Saturday, July 17, 2010

Garden & Chickens

Check out the butterfly in the above picture I caught visiting my oregano today. If you want something very satisfying and easy to grow, start with herbs! The ones I've planted have grown enormous, survived snow, and don't seemed to be bothered by insects or lack of water. In fact, in one garden box, I have some huge basil that I didn't even plant! I think it may have reseeded itself from last season, so now I have basil! Last year's basil got eaten by a bird, all but a tiny section of 1 leaf. I thought for sure it was hopeless, but I left it anyway, and the thing grew back to be huge within just a few days! In the background you can see my lavender, which I'm growing because I just LOVE the smell!
The chicken tractor! A movable, bottomless chicken house, where they scratch and dig for bugs, poop (aka, fertilizer), and there are a couple nesting boxes where they lay their eggs. Up until a week or so ago (when they stopped laying eggs, presumably from the heat), we were getting about 4 eggs a day from our 4 hens, which I found out is super. :) I guess I'll forgive them for their hiatus. There is also a section for their hanging food and water containers inside the tractor. We give them a grain mixture that we mix up ourselves - a recipe we found on the web, and of course, all the kitchen scraps they can handle!
Here's a close-up of one of our three garden boxes we have this year. We are using the All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. This is our third year doing it. It is very easy to maintain, almost no weeding needed, but our tomatoes haven't produced as well this year as they did our first year. I think it might be due to our lack of watering sometimes. :) We added some leaves as mulch to maybe help retain some of the moisture. It seems to be helping. We added fencing around the garden this year to keep the chickens out. :)
Here are some of the chickens, hiding in the bushes because it is SO HOT! Their combs are looking a little dry, like they might be getting dehydrated in spite of all the water they have. I added some ice to their water, and they decided they wanted to drink it after all. We had one chicken die about a month ago, and she had a very dry comb right before that, so I am keeping a close watch on them all.

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