult feathers. Even the little girls. Dolly, Buffy, and Bruiser should be able to live outside before too long. In the hen house, but not yet big enough for the run. I can't wait for all of them to be able to take their first walk outside. Seems really wrong for them to only have their feet in scratch, and on newspapers. I took the brooder out on Sunday so the girls could work on their tans. It is a shame that the weather has been so wet and cold. I would like for them to be outside a bit more.

We had the chance, for a few hours on Sunday to plant. Jenn and our friend Cole decided to re arrange the garage instead. Instead of guilting our other two brunch guests into helping me get some things in the ground, we just watched them, and video tapped them bantering back and forth about what should go where. Very funny.

So, it is the fifth of May and although we are farther along with everything that we were two summers ago, I am feeling a bit like I am not doing my job very well. All over town people have their plants in the ground and their seeds sowed. The rain is supposed to stop tomorrow. Jenn and I have done some pinky swearing on this planting thing and we will get everything out back planted where it is supposed to be by the time the new week starts. Then, it will be time to finish up the coop and get the girls outside on time! This farming thing ain't easy, but I like it.