Monday, August 21, 2006

Here We Go Again

Once again the time has come to don hat and tools and build for the chickens. The first coop was never meant to house the entire flock in perpetuity, although I am not sure Kurt understood this. It is too small for all of our chickens and the boys are getting to the age where they cannot be trusted alone with the girls.

You can tell from the look on his face Kurt is not overly excited about building another coop.

We really have no budget remaining for this second coop. Additionally, we plan to butcher the roosters for meat soon. As a result, the boys' quarters will not be as plush as the girls'. We don't expect to over-winter anyone in it. We plan to build, in essence, a large run with tarps for shelter. However, I did poke around through some of the junk left in a corner of our property for additional shelter. Half buried in leaves I discovered an old camper shell.

Surely our roosters would appreciate this for extra shelter. Thus, we are going to put this in the new coop for them.

Kurt, big strong man that he is, wanted to drag the thing to the coop. That was fine until he asked me to help him. Ha! I helped him. We did it my way, lol. My way involved a rope and the van. I think Kurt secretly appreciates how easy this job was thanks to my insistence on using modern technology. I don't have any pictures of us doing the job because I was driving - with the air conditioner turned up full blast.

We also have an old fridge in our junk area. I wonder what we can do with it?

I did turn the fruit and vegetable drawer into a chicken feeder. Seems some of the chickens want to stake out territories around the existing feeders and keep some of the other chickens from eating. Thus, I am looking for creative ways to add more feeders to our coops.

Back on the corner of our property with all the junk, we have an old shed filled with junk.

I think this could be a good place to butcher the chickens if we clean it out really well. I plan for us to do the job once it cools off a bit.

Right now the shed is filled with all sorts of stuff, most of it rusty. On one side are piles of sinks and tubs.

The other side has stuff I cannot identify. Kurt says the thing in the back is some sort of furnace. Any ideas about the other stuff?

The chickens, in an effort to keep us focused on them, have started plucking out each other's feathers. One had been picked on so badly, she needed to be isolated from the others for a time.

I asked Kurt to scout around the junk pile at work (he manages a thrift store) for anything we could use to isolate a chicken (and get her out of the school room area of the house where I had temporarily placed her. He came home with an old crib. It was perfect. We isolated our picked on little hen for a couple of days until she regained her strength and could hold her own in the flock again. (I think she had been injured during a thunderstorm when the frightened chickens piled behind a door.) I think the crib might make a good summer brooder. It could allow young, small chickens a way to merge with the flock and still have a place to escape, if necessary. I'll have to think more about this.

My mom likes to see pictures of the chickens, especially our crested Polish. I don't know how he can see anything.

We've been decorating in the chicken coop. I wedged a large, fallen branch into the corner of the coop for a roosting area for the chickens. They love it. Of course Kurt managed to out-do me. This morning I found a longer branch wedged into the other corner.

Though it seems like much of my time goes to the chickens, I do actually do other things too.

I am getting ready for our winter garden. I uncovered the area we plan to use. Hopefully Kurt will bring home some compost for me this week. I already started some broccoli in disposable cake pans in the house.

We are finally getting more of a variety of produce from our first garden.

We have some cantaloupes growing. I lost the first few to Southern Blight, but learned that mulching under the fruit will protect them. This is important since all of my cantaloupes are determined to grow outside the garden fence.

We've already picked a ton of hot peppers.

In addition to making lots of quesadillas, peppered burgers and other dishes, I have also canned two double batches of hot pepper jelly. I really like it, but the rest of the family is less than impressed.

We had company last weekend. We picked peppers for our burgers and what looked to be a ripe watermelon to celebrate. It wasn't ripe at all. In an effort to make the most of the situation, I found a recipe for watermelon rind preserves. I tried it with questionable results. However, the preserves aren't too bad flavoring butter and served with hot biscuits. We have a LOT of biscuits in our future.

The watermelon vines are completely taking over the garden. They are attempting to take over the winter garden area as well!

We do have a few watermelon growing. In the lower right hand corner of this picture are the weeds which once dominated my garden. However, my chickens LOVE them. Every morning I now pull several pounds of them for the chickens. All of a sudden I don't have enough of these weeds in my garden! Anyone know the name of this weed and anything about it?

In fact, watermelon is everywhere.

I've been waiting and waiting for the tomatoes. I want to make salsa with my tomatoes and hot peppers. The tomatoes are taking forever though.

Our mystery plant of a few weeks ago is producing tomatillas. They are smaller than cultivated types, but are quite sweet and delicious. Well, I like them. My kids don't like little green berry looking things that taste like tomatoes. I sneak them into salads and tuna and stuff. I want to use them for salsa, but, well, I need fresh tomatoes.

The children recently rediscovered tree climbing.

Gregory found out he could climb high up into the branches.

He is very proud of himself.

Naturally, Gabrielle wanted to do the same.

She made it about half way to Gregory and then clung onto the branch long enough for me to get a picture. She isn't ready to go any higher up yet. You might notice I made her change out of her first clothing choice.

Meanwhile, Michael has taken up weight lifting. He really loves these three pound weights.

We have been in Alabama for about a year now. We had hoped we would sell our property in Florida by now. In fact, we had pretty much planned for it since the market had been so hot right before we listed our property. A year should have been more than enough. Property sales fell off after the second hurricane (Dennis) to hit the area unfortunately. Between not having sold our property and the rising price of gas with Kurt commuting 2+ hours every day back and forth to work, we need a plan B. Part of plan B involves switching Michael to cloth diapers.

Carissa sewed these wonderful all in one diapers for me to help me get started. I had never seen one of these and just couldn't visualize them. These will also allow me to figure out Michael's size before making any since she sent me a medium and a large.

In the meantime, my own diaper efforts have centered around knitting soakers. Here are the first two and a half I've done. Night time soakers call for heavier yarn than I had, so I got creative. I've been using Lion's Brand Fisherman Wool for my daytime soakers. For the night time weight soaker I simply added a strand of sock yarn. I am finally using up the scraps of sock yarn left over from past sock projects. I am quite proud of myself actually. I've never been the frugal type and I've found it is kind of fun.

I've done a bit of sewing lately. After promising Gregory a shirt from the material he selected last year, I finally came through.

Gregory says he really likes his new shirt. He picked the pattern as well as the material. It is one of those baggy beach looking shirts. It looks huge on Gregory, but it is actually just the right size. I like the fact it should fit for quite awhile.

I also sewed another of my favorite shower gifts, a play quilt tote, for Melody and her new baby.

It turned out pretty. I hope she likes it. They are so functional. I really need to make one to use with Michael. I keep thinking it would be the perfect way to take Michael outside with me when I am hanging up clothes (part of plan B) or doing other outside work.

1 comment:

Theresa said...

Well, now I know why you have been quiet on the list the last day or so! :o) I had so much fun catching up tonight. Wow they sure left a lot of junk on your property! I think it's neat you are finding ways to repurpose some of it. I would take off the door to that fridge though. (hazard of children suffocating inside) Your garden is fantastic and I loved seeing your sewing. I wish I could come over and try some of your melons...not sure I'd be so venturesome with the pepper jelly, but the melons look good and the tomatillos! Looking forward to the continuing chicken saga...they are getting so big!