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One Misty, Moisty Morning…

One misty, moisty morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
I chanced to meet an old man clothed all in leather.
He began to compliment, and I began to grin,
How do you do, and how do you do?
And how do you do again?

It’s been a misty, moisty day here, (though the sun has just broken through) so this old tune my dad used to hum to me has been going through my head all morning.

Yes it’s been raining again, and I’m very happy for that. I “should” be cleaning the house, but… well, I’d rather chat with you, dear friends.

As promised a couple of weeks back, I’ve updated the Cast of Characters page with some better pictures –I love the new camera. In addition to the regular motley crew we have a canine house guest at the moment. This is my dad’s new dog Alex. Isn’t he just the prettiest thing? And such a sweet-heart too.

Alex

I’ve been in love with Alex for over a year now but I can hardly keep up with the pack I have right now. So I’m very happy that dad adopted him; I think they will be fast friends and hope they have many happy years of fishing together.

Dad is heading back up north for the summer, so we have a few months to catch up in the remodeling projects he’s started for us. I’m really pleased with how it’s all turning out; it’s nice when you see your vision come to reality. I have a functional laundry room once again, yippee! There is still a lot to do though – onward and upward.

On the gardening front, spring planting season is fast coming to a close in this part of the world and (as usual) I haven’t got all the plants I wanted to in the ground; so time to plan for “over summering”.

On the blogging front, I have a number of draft topics simmering away in my brain; I just need to find some quiet time to put them to paper. In the meantime I have run across a number of items that I wanted to share with you. My cyber-friend Deborah at Romancing the Bee wrote an excellent post on the nitrogen cycle (sigh, another post someone else beat me to). She’s also posting some excellent recipes (but I’m trying to ignore them so that I can continue to fit into my new smaller clothes).

For those of you who have/are considering chickens I also have a couple of “for the birds” items you.  First, I found another article on feeding your flock – how to make your own chicken feed; and I found this interesting post on Nesting Box Herbs – Chicken Aromatherapy. If you need housing for your feathered friends I may have found the perfect coop for you. Isn’t this the cutest thing? (I know you’ve been racking your brain on what to do with that old playhouse!)

Little Tikes Chicken Coop from: cluckingaround.blogspot.com

If this isn’t quite up your alley I have some other interesting ideas posted on my Pinterest; and if you just have to experience real coop envy then you’ll have to visit BackYard Chickens.

Ok, the house isn’t cleaning itself.

I hope you have a great weekend!

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How to Make a Birdbath – Outdoor Projects | Fresh Home

Another great DIY project for the garden to share with you.
How to Make a Birdbath – Outdoor Projects | Fresh Home.

How to Make a Birdbath - Outdoor Projects | Fresh Home

 

Food as Medicine: 9 Food Cures You Can Grow at Home: Organic Gardening

Food as Medicine: 9 Food Cures You Can Grow at Home: Organic Gardening.

Five Lesser Known Tools Every Gardener Should Have

Five Lesser Known Tools Every Gardener Should Have.

Stop this garden tour, I want to get off…

Off the bus, the garden tour bus, come on people get your minds out of the gutter. I mean I know it’s spring and gardening is all about sex right now (yes, and asexual reproduction, etc. too) but I’m trying to keep this blog “G” rated. Seriously though, UNCLE, I’m crying uncle. I really thought I’d nearly got the garden in and then yesterday I cleaned out the greenhouse and discovered flats, and flats, and flats of seedlings – some varieties I haven’t even planted yet. I tell you, this garden better produce otherwise I’m going to be very, very grumpy!

Enough whinging though, I really want to talk about chickens. You may remember that I made a pun about fodder in a previous post, but said you’d have to stay tuned to get the joke. Well, I’ve been wanting to follow-up since then but… well see above. Anyway, spring has been glorious here – mild with nice steady rains – so we’ve been doing lots of lawn moving. For years we’ve been throwing the clippings into the chicken run; the girls love, love, love them. However, occasionally we get more than even they can deal with and the clippings go into the compost heap. I got to thinking though (I know, that’s where the trouble starts), wondering if there was a use for these excess clippings a little higher up the food chain? So I got on trusty ol’ Google and started looking into it. The first thing I found was a fellow who discussed making hay (which he uses for bedding) with his clippings. I thought this was pretty clever but wondered “could I use the hay as food, rather than just bedding?” This led me down the rabbit hole to silage. Ideally chickens (and rabbits) should have access to greens year round, and I try to make sure they get at least some by way of scraps and cole crops during the summer and winter, but I know that they aren’t really getting enough. Now I knew about putting up silage for cattle, but I never thought of putting it up for chickens. (If you don’t know what silage is, it is essentially high moisture vegetation that has undergone some aerobic, but primarily anaerobic fermentation in order to be used as fodder.) Mother Earth News has a short article with some excellent resources on the hows and whys of small-scale silage production. Things are starting to get hot and dry here so I think I’ve missed my window for this year, but I’m definitely going to remember it for next year.

In other chicken news, one of the things I least like about keeping chickens is the whole “how to keep their water clean” issue. I tried traditional waters, I tried large bowls but inevitably I ended up with poop soup (and now you all know why the Kale right outside the coop is so big and vibrant). In addition to wanting to keep the water clean and reduce maintenance I also have to be able to add ice or super cold water to the waterers in the summer to ensure that the chickens take on enough fluids; I have the same requirement for the rabbits. Now there are all sorts of commercially available or DIY products (such as the one pictured below) that will address my needs, but to be perfectly honest with you I didn’t want to spend the money to buy one, or time to make one.

I’d remembered reading a couple of articles about watering chickens with rabbit bottle, so I tried it. Result! Poop soup problem solved, but it was still a pain to take them down and fill them up every day. So I went in search of bigger bottles and I stumbled upon flip-top waterers.

I love it when a plan comes together! The chickens took to them quickly (I was a little worried as this uses a nipple instead of roller ball). Yippee… easy, clean water that I can easily add ice to. Now if I could only convince the rabbits to use them.

All the pretty (wild)flowers

KLRU offers a great video to “go beyond the pretty faces to explore how wildflowers impact our food chain and their symbiosis to a healthy economy, wildlife, and ecologoical security.”

No more pencils, no more books, no more…

So it’s another grey, chilly, rainy day in these parts. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining, we need the rain and I’m not quite ready for the “heat” just yet, but for some reason days like today seem to zap me of any ambition to get up and out and do things. When I’m in these moods one of my favorite ways of procrastinating is to read (I think I’ve got myself convinced that it’s not really procrastinating if I’m working my mind) and every once in a while it turns into a productive endeavor of its own – like today!

In my mental bumbling about this morning I came across Horticulture Magazine’s  Garden How-To University and I know that I’ve mentioned Cornell University’s online Horticultural distance learning courses. I have no doubt that both of these courses are well worth the time and money but, the thing is, I’m sure for many of us spending the money for these courses just isn’t an option. So what’s the alternative? Sure there and books, magazines, text books, etc., but if you’re anything like me every now and then you like to take a class. And then it hit me — all the great “classes” I’ve taken for free through the power of the internet.

Now my first “go to” place is iTunes U, where you can find such courses as:

“Plant Growth and Development” by John Harada of UC Davis
“Southwest Yard and Garden Series” by New Mexico Stanten University
“Southwest Home Horticulture” by Urban Horticulture, College of Technology and Innovation, Arizona State University

I also subscribe to a number of podcasts that, although not “course based”, I find educational. These include:

Paul Wheaton’s Permaculture Podcast
You Bet Your Garden
The Self-Sufficient Gardener
The gardening and permaculture episodes on The Survival Podcast
Growing Your Grub

Then there is YouTube:
Camarillo Gardens
Thrifty Gardener
The Permaculture Channel
Eat The Weeds
Midwest Permaculture

These are just a few of the many, many videos available.

Other resources I’ve found useful include:
The Victory Garden
The UK’s Open University, Open Learn
MIT’s OpenCourseWare
The Open Education Database lists several courses in Botany
Wikiversity

Now if you would just like to sit down and read a book there are a number of them on my goodreads list that I recommend, and if you only have time to page through a magazine some of the ones I turn to are:

Texas Gardener
Horticulture Magazine
Fine Gardening
Mother Earth News

If you’ve found any great resources, please let me know so that I can add it to the list.

Have a lovely day.