Sunday, August 22, 2010

There's never nuthin' to do....

This is close to the culmination of a BIG project!!!  Designing and building a chicken house!!  What does trenching have to do with a chicken house you ask???  Well, if you want a nice chicken house, you need electricity and water.  Contented hens can see to knit while they sit in their nesting boxes and can take baths when they arise in the morning before they step outside to wake us up with their 'cockadoodle-doo'!!  We're going to have classy chickens!!  On a more serious note, we need to keep the chicks warm (use a warming light) and they of course need water, but the biggest water usage is my garden, and this trench brings well water to my garden!!!  Mike had to rent a trencher to lay pipe and electric lines ... and the cows are so curious they had to gather round to check out the activity!  The cats have explored the trench from one end to the other, and when Mike went out to lay the pipe, he found a 3'-4' snake skin and a thousand crickets!!

Now drop back to early last year - as winter was finishing up, Mike was making the specs:  He laid the foundation as soon as he could work the ground.  He framed it and put in flooring.  To test it out, one morning we heard the clatter of hoofs just after sunrise.  I peeked out to see what all the clatter was about and ran for my camera!!  Racey and Eeyore were checking out the hen house!!  When they saw me they quickly exited and tried to convince me they hadn't been in there, but I caught them in the act!!!

Then he added the trusses and all the supporting boards for the roof.  This was mostly morning work because the days get pretty warm in the summer and you're forced to move to your inside projects.

Then putting the tin roof on (below).. It's really starting to take shape.  As you can see, the chicken house is back to back with my garden - incidentally chicken poop is an excellent fertilizer!!  Where you see the plywood wall is my storage room for garden stuff and toward the front a storage room for chicken feed.
Then comes the siding and doors and window covers:
And from the backside, you can see the door to my storage room, my potting porch, places to hang my tools, and a window so I can talk to the chickens....
A few weeks ago he sectioned off a section near the corral to store hay.  That involved installing a fence and  a gate wide enough to get the tractor through.  He also churned up the dirt to get rid of the weeds and put out weed killer.  This year we can store enough hay for our livestock for the whole winter.
The hardest part of this project was digging the holes for the gate posts.  The ground is virgin and packed down - dry and concrete-like!!  It took Mike and an experienced friend to dig with the augers you see laying on the ground.  Even with the tractor, added weight had to be placed on top so the auger could dig a deep enough hole.  This project is done now.  The fields have been mowed and baled, and over the next couple of weeks Mike will be transporting the HUGE bales of hay, one at a time, to their resting place in the hay yard until needed over the winter.
There's another project that's a work in progress - my camera will find it's way out there soon to capture the action for future memories!!!  Stay tuned for progress!!!  And the arrival of baby chicks.  Right now the only residents of the hen house are crickets, grasshoppers, mud daubers, wasps, mosquitos and spiders. Except for the mosquitos, there are numerous varieties of each!!!  There's even a resident black widow!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ever see a RED Grasshopper?????

I have TONS of GRASSHOPPERS!!!  BIG ONES and small ones, some hop, some fly, some are brown, some green, some mustard yellow (those are some of the HUGE ones) and then the other day I saw a RED one!!!  I tried to get pictures, but was limited by the life of my camera battery.  So, I got pictures of perfectly clear, crisp leaves to my tomato plant and a blurry grasshopper!!!  But at least it is recognizable!!! 

Then there are some that are BIG and UGLY!!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly...

My garden is one of the things that keeps my busy. My best new garden toy is my Troy Bilt 'Horse' - a wonderful rototiller that will make my garden even better next year. It's powerful, yet easy to use. Here's my ranch partner checking out the new equipment! The 'good' parts of my garden are my cucumbers (it has now reached the top of the cage) - not so much the peppers - I am getting a few jalapenos, but the sweet green pepper is only leaves and flowers.
I've already had some pumpkins (background) Unfortunately the grasshoppers like pumpkin, so I have to fight for everything I get ... and I have some HUGE watermelons and the one we tried was sweet to the rind! They had taken over the whole back third --- BUT the horses got into my garden and trampled them!!! They're trying to recover, but the pumpkin really took a hit!! Maybe by halloween it will make some more!!

Pickling cucumbers have done great in spite of the grasshoppers and the horses!!

Not everything has been as successful.. My kohlrabi (on the left of Schnoz, who meets me in the garden most mornings for pets).... has been eaten by grasshoppers! I tried, Pam!!! I almost saved them - got them back once, but then all the new growth was eaten overnight and as of last week, the last one died : (

Then there's my poor apricot tree!!! I could taste apricot jam and apricot fried pies!! This is the first year the tree has been fenced in so the horses didn't eat the blossoms!!! There were LOTS of tiny little apricots coming .... getting bigger.... bigger.... still green and hard.. .. GONE!!! The grasshoppers ate EVERY LEAF and the fruit leaving only the pits!!!!

I think I counted 20 grasshoppers in this picture:
Just as ugly was my corn!!! Early on we had some NICE corn from the first 2 rows of corn we planted. The second 2 rows were planted later, and we didn't get a single ear. Guess what got them all?? Not the birds! Not the horses (they only ate some leaves and trampled a few plants on their afternoon in the garden)! Not catapillars or worms? Not rabbits?? YUP.. those pesky grasshoppers!!! It gave meaning to the plagues in the Bible!!! Just like the locusts!!!

They swarmed all over!!!
... and what they left behind wasn't edible...

Not pictured: they also ate leaves and branches of my string beans. Did I mention that I HATE GRASSHOPPERS!!!!