Friday, July 31, 2015

July 2015 Garden Update

I haven't posted a lot about my garden this year. That's mostly because I'm not growing a lot.  I got frustrated last year when most of what I grew sat on the kitchen island until it started to rot.  The chickens ended up eating a lot of it.  As a result I didn't put as much effort into the garden this year.  On top of that I lost several plants and what is left hasn't produced much.

I have gotten a lot of cucumbers.  They are the one thing that has done really well.
We got a hand full of carrots.
My blackberries have done alright.  They never made it into the house.  I need to plant more to increase the quantity that I get.
Growing the cucumber vines up paracord worked really well.
I had a lot of lettuce grow, but we didn't eat it before it bolted.  It's too bitter now to be eaten.
We had a bad thunderstorm come through that took out my trellis.  I was actually kind of surprised that it didn't come down sooner.  I need to come up with a better solution for next year. 
I haven't planted anything or started any seeds.  I don't know that I'll have an update in August. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Baby chicks at one month.

It's been just over a month since our baby chicks hatched.  We started with 11.  We're now down to 6.  I'm really hoping that all of the ones we lost were roosters and than that the remaining birds are all hens.  What are the odds of that being the case?  Probably not good.

They're quite a bit bigger now, so hopefully the rest of them will make it.
They still stick close to the mother hen, and she's still pretty protective.  Supposedly at some point she'll lose interest and just let them fend for themselves.  At that point she'll be done being broody and go back to laying eggs. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

An update on the remaining chicks.

I was away last week.  During that time my wife found the mother hen on the wrong side of our fence a few times.  We think she was chasing away a hawk.  I don't remember how many times it happened, but we are now down to 7 chicks.  We started with 11.  That's better than we did last year (so far).
I count 8 chicks in this picture.  One of them has disappeared since it was taken.
The chicks now sleep in the coop with the mother hen.  There were quite a few nights when they would just honker down under the coop by themselves.  I had to go out several nights and chase them out from under there and manually move them.  Eventually they figured it out.  I find it odd that the mother hen didn't seem to care that they were outside and she was inside.  Chickens! 
Somehow they got up here.
They're pretty quick to get out of the coop in the morning.  They make a mad dash for the feeder before the big birds get there and push them out of the way.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Catastrophe in the coop.

We had 11 baby chicks hatch the other day.  Now we are down to 9.  The mother hen has been doing a fine job taking care of them.  Unfortunately the chicks are too small to make it into the coop.  So the first day or two out they just settled down near the coop.  That wasn't going to work.  I put water and food in the chicken tractor and moved them into there.  That's where they've been staying at night.  They've been going in there on their own. 
There just the slightest gap under that front rail. It's enough for some of the chicks to get under.

The problem with keeping them in the chicken tractor is that several of the chicks (normally 3-4) slip under the front of it in the morning.  When I get out there I find all of the birds pacing back and forth frantically.  The ones inside are trying to get out and the ones outside are trying to get in.  Then I prop up the front of it and everything is fine.

Last night I left the prop there so they could all get out at the same time. When I went out this morning I saw the mother hen in the yard with her chicks following her.  They looked happy.  Then I got to the coop.  I knew something was wrong.  Their waterer and feeder were both outside of the tractor and laying on their sides.  Then I saw feathers everywhere.
The block of wood is still there propping up the tractor and the feeder is not in there.
That pile of brown feathers is from the mother hen's tail.  I don't know what did this.  I'm guessing either an opossum or a fox.  I don't know if a hawk would or could do this. Regardless, I can't leave the tractor propped up like that anymore.

Tonight I go out to lock up the coop and what did I find?  That birdbrained chicken settled down under the coop!  I had to get a broom and my kids.  I nudged her out with the broom, put her in the coop, and closed the doors.  Then I had to shoe the chicks out and have my kids catch them.  It was chaos.  The chicks were chirping like crazy and the mother hen was squawking.  Eventually we caught them all and put them together in the coop.  It took a few minutes for them to quiet down.  They'll be safe in there.  I just hope they decided to go back in there tomorrow.  Catching them every night isn't going to be much fun.

Friday, June 19, 2015

June 2015 Garden Update

The garden is coming along this year even though I've had a couple of setbacks.  I've had a problem with deer, and the heat.
Peas on May 30.
 I didn't pick my peas in time and most of them dried out. 
Peas on June 15.
I tried something new this year.  I have my cucumbers climbing para cord.  It's working really well.
I lost 4 really nice tomato plants to blight.  Luckily I have more plants in other beds.
Tomatoes dead from blight on June 7.
The beans down the side of this bed were doing nicely.
These are the same beans (from a different angle) after the deer got them.
I put out my motion activated water sprinklers after the deer ate the beans. 
This is one of the tomato plants that is doing well.
Peppers and herbs in containers.

My first harvest of beans.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Broody chicken update

Just a few weeks ago I wrote about one of our chickens going broody.  I got a dozen fertilized eggs from a neighbor and put them under her.  She did her job and dutifully sat on them.

On June 15 my wife went out to peek at her and noticed cracked egg shell.
I went out with her later and picked up the hen (who was not happy about that).  The birds had hatched.
When I checked on them the next morning I found 3 unfertilized eggs and some broken shells in the nesting box
 I guess she pushed them out of the nest.  Instead they were sitting in the corner on the floor.
When I got home from work that night the mother hen and 4 of the chicks were on the ground under the coop.  The rest of the chicks were still in the coop.  I had to reach into the coop and get them out. 
Aww...
 
 
They follow her around everywhere and she's been showing them how to be a chicken.  I've seen them out in the yard, but mostly the stay by the coop.  She gets real defensive and puffs up huge whenever anything approaches. 
I managed to get them into the chicken tractor tonight.  I propped up the front of it and they wondered in there.  Then I pulled out the prop.  I think they'll be better off in there.  Last night they slept under the coop and the night before that I had to help them in.  The chicks aren't big enough to get up the ramp and into the coop on their own. 

One of the chicks didn't make it.  It hatched and it's legs moved a little bit, but it never got up and ran around like the others.  On the second day it was cold and stiff.  As luck would have it...  The neighbor I got the fertilized eggs from had some in an incubator.  Two of them were further along than she thought and they hatched!  So she brought them over and we stuck them under this chicken.  It's hard to count them, but we think there are 11.  That math doesn't work out in my mind (9 hatched, 1 died, 2 from the neighbor should be 10).  I don't know.  Maybe there are 10.  Or maybe I stuck 13 eggs under her and 10 hatched.   Whatever, all I know is that there are a lot of them.  Maybe I'll even have enough that they won't all be eaten by hawks.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

An update on the Blueberries

Long ago, back in 2012, I put in some blueberry bushes.  They looked like twigs at the time.
May 2012
They were a lot bigger last year.
July 2014
This year they are doing even better. 
April 2015
When I bought the blueberry plants in 2012 I think I got 3 plants of three different varieties.  I've added two more plants since then.  One of the plants is producing like crazy right now.  The others will follow later.  They're already covered with green berries.  I just need to wait for them to turn blue.
First blueberries of the season.