My Edible Garden

I've been gardening for most of my life and have been a devoted fan of organic gardening the whole time. It just makes so much more sense to work in harmony with Mother Nature than to fight her. Besides which it is better for the planet and better for our bodies. Here you can see what I'm planting and harvesting, with gardening hints and resources thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Broody silkie with a couple of babies
Well the broody coop isn't finished yet, but little mamma is just as happy in a crate in the house.

Only three chicks hatched, two Black Copper Marans and one Easter Egger. I am waiting to see if any more decide to pop out, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm afraid either my temperature or humidity were a bit off this time around.

I have a new thermometer /hygrometer unit on it's way. According to tracking it will probably arrive tomorrow, so hopefully the next hatch will be better.

In the pick the EE chick is on the right. The other Marans chick has already scooted under mamma for a warm up.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Slow Progress

pop door open
Well it was slow going today on the little silkie coop. I did manage to fix up the sliding pop door though.

pop door closed

door frame try out

I also got the door frame built and tried on for size. But then things got really bogged down. I wanted to use some small panes of glass that I had but of course they were just slightly too big. So a lot of time wasted finagilling what else to use and how to go about it. I'm still working on this problem.

I did manage to put some tar paper on the roof. And in other news, I did actually work in the garden today, but I forgot to take a pic. Of course all you would see would be white row covers. I planted some lettuce in one bed and some carrots in the other.

I also emptied part of my worm box of compost to spread on the seeds I planted. I thought about feeding some of the worms to the chickens but decided to wait until next time I clean out the box as I want to get the population up there before summer.

I also just took a few minutes and hung out with the birds.

Mr. No Name


Mr. Snowman

Since the coop did not get finished and the eggs are due to start hatching tomorrow, I brought the broody girl in to a crate so I can give her the chicks as soon as they hatch. She did not like the box I gave her for a nest but as soon as I put a couple of eggs on the crate floor she promptly sat on them. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Roof Goes on the Silkie Coop

rafters installed
Well as predicted I didn't get much of anything done on the little silkie coop during the week; just not enough day light after work.

Here's where I left off, with the rafters on, during the week I managed to put up the trim around the back vent and install one bird block.

Today I added the rest of the bird blocks and started on the roof.

roof decking going on

roof in progress

Like the rest of the coop the roof is not really square or quite flat. But with two or three layers of tar paper it ought to be weatherproof until I can get some sort of shingles or roofing on it.

hole in the floor
I also cut the hole in the floor for a sliding pop door to the bottom section of the coop.

Tomorrow I'll add several layers of tar paper to the roof, figure out how to make the supports for the sliding door and finish constructing that. Then I just need a door on the front and it will be done enough for the broody mamma to take up residence. If it doesn't all happen before dark, then broody mamma will spend a few days in the house while coop construction is completed, because the eggs are supposed to hatch on Monday!

And I still haven't spent a dime on this coop!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Silkie Coop-hitting the home stretch

east wall , trim try on for size
Well another day working on the coop. I really feel like I didn't get that much done today, but that's because a lot of what I did was fiddly bits like trim work.

Stapled wire on the east wall, cut and fit the trim boards to go over them, then took them off to paint them.

mmmm there is something wrong with this picture

Did any of you notice that something might be wrong with the inside of the back wall in this picture from yesterday?

that's better!
I was up in the coop getting ready to put all the trim boards in when I realized "DUH!! you forgot to cut out for the vent on the inside!!!" So I popped off the back paneling and fixed that.  While I was putting it back on decided it need a coat of paint. The wood is so old and dried out it's getting crumbly. So two coats of off white interior paint. Then the trim, which I painted with the same blue paint as the back wall downstairs.

East wall with trim

Some other fiddly bits are that I added 1/4" hardware cloth over the window openings. Cut and painted the trim boards to go around the vent. Need to decide what I"m doing around the inside of the window openings. Put the trim boards back on the east side when the paint was dry.  Just before dark I got the center rafter put on but by then it was getting too dark to take a picture.

I don't think it's going to be chicken ready by this weekend. In which case I may try bringing broody mamma into the little crate in the house so I can give her the chicks when they hatch. Then move them all into the coop as soon as it's done.

Back to the day job tomorrow, so probably not much progress to be made the next few days, we shall see.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Another Day's Work On The Silkie Coop

back/north wall
Well I spent another whole day working on this little coop. Here is the back wall all done up and painted. I love this yellow ochre color, it is bright and cheery without being a garish primary color. I picked up about five or six gallons of mistints at Ace a couple of months ago to use on the new chicken house. Just couldn't pass up $5 a gallon for exterior paint!

west wall started
You can see in the next picture that I painted the inside of the back wall blue. This was some leftover interior paint from my paint cupboard. I think it will be alright in this area since it won't get a lot of rain or sun under there. And I started the west wall.

West wall finished

Here is the west wall finished. I have to make a window to go in the opening. I have decided if I run out of time I will just put up the wire and cover with plastic and finish the windows after the rest is done.

west wall with first coat

I am out of Kilz but found some off white interior paint in the cupboard to use as a primer coat

west wall painted

then it got a coat of the yellow ochre. And you can see here that I found a piece of paneling out in the shed. It's probably about 25 yrs old, leftover from re-doing a room in the house.

The inside
I also finished and painted the east wall. I found a piece of shower board hiding in the spare room to use as the floor.

Last year some friends brought me some bits of scrap and trim and there was enough of this baseboard molding to go all the way around!

Come back tomorrow to see what color I painted it!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

It's Coming Along

Where I left off on Friday
Worked all day on the new Silkie coop. Well here's where I left off Friday evening, with the back wall done, the vent installed.

with a coat of Kilz
and here it is with a coat of Kilz on it

front wall done

Then I made two more rafters, put one on the front edge and boarded up the top of the front wall. The whole open space will have a door that drops down for clean out and to reach the birds. From front to back the interior space is 40" and I can reach to the back wall through the opening.

east end wall

I have some loose panes of glass from old windows that the frames have rotted out. I'm building a small window to go here. This is the east end wall, boarded up and coated with Kilz.

front wall painted

I painted the front wall while I was at it. As you can see it was almost dark when I quit and picked up my tools. I am now totally out of Kilz. I'll have to check the paint cupboard and see what else is in there for a primer coat.

Tomorrow I'll work on the west end wall and fool with the windows some more. After that, work on the interior, then put the roof on.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Busy Busy Building!

Blue Silkie rooster
If you had told me a year ago that I would be building doll house coops for foo foo chickens I would probably have laughed in your face. However, things change and I am learning, never say never!

I have now been given 5 silkies, bought one and won some in a raffle at a poultry show. I had decided that since Silkies have a great reputation as broodies and very good mammas that it would be nice to have some as baby sitters for my other chicks. 

So now of course they must have housing. Some are living out in bigger coops because they came with a group of foster birds that were later given to me and they were used to it. The others were much smaller and younger when I brought them home so they are sharing the baby coop but it's getting crowded in there.

One Silkie is broody and since I have eggs in the incubator I decided to build her a little coop so I can give her the chicks to take care of when they hatch.

I have also decided that I wanted to make these small coops cute & fun. Something that would make me smile whenever I go by them. Since they will be in the side yard right  near the front gate, that will be several times a day. So I have been designing in my head, and poring over tons of pictures of cute little chicken coops on the internet. Last weekend I got busy.

coop floor and framing boards

I happened to have picked up a pallet that was 40x48" with a piece of heavy plywood already nailed to it. That would become the floor. It looked a little greasy so I checked the paint cabinet and found part of a can of Kilz, getting a bit dried out, but a lot of stirring and a touch of water got it to a brushable consistency. So I put on two coats and while they were drying I found and cut some boards to make legs and a frame work.

Mr. Abominable Snowman

That was about all I had time for the first day.  The next day I managed to attach the legs and frame work and cover the back wall with boards on the bottom half.

The coop will be a double decker, the top enclosed to be safe from predators and to be warm at night, with the bottom enclosed with wire so they can have sunshine and fresh air during the day and still be safe.

A lot of details are still fuzzy because there are no plans except the picture in my head and that changes with each new idea as well as each new piece of found material that I can recycle. I did however decide to work out a gable roof because I wanted to practice making the angles. I haven't done that in almost 30 years and have forgotten nearly everything I knew about doing it.

The framework as of Friday evening
I've been slathering on the Kilz as I go, to help protect the wood from the weather. All of this wood is from pallets and is rough and raw. I figured it needs all the help it can get. So here are a couple of the boys checking it out before I got started on it this evening. I got a little bit more done before dark, but no picture. I'll take a picture in the morning before I get started.

It is not quit square or plumb. However it is, after all, just a chicken house and they won't care, as long as it isn't drafty in their sleeping quarters and has enough fresh air and light, they will be quite happy.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Big News

coop west end
Well I know I have been a terrible blogger! I hope to be able to keep up a bit better in the future. Yay! The major part of the new chicken coop is done! Whew! Almost a year in the making. There is of course still a lot more to do, attach the gutter and set up the water collector, lots of fiddly trim work, a couple of interior partitions to finish, run some wire around on the ground to prevent diggers, a paint job, some shutters for the open side for really bad weather.... But the major structure is done, enclosed and hopefully predator proof!

In the pic of the east end you can see what look like patches on the front wall. Those are just scrap boards covering the openings for the pop doors. Once the area is fenced in, I'll build the sliding doors and take the boards off so the birds can go in and out when they want. In the meantime I just let groups out in rotation.

coop east end

And just in time. I am sooo blessed to have met my friend Cindy and I have been overwhelmed by her generosity and kindness. I have been drooling over these beautiful Buff Orpingtons bred by Vicki Dawson in South Carolina for a long time. I truly thought it would be a very long time before I would ever get the chance to have some of her birds in my coop. Well, Cindy purchased a pair, Claude & Claire and had them shipped. Everything was fine until Claude began to 'sing'. His singing was not appreciated and he needed to live elsewhere. Cindy has now asked me to partner with her and there are times when I still pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming!

Claude, 100% English Buff Orpington

That's Claire in the background, she was being very camera shy today and I could not get any good pics of her before it was too dark this afternoon. (It starts getting dark in my canyon about 3:00 this time of year!) Claire is not laying yet, probably another month or so. Then we will hatch some babies.

Behind Claire in the pic are the layers, checking out the new kids in the coop.