Archive for May, 2010

The Truck Cap Chicken Tractor

Saturday we started to work on our Truck Cap Chicken Tractor, which is a portable chicken coop with a Truck Cap as the roof. We are building it in two separate parts, the Cap and the Run.  We  don’t have a whole lot of carpentry experience, and don’t have the best tools, but we are doing the best we can.  Here are some pictures:

Paul putting together the base, which we made from salvaged wood from our deck we just tore down.

The cap, which we got for free from FreeCycle, fits on top of the wooden base.

Here are the roosts on the inside of the cap. The nest boxes will be in the back under that window, so we can reach in to get the eggs.

We have the plywood around the sides, but we aren't sure how we want to build the door in the front.

We plan to put four wheels on the base so we can move it, because the cap is kinda heavy. For nest boxes, I thought some milk crates that we picked up on freecycle would work, mounted under that rear window.  Does anyone have any objections to that idea?  Also we aren’t sure how we want to build the chicken door in the front panel.  I would like to have a horizontal door that folds down to make a little exit ramp, but I’d also like to be able to shut and lock it from out side the run, which we haven’t built yet. Run is going to be detachable with small wheels, and slip over the end of the coop with the window.  To facilitate feeding, watering, and moving, the idea is to lock the chicken in the cap at night and then in the morning, detach the run, move  the cap to a new spot of pasture,  open the cap window and refill the water and feeder, close the window, and then re-attach the run, and then open the horizontal chicken door to give them access to the run.  I’d like to have the cap coop to be predator proof enough to be usable without the run, if I need to isolate a bird, or  raise some young birds separate from the rest of the flock.

Any feed back, comments, questions, advice or suggestions are welcome!

QH

Review: “MaryJanesFarm” Magazine

If you have barnheart you will love “MaryJanesFarm” Magazine.  My mom first introduced the magazine to me last year, and a dear friend gives me her back issues.  It’s all about being a “farmgirl at heart”, weather you live in the city, suburbs or in the country, with a very strong organic, sustainable slant. It’s got articles on gardening, cooking, livestock,  organic products, crocheting, sewing, and other fiber crafts.  It gives ideas on how to transition to a more green lifestyle, use less electricity,  and how to be more “Do It Your Self”.   It looks like Martha Stewart designed the magazine, but with a “shabby chic” bend, which is beautiful, but it’s very commercial.  In fact Mary Jane seams kinda quite a bit like Ms. Stewart, but with a bit more dirt under her nails.  Mary Jane has her own line of products for sale, from organic towels, to baking mixes, to her own “Farmgirl” sewing fabric.  She even has a “Farmgirl Sisterhood” club complete with badges like girl scouts for adults.  It’s seams  like “Farmgirlism” is a good idea that got caught in the web of capitalism.   Still, if you can avoid the “Ooh I have to have that!” trap, the magazine is full of good info, recipes, and crochet and knitting patterns.  One issue even taught me a new slogan for eating local slow foods:  SOEL Food, meaning:  Sustainable, Organic, Ethical, and Local Food.  And commercialism aside,  if “Farmgirlism” can replace the “Princess” fad that so many girls toys are marketed to, I promise not to complain too much about the marketing. Just promise me not to buy the $47 clothes pin bag, please! (My clothes line didn’t even cost me that much!)

Swap-bot: Belated Beltain Postcard

Here’s the post card I made for my Beltane Postcard swap, sorry about the crappy image! I took this with my cell phone because I couldn’t find my camera! I have the next swap for Litha/Summer Solstice up at http://www.swap-bot.com if you want to join in the pagan postcard passion!

Beltane Post Card

Beltane Post Card

This Year’s Garden

Last year we used John Jeavon’s book called “How to Grow More Vegetables” to start a small vegetable garden.  This year we have the original double dug bed,  and  added several raised beds.  We also decided to purchase plants this year, as we just don’t have the space for starting seeds. We read in the Jeavon’s book that seed starting is just not a beginner skill. We hope to build some green house space in the future.  We are growing head lettuce, radishes, broccoli, beats, onions, three types of potatoes, cucumbers,  red cabbage, tomatoes,  green peppers,  zucchini, and a pumpkin,   in the Jeavon’s plot. In the raised beds we have some extra cabage,  cucumbers, a few strawberries, and some swiss chard. None of the strawberries came up from the box I bought at Sams Club, but the Rhubarb did!  The blackberries are blooming, and the eldest blueberry bush is full of unripe berries. The raspberries are blooming too.  Here are some pictures from about two weeks ago.   Last week I thinned out my apples, and the ones left have grown so much faster and bigger!

Raised Beds

Raised Beds

Jeavon's Garden Plot

Jeavon's Garden Plot

Giving Up Angel Food Ministries

Julian helping me in the kitchen

Julian helping me in the kitchen...

It’s been two months since I’ve ordered food from AFM.  When I first quit my job to stay home with my son Julian and raise some chickens, I was freaked out about money. We started buying food from Angel Food Ministries, and it’s been a big help! But since then, I’ve done enough comparison shopping to know where to find the best deals  (around here, Sam’s Club)  and we just don’t want to eat the processed foods anymore.  We have been eating most of our vegetables from Provident Organic Farms CSA or from our

Vincent learning to Vaccume

"I love vaccuming!" said Vincent! No really that's what he said!

own garden, and this year from “Sharron’s Natural Gardens”.  The Processed foods that come with AFM  taste so salty that we can’t  really eat them!  Also their cuts of chicken come so badly mangled that they are only good for making soup.  One good thing about living on the Eastern Shore is that chicken is very cheap! Until we have our new “Chicken Tractor” (a portable coop) built and we can raise more of our own meat, we will be taking advantage of the $0.88 a lb roasters at Sams Club, and the $0.95 a lb chicken thighs.  We are also considering raising our own pigs.  I’ve begun reading “Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs”.   The nice thing about being a part of the Transitional Movement is that over night progress is not expected…. and I’m proud to say that in this time of “economic re-evaluation” (aka Resession) we have been eating more local home cooked organic foods than we ever have in our entire lives!

The Eggs are Hatching!

Update: Four have hatched, and several more are pipping! I did some research and discovered that yellow skin is a recessive trait, and the only birds I have with yellow skin are the RIRs, so all the chicks with yellow skin are pure RIRs. The Speckled Sussexes have white skin, but since it’s a dominant trait,  a pure SS or a SS x RIR will both have white skin.  Did I mention I have a BS in biology? I guess it’s coming in handy finally!

Day old Chicks!

Here are the first two which hatched on May 2nd.

Incubator

Incubators keep the eggs warm until they hatch.

The Brooder

Our Brooder was a gift from Sharon of "Sharon's Natural Gardens". We made some repairs to it and painted the top.

Brooder Lamp

Inside the brooder we use a plastic storage box and lamp to keep the chicks warm and out of drafts.