Monday, August 11, 2008

I Spent All Afternoon on...This?

My "big" project over the weekend was to mark off and start prepping Garden Bed Numero Uno. There will be many, eventually, but for now I marked off just two beds, and prepped one. The plan is to have two "banks" of 4' x 20' beds with wide pathways in between, and another wide pathway between the two banks. I basically prepped an 80 square foot area for planting, and it looked incredibly, impossibly tiny. That's actually about the same size as our entire garden was at the old house - that was all we really had to work with. Now, looking at it in the context of a much larger property, it looks so small. I can see how easy it is for people to over-plant and get into something they can't hope to maintain! Just that little area was quite a whipping, though. The dirt on this land hasn't been worked in many years (if ever), and it was just like trying to break bricks with shovel. I was actually breaking it loose with a pick ax at one point. But it's been turned, amended with some rabbit poo, covered with cardboard, chicken litter and straw, wet down and left to, uh, rot - or whatever it's supposed to do - until spring. Maybe I'll prep the second bed this weekend. Or maybe I'll look out there at the hard dirt and say "Oh, HELL no.". ;-)

And speaking of oh-HELL-no's, my rooster has started challenging me. Just Saturday, out of nowhere, he's taken to flying at me. I think we may have cleared that up for now, though, after a few swift kicks to the chest. I also find it helpful to stomp my feet and generally "loom largely" at him right from the start, before he gets any ideas. He seems to reconsider his position and head the other direction when I do that.

All's well, though. I'm in my living room working, listening to jazz, it's POURING outside (!!!) and I've got happy, nappy dogs.


  1. Well deserved rest, it sounds like. Sweet - jazz in the rain. Does it get any better?

  2. Wowsa, you must have a BIG yard! I bet it feels good to even have the first bed prepared to "do its thing" for the winter. But I can imagine after a day with a pick ax, the thought of getting back out there just isn't all that appealing. :-)

    That's pretty scary about your rooster - at least it seems as if the problem is under control for the moment. It almost sounds as though you had to reassert your "dominance" over him. Have you had a lot of issues with your rooster being aggressive? I am interested in keeping chickens at some point - you know, to poo on my garden, weed my garden, keep bugs down, and perhaps provide an egg or two every now and again, but we've been very conflicted as to whether or not we want a rooster...

  3. Jennifer - my chickens (including the rooster) are pretty young, about 6 months old. I've only had them for about a month now, and that was the first time the rooster attempted to assert dominance. It remains to be seen whether it will be the last. My male dog does the same thing - as he gets older, he tests the boundaries. I just pin him to the floor and lie on top of him for a couple of minutes. He gets the point. I won't be doing that with the rooster, of course, but will show him I'm the boss in other ways. They are supposed to provide protection for your hens, which can help if you have predator problems, and you need one for sure if you ever want to hatch out your own babies. You don't necessarily NEED one, though.

    A word about keeping chickens - they will not weed your garden, they will EAT your garden. I can assure you that they will not discriminate between weeds and vegetables if given the chance. You can either enclose them, and feed them the weeds you pull, or enclose your garden with poultry netting (and hope it's tall enough that they can't fly over). They do provide lots of eggs and endless entertainment, though - I don't mean to bag on them too much!

  4. Be very careful if you kick at your rooster. It tends to teach them how to fight. Roosters that challenge never usually quit and usually just get worse. "Cocky" means what it does for a reason.

    If he is under a year old, he might make a decent meal. If he is mean, he should not be allowed to reproduce either. The mean trait is genetic.

    Our last "meanie", Mr. Dinner, was thoroughly mean and at the same time totally worthless when it came to defending the hens.

    A suggestion to Jennifer about weeding the garden... Get some geese. They will only eat weeds and not the garden veggies. That is what we do. However, they are VERY mean! But their usefulness allows us to tolerate them. We just carry a big stick when we go outside.

    In the old days, there was a certain niche of farming where a farmer raised a huge flock of geese to lease out to others for weeding fields. Who needs a lawnmower when you have 500 geese?

  5. What, just one afternoon? Would have taken me three :).

  6. Ahh sweet rain in arid countryside. We're getting a cool patch here with a light rain, too. I'm sure it's nice doing things inside too.

    That's pretty much my experience with roosters too.