where did the garden blog go?

What ever happened to my garden blog? It’s turned into a chicken pen blog, and for that I apologize. Unfortunately I’m semi-retired and have a lot of time to waste putzing with things that interest me, and gardens just don’t do much interesting when the ground’s frozen.

Seeing as I’m pretending to be a garden blogger, here’s that experimental pepper that I pruned spitting out new growth…

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No surprise. I’m curious to see whether the plant actually bushes out, and then of course whether it bears well. So conclusions are a few months out.

And now the all too familiar pen picture. Attaching fence this way is repetitive work. And I’m ver-ry slowwwww. I suspect a carpenter worth his salt would have had this whole pen done in a weekend, maybe even a day. But if he was that good he wouldn’t be learning as much as I am.

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the weakest link

There’s been a little voice bopping around inside my head. Not intrusive, but subtle, every time I work on the chicken coop. I brushed it aside for more than a week.

The coop is meant to be a fortress against other creatures that want to enjoy the future chickens too much. I put myself at creature-level, looked at every inch of the coop. I believe it’s safe.

But the run…looking at the run activated the voice. “A chain breaks at the weakest link. Nature doesn’t care how strong you THINK a chicken run is. The weakest link.”

I was kind of smug about the idea of using up old bricks underneath the pen fence. But there was still a hint of wishful thinking there.

Then my friend Julie (who has a great blog and knows a lot about chickens and gardens) mentioned that she’d tried the brick thing too, but varmints worked their way under it. So that sat in the recesses of my brain until today.

It’s easy to say I don’t worry much about critters breaking into the pen, because the chickens will be safe in their coop at night. But what if some evening I’m preoccupied with an episode of ‘I Love Lucy’ and forget to close the coop door?

I quit raising chickens because a possum and her babies had chicken dinner on me 20-some years ago. If I’m doing this again, there’s no place for pretty secure. There’s only a place for secure. What are a couple more hours doing something that I like anyway?

So I rustled up some chicken wire that’s been rolled up in the barn waiting for its moment in the sun and dug a trench around the pen. Took off the top layer of bricks (yes they were just sitting there, hoping not to be moved by curious raccoon fingers), stapled the wire to the base of the pen, and buried it.

It’s a very good feeling. The second layer of bricks will probably go back on top of the wire too, just because I can and they’re there. And now if something breaks in, I’ll know we have Chupacabras in the woods.

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turning under an old leaf

The smell of Spring soil. Finally.

After an early morning snow, it all melted and I decided to go for it. With our loamy sand, there’s never been a problem tilling early. I’ve had clay too, a long time ago, and that would just turn into brick if I tilled too soon. The soil turned over nice and black and dirty.IMG_4438

So some of the cover crop is turned under and doing its final work of decomposing. It’ll need at least a few weeks of cooking before it’s ready to plant. Sure is nice to see that patch of black again.

The chicken pen got four bags-full of shredded fall leaves (yeah, you really never have enough by summer). Might as well let the chickens shred them more and mix in some fertilizer.

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I added a small side door to the coop for navigating the chickens into a yet-to-be-made chicken tractor.

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And I was notified that the Black Jack No. 57 rubberized coating that I ordered for painting the coop floor was cancelled because it was out of stock. After I waited two weeks for it. Dorks. I just shrugged and bought some paint. But it won’t be warm enough for painting till next week. Oh well. I’ll twiddle my thumbs and wait.

the chicken pen door is mine

I want to get out and turn under the cover crop, but nature has other thoughts. Rain today, snow tomorrow. Just be Spring, will you? Oh yeah, that is Spring.

In the meantime the chicken pen gets all the attention. And finally, after a lifetime of battles with constructing stuff that didn’t like the way I worked, I’ve conquered A DOOR. It took me all morning. Literally 4 hours to construct a stinkin door. But it fit. And it works.

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working in the warm, dry house while my wife’s not there to see it

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kneel before me, sniveling door

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the new ramp

Learning things later in life, whether in gardening or construction, is way more rewarding than learning things when you’re young. It’s just more amazing. Paying attention to details makes a big difference. When I was young and busy, it was easier to plunge ahead and hope things worked. Hardly ever.

So I pat myself on the back for this. It’s not perfect, but it’s very good. At least for me.

Next up, the fencing.

at least something’s thawing

The clock says springtime and the thermometer said 13° two nights ago. Someday I won’t have to go out at night and disconnect the hose to keep water flowing in the house. Right?

At least the compost piles aren’t bricks any more. The late fall pile of shredded leaves and coffee grounds has started to thaw out, and it’s so nice to turn the top layers.

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The chicken run got a final dose of framework, and tomorrow it’s on to a couple of doors. I’m afraid of doors. Doors and me stare each other down, and then the doors win.

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