Sunday, July 27, 2008

Herding Chickens

Well, let's just say, that it is a whole lot better than herding cats! The girls were just itching to be uncooped after church so I opened their door and out they went, practically flew! They were just a hoppin' and dancing when they got out. Nothing like wide open spaces. Well, it is a small suburban lot but to them, it's wide open. They gobbled up grass and bugs alike and were as content as content could be. But as the sun set, they were still on the other side of the house in the back yard so I thought it was best to herd them in. If you go slow enough, they just love to stick together, so that is what I did. Mine also like to stick next to the house because it gives them security. So I walked slowly behind them as they walked the whole perimiter to of the back of the house till them reached the open garage door. They ran right in and straight to their open coop. Yep, chickens are so much easier to herd than cats.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Have you ever seen a swarm of Dragonflies?

Neither had I until today. But there they were, about a hundred of them. I tried to picture them but alas, a camera is no match to the human eye. My final attempt was to video them on my digital camera. If you watch closely, they fly quickly by. It was a scene to behold.
Lov Liv

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Peppers, Watermelon, and Chicks.

The pepper are looking awesome. I don't think I have enough to feed my whole family for the year and I can't even imagine how much I would have to plant to do that. I guess we will see.

The netting on the watermelon is a sling to help hold it up that way it won't snap off from it's own weight.

The chicks will be a week old tomorrow and the wing feathers are growing in well. I have not lost a single one and I am very happy with this shipment. I have heard so many stories of losing one or all during their winter/spring shipments. I think I will stick to summer shipments from here out if I can help it.

However my grapes have the black little aphid looking things. I sprayed with insecticidal soap but I don't think it made enough of a dent on them. I will have to see if I can make my own because this 3-4 dollars a spray bottle is not going to cut it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Keeping Bees

My father kept bees once when I was a kid. That was before the horse got to the hive in the winter and killed them off. But I have been around bees before, just not as the beekeeper. Yet, I cannot see the downside of not keeping them. I have been in my garden at least once a day and except for early spring, I have not heard the familiar buzz of the honey bee making it's rounds. It's sad really but the suburbs have done their darnedest to remove all that is good in nature. I have seen many a blossom fade out without the helping hand of the wonderful honey bee in my garden and I have had enough. I want my own bees! I have to wait until next early spring before I can get my own by mail. But in the meantime I have researched what it will take to lawfully keep bees around here and so far it is looking like a large task. First, I have to fill out a petition at the city hall. I plan on doing that tomorrow. Then the clerk gives that over to the police department who sends an officer to check out my yard and my plans. That officer then takes his recommendation to the city board who votes on whether I can keep bees or not. I guess the only good thing that I have going for my is the recent release of "The Bee Movie". I know, juvenile, but really, I think that will be the only research that the city council will do concerning the matter. I plan on building a Top Bar Hive, more on that later, and keep them in the corner of my back yard that borders the big field of the high school. I also plan on building a 6 ft Fence around it so as to raise their flight plan above anyone in the yard. In the meantime, I keep researching and learning all I can about them, like this wonderful article by a 14 year old girl that helps her family keep bees in the city. The Bees and Me.

But one nice thing in putting the word out that I want to keep bees in that I have ran into a lady at church who's family can no longer take care of the bees that they have. She has suggested that I could do that for them and I jumped at the offer! Why not! They have all the books and all the equipment. So I will set out soon to check out their situation and then get the bees ready for the fall and subsequently the winter. I will still have access to some wonderful local honey despite how the city rules.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

They're here! They're here! The new chickies are here!

I ordered 7 and 11 came! Ideal Hatchery did note that if I had a small order that they would probably add some Roosters for warmth. So it looks like the 4 black ones are the roosters. I will ask around to see if anyone knows what they are. All the others, including the blond one, are my Americauna Pullets (females). That Blond one is just sooo beautiful! All the others are just precious too! I'm so happy with my healthy, happy order. I also went with Ideal because I didn't have to order a minimum amount but a minimum dollar amount. I am so happy and pleased. By the way, the green gel is Grobel Plus B gel to help the new chicks get off to a good start.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Front Lawn

The huge canvas of vastly underused space. What do most of suburbanites do with the fertile potential? We plant a lawn, of course.

Well with the help of a friend of mine, Hello Brandy! I cut my lawn in half up front. Right now I have a plethora of perennials starting to grow in my flower beds but this week I will be starting seeds inside and then in 6 weeks, moving them out into my flower beds. The seeds that I am referring to are Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Lettuce of various kinds. I have been inspired from a website called Urban homesteading over in my links on the right. I have huge potential for my fall vegetables, especially while my perennials are so small.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Black Krim

Now what store could these possibly be bought in! And everybody knows that home grown tomatoes taste better. I tried to look up the reasons why and there were just too many to name, from the kind, to when they are picked, so on and so forth. Anyway this beauty is a Black Krim. It is an heirloom tomato. Ok, what exactly does that mean? Well it means, that I can take the seed of a black krim and grown another black krim. The hybrid seeds at the local stuff mart will produce what you want but thier "children" most likely won't.

Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, a potent antioxidant shown in various studies to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, particularly of the prostate. Tomatoes are also thought to have natural blood-thinning properties, making them beneficial for preventing diabetes and stroke, and they're rich in bone-building Vitamin K. All these benefits are more pronounced in fruits allowed to fully ripen on the vine.

Yum, Yum homegrown tomatoes!

Close ups of my Square Ft Garden

I was asked for some close ups of my gardens so here they are. The big green ball is a pumpkin and those are grapes growing on the trellis under my deck. The last one is of my chicks eating some bugs. I hope you all like them.

My chicks new coop.

I had an interesting time making sure chicks work in the burbs. I do live in a covenant area at the time of building BUT that was suppose to fall onto the homeowners when the building was done. The building has been done for a year now and still no homeowners and I don't think we will have one either. I have this feeling that most of people around here don't care for one either. Why, might you ask? Because according to the covenants, A LOT of people would be in violation and quite a few homes will need to be repainted to boot. :P My next door neighbor, doesn't like to mow his lawn to keep into city ordinances let alone covenants and he loves to park his trailers on the side lawn, big no no! AND he is a cop! LOL

So per city ordinances, I can have chickens as long as their coop is 50 ft from any neighboring building. With disturbance ordinance, I obviously cannot keep roosters. No problem for me. But where would be this allusive 50 ft other than my Garage! So I built a garage coop. Plus as far as neighbors are concerned, out of sight, out of mind. I will free range the chickens during the day (when most are at work around here) in the backyard. I am thinking of installing a doggy door to the garage or maybe just leaving the door open during the day. I haven't decided yet. I have a shop light over the coop now plugged into a timer. The lights are the broad spectum light that simulate daylight. This is especially helpful in the winter. Since the coop is also in the garage, I didn't worry about weather proofing it but more on ventilation. It cost me about $50 bucks for the whole thing. Most of the wood was either free or leftovers, including the pegboard that I used for the top. It still has some more work to be done. I need to install a pull down door and build nesting boxes. Nesting boxes won't really be needed until about Halloween so I am not in so much of a hurry for that.

Currently I have 8 Black Star Pullets in there but 2 are a friends that I am keeping until she gets her coop built. Since they are Black Stars, I have decided to name them Aretha, Gladys, Oprah, Halle, Whitney, Beyonce, Diana, and Pecka. Pecka, I know is not a black star, it's the name of the town we were driving through when the children wanted to name her. Oh well.

And in just a couple of days I will be shipped 7 Americauna chicks that I ordered. I'm so excited. If you don't know what kind they are, they are the ones that lay the Blue and Green eggs. So when it is all said and done, I should have about a dozen eggs a day! I wonder if I can use eggs as bribes to shut the neighbors up? :D

Square Foot Gardening

This has by far been the easiest and best way I found for doing gardening. I used cinder blocks instead of wood and planted marigolds in the little holes all around the border. Here I have 6 square gardens. I had to weed once and not really since them. I also use the grass clippings from my mowing as a mulch on top. In the middle two are peach trees. Eventually they will take over the whole square but for now I have peppers all around them. I have the heirloom tomatoes in the back and the cucumbers in the front. I used something called the Florida weave to stake up the tomatoes in the back. It has more space saving properties than the cages. So far everything is doing well and tasting really good!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

So what is not crazy about our current economy?

Recalled beef, spinach, and tomatoes. Gas Prices by the way did I say GAS PRICES?! Corn and wheat prices... It is becoming so insane not to start taking matters into our own hands. I am talking about being self sufficient. No, I am no expert but I do see the signs. And you know what, I am not going to sit on my butt doing nothing about it when I need to take care of my family. I am going to start and I have started but my biggest hang up, I LIVE IN SUBURBIA! Oh yea, that covenant loving, grass lenth, what color your house can be, Nazi land. So this is going to be my journey on what I can accomplish in my own home and in my own yard to take care of me and my loved ones even in the Suburbs. Want to come along?