Welcome to One-Quarter Acres

Here's a chronicle of life on a plot of land right smack in the suburbs in Minnesota, whose owners would much prefer to be in the middle of nowhere.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chicken ladies in the hen hizz-ouse

Staying up really, really late one night paid off when I was able to jump on an offer through the Twin Cities Chickens on a cheap-or-for-trade coop. I ended up trading handmade soap and a bunch of canned goods for this nice coop to the right. It's not winterized (yet) and there's not a good way to enclose them for the night beyond making sure they're in the coop/run, but it's great for two hens (which is what I can have in my city without a permit) and a great start, too.

The ladies themselves came from Craigslist. A woman was picking out what birds she wanted to take to the fair and which would stay, and had some year-old Buff Orpingtons that she wanted to find homes for so that she could keep some of the younger birds. While Partridge Cochins were tempting, ultimately, I went with the Buff Orpingtons because they were already laying and are better layers in general. When you only have two hens and you want some eggs, you gotta get a breed serious about their egg-laying.

The ladies aren't too thrilled with our dog, kids, or me, and didn't want me going all paparazzi on them, but I managed to snap this picture of Beatrice (on the left) and Mabel (on the right). I think that's who is who. My husband decided that the fatter one is Mabel and, thus, the skinnier one is Beatrice. Beatrice had a bit of an adventure today when my dad let the dog out of the house when the back gate happened to be open. It took three adults and a pint-sized neighbor boy to corral her, which the neighbor boy eventually did. I told him he'd have to come visit our chickens sometime, and he seemed eager to do so. This, however, emphasizes the need to put a wee bit of fencing between our garage and the neighbor's fence, as that is prime small-creature escape-route area.

The ladies had a nice dinner of our leftover dinner. I hope they sleep well, and that someone leaves me an egg tomorrow (preferably in a spot I can access easily).

The "farm," she grows!

My brilliant idea this year was to move the tomatoes and green beans out of my three (little) raised beds and into containers. They've been growing like crazy on the driveway, which I have renamed the "toma-patio." The green beans are very happy in their big storage bin, and they are also not climbing all over my other plants. A big win all around!

There's an amazing number of blossoms on my cucumbers, melon, and winters squash plants. I have high hopes.

This year is the first I've grown garlic, and that has been fun, since it's so enthusiastic and the first thing out of the ground when it gets a little warmer. I'm also growing malabar spinach, which is neither a malabar nor a spinach, and I am mildly frightened of it, as it found its trellis all by itself, even being several inches away. My daughter (four years old today; how time flies!) likes pulling leaves off and making a "leaf sandwich" and chomping it down while meandering through the yard.

Potatoes are new for me, as well. I built a couple of potato towers. Unfortunately, I ran out of compost and straw before I ran out of room in the cylinders of fencing, but I have high hopes that I will at least get a few potatoes out of them.

My grape vines are growing wildly, and I need to prune them. I need to read up on how the heck to prune them, first. I don't think I'll get grapes from the red table grape, as that died all the way down to the ground this winter, but maybe more than one tiny bunch of concord grapes will develop.

I wish I could say I've been eating all sorts of greens from my garden for awhile, but I think greens hate me. I had ONE spinach plant, total. There's some bolt-resistant Romaine growing well, but I think that the heat we're having now might lower its resistance and bolting is imminent. I had horrible germination with beets (two are growing), carrots (five), and chard (two). The happiest plants, as always, seem to be beans and anything I have nothing to do with starting the seeds of.


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