Compost

I made a compost bin yesterday in a corner of the garden. If you read any books on composting, especially by men, they recommend making a bin from chicken wire. This contains the heap and allows for air circulation. There are other materials used for compost bins such as pallets, plastic, etc., but chicken wire is cheap.

I found two pieces of leftover chicken wire in our barn. They were the perfect size and I didn’t have to cut them. Since I am trying to save money in the garden, after the purchase of all the straw bales for my straw bale gardening experiment this year…

Strawberry plants in straw bales.

Straw bale garden.

I didn’t want to spend any money on the compost bin. I also wanted to get a good, hot compost bin going so that I won’t have to spend as much money next year on fertilizer, or other additions for my soil.

I used rebar hammered into the ground for the base. I added fiberglass tomato stakes over the rebar. They have a center hole that allows them to slide right over the rebar. I attached the chicken wire to the back side of our preexisting fence and the stakes with cable ties.

Chicken wire attached to fiberglass tomato stakes with cable ties.

Chicken wire attached to fiberglass tomato stakes with cable ties.

I then used a smaller piece of the chicken wire to make a “door” between the red post on the left side and the yellow post. I attached this piece to the yellow post with cable ties in several places, and when I want to open it to add wheelbarrow loads of weeds, grass, and leaves, it bends back and can be propped open.

To close the door, I hammered nails into a wooden tomato stake and bent them up. The chicken wire attaches over the nails and holds the “door” shut.

Nail holding "door" closed.

Nail holding “door” closed.

I had been weeding and the wheelbarrow fit right though the door area and was easily dumped.

I have been totally sold on making my own compost.

On Monday I planted okra. The bed I used had held tomato plants last summer. I had liberally mulched around the tomato plants with straw. In the fall when I planted this same bed with collards and kale, I left the straw in place and added garden soil over the top and planted  in that. When I started digging in this bed to get ready to plant the okra, I noticed that the straw underneath had greatly decomposed and the bed was full of the fattest earthworms I have ever seen. The soil was rich and black.

To plant the okra, I only added composted cow manure to the rows so the worms would not be harmed and left them to continue their composting of the straw, leaving behind their castings, which is the best fertilizer of all.

Are you composting to save money?

“He also took some of the seed of the land and planted it in fertile soil. He placed it beside abundant waters; he set it like a willow.” Ezekiel 17:5 (NASB)

 

No Time For Idleness

My muscles are groaning this morning and it is a very large, two and one-half cups of coffee, kind of day.

A Christmas present from  my husband. I love The Closer show and he bought me this very large mug.

A Christmas present from my husband. I love The Closer show, and he bought me this very large mug.

I completed many of my projects yesterday, but never got to start on my basement walls.

I painted the decorative wagon early yesterday morning and was able to put a second coat on in the afternoon.

The color is called Sassy Green, and it is the same paint that I will use on the bookcases downstairs.

The color is called Sassy Green, and it is the same paint that I will use on the bookcases downstairs.

My husband was unable to find the thick clear plastic that he wanted to cover the chicken houses, so I nailed thick black trash bags over the doors. Hopefully the black color will help heat the area up even more, once the sun comes up.

Trash bags nailed over lower chicken doors to keep the wind from blowing in.

Trash bags nailed over lower chicken doors to keep the wind from blowing in.

An inside view of the area. It is where they eat during the day.

An inside view of the area. It is where they eat during the day.

I added a thick layer of straw to the upper house where they roost at night.

Straw used for insulation under roost.

Straw used for insulation under roost.

Lucy “helped” me gather sticks for kindling.

Kindling gathered.

Kindling gathered.

I made a bed in the greenhouse for our cat and other dog for today. The high is only going to be 24 degrees. Our animals are outside animals and they protest greatly  when kept inside. Right now they are in a warm kennel together in the garage. When they start fussing, because they realize it is morning, I will let them outside. Periodically during the day I will let them stay a few hours at a time in the greenhouse to warm back up. They still consider that to be outside. 🙂

Bed made over a plastic trash bag to keep moisture from making the blanket wet and placed in front of heaters.

Bed made over a plastic trash bag to keep moisture from making the blanket wet and placed in front of heaters.

After lunch I scrubbed down the deck, rearranged the deck implements for better maintenance and threw away a lot of trash and junk. That took a while.

Before

Before

Before... another view.

Before… another view.

Area... after.

Area… after.

I moved the bench for storing boots closer to the door we come in and out of, to keep from tracking muddy feet across the deck. I also moved a plastic storage unit to that side of the deck to add another deterrent to the wind that blows in from this end.

Bench for boots and storage unit moved closer to door.

Bench for boots and storage unit moved closer to door.

Another view.

Another view.

The chairs for the table are sitting in our basement right now with new chair pads. The deck is ready for them.

Today… it is time to get started on the basement project!

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27

Finishing Up The Dirty Jobs

My husband has had some days off this week and we have been finishing up some very dirty jobs. He finished shoveling out the  largest of the chicken lots. Now… that had to be the dirtiest job of all!

Chicken lot shoveled out. You can see the concrete floor.

Chicken lot shoveled out. You can see the concrete floor.

I put straw back in the lot. My husband added the water drinker, which is very heavy when full. It also has to be level or the water continues to run out until it is empty. He used steel wedges to level the cinder block before replacing the chicken’s water source.

Straw and chickens back in lot, along with water drinker.

Straw and chickens back in lot, along with water drinker.

Another view.

Another view.

In the meantime, I shoveled out Lucy’s dog lot and added straw.

Fresh dog lot.

Fresh dog lot.

Another view.

Another view.

Lucy is aging now, and my husband built the step-up to help her poor, tired hips make it into her house.

We also cleaned out Jazz’s lot and added straw. My husband had to finish this job, because I had been weed eating in the heat and was wiped out.

Jazz's lot.

Jazz’s lot.

Most of the time, one or the other dog is out. Jazz and Scout (the cat) get along great. But Lucy doesn’t get along with Jazz or Scout. Maybe it is her age and the fact that she owned the place before they intruded. Anyway, they are all happy when they have their days for running free.

The dirtiest jobs are finished. That is a big relief. The weekend is coming and we can relax and enjoy it!

I hope you find time to rest and relax this weekend.

Have a great weekend!

“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6: 16A

A Dirty Job

Where is Mike Row when you need him?

We are about half way through with a very dirty job. Saturday, my husband and I spent the day cleaning out the chicken lots. Our lots have cement floors, and the chicken wire is buried in the cement. This prevents animals from digging up into the lot to get chicken feed or the chickens.

The only drawback to this system is that periodically we have to dig out all the manure and put in material to cover the cement so the chickens have something soft to walk on. This prevents damage to their feet. In the past we have layered the bottom of the lots with clean sand, then added straw to “freshen” it as it became dirty. The sand has been saturated with rain water, and this dirty water has been running out over the side walks around the lots.

Dirty lots and sidewalk.

Dirty lots and sidewalk.

The cleaning out of these lots has been long overdue. We could not get to it because it seemed to rain every time we were both free to work on it. The smell has been awful. 😦

My husband shouldered the biggest responsibility for this job. I cleaned the houses out and dug a trench around the sidewalk, and cleaned all the weeds and grass back that was taking over the area. My husband dug out the lot’s contents….whew!

We got two lots cleaned. The last lot is the size of these two put together and has more chickens in it.

This time we chose to use straw instead of sand to cover the cement, since it is a lighter material and will make the next cleaning a little easier. We plan to use the manure from the lots to fill in bare spots in our yard. This has given us great areas of grass in the past.

Fresh lots with clean straw and clean sidewalk.

Fresh lots with clean straw and clean sidewalk. Now we need to work on the algae growing on the wood and cement walk way.

We moved Lonestar to the lot that has a white Leghorn rooster and hen, so she could have company. She has been accepted by them and is still singing.

Lonestar in clean house.

Lonestar in clean house.

Our plan is to finish the job on Wednesday. My husband is taking some vacation time to get some of our bigger jobs accomplished.

So… no Mike Row, but instead… the renowned Danny Green was able to get this dirty job done. 🙂

Danny, my wonderful husband

Danny, my wonderful husband.

We hope to show you the totally completed project after Wednesday.

“But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing.” Ezra 10:13

Progress

This year there have been many obstacles to making my garden the retreat I would like for it to be. There have been time constraints, financial constraints, and the abundance of rain constraint.

My husband helped me with my garden work on Friday. I finally got one-half of the garden weeded, and he helped me move tons of mulch between the beds.

Here are the results.

View from the front of the garden.

View from the front of the garden.

Our compost bin is in the center of the garden, and you can see we made the paths and beds weed free to the compost bin.

Side view of front beds.

Side view of front beds.

Side view of beds near the compost bin.

Side view of beds near the compost bin.

Angled view.

Angled view.

Our plants are starting to take shape and getting ready to bear. They have been weeded, fertilized, and mulched with straw.

Squash plant in bloom.

Squash plant in bloom.

I planted Blue Lake bush beans this year for canning. I also wanted to try a different variety for fun, so I planted some French green beans. The interesting difference between the two varieties so far is… the Blue Lake bush bean seeds are white and have white blooms on them. The French bean seeds are dark purple and have a beautiful purple colored bloom.

French green beans with deep purple blooms.

French green beans with pretty purple blooms.

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” Genesis 1:11

Waiting for Rain

On Saturday, while I was working in the garden, my husband continued to smooth and level out the areas that needed grass.

Bottom view of dirt pile to be worked down.

Previous dirt pile that needed to be smoothed down.

Area needed grass beside flower bed.

Area needing grass beside flower bed.

Area needing grass beside of grapevines.

Area needing grass beside of grapevines.

Area needing grass behind another flower bed.

Area needing grass behind flower bed near garden. It had been smoothed down at this point.

Later in the evening, on Saturday, my husband and I were able to get all the areas seeded with grass, and spread straw over these areas until we ran out (of straw). That job went a little faster than most, because we have two spreaders for the seed, and we could both be working at the same time.

Seed and straw in place beside house.

Seed and straw in place beside house.

Seed and straw in place.

Seed and straw in place.

The grass seed was sown, but we ran out of straw for this area.

The grass seed was sown, but we ran out of straw for this area.

This week it has been very dry, and we are waiting for rain to get the seed up and growing. The rain will come eventually.

“….for he maketh  his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45b)

In the meantime we will wait.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)