Thursday, May 7, 2009

Madcap, Madcap, Quite Contrary

How does my garden grow?

Richly and deeply, I hope, though it'll take a little work to be sure. I've been digging out well-established weed-beds for the past couple weeks in order to break up the entrenched chaos, and yesterday someone showed up and rototilled the whole shebang. It had been so neglected and compacted over the years, and people drove over it pretty freely last summer while the push was on to get the house livable, so it was definitely hard-packed. It was great to find someone who just lives a few blocks away who could drive over on his little wee garden tractor and fluff it all up for me, for only $25.

What we're thinking to do now is establish permanent beds. There's a lot of elderly discarded lumber around here, which looks likely for laying down as walking paths between them. I think we'll probably end up with beds about 3'X9', partially because I like the 3/9 proportional feeling, but also because I can easily reach into the middle of a 3' wide bed. The 4'X8' beds we built at the last place were a little too big for me to deal with comfortably. And nine feet long means I won't have to run too far to skip over a row or two!

I haven't actually measured the established garden space, but I think it's about 25'X50'. Not huge. It's definitely big enough to begin with though, and I don't doubt that I won't be at any loss for busy-ness.

One of the challenges of this property is that it used to be the area auction mart, and a lot of the acreage is gravel, and compacted, and probably contaminated. So even though I've got all this land, not all of it is workable for gardening. However, there is a fabulous stretch of grass running east/west just past the garden, a great big run that'll be wonderful for putting our chicken tractors on. ( a la Pastured Poultry). We're not going into that really big, it's just something to help feed ourselves. I'm definitely noticing the food bill rising in the past couple years, and it's not just increased costs at the grocery. Dem kids o' mine are growing like Canada thistle, and they can certainly put it away! If this keeps up we're going to need an acre of potatoes alone!

We found a hatchery that supplies meat birds. I've got a hundred day-old chickies due to arrive at the end of May, so Himself and Patch are going to spend a weekend cobbling together a brooder, and then a few mobile pens. It looks like the laying birds are going to have to wait a little. The way things work out here, it's just not a good idea to put too much wood on the fire all at once.

Speaking of fire... I don't know if you can tell from the picture but it rained last night. It was a beautiful thing to wake up to puddles in the yard, let me tell you. Especially since the whole countryside has been going up in smoke. Very sad. I drove past a client/friend's house the other day, her beautiful acreage that they used to run a greenhouse business from, and everything was charred except for the house. The volunteers managed to save the house. But everything else gone... thirty years of cultivation.

Blessed be the rain. And the volunteer fire-departments.


CG said...

OMG! 100!!! MEAT birds!!! We once (I stress ONCE) did 100 meat birds and it left me with the knowledge that I'd never do ANY meat birds again. (never say never, but still) I HATED the things. Especially compared with real chickens.

BUT to hopefully add to your success, here is what I gleaned from the experience:
-they are stupid. Better to expect it.
-SHOVEL feed to them. If they run out, they pick each other's bottoms out. Also, they will not move very far FOR food and water. Moving is not what they do -- eating is what they do.
-think about getting the extra vitamin stuff for the water -- because they grow so fast and are so heavy, their legs will deform.
-they fall over dead if you look at them cross eyed so don't be surprised.
-they are stupid.
-if you don't slaughter them all pretty close to 8 or 10 weeks, they will start falling over dead. Evidently their hearts give out because they aren't bred to get older than that, just to grow to that age.
-did I mention that they are stupid and won't even go find their food?

Maybe your experience will be different. What we decided was that a slightly disadvantageous growth rate and smaller and less broad breasts were fine -- we'd eat other than "meat" breeds.

Madcap said...

Notes taken. 100 wasn't exactly my idea of an ideal start number, but I guess we'll make do once they get here.

On the upside... if they're that irritating it won't be such a wrench to butcher...

Which breeds do you prefer presently?

gfid said...

been following the fires via media reports, and thinking of you all. praise be for the rain.

Madcap said...

Lots of rain in the past few days, thank goodness.