Once the first frost of fall brings the veggie garden growth to an end, we let the chickens in there, so they can eat the remaining tomatoes, kale, lettuce, etc, and have fun scratching in the beds for bugs.
A big Flock Friday today, with 33 photos of ducks and chickens, plus a GIF with those and 31 more at the end, as if 33 weren’t enough. But I took lots of nice shots of the ducks, so wanted to share them.
Firstly, via the pond cam from while we were evacuated, a wild duck visitor:
Our ducks with the wild duck visitor (left); much smaller than ours:
The ducks discovered the other upturned pot islands in the pond:
When we got home from our evacuation, I collected eggs. Several under broody Martha:
And a bunch in another box:
That would be about one day’s worth in the peak of summer, but they are slowing down for fall, so are from several days. Currently they’re down to about 5 eggs per day.
Chickens waiting for treats:
Yay, rice treats:
We let them into the veggie garden while evacuated (after our mid-evac visit), and they denuded the kale, except for the high leaves out of their reach, though left most of the pumpkins and tomatoes:
I’ve continued to have issues with the ChickenGuard pop door opener on the new chicken coop:
So have had to go out to the coop each night to manually close the door. Here are the four chickens that prefer the new coop at night:
From outside (on another night):
Back to the ducks, with a bunch of pictures; the males are putting on their colorful feathers now, so they’ve changed a bit since you last saw them:
GIF of ducks during a rainy night:
Betty has been hanging out in the grasses, maybe thinking of nesting, though a bit young for that:
Here’s a GIF summary of 64 photos from this week, including the above and a bunch more:
Let’s begin with an angled aerial shot of the apple trees in the field, the flowerbeds, pond, back lawn, and veggie garden:
The reverse angle, with the shop, hoop house, veggie garden, back lawn, pond, and flowerbeds:
Closer to the pond, with the ducks visible; they weren’t sure what to make of the strange noisy bird hovering and flying nearby:
Another angle of the pond and ducks:
GIF of flying upwards from the pond:
One more from lower down; I think this is the first time I’ve hovered over the pond:
The flowerbeds and white gazebo:
Beehives, greenhouse, veggie garden, chicken coops, hoop house, back of shop:
Hops taking over the top of the berry cage:
The berry cage and weather wind speed and direction sensors:
Mount Hood is looking a lot less snowy at this time of year:
Zoomed in on Mount Hood:
The other day I noticed that the soaker hose for one of the beds in the veggie garden had burst, as they are wont to do:
So on Saturday I replaced that hose with better irrigation, like I did earlier for a couple of other beds:
There is now one bed remaining with a soaker hose in the main part of the veggie garden, plus the ones in the berry cage. I’ll replace those over time when their soaker hoses fail. We’re slowly phasing out the soaker hoses; irrigation tubing and emitters work much better, as they are more reliable, and the irrigation can be more focused and adjustable as needed.
It’s been a while since I flew my drone over our homestead. I felt an urge to do so today, so did, and took a few pictures. I thought I’d share some.
Let start with a top-down view of our flowerbeds, pond, back lawn, veggie garden, and driveway:
An angled view of the flowerbeds etc from lower down:
Flowerbeds, back lawn, pond:
Back lawn and pond:
The two chicken runs, the veggie garden, and greenhouse:
A closer look at the veggie garden:
And the berry cage:
Finally, a glimpse of Mount Hood:
Yesterday I added some bird netting to the veggie garden berry cage fences.
When I built the berry cage, I used a fairly narrow gauge welded wire for the fencing, to keep birds out, without excluding bees, but it turned out that some birds could still squeeze through.
So, I added an additional layer of lightweight bird netting to prevent that. The roof doesn’t have the bird netting, on the theory that they won’t be able to go in that way as easily as horizontal access. Time will tell if I’m wrong about that too!
Yesterday we started the potato planters. I added some scoria and dirt to the planter frames, Jenn planted the seed potatoes, and I added new irrigation for them.
Here is a base of scoria (for drainage) and a wheelbarrow load of very damp dirt (3-way mix):
Previously we had a soaker hose for the potato planters, but that didn’t do a very good job of delivering water to the plants (and not all around them). So I added better irrigation, starting with a convoluted pipe off the tap of the nearby bed:
The underground pipe to that tap actually goes right by the potato planters, complete with an expansion point, so one day I might add a separate tap for the potato planters, instead of splitting off this bed. But I decided to take this approach for now.
Since I mentioned that, a minor digression: here’s an old picture from 2014 showing that portion of the veggie garden pipes; the potato planters are just beyond my toolbox:
Another old picture, showing the aforementioned pipe expansion points:
One day I should do a post with plumbing projects like this one from before I started this blog.
Anyway, back to present day.
The irrigation pipe goes behind the potato planters, with emitter leads for each planter, so they can be moved as more dirt is added:
I used a new kind of emitter that has a wider coverage than the sprinkler kind I’ve previously used, so one emitter gives even coverage of the whole thing:
Hey why not… here’s a GIF edition of that picture, showing it working:
Here’s a wider view of the planters and piping:
As the potatoes grow upwards, we’ll add more dirt and retaining boards, resulting in several layers of spuds.
Yesterday we did our traditional Mother’s Day activity of preparing and planting the veggie garden. I also added some improved irrigation.
Over the winter, the chickens get to enjoy going in the veggie garden, providing a helpful service of clearing out the plants and keeping it weed-free. So the first thing was to close the gate and hole in the fence from the chicken runs, so they no longer have access, which always confuses and frustrates them for a little while.
That done, Jenn brought the veggie plants out of the greenhouse, while I used a mattock to break up the compacted soil:
I also added some fresh soil. Here’s a prepared bed:
While Jenn planted the veggies, I added improved irrigation on a couple of the beds:
We had previously used soaker hoses, which don’t really provide the water in the best spots, and tend to fail regularly. This irrigation tubing and emitters should work better:
Here’s a view of the whole garden from the west gate:
We rotate the crops each year. This time, the southwest (SW) bed contains roma and cherry tomatoes:
The NW bed is still using a soaker hose for now, though I’ve bought some irrigation emitters for it and other beds yet to be converted. It contains a single pumpkin plant (since one is enough to take over half the garden), plus lettuce, kale, and a couple of corn sprouted from seeds:
The NE bed contains corn (a different variety) and onion:
SE: tomatillos, jalapeños, and zucchini; the second bed with the new irrigation:
One of the reasons for the berry cage is to keep the chickens out, along with wild birds, so the plants don’t get eaten each winter. The SW bed contains everbearing strawberries:
The NW berry cage bed has Hood strawberries:
The SE bed has gooseberries, red currants, and huckleberries:
The NE bed has blueberries:
And the north bed has hops:
This morning I briefly flew my drone for an aerial view of the veggie garden and berry cage:
A closer view of veggie garden side:
And part of the berry cage side:
An angled view of both (and part of the chicken runs):
It has been nice and sunny this week, so I did a little drone flying, and captured some more aerial photos.
Here’s our fountain garden area, with the bird feeders on the left, cat house under the tree at the top-left, various paths, and the defunct fountain (likely to become a planter soonish):
A couple angles of the pond (with the ducks visible):
A bunch of new plants in one of our flowerbeds:
A shot from 400 feet (the legal height limit for drones) of the flowerbeds, pond, veggie garden, hoop house, shop, etc:
The berry cage, veggie garden, and chicken runs:
The greenhouse and environs:
Closer to the greenhouse, showing the bee water pool and recent excavations for greenhouse plumbing:
Looking more horizontally, some distant hills:
Mount Hood is visible:
As part of the greenhouse project, we wanted to add moisture sensors to seedling trays, to know when we need to tweak their watering.
To enable that, we got an Ecowitt weather station that supports optional moisture sensors. The weather station will also be useful for hyper-local weather information, since weather conditions for nearby towns aren’t necessarily representative of what it’s like here, being on the top of a hill.
Here are the wind and rain sensors, mounted on top of the berry cage. They ideally should be higher for the most accurate readings, but that’d make changing their batteries much harder:
A closer look at the anemometer, with sensors for wind speed, wind direction, light level, and UV:
The rain gauge sensor:
Outdoor temperature and humidity sensor, hanging in the shade of the greenhouse:
Indoor temperature and humidity sensors and Wi-Fi gateway, next to the Eero Beacon Wi-Fi router in the greenhouse: