Help Me Brainstorm

After spending the day reinforcing wire fencing around the chicken coop and rabbit hutch area, I need to think about more constructive things and not about the destruction that predators have caused lately.

So let’s brainstorm on quail and ‘shroom garden ideas!20121229-162840.jpg

Above is what I was envisioning to begin with, but now that we have decided to give quail a try, we need to find a good spot for them. The shiitake mushrooms will be grown on oak logs (that I already have) and will be set on low racks just to keep them off the ground. Shiitakes apparently are sensitive to soil cooties. Depending on the best location for the quail, I may toss out the large herb bed completely or make it another mushroom bed. I’ll show you what I mean…

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This photo was taken from the bottom of the driveway looking up at the street/beginning curve of the driveway. You can see the cob oven on the left, the bench at the far center, and the house stairs are on the right.

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Option 1: Use a very tight weave wire to fence in the area around the tree and about one foot around the back of the tree. Use aviary wire to secure the top to keep quail in and (hopefully) predators out. The main fence for the garden will be to the left and right so only the front will be exposed. The converted doghouse would be used as an insulated quail shelter from the elements. On the plus side, it would look adorable and be more of a “habitat”. The con would be that I would have to use twice as much wire as option 2.

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Option 2: Use a very tight weave wire to cover the front side of the underneath of the front stairs. Again, the insulated doghouse would provide shelter from the elements. Pro– we would use less wire and the quail would be slightly more hidden. Con– they would be right under the stairs and it would be much harder to clean.

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So which do you think is better? Either way you wouldn’t be able to see them from the street and the whole area will be well fenced. We will probably use the heavy gauge, tight weave rabbit wire for the quail enclosure no matter where it goes so it should be pretty secure.

Thoughts? Concerns? Better ideas? I have until March or April to figure it all out and get set up.

Farm Goals for 2013

New Years resolutions never seem to work out so this year we have made a list of “goals” instead. Setting goals gives us all a starting point and a list of accomplishments to look back on. Through the year I find things that I wish I would have started at a better time and so I put it aside for later. Of course, once that “better time” comes along, I have forgotten all about whatever it was I wanted to do in the first place… much to Trevor’s good luck. So take a look at what new things we have brewin’ for 2013!

Put together the 2013 garden plan. We are planting the full garden (22’x32′) this year instead of half the garden as in previous years.
Build a greenhouse. We will be using Bepa’s Garden‘s greenhouse plans.
Get seed starts going inside the new greenhouse.
Herb and ‘Shroom garden. We will be using a previously unusable dirt patch near the cob oven to grow limited edible herbs (dill, peppermint, oregano, basil) and cultivate culinary mushrooms on logs.
Grow shiitake mushrooms on oak logs.

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Buy cattle panel fencing for the garden to make arches in the pathways to grow vine plants (cucumber, beans, pumpkins) on to save space and create shade for greens.
Set up a rain barrel system. We need gutters on the house first!
Raise coturnix quail under the porch within the Herb and ‘Shroom garden for meat, eggs, and fun.

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Purchase a freezer to store home raised meat for the family.
Make something neat from rabbit pelts! Processing livestock you raised yourself is no fun, but the bonus is having beautiful furs to sew into a variety of things.
Spin more wool! This is also a big one for me personally because I have a couple pounds of wool and no yarn… I need to get spinning.
Grow more food. We would like a full pantry of home-canned foods to enjoy throughout the winter months.
Set up a root cellar. We have dirt-floored storage under the house, but need a way to properly utilize it for cold storage of things like potatoes, pumpkins, apples, etc.

Farm Achievements for 2012

Sometimes it’s nice just to list the different things you have accomplished during the year. That way, when you have one of those days where you feel like you have done absolutely nothing or feel like you are just going in circles, you can look back and see — hey! I have done a lot this year that I should be proud of!

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Here is our list, but please chime in on the comments section of this post and let us know what you are especially proud of accomplishing this year (no need to be farm related):

• successfully bred for our first angora rabbit litters
• joined ARBA, American Rabbit Breeders Association, and registered our Rabbitry
• Trevor caught a feral honeybee swarm downtown
• reared a new honeybee queen (partly by luck)
• grew and harvested about 10% of our total consumed produce for the year (let’s get this number up for 2013!)
• made enough money from the sale of extra eggs to pay for chicken feed through the summer and fall
• learned to make a sourdough yeast starter from nothing but flour and water
• learned to make naturally carbonated soda from ginger root and sugar
mistakenly learned to make wine from fruit juice and ginger bug
• extracted the first honey from our beehives
• started an online store to sell our handmade farm-related goods
• successfully hand-fed rabbit kits (no easy feat let me tell you!)
• attended a workshop and learned to “process” rabbits (thank you for the new confidence I.U.H.)
• learned to make “farm cheese” from scratch
• made all sorts of contraptions for the garden and Rabbitry
• made a cob oven and cooked pizzas, cookies, and bread in it!

Phew! I’m sure there is more, but these are the accomplishments that stick in my head. If you are interested in learning how we did all these things check out our DIY Projects page or use the search box at the bottom of the page. Otherwise, let’s toast to the New Year with a tall glass of homebrewed mango wine! **wink wink**

Fences Are For The Lucky

Those of you with a fenced in yard are just plain lucky. Maybe I should reword that: those of you without deer are just plain lucky. I am browsing Pinterest this morning for general ideas and pretty pictures and photo after photo is filled with gloriously abundant gardens while I’m stuck here thinking, how are they getting away with this?

Well I guarantee you they don’t have deer. Erg… deer. I don’t think a fence around the property would make that big of a difference. Deer can easily jump anything under 8 feet tall and the stray dogs –our other big problem– would just come down the driveway. So any of you that don’t have to contend with the deer population’s grumbling tummies, consider yourself very lucky indeed. We are very confined in our 22’x32′ growing space, but I do consider myself lucky to be able to use such a beautifully fenced garden space.

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Oh, and about those dogs, I am officially instituting a “no canine discrimination” policy. This morning we found two dogs inside the fenced rabbit play area where Casper’s hutch is. They were digging and trying to get at him, but that pallet hutch is strong stuff! Luckily he was fine and just snagged one of his nails hopping around trying to stay away. He was scared, but I held him awhile and put some triple antibiotic on his bloody nail. A dog can easily scare a rabbit to death.

It wasn’t just today either, there are constantly dogs in our yard. Big dogs and usually more than one running in a pack. I guess people around here figure we’re in “the sticks” and no one will mind if their Pit Bulls and German Shepards run wild.

Well I for one have lost too many pets (pre-farm) to stray dogs and now I will be taking my pellet gun to any trespassing dog’s rump. Not only that, but I have a little girl that loves to play outside and I refuse to sacrifice my yard so that someone else’s dogs can run around. Cami has been knocked down in our own driveway by a pack of loose Pit Bulls before I could grab my shovel. I am just sick of it and I have the right to defend my property, my livelihood, and my child.

Dogs beware!