Archive for April, 2010

Unknown chick breed

Meet "Jeanette", a UFO, garden fertilizer & breakfast provider

It is Day 4 and our twelve chicks (all about 3 wks old) are still kicking – literally. I am slowly becoming more efficient in the cleaning and care, esp. making sure that their water is changed several times a day. Every day of survival is another day of health and another egg factory in the making 🙂  Cleaning their boxes isn’t too big of a chore, and the newspapers go straight in the compost bin!

We all look in on the chicks several times a day, letting them get used to being handled. The 12 are currently split up in 2 groups of 6.

Buff Orpington chicks

Happy Blondes

Mixed chicks, hybrids, buff orpingtons

Big Bertha & Psychos

In one box are the “blondies” (Buff Orpingtons), and these gals (presumably all gals, but unlikely) seem to be the most sedate and poo-lific. The second box has a mix of Black Sx-links, Rhode Island Reds, and Buff Orpingtons. Unfortunately, this seems to be the psycho group, segregating according to color (what’s up with that?), taunting each other, and seeing who can screech the loudest. The largest are the Black Sx-links, one of which I have called “Big Bertha” of turkey-esque size. Every time you handle her, you’d think she was Marie Antoinette at the guillotine.

We are currently studying various chicken coop plans, including those we found in this book, Chicken Coops, by Judy Pangman. Many people criticized it for lacking real building plans, and perhaps the title is misleading because there are no detailed plans for any of the coops – just pictorial representations and occasionally, dimensions. For us, however, these “concept” plans should be sufficient.

I’m especially excited over the opportunity to use a lot of scrap building materials and “junk” that we’ve accumulated over the years. Rather than haul these to the dump, constructing and interior decorating a chicken house brings me back to my childhood when I’d build houses for my dolls 🙂

We’d love to see a link to your own chicken coop or ones you’ve seen that you really like!

Tweet tweet for now,


Read Full Post »

Finally! A long overdue blog post.

For nearly 15 years we had lived in Half Moon Bay, CA (a wonderful, small-town community just south of San Francisco).  The soil was pure clay, the climate cool and often foggy. While we eventually were successful in veggie gardening in raised beds and containers, I look back at our mistakes as we begin planning for our new garden.

Planning New Vegetable Garden

From the 'burbs to the country. Starting anew.

We’ve recently moved to Lake County (just north of Napa County, CA) where we have a bit of land and a chance to set up a vegetable garden the right way from the start. And by they ‘right way’ we simply are going to try to minimize the number of mistakes that we make!

How I pledge to do things differently:

  1. Learn habitat and climate. Even though I knew Half Moon Bay was different, I tried to apply too many things that I had learned when growing up and gardening in the Midwest. I’ll also take advantage of free advice from master gardener volunteers at the county extension office.
  2. Test the soil. Know what’s in it and amend where needed. This will save many seasons of frustration.
  3. Prepare and plan. Before I wrote Plangarden software, I would just plant whatever I “thought” might grow, without doing research on specific varieties that thrive better in my climate. Getting too much harvest or seeing crops fail wasn’t fun!

I have already spent time at the local nursery and with my neighbors learning about the climate, soil, and certain varieties of plants that do well out here. I haven’t sent in the soil sample yet, so nothing goes in the soil other than compost until I get the test results. I know I have a loam/red clay soil, and the ratio of calcium to magnesium is not ideal for most plants (too much magnesium).

The charming fauna – deer, jack rabbits, squirrels – are a new pest for us. Fencing will be critical. Also, rocks and boulders seem to “grow” on this property (Sonoma rock – the kind suburbanites pay landscapers to put in their gardens). I will try to create raised beds with these rocks (as my wife rolls her eyes, amused at my youthful enthusiasm).

What else have I left out?

Wishing you an excellent gardening year,


Read Full Post »