Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chicken Coop

We've been working on clearing the area for the permanent chicken coop and yard.  The spot they are in now will become part of the herb garden.  Boy, will that ground be rich with all that aged chicken manure!
Area for new chicken coop

The area we will be moving them to had a cedar tree that had broken off at about 15 feet at some point and needed to be removed.  It was growing into an old evergreen that is probably about 80 feet tall at this point. So, that is our task at hand.  
Old evergreen that the cedar was growing into

Rich downed the remainder of the cedar.  Always hard to cut down any tree because we like to leave things as much like we found them as possible, but we knew it needed to be done.  We believe in responsibly managing our  small wooded area. Sometimes that means having to thin and take out what is damaged or leave it to decompose and enrich the soil continuing the cycle of forest life. 
Downed cedar tree

Generally, evergreens are very abundant here in Washington.  However, we have quite a few hardwoods on our property, along with just a few evergreens.  We consider ourselves fortunate to live on this wonderfully diverse piece of land.  We are planting goldenseal and other native medicinal plants, so the hardwoods that grow in that area are perfect for them (unlike mostly dense evergreen stands). 

Big Leaf Maples

Back to the cedar...we still have work to do to finish removing it, but we got a good start the last couple of days.  We will sell the cedar boughs to crafters.  The larger parts we will use around the property for garden beds, etc.
Hauling cedar boughs to the lower part of the property for easy access

We need to get the foundation of the coop in before the rainy season begins, so that's in the next couple of weeks most likely.  We want the hens in a little more protected environment for the fall and winter rains and cold.  The coop they have now is okay.  It keeps them dry, but it's not a great design, so we're eager to get them into their new "digs" as soon as we can.

We're looking to make a fairly simple design that, of course, meets our needs and the needs of the hens.  It will look similar to the following pictures (from Wikipedia), but with our own modifications.  We want to have easy access to the nesting boxes and for cleaning.  The one we have now (an A-Frame) is a pain to clean and we like our hens to have a clean home.  Well, as clean as it can be with chicken poo around.

That's it for this week.  Hopefully, we'll have more progress to show you next week!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fall Planting

Fall is a great time for planting.  It allows roots to get established before the next growing season.  Fall is also a good time to visit nurseries because they often have end-of-the-season sales.

So...last week, we felt compelled to wander through a local nursery to check out their offerings.  By season's end, plants do get picked over pretty well, but we always find something that is on our list for the farm.  With a tight budget, we generally only buy sale items or inquire about wholesale policies.  We were able to get some foundation stock plants that looked healthy.

We bought two more blueberries bushes (Duke and Bluecrop), another tea plant (Camellia sinensis), cone flower (Echinacea purpurea) and a couple of ground covers.  

Next on the list are a couple of fruit trees when we have the funds.  With their long maturing times, it's imperative that we get them in the ground soon.

The nursery we went to also had gorgeous Stonecrop (Sedum 'Autumn Joy').  I would have loved to purchase one, but we're working hard to stick to our list of just what's needed for the farm at this time, but I thought I'd include a picture of it.  It was covered with bees, but they are hard to see in the photo.

We also saw a little frog in their ground covers (always a good sign).  The plants were moist and seemed somewhat cool.  We tried to get a photo, but the frog was moving through them pretty quickly.  I imagine we were part of the incentive to find cover.  We got a picture just as he was going behind some leaves, so now it's a seek-and-find photo. 
Can you find the back of the frog?