Fancy Fencing for Feathered Friends

The 18″ high fencing we’d been using to keep our 4 chickens in their designated 300 square foot area had been falling short for quite some time.  The Silkies had figured out how to squeeze through and Henrietta could just give a little hop and just roam free all through the yard, which is not a good thing.  I decided I’d had enough of chasing chickens around the yard when I came home from the store, so I did a little research and found this blog post from Sunny Simple Life and knew it was just what I had in mind.  Something nice looking, blends well with the garden and is functional.

Before (morning dirt bath under the Double Delight Nectarine):

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After:

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I purchased it at Lowe’s and it took about 2 hours to install with metal posts that hammer into the ground.  The fencing slides onto the posts and then links together to the panel next to it.  In order to still have access into their space, we left one panel un-linked, sawed off the metal post at the bottom of the panel to prevent drag and then turned around the next panel and continued along.

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I love the leaf design.  Now I know the chickens aren’t causing mischief in the rest of the yard, which makes me an even happier chicken owner.

And a couple fun veggies:

White heirloom cuke

White heirloom cuke

My first butternut squash!

My first butternut squash!

Summer Beauty

I’ve allowed the Cinnamon Basil to flower because darn it if I can’t bring myself to pinch those lovely purple flower stems.

An enticing pumpkin flower beckoning the sun and the bugs.  Look closely and you can see a baby pumpkin peeking out in the lower left corner.

Love. The plant, the berry, the colors.

Pole green beans

Lemon cukes hanging out on a lazy Friday morn.

Mandevilla. This year I took a stab at growing it for the first time and I’m a fan. The secret? Fertilizer. It likes to dry out between watering, too. Here is graces the hen hang out around their coop, adding some soft lines and color to the dirt digs.

All 5 girls are broody. They just sit in here. All. Day.

Sighs from the absence of delicious eggs aside, I’ve come to accept, even feel relief when broodiness ascends upon my Silkies.  It gives them a break from so much production (an egg a day for each hen) and it gives me a break as well from overlooking while they’re out and quieting morning squawking.

I don’t try to break them, dip them in ice baths or isolate in a cage.  I wait the few weeks for them to finish their cycle and start laying again on their own.  No stress.  I let nature do it’s thing.  That is, after all, why I have them in the first place.  To live a bit closer to nature and to go with the ebb and flow.  Have a good, calm, natural life, sweet hens.

Things Are Heating UP!

Now that Summer is officially here and has brought with her consistently high 70’s daytime temps and low 60’s nighttime temps, my veggies (and I) are thanking her.  The tomatoes are starting to really set fruit, whereas for the past month the flowers were just falling off before swelling into fruit.  The Moon and Stars Watermelon is starting to actually look like a vine instead of a little seedling.  The peaches on the no-name peach tree are nearing full ripeness.  Cucumbers are happily weighing down my trellis.  Baby pumpkins are peeking their little selves out of the vines and all is right with the world.  Or at least in my garden, anyway.

Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato on it’s way to ripening.

The Moon and Stars Heirloom watermelon has started to take off in recent days.

Peaches giving a rosy “Hello! Here I am!”

This Cherokee Purple Heirloom tomato is growing in a grow bag! This is my healthiest tomato plant and has set more fruit than any other Cherokee Purples around the garden. GO Grow Bags!

Case in point.

And more from the same grow bag tomato plant.

Lemon Cukes are ready for munching!

And I’ll leave you with a photo of my most recent harvest. Long Live Homegrown!

My First Sunflower

Mammoth Sunflower points it’s head toward the morning sun.

I saw this sunflower from my kitchen window as I made breakfast this morning and I knew I had to share.  There’s something inherently happy and serene about these flowers.  (And they even have edible seeds!)

The yellow scallop summer squash is starting to produce!

A young lemon cucumber.

The pumpkin patch is off to a roaring start! Even with last year’s experience, I still underestimated their prolific nature. Good thing they can sprawl out and around.

A 3/4 shot of one of my beds. Hi Silkies!

Success and Struggle

Let’s begin with the success.  Whenever given the option, I always chose the good news first.

Jarrahdale pumpkin in the making.

This Australian heirloom will mature into a bluish-grey beauty.  I planted these seeds a mere 8 weeks ago and the vines are growing up a storm, complete with baby pumpkins.  One of my most favorite things to grow, by far.

Persian Little Finger cucumbers climbing up the trellis netting.

Last year I grew my first cucumber plant, which happened to be a lemon cuke.  This year I added one more type of cucumber to my arsenal.  I’m super pleased with the Persian Little Finger’s growth and prolific cucumbers.  They are mild and slightly sweet.

Now here comes the struggle I’ve been facing and attempting to remedy.  I can only assume that mice have been living in my yard since time immemorial.  With the addition of the chicken coop and veggie garden, either their numbers have increased or they’re just becoming lackadaisical in their sense of stealth.  I’m willing to bet it’s a bit of both.  No matter how many I catch, there just seem to always be more.  I was first humbled by their presence in early spring when my potato foliage started disappearing.  I’ve learned that one of their most favorite snacks out of the summer vegetable garden is the beans.  I have had about 14 pole green bean plants of different types.  The mice go right for the main stalks of the plant, biting them right in half.  About 5 tall beans that had been making their way up the trellis with dozens of little green bean flowers started wilting while the others were doing just fine.  Upon closer inspection I could see that the stalks had been severed.  Talk about one of the biggest bummers of the spring plantings.  However, the silver lining of these rodent shenanigans is that I’ve been able to leave the plant base in tact and they have regenerated.

Now since I’ve been told that I have one of the largest melons (brains) in the animal kingdom, I hatched a plan to outwit my fellow green bean lover.  And it happened to be free, without even a trip to the local home improvement store.  Plastic bottles.  Yup.  Since the mice were only causing damage around the base, I was able to fashion a sort of collar for the bottom 8 inches or so of the plant.  The types of bottles that I used were slick enough that perhaps the mice feet cannot find any traction to climb up.  I cut the tops and bottoms off of CLEAR plastic containers (juice, milk, gatorade, water) and one cut through from top to bottom to get it around the plant.  Voila.

My poor decapitated beans.

So far so good on my homemade mice deterrents.  Take that!