Creating a Life of Plenty

April 18, 2017
by admin
Comments Off on The Evolution of a Market Garden; planting fruit & nut trees at Verdigris

The Evolution of a Market Garden; planting fruit & nut trees at Verdigris

The first step, for us, in creating a market garden is to plant fruit.  We feel that adding varied fruit to our garden will differentiate us from other growers in our area.  We also wanted to offer varieties of fruit that weren’t common, to introduce back into the market varieties that you don’t see in grocery stores or at farm stands very often.

We plan on offering a variety of fruits and vegetables as part of our market stand and CSA in 2018.  In addition we will be offering fruit products such as cider, fruit jams, jellies and butters.  Since fruit trees and bushes take the longest to get established, we thought we best start with them.

 

Our plan, which has gone through several months of revisions, calls for apple, pear, cherry, plum, and almond tree (s).  Peaches are notoriously difficult to grow in central Ohio and we have a scourge of grey squirrels that enjoy peaches a little too much to try and grow them so we have chosen to eliminate them from the plan

 

We sourced our trees from multiple locations.  A local nursery provided the pear trees and we sourced the balance from Stark Brother’s Nursery.  They are a regional nursery, located in Missouri that specializes in more rare, healthy trees and bushes.  I ordered my elderberry bushes from them a couple of years ago and they have gone crazy with growth and production so I knew I could trust Stark Brother’s Nursery for quality products.

 

This spring, we ordered:

 

Apples:

Orleans Antique Apple: Bred as a cross between Delicious and Deacon Jones apples, the result is a tree that yields sweet-tasting apples that will make great fresh eating as well as being a terrific cider apple. Antique variety, originates from Geneva, New York, circa 1924.

Cox’s Orange Pippin Antique Apple: Upright tree with a spreading growth habit. Fruit has a yellow skin with an orange-red blush. Complex flavor hints of orange and mango. Superb fresh and in pies, sauces, or ciders. Antique variety, originates from England, circa 1825.

Granny Smith: This classic favorite features a crisp bite and sweet-tart flavor. Tip-bearing tree yields a familiar green fruit perfect for fresh-eating, baking, and making cider. Fruit keeps up to six months in proper storage. Antique variety originates from Australia, circa 1868. Heat-tolerant. Ripens in early November.

Honey Crisp: A modern apple in high demand. Outstanding fresh-eating qualities make this variety an American favorite. Fruit is aromatic and sweet as honey with an explosively juicy, crisp texture. Originates from Excelsior, Minnesota in 1974. Cold-hardy. Ripens in early September.

Each of these trees require a pollinator to set and grow fruit and fortunately one tree was the ideal pollinating partner for the four other apple trees.  The Heritage Golden Delicious: In 1914, Paul Stark Sr. introduced an apple with an outstanding flavor that was sweet and juicy with a hint of spice. This highly productive tree bears the sensational fruit that, when picked at its peak, is better than what you find in supermarkets.

We went a bit more modern with some of the other trees.  For example, we chose the All In One Almond tree.  This hearty tree bears healthy crops of delicious, soft-shelled nuts with the crisp, gourmet flavor of California almonds.

For our sweet cherry, to conserve garden space for market crops, we chose a modern graft that allows two types of cherries to grow on one root stock. Each tree naturally yields two varieties: deep-red sweet cherries and gold-blushed-pink Emperor Francis sweet cherries. Fruit is best for fresh eating, salads, jams, and homemade maraschinos. We also chose a Northstar pie cherry that delivers a heavy harvest of tart cherries perfect for pies, cooking and preserves.

To frame our garden entrance, we chose to create an arch of pear trees that will span the 6 foot path from one garden bed to another.  We chose the Keifer pear and the Seckel pear.  These are both good fresh eating pears that will also serve well for cooking and preserving.  They are the pollinator for each other so joining them on an arch will facilitate good fruit production.

 

We will be adding an heirloom Damson Plum in the fall (they were out of stock) to offer delicious fruits as well as, what the English call Damson “cheese” which is a thick fruit spread, the consistency of apple butter. But in the meantime we chose two unusual plum trees that were available for spring shipping.

Shiro, this unusual yellow plum beats all others in appearance and taste. Luminous yellow skin covers sweet, juicy flesh. A heavy bearer, Shiro grows clusters of plums all throughout the tree.  Introduced to America in 1899.

Starkling Delicious is not only the pollinator for the Shiro plum, but offers delicious fruit as well. Consistently bears heavy crops of round, sweet dessert plums with red skin and red flesh. Disease-resistant to bacterial leaf spot and canker. This plum was discovered in 1931 and introduced by Stark Bro’s in 1951.

 

The hard part was digging and prepping the planting holes.  While there was never a home or building on our land, there was construction all around it and much of the scrap construction material ended up on these lots.  Digging some of the planting holes required the use of a pick axe, but we dug through, augmented the soil and coated the roots and root balls of each tree with mycorrhizal fungi.  Mycorrhizal fungi form a mutualistic relationship with the roots of most plant species; aiding in the absorption of nutrients and the prevention of disease to the host plant.  Once planted, they need to be watered regularly for the first year of life to establish themselves well.

 

This is the first part of the fruit production we plan for Verdigris…next up…berries!

 

Happy Gardening!

April 10, 2017
by admin
Comments Off on Ken’s Kitchen Garden: The Book!

Ken’s Kitchen Garden: The Book!

Friends, I am pleased to announce that my book “Ken’s Kitchen Garden” is now available for sale on Amazon.com in both paperback and kindle editions.  It will take several weeks, but it should also be available for book stores to carry.  I sincerely hope that you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  This garden journey has taken me from a small potager in the back yard to a life and lifestyle of self reliance and I am much the better for it. 

April 7, 2017
by admin
Comments Off on Verdigris

Verdigris

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Here marks the start of our new business venture: Verdigris Market Garden.  My husband and I have wanted to create a business that; indulged our passion for gardening as well as our desire to provide the highest quality, cleanest produce, eggs and cottage foods as possible to our local community.  Our purchase of ¼ acre of land near our home last fall was the catalyst to begin this journey.

 

A friend suggested the name Verdigris and I absolutely love the name.  Verdigris is the green/blue patina that copper gets as it ages and oxidizes.  I adore that color and I thought it would be evocative of the rich, verdant garden we plan to make.

 

We began the development of the property in earnest this spring with the installation of a sturdy garden shed and a fence around the property to protect the integrity of the space and to provide privacy for us to work.

We worked with a local company that sources Ohio Amish built sheds.  We selected a comfortable sized 10’ by 14’ that will allow us to store seed trays, small tools and to winter over more tender plants.  It will also function as a potting shed.  We will be adding gutters and rain barrels in the next week or so to collect rainwater.  We will also be adding small scale solar panels to the roof to give us a small bit of electricity.  We will evaluate utility power as this year goes on to determine if we will need it.

Next up as far as infrastructure goes was a fence.  This is a commercial enterprise so we did need some level of protection against damage or intrusion and to give us privacy to develop and grow the property.  We worked with local contractor Williams Brothers Home Improvements to enclose the property, giving us maximum productive space.  The team worked very hard to fence the entire property in approximately 24 hours!  We were very impressed with the crew and their results.

There is an endless list of projects over the next 14 months before we begin harvesting and selling at local farm markets and perhaps establish a CSA, but we are on our way!  Next up is planting fruit trees, bushes and vines.  It will take a few years for them to mature and bear fruit, but when they do, we will be offering that wholesome produce and much more at farm stands in the Central Ohio Area.

We are developing a website as I write this, but please like our page on Facebook: Verdigris Market Garden to keep up with the latest developments!

 

Happy Gardening!

April 6, 2017
by admin
Comments Off on My Little Chicken-dee!

My Little Chicken-dee!

Adult Chickens

Well our little chicken babies are nearly a year old. They were born on May 4th and we picked them up the next day! Fiona, Myrtle, Delphine and Marie have done very well through both our late summer and over the winter and are now nearing their first birthday.
We have kept with organic practices with their food, treats, vegetables and fruit. The addition of fresh herbs to their diet during the growing and dried herbs during the winter have really helped to keep the chickens vital and to stave off any respiratory or digestive illnesses as well as decreased the possibility of any infestations.
They, in return have provided us with a lot of entertainment (the girls are very funny and love cuddles), amazing additions to our compost, and of course their gorgeous and delicious eggs!

Bowl of Eggs
Keeping them has not taken much time aside from the building and set up of the coop. A few minutes in the morning and a couple of minutes in the afternoon after work is all it takes! The addition of the electric door was an absolute g-dsend! I don’t have to go into the coop to let the chickens out in the morning or have to close them up at night, it is all solar powered and light triggered…it really was the best money we have spent!
I will keep you up to date on the little ones, but I really encourage you to read my previous blog posts on getting and keeping chickens and to decide for yourself if you can bring some backyard livestock into your life, it is a great investment!
Happy Gardening!

June 23, 2016
by admin
Comments Off on Here Chicky, Chick, Chick (Part 2)

Here Chicky, Chick, Chick (Part 2)

Creating a wholesome environment extends beyond food and water.  We are outfitting our girls with the best items we know to keep them healthy and comfortable.  These are new pets for us and as such, they do take an investment.  I am not of a mind to treat these creatures as a commodity, but as a member of the household just like our cats, dog, bees and wild birds.  They deserve respect and good stewardship as part of the natural world I am bound to nurture and protect.

coop herb composite

 

Part of that care is ensuring that the coop is clean, dry, well ventilated and comfortable.  We have accomplished this with a few items.  First the floor of the coop is covered in pine shavings.  These are soft, and absorbent to provide for a soft landing and to absorb urine and moisture from droppings.  To augment the prevention of odors, I have employed both fresh and dried herbs in the coop.  We have an overabundance of lemon balm (sweet Melissa or lemon mint).  I cut large amounts of this and place it in the coop to keep it smelling fresh.  In addition, I have added a handful of a mix of herbs from “Treats for Chickens” it is a blend of herbs that promote well being as well as prevent infestations and odors.

 

I will be cleaning the coop out every two weeks and adding the shavings to our compost.  The pine will break down quickly aided by the chicken manure.  This will activate the composting process.  With the addition of the herbs, the decomposition will be virtually odor free.  As fall arrives, I will select which garden beds will not be used in late fall and winter, those will be covered with shavings as well as any straw extracted from the chicken run to decompose over the winter, adding vital nutrients to the soil as well as aeration and will act as a mulch and soil erosion preventative.

 

In the run, we are using straw as a bedding material, it is softer for the chickens to run around in, scratch, etc.  It also promotes insects coming up from the soil below to be enjoyed by the chickens.  In addition, we have added a wash tub for dust baths.  This mix of ingredients allows the chickens to clean their feathers to prevent mites, fleas and ticks.  The combination of material is as follows, top soil from the garden, gritty sand, food grade diatomaceous earth and sifted wood ash from my winter fires in the fireplace.  The diatomaceous earth is deadly to mites and other parasites and the wood ash creates an hostile environment for insects.

chicken swing and dust bath

In addition to daily rations of greens, herbs and fruit for them to forage and play with, chicken life can be boring…bored chickens can turn mean so it is important to provide entertainment for them.  The first item we purchased was a “chicken swing”.  Will installed this in the run and we hope the chickens perch on it and have hours of fun swinging.  Further hooks for hanging treats and toys will be added in the future.

 

Our little hens are enjoying their coop and run and beginning to thrive on our homestead!

 

Happy Gardening!

June 22, 2016
by admin
Comments Off on Gardening in the International Harvest Garden, an Update

Gardening in the International Harvest Garden, an Update

community garden update

Our expanded garden plot is growing fast.  Some plants have been very successful while others have struggled, here is an update!

Our corn is doing very well.  The method of starting the corn ahead of time in pots and deep root trainers really helped get the plants established quickly in the sometimes challenging conditions of this garden.  It is about waist high at the end of June so that is promising for delicious sweet corn in the coming weeks.

We planted our paste tomato plants and they are doing remarkably well, they have immature fruits on them already so I look forward to freezing as many as possible to use in sauce later in the year.  We also planted peppers as a companion and the little, slow maturing seedlings are establishing themselves well.  We added home grown marigolds as a companion to the tomatoes and peppers to combat harmful soil bacteria from the tomatoes.

Most of our potatoes are doing very well, with the exception of the sweet potato that currently only has one slip leafing out.

Our flower mixtures and sunflowers are doing very well, I look forward to sharing some of the seeds with the local bird population, but also taking home the sunflower heads to dry and give to the chickens in the fall and winter!  The flower mixtures are designed to attract and support pollinators on the plot so there is lots of borage, zinnia, cosmos and other nectar and pollen producing plants.

There are also some struggles on the plot.  We are not sure if it is simply because we planted in June or if it is just a struggle of the area, but the squash beetles are an absolute menace.  They nearly wiped out our first sowing of squash.  We have been removing them manually as well as spraying an organic, homemade repellent.  This is an effective deterrent and has allowed most of the winter squashes we planted to get larger and stronger.

I used homemade tincture of cayenne pepper along with peppermint oil, garlic tincture, lemon dish soap and water and this is sprayed directly on the plants to coat the plant and make it unappealing to the insects.

We have also had an issue with cabbage white moths attacking the beans and brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli).  The spray seems to do a good job running them off as well.

Unfortunately our experimental crops are failing miserably.  We counted the other day and only 6-7 sprouts of sorghum have come up out of 100 seeds!  I am not sure if it is soil conditions, our methods or crappy seeds, but that is an awful rate of germination and survival.  In addition, the peanuts have not faired any better.  We probably have 4-5 (out of 50) seeds that germinated and have begun growing.  While this isn’t catastrophic for us, they were experimental to begin with, I had hoped for a little better performance….oh well, we obviously need to read more about what it takes to successfully grow these crops.

If you would like to know more about our garden plot, first read this!

 

Happy Gardening!

June 22, 2016
by admin
Comments Off on Here chicky, chick, chick (part 1)

Here chicky, chick, chick (part 1)

I thought I would give an update on our recent additions.  Our chickens are growing fast and will be coming up on a milestone; they will be 8 weeks old next week.  This is a big change for backyard chickens; they are no longer little puffs of fuzz, but feathered pre-teens.  We have been growing and changing along with them and establishing a nurturing, natural environment and routine for them to thrive in.  We finally named our little cohort with names from American Horror Story: Coven…our prima donna easter egger is named Fiona, Our barred rock is named Marie, and our two buff orpingtons are named Delphine and Myrtle.

natures best chicken feeder

 

 

 

Food: When the chickens were born, they were born on a completely organic farm which chooses not to vaccinate for Coccidiosis. This disease is the most common cause of death in baby chicks. Coccidiosis (aka: cocci) is a common intestinal disease, caused by several species of parasites that thrive in warm, wet conditions such as a brooder and is transmitted in droppings.  Since the chicks were going to be in a brooder for 5-6 weeks, I chose to put them on medicated starter feed to prevent this illness.  At 7-8 weeks, chicks usually transition to a commercial grower feed.  I am migrating them to an organic chick starter/grower that they will be on for the next 8 weeks until they are adult chickens and at point of lay. They will also graduate to their adult feeder.  I feel confident in the organic practices we have learned and the herbal supplements that they receive daily will keep them pest and disease free.

garlic powder

I began adding powdered garlic to their feed a couple of weeks ago and have recently begun floating cloves of garlic in water for them to peck at and to supplement their water.  The garlic helps repel fleas, ticks and other parasites, controls the odor of the manure and is a natural wormer. It has overall health benefits, resulting in a higher white blood cell count and supporting respiratory health and the immune system. Adding garlic to their diet will result in a better feed conversion ratio (the measure of an animal’s efficiency in converting feed mass into increased body mass).

chicken salad

Every morning before I go out to the coop to refresh their water and check their feeder, I take a trip through the garden, snipping herbs and greens to give them to bolster their health.  Their typical morning “salad” consists of varying combinations of the following:

 

  • Oregano. Oregano as a natural wormer and antibiotic. Adding oregano to their diet helps guard against parasites, E. coli, Salmonella, coccidia and other bacteria in our chickens.
  • Dill: This also supports respiratory health, chickens are prone to breathing problems which can be exacerbated by unsanitary conditions so along with keeping their coop and run clean, adding dill to their diets helps build a strong respiratory system.
  • There are a number of other herbs and flowers that I add that support good digestive and general health in chickens, they include; Tarragon, Sage, Lemon Balm, Other Mint, Rosemary, Basil, Monarda (Bee Balm), Calendula (Pot Marigold)
  • For extra greens, I include Varietal Lettuce, Peas and Pea Shoots (which will change as the seasons go on).

I will be drying many of these herbs during the season so I have a store to add to their feed during the winter months.

 

Water:  Access to fresh, clean healthful water is essential for a chicken’s life.  Contaminated, overheated water will cause a chicken to stop drinking and aside from interrupting the laying cycle when they are old enough, it can cause a host of other health issues such as intestinal parasites, overheating, etc.  From their first days in the brooder, we check and change the water twice a day in their chick sized waterer.  Since the moved to the coop, we have also given supplemental water with watermelon or raspberries or garlic and sometimes an ice cube on the hottest days.

braggs_acv_1

We have also added a small amount of apple cider vinegar to the water a couple of times a week.  Adding natural apple cider vinegar (organic, with the “mother”) is a way to make the water even more beneficial to chickens. Among its many benefits, it balances the water’s pH, thereby creating an environment that is inhospitable to microbes and bacteria. Studies have shown that the vinegar actually makes the water more palatable to hens and can also be used to encourage a sick or injured hen to drink more.

 

brite tap

We will also be graduating to a new watering system over the next week.  I purchased the Britetap Chicken waterer and a 2 gallon rubbermade beverage cooler to provide a larger volume of water that will remain cool and sanitary for the chickens.  They will learn to peck the nipples for water over time so we will keep both water sources in the run for a period of time.

 

More updates on the chickens to come, but in the meantime happy gardening…and chicken keeping!

The book above was my guidebook through the process of choosing chicken breeds, building the coop with my partner and generally learning all I could before we actually got chickens.  It is a terrific book and is available at amazon.com or your local book seller!

With the coop ready, we eagerly await our fluffy new family members.  I had ordered four chickens from a local homesteading store for city folks like us.  City Folks Farm Shop allowed us to place pre-orders earlier in the winter for staggered pick up throughout the spring.  Going through a shop like this allows us to order smaller flocks of more interesting birds from reputable, local organic farms rather than going through a feed store which buys in bulk and treats the birds as disposable commodities.

Chicken Breeds

For our first cohort, I ordered two Buff Orpingtons, One Barred Rock and One Easter Egger.  These are birds that will get along well together, are perfectly suited to the backyard environment and provide high quality, uniquely colored eggs.

Before their arrival I had to create a brooder.  These one day old chicks will need to live inside the house for four to six weeks while they grow a bit and begin to have feathers.  In addition, the day and night time temperatures need to be appropriately high for the birds not to suffer the cold.

brooder

I purchased a very large tote with locking lid from a local store.  This large space will give our four fuzz balls plenty of room to run around, sleep and grow.  In addition I purchased a chick feeder and chick water fount specifically for the small birds.  I have a feeder and watering system for the coop, but those are designed for more adult birds.  I also purchased a heat lamp.  The chicks need to be kept in a warm environment as they are highly susceptible to cold at this young age. For the first week, they must be kept at approximately 95 degrees, the second week can be reduced to 90 degrees…and 5 degrees each week after that until they are to room temperature or to match the outside temperature.  I also put the oil radiator back out on the sun porch and slipped a seedling heating mat under the brooder for supplemental night time heat.  To monitor the temperature in the brooder, I affixed an adhesive reptile thermometer purchased at a local pet store.

 

To prepare the tote to be a brooder, I cut a large portion out of the lid and replaced that portion with hardware cloth.  I cut the tote with strong tin snips and attached the hardware cloth using nuts, bolts and large enough washers as not to slip through the hardware cloth opening. This will provide ventilation for the birds, allow the heat from the lamp to penetrate, allow us a view to them and keep them protected from our household kitties.  We laid a couple of inches of bedding in the bottom right before the chicks arrived and began the preheating process of the brooder.  We picked them up two weeks ago and delivered them to their new, temporary, home….they have grown quite a bit in just two weeks!

Chicken Composite

They will have to be tended twice a day to ensure they are healthy and thriving.  In addition we will want to remove waste regularly and check their feeders and water as they are notorious for knocking them over or making a mess in them.  To minimize this, we placed a two inch thick board in the brooder and built the bedding up to its level.  This creates a level, stable space for the water fountain and feeder.

The weeks will fly past and these little puff balls will grow into teen birds and will be ready to take their place in the backyard homestead.

 

Happy Gardening…and Chicken Keeping!

May 23, 2016
by admin
Comments Off on Doing the “Funky Chicken”… Coop

Doing the “Funky Chicken”… Coop

When I started this homestead project, I knew at some point we would get chickens. I didn’t know when, but I knew at some point, we would be ready to move beyond store bought eggs to something better. I knew we could improve our compost process by closing the organic waste loop with chickens at some point.

Fortunately, that time is now! As it happens back on the day of the Winter Solstice, 2015, I logged on to Amazon.com and found that one of my daily deals was a very large chicken coop and it was less than half the retail price….I pondered for a little while before buying it. I thought that perhaps I could hold it in the basement or in the loft of the garage for a year or so while we got things ready like I did with the greenhouse a year ago.

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The Pawhut 4’X12’ coop and run is one of the largest home coops you can buy; it is both stylish and functional. Including both an “outdoor” and indoor option, we can give our chickens open space to move around in a fenced enclosure, as well as multi-leveled indoor spots that will allow them to hide from the elements. There are removable trays for easy cleaning, and multiple doors and windows so we have easy access to our birds.

As it turned out, our weather and circumstances with our bee’s moved up the timeline. Our overly healthy bee hive swarmed exceptionally early last spring (2015), leaving no queen cells behind for the balance of the workers to raise and elevate to queen. The balance of the bees went feral over the next few weeks and left the hive for good. That left us with an empty hive (save for the opportunistic wax moth colony that decided to set up shop in it).

As sad as we were at that loss, it gave us the opportunity to move the hive to another location in the back yard more suited to bees (morning light, afternoon shading) which left the area once occupied by the beehive empty and ready for a small flock of chickens.

Chicken Coop Foundation 1

As far as the weather, it was an unseasonably warm winter (don’t get me started on my global climate change rant or we will never get back to the chicken coop). I began digging the foundation area for the chicken coop on the 25th of December and slowly made progress the first couple of warm days in January before the cold snap hit and I had to postpone work until the spring. Beginning at the end of February and the beginning of March, I was able to complete the digging so Will and I began the placement of the concrete block foundation for the chicken coop and run. I really wanted something sturdy to build the coop on. Many buyers of these chicken coops not only don’t seal them properly (see below), but they also simply place them on bare earth which speeds decomposition.

Chicken Coop Foundation 2

Next up was to attach, via construction adhesive, treated lumber over the concrete blocks to cover the holes in the masonry blocks and to provide a treated wood sill for the chicken coop to sit on. Next, we covered the entire coop and run area in hardware cloth, secured with staples to the treated lumber and buried under the dirt of the coop run. This will prevent any digging creatures access to the coop and run (landscape fabric, the masonry block and gravel will discourage digging as well).

Once the foundation was complete, we could begin assembling and greatly modifying the coop. While building our own coop design is outside both of our carpentry skills at the moment, we felt we could use a standard coop and make modifications to suit us.

Chicken Coop Parts

The first step was to lay out and inventory all the pieces.  This coop does not come assembled and it takes some doing to lay out all the parts to ensure proper assembly.

 

Chicken Coop Assembly and Paint

First modification was to treat and seal the coop. Commercial coops are made of thin pine which, when exposed to damp earth and weather will break down and decay quite quickly. For the outside we decided to paint it the same color as our house, a taupe beige field with chocolate brown trim. Every piece, including the bottom of the coop received two coats of paint before assembly. For the interior, we chose to treat the wood with 100% pure raw linseed oil. This is a natural, slow drying wood penetrator that not only weatherproofs the wood, but doesn’t harm the bird’s respiratory system and also prevents mite infestation as the oils repel mites.

After everything dried we then assembled via package directions with the exception of omitting the second set of nesting boxes and covering the opening with plywood (the boxes would be up against our fence and inaccessible and not needed for the number of birds we are getting)

Chicken Coop Assembly 2

Further modifications came in the form of hardware. The door latches and stops were flimsy and made of cheap veneer wood. We swapped these out for sturdy, galvanized metal locks and latches. After the coop was assembled, we worked on the run pieces, painting all of the surfaces the color of the trim.

Chicken Coop Interior

Next up, we secured both the coop and run to the treated lumber via durable, galvanized “L” brackets, this will keep the coop securely fastened to its foundation.

Chicken Coop Auto Door

Next, we put in some awesome technology for the door. The coop did not come with a door, merely an opening for the chickens to come and go. I wanted something that would offer more protection from predators as well as the weather. I could have engineered something complicated or manual, but we felt it better to provide an automatic door and opener for the coop. The Pullet-Shut Automatic Chicken Door was a great find. It is a swing door versus a guillotine style door; it runs on either a battery or timer or via solar panel and opens in the morning to let the chickens into their run and closes them up at night without our intervention.

Chicken Coop Finished

Finally, It is important to provide a shaded enclosure for the chickens. By putting some kind of roof on the chicken run, you protect the birds from the baking sun, this also allows them to be in their run during rainy days instead of inside the coop. For this, we upcycled some vinyl siding that was used on the house. The color matched the paint on the coop (since it is the same as the house). This made a perfect roof that will provide shade and shed water and also uses something we already had rather than making an investment. We used a piece of hardwood trim along the backside of the coop to raise that side to allow for water to roll off the roof and attached the siding, one (1) four foot section at a time (cut with tin snips) with screws.

 

Now that the coop was complete, we eagerly awaited our chickens!

 

Happy Gardening!

May 18, 2016
by admin
Comments Off on Surviving America: Jamestown Settlement

Surviving America: Jamestown Settlement

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Will and I recently took our vacation to Virginia. I am an American history nut, particularly when it comes to gardening and I wanted to see how the early settlers managed to survive, along with much help from the Native Americans, in the early ages of exploration and colonization.

 

Jamestown Settlement is a living history museum operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is located near the site of Jamestown, the first successful English settlement on the mainland of North America, founded on May 14, 1607 and is celebrating its 409th anniversary. Jamestown was the first settlement of the Virginia Colony, founded in 1607, and served as capital of Virginia until 1699, when the seat of government was moved to Williamsburg.

Jamestown arial

The colonists chose Jamestown Island for their settlement largely because the Virginia Company advised them to select a location that could be easily defended from attacks by other European states that were also establishing New World colonies and were periodically at war with England, notably the Dutch Republic, France, and Spain.

 

The island fit the criteria as it had excellent visibility up and down the James River, and it was far enough inland to minimize the potential of contact and conflict with enemy ships. The water immediately adjacent to the land was deep enough to permit the colonists to anchor their ships, yet have an easy and quick departure if necessary. An additional benefit of the site was that the land was not occupied by the Virginia Indians, most of who were affiliated with the Powhatan Confederacy. Largely cut off from the mainland, the shallow harbor afforded the earliest settlers docking of their ships. This was its greatest attraction, but it also created a number of challenging problems for the settlers.

 

For more historical information or to plan your visit, please go to http://www.historyisfun.org/

Jamestown composite 1

First we toured a reconstructed Powhatan Indian Village, the indigenous tribe of the area. This was fascinating as the Native Americans knew how to glean what they needed to survive from the surrounding area and living in relative harmony with the natural world. They employed interesting techniques to create their canoes, clothing, functional and ceremonial tools as well as cooking materials. Their houses were wood framed with woven reed mats stretched over the frame to create a water resistant house with a central fire, sleeping areas and storage. One of the most interesting things we learned was how the Powhatan tribes made their fishing boats. The colonists looked down on the boat building technique, thinking it primitive until their larger, bulky ships couldn’t navigate the waters of the river and tributaries to fish and hunt. The Indians would fell a tree and then begin the process of burning and scraping the log to hollow it out, then flatten and carve the boat to suit.

Jamestown composite 2

Next we toured the reconstructed settlement fort and gardens. These are a far cry from the gardens at Williamsburg we toured the day before and certainly not the grand gardens of the founding fathers of our country. These gardens were intended to feed and medicate the settlers and help them survive the climate and the harsh winters

Jamestown composite 3

Jamestown composite 4

The crude fort and simple gardens helped these pioneers create an anchor on this continent that led to large scale English colonization and eventually to the formation of our country. Regardless of the consequences of these actions, these are the foundation stones of our nation as it stands today. We must remember both the good parts and the bad to have a balanced view of our history.

 

Happy Gardening!