chicken tractor update

It’s coming along! I’ve been working at it quite a lot this past week and my dad has been a huge help to me helping me decipher directions, lending me tools, shopping for materials and working on the project right there with me! I am a lucky daughter indeed. I’m very much hoping to have the chicken tractor finished up before the end of the week so that the girls (hoping girls… still not completely convinced my golden laced Wyandotte isn’t a roo…) can start enjoying the great outdoors since the weather has been so nice! I can tell you one thing, I’ve become much more comfortable over these last couple months using power tools than I ever thought I would be!

more woodwork / nervous beekeeper / garden update

Whew, things have certainly been keeping me busy lately! For a few quick updates, inspected my hive for week 2. All went well, and the queen has gotten out of her cage, but I got a bit nervous and didn’t check all of the frames remaining. Not the end of the world the bees still are fed, and healthy, I just want to make sure that the queen is laying. I am so excited about my bees and love this new hobby that I am taking up, but there must be some kind of deep laying, internal response to the hum of bees growing louder and having them fly around you, that makes a person slightly nervous. This is something that I expect I’ll become more accustomed to over time. It’s just such a new experience there is sure to be a learning curve.

Moving on to my birds- wow they appear to be growing at an exponential rate! So fast in fact, that I’d better get moving on their outside home as they will soon outgrow their cardboard box. Probably the most expensive part of owning a chicken is figuring out their housing. At my new house, I am lucky that there is a large coop already built, however it’s been out of use for probably 25 years, is filled with equipment (as it was used as a shed in that time) and will definitely need some TLC (and cash) before I can turn it into the coop that I want. So in the meantime, and since I have only 3 chickens at the moment, I am attempting (with some help from my dad) to save some money and construct my own movable chicken tractor. I’ll be using the design plans from Ashley English’s ‘Keeping Chickens’ book (love her book and blog!). So dad and I have started out by framing the run of the coop. Just a start but exciting nonetheless. What do you think?

As for the garden, I thought I had been doing so well in my planning this year, but as these things go life gets busy and plans inevitably fall a little behind schedule. My asparagus is up from last year, I was gifted some rhubard from my aunt which I’ve added to my garden, the peas, radishes and lettuce have begun to come up and I’ve been enjoying the spinach and lettuce that miraculously overwintered in New England without any help from the gardener!

bees!

My bee package has arrived!! Let the honey production begin! I picked up my bee package yesterday afternoon, which I must admit was FAR quieter than I expected. They were fairly silent in fact. With 3,000 bees I guess I was expecting some sort of pulse-raising humming going on. But it was cooler than it has been, and windy, and I think all the bees (including the 20 or so on the outside of the package for some reason) were all clinging together in a massive ball for dear life.

Well so began the rest of my action packed weekend. After picking up my bees, I drove the 2 hours up to my house (with the windows open the whole way I might add… didn’t want any of those bees on the outside to get too comfortable and start flying around my head while I was driving on the highway. Met my dad at my house and we got to work installing the electric fence netting that I had ordered from here (http://www.premier1supplies.com/) and got the hive prepared and set up. Sunday was the big install, which wasn’t nearly as frightening as I thought it might be. The bees were relatively calm and didn’t seem to mind me pouring them into their new hive. As extra bear protections, I also strapped down the hive so let’s hope Yogi keeps away!

kitchen DIY

before

during

after

Being a new homeowner, there’s a whole list of fun projects floating around in my head that I’d eventually like to tackle.  And of course, then there is reality, where you actually need to finance said projects and attempt to rank these many ideas in order of importance and the free time that you have to work on them.  Now that spring is here, I’m ready to dig in (figuratively and literally) on some of the things I’ve been hoping to get done.  Up until now, I’ve only done a few maintenance fixes that needed to be taken care of- minor septic repair, replacing some rotting wood on the exterior and some clearing up of leftover materials around the shed.

Last weekend, my (very handy with home repair jobs!) friend Betsy came up with my to teach me how to tile my kitchen backsplash (as it was bare).  It turned out to be a VERY long couple days of working flat out with a couple of hiccups (couldn’t fnd enough sheets of the same tile at home depot so had to mix and matched patterns and ‘create’ our own design, backboard wasn’t plywood like we had originally thought, and tiles ended up being different thicknesses so we had to grout everything by hand mostly).  Betsy was SUCH a great sport (particularly being nearly 5 months pregnant!) and we got it done in the end.  Just barely.  These things always take longer than you’d think, don’t they?  Anyways, I’m very please with the outcome (see picture) and so far it has stayed up on the wall- so that’s always a good sign!

Aside from that, am nearly finished building my beehive!!  All the chambers are made and the painting is done.  I’ve finished all my framed for the supers, but still have 20 frames to complete for the broad chambers… piece by piece it’s getting there.  Next week will actually be my last session of bee school so that’s exciting and slightly terrifying all at the same time.  Am I really coming home with 3,000 bees in a few weeks?! (Mostly exciting!)

AND, as if that weren’t all exciting enough, this is the weekend of the chickens!  So I suppose when it rains, it pours.  But I am so excited to finally be diving into all of these projects that I have thought about for so long.  I can’t wait to meet the members of my first flock and I hope that I’ll be able to keep them alive and happy!  I head back over to Cold Antler Farm on Saturday to learn all about chickens and meet my new girls!

tool mama

Had an idea brewing over the winter.  Have kept gardens for a few years on and off but last year I became pretty enthusiastic and quadrupled the size of my garden.  (Keep in mind that’s not saying much- the plot was pretty tiny before)  In any case, I made my garden area bigger and dug a higher fence for it (we had a woodchuck living underneath the shed) so I was pretty pleased with myself.

As I said, I’ve garden here and there, off and on, so I had some great success with some veggies (beans, radishes, cucumbers, summer squash) and not so much with others (onions, pumpkins, broccoli).  From reading around, it looked like some of the plants I had less luck with required a longer growing season (I was a LATE starter and didn’t even get my seeds into the ground until June- yikes!).

Anyways, long story short I came across this article (http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It-Yourself/Multipurpose-Plant-Grow-Light-Seed-Starting-Bookcase.aspx)  over the winter and was instantly inspired. I immediately decided this was what I would do for the garden this year- start some of the slower growing seeds indoors (much) earlier in the season.  Plus, I just bought a new house so it would make a great multipurpose bookshelf in the off-season.

When I went to actually begin construction, I realized there wasn’t really much in the way of instructions in this article…  So I came up with my own… wish some help from my dad.  Here are some pictures at different phases of building process.  Hey this total novice wood worker is pretty proud!!  Next project, to build a chicken tractor… (slightly more intimidating!)