Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Backyard Chickens

Our work continues on the chicken coop area, but this is the busy time for our home business as we build for the holiday season, so that cuts into our farm work time, which is a bummer.  I can tell the days when I spend more time inside on our Etsy business and less (if any) time outside.  I am stiffer.  My mood is not as light and I don't sleep as well.  All good reasons to get outside every single day! 

I'm looking forward to the time when the transition from working primarily on the Etsy business moves to working primarily (if not completely) on the farm business.  The day is coming!  We're working hard to take smart steps towards that day - to follow the plan as best we can to get us there.

So back to the chickens...We decided with fall coming quickly that we wanted to get the hens' current area in better shape in case rain and cold come early and the new coop is not ready, so yesterday we gave their yard a good cleaning, as well as the coop.  

We needed to modify the coop some by adding a board to give the nesting boxes a lip to keep the hay in a little better.  We exchanged all the glorious muck at the bottom of their coop for fresh sand/soil.  We added all their muck to a bed that Rich had tilled and pulled blackberries out of, so come spring it will be ready for planting!  After the initial tilling in of all the blackberry roots, we will move to a no-tillage system to help the soil, but the initial time we had to break them up.  I'm sure we'll still fight with the blackberries sometimes, but that's the way of it in western Washington.
This used to be all blackberries.

Our soil here is not great for gardening because it is comprised mostly of sand.  And...although it has great drainage because of all the sand, it actually has too good of drainage and does not hold nutrients very well either.  We're building the soil by amending it with compost that is mostly kitchen wastes, grass clippings and leaves.  We will grow green manures in time.  

To aid in our building of the soil to create a moisture retentive, fertile soil we put straw in the chicken area (not the coop).  

They love to scratch through it.  It was entertaining to watch.  Meanwhile, they will poop in it.  It will decompose throughout the fall and winter.  Come spring, we will work it in.  It's an experiment. We'll see how it works.

So, the chickens have a clean area for now.  Depending upon how long it is until they move to the new coop, we may have to pull the straw out and put it elsewhere if it gets too yucky.  Of course, it will be helpful where ever it ends up. 

Next week, we'll go for a fall walk around the area.  It's definitely coming on fast.  Fortunately, it is still fairly dry, so we can get some work done, but the rains will be upon us soon!