Archive | June 2014

Temporary Chicken Yard

We finally got a chicken yard up so the chicks can run free. We’ll eventually build a more permanent structure, but this one will have to do for now. Here’s a picture.

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We started by pounding in 6 foot T posts every six feet and then fenced in the yard with poultry wire. The end adjoining the garage in the picture is attached to the siding. On the other side of the yard, the end up against the garage is a gate that attaches to the chain link fence with gate clips. Bird netting has been stretched over the whole yard and affixed to the poultry wire with zip ties.

I’ll be honest -I took a short cut with the end near the garage. I didn’t have any tensile wire left and I was running out of time since we’re leaving on vacation tomorrow, so I duck taped the poultry netting to the garage. I hope it holds. Our pet/livestock/homestead sitter will fix it if not.

The chickens are quite happy. They think it is the greatest thing in the world.

There won’t be any more posts this week. We’re leaving for the beach in 12 hours. Have a great rest of the week!

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Homestead Update

Summer is in full swing at Laughing Bird Farm. It’s hot as blazes and the garden is growing like hotcakes. We finally have tomatoes coming on. Yay! Unfortunately (or fortunately, if it keeps up into July), while the rain has slowed down, it’s still been raining enough to delay all the hot weather crops such as tomatoes. It’s the end of June and the greens haven’t even bolted yet.

We’ve finally been making a little bit of progress on the homestead. We started cleaning out from behind the garage so we could put up the chicken run. I’ll have pictures of that in a few days, but here’s a pic of some of the junk our predecessor left back there:

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This isn’t quite half of it and doesn’t include the rusty steel I-beams (who keeps I-beams behind a garage?). Kelly managed to move those on her own yesterday while I was away, with the help of our trusty old Radio Flyer wagon.

The chicks are growing fast. They’ve lost the last of their baby fluff and look like small chickens now. I started taking them outside the week before last in a dog crate to protect them. Here’s what it looked like then.

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I’m sorry to say it didn’t work, and earlier this week a hawk attacked them through the bars. I saw it out the kitchen window and ran out there, but not in time to prevent one hen from being killed outright and another from being injured so bad we didn’t think she was going to make. She’s made a full recovery, however.

Our roosters did their job, too! By the time I got to the crate, they had herded all the remaining hens to the opposite side and had put themselves between the flock and the hawk. You should have seen them -all puffed up, wings flapping, ready to die to defend their hens. The hawk flew off as I got to the crate, of course.

The chicks came in for the rest of the day while I figured out what to do. Here’s the solution I came up with.

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The table goes over the crate, the bird netting is stretched out around the whole setup, and the fence post pounder holds the bird netting in place. It works so well it’s almost people proof as well as hawk proof.

More to come in the next posts.

(Lack of) Progress on the House

The rain has finally stopped and the sun has been out all day today. I can’t explain the relief I feel at finally getting some sunshine! So much rain did some good, at least; our house is much cleaner and I have finally gotten some reading in. Pre-children I read at least three good-size books and half a dozen magazines a month. Some of the books would be pretty weighty fiction or non-fiction. Since baby T came into the world, I have read three books (count them -three -in a year!) and maybe one or two magazines a month, none of it heavier stuff than Better Homes and Gardens. Not that theirs anything wrong with BHG (I’m pretty much a lifetime subscriber at this point), but I do like reading multiple things.

On the flip side, all this rain shredded my plans for the house and garden for early summer. Alabama has more than the usual 4 seasons: Winter, Spring, Early Summer, Really Fucking Hot, Late Summer, Autumn, and the Rainy Season (which apparently made two appearances this year). It usually doesn’t rain much between the middle of May and the first of September unless a hurricane comes through. Not this year.

My plan was to get the garden in and do a lot of work on the exterior of the house, such as all the painting, between about May 15 and the beginning of Really Fucking Hot, which normally sets in around the 4th of July. That hasn’t happened so far.

I’ve been working on the inside a bit, but nothing spectacular so far. Our young visitor finally went home, so now I have more time. I thought that today I would show you some before pictures of the interior of the house. I’ve already shown you the living room, but here’s the dining room, kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom.

The dining room doesn’t need a whole lot of work. The windows need to be replaced and we need to paint the trim. I would like to replace the bookcases below with some built-ins at some point in the future.

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The balloon is from baby T’s first birthday party. Here’s the dead door into T’s room. There are three doors total into her room; we’ll be walling this one off at some point.

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The kitchen needs a lot of work.

IMG_0292See that? That’s a bad attempt at a DIY faux texture paint job. Notice the seam down the middle. Yes, someone painted over the wallpaper. Here’s what the wallpaper looked like before they painted:

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Yes, they only painted half the kitchen. Why? Did they get bored? You’re guess is as good as mine.

We’ll paint these cabinets and replace the hardware one day, but we’re keeping the cabinets themselves. They’re solid wood, after all.

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The laundry room…well, see for yourself.

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We need to fix that ceiling, rip out the wallpaper, and add some decent storage. The bathroom is the worst room I’m going to show you. I won’t show you the third bedroom right now. It’s pretty horrid. But the bathroom needs a complete overhaul.

IMG_0301That toilet is about 50 years old and doesn’t always flush properly. The $79 on special high efficiency toilet at Costco would be about a 1,000 better. (We’re considering that.) The bathtub and the surround are only about 10 years old, but they were the cheapest model available at the time and improperly installed. The shower rod is rusty and, believe it or not, the previous owner had wrapped it in PVC for showing to make it look better. The vanity is chipboard and is already falling apart. The one saving grace is the open shelves on the left in the above photo. I can’t wait to repaint them and make them into something awesome.

You can see the worst part of the bathroom in this picture.

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That flooring was installed just prior to the sale, which means it’s not even a year old, and it is chipping, peeling, coming up, and just being disgusting. Cleaning it is awful. I only take consolation (small though it is) in knowing that whatever is underneath is probably worse.

There you have it. That’s the house as it currently stands.

In other news, we had baby T’s first birthday party last weekend. I’m going to have to stop calling her “baby” T. Here’s a picture of her before the party.

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Have a great weekend!

Rain, rain, and…

wait for it….more rain.

It has rained here everyday for more than two weeks. I am not joking or exaggerating. Some days we’ve had barely misting rain in the evening and other days we’ve had driving rain all day long. We had one storm with such awful straight line winds it shredded our neighbor’s fence, took out part of our side fence, and dismantled our mailbox. We spent ours picking up downed limbs after it.

Luckily, our fruit trees and garden have come through mostly unscathed, though we did lose some smaller seeds and have had a hard time working out there. I’ve been working whenever the rain let up, and one day this past week I put in fence posts while it misted.

The chickens are growing so fast. Oddball started strutting Tuesday morning. He is such a male. We know we have at least one other rooster left in the flock (possibly as many as three), but they aren’t yt acting like roosters. I really think I may have a pet chicken in Oddball; he’s started occasionally perching on my shoulder and he likes to tuck his head under my chin.

As for the hens, they are almost indistinguishable at this point, save for one hen who has a panic attack whenever anyone comes near them. She’ll be joining the boys we decide not to keep in the freezer this fall.

Today is supposed to be our second market day, and it looks like the rain will hold off long enough for it to go on today. Right now the sun is shining, so I’m going outside.

Have a great day!

Chicks!

I know it’s been a while since I posted, but I’m remedying that now. Our chicks came in! Here’s a pic of all of them in their brooder on the day of arrival.

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They were so incredibly tiny! We chose Silver Grey Dorkings because they are a good dual-purpose heritage breed. These chickens have actually been raised since Roman times. We got our chicks from Murray McMurray. I highly recommend them if you’re looking for chickens. We were even able to have them vaccinated. Also, we lost a few to transport shock (it happens) and McMurray credited our account for those.

Here’s a close-up of one of the chicks.

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Did you see the chick with white spot on his head in the lower right hand corner of the first shot? That’s our Oddball. McMurray offers a free check with some orders, and we took them up on the offer. We don’t know what kind he is, but we suspect he’s a Dominker, the oldest American breed. We knew all along the extra chick would be a male, and we’ve been jokingly referring to him as our “free chicken dinner.”

Be careful what you decide about your livestock before you get them. Guess which one of the chicks is the only one I’ve gotten attached to? I’ve been telling the others to grow big and strong so they can give us lots of eggs and chicken tenders, but Oddball (yes, he has a name) has quickly become “my” chicken. He purrs when I hold him and wraps his head around my fingers.

We may end up raising mutt chickens.