Monday, March 30, 2009

Chicken Coop Greenhouse

Chicken Coop GreenhouseWe've nearly finished the chicken coop greenhouse! The Coop is pretty much finished and the 23 chicks will be coming down this weekend. We still have to put the light in and finish up the chicken run on the east side. At some point we'll be installing my 2 small solar panels on the roof which will run the light and ventilation fan from the greenhouse. In the picture below you can see all the nest boxes on the left and a feeder waiting for chicks.

Chicken Coop InteriorThe greenhouse still needs the door added on the west side but that's pretty much it. Oh, we'll be adding a gutter to direct rainwater to 2 rain barrels which will be added to the interior of the greenhouse. I've already moved in a table, pots, soil and other goodies. The tomato plants are very happy. I'm looking forward to getting all the little seedlings off my kitchen table and in a warmer brighter environment! I'm also looking forward to eating lettuce, spinach and other greens next winter!!

We spent around $400 for the greenhouse which is not too bad. All of the glass was salvaged (thanks to Greg's friend Jamie for a couple of those!) which really cut the costs down. I think 8x8 greenhouse kits often sell for $2,000 or more so I'm super happy to have this.


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Deepening Crisis

Oh yes, I know that the stock market had an orgie of a day yesterday on the news of the schemes being cooked up by the Obama administration to deal with the toxic assets currently in the financial system. More of the same and it won't work because it is a refusal to deal with reality. The whole reaction to this massive mess of fraud is more fraud. The spectacle is truly disgusting.

Harvey Ussery of The Modern Homestead has written a fantastic article regarding the deepening crisis. I encourage you to read it. Here's an excerpt:

The only thing surprising about the crisis—I should say the crises—now deepening around us, is that it has taken so many of us by surprise. For several years before the subprime mess started the current hemorrhage in global finance, I read detailed predictions for how the subprime mortgage bubble would burst, with the shattering and cascading effects in the wider system that we have now seen—analyses, mind you, not of Ivy League economic think-tankers, but of reflective folks of ordinary common sense like you and me. If such people were able to read the writing on the wall, where were the deciders in government and Wall Street, the head of the Federal Reserve? What were they thinking?

But this crisis has been long in the making, and the biggest mistake would be to assume that an anonymous “they” out there—Wall Street moguls, hypesters for junk-level, credit-for-everybody mortgages, OPEC gougers—are the ones who have brought us to grief, through no fault of our own. We are supposedly adults in a functioning democracy, not children, and as such we cannot escape responsibility for our willful complicity in an economy that defies compatibility with natural systems, meaning natural limits, and which opts consistently for short-term gain in preference to long-term soundness and sustainability.

I remember reading on the first page of the first economics textbook I ever encountered (Economics, by Paul Samuelson, when I was in graduate school) that the foundation of our economy is: perpetual growth. Not the natural resource base. Not equitable distribution of wealth. Not sustainability. The author was emphatic and unambiguous: Without constant, vigorous expansion, our economy would stagnate and fall apart. And on that first page, even a bonehead neophyte ignoramus like me was saying in confused surprise, “But that’s impossible—nothing can grow without limits!” (Except cancer, whose perpetual growth is precisely what in the end kills its host.)



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Friday, March 20, 2009

The Sunset Party

Lake and ducks at sunsetFantastic color last night. We've had more and more ducks showing up day-to-day. For a week there were maybe 5 and then 10 and suddenly there were 200 or more out there. They're not close enough to get a good look but no matter, I'm just glad they are out there. Now that spring has come the nights are filled with frog song. I'm surrounded by this amazing life force... all of these beautiful creatures with their many voices. Yup, it's a party.


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Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Garden Updates

Peek-a-BooLots of progress this past week. The tomatoes have all come up and will be transplanted into a variety of re-used plastic containers tonight. The broccoli and cabbage have all been planted out to the garden. A row of sugar snap peas is planted along the garden fence with another row going in this week. More cardboard and straw has been put down into the new garden expansion.

Chicken Coop!The chicken coop is 95% finished. We've got the walls and roof finished and the laying boxes built in. Left to do is to put in the east facing door and a chicken wire wall on the inside to separate the chickens from a small area for feed storage. Last is to paint it and move the chickens in! Hopefully we'll get the greenhouse started the next time Greg comes down.

Upcoming tasks: Move the compost fifteen feet just outside the garden area; finish cardboard/straw mulching in the new garden area; plant potatoes; start peppers, basil, comfrey and a few other things in seed flats; mulch in a few new paths around the garden and food forest.


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Monday, March 09, 2009

Reclaimed Wood Chicken Coop Greenhouse and Other News

Reclaimed woodWe made a good bit of progress on the chicken coop greenhouse this past weekend. As it stands today the only money spent was for nails and electricity for the tools. The base is an old porch and all of the lumber was taken from an old cabin on our property. The strutcture was abandoned many years ago and there's a good bit of damage but much of the interior lumber is very useable. We spend the morning gathering wood and by evening we had most of the shell built. The door is also reclaimed and the window is one of four that were being given away due to flood damage. Actually, they were new windows that had never been used and the damage is very minimal... mostly they are just dirty!

Cutting out nails and screwsThe next step is to put on siding and roofing which will cost some money but not too much. Then we'll use the other two windows as well as 2 sliding glass doors (just the glass, no door) also saved from a landfill to build the attached greenhouse. We'll be buying some treated lumber for that as well as some roofing but it also is mostly free from recycled materials. My guess is that we can have both structures pretty much done with about three days work.

Chicken Coop in process


Last will come a few finishing touches like installing the 30 watts of solar panel to the roof and wiring in a light and fan for circulating air from the greenhouse which will, in theory help warm the chickens in the winter. We'll also be harvesting the rainwater from these roofs into 4-5 rain barrels which will be used for plants and chickens. The barrels be painted black and placed on the back wall of the greenhouse where they should heat up a good bit for passive solar heat during the winter.

I'll post more when it is finished but I'm very happy to be taking the next big step in the permaculture design.

In other news, I've now got at least six loads of wood mulch, each load the size of a small car... that's alot of organic matter!!! All of it local, the product of utility tree trimming. Thanks to all that mulch and a huge load of cardboard I'll be putting in new paths through our food forest as well as new layers to last years mulch. I planted fava beans around the fruit trees Saturday and came across many earthworms in the greatly improved soil. It is absolutely amazing what 6 months to a year of cardboard and straw mulching can do to for the soil. Lastly, I planted gobs of onions and transplanted the kohlrabi seedlings to the garden. I've got 60 seeds of 5 varieties of tomatoes planted in flats.


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