Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Afternoon Chicky Digs

DSr helped me corner off a section of the garden for the chickies. Can't leave them out there at night, but they can hang out during the day when there's a person to check on them every hour or so. It is about 12 ft x 12 ft, so that gives them some space to stretch their wings. They'll have to come inside at night, though, as it still is pretty cool at night for them. Still, if they can be outside for 5-8 hours a day, that will be good for them.
Hard to tell, but the lead chicky to the right had a piece of tomato and the others were giving chase. (By the way, don't forget, you can click on the picture to see a full sized view)
This is the little lame girl taking a nap in the sun. I think she likes the sand - it's easier for her to balance on when she hops around on one foot. She's pretty good at the hop-fly-a-foot-hop method of getting around, though, and while everyone else was chasing eachother trying to steal tomato pieces from eachother, she quietly took her piece to a corner and ate in peace. She seems to be competing for food, water and a comfy spot to sleep without any trouble. Even if she never lays an egg, I don't see any reason she can't continue to remain as part of the flock.

Garlic, Garlic, Garlic!

No vampires in my garden! Pulled the last of the garlic out of the ground Tuesday of last week. A little over 100 bulbs. Most of them in the "over 2 inch diameter" size.
I love the lighting from the evening sun. Gives everything a warm glow.
On the other hand, sometimes you can get more true-to-life colors if you bring your own lighting.
Everything smelled so wonderfully like stinky garlic as I wove the stalks into the fence to hang the harvest to cure. It still smells good, but you have to put your nose up to it a bit, now. On the night of the harvest, the whole garden smelled of garlic.

So that's it for the year. Garlic needs to cure for another month or so, but playing with the garlic is over until around October, when next year's garlic will go into the ground. Looking forward to lots and lots of garlic bread this summer!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yes, yes, even more Chicky Pics

I can't help it - I'm deep in the chicky litter now, so there's going to be a lot of chicky pictures for a while. Here's a Maran, strutting her stuff.
Here is an Ameraucana - they have the most varied markings. The Marans all look pretty much the same and the Silver Laced Wyandotts also all look pretty much the same. The Ameraucanas, while you can tell are similar, area all pretty distinct.
This one is the same as the one in my hand, above...but if you look at the one below, spreading her wings, they barely look like they are related.
I think of this girl as my "video game" girl as she has an exclaimation point on her head. "Look, Ma, I want to fly like an eagle!"

Pretty much all the babies are trying to fly now. They get a running start, bounce, and then they are airborn for a foot or so. Had to tape cardboard to make the walls of their crate higher. They will be needing more room very shortly.

Pea season is pretty much over, being that it's been well into the 90s for several weeks now. I've been pulling the vines for the chickies every few days and they've been enjoying pecing at them. It doesn't look like they are actually eating much of it, but I am hoping that picking at the vines amuses them enough so that they don't want to pick at eachother. And, after the vines are picked over and trampled, off to the compost heap they go.

Speaking of compost, used chicky litter is being put out in the garden in little bits and pieces. I'd like to really mulch deep with those nice pine shavings, but I'm afraid that too much chicky poo in the pine might burn the roots of the plants. Still, at least I am recycling the pine shavings and chicky poo - some day I will turn this desert sand into SOIL!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More chicky pictures

"Here, chicky, chicky. Here, chicky, chicky." They're starting to recognize DJR and I. A palm full of chick feed also helps, of course!
Here's a little Ameraucana sitting quietly in DJR's hands.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Garden Update

Desert Mallow buds and bloom at night. I think I've remarked before that they are pretty stinky - but the pollinators love them, so I won't complain.
A mess of peas and some garlic. Steamed the peas and ate them. Cut some pea vines for the chickies to peck at. It doesn't look like the actually ate any of it, but it did amuse them for some time.
This tom is a survivor of 3 hail storms and 25 degree weather. These are the first buds. I know I should pinch them off for a healthier plant, but I'm not going to.
Corn, lovely corn. 60 little stems of corn are poking through the dirt. Apparently the birds out here don't know about eating corn seedlings? Shhhh, we'll keep it a secret!

  • First set of Kentucky Wonder pole beans are well up
  • Yellow Pencil Pods are doing much better than the Royal Purple bush beans, but I wonder how much that has to do with seed viability? The Royal Purple seeds were several years old.
  • Dow gawk beans not germinated yet. It's still early. Hopefully they wil be up soon.
  • Toms that were planted out a few weeks ago all nice and dark green and ready to take off growing like crazy any moment now.
  • Still eating a few tiny strawberries every day
  • Deep watered the fruit trees earlier this week
  • Still no sign of Eight Ball (round) zucchini seedlings.
  • Have been moving bearded irises out of veg bed 1 and out into the sand. Not amending the sand too much, although I did add some slow release fertilizer to it. They may not bloom next year, but I am hoping that I transplanted them early enough in the season that they will be well established by next spring.

Slowly, very slowly, I am turning the sand in my 50x70 little oasis into dirt. Of course, the three raised beds still have the best dirt/sand mix, but the bean patch and corn patch are doing well. As I compost more weeds and more chicken bedding and chicken poo, we should be able to actually "grow dirt." Also trying to plant lots of legumes, too, these first few years. I can see improvements over last year and the year before already.

Garlic Harvest Begins

This is garlic just moments from the ground. These all came out of the raised bed. Some are not as mature as I should have let them become, but I need the bed space for tomatoes and cukes. These were harvested on Thursday.
This set of garlic was harvested a few weeks ago and have been hanging from the fence to cure. They are all cleaned up and ready for eating. They, too, are not as mature as they should have been, but sometimes I just can't wait. More mature ones have a stronger flavor and will last longer. Still, they should be fine eating this summer. Also with that first harvest, I pulled all the garlic that did not set well and were going to have obviously small bulbs (less than 1 1/2 inches). Still good eating, but not worth using the space in the bed for them.
Of course, the other down side of harvesting too early is that the cloves are not as well formed and the bulbs are on the smaller side. Still, at an average of about 2" diameter, still a good eating size.
Mmmm, I don't think this one will have to worry about long term storage...looks like garlic bread to me!

Look, Ma, Real Feathers

Hard to tell from earlier photos, but compared to just 2 days ago, the babies are all showing some wing feathers. This is the wing of a Maran. In general, the Marans are feathering out the fastest, but are the smallest and least hardy looking of the chicks.

This is my little lame girl. Her right foot is definately deformed and pretty useless. Yesterday I gave her a few hours sectioned off from the other chicks with access to water and food without competition from her flock-mates and that seems to have made the difference between her being able to compete and her getting weak and trampled on. Now when her flock-mates try to walk on her she can push back. Also,now that her wing featers are growing in, she compensates for her lame foot by using her wings to balance with. She also uses her wings to "hold" on to the feeder until she gets her head in the hole. I was worried that she would be one to die, but she is looking pretty robust.
The Ameraucanas seem to be the hardiest and fastest growing of the three types. They also seem to be the most interested in learning to fly - yes, at 5 days old (they hatched on Monday, even though they didn't get to me until Wednesday) they already like to run around with wings flapping. This is a photo taken during "pasty butt" inspections. Nearly all the Ameraucanas were "fluffy butt", however a about half of the Marans were "pasty butt." Those in need got a good butt washing.
One disconcerting thing about baby chicks is that they all look dead when they are sleeping. Those of you with human children remember how angelic and cute the babies were when sleeping (even if they were little devils while awake). And, of course, nothing cuter than a sleepy-eyed puppy. But cute, fluffy, bouncy, happily peeping chickies look dead when sleeping. I know they need their rest, but it makes me want to poke at them and make sure they are alive. Ameraucana above, Maran below.
On a separate sad note, the smallest Maran is going to pass away (Not the one pictured above - that girl is quite healthy). I can't get her to eat or drink water. I tried separating her from the flock to give her a break, but then she used all her meager strength to cry at the top of her lungs. I put her in a large margarine tub in with the flock and she settled down and seemed much happier with the chirping of her flock around her. I imagine she will be dead in the morning. At least she is not getting stepped on or pecked on by the others. She seems comfortable and at peace. It's the way of the world. I will burry her under one of the apple trees in the garden.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More Chicky Babies

Sleepy babies.Racing towards the food tray!
One of the chickies' favorite occupations.
Warm enough temps means that everyone isn't huddled directly under the heat lamp, but are spread out to enjoy the particular temperature that they prefer. When I first brought them home, they were piled up in one corner for 5 minutes or so until they started feeling comfortable. See the one with the leg stretched out? When they wake up, they often stretch like dogs.

So, for the next few days, they are hanging out in my laundry room in the bottom half of a dog crate. It has the bare minimum space allowance for 0-4 week old babies. This weekend I will monitor temps in the metal building throughout the day and night and then they will probably move out of the house at that point. I'll need to put chicken wire over the top to prevent rodents from entering and chickies from exiting. And, I am trying to figure out how to make their home bigger without spending much (any) money. I mean, they are only going to be in the crate for about 4 or 5 more weeks...maybe I can somehow attach the top half of the crate to it. The chicks are pretty agile and can probably cross the "hump" where the two halves would be joined.

Ok, so not much gardening news, other than I have been enjoying fresh strawberries every time I go out there. I also have some peas that I am going to chop up into tiny pieces and give to the chickies this weekend. (Just a tiny bit so they get a taste of "green stuff." Not actually enough to be considered a "meal.")I am purposely waiting until the weekend so I can keep an eye on them in case they get "pasty bottoms" - a deadly condition where their poop sticks to them and seals them shut so more poop can't get out. (Who knew?)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Compost Machines

Babies arrived this morning. Post office called me about 6:15 a.m., but I didn't get back from work to pick them up until 8:30 a.m. They've had water, eaten a bit, pooped and are now mostly napping. I think I'm ready for a nap, too.The one on the left is a Silver Laced Wyandotte and the one on the right is a Ameraucana. The Wyandotte lays a traditional brown egg and the Ameraucana lays a either blue, green or aqua colored eggs (the egg color is particular to a chicken - one chicken will only lay one color).
This is a Maran chick - they lay dark brown shelled eggs - also known as "chocolate" shelled eggs. So you know why I had to get those kinds of chicks, right?!
Not sure where the blondie came from. She's an extra. She has a light grey spot on the top of her head. At least I hope she is a she - I really don't want to have him for dinner if she is really a he!

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Ickys from the Garden

Found munching on garlic - fed to the birds!

Found sampling the beans - fed to my tarantula!

Moral of the story : Don't mess around in My garden!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

June, June, June!

Lots of activity in the last few weeks. And more, much more to come! Can't believe we are already in the middle of June.

  • Peas

    • Been eating peas from bed 2 for several weeks
    • Peas in bed 1 and around the tree are starting to flower

  • Strawberries

    • Eating one or two sweet strawberries a day starting this week
    • Picked 18 yummy little strawberries today (they are mostly just a little bigger than my thumb nail, but oooh, sooo sweet!)
    • Runners are running everywhere - may never have to buy new plants again!
    • Some plants have leaves nearly as big as my hand

  • Bearded Irises

    • The Irises are officially done blooming
    • Have moved 9 out of bed 1 and planted around the garden - they may not bloom next year, but probably the following year they will be fabulous.

  • Beans

    • Over 80 Yellow Pencil Pod Bush Beans are up
    • About 50 Royal Burgundy Bush Beans are up
    • A few Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans are starting to come up
    • Sowed about a dozen more Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans today
    • Sowed two dozen Dow Gawk "Yard Long" Beans (90 days to maturaty - I'm surely pushing the season)

  • Other Stuff

    • Sowed some "Eight Ball" round zucchini today
    • Harvested some garlic that did poorly over the winter - bulbs are mature, but small
    • Really need to plant out all those things that take 90 days or more to mature
    • 8 Heavenly Blue Morning Glories are up
    • Zero Moon Flowers have germinated
    • Corn due to germinate late next week

Sunday, June 1, 2008

First Day of June

Here's a photo of one of last year's "Iris Bed Designers" who rearranged them last summer. I know he is admiring his handywork!

Hail damaged sweet basil...

First Royal Purple bush bean seedling for the season. There are a few more that were snipped off, so I am thinking something ate them. I may have to lightly cover that area with some pulled weeds so the seedlings are not as visible.

Some of the sunflowers are now a foot tall. Others planted later or in less ideal locations are not as tall or robust but seem to be doing ok, too. Not sure why some sunflowers haven't germinated at all. The weeds, of course, continue to flourish!

We are definately behind last year in planting things out. The long, cold spring did not inspire one to set plants out too early this year. The tomato planted a month ahead of everyone else does not appear to be appreciably further along than the ones I planted out last week. Of course, the peas loved the spring this year.

One of the nice things about having a large garden as opposed to a small farm is that it only takes 15 minutes to plant out a bed of beans and there are no tractor requirements. And only 15 minutes to plant out 3 tomato babies.

    Done so far today
  • Planted a whole pack of Pensil Pod Yellow Bush Beans - about 120 seeds
  • Planted a Red Pear tomato and a Sweet Baby Girl tomato plant in raised bed 3 (where the garlic is ripening)
  • Planted a Yellow Pear tomato to the east of the Rescue Apple tree
  • Dead-headed spent iris blooms
  • Watered everything
  • Pulled a 5 gal bucket of weeds and added to the top of the compost pile
  • Took pictures