Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mulch Mountain

As promised...

The mode of transport......

The in-progress result.....

 The mighty,



We had a guy come and grind up several bales of corn stalks to use as mulch in the garden.  We are surrounded by corn fields, and we are all about being local.... Local mulch...

And now I am off to lay more of it....   Wanna help???    ........please? 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Farm update

Things have been crazy busy around here.  I know I have been a bad blogger by not updating this for a month.  I will try to do better.... I promise ;)

OK.... so what has been keeping me so busy you ask?

We have gotten a batch of baby ducks....
This picture is a couple of weeks old and the ducks are now as tall as me ;)

We have have several farm visits lately... Local friends and family as well as a few visitors from India.  Here I am getting help moving one of the Chicken tractors from two of the coolest nephews a guys could ask for.

Orchid you ask?.... Nope, this is a snow pea blossom.  I think they are absolutely gorgeous.  

.... and the plants are covered with them.... YEAH!!!!! snow peas for EVERYONE!!!!!

The kohlrabi is growing nicely.  
We were able to deliver a couple small ones to our full shares last week. If you were lucky enough to get one, let me know if you liked it.

The cabbage is coming along nicely as well.  This is a small variety that should be really good.  I have not grown it before, but I have high hopes.

So as you can see the garden is in full swing.  We have a lot of weeding to do and a lot of mulch to lay out.  I also need to get a couple more plantings of various veggies planted this weekend.  I am hoping to post another blog post with some up-to-date duck pictures as well as show you this GIANT mountain of ground-up corn stalks we have to use as mulch.  If anyone wants to come help lay some mulch or weed, I would be very grateful... We would feed you.... I might even be able to convince our CSA customer and long-time friend, Abby, to cook for you.  She made a quiche for us that used our chard... It was PHENOMENAL!!!   I really mean it.. I wanted to eat the whole thing all at once.

Well I had better get going.... the mulch is not going to lay itself.... seriously, If you want to come help...  You know you want to...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Completed "Chick-Mobile"

Ok, First I would like to apologize for the lack of posts recently.  We have been crazy busy as of late.  

I finished the chick-mobile a couple of weeks ago and am fairly pleased with how it came out.

I added a roost made out of some 2x2's.  I had debated this in my mind for quite some time.  I did not know if it would be better to make a slat-type floor in the back or to build a small roost.  I needed something so the hens could get off of the ground in cold or wet weather.  I finally decided to go with the roost figuring that it would double as a latter to get to the laying boxes which are still to come.

Next on the docket was predator protection.  The bottom is rapped in 1/2" hardware cloth and I covered the hoops with chicken wire.  I attached the chicken wire with UV-resistant zip-ties.

I figured that since my telekinesis powers are pretty rusty that I should have some way to pull it around.  A few washers, a couple u-bolts, two carabiners, and a good length of strong rope solved that problem.  I was a little worried as I was finishing this build that I had overbuilt it too much (honestly, I don't think there is such a thing) and it would be too heavy to move, but it turns out that is is not bad at all.  It is heavy enough that I am really not worried about it blowing away, and light enough that I can pull it where ever I need to.

Here is what the inside looks like after it was completed.  It is very hard to see in this picture, but I actually put reflective foil insulation over the back third and made sure the sides were completely covered to the ground in the back.  It does actually seem to keep it a little warmer and blocks the wind very well (as long as you remember to turn it so the back is toward the wind).  

Here are the brave soles that tested it out before I added some more chickens.  After a couple days of really cold and rainy weather, in which they stayed dry and safe, they gave it a seal of approval.

I moved more chickens out and the all seem to be loving their new home.

As you can see the back 4/5 is covered with a tarp to provide some weather protection.  I built a small shelf in the front for a 3 gallon waterer and hung a hanging-feeder from the purlin and the top.

The chickens have been enjoying it for a few weeks now and seem to be getting along great.  I still need to build a couple more of these for the rest of the ladies that are still living in the barn.  I am also planning on building a small laying shed that docks to the back.  It will have the laying boxes in it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

.... Stupid Snow!!!

Well yesterday we got some wet, wet, heavy snow that smashed most of the row covers.  I was able to get them back up when I got home from work.  We had crop loss, but hopefully we will still be able to meet our first CSA delivery date.....  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Building of the "Chick-mobile" Part 2

OK... So after a week or two of my chicken tractor laying half finished I decided it was time to make some more progress.  Since it was raining, Michelle and I pulled everything into the machine shed so we would have a dry place to work.
 The biggest question I have been pondering since I started this project was how do I attach the pvc hoops to the wooden sides so that it is strong and does not cost me an arm and a leg...

This is what we came up with...  It seems to be holding very nicely and after both ends of the pvc are attached to opposite sides it tightens up even more.  I think that this might just work....

 One hoop down.... five to go...

This was about all that got done on saturday.... since the first three quarters of the day was spent in Ft. Dodge buying supplies for a couple other projects for the garden.

...Sunday morning... back to business....


....and no.. that is not my equipment in the background... 
but the hoops are coming along quite well.  

I am pretty happy with how this the door and frame came out.  We built it from 2X3s .... and I am not going to tell you about the part when I shut off my brain and made the cross pieces 5 inches too long... oh well.. thats what chop saws are for...

Finally it is starting to look like something.  I got the back panel on. I also attached the purlin to the top of the hoops to keep them spaced evenly under the stress of storms and what not.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Building of the "Chick-mobile" Part 1

This is the first look at my efforts to build my first Chick-Mobile.  I guess I should clarify,  I am not building a car that a high school guy looks cool in and cruises around to pick up girls..... Sorry Dad, no pink station wagon here. ;)

What I am building is a portable chicken pen that can allow my laying flock access to tasty plants and bugs while at the same time protecting them from predators (we have a fairly active coyote and raccoon population, not to mention the cougar my wife saw this winter).

First step was to find a good spot to work... sunny, out of the wind, and close to a plug in...

 Here is a basic idea of what I had in mind, this would be the main frame for the pen. ( I love SketchUp)

So after cutting all of the wood to size I started screwing things together to make one of the sides.

After completing one side I put another 10' 2X4 next to it and using a scrap chuck of 2X4 I marked where all of my vertical braces should go.  This way both sides are exactly the same.

Oh, this is for my sis...   OLD WOOD FOR THE TAKING!!!  Come and get all you can carry.

OK, back to the chicken pen...
After completing the two sides I realized the screws I was using would be too long to use to connect the cross member.   Well that is easily fixed with a vise and a hacksaw.

End result: Screw- 0, Hacksaw- 1

 So after whacking about an inch off of each screw, the cross members were securely screwed into place.

...and with a couple of corner braces throw in for good measure, here is the end result.

 So now I just need to add the hoops and roof and add some chicken wire and a few other final touches....   Then it will be ready to test out.... Hopefully I get this done sooner, rather than later....

Just as I was putting everything away for the day, my good friends (and awesome CSA members) came for a little visit to check out the new baby chicks we just got in.

It was a good day.  Hopefully I am able to finish most of the chicken pen this weekend.