Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Belated welcome to a new year!

Blogging for me is a funny thing. I write for my day job, and it's always a topic that's important for the readers as a general rule. So when I think about writing more for this blog, I always think I need to hold off until I get a picture of so-and-so project or until this-or-that project is finished, but the fact of the matter is, I imagine many people might actually like to read about the journey instead of the destination. Also, I imagine I'm not alone here, but I tend to start quite a few projects before finishing another. It's part of my charm... ask my wife!

So I'm going to whip up a bit of an update on what's been going on in and around the farm for the last month.

The rabbits are growing so quickly, and I recently mated one of the females for babies next month. I built a little nest box out of scrap plywood, which I had to remake at one point because it was about 1/16th of an inch too large to fit through the rabbit hutch door! But overall, I think it should work well. I also bought some smaller-gap wire mesh to attach to the walls of their cages so the babies don't fall out. Quick tip: if you plan to breed rabbits, those cages you get from Tractor Supply or Walmart with the 2-inch gaps will not work without modification. I learned that the hard way. The babies are actually small enough to slip through those 2-inch gaps after they climb out of the nest box.

I finished the fencing for the hog pen, although I still need to string up the electrical wires and hook that all up. I figure if I wait long enough, every question I have about this whole thing will eventually be answered as I research more and more about electric fences. So far, that theory is working, but I think I'm ready. If only it would stop raining now!

I'm building a hog house based on an idea I read somewhere for fencing made of pallets. See, wooden pallets are free (as long as you don't get caught... I kid! I kid!) and can be found behind most warehouses, grocery stores, department stores, etc. Since they're designed with a gap between the two slats of wood, you can put two t-posts on each end to hold them up vertically. I'm going to use that concept to build a 3-pallet-long, 1-pallet-deep (so roughly 12 feet long by 4 feet deep and 4 feet high) hog house that can easily be taken down and moved each year when I rotate the crop fields. All you need to do is lift the pallets off the two t-posts on each piece, pull up the t-posts from the ground and set it up again in the other field. The top will be the only assembled part that won't come apart being three pallets across with old metal roofing screwed into the top and large handles on each side for two people to lift up and move. I'll put latches on the roof to attach it to the vertical pallets because it gets insanely windy on this mountain. Once I get that completed I'll take pictures and post them.

My seven chickens are still doing fine since I moved them into that 10x10 kennel with the scrap-wood chicken house. I'm going to close up one side of the barn where the chickens used to be and make that into a proper chicken house soon. McMurray Hatchery has day-old chicks available earlier than ever this year (on January 30th), so I ordered another 25 to grow my flock again before spring. This time I ordered a mix of Cornish Rocks (fast-growing meat chickens) and brown egg-layers. I also ordered some goslings, but they're not available until March.

It's amazing how quickly this winter is passing by. As I'm starting (and sometimes finishing) more projects, I always have in the back of my mind this idea that I have all winter to finish them before we start getting goats and pigs in the spring. Well, here in Alabama, Spring is about 6 weeks away, so I better get busy! We've actually maintained some nice 60-degree days each week of the winter so far, but it can still dip down into the 20s at night.

Which brings me to the upcoming garden. I ordered a whole bunch of seeds from Gurney's a few weeks ago and they're currently sitting in a box here in my office. I was hoping to build some type of greenshouse during the winter, but that's a project that may wait until next winter. I do still plan to start the seeds a few weeks before the last frost, but we have a sunny laundry room (although it faces east) that I'm going to use this year. I saved all of the old storm windows from my old house to use in a greenhouse project, even going through the hassle of bringing them with me on the move to this house. Next on the garden agenda is to figure out which plants I'll plant where, taking advantage of companion gardening and soil types. I'm actually looking forward to that because it's like I'm some sort of plant matchmaker. "Oh come on, Beans! You'll love Sunflower. He's a great guy and will offer you the support you need!"

And of course my precious little angel is growing up so fast! She'll be 8 weeks old this Friday, and she's already rolling over and sleeping more than 2 hours at a time (which will also help me get more projects done before Spring). She got to see her grandparents (on my side) for the first time this last weekend during a trip we made up to Indiana, and it was really a great time. I sure am glad to be far away from that snow again, though!

So, once it finally stops raining I will take some more pictures of my projects and post them here for you all to see. Until next time!

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