The last project before year end is to build a permanent chicken coop. The coop is 12′ x 10′ in size with concrete slab foundation. It is divided into 2 compartments separated by a sliding barn door. The living area for the layers is about 9′ x 10′ whereas the rest is for the feed bin and shavings.
Although it took us more than 4 weeks to complete the coop and surrounding fences, it was a rewarding experience for the whole family. Without the help from my family, I don’t think I can finish the coop before the snow flies.
This is the front view. I used 1″ rigid foam board for insulation. I also painted the steel entry door brown to match the color of vinyl siding.
I used steel siding and aluminum fascia and soffit.
Digging the holes for 4×4 posts.
Attaching the wooden boards to posts as frame for fence.
In order to protect the bottom portion of OSB boards, which would be in constant contact with chicken manure, I attached aluminum flashing all around the coop.
A sliding barn door serves as the second entry to the layers’ living area.
Just enough space to store shavings.
My sons are digging a trench so that we can put a layer of hardware cloth on top.
After we lay down the hardware cloth, we would cover it with dirt and compact them again. This would prevent predators from digging underneath the fence.
Building the frame for an exterior door into the chicken run.
A homemade door for the chicken run, paint with exterior stain.
My son is spreading some grass seeds for next year along the fence where we dug.
Notice that I cut a small hole with a sliding door to allow the passage between the coop and the run.
The final product…looks fancy!
We built some chicken roots for the layers to perch at night.
With several days of rain and wet weather from late summer thunderstorms, the plants in our garden “explode” in their growth. Sure I have been hand watering them every now and then, but several days of rain achieve much much more than my small watering can.
All around the world, this summer has been plagued by drought and heat wave that seriously hampered crop production. Even the UN and the powers that be have warned the public repeatedly that food shortage is coming very soon. On top of that, the war in Ukraine has disrupted the global supply of energy and subsequently the fertilizer production. With higher prices and drought, farmers are either not growing or having to cut back on production.
I have read that a farmer cannot harvest his crop because he cannot afford the hydro bill for refrigeration, he can only watch his crop lay waste in the fields.
It reminds me that it is the Lord who gives rain to the earth so that it can bring forth food for us and the animals to eat. Could this be His judgement on mankind who are rebelling against His word and His son Jesus Christ?
At any rate, I thank God that he sent some rain to our little garden.
Spinach in the new garden beds.
Beets in the new garden beds.
The zucchinis are finally giving fruits.
Green beans – Provider variety.
This is sugar baby watermelon.
Sweet potato plants.
Look how big the mama squash have become!
The cucumbers did not grow well this year. I only got 1 cuke from each plant, versus 3 or 4 previously.
My 2 youngest helpers in the garden. I sincerely wish every child in every family can learn and try to grow his/her own food.
Now that we are well into summer, I have gained more knowledge about the new garden.
First of all, certain areas of the garden do not get any sunlight until 10 a.m. in the morning, so I should plant cool season veggies in that area.
Secondly, the soil is pretty sandy so nutrients would drain more easily after watering or rainfall. To rectify this I need to add more compost and organic fertilizer.
Thirdly, there are a lot of ants on my property. I need to use diatomaceous earth and “borex+sugar” combo to control their population.
Because of a new construction, a large pile of soil was dumped at the back and my children have been diligently helping me in building new garden beds. Now I am 45 years old, I honestly cannot do too much shovelings any more. Thank you so much kids!
Each bed is about 4 ft wide and 20 ft long, with a 20 inch path in between. My children did a really good job in forming the soil.
As you can see, the garden is surrounded by tall trees, but certain area can still get 6-8 hours of sunlight.
I am covering the path with woodchips and the new beds with sheep/straw manure.
My son planted 3 new blueberry plants
I asked my daughter to build a water barrel stand close to the garden so that we don’t have to walk all the way back to the house to get water.
The tomato plants are doing well. This year I tried the string trellis method.
This is sweet mama squash starting to spread everywhere.
After building the Mobile Sheep Shed, the next step is to setup the electric fence for better pasture management. We sub-divide the 2 acre pasture into 4 smaller lots, using electric wire and step-in post. This year, I upgraded the charger into a “all-in-one” unit by Parmak.
It is always a good idea to use a more powerful (more joule/energy output) unit that one can afford. This unit does not come with any lead wire so I have to make my own. Also, a ground rod placed 3 feet away from the charger is a must for any electric fence system.
This is the all-in-one energizer unit with built-in solar panel and battery.
Electric wire and step-in posts. Looking from above, the electric fences would form a “+” shape. We place the mobile sheep shed close to the intersection of the “+”.
Readers, I apologize that I have not been posting any updates since we moved to our new property in fall 2021. There were many things to do and adjust. As you know, it is hard to pick up something after you have stopped for a long while. But spring is here and I am hoping to resume our country/farm journey on our little blog.
The previous owner did not plant any garden, so we have to start from scratch. There is, however, a silver lining (somewhat). Our property has a lot more trees than our previous home so there is no lack of dead branches which can be turned into wood chips.
Have you ever seen utility crew cutting down branches and using a big machine to turn an entire tree into wood chips within 10 seconds? Well, that is not what I have.
I purchased a 4″ wood chipper from TMG Industrial. I spent quite some time in research and finally plunged a good sum of money into this chipper. “You get what you paid for” is a true saying in most cases. From what I gathered, many small chippers under $1000 are only good for a season or 2.
Now I could elect to rent a commercial 12″ chipper but that would cost me $500 per day (ouch!)The tiny chipper did not disappoint me though and as long as I feed it with branches under 3″ in diameter, it keeps churning out fresh wood chips!
This will be our new garden.
The last thing we did before winter after the move was to plan some garlic.
We planted 50 asparagus crowns 2 days ago and one of them has already sent a shoot up!
New seedlings of tomato, zucchini, cucumber, squash and watermelon waiting to be planted in ground after Victoria Day.
This is my new 4″ wood chipper. Most woodchips you see in the garden came from this tiny workhorse (some from a tree company).
These are some of the dead branches waiting to be turned into woodchips. It is an arduous task to cut down, pile and trim these branches so that they can fee properly into the wood chipper.
It is a hot summer with high humidity this year. I have been busy working on our new home and property. It is difficult to leave a property that we have lived on for 15 years. All of our children grew up on this piece of land and I have spent so much time and effort in building up the garden, fruit tress, vines,fences, sheds and what not.
I pray that the next owner would benefit and take good care of this land.
I made a mistake this year of growing the cabbages too close to each other.
But some of them turn out alright. I love savoy cabbage. Comparing to green cabbage, they are less prone to split.
My 3 apple trees that I have grown for years.
This is Pristine apple tree which I planted in 2007. It did not give any blossoms (so no fruits) for 10 years!
I once wanted to chop it down and replace it with another variety, I am glad I did not give in. Since 2018, it has been bearing good crops of apples each year.
Pristine is an early mature apple and read to pick in August.
I think I have over 400 apples from the single Pristine apple tree this year.
About 40% were dropped prematurely, but they were not wasted: the chickens love pecking at the apples.
This is Somerset grape that I planted in 2014. It is a table grape variety.
I am going to miss my grape vines and fruit trees.
Every time I prune my vines, it reminds me of the teaching from Jesus Christ in the Book of John.
“For any branch that does not bear fruit, God would cut it down. For any branch that does bear fruit, God would prune it so that it would bear more fruits.” (paraphrasing)
One can certainly learn some gardening tips from the Great Gardener in Heaven.
We had a surprise cold and wet snow morning on May 28 and the snap killed some of the beans, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and tomatoes seedlings already planted in the garden. Usually it is pretty safe to transplant after Victoria Day, but nobody can control the weather and thus it reminds me that all of us, Christians or not, depend everything on God and Jesus Christ for his mercy and grace:
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)
Garlic is growing tall already.
Apple trees in their full blossom.
Salad greens growing in the mini greenhouse since April.
Chickens on pasture again. They sure look happier.
It is Thanksgiving weekend and daytime temperature starts to get below 10°C, especially early in the morning. Light frost begins to hit, which usually signifies the end of growing season for most vegetables.
It is also the time to harvest whatever is left, clean up the debris, plant garlic and close the garden for next spring.
Overall, I have great success with tomato while disappointing result with cucumber and zucchini. I also find out my family loves arugula so I am sure I will continue to grow salad mix next year.
Harvesting sweet potatoes and cabbages.
Chinese daikon. The odd shape denotes that I planted 2 seeds too close to each other. They jointed at the top while the roots grow in separate ways.
Collard can be grown until heavy frost in November.
I am growing broccoli and kale in the mini greenhouse.
I would expect the kale to survive the winter.
This is a new garlic planting tool that I “invented”.
To help speed up digging rows of holes, I cut 1″ dowel into 4″ long and sharpen the end.
I placed 6 of these dowels 4″ apart along a wooden stick with 1″ holes pre-drilled.
I thought I can simply push the tool into the ground, but in reality, the soil and wood chips are difficult to press in. The solution is to use a rubber mallet to hammer the dowels into the soil.
Planting garlic using the new tool.
The tool is not ideal but it did save me some time than digging a hole one by one with a trowel.
I think I have planted about 400 garlic this year, not including other family members’.
Firewood time! I purchased 3 bush cords and my youngest 5 children volunteered to stack them for me.
They showed great team spirit in stacking all of them in less than 2 hours. I DID NOT have to do anything this year except paying for the delivery.
I have always wanted to build a greenhouse to extend my growing seasons. I thought about buying the traditional glass greenhouse with sturdy frames. On the other hand, a high tunnel greenhouse with 1/2″ EMT conduits or PVC pipes seems more economical.
In the end, I decided to try it out on my square foot garden raised bed. I wanted the ability to open and move the greenhouse easily.
Well, if I have thought of something, chances are someone has already tried it. Taking the idea from the following video:
Here is what I got in the end. As long as I built the base for another raised bed of the same size, this greenhouse can be easily attached via door hinges.
The base of the frame is about 50″ x 47″, built with 2 x 4s.
One hinge on each end so that it can be opened on a hot day.
I am growing heat loving plants here: sweet potatoes, cantaloupes and peppers.
I cannot wait to see if the plants will grow better under the greenhouse.
My old compost bin has completely rotten at the bottom and is falling apart. It is time to build a better one. Again I found a great idea from youtube:
In order to prevent the bottom from rotting, I decided to staple some 6-mil black plastic film to the inside of the bin.
Hmmm, the door is not level because the ground is not. Oh well, as long as I can open the door.
This pile of dried plants and stems were from last year. I did not do a good job turning and adding water and nothing has broken down.
I got to do a better job this time to turn these into black gold!
With the talk of food shortage these days, it is certainly a great time to get your hands dirty and start learning about gardening with your children or expanding the garden! For those who have less space for planting, there are options like square foot gardening, pot planting or even vertical garden. It is definitely a great way to understand how God has provided for us all through history. The whole family can also learn lots of truth pertaining to life through the gardening experience!!
I am no expert in planting actually, it’s my husband and the children doing most of the work on the land here =P However, please kindly let me share our observations. First of all, a land would not yield without God’s blessings. Secondly, soil is the key. No good nutritious plants will come out of bad soil. Two potatoes can look the same but with very different levels of nutrients. Lastly, you will need to get in touch with the nature/weather. For example, a night of frost can kill all the uncovered sweet potatoes seedlings outside.
The following are the vegetables that we found relatively easy to plant: potatoes, onion, green onion, squash, cucumber, cayenne pepper, asparagus, radish, beets, carrot, garlic (we plant ours in Sept), zucchini, tomatoes, peas, basil, cilantro, parsley, kale and lettuce, etc. The weather that year would also play a big part.
If you have not watched the film Back to Eden yet, I highly recommend you to spend some time to enjoy it!!! You soul would be uplifted after this man shows you how God loves and cares about us and how great His mercy is through his garden even if you do not plan to do any gardening.
Many people visited his garden after watching the film, that is the reason why there are many garden tours on his land like this one which are also amazing as well!
Here is a little garden tour for fun by our children 3 years ago.
One fast track way to eat fresh vegetables is eating sprouts. Thus, growing sprouts is also a wonderful thing to learn with the children during this time! They are easy to manage, fast to grow, economical, and could also get 40 times more nutrients at times than the veggies we eat normally. Some sprouts to try are mung beans, sunflower seeds, broccoli seeds, peas….so you do need to get seeds and beans!
Yet another way to eat vegetables which needs more work, but worth all the efforts. That is fermenting vegetables that you can buy now. There are still cabbages to turn into sauerkraut, which can be stored for more than a year. With its probiotics and vitamin C, your immune system will be boosted as well.
Will there also be shortage on drugs? You never know. However, it is not quite a great habit to depend on drugs anyway, therefore, why not learning more about natural remedies now as well? It is again another wonderful subject to learn with our children about how God cares and provides for us through the nature He created, which can help with most of our health situations. I would suggest researching/studying on the following as a start:
Supplements : vitamin C, A, D3 & K2, zinc, magnesium, grape fruit seed extract, activated charcoal