Raised Beds Day 2

DSC_0002Technically it hasn’t taken me two full days to get this far along, I’ve only worked a total of about 6 hours and that includes driving to pick up materials. I need more daylight hours!

The first bed is nearly complete, it just needs the triangular bottom board on the far side put in and a couple of bracing boards installed to keep the sides from bowing out. I’ve decided on 2 foot wide pathways between the beds instead of 3.

I have been discovering renegade potatoes as I excavate, as well as a lot of grubs and cutworms, which are quickly dispatched by my two-chicken clean-up crew. I even managed to get 3 or 4 wheelbarrow loads worth of chicken pen flooring dumped in, just the spots that were soggiest and had compacted down. I’m leaving the nice, dry and crumbly earth for a top dressing.


Next I’ll start emptying my overflowing compost pile and dump in most of the fresh stuff consisting mostly of rabbit manure, urine-soaked sawdust and cat litter (I use chick crumble for kitty litter) so it will rest deep on the bottom and continue to break down with the help of the worms.

I’m not concerned about putting cat waste into the bottoms of the raised beds since my cats are parasite free and they’ll most likely use the gardens as a litter box anyway. Heck, the chickens think the clumps of cat pee/chick crumble are special treats.


Raised Beds at Last


“I am helping”

I’ve been here three years now, and come a long way in the gardening department considering there was nothing when I started.

This garden plot was dug the very first spring, and it comprised many hours of backbreaking work, only to succumb to an influx of weeds that were impossible to control. The soil, which looked great at first, turned into a hard-packed hydrophobic carapace, and my harvests were pitiful.

The next year I smartened up and used a thick layer of woodchip mulch which resisted most of the weeds and protected the soil from drying out. However, there is still a pronounced slope to the yard here which causes constant erosion and is vulnerable to chicken, duck and dog attacks. I don’t allow much free ranging of birds precisely because of this issue. A single hen can cause a lot of damage in a very short time.

The whole area needed cleaning and tidying up and I thought the best way to do this would be to convert it to raised beds. I had the best garden of my life when I was using a raised bed in Vancouver. They look nice and neat, are higher up so easier to tend, they are level, you can fill them with whatever you want, and it keeps the lawn from creeping into your plots. It also creates a sturdy foundation for all kinds of cool projects, like trellises, hoop houses, chicken tillers and quail pens.

My first raised bed project after completion of the bed itself is to build a large segmented quail pen with a living roof to sit partially on top. There will be a metal mesh insert buried about 6″ under the earth and screwed into the sides of the bed to prevent rodents from getting inside. This will give the quail more space, an earth floor (which I know will make them lose their tiny minds with happiness) and access to vegetation, rain and added sunlight. (Rain? My experience at the raptor centre has taught me that sometimes birds just like to sit in the rain…) The earth floors will also keep their feet and feathers healthy and I will have space to add more natural hiding areas. I’m hoping this will help cut down on bullying. The pen will be segmented down the middle to make two separate living areas so I can keep certain individuals apart.

Here’s what the area looked like this morning:DSC_0002

And here’s what I accomplished today:


First the little apple tree had to come out. It had barely any root ball, just one giant long taproot that ran horizontally about 20 feet. Should be fun replanting it later…

I was able to get the first bed aligned, level and square. The beds are 12 feet by 4 feet and the top row of boards are 2″ by 12″ fir. The ends are spruce because they were out of fir. We’ll see how that turns out.

The next step will be to add an 8″ by 12′ board on the bottom of the low side to bring it to the ground. This is an easy method for building raised beds on a slope. The side pieces will be long triangles that will give the appearance that the bed is half buried.

You can see that I’m also placing a thick layer of newspapers under the edges of the bed. This is just to keep weeds down in these areas. I will not cover the insides of the beds, but I will put down a layer over the paths and cover the paper either with straw or wood chips. I’ve been saving paper for awhile now and I’m glad to finally convert it to worm food.


I’m planning three beds in total, with 2 or 3 foot wide pathways between them. The supplies for this project (wood and 3 inch deck screws) cost me just about $250 CAD.

Of course, now that I look at this first bed, it seems it will be almost impossible to fill. It will be almost 20 inches high on the downhill side! Luckily, it’s time to dig out the chicken pen floor and replace it again with woodchips. It’s taken a year or so, but the chickens and worms have transformed the chunks of wood into beautiful, rich black earth. It’s gorgeous stuff and I know it’s going to grow me some amazing produce.


Broken Rex Kits at 7 Weeks

Okay these kits are just beautiful! DSC_0008

This first photo is of the one solid castor Rex kit who has turned out to be a doe, and will be staying at the rabbitry as a new breeder. Isn’t she lovely? Look at those little fat rolls already developing!


There is also a darling broken castor doe, a broken black otter doe, and an opal doe. Pictured below:

Of course there are also boys!  A nice broken blue otter buck, a broken opal buck, a broken black otter buck, as well as some false opals and some mismarked black otters. I don’t have photos of these guys because my camera ran out of juice! Rest assured they are as cute as the buns pictured.

A Little Trip to Seattle

I recently went to visit my new nephew for the first time in Issaquah, and was lucky enough to take the Victoria clipper ferry over with my mom for company. I like the clipper ferry, it’s kind of like a plane ride with way more legroom and way more relaxed border security.

One of the days in Washington was spent in Duvall, for Thanksgiving dinner at the home of my nephew’s grandma on his dad’s side. It was great to finally get a look at the setup she has going, I had been hearing loads of stories about all the dogs, goats and sheep running the place. Truly, it was a dog paradise. There were five (six?) assorted dogs and most of them had cozy sweaters on. They had their own dog door leading into the expansive backyard and dog beds in every corner.


I was also introduced to the goats and sheep, The goats were huge, since I guess I’m used to seeing Nigerian Dwarf goats around here. Basically you could almost ride the goats, they were that big. I was informed that one of the grandkids actually has ridden the goats and I was jealous.


There were also a pair of sheep, who were completely adorable and also looked fun to ride. I think she said they were Cotswolds. Apparently I can have their fleeces when it comes time to shear them! Very excited about that.


My birthday happened while I was there, and I was taken to the aquarium for the day to celebrate. Despite how bright and vivid all the displays were, somehow I didn’t get very many good photos. It was still fun, I always enjoy any aquarium I visit.


Unfortunately I must have had too much fun and brought back with me an exotic American cold. I haven’t been sick in a few years, so I kind of forgot how to do it. I was doing okay until the Raptors Centre Christmas party, where I obviously talked too much bird talk and lost my voice. A week later, the voice is still gone but I feel the cold is finally almost on its way out.

And of course the whole reason for the trip is this little cutie pie right here. Great to finally meet you little buddy!