Tag Archives: wood shavings

Expanding the Garden, Fall Planting, and Chicken Death

August 27, 2013

We have been busy, as usual, this week.

  • Expanding the garden
  • Fall planting
  • Cleaning out the coop
  • Expanding the run
  • Dealing with chicken death

Expanding the Garden

Our church meets in an elementary school. Right before school starts, the cafeteria is getting food in, the teachers are unpacking boxes…there is a ton of cardboard to be had. So we load up all the cardboard we can and expand the garden every fall.

Before:10484629_791900920860759_4757761746985017869_oAfter:10533883_791900957527422_3687780063672357214_oSometime this fall, winter, or spring…whenever I get around to it…I’ll go to the local horse stables and cover this whole area with horse manure. Depending on when I am able to get the manure down, I may plant in it spring 2015.

Fall Planting

I planted some more broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce this week. It is supposedly too late to plant but I am continuing to plant just to see… I am using old seed so it is only costing me time and labor at this point. Nieto Family - August 22 14 - 0126This used to be the spaghetti squash patch. We moved the chicken tractor over it and I planted cabbage on the outsides and broccoli in the two middle rows.

  • The tractor can be covered to protect the brassicas from cabbage moths/butterflies
  • It can be covered in plastic to extend the season
  • Hopefully, I can use this area to get a jump start on spring/summer crops

Cleaning Out the Coop

We are in the process of collecting wood shavings from a local mill so we can clean out the coop completely and cover as much of the garden as possible with that wonderful compost.Nieto Family - August 22 14 - 0105

Expanding the Run

We got rid of the chicken tunnels for the time being. They are impossible to mow around and I was tired of stepping over them 😛 We instead expanded the run. It now goes from the coop to the house (our entire side yard).

Dealing with Chicken Death

We think two of our pullets got into something (but don’t know what) when we expanded the run because they both died. These are both chicks that were hatched at the homestead. One was 12 weeks oldDSC_5149 and the other was just about egg-laying age. DSC_5145She was gorgeous. It was saddest to lose her. Also, because she was so big, it took her longer to die. After a couple of days of no eating, drinking, or getting up, my husband had to just break her neck 😦

Of course, we have no clue what exactly happened to them. They both had droopy wings and were tripping over themselves. Towards the end, they would have seizures. After they died, my husband went around picking up many of the chickens, inspecting them, so we could tell if any of the rest of them were losing weight or looking ill. Everyone looks fine (as fine as moulting birds can look) so far.

One curious thing happened though. When the chickens started moulting, our rooster stopped crowing…Is that normal? He is not even a year old so he is not moulting…any thoughts?

I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursdays to see how others are prepping their fall/winter gardens and to see if others have insight on my chicken deaths.


Harvest Monday

September 16, 2013

This summer, we have been filling the coop with dried grass clippings. I saw a couple of videos of L2Survive‘s about Paul Gautschi’s chicken coop and how he uses wood shavings. He says it takes the smell away and makes an incredibly rich compost. We have a lot of lumber yards in our town so I called one and they said we were more than welcome to come get their wood shavings. Man! The coop smells great now! It’s pretty too 🙂

September 14 13 - 0249Apparently, (at least one of) the chickens like it too because Thursday, at 27.5 weeks, we got our first egg! It was from an Australorp. She gave us another one Friday as well.

egg1It is interesting to see the difference between the first and second egg. My daughter wants to eat them but I am holding off because I just bought 5 dozen at the store :\ and because I like to see how they change. Still only one chicken is laying but it was so exciting – it gives us hope 🙂

September 13 13 - 0195(egg #1 is long, pointed, speckled. egg #2 from same chicken is more rounded and uniform)

So far this chicken has given us an egg each day. I am quite impressed with her. I am looking forward to one day collecting more than one egg a day 🙂

Another exciting harvest was from our second cucumber plant. The first cucumber plant was shaded too much from my daughter’s pole beans. It only produced a couple of cucumbers before it died back. The pole beans were planted back in May, my daughter got her first harvest in July, and they are STILL producing! I was never a fan of pole beans before but I can’t deny how much produce we have gotten in so little space! They have taken over and shaded many crops (cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.). So I replanted a cucumber plant at the beginning of July and got my first cucumber this week 🙂

September 14 13 - 0300Other harvests for the week were exciting as well but were not different from other weeks…a few peas here and there, plenty of beans, tomatoes, and lettuce (harvested every day but only one picture).September 14 13 - 0261

September 10 13 - 0004September 10 13 - 0005I planted some more cabbages, and broccoli this week and I am going to plant some carrots next week.

I realize we are getting to the point where if I continue planting, plants will not reach full maturity before the winter sets in but, if I can keep them alive all winter, they will have a head start in the spring!

In North Carolina, our winters are generally all over the place. It is not odd to have 80 degree days in January or February. Just a couple in a row, mind you, but enough to make the trees blossom (and then later freeze).

When we have warm winter days, I’ll go out into the garden and plant some cool crops. It takes a lot longer to sprout but as soon as spring arrives, they have already gone through the ‘hardening off’ period and they grow really well. We get some early harvests from crops like broccoli, kale, etc. by doing this.

What are you harvesting? Are you planting anything for the fall or is it too late for your region? Head over to Daphne’s Dandelions to see what everyone else is harvesting 🙂

Free Resources for the Garden

September 12, 2013

I am planning on adding two new crops to the garden next year. Strawberries and sweet potatoes. I prepared the beds by covering them with manure when I cleaned out the chicken coop this summer.

I am planting in the sweet potato bed right now for lack of room but I was able to find a free source of horse manure recently and went ahead and covered the strawberry patch and the newly prepared potato patch.

DSC_2926(strawberry patch covered in chicken and horse manure)

DSC_2923(potato patch covered in horse & chicken manure)

I am always watching L2Survive’s YouTube videos where he goes and talks to Paul Gautcshi. I love learning from him! One thing I learned recently is that he uses wood shavings (about 6 inches) in his coop. It soaks up the ammonia smell and makes a fine, very rich compost. He says to spread it very finely over the garden. Truthfully, I’m just looking forward to the lack of smell 🙂 Our coop doesn’t smell horribly but I love the smell of the wood shavings! I’ll post a pic when I get it all spread out 🙂

I saw an Asplundh truck the other day & they said they would be more than happy to bring by some mulch. They never showed up 😦 I guess they were not able to find our house. We don’t need any more mulch but I was excited anyway.

It hurts me to spend money in general so buying things for the garden tends to be put on the back burner. Especially since I’m saving up for expensive crops like strawberry sets and sweet potatoes! Are you getting any free things for your garden?

I am linking up to Simple Lives Thursday. Check out what other people are doing to save money (among other things)!