Garden and Bird #2: Chicks, My Bitch, and Violent Rose

My Harem of Chicks

The chicks are coming up on 6 weeks old, so it’ll be another 10 weeks before they start laying eggs. Since Garden and Bird #1, they have outgrown the storage tub and moved to a bigger space. I sectioned off a corner of the shed where the barn doors are with 2x4s and chicken wire to give the growing chicks more space to run around. A week later, I built a crude fence outside under the Japanese maple. Since Saturday I’ve been opening the barn doors every morning to let them out.IMG_20160426_143058[1]

They freaked out about being outside at first, which is what chickens do. But after a while they loved it. There’s a difference in the way they play. They are happier outside than inside. I purposely let some viney, chickweed-looking ground cover grow around so they could run around and eat the little buds on it and look for bugs. I tried to build a little bamboo ladder for them to get in and out of the shed but I failed miserably. Instead I stuck a rotten hunk of log there for them to climb up and down, in and out of the shed, along with a plastic crate holding the door open. Last night, they managed to figure out the log and went back into the shed by themselves when it was dark.

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The Japanese maple gives them cover from aerial predators like the hawk we had a few months ago, who was flying into the bamboo to grab the little blackbirds who sleep there every night. I also threw a couple bamboo sticks up for more coverage.

The former owner hung up bird houses in the tree but they’re inhabited by wasps nests now. There doesn’t appear to be any wasps there now. But I like to keep them around. Wasps eat smaller bugs like aphids who like to eat plants, and they don’t usually both people. I was only stung once after allowing wasps to thrive wherever they wanted to on the farm, when I stuck my thumb into a nest retrieving a step ladder from the greenhouse.

I’m trying to train the dog not to eat them, which will be a challenge. Skrumpy is a good bitch. She doesn’t want to get in trouble even though she’s a crazy ball of energy just like my old bitch Maggie, and she can’t help but lunge at the chicks from time to time from outside of the fence. And when you get bitches and chicks in the same place, shit’s gonna go down. And when too much shit goes down, you draw flies and it smells. So make sure to use enough bedding.

I am determined not to draw too many flies with these birds. I gave them some extra clean pine chip bedding today. I am going to have a nice supply of leaves and grass clippings from the lawn as bedding in their coop. And I have a compost can going too. I can always smoke the bugs out. If worse comes to worst I can just hang a bug zapper in the chicken coop. Why not?

She scratches when you try to tame her

This week, I built a crude tee-pee like trellis to hold up the rose bush. I’m not even putting a pic of it up because it’s rather pathetic-looking. It looks like Naked and Afraid meets The Bachelor. I will put this pic up though:

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my fat hand cut up by rosebush.

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I stole her innocence

She cut me man. But I tied her up because I knew what was good for her. She needed to be restrained, tied up against the wall. She NEEDED it. She didn’t even know she needed it until I showed her. Thrust against the bamboo so Redhead could see through the kitchen window. I showed her good.

Mean Greens

The potatoes are kicking ass. Five varieties shot up like fireworks. Very slow fireworks that look green and stay near the ground:

Potatoes!

Potatoes!

I see squirrels and bunnies all over the place around here. I’m training Skrump to chase other mammals out of the garden. Despite that my greens and radishes have remained intact. We have been eating young greens in salads for the past week.

Red feather kale

Red feather kale

Mustard Greens

Mustard Greens

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chinese cabbage

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The broccoli raab is starting to get little flowers on it. I can’t wait to eat this with some italian sausage:

broccoli raab

broccoli raab

Summer Crops

I had a bad start on my summer crops. I had some tomatoes and peppers started in flats indoors. Our 10 day trip to Pittsburgh in early March had me leaving those outside, which was way too early to withstand the below 40 temps.

But Screamin’ Steven brought me a gift yesterday – four tomato plants from Bonesaw Sally! I got those in the ground right away as I knew the rain was coming. A tomato crop is now inevitable.

I also sewed some carrot and beet seeds, way too late but they can go into the summer. And I need to hill my potatoes soon.

Rainwater Collection

I plan on going out and getting a 55 gallon plastic barrel for catching rainwater. There are plenty of dudes out in the country selling  used ones for $8-12 each. I already have a gutter in the back of the house that I can twist around and angle the rainwater from my roof into the barrel.

We had a storm this afternoon and more coming tonight. So being without a 55 gallon barrel I set up my own crude but sophisticated system for catching rainwater:

my sophisticated rainwater collection system

my sophisticated rainwater collection system

Notice how environmentally I am by doubling the recycle bin as a rainwater cache. In 200 years I may be able to collect enough rainwater to offset the carbon footprint caused by all that plastic I’m collecting it in.

To Do List

  • Build chicken coop (cut bamboo, figure out how to put that shit together)
  • Hill potatoes (get drunk, feel back pain later)
  • Weeding (get my lazy hoe out in the garden)
  • Harvest and eat greens (easy part)

 

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