Monday, 27 July 2015

Choking on Chooktopia


Some weeks the weather here can be very mild and pleasant and it can be a total joy to be outside working on projects around the farm. Some weeks though the weather can be absolutely feral.

This week, I totally cleared my diary of work and social obligations and focused entirely on fast tracking (i.e. completing quickly) the brand new chicken house and all weather chicken run (code named: Chooktopia). Not even the heavy snowfall on Sunday and near freezing temperatures could derail this juggernaut of a project!
The snow fell thick and fast on Sunday and I merely shrugged it off and continued with the construction and let the sparks fly
On reflection, it was actually a bit cold that day and just to keep warm, I was wearing two t-shirts, two wind cheaters, in addition to track suit pants under the overalls. By the end of the day all of my extremities were feeling a little bit chilly and slightly numb!

As mentioned earlier the diary was totally cleared and a deadline was set for the transfer of the chickens into their new housing. Sometimes, you have to bite the bullet (as they say) and finish a project and that does require some sacrifices. 

I haven’t really mentioned it before, but the boss chicken is named “Rumpole” after the BBC television series “Rumpole of the Bailey” due to a weird and uncanny likeness with the lead actor’s face. Anyway, Rumpole the boss chicken is ailing and at the venerable age of five years, she may not survive the next few months. I have been keen to get her into the new housing which may be better for her health in the final few weeks.

Last week’s blog entry discussed exactly what was not working with the current chicken house and run. I have now taken all of those lessons learnt and incorporated them all into the new Chooktopia structure.

August is normally a very wet and cold month at the farm, so I also became determined to get the chickens into their new housing before construction became too difficult because of the winter conditions. On a farm, the weather cannot be ignored!

With the exception of a few hundred metal screws plus the cement products, all of the structure in this Chooktopia project are either: recycled; seconds; or downgraded materials. Scavenging for the various materials in a project like this, and then envisioning how they can be used, is a real skill. Scavengers also have to be willing to collect those materials from all manner of strange and unusual places. And each collection place for those types of materials has a unique and often very quirky vibe to it. Sometimes, the people in those places can be exceptionally helpful, sometimes they can brusque, and at other times they can be aloof and almost embarrassed that they have to sell whatever it is that you happen to be purchasing.

Many years ago I purchased an absolute bargain of an unwanted water tank from an outer suburb of Melbourne. The houses in that particular area were very aspirational and to my eye seemed far too large for their land size. The guy that was selling this perfectly good water tank was almost embarrassed to have to sell it as if that activity was somehow beneath his social status. It wasn’t beneath his social status as he actually was selling the water tank and happily took the cash. I merely acted cool and chucked the water tank onto the (not quite bright yellow at that time) trailer and drove it back here where it has performed well.

This week that water tank was removed from its previous location on the farm – which left a bit of plumbing mess for me to sort out (next week) - and was repurposed as a water collection tank for the new Chooktopia project. That sentence was easily written, but the water tank itself is about 100kg (220 pounds) of food grade plastic (polyethylene) which is a very slippery material that just happens to be moulded into a rounded shape, all of which make it one very difficult item to relocate.

Needless to say the water tank was finally pushed, shoved and trolleyed into position to catch some of the rainfall from the roof of the chicken run and house.
The repurposed charcoal grey water tank was finally pushed, shoved and trolleyed into position for the chicken house and enclosure
Before the water tank could collect rainfall from the roof of that structure, the chicken house had to be completely clad in the recycled steel sheeting. The roof sheeting also had to be installed and secured and then finally the ridge capping (which is the fancy name for the bit of steel sheet at the highest point of the roof) was also screwed into place. That ridge capping was made from two scraps of steel sheet, one of which I picked up at the local tip shop and the other I cut from scraps of galvanised sheet from previous projects.
The ridge capping is installed onto the new roof just prior to the rain later that evening
The roof and walls were completed just prior to a heavy downpour of rain later that evening.

The rainwater collection system is very simple as any rain which falls onto the roof is collected in steel gutters. From those steel gutters the water flows into the plastic pipes which drain into the top of the water tank. The water which is stored in the tank is then piped into the chicken enclosure and can be accessed by a normal garden tap. The whole system is powered by gravity!
Water is collected from the steel roof into a water tank via the steel gutters and plastic pipes
On the morning of the day that it snowed here, I had decided that enough was enough and the chickens were moving into their new house regardless that afternoon. On reflection, it was perhaps an ambitious call, but sometimes deadlines are just the thing to speed a project along.

Before the chickens could be moved into their new home, a quick fit-out of the interior of the chicken house had to take place. Fortunately, all that was required was to install the steel angle supports for the four plywood chicken laying boxes which were transferred over from the old chicken house. The feeder and water trough were also hung from the ceiling structure by chains. All of those were very easy tasks.
The fit-out of the chickens house progressed quickly
The chicken run was also filled with 1 cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch. The chickens can happily spend all day out of the weather digging, scratching and manuring into that woody mulch which will eventually produce an outstanding soil for use elsewhere on the farm.
One cubic meter of woody mulch was placed into the all-weather chickens run
The hard job that day was installing the strong welded mesh which can withstand all of the birds-of-prey, foxes, cats and dogs that want to eat the chickens whilst they are innocently going about their chicken like business.

The mesh for the new enclosure was removed from the existing chicken enclosure (leaving it completely exposed). Whilst this is excellent recycling, had I not completed the installation of that mesh onto the new enclosure, something/somebody certainly would have eaten the chickens that night.

And that was why I was outside in the snowfall, cutting and installing the final pieces of welded mesh, whilst perhaps other people were sensibly keeping themselves warm in front of their heaters!

Eventually the chickens were placed into their new home and all was good! Both the editor and I are very happy with the new structure, whilst the chickens are mildly confused.
The chickens were finally placed into their new house and run
The week’s weather has seen that the each day the sun is slightly higher in the sky which has resulted in an improvement in the house batteries charge. 
Battery % full at the start of the day - Amount generated by the 4.2kW of PV panels during that day
Tuesday 21st July – 70% full – 4.3kWh
Wednesday 22nd July – 72% full – 4.5kWh
Thursday 23rd July – 74% full – 4.4kWh
Friday 24th July – 75% full – 3.4kWh
Saturday 25th July – 74% full – 4.8kWh
Sunday 26th July – 75% full – 5.5kWh
Monday 27th July – 76% full – 6.1kWh

I promise to continue with the thread relating to the house construction on next weeks blog. The Chooktopia project this week has been bigger than Ben Hur! However, I will leave you with this photo of snow falling over the house and part of the orchard, which was taken during a brief break during construciton of Chooktopia.
Snow fell this week over the house and orchard
The temperature outside here at about 9.00pm is 3.8’C degrees Celsius (38.9’F). So far this year there has been 479.6mm (18.9 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 452.6mm (17.8 inches).

38 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Those chickens are living in luxury!

Do you have the problem, that we have here, when using re-cycled stuff? This is imperial versus metric i.e. we sometimes have to buy a new part when repairing stuff and of course it won't fit. This has just arisen with guttering and piping. The result was that we had to replace okay old parts with new parts.

Son's pigs: One sow is a Gloucester Old Spot and so is the boar. The other sow, he doesn't know but guesses that she is mainly a long white. However her siblings have spots. Although she was mated with the Gloucester... boar, not one of her 10 piglets has a single spot.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Looks like the new digs are chicken heaven :-). The architecture of the new chicken house reminds me of something, but I can't put my finger on it. It will come to me, some 3am. :-). The picture of the chickens checking out their new digs ... they look like they should be holding martinis and mingling. Networking at the house warming. I notice their perch on the left. A repurposed plant stand?

My mobs egg count was down a bit, last week. I wonder if more of them are going to go into molt. Molty Hen is looking a lot better. Her new feathers are filling in, quit nicely, and the other chickens aren't picking on her as much.

You've got a fine structure, there. A lot of work under adverse conditions. Lew

SLClaire said...

The chicken house looks great! I'll look at your posts on Chooktopia more closely if/when I get to serious chicken planning.

I had to laugh, however, about your complaints about the frost and cold. It gets much colder than that for months here. In fact, it sometimes gets that cold at my mom's place in SW Florida, a place where people go to escape winter conditions in other parts of the US! I'd consider your morning low to be relatively warm, certainly warmer than average, if it happened here anytime from about mid December through the end of February.

It finally stopped raining. We've had less than 1 inch / 2.5 cm of rain in the past two weeks. Right now it's up into the 90sF - mid to upper 30sC and I am hiding out in the house more than usual until the temperatures lessen to more seasonal values in the next few days. Tomorrow I'll sow some lettuce and brassica seeds for fall crops, but not in the garden, for they won't germinate in this heat. I'll start them in the basement under lights, where conditions are more to their liking.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I doubt very much that aliens (Space bats?) could be bothered providing transport! Hehe! Like, why would you travel the vast distances between solar systems only to transport a few of the more interesting locals across a relatively narrow strait?

Well, the continent of Australia and South America were once joined so who knows what was possible? Certainly there are native Solanum family plants even at the farm here. It does make you wonder why there aren't more marsupials over in South America?

Yeah, too funny. The whole snow thing was over in under 10 minutes which was a real shame and the sun burst forth and melted all of the remnants on the ground. Tell you what though, the cloud that dropped the snow was thick, dark and very ugly looking. 10 inches of snow would freak me out as I wouldn't know how to cope with those conditions.

A sequel to "On the Beach" may just be a zombie flick. ;-)! Didn't they all die in the end from a nuclear winter scenario down here at the bottom of the world? Glitch is quite fun and makes the useful observation that sometimes the dead should stay, well, sort of dead. They appear to be very difficult company and can raise (pun intended) all sorts of difficult relationship questions which are probably best left unanswered. The other zombie films and series sound like fun.

The Chinook wind is probably best avoided due to the forest fire risks in your part of the world. Actually, does that wind happen during winter or summer?

The winds blow from the centre of the continent here (which is basically a huge arid land) and they can hit the farm with a fury during January and February. A bit scary really. Did you notice that the new chicken enclosure has steel skirts to prevent a grass fire running into the chicken enclosure?

Thanks, it will be a lot of fun. I know you didn't rush out and see "Wild", but I actually enjoyed the story as I've walked long distances here for days on end. I can't be bothered with such walks nowadays, but they were very meditative. You go into them, thinking you'll have great thoughts and inspiration, but really it becomes: put one foot in front of the other, follow the map and when is the next chocolate break? Over 130km (81 miles) I did not have one significant idea, but it was strangely restful.

Happy birthday and best wishes for the day! A venerable age to be sure and with a long way to go yet! I assume those were frozen (or pre-cooked pizzas)? Your day sounds very indulgent and pleasant and I hope that you enjoyed it to the full.

Ha! Perhaps. The old timer timber getters used to live out in the sticks - when the sticks were the real sticks and small furry creatures were real small furry creatures - and they also lived quite the long lives. Unhurried and peaceful would rate highly too! What do you reckon?

Cheers

Chris





Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh yeah, the chickens are living in the lap of chicken luxury and can enjoy a pleasant promenade despite the prevailing weather conditions! Mind you, they haven't quite worked out which chicken pen to retire to at night after their sojourn in the orchard and that can be very tiring...

The structure is a custom design so regardless of whether the materials are metric or imperial, I cut them to fit. Mind you, metric has been here for a very long time and I remember the changeover as a young child going from pounds to kilograms at the local food markets. Most of the piping to be found here is metric. I reckon the trick would be to recycle the imperial parts into a one off style project where it doesn't matter. If your son was very smart he'd offer to cart away the older imperial stuff for a small fee (and then retain it for later use). Just sayin...

Your son is very lucky to have such a good litter from the two sows. I'm a vegetarian and you've got me thinking about all of the yummy uses for pig! It is actually my favourite meat. You know, you never see pork pie here. Lamb pie (which I often suspect is mutton which is very nice too) beef or chicken, but never pork. The editor has a background in applied food microbiology so I'm always a bit dodgy about chicken mince after the awful stories.

PS: I did get all of the posts, so perhaps it was your end? The format for blogger has changed slightly and the confirmation is now posted at the very top of the page.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, the mildly confused chickens are actually in chicken heaven and it is far quicker and easier for me to clean the system out every day. It is a bit of a relief.

The ladies may have cracked out the oh so very 70's fondue set! :-)! Hehe! Mostly they are happy with their new digs.

I know you love your history, so here goes. Iron houses have a very long history in this state. When the gold rush hit in the 1850's to 1890's, most people lived in tents surrounding the city. The ever enterprising English shipped out prefabricated Iron houses for construction in the new city (it was only established in 1834). Most of those iron houses have disappeared but some still survive to this day so here are some images of a few that I passed today: iron houses brunswick road. Melbourne is actually one of the most intact Victorian cities in the world and has a huge stock of Victorian housing. Some of the streets feel as if you are stepping back in time and the residents are absolutely feral about any changes to the street scape - for good reason.

Glad to hear that molty hen is looking better. She will be the first one back on the lay come mid-winter.

Oh yeah, it has been a tough week. Thanks. I received my hardback copy of the complete chronicles of Conan the Barbarian the other day and seriously, it is very hard to put that book down. It also happens to be a very weighty book at about 3 pounds. I could accidentally kill someone with that! Would Conan approve, that is the question that remains unasked?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

That is high praise and thank you. I am mildly in awe of the exact approach you take with soil conditions and respect your work.

Please do feel free to ask questions about chicken housing, simply because I made so many mistakes with the first construction. The funny thing was that despite reading many books on the subject, I didn't get the fundamental, need to know, everyday information about chicken housing that suited here. Most chicken housing seemed to me from hindsight to look as though they were built with aesthetics in mind rather than the practicalities that result in healthy chickens.

It was a complaint too, wasn't it? Hehe! I had no idea that SW Florida could get colder than here. Burr! It sounds a bit soft, but I'm unsure whether I could cope with your winters (and the locals think it is cold where I live too). Still, many people could not cope with the brutal summers here either.

The humidity in your part of the world would be brutal too. In comparison if those seeds were planted here at that time of the year, they would bolt to seed - or the cabbage moths would get them. I'm literally inundated with feral lettuce, cabbage and various mustards right now.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

My son certainly collects materials where he can. My main irritation with metric is that my lifelong collection of recipes are in imperial. I get left with bits over or find too late that I don't have enough when shopping for one of these recipes. I admit that this is stupid of me.

Am watching the new neighbours deal with ongoing disasters. All this land was once one large estate and was superbly ditched by the Victorians. Estate workers would have been rural and known exactly what they were doing. Incomers have filled in ditches in order to have every last inch of land. New neighbour is doing something similar. I was telling my son what the chap should do to prevent flooding. Son had me doubled with laughter when he said 'Remember he is a civil engineer, they don't do ditches, they do pipes'. Yes, we have seen the pipes coming in, they are way too small and will block up this coming winter. Son has pointed out to them that enough water can come down the road to kayak on.

@Lew
I hope that you had a good birthday and wish you many more to come.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - After a nice cool spell, we're going back to temps in the low 90s F (32.2 C). For about a week, and then another cooler trend. Have read a couple of predictions for this coming El Nino year. Here, dryer. Might even have water problems due to low snowpack (which was non-existant, last year). The State Water Board says a suspension of younger water rights holders in the upper Chehalis is coming. No water for crops if your water rights are more recent than .. 1979, I think. We'll still have the occasional arctic outbreak, and when it rains, it will probably rain intense and all at once. Forecast for Australia ... drought.

Well, my movie pics for my birthday were a rather mixed bag. Aaaahnold climbed on the zombie band wagon with a dark and grim little film called "Maggie." There was some sub-plot about all the plants dying that was never properly explained. Only worth watching if some one subjects you to it for free. "All the Wrong Reasons" which I thought was going to be a comedy about people working in a large, Canadian department store. A small indy film that I picked up because of my background in retail. Turned out to be a drama with lots of damaged people. It was ok. Glad I saved the "Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" for last. That more suited my mood. :-). Got my pizzas from a very small west coast chain. I used to do Domino's, but I didn't care for the owners ... politics. Had a coupon, so, they weren't too dear. I only go commercial, maybe once or twice a year. Otherwise, I make my own. But, in the interest of birthday sloth ... :-).

The Chinook Winds only come in the late winter or early spring. So, not much danger of fire. Everything is pretty sodden, by then. I thought the chook pen steel skirts were to keep out the rats and other bad guys. Dual purpose skirts?

The iron houses are really nice. Quaint. A little twee :-). Back in the early 20th century, here, you could order whole houses from Sears, the mail order company. They had a whole separate catalog for them. You'd order one, it would show up on a nearby rail siding in parts. Plumbing and everything. Everything carefully numbered with instructions on how to put it together. Quit a few Arts and Crafts style bungalows are "Sears" houses. Same time period, there was also terracotta companies that you could order small commercial buildings, from. Classical looking banks, and such. Centralia has at least two old bank buildings that were mail order. Same drill. All the parts would show up on a rail siding with instructions.

That Conan book would be referred to here as a "real doorstop." :-). And, yes, you could do serious damage. I keep my Julia Child "The Way to Cook" (5 pounds) and the "Oxford Companion to Food" (6 pounds) handy. In case I have to whack someone up against the side of the head. They could also, probably, stop a bullet :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Your son is wise to collect as many useful materials as he can reasonably use. A few years back I read about a builder that built his own house from recovered materials that were otherwise going to waste at building sites. Many years ago, a builder told me they factor in about 10% wastage on every build. Certainly I reduced waste here to the bare minimum during construction. In fact I did not require a skip bin at all, but that also takes a lot of time. Good, fast, cheap - pick any two.

Recipes here are all over the shop in relation to metric and imperial measurements so you sort of straddle two worlds of measurement in the kitchen. You may be surprised to discover that I'm a bit lackadaisical about following recipes to the letter. Following the seasonal produce from the garden has made me that way!

We're on the same page for sure. Hopefully your neighbour’s actions don't impact you too greatly? Ditches don't end up getting blocked up, but pipes sure do - and people always try to save money with them by using smaller diameter pipes than what is actually required. Silting on the main road here blocks up peoples pipes (culverts), but it doesn't need to be that way. I direct any and all water from about the area onto the farm and it really does make a huge difference to the forest and the orchard.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

When you get those warmer days, does it cool down at night? Did you ever get those rain barrels? You may just need them next summer. I certainly am looking to go into summer with full water reserves (104,000L or 27,500 gallons), so I'm taking the El Nino predictions very seriously. The loss of water rights for some will be hard. The pain gets shared around here during drought years.

I was mucking around with the pump set up as removing the small water tank left a bit of a plumbing dog’s breakfast to fix up. The whole thing will hopefully end up being simpler and cleaner.

So did Arnie cure his daughters impending downfall into the land of zombie? A drama with lots of damaged people is very caustic review. I'm impressed! Have you seen the first in that series of films (Hotel)? Bill Nighy is an outstanding actor and one of my favourites. I didn't think that you went for rom-coms? There's a warm heart under that crusty outer exterior! Hehe! Of course, birthdays should be indulgent and I salute your efforts in that direction.

Wow, you get politics in the local pizza chain shop? There is a situation I never would have considered. In the big smoke there are quite a number of excellent pizza places - you don't really get the chain stores down here - although they are about.

Thanks for the explanation and that makes sense. It would be like an early spring which would probably go away in short order?

Oh yeah, if I can get multiple uses out of a single system then that's a good thing. I must have already told you that I visited some gardens up in the areas hit by the Feb 09 Black Saturday fires (which you're probably sick of hearing about) which were massive and very hot. Some of the people lost part of their house, but the chickens survived in their dodgy built steel shed, so I thought: why not? And built the shed in steel rather than timber. You'll note that all of the other sheds are steel too. In my places up in the fire affected areas, the steel sheds survived better than the houses.

They're a bit picture postcard quaint aren't they? I assumed that the Sears prefab houses were moved by dray from the railway siding? It would be a big job moving a house load of materials in one go... I reckon people over complicate house construction nowadays. House prices here are feral; the median hit something like $668k this week and the average mortgage was I believe around $380k. How anyone affords a house here is well beyond me as it is just crazy.

Very cool. Door stops here used to be sand filled sausages made from brightly coloured cloth to look like a dachshund - weird, but those things were everywhere when I was very young.

I’m very much enjoying the complete Conan chronicles. I've never read Julia Child. Is she an entertaining writer? I saw the film Julia and Julia years ago - which you may enjoy as it has a whole lot of cooking and food related things in it - although the premise of the film seemed mildly obsessive compulsive to me? Dunno. Possibly they would stop a bullet for sure! A very handy item for those Mexican standoffs! I've got one of those monster books too but being of Australian origin you may not have heard of it: Stephanie Alexander's - A cook’s companion.

It must be the night for cooking as I chucked in a batch of muesli and have almost finished the dog’s breakfast cereal. I seriously need a bigger oven and I'm running out of bench space and cupboards. I wonder if farm kitchens are meant to resemble a commercial kitchen.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Productive day, yesterday. Cleaned out the fridge and played in the worm box. Did a couple of loads of laundry. Made a crisp (blueberry at one end, blackberry at the other). I had blueberries thawed from when I went to dinner and it was use them or loose them. Made a big bowl of the veg potage and another big bowl of three bean salad. I won't have to worry about dinner for 4 or 5 days :-). Can put the time in on other things. Did some loads of laundry.

Well, parts of the cooking world are ... well, it's all about one upsmanship, power and control. Status. No, Julia Childs books aren't as amusing as her actual personality. They're pretty straight forward. Saw the film and enjoyed it. I'll check into that Australian cook book.

Yes, I saw the first BEMHotel, movie. They may have been rom-coms, but there was enough interesting other bits to distract me from that :-).

Yeah, it's been cool enough at night that I didn't have trouble sleeping. Cools down into the 60s. I don't think you run on all that much about Black Saturday. No more than I run on about Mt. St. Helens erupting or The Columbus Day Storm :-). Natural disasters tend to stick in the mind. Time is measured in "before" and "after."

No, Arnie doesn't save his daughter. She commits suicide so Dad doesn't have to put her down.

Dominos Pizza is a huge chain and the owner is very wealthy. Wealth he uses to fund right wing causes. He's also built a whole town in Florida with a college. But, you have to be a practicing Catholic to live there or go to school. The small chain I patronize ... well, I don't know their politics. They may be worse. But, I don't know. I've never bought anything from a Walmart, either :-).

Door stops used to be cast iron figural. Everything from roosters to baskets of flowers to American eagles. There are collectors. Whole books about them with price guides. Sometimes, someone tries to pass off one part of a pair of bookends as a doorstop, but, they were generally smaller. Having a lot of books, I have a few antique pairs of bookends, kicking about. A copper plated peacock. Two sets of glass ones. A nude Amazon on a rearing horse and horses heads that have a real Deco look to them.

Lots of coyotes howling about the place, last night. Hope my chickens will be ok. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It is nice to be able to pick and choose when you'll have a productive day as it allows plenty of time for leisure and recovery. Incidentally, what is a worm box? Is that your compost heap? Your blackberry / blueberry crisp sounds very yummy! The veg potage and 3 bean salad is an outstanding meal. I often roast some veg in the wood oven and mix them in with fresh garden greens and add some pulses / lentils / bean mix. It tastes really good and is so unlike the sort of veg food that you buy if you are out at a restaurant. Sometimes it feels to me as if the meals in veg places are a real cliche and they usually add too much oil and use very low quality oil (a palm oil derivative which tastes OK as long as you don't cook it).

Ahh, that is interesting and it would be very hard to exclude a personality from writing. Glad to hear that you enjoyed the film too. As an interesting side note, I believe that Julia Childs refused to attend the release of the film, although I'm sure there is more to that story than meets the eye and I could be wrong. Didn't we discuss artists and their foibles the other week?

Haha! Thought I had you on that one! Hehe! ;-)! Seriously, I have a very soft spot for rom-coms and they are universally hated by the critics. Look at all of the carry-on about the recent Aloha film.

Summer temperatures in the 60'sF at night sound very pleasant. I haven't seen a summer night time temperature here hotter than 72'F and that is a very hot night here.

Exactly, such things are a pivot point in your awareness, where you wake up and understand that the world is completely oblivous to your existence and can occasionally over run you. It is an initiation of sorts.

Bummer. Although, given it is a zombie flick - they come back after death. Just sayin, I always consider the wise advice provided by Simon Pegg in Sean of the Dead about removing the head in such circumstances. You can never be too certain about zombies! ;-)!

Oh, that's not good. What a strange world we live in. Such places can possibly become a bit cult like.

Ah door stops. Of course, cast iron and there would be a market for them. When I was a lad, people used to bronze plate the old cast iron clothes irons and use them in their book shelves. They were very weighty items and I'm sure plenty of them have been cast out (pun intended!). Actually, I was writing about draught stoppers, but it was I who was on the wrong track. A door stopper would be a handy weapon to heft.

Hope your chickens were OK?

It is absolutely feral here today as whilst it is rarely windy and quite protected, today, the wind is blowing an absolute gale. I am glad not to have any trees within dropping distance of the house (Inge: I'll bet you sleep more soundly in such conditions now!) and also that the building surveyor forced me to build the house to withstand very high cyclonic winds - which I thought was a bit of overkill at the time.

Thursdays are fresh milk days so when I trotted off to the general store to pick up my order, I wisely decided to grab the chainsaw and gear just in case. Fortunately, I made it there and back again without incident - but that hasn't always been the case in these conditions. Here's hoping the wind dies back a bit.

Cheers

Chris



orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I certainly do sleep easier now that that tree, with its myriad branches, has gone. I have another small anxiety at present. Flying ants are appearing indoors in increasing numbers. There was an ant's nest in the wall a few years ago; discovered when ants started streaming down the walls. I killed that off. It looks as if there may be another one, but don't know where. I am worried that when I go out for an hour or two, I may return to a nightmare. It only needs a new departing queen to fly in. This did happen to me in a hotel in Queensland once. Wow! The hotel staff left me with the stuff to kill them off after they reckoned they had done the job. Just as well as many more emerged from behind pillows and goodness knows what else.

It keeps on being intermittently cold here and veg and fruit are late. Loganberries are over and blackberries haven't really got going. Usually I go straight from one to the other.

On Monday they start to re-surface the main narrow road here. This means that traffic may try to come the other way past us. Son says that each attempt will only be done once. He will do some cutting so that we can get out that way. It will still be too rough for cars and too narrow for lorries. Just right for son's truck.

Inge

Cathy McGuire said...

Awesome! The kind of construction I only dream of. Thanks for mentioning that a neighbor's chooks actually survived a fire in one of those - I was thinking you'd end up with roast chicken! :-| Anyway, that was a lot of work, and I hope you can curl up by the fire with a homebrew for a while. :-)


Mind you, they haven't quite worked out which chicken pen to retire to at night after their sojourn in the orchard
Yeah, after I moved my set up across the yard, it was a little sad to see the older hens run over to where the old ramp and door was and stop and stare up, and wander a bit, clucking forlornly. They learn, but slowly, and once it gets into their chicken minds, they hang on to it! ;-)

My chooks are molting early due to the high heat we have had all summer. And egglaying is down slightly for the same reason. I have a sub-flock of 6 pullets that I'm raising for meat, to butcher at the end of August. I hope this summer heat (in the 90's) doesn't continue, but I suspect due to El Nino and The Blob, it will. Even being close by a river doesn't cool it off enough. And this weekend the town is expecting 18,000 country music fans (town is approx. 9,000)for the annual festival. (We have only one main road in/out). I can faintly hear it from my house, and I don't drive anywhere, so I'd better stock up on ice today!!

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Worm box. Well, I realized the other day that mine has been perking along for over 10 years. I got a sorta clear plastic storage box, with lid. About 2 1/2 feet long, 1 1/3 feet wide and a 1 foot deep. I drilled holes in the lid and one drain hole in the bottom. I have it resting on a frame of 2x4s. A block of wood slightly elevates one end, so, worm juice will drain into a square, deep plastic dish. When it gets full-ish, I transfer the liquid to plastic gallon jugs.

I had to drive a bit of a distance and pay a bit for the "special" worms. They're a thin, maybe 2-3" red worm. I seem to remember they were around $23 a pound. I started them off with some shredded newspaper, a bit of coconut husk and kitchen scraps. And, they just took off from there. I keep a double plastic bag in the fridge and throw all my veg and fruit scraps, tea bags, etc. in it. When it gets a bit unmanageable, I dig out one end of the box (opposite of where I put the last batch) drop in the scraps and cover it over. It's amazing how a mounded up end becomes a caved in end in not much time. It never smells bad.

It's on the front porch. I'd like to move it to the potting shed, but worry varmits will get into it. So far, that hasn't been a problem on the porch. When I need a little "worm tea" to perk up a plant, I've got it. When the box gets too full, I pull some soil out of the box and put it around plants. I have a large compost bin and have put a few handfuls of worms, in it, but they don't seem to have "taken." They are a little like having another pet, but are really low maintenance. If I ever need to go to a composting toilet, the worms will be here to help the process along.

Julia Child was pretty frail by the time the movie came out. And, media savy enough by that time that she probably didn't want to be caught flat footed as to her opinion of the movie. I seem to remember she later commented on it (I might be wrong) and that it was ok. She probably caught it at a quit matinee, somewhere off the beaten track. Read a book last year about Child, Beard, Olney and Elizabeth David all being in France around the same time and the exchange of ideas about food between them that led to a change in food-ways.

No coyotes in evidence, last night. Maybe they were just ranging through. As long as they stick to nights, my chickens are ok. And, even if Nell stays out after dark, she pretty much stick to around the porch. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Glad you made it safely through the windstorm. What you said about having our chain saw handy reminded me of an event. On January 20, 1993, which happened to be presidential inauguration day, I headed out the Alpha-Centralia road to visit a friend. Not far from where I live now. Little did I know ... :-) I knew it was going to be windy, but I didn't realize HOW windy. It was a storm, second only to the great Columbus Day storm. Winds to 95 mph. Killed 6 people. A tree came down across the road. There were a few vehicles on either side of the blockage. Guys jumped out of their trucks, grabbed their chainsaws ... buzz buzz, buzz. I helped haul stuff off the road and we were good to go in 5 minutes.

Oh, yeah. We have draught stoppers, here too. You can either make your own and crafty them up (dragons are popular :-) or just order them. I'd never heard of bronzing flat irons to use as bookends. I have seen them cleaned up and just used "as is."

Egg production is going down. Don't know why. Probably, molt. The little hen who molted first is filling out quit nicely and looking more "normal." The other hens are picking on her, less. Notice a couple of the other hens are getting a little "thin about the neck" where it seems to start. Lew

HomesteadGlamourGirl said...

It's so strange to me, the concept of August being cold.

Jo said...

Hi Chris, that is the most elegant chook shed, and can clearly withstand any weather event up to and including cyclones by the look of it:) I am currently trying to design my first ever chook shed - any suggestions?

I am also impressed at your determination to finish the job at any cost..

Now I know you don't like discussing living off the grid with the general public - but you are preaching to the converted here. I would love to know your secrets for living on less than 5kWh/day. Would you consider a post or series? I can come up with lots of questions to help you along:

Hot water - do you do solar hot water?
Heating - obviously wood fire. Is that ducted round the house some way? Do you use any electric or other heating?

What about appliances? Do you wait until it is sunny to do the vacuuming, or do you just mop? Do you have a fridge? What about an electric kettle? How do you decide how to buy appliances and whether they will overload your system?

I am such an energy saving newbie, all suggestions gratefully received.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Cathy, Lewis, and Jo,

Thanks for all of the lovely comments. I spent the day sorting out a couple of months future supply of firewood to be used in a few years time and also burning off all of the fallen branches that the wind dropped (a big branch fell onto the old chicken run! Ouch!). The wind is like natures giant pruning tool, but that does mean cleaning up all of the fallen timber.

Sorry, I'm digressing. I'm heading out for food tonight and will respond to all of the these lovely comments tomorrow.

Hi Jo,

Yes, other people have been asking me directly via email about that subject too, so I'll have a think about how to present it. The same issues goes for water too.

Hi HomesteadGlamourGirl (let's call you GlamourGirl to make it easier for me ;-)!),

Welcome to the discussion and I'll have a proper look at your excellent site over the next few days. Top work with the preserving too.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I agree with Jo, the answers to her questions re electricity usage would be very interesting.

Forgot to further comment on use of recipes (re imperial/metric). Most of the time, like you, I don't use recipes. But I do bake cakes and here I think that quantities are important.

Have just spent a gruelling hour in my fruit cage cutting out old loganberry canes and tying in new ones. This is my second go at it, third time should finish the job.
It tends to be a jungle in there and I was fighting bramble and greater bindweed.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Was 99F (37.2222222, etc.) here, yesterday. Overnight, between 55F and 60F). Supposed to start cooling off on monday. Can sleep fine, but, stay up kind of late flushing hot air out of the house, after sunset, with a good sized box fan.
Laying low, inside, except for taking care of the animals. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Nice to hear about the relief. Trees fall over here even on calm days too! Wow, I wouldn’t have thought that it would be either warm or dry enough in your part of the world to produce much in the way of any ant activity? As you quite rightly point out, the flying ants are potential queens for a new colony. They’re a problem here during autumn too. I don’t know anything about the ants in your area at all, but increasing the level of humic acid (i.e. top soil) tends to reduce ant activity (ants are the worms of the drylands – aerating and churning the soil). The bull ants here are massive (but fortunately seen less often) and will happily bite you and spray the entire bite area with formic acid. Nasty stuff, and you end up with a chemical burn which can itch and also produce localised swelling for days on end. It also produces a soreness in the nearest joint to the bite area. Ouch.

Your ants may eat houses, but you’d sort of think that it would already have happened by now? Also if the timber frame is kept dry, then the ants generally can’t set up a new colony in the timber. They prefer moist to damp (but not really wet) timber - the fungi get that. They’ll happily eat a tree here, but generally the upright trees which are dead become a bit too dry for their tastes – but a log on the ground is toast.

Yes, Queensland has some very unusual environments from desert to coastal rainforest, to mountains and every other possible environment in between - it really is an amazing place and I hope that you enjoyed your time there? It is important down here to keep a house structure dry and allow air to move across the timbers, otherwise...

Sorry to hear about your berries. They were late last summer here too. When does your berry harvest normally ripen? I wouldn’t be picking wild blackberries until about now if the seasons here were reversed. But cold seasons can make for very poor blackberries. Whilst hot and dry seasons are even worse.

Oh no, resurfacing of any kind is a sure way to bring on the rain! Hehe! Do you mean grading the road, or actual surfacing with bitumen? Good road surfaces do tend to make unusable roads look like a good short cut to many people. Or you might end up with the bike riding brigade and have a stream of tourists flocking past your front boundary all weekend long? Certainly, this place would be very different if a stream of tourists flocked past every weekend – like they do up on the main Mount Macedon Road.

Once the local steam society drove their historic tractors up the road and they were a very entertaining group of visitors.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Many thanks and high praise! The chickens are thoroughly enjoying themselves in their new enclosure too and they spend all day in the run regardless of the weather. A few of them have even started to lay eggs in the deep litter mulch instead of their comfy and clean laying boxes… Oh well!

Yeah, steel was the way to go because of the fire risk. It is a much harder material to work with but should survive the elements (hopefully) a lot longer than a timber structure.

I have been taking it a bit easier this week. Too much work and not enough play makes for a boring life! Homebrew is always good! And the fire and house is toasty warm.

I’m glad to hear that as I’m out in the orchard right now typing this and not one chicken has shown the good common sense of returning into their new enclosure. This means having to nab each and everyone of them and transporting them to their new home. It is a bit comical to see.

In between writing that and the chickens going to bed, the editor and I attempted a new “sheep dog” strategy and simply used eucalyptus branches with leaves in each hand and herded the chickens into their new enclosure. I’ll have to put some photos on the next blog as that is also comical to see!

Of course, the poor chickens have the equivalent of a wooly jumper on and will adapt to very hot weather by simply dropping their wooly jumper. They survive here well into the mid 40'C+ (104'F+) weather so all you really need to do is provide them with lots of fresh water and a clean place to dust bath. Don't be surprised if some of the chickens eat some of the feathers as they are a good source of protein. If the weather has a sudden drop, then provide your chickens with some warm mash (milk and oats or some other mash) to eat - otherwise they may be at risk of dying. Livestock down under is always at risk when the temperature changes from very hot to very cold which can happen during summer.

Haha! I wouldn't head out either! On an interesting side note, what are your plans for your story?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That sounds like worm heaven, although I reckon it would work even better if the box was not clear as worms get a bit funny about the light. Although having said that the UV from the sun up in your part of the world may not be lethal to the worms. It is great that you can collect the worm tea as I'd wondered where you got that from. It sounds like an excellent system. It is really amazing how all those soil critters simply eat a huge pile of organic matter into not very much at all in short order. Have you ever been mildly awed at how hard it must be to build top soil seeing such a system in action? The sewage system here works the same way although it is a bit bigger and no matter how much stuff I chuck in it, it always disappears...

Funnily enough you can buy boxes of those composting worms in hardware shops here. I reckon, they'd be the same worms as the earthworms here are much bigger again and you come across less of them.

Oh yeah, those worms will happily assist with you in decomposing your manure. They may need a bit of carbon too. Down here, people with such setups throw in rice husks or even saw dust and they never smell at all. The chickens here have the exact same system as the woody mulch acts like the rice husks or saw dust and their manure turns the whole lot into soil in short order. Their bedding straw provides the new input of carbon materials. And so the system goes. And yes, they would really work well for your future composting toilet.

Thanks for the insight re Julia Childs. Yeah, the media would have been very unforgiving about such things. Although some actors such as Jennifer Lawrence who is quite stunning appear to make the occasional stumble on the red carpet and people find that to be quite endearing as it can make them appear to be more accessable. It is a clever strategy. Sometimes movements can start because a few people are in the right place at the right time and perhaps that example in France was one of those times? Dunno.

The foxes do the same thing here as the coyotes and the native cats (spotted quolls) would have done the same thing. Certainly the owls do and you can hear them every night in slightly different locations in the forest, but sometimes they're very close. If I was Nell, I wouldn't get involved in coyote business at all and the front porch sounds like a place of haven!

Wow, what a storm! It wasn't quite that windy here, although I wasn't loitering around underneath trees either to find out. Glad to hear that people were prepared. The last time this happened I was caught out without the chainsaw and no way of getting back home. A neighbour rescued me, but also put me to work cutting and clearing trees. There is a tree on this road which has fallen over, but is now at a 45 degree angle caught up in another tree and leaning towards the powerlines. If it ever falls (which it will eventually), I won't be able to get out of the street.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

A dragon door stop would look very cool indeed and is a very good idea. In a very strange coincedence, I've decided to make a steel dragon out of scrap metal for the editors birthday next year to put up on one of the sheds here as a gargoyle - I need all of the time in case I totally stuff it up and have to make it all over again!

The extreme heat tends to slow egg production, as well as loud noises, wind, rain, comets, blood moons - pretty much anything out of the ordinary slows egg production. Certainly heat waves here will see the chickens shedding weight and feathers and slowing output. They're easily disturbed and indulge themselves with a regular routine.

It was very cold and rainy here today, but tomorrow the sun looks as though it will reappear from behind the clouds. I picked up a months supply of seconds apples today. You know, I reckon the seconds apples that I get are actually probably considered thirds, but they're really crisp and often merely undersized, bird, insect or frost damaged. They are actually better tasting and crisper than the firsts apples because they haven't travelled very far at all. I find a lot of first apples are very powdery nowadays. Do they grow many apples up your way and do you enjoy them?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Thank you, a lot of thought and planning went into that chicken shed. The chickens are very happy in there. Don't laugh as a few years ago, the farm got a direct hit from a tornado on Christmas day. I had just returned from an excellent Christmas celebration with friends and looked across the valley and said to the editor: "That's a funny looking cloud!". Oh my, words struggle to convey just how rough that weather was for about an hour and I had to run around outside making sure all of the drainage systems worked!

Congratulations on your entry into the world of chicken, your children will love them too. Make sure you buy a silky or two and make one of the children responsible for cleaning the water and supplying them with feed.

Firstly, you will get cats even in your urban area - although foxes may not be a problem for you ;-)!. Cats don't dig and hopefully dogs can't get into the area, so a basic frame with basic chicken wire can be OK. Try and keep the roof covered as the chickens are happier without the sun or rain on their heads - even if it is only a tarp - and it will also keep the frosts off their heads. The hutch can be a small timber shed attached to the run which will keep the wind off the chickens whilst they are laying or sleeping at night. Just make sure it is easy to clean out as they produce a lot of manure - which is great for your garden.

Store chicken feed in plastic garbage bins with lids to keep the rodents out of it otherwise you will be feeding the rodents. 20kg bags of free range feed costs about $20 and 15 birds will eat about 2 cups of that per day. Free range feed is identifiable seeds and will produce sprouts. Pellets are much cheaper again, but then if you can't recognise what you are feeding your chickens then you may well be feeding them ground up and cooked chicken as well as other things - just saying...

Thank you - the applicable word is gumption. And you don't see it often enough nowadays. You have gumption too.

I'll have to have a think about how to write about that issue without sending everyone to sleep. You may (or may not) have come across a recent article I wrote in the summer "Earthgarden" magazine (Number 170) about water tanks. It was very silly, actually really very silly, but I also slipped in some useful information so as not to send the readers to sleep. The photos were particularly funny and enjoyable, but it took about two months to come up with the ideas. If you have any suggestions, don't hold back!

Yes, I have solar hot water heating which can be sent around the house via the hydronic heating panels. The wood heater also heats that water. That source of heat also provides the hot water for the house. The wood heater can heat the house anyway.

You are not a newbie simply because you are asking the questions and such is the path to wisdom!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

No worries, but it is a hard subject to write about without sending everyone to sleep. If you have any ideas for presenting the information in an interesting way, I'd be more than happy to hear about it?

Yeah, of course cakes can be very complex without the correct measurements. I had a distastrous lemon cake once which completely failed to rise. It looked a damper - which is an old timer flat bread without yeast! Fortunately, that is the editors domain so I don't have to think about cakes. We split our roles between all of the different things that need to happen here. It is a bit too much for one person sometimes - but there is overlap when circumstances dictate.

Greater bind weed sounds like a nightmare. The lesser variety grows here and it gets in between everything and is very sticky. Hope that you get some loganberries and blackberries? I'm going to have to rely on the wild ones here this summer so fingers crossed. The tomato crop is more important in the short term...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, that's hot. Anytime it is either around or over body temperature, there isn't really much you can do to keep cool. Fortunately your nights - like here - are cooler. I keep the house open on those nights and it is then I'm grateful to not own a rooster as they crow all night long.

Stay safe and keep well and keep up your fluids - dehydration can make you do strange things.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The ants don't eat the houses here. They don't do any damage when they live in my walls, though they might if the wood was rotten. They slowly reduce the stumps of trees to dust. We have assorted varieties and at least one bites very painfully.

The blackberries start to ripen now and continue until the weather freezes.

Queensland is much my favourite part of Australia and I always loved being there. I used to stay for a month at a time every other year. Too old now for that horrendously long plane journey.

The road will be tarmacked and they have said that it will take 16 weeks!!! Traffic lights will be provided. I assume that the road will have to be properly underpinned with appropriate materials but it still seems a ludicrously slow business. No doubt they are hoping for decent weather at this time but it still seems insane to do it at the height of the holiday season. The road is very narrow and is currently a nightmare if one meets a coach.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Was 99F, again, yesterday. Oh, yes. I pay attention to keeping hydrated. I tank up on water before going out to work in the yard, and anytime I have to make a trip into the bog, I drink another big glass. Also, a small handful of salted nuts.

I luv my worms! Next time I toss the bedding straw from the chickens into the compost bin, I'll try adding worms, then. I might have better luck at getting them well established.

Yeah, I've always been amazed and fascinated by what happens when the right people end up in the right place at the right time to produce an explosion of creativity of one type or another. Art, literature, music. Greenwich village in the 20s. Ditto Paris after WWI. The Harlem Renaissance. February House in Brooklyn during WWII. The list goes on and on.

Can nothing be done about that tree leaning toward the power line? Call a tree trimmer, logger? Alert the Council? The power company?

The steel dragon sounds like a zinger. My friends who moved to Idaho? She makes scrap mettle wall hangings that look like quilts. She just did a rodeo themed one that won ribbons in her local county fair, and, ribbons in the next fair over. I think she's going to take it to the Idaho State Fair. There are small (very small) cash prizes. As I told her, maybe enough for her husband and her to buy a couple of corn dogs on the fair midway / carnival. :-).

Well, it looks like I'm feeding my chickens too much. I feed layer "crumbles." No wonder I get so much waste. And, they get "treats", every day, besides. At least rolled oats and sunflower seed. At best, the previous spiked with yogurt, well crushed egg shells, banana peel and apple. I refer to them as "the best fed hens in Lewis County." :-). I agree with putting feed bags in plastic garbage cans. I usually keep two bags of feed on the front porch and one in a covered garbage can down by the chook pen, in the garden shed. 50 pound bags. Hauling them down is a workout :-).

Washington is the leading apple producing state in the US. Mostly, the commercial bit is over by Yakima. Of course, I have the 5 dwarf trees in the front yard. Not so dwarf as they are 40 years old ... and, all I care to glen from the Abandoned Orchard. I usually get out my nifty little machine that cores and peels and put up several gallon bags in the freezer. And, all I can stuff in the back of the fridge. I am going to try making my own apple cider vinegar this year. $4+ for a 16oz bottle is ... tough. To paraphrase our Italian friend farms are not to make money, but to save money.

Continuing the First International Chehalis Australian Film Festival, I started watching season one of "A Place to Call Home." Filmed in New South Wales. Australia, 1953. It's pretty over the top. Kind of a low-rent Downton Abbey :-). Or, a high class "Dallas." :-). We'll see if it holds my attention. I guess it runs to 5 seasons! Lew

Jo said...

Chris, really, Earth Garden? That's on my bucket list of things to do in life - write an article for Earth Garden - for all of Chris' readers, here he is, in Australia's most well-known back-to-the-land mag:

http://www.earthgarden.com.au/pages/water-wisdom

I have dozens of back issues, but stopped buying them due to my 'not buying anything new year', but still re-read the old ones in the appropriate season, so much practical advice.. well done you!

Thanks for your chicken advice. So you have a roof over the whole run - if I did that the chookies wouldn't get any sun due to the aspect, and the run being built near a tall fence (suburbs, remember!) but they will have a couple of square metres of roof cover, as I am adapting an old cubby house with a covered verandah.. and they might appreciate the sun here in Tas. The hottest it will ever get here is about 32C, and they will have plenty of shade if they want it.. hmm, will have to think about this, because they may need a winter roof to protect them from the rain.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

My niece tried keeping three backyard chickens and an opossum killed them. I didn't have a good look at the chickens' house before they came to an untimely end, so I don't know how the possum got in. I talked to someone else who stocked a small ornamental pond with carp, and a possum fished them all out. Opossums are common in many parts of the United States, originally a country animal, but they have adapted well to cities and suburbs.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Sorry to hear about the potential for painful ant bites - they're a nightmare here and the only response is rapid first aid involving cleaning the sprayed area with methylated spirits and then heavy doses of anti-histamines. Why a small ant requires enough acid in one bite and spray too knock out a human is well beyond me. But then the snakes are much worse again! The Aboriginals used to use a local fruit tree (Cherry Ballart) as a topical applicant in snake bites but I'm unsure how and don't wish to find out the hard way.

On the other hand ants that can turn a tree stump into ant manure (and thus into soil) are a very useful species.

We would be operating on about the same time for blackberries here. I'd be interested to hear how they are growing this year up in your part of the world. I've had to abandon the work on the blackberry enclosure as it may not be possible to get the plants in the ground before spring.

Ha! It is a long plane journey from here too! Way back in the last century, I travelled through a fair bit of Queensland. I have a very soft spot for the Atherton table lands and the coast up near the Daintree rain forest. It is a spectacular state to visit. Did you manage to fit in a bit of travelling during your month there?

What? You get coaches on your road! What are they doing there? What a nightmare. The works will take them right into early winter. At least they are providing traffic lights which sort of indicates that they'll do the road a little bit at a time? Maybe?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Those are tough weather conditions. The salted nuts are a very good idea. I sometimes finish a work day with a rehydration solution which can help - but salt and water is a good idea. As an interesting side note, do you get much talk of peanut allergies up your way? When I was a child, I'd never even heard about such things. Life without peanut butter would be hard.

Yeah, the soiled bedding straw would be full of carbon, nitrogen and phosphate which all makes for happy worms! Go hard.

Is it people in the right place at the right time or is it people grasping at opportunities presented to them? Dunno, what do you reckon?

That tree problem falls into the NMP category which stands for Not My Problem. If the mains power goes out, what do I care? I spoke to the vegetation management people about the tree and they only have so many resources... It is a tough thing to learn what to care about and what not to care about. What is your take on that issue?

Thanks. Yeah, you mentioned her work before and it sounds very good. Wishing them luck at the State Fair. Yes, maybe they can buy a pizza to share with from the prize money. Still, it is a real credit to her to be able to take scrap metal and make something noteworthy of it.

Your chickens sound as if they are in chicken heaven. There is no real waste with chickens as they eventually get to all of it. The uneaten seeds used to sprout in the old chicken run here and the chickens would happily enjoy all of the sprouts - perhaps even more so than - the seeds.

Apples are funny fruit trees because they do need a bit of heat as well as plenty of water. Yakima has a fascinating climate as we've discussed before and it is great to hear that they grow so many apples in that part of the world.

The apple growing area is much further north of here down under and like your farm, they too enjoy a hotter and drier climate. Yes, Salvatore was on the money with that very astute observation. I wonder whether Annie has penned an update given all of the tumultuous goings on in Italy.

I moved a few fruit trees today because they were in the wrong spots and wow, the apricots had some of the longest root systems of any fruit trees that I have ever seen. Seriously, the root systems went out on a 3 year old fruit tree for about 10 foot in all sorts of directions. Honestly, at the end of the moving process as it was getting dark I just sort of went: Yeah, that is good enough for that tiny fruit tree!

5 seasons! Wow, you have more stamina for such things than I. It takes me a couple of days just to watch a single movie as instalments are the best that I can give. That is probably why I love going to the cinema though as there is no escape. I have to confess that I'm looking forward to heading out to see the new rom com (yeah, yeah! hehe!) Train-wreck which is released here over the next few days.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Guilty as charged! I've been supplying articles to them for a few years. As an observation, you can write very clearly and have interesting things to say - why not write an article for them? If you are interested in pursuing that option, I can offer my editing services - just for that particular forum?

Ha! That was one of the funniest articles that I'd written for quite a while and the other photo - almost made the front cover! Good fun!

Well, if you have a published article, you may just wind up with a free annual subscription. Incentives abound.

Wow, 32'C is a very pleasant summers day and unfortunately being further north than you it does get hotter than that. The chickens will struggle with the winter conditions as they will scratch up their entire run and if you add manure and rainfall to it, the whole lot will get sludgy. That is why I added a roof to their outdoor run. The woody mulch now stays dry and the chickens spend all day long outside of their hutch.

PS: I noted that you have an entry for the Spacebats competition: The Milk Maid and The Boy Who Cried For the Moon . Congratulations and best of luck. I'll try to read it as time permits over the next couple of weeks.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Deborah,

Thanks for that comment. Yeah, possums down under are herbivores and would never dare touch a chicken - although they could eat the entire orchard over a couple of weeks! Fortunately the local owl population are onto that and clean them up very quickly - it is a bit blood curdling.

I had no idea that opossums which I'm sure they're related to the ones here are omnivores until Lewis pointed it out to me. What a nightmare! Possums are very common here in the urban areas too. You'd never forget a possum fight if you've ever heard one. ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Was 95F (35C), here, yesterday. Now it will get a bit cooler. I managed to pick just over a half gallon of blackberries. They're safely in the freezer. Only 4 1/2 gallons left to go! :-). I'm just a little early. There were a few that have already dried on the bush, and plenty of green ones. I had to go pretty far afield to get a half gallon. Up around the old farm. Kept my ears sharp for any bears. There's a lot of old tumbled out buildings that bang in the wind. Found 3 plum trees that I didn't know were there. A small, tart light yellow and two sweet with a blush of pink. They need a few more days.

My chickens did something I hadn't seen before, yesterday. I was feeding them their afternoon treats when 3 dove for the henhouse and the rest cowered under the fennel (7 feet tall). I looked up, and at quit a hight were 8 Turkey Vultures riding the thermals. They moved off and the Ladies resumed their business. :-). I haven't heard of the vultures being a danger to chickens. The Bald Eagles, yes. But, they seem to avoid my little cluster of buildings. Also, I finally got curious enough about the waspy pollinators on the fennel. Besides the honey bees. Bald Faced Wasps. They don't seem to mind me moving around the chicken yard, but from what I read, are protective of their nests. A huge papery thing is around, somewhere.

Yeah, we hear a lot about peanut butter allergies, here. Never heard about it when I was a kid, either. And I also don't know what I'd do without peanut butter. Sometimes dinner is just sesame rice crackers smeared with peanut butter, a big glass of milk and a piece of fruit.

Oh, I think it's sometimes "right place, right time." Housing stocks (cheap). And, I think public spaces are important. Bars and cafes.

A bit more on the Bryson movie. It's NOT a documentary. It's a feature film with Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Mary Steenburgen and Emma Thompson. Opens in Australia September 3d. Title "A Walk in the Woods."

Well, our library system has the first two seasons of "A Place to Come Home To." Series check out for 3 weeks at a time. So, I watch an episode or two a night. Going to give the blackberries a day to recover. Besides, it's supposed to be cooler, tomorrow. Lew