Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Triangle Entry Garden

Here is my entry triangle garden.

It was a low place that was impossible to mow so, I sprayed with Round-up and let it die.

I got whatever was deer resistant and on BIG sale at Home Depot and used a re-located barn post for the edging. It took 3 hours.
Plants are Asters $1.50 each and a sedum sold in 6 four-inch packs for $2.50 for a total of only $14 (not bad).

Here it is August 15th 2012



Chicken House

Finally on to the hen-house!

We found a lovely color in the "Oops" section in the paint department of our Home Depot. 10 gallons for 20bucks! So, that determined the new color of the coop ;-)

I took the door off and hubby helped flip it onto the side so I could replace the support beams.
It took days to get those off even being half-eaten (literally) by termites. I gave up and had to enlist the hubby to help with the de-construction. Way too frustrating for me and gives him a chance to use a power tool ;-)

 So, we got the thing deconstructed and it took us no time to re-construct it using 2x4's we had laying around the place. It took about 3 hours and had it back on its' feet. We set it up on concrete blocks I found on the property and we leveled it. Hopefully we did OK.

eye bolt for hanging feeder

I made the nestboxes from a $7 sheet of 1/2 inch OSB. I used OSB because it was half the cost of plywood and it was for inside the coop protected from rain and will be painted.

Got a feeder from the feedstore for $13.

Used 80cent eyebolts in the rafters for hanging the feeder.


Here is the paint-job phase one (trim still needs to be picked out). It's difficult to paint this time of year. My 1st coat was done in the rain. Luckily, the next day was sunny and breezy and dried the 1st coat allowing a 2nd coat to be done.

roost hardware
The roosts are untreated fir 2x2's that are rounded slightly on the edges. I found them at home Depot in the culled wood section for 50cents each (about 46 -48" lengths). The hardware we had leftover from building our deck in Texas. I got a few extra  2x2's for just in case and this fixture makes it easy to unscrew the pole for cleaning or replacement.

There were a few sunny days in the forecast so I took advantage and rushed out and bought a quart of Haystack colored paint (mild school bus yellow) and knocked it out. My daughter picked the color.

I layed out the run area and got the sandbox ready. For the sandbox, I used a 2x6 treated garden frame found on the property and lined the bottom with the door from the crushed metal shed to keep the moles out. For the run, I am using some livestock fence we had left over from when I made compost bins a few years ago. Will finish it off with 1" chicken wire. The posts are from treated wood we found.

I still need to finish off a few things in the house and get the run ready.

It is getting close to finished and it is time to start looking for the girls.
I scoured the internet and asked locals. The locals were not willing to downsize their flocks. Ordering chicks is complicated if you want less than 6. All the places that did small orders would all be about $60 for about 6 chicks. Then I have to "baby" the babies until about 6 weeks indoors under a heat lamp. Then it will be iffy to put them in the hen-house at 6 weeks since it will be in the cold of December.
I found a horse trainer about 7 miles down the road who also grows chickens and had pullets at 7 weeks for $10 each (and in the breeds I have been looking for). I went down to see the birds. They were kept in good facilities and looked healthy and happy and had been vaccinated. They are hen-house ready and still young enough to be trained and get used to being handled.

So........ introducing our girls!

Americauna "Muffin" sorry it's "Nugget"

Gold Laced Wyandote "Ginger"

Silver Laced Wyandote "Nutmeg"

Barred Rock "Zebra"

Rhode Island Red "Red"


 There are 2 photos of Red because she is always looking around and couldn't get a good angle.

Aren't they cute!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Point Defiance Zoo October 1st

Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington is small.
It's sections are arranged in that one can see the whole zoo in a "circle" without having to backtrack.
It took us about 2 hours to see everything at a moderate pace.

The only down-side is that there is limited veiwing area of the animals. For example, you can only see the polar bears from the window although the path leads around the exhibit it is blocked by a big dirt mound. If the walkway was elevated you could get a view from several angles.

 It was cool in that there were some cool things I have not seen at other zoos like the Endangered Red Wolf. I had also never seen a  tapir up close (they are huge). They also had a pair of baby clouded leopards happily playing. They also have a small, yet well organized aquarium featuring local Washington water habitats and a cool tufted puffin exhibit - very exciting for my sea-bird-loving girl.

Blackberry Pie

I have been told that here, blackberries are a weed. Difficult to get rid of and over-take anything in their path.

"What?!" says the newbie from Texas.

There are 3 main types of "wild" blackberry here.

1 - Himalayan Blackberry Rubus armeniacus (syn. Rubus discolor)

2 - Evergreen Blackberry  Rubus laciniatus

The above are imports from Europe and are on the State's Noxious weed list. They both form dense thickets. Canes can get 40 feet long. and thickets can be 15 feet high!

3 - Native trailing blackberry Rubus ursinus

and they all have thorns!

I have a thicket of Himalayan bordering our property beside the neighbors' trailer to the north. I am working on trying to "tame the beast". The thicket was about 15 feet tall and 15 feet thick and about 50 feet long.
Himalayans do make BIG, SWEET BERRIES! It is so sad that they are taking over our natural areas.
While I was working on taming the thing, I of course picked as much as I could! 

For scale reference - those ferns are over 5 feet tall! I can't see over them and I'm 5'4"!

What a sight I must have been on my 7 foot ladder, trying my best not to gouge an eye out on the HUGE thorns (some up to an inch long), in my rose gloves, trying to reach and balance and pick the delicate berries.
There were also stinging nettles I had to remove as well (up to 15 feet tall as well)!

I think it was worth it. I got most of the nettles out, reduced the size of the thicket and got some really good berries!


I made about 2 pints of blackberry preserves and week later got my ladder and picked enough for a crumble-top pie.

Deer Fence

Here we go...

... a deer fence to protect the precious fruits and veggies (for just under $100!).

My hubby, of course, sighed and said we would have to rent a post hole auger, buy a digger etc...
I, of course, grabbed my shovel and a piece of pointed re-bar and got to digging.

The area near the well was rocks from the drilling. Once I got past it, it was mostly sand.
Now I truly believe that the summers are drought periods here. I dug down 2.5 feet of bone dry sand and stones (it still does not compare to the droughts elsewhere.)
I ended up digging an average of a 30 minute per hole rate. Had 6 posts dug and set in 2 days. The rest will be done the next week.
I used 4x4x8's we found around the property that were still useable for posts and 2 10 footers for the main corners.
I ended up buying 3 landscape timbers at $3 each for the in-between. Since I am using a poly net, they don't have to be but 12-15 feet on center.

The net is not much more than bird net but, it was cheap at just under $50 for 200 feet.
I chose to do this cheapo stuff because
1 - the deer, though there are quite a few, have so many other easier options than calculating how to get through a fence.
2 -they are black-tail deer and are not as skittish or big as the white tails in Texas.
3 - the regular path they use is along the outside border of the fence anyway as to not make then have to think about a new path to take.
4 - its cheap

Here is the fence up. I did it by myself with a step stool , scissors and a staple gun in 3 hours (in the rain).
You can hardly see the mesh. Were it not for the ribbon, I would walk into it. The ribbon is there so that the deer (and I) have a caution of sorts to let us get used to it being there. I will keep the flags there for a bout a month to make sure all the resident deer get to know it. The mesh goes all the way to the top of the posts with some left over to secure the bottom to the ground to prevent "nosing" under.

There is no gate yet in the photo. I am using the livestock fence in a double circle in the opening because deer also don't like to jump double fences.

The gate is made from salvaged PVC we literally dug up on the property. I had to buy 3 eyescrews and 3 elbows to finish it off at about $5 total. I used old trimmer string (it wont fit our string trimmer) as an anti-sag "kit" for stabilizing the gate.

Now I can plant! WOOOOOO HOOOOOO!


UPDATE : February 2012

If you keep up with all the posts, you have already seen that the fence didnt quite make it.
I think in the 1st week a dog barreled through it at night (maybee coyote). There were 2 rips opposite eachother about dog hieght and with dog prints nearby. Then, a drre tryed to go through a part - tore through it (on the street side), got spooked and tryed to jump over the opposite side and tore it down. Then, the ice storm came and just about all of it came down.
from ice storm post - click on it to see it bigger

I can still use it for temp fencing ot to drape over trees adn shrubs. But, as a fence for deer it is almost useless. I do think that they have gotten the idea that it is not a pleasant thing to go past the fence. The other day, after it was down, I drove up and say 2 deer standing outside the fence (where it was down) and looking in. they did this for some time until I opened my window and told them that they better not even think about it. they eyeballed the contents one last time and turned and walked away. Hmmm... deep thought.

I am now working on getting the branches cleared, prepping the blueberry & strawberry beds and then will invest in a more robust material.

I guess my next photos will be of the new fence.


And so the extra-curricular activities begin! 
Here it is already. 3rd grade. Growing up SO FAST! 

The influx of fundraisers and activities comes in daily with my kid from school.
Being a social butterfly, she wants to do everything and we have to tenderly (and sometimes not -so-tenderly) explain that it's not possible to do and buy everything that comes to our attention. There are many reasons for this. Budget is a big factor of course, but then there is the principal. The life lesson of moderation, decision making and prioritizing is also key.

Her 1st activity she chose a 1 day cheer camp.
Here she is. She may not be the most graceful, but she has "spirit".

Here is a short video... (there is no sound).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


The locals tell us the rainy season has officially begun.
It all started Sunday 25th of September. The wind came in that morning. It was peek-a-boo sun all morning with looming dark clouds to the west. Then it really got windy. As we were doing yard-work and finishing up the coop, we heard a CRACK. Swoosh. CRUNCH. The top 20 feet of a once 60 foot maple was on one of our sheds. Luckily, it was the sad metal shed.

We bucked it down last weekend as far as we could with our pruning loppers and hand pruning saw. 
Time to shop for a chainsaw.

It does make me a bit sea-sick to see the tops of the 100 foot firs sway to and fro - Blah.