Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Early Morning Garden

One of my favorite things is to take a walk in the garden in the early morning. Especially now that so much is happening. The plants are so small every bit of growth is huge, new seeds pop up overnight, it's magic. Here are some photos from my walk this morning.

This is about the only early lettuce we managed to keep Baby Bear from pulling up. Can't wait until it's ready!

Our chickens are great layers.

Last year the kids liked to wander and eat fresh peas off the plant. Sometimes we found half of the pods left attached to the plant as Baby Bear would come and just take a bite without picking it. I planted extra this year in hopes we'll get enough to freeze.

Raspberries grow wild up here but trying to grow this cultivated variety for bigger, juicer berries has been difficult. This year is the year! I hope. Maybe we'll actually get some berries.

Yarrow is one of the medicinal herbs we grow. Many herbs won't grow at this altitude and climate. This one we have to watch to make sure it doesn't take over everything.

This spring has been crazy. We had snow as late as May 24th. One week later we were up to almost 80 degrees F.  The jump from snow to hot has been hard on the plants but I think we've settled down. For now.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Lid Racks for Kitchen Cabinets

Just posted a new woodworking project.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Chicken Feeder

Today since we got some snow last night, we are doing an indoor project: a chicken feeder.  This feeder will be for our 26 meat birds that have recently been moved out of the brooder and outside.The design and construction is pretty simple and it only took about 30 minutes to complete start to finish.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Brooding Chicks

We have talked about our laying hens before. This year we have decided to expand our flock, so today we are going to talk about brooding chicks.

Brooder Details
We have a brooder that we have raised all of our chickens in. It is made entirely of scrap, pressure treated plywood and 2x4's. The outer box is 4 foot by 4 foot by about 2 foot. It has a hinged top with hardware mesh and a raised floor of pressure treated plywood. The raised floor keeps the cold from seeping up and the top keeps the cat out from molesting the chicks as well as other animals and children. The walls keep the breezes off the chicks if we move the brooder outside.
The brooder box is 2 foot by 2 foot. It also has a removable top that is solid to keep the heat in. There is a heat lamp inside which keeps the brooder at around 105°F. There is a 4 inch gap at the bottom that allows the chicks to come and go at will. This design really allows the chicks to learn to self regulate their temperature. As they get cold, they go into the brooder and as the get too hot, they move out.

Chick Info
We order 25 chicks and received 26, so bonus chick! These are a heritage breed that grows slower than many of the modern breeds available now. While most modern breeds are ready to be processed at 18 weeks, these chicks will not be full grown until around 5 months. We choose this slower growth rate because they are less susceptible to health problems which are exaggerated at our higher altitude. This slower growth does mean that they we have to invest more in feed, but we feel that is will be better in the long run. We ordered our chicks through Cackle Hatchery ( and have been very happy with both the chicks and their service.

Brooding Things to Remember
The chicks arrived by mail, and the ladies in the post office were so concerned about our little chicks. If you do order your chicks by mail, make sure that you are available to pick them up right away. They can't be left sitting for long. Also, when you unpack them, make sure to give them warm water for the first couple of days, between 85 and 95°F. This will help get their core temperature up after being in the mail for a day or two. Make sure to take each one as you unpack them and dip their beak in the water. Many of them cannot find the water source on their own, so this insures that they know were it is. Also, if you put something shiny in the water like dimes or marbles, it will encourage them to peck at the water and learn to drink faster.
You want to make sure you use feed designed for chicks. Adult chicken feed does not have the correct mixture of nutrients for baby chicks, so be sure to use the right stuff. They will need that feed for up to 16 weeks.
Last but not least, make sure to use a good bedding. I like to save the wood shavings from my woodworking projects as it is free and I usually have a lot of it. If you do this, do not use pressure treated wood for this and do not use pure sawdust. A little bit of sawdust in the shavings is not a problem, but straight sawdust will be.

Monday, April 6, 2020

High Altitude Gardening, Part 2 - Cold Frames

Part 2 in our series on high altitude gardening. Today we are building some cold frames for our raised beds.  These are meant to extend our growing season by several weeks.  Not permanent like the green house that we will talk about in a couple of weeks.  We can move these around to whichever bed needs them the most.  Also, far less expensive at only about $100 for a complete of 3.  Of course they are not as tall as the green house, so their use will be limited at the end of the season to only those plants that are shorter.