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marlingardener's Blog

Farm living and laughing


Coop d' Grace

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:30 pm

Our dictionary defines "coup d' grace" as "any final stroke."
This weekend we built the new outside coop for the hens, and believe me, this is the final one. If the hens want another coop they can build it themselves. This is the "coop d' grace" on this farm!
We started early Saturday morning, assembling the frame (which I had already painted in the hens' chosen color). Struggling with 16' of frame in a nice Texas breeze will work up an appetite in no time! After a break for breakfast (eggs of course) we finished attaching the framework to the 4'x4's that I had trenched into the ground. Then we put in the cross members for strength (remembering the time Ruby Begonia put her fluffly little behind against the wire and pushed until it popped free and she spent some free time outside the coop).
By mid-afternoon we were pretty tuckered, and we still hadn't attached any chicken wire. The ladies were inside, watching the progress and supervising from their high perch. They do like to keep an eye on the help! We decided to do the wire the next day.
Sunday morning my husband fired up the compressor and got out the staple gun while I struggled to unwind new chicken wire. If you ever need something rolled up really, really tight, hire the guy that rolls chicken wire. We spent the morning stretching wire across the frames and stapling it really securely (fluffy behind proof) and bleeding. Did I mention that chicken wire is very prickly? Handling it without getting scratched or poked is not possible.
Shortly after noon we finished:

Coop de grace in progress ( photo / image / picture from marlingardener's Garden )
and let the ladies inspect their new outside coop:

Oh, we have a new coop! ( photo / image / picture from marlingardener's Garden )
The ladies seem to like it, and in appreciation laid extra eggs on Monday. Who said chickens have no gratitude?





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Wrestling with a rose

Category: Flower gardens | Posted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:13 pm

As I mentioned on "My Garden" I spent yesterday afternoon wrestling with a rose. I think the rose won.
There is a very large (6' tall, almost as wide) rose bush in back of the manse at the church up the road. Last fall when I went to get cuttings, I noticed a lot of dead wood on the rose, and it was covered with bindweed.
Never one to leave well enough alone, I asked permission to prune and refresh the bush. The congregation knows a sucker when they see one, so I quickly got permission.
I should have sold tickets to the performance! First I put on my heaviest gloves and started pulling bindweed off. That was when I found my gloves weren't really all that heavy. I put a pair of my husband's gloves over mine--that kept the bleeding to a minimum.
Then I got my long-handled loppers and attacked some of the bigger dead branches. They attacked right back.
After I managed to wrestle the branches out of the rose bush and pick the thorns, leaves, and heaven-knows-what out of my hair, I decided to wear a hat. The next challenge was to wrestle my hat out of the rose bush where some thorns were holding on to it for dear life. Who knew roses were fashionistas?
Finally I got down to cutting away the dead tips and de-suckering the bush (and no, that doesn't mean that this sucker was leaving!). I managed pretty well since I had on long sleeves, and I'm likely to heal up in a week or two.
By this time I had a pickup truck loaded with debris, all of it thorny and none of it willing to stay in place. I had a tarp, so I tied that over the bed of the truck to hold everything until I could get home to our burn pile. Have you ever tried to get a tarp OFF a load of thorny stems? It takes a while and it is not fun!
When my husband got home and saw my scratches, band-aids, and generally tuckered appearance, he said, "Oh, you got at that rose bush. Who won?"

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Hens' new view

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:46 pm

Yesterday was "finish preparing for spring" day, which involved taking down the tarp that keeps a cold wind from blowing into the hens' coop. The tarp is hung in the barn aisle, just outside the coop and effectively screens the inside coop.
After the tarp was down, all the ladies lined up on their lower perch and looked at the barn aisle. You could almost hear the conversation:
"Look at that, I've never seen that before!"
"Wonder when they built a barn out there?"
"Lucy, look! They have equipment!"
"Do you see anything to eat?"
Chickens are known for having short memories, and after all, they have only lived in the barn for three years. You really couldn't expect them to remember there was a barn attached to their coop!


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planting and watering

Category: Vegetable gardens | Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:24 pm

I just finished watering the seed beds in the vegetable gardens. So far only the spring spinach is poking its head up, but the seeds were only planted four days ago.
Thank heavens for our big water containers that collect rainwater off the barn roof. I don't have to lug water nearly as far as previously, and having it near to hand, I do a better and more generous job of watering!
This afternoon I'll be setting a plank between two sawhorses, cutting and sorting seed potatoes, and putting them out to heal over. I'll set the plank and sawhorses under the big hackberry tree so the potatoes will be shaded, but have great air circulation (winds are 10-15 mph today, which for Texas is a gentle breeze).
The hens will keep an eye on me while I'm working. I have six beady-eyed supervisors!

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Sounds of early morning

Category: Nature | Posted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:29 pm

We get up early, between 5 and 5:30 a.m. We get to see a lot of stunning sunrises, but one of the best things about being up and about so early is what we hear.
This morning we heard the white-crowned sparrows twittering in the juniper trees. They are small birds, but loud! They spend the night in the junipers for cover and warmth.
The farm across the road from us has cattle, and we heard several of the heifers complaining about the cold. They don't "moo" but rather give out with an "aahh" sound. The bull, on the other hand, blasts!
Killdeer fly over, and it seems a killdeer in flight has to cry. Silence is not their forte! A few ducks came into the pond, and we heard them discussing the fishing possibilities.
Getting up and getting outside brings a symphony of lovely sounds. We enjoy the view, but we also enjoy the sounds!

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Hens are funny!

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:45 pm

Bear with me, this is the first time I've written a blog. In fact, until recently I thought blogs were a gardening shoe!
As some of you know from my postings, we have six Australorp hens, complete with names and personalities (but no teeth). Yesterday I was giving Rosie her weekly physical exam by running my hands over her body and talking gently to her. I found a lump on her chest! I tucked her under my arm and started frantically searching for the growth. What I found was a piece of breakfast linguini that had gotten stuck in her feathers and dried out. Hens are very messy eaters. I had to pull two feathers to remove her food residue, which did not make Rosie happy!
As I was working with Rosie, Stumpy decided to go walk-about. She managed to get through the coop door and into the barn aisle. I dumped Rosie, minus a few feathers, and went after Stumpy, who refused to re-enter the coop. Finally I went out of the barn, got some Swiss chard from the garden, and started feeding them treats in the outside coop. Stumpy set up a ruckus because she couldn't get at the goodies! I went back in, opened the coop door, and Stumpy shot inside to join the rest of the flock.
And all this before 7:30 a.m.!

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