Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Garden, Chicken House and Harbor Freight Greenhouse Tour!

After many failed attempts to upload this video I finally got it!  Check it out!

Hope you enjoy it!  I will try to do more videos like this!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Garden, Greenhouse, Chicken Update and Farm Recycling!

This post is going to have lots of updates, photos and info!  There are also going to be recycling ideas throughout this blog!

Greenhouse Update:  Today I dug up Boston and Simpson Lettuce starts that came up in the garden on their own.  I transplanted them into an old piece of eaves spout!  I also plan to dig up a few of the large kale plants and transplant them into pots in the greenhouse.  I want to see how long I can grow things into the winter.  Although this year will be mostly an experiment. Here are a couple of photos.

Some other items I've recycled for the greenhouse is a metal shelving unit, refrigerator drawer, and BBQ lid. Here they are!

You can also tell by the photo below that I save all of the packages you get when you buy flowers or vegetable plants!  Otherwise you have to buy these things....and you can get a few uses out of them!

Garden Update:  The gardens have all been covered in manure.  We are going to till up a spot for me to plant peas in early spring.  The only things I've got left at this point are some collard greens and a ton of kale!

Chicken House Update:  In the chicken house my dad and I made nest boxes for them out of buckets.  We extended their roosts which were made out of an old ladder we split up, and I took down the orange fencing on the outside of their run and put poultry wire up instead.  I became concerned that this winter snow build up could cause the fencing to collapse. I also put a ton of dried pine needles down inside their smells nice and they dig around in it.  When springtime arrives I can shovel all of the leaves, wood chips, and pine needles out and it will be put on the garden.  My own homemade compost!

Nest boxes (recycled buckets)!  They should be laying eggs in a few weeks!

You can see the pine needles...and chickens wondering what I'm doing.

Expanded roosts. 

Outside run.

Another photo of the roosts.

A closer look at the poultry wire I added.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Recycle Your 2-Liter Bottle!

Here is an image that has been floating around the web....check out for more info!  But here is how you can recycle your 2-liter plastic bottles!  I'm going to try this out!

I will post soon about my greenhouse experiment also!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Harbor Freight Greenhouse Experiment #1

My greenhouse is all set up and ready to go.  I wrote about it briefly in a previous blog.  Its 6x8 feet, so it's small.  I got it at Harbor Freight and it was pretty inexpensive.  Since I've never grown anything in a greenhouse before, I'm sure there will be a period of trial and error.  The temperature can't get too hot or everything will essentially fry in there.  Also if it's too cold, then the plants will freeze.  I'm not sure how long into winter I can grow things in it without a heat source.

This past spring, if you all remember, I had hundreds of lettuce plants come up on their own from the previous seasons seeds.  Now that its fall, and the garden has been mowed off, there are already lettuce plants coming up!  So I've decided that in a few days I'll transplant some of the lettuce plants into containers in the greenhouse!   The next thing I'm going to try is to take some already established Kale plants from the garden and put them into containers to see how long I can keep them going.  Both kale and lettuce are cool season plants.  Another option I could try is spinach.  Spinach grows best during the shorter days of fall.  So, I'm hoping to get the plants transplanted sometime between tomorrow and next week.  It's raining today and I decided I'd wait.  

Garden Update:  We got 2 huge trailer loads of manure and spread it all yesterday with pitch forks!  Talk about a tiring job!  We have over 2,000 square feet of garden!  So except for some kale and collard greens, all of the gardens are covered with manure and ready for next season!  I'm already making a seeds list for next year!  Sorry there were no photos this time but its raining outside!  I'll take some when I transplant the lettuce.  Keep reading!

Quick P.S!
I recovered the chicken coop run area with poultry wire because I was afraid of snow build up on the orange plastic it looks much better!  Photos on the way tomorrow of that!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Homemade Insecticide and Predator Proofing the Chicken House!

Hello all!  I recently found an magazine article on how to make your own homemade insecticide that is safe for animals, people and your garden.  The article said you could use it to disinfect your chicken house when you clean it out.  What you have to do is this.  Save all citrus peelings in a glass jar and cover it with distilled vinegar.  Keep adding peels and keep covering with vinegar for 3 months.  All you then have to do is strain the mixture into a spray bottle and you are ready to use it!   Limonene is a natural oil that exists in citrus peels and is a natural insecticide. The vinegar extracts the oil.  You end up with something safe to spray your plants, vegetables and chicken house with!  I'm trying it out this winter.  The photo below is what I have so far!

Next up is how to predator proof your chicken house.  First off, if you're in Ohio and you have chickens, even a few, you'll have predators.  Here is a list of predators in our area.  Foxes,dogs, opossum, raccoon, hawks, owls, weasels, rats, skunks and certain snakes.  Snakes, opossums, skunks and rats will mainly take the eggs.  I'm not going to go into the gory details of how to tell which predator has gotten into your chicken house but rather tell you all how I've got my chickens protected.  Most of the predators in the Ohio area are night hunters.  If your chickens are closed up into their house at night you shouldn't have problems if its secure.

1. Interplex Solar Night Eyes
I bought 4 of these to put around each side of the chicken house.  They are solar powered and weather proof.  They begin to blink around dusk and blink all night long.  They replicate a pair of "glowing eyes" that predators see and stay away from.  Night predators think they're being watched and stay away.  These will protect the house from raccoons, skunks, opossum, foxes and many more.  You must hang them to the suggested height for what you're trying to keep out.  Its cheaper than electric fence and so far I have seen no evidence of anything trying to get in.  We have a LOT of raccoons and opossums here.  You can get them from amazon also.  Here is what they look like.

2. Concrete
This next idea came from Rick at Produce Your Green Power aka london1817 on YouTube.  He has a great channel!  All types of videos on chickens, solar, wind power, gardening.  Check him out in the link above!  Anyway, his idea was to pour Quickcrete concrete right out of the bag all the way around the outside of the chicken house, so that predators couldn't dig their way under it.  Once you pour it out all the way around, I took a watering can and poured water on it to wet it down.  Then it just hardened that way!  It was really cheap and easy to do.  Here is a photo of what some of it looks like.

3. Welded wire and poultry wire
Next I have double wired the windows with both welded wire and poultry wire.  You want to double up on this because raccoons can chew right through the chicken wire!  Hard to believe, I know, but they can.

4. Covered Outdoor Run and Decorations
This next predator (along with raccoons) seems to be the most challenging to keep out.  So far I have not lost any chickens....however...even after covering the outdoor run for the chickens with orange "snow fence" and hanging some of those metallic "whirli-gigs" a hawk STILL landed in the tree above the run right in front of my dad and I as we stood there looking at it.  Here are photos of the fencing and the whirli-gig...which is the only one left and even it is broken.  Another tactic I'm going to try is to hang CD's from the tree at different lengths and branches.  Hawks don't like reflective things.

I will do another update on predator proofing once I get the CD's hung up and the other thing I was going to try was a flying owl decoy....hawks are smart though...and they seem to be able to figure things out.  I should also point out, its illegal to shoot them.