Monday, February 7, 2011

February 7, 2011

Well, let me start by saying that KitsapFG wasn't entirely right when she said my comments would pick up after I fixed the comment problem...  Either that or I'm losing my touch to get folks to disagree with me... hehe.

Anyway, I've been doing nothing garden wise since my last post.  Well, that's not entirely true. I have been mother henning my tomato seeds in the kitchen, trying to force them to germinate.  I've been alternating them from one side of the stove to the other in the hopes of providing them the optimum germination environment.  On one side there's the direct air from the heat vent to warm the soil, but I can't use the lamp there because it causes too much heat.  The other side gets no benefit from the heat, but the lamp with an incandecent bulb generates too much heat also. 

In general I'm finding that the fluffy seedling mix I used for my latest plantings of more Legend, Stupice and Stiletz tomato seeds dries out very fast, at least on top where the seed is sitting.  What that means is I am regularly spraying the cups with water.  It's insane the amount of energy I'm putting into these seeds.  Boy I need a job, and not just for the benefits...

On the chicken front, this evening I had a good chat with my brother who's the cause of my chicken obsession.  We worked through several issues in about 30 minutes, some I didn't even know I had!  I hate to say that I called my dumb brother a genius on more than one occasion tonight (I always say he's the dumb one because I did far better in school than he, hehe inside joke).

We were tentatively planning on two separate chicken doors in our small coops.  One would lead down into the mini-run below the coop, the other would lead out to the yard where I could deposit them directly into my ark.  We decided to change the gate for the mini-run from the 6 foot side to the 3 foot side.  Hopefully I have the space to place the ark on the side of the coop and then let them just come out into the ark.  However, as I type I find one problem with that. If they don't want to come, I can't very well reach in 6 feet to get them... something to consider.  Gotta love designing your own coop.

Now for the reason I called him a genius.  He totally changed my mind about the type of ark I would build.  My plan was to build a hoop-house type ark our of PVC, though mine would be adjustable in length to fit on any of my garden beds during the fall to let the hens till and fertilize my soil for the next year.  I worked hard to design a way to make that work using different sized pipe for the bottom supports such that they could slide into one another to change the lenght of the run.

The genius part was when he made me realize that I didn't NEED an ark for my garden beds.  I already have one!  I was going to put a hoop house covered in bird netting into my beds.  I already HAVE hoop houses for all my beds.  All I need to do to make them chicken friendly is to replace the 4-mil plastic for bird netting and presto, instant chicken ark!  Brilliant. I can't believe in all my pondering I didn't think of that until tonight.  My excuse is that I was spending so much time learning to care for the hens and building my coop from scratch that I hadn't spent much time on the ark.

So instead, both my brother and I are going to build light-weight triangular arks, similar to the ones with plans for sale on the net.  Ours will be simple 2x2 frame construction with light 1/4" plywood on 1/3 of the ark for rain cover and maybe a nesting box, though I do like my idea to use my cat carrier as a portalbe nesting box. 

As you can see, nothing is in stone yet, but we are rapidly approaching the time to build our coops (he wants them built before the arrival of the day-old chicks).  Decisions are going to have to be made soon, and I need to get over to see my father-in-law for his take on lightening the coop to make it more mobile.

Fun stuff! Enjoy your garden!


  1. I know the comments will increase soon. Just keep blogging because your enthusiasm for gardening and raising chickens is very interesting to read. Back yard chicken keeping is becoming a novelty right now and it is important for people to understand the responsibility involved with it.

  2. I will be interested to see how the mobile hen pens work out - the idea sounds reasonable and should give you lots of options. Be sure to give yourself a "man gate" into their yard and into the coop itself. You need that to clean and to get at birds if needed. You just have to be able to reach in and be able to do those tasks - and step into the yard area to rake it up, feed, etc.