Thursday, June 25, 2015

"Juvenile Hens/Pullets Come to Live With Us......."

Although the chicken coop run is not yet completed, I chose to get 10 juvenile pullets (9-10 weeks of age) yesterday. I have been checking the ads on Craigs List daily and there have been few, if any, pullets being offered for sale. When I saw the ad that a guy had 100 pullets to sell, who also lived quite close to us according to the provided map, I wrote his phone number down. Thank goodness I did because when I sat down to call him and tried pull up his ad to have it in front of me when I talked to was gone! Brad, who had placed the ad, answered his phone and when I told him why I had called, he said he had pulled his ad because he had sold the number he had wanted and only had left what he planned on keeping for himself. I told him I understood and we chatted for a bit as he told me the story of how he ended up with more chicks than expected when he asked how many I had planned on purchasing. When I said 10, he paused and then said he was willing to sell me 10......and the rest is history.

The coop interior has been basically set up and ready for "the girls", although due to an error on my part, the tall tube for the feeder did not get ordered when the base did, so I await its arrival. The girls can eat their food from the bottom tray that did get ordered. :) So early yesterday morning I cleaned and filled the automatic waterer, spread a bale of pine shavings on the floor, opened the 4 windows, and was good to go.......all I needed was to drive into Traverse City and pick up feed and scratch, before driving to pick up the pullets.

I arrived at the agreed upon time and Brad went into the chicken pen and began handing me pullets, which I placed in 2 cardboard boxes for their ride back to our house. I think he had handled the pullets quite a bit as they were pretty calm and continue to be so here at our house.

He sold me 7 Isa Browns, 2 Amber Links, and what I believe is a Golden Laced Wyandotte (center in the photo).

The feed tube for the pan will arrive in a few days and fits on top of the tray they are eating from in this next photo. It works fine for now. I was also pleased to see a couple of them drinking from the waterer, which is similar to the one Brad used, so I think they are settling in nicely and getting to know their surroundings.

Don and I went out to check on them at dusk, knowing they would not be perched on the "tree branch roost" I built for them. They were not raised in a pen that had roosts, so they have to learn how to use them. With the low light of dusk, I was able to pick up each one and place her on a roost, and when we left, closing the door behind us, all of the girls had remained on the branches where I had placed them. Hopefully, they stayed there all night (its good for their feet) and will begin to understand that is what they need to do each night. I am sure that we will be out there again tonight, and perhaps a few more nights before we find them all up on the perches on their own.

I had begun building the panel sections for the chicken run and certainly now have a much more urgent need to get them completed. I will continue working on them today and may even have them finished this afternoon. I may be too optimistic, but should definitely be finished with them tomorrow at the latest. The girls need to be "cooped up" for a few days to get used to the idea of their new home anyway, so that gives me plenty of time. :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"Coop Arrival"!!!!!

The new chicken coop arrived today! Steve, the delivery and set up guy did a fantastic job. I thought I was going to have to move one of my largest blueberry bushes and sacrifice some strawberry plants, but Steve suggested an alternate that would be more work for him but would not harm any of my plantings. Nice, eh?

This first photo was taken by our driveway trail cam. The rest of the photos are either taken by me or Don.....

Steve used a motorized piece of equipment called a "mule" to move the coop.

Instead of taking it along the side of the deck, he suggested we take it the long way around, past the garage and behind the beds of plants.

Into its own little wooded clearing..........

Talk about precision placement!

Here it is set into place. Now to set up/organize the interior (feed and water equipment has been ordered) and build a "predator proof" chicken run. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Another Day of "Assembling"..........."

Todays afternoon project was to assemble a large Rubbermaid Storage Shed. I had actually bought it yesterday but it wouldn't fit into our car so I had to leave it there for a later pickup. I was able to get our neighbor, Harold, to agree to drive me in his truck to pick it up this afternoon. Hooray for good neighbors!
Wouldn't you know that it did not have any assembly instructions in the box except for how to install the "optional" pieces, "not" included with the shed.? Once I figured out how it went together, it was very easy to assemble.

I wanted something to store garden tools "closer" to the it seems when the tools are stored in the garage as they have been, somehow they never got put back to their assigned spot. Yep, I am guilty of not taking the time to properly store tools as they should be. If nothing else, the garage will stay much more organized without the garden tools cluttering it up.

It fit nicely up against the house on the far side of the house. Today I will move my gardening tools into it which will "de-clutter" the garage.  ;)

Monday, June 8, 2015

"Chicken Coop Ordered"!

I have been looking for a chicken coop for sometime now. I checked locally, asked the local Facebook chicken group for suggestions on a local builder, perused Craigs List daily, searched online, but didn't find anything I really wanted. After seeing some sheds and barns displayed at a fence company nearby, I got the name of the builder, an Amish owned company that works out of Manistee. After calling and talking with him about what I was hoping to find, he recommended another Amish builder over in Manton, a mere 40 miles away from our house to his shop.

After speaking with John at Cedar Creek Barns (sorry, no website), he suggested I come down and look at his sheds, which he would customize into a chicken coop for me if I liked what I saw. Long story short, I ordered an 8'x8', wood gable style shed. It will be stained to match our house, and will also have a green metal roof, too. I ordered it adding 2- 22"x27" windows on each side (total of 4), a skylight, and a transom window over the double door entry. My girls will be having a good amount of light, considering the coop will not be sitting in our sunny clearing, but in a smaller, shady clearing off our main clearing. It should be delivered sometime near the end of this month. Once the coop arrives, I will be customizing the interior myself.

This started yesterday when I started assembling a new metal nesting box that I bought, literally, over 20 years ago. I bought it when I lived in Niles on our 3 acre "farmette", but never even took it out of the box. I have moved it each time I relocated, hoping that I would someday have a larger chicken coop and be able to use it. We had chickens when we lived in Madison, but we could only have 4 hens in the city, so we had a much smaller coop. The nest box packaging, although never having been opened had been battered and had been taped and re-taped to hold it together, but that all ended yesterday when I finally opened the box to begin assembling the nests. Since I had bought it so long ago, I thought it was only a 5 nest piece of equipment, but found out upon opening, it is a "double decker" and has 10 nests! Way more than we need, but now the girls will have even more nests to choose from to lay their eggs.

After opening the box, I found that mice had used the box as a home, so I had some scrubbing to do before I could begin assembling the nests. As if that wasn't enough, the mice had also chewed up and shredded the instructions! Back in the house I went and sat down at the computer to find a photo that I could use for a visual. Seems nests boxes haven't gone through much of a design change since I found exactly what I needed right away.

The beginning.........front.......

and back.......

a little more assembled.......front......

and back.......

At this point I had to quit. Not only did I not have the assembly instructions, but many, many small nuts and bolts were also missing. Were they there 20 years ago? I have no idea, although the box did contain 1 bag of bolts, just not enough needed to complete the project. I'm thinking they might have been missing all this time because one bottom plate (each nest has a metal insert for inside the nest) is also missing, but I cut a piece of wood, replacing it, so no harm, no foul.  :)

After purchasing more nuts and bolts this morning, I continued the assembly again this afternoon. Again the front.....

 and back......

Once all the metal pieces were assembled, I moved it outside (with Dons help), sprayed it with undiluted bleach, then hosed it down completely and let it air and sun dry. The wooden rails were added last (these each fold up if I would want the hens to use only the top or bottom rows of nest boxes. I'm thinking I may leave them all open and let them choose which nest "they" like best.

Here is another photo which better shows the inserts that go in the bottom of each nest.

The nest box is now ready for the coop to arrive. Can you tell I might be just a wee bit excited to have chickens again?  ;)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"An Afternoon in the Greenhouses......"

I spent most of the afternoon working in the greenhouses yesterday. For those of you who may not remember, I have 2 greenhouses, each 5'x5'x61/2' tall, set end to end to create one 5'x10'x61/2' greenhouse. With these last several nights of temperatures dipping down into the low 30's, the greenhouses have been WONDERFUL! With all of the water filled containers soaking up solar heat during the day and releasing the heat throughout the night, I have had no problems protecting the plants from the cold.

Yesterdays time was spent transplanting seedlings from their sowing flats into 3" peat pots. Since each sowing flat holds 55 seed pods, moving them into peat pots takes quite a bit more space. Add the 4 hanging pots of flowers, the 5 hanging bags of strawberries, one huge hanging pot of cherry tomatoes, and 2 large pots of green peppers, space inside the greenhouses is at a premium!

Here are some photos of the greenhouses before I closed them up for the night. The first greenhouse houses most of the larger pots, and the 2nd greenhouse has mostly seedlings in flats, although the 4 hanging pots of flowers and the 5 bags of strawberries are in there, too.  "Someday" I will have a year round greenhouse which will allow hanging pots to actually "hang".  :)

This coleus was given to Don 40 years ago, which he has continually taken cuttings from and propagated. This is the only one in the greenhouse, but we have 2 more large pots of it in the house, along with 12 beer bottles with cuttings beginning to root.

I have sowed green pepper seeds the past 2 years and have decided this year is my last year doing so. I have planted the seeds in a domed flat (effectively a mini greenhouse) according to the directions for the starting date, provided heat via "starting mats" underneath the flat, and have had horrible germination rates. Last year, and again this year, I have had to buy a few green pepper plants because the ones I have started are less than 3" tall! As you can see, the pepper plants in these pots are not "my" homegrown ones.  ;) Oh! I almost forgot! Those 2 small pots in front of the peppers have pumpkin seeds sown in them. So far, only one has sprouted, but the reason I bring it up is because we received the seeds as a gift from our neighbor's sister, Ana, and her partner, Francisco, who live in Argentina. These are the variety that Francisco, who is a farmer, plants on his farm. They also sent some Arugula seeds, which I will direct sow in another large pot.

The following photo shows the 3 bee balm plants that I purchased from Gurneys Seed Catalog earlier this Spring. Each is a different color and they were quite small when I received them, but as you can see, they are doing VERY well and have grown quite tall!

This next pot was purchased 2 summers ago, filled with a huge cherry tomato. I planted cherry tomatoes in it last year and again this year. (new potting soil, of course!).  ;) This year it has 3 varieties......"Golden Gem", "Jelly Beans", and one I call "Andy's Cherry Tomato", because he gave me the seedlings at the Easter potluck they hosted. He'd bought a package of cherry tomatoes at Sam's Club which were especially sweet, so he planted a few seeds. We'll see if they grow true or if we get something other than the wonderful red cherry tomatoes he purchased.

The 4 previous photos are of the plants in the first greenhouse and now we move on into the 2nd greenhouse.  :)  I have 8 flats in here of vegetables and flowers. Some of the flowers are annuals, but most are perennials. And, as you can see, this is where the hanging pots of flowers spent last night, along with the 5 hanging bags of strawberries.

Here is a photo from the night before last, before I spent the afternoon potting up seedlings into 3" peat pots.

Last night was predicted to be the last night of extreme cold temperatures so the hanging flower pots and strawberries can go out today and stay in their permanent spots, leaving a bit more room in the greenhouses. I will probably wait a few more days before setting out the pots of tomatoes and peppers......

Sunday, May 17, 2015

"2015 Annual Asparagus Festival in Empire, MI"

Patrick, Julie , and Abigail joined us yesterday for the Annual Asparagus Festival in Empire, Michigan. Don and I had gone last year and enjoyed ourselves and thought it would be a fun to have the "kids" with us this year. They arrived at our house in the early afternoon and we soon headed to Empire.

The Festival had a few stations set up for the younger set to enjoy. Abigail sat right down and painted a postcard after seeing some of the others hanging up.

I'm sure those people with younger children already know this, but paint can be purchased that already HAS glitter in it! It was news to me! Its hard to see in the photos, but her butterfly "sparkled"!

After finishing her painting, Abigail found these stalks of asparagus and actually allowed us to take a photo of her with them. She's become more shy about having her photo taken as of late, so this was a nice change.  :)

The Empire Village Library was right next to the food/refreshment tent so Julie and Abigail are seen here returning after checking it out. Don went in with Abigail a bit later, after we had snacked on a few "asparagus delicacies", and thought it was very nice, too.

As it neared 4:00, we went and found a spot to watch the Festivals Parade. I had brought along 2 telescoping tri-leg stools that we put into use. The following 2 photos show the intersection where most (at least that is what it seemed to me) people come to view the parade.

And here are some photos of this years 2015 Annual Asparagus Festival Parade! Not being "locals" of that area, we were not "in the know" who some of the participants were, since not everyone had "signage". :)

Very cool "pedal powered" car, eh?

I had to show what pulled the final entry since we "like" John Deere tractors.  :)

That pretty much sums up the parade, which as you can see, is fairly small, but we had a very nice time, as did everyone there, in my opinion.  :)

One last photo..........