Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's that time again

(Here are the girls in some Ethiopian dresses Frederica bought them! And see the messes they love to make.)

David and Dad are getting us manure. It feels like it's been forever waiting on someone to be able to get some. One of the plus sides of unemployment I guess. Now that the coop is done and Christmas is over and we are almost well again with the exception of me we can track down a source of manure. I teased David about telling the people that I would take all the manure they could give me. It turns out David didn't have to. They were so excited that David had told them we might be able to come back for a second load this afternoon. The man said if his wife knew they wanted this much manure she might take to calling us to come get some. I hope this works out! The last people we dealt with had great manure and a front loader but just couldn't be bothered to answer phones or returns calls except sporadically. David is outside right now unloading the trailer load of manure on our swale.

We have 10 apple trees and 10 blueberry bushes we have heeled in waiting to plant. My Dad has as many blueberry bushes across the street for us and about 7 fig trees. I'd like to come up with some more money to order a few pear trees, autumn olive and mulberry trees as well. Our plans are to turn our large front hill into a kind forest garden. This year I plan to plant the swale in winter squash and watermelon with perennial herbs in between like comfrey. The hill is to be planted in the fruit tree and berry bushes. I plan on planting various herbs and mulching around the base of the trees. And then we want to loosen the soil all over the hill and plant clover and other herbs and nitrogen fixing plants. The soil needs a lot of work in some areas.

Next fall I'd like to get around to planting daffodils and narcissus around the trees as well. Eventually I'd like to fence the area in and let ducks run in it once the plants are more established. They can fertilize it, weed and mow it and lay eggs. And if we plant it right it should provide most of the ducks food. I'd like to put a few bee hives in to pollinate the trees and provide honey.

I hope to go ahead and order the ducks this spring. They might use a chicken/duck tractor versus the coop till we can move them to the front lawn. In the meantime I hope to let the kids herd them to the areas in the woods that hold water and breed mosquitoes. Fintan calls them leaks. We can't sit near one side of the yard in the summer without getting eaten alive. Of course it's the nice shady spots that are mosquito ridden.

We got 3 Americauna hens the other week as well as an Americauna rooster. The rooster is younger than the hens and still has some pin feathers around his face. When we introduced them to the rest of the flock a black Silkie rooster promptly let the new rooster know who was in charge. I don't think it will take the new rooster long to realize that he is actually twice the size of the other roosters and not half grown yet. In the meantime he kind of stands in the corner a lot looking sad and the hens sit in the nesting boxes a lot with their backsides facing out. I hope they come to like it a little better soon! The kids love the blue and green eggs though.

I just finished reading Bill Mollison's Introduction to Permaculture and loved it. I think I like it as much as Gaia's Garden. It had some really wonderful plans and ideas that I hope to implement with the chickens. It will involve having several runs off their coop rather than just the one I had been thinking about. We will rotate the birds access and plant grazing crops for them in the other runs/yards. I have no idea how much light we will have in a lot of the yards for planting. Our plans for that part of our acre still involve a lot of thinning of the woods. But we could at least plant things like lettuce and buckwheat. The greens would supplement the chickens diet. Their manure would fertilize the soil in preparation for the next crop.

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