Compost Bins, New Garden Beds and a Broody Hen
Hi there, It’s a cold and wintery day here on the farm (even though we ‘re into the second month of spring) I thought I would take up the opportunity and write an update on the farm.
A lot has happened in the last month. Projects are coming along. We have installed eleven new raised garden beds, created a new garden area and have started to sow the spring crops. We have also installed six new compost bins which have been made out of apple crates and we’re waiting in anticipation for chickens to arrive on the farm.
Below is the new garden area. We will plant tomatoes, capsicum and eggplant in the patch closest to you and the patch on the other side will have a green crop of barley. We haven’t grown anything in that particular area so the soil is not at its best. And I really need to go and have a soil test done on it. The chickens have been having a ball scratching and eating any unwanted critters.
Below are the new raised garden beds. We have decided to cover these with poly pipe and also cloche netting. The cloche netting will act as a wind break and also protect the crops against cabbage moth. We drilled holes into the wood and hammered left over pieces of rio into the wood. The rio allowed us to place the poly pipe over the beds. It has been extremely windy here and they poly pipe has held up to the wind. Which is a really good sign.
We measured out the cloche netting. 5 metre lengths and cut them to size. Took awhile to do all the beds. And also patience. I am learning all the time patience is needed on the farm.
Next we threaded in 4mm rope through the cloche net. This will help us to hold the cloche netting to the garden beds.
And here I am in spring with my puffer jacket and beanie on hammering rio into the wood. The rio is used to enable the poly pipe to go on over the beds.
And now look at our new compost bins. Recycled apple crates. I am super excited about these. We want to be a waste free farm and utilise all the materials around the home as compost. I still have so much to learn about compost but for now what we are doing is adding all the compost material from around the farm. We also mulched up heaps of dried trees that had come fro the garden into fine wood chips. We also added the green clippings from mowing the lawns and lots of good weeds from the garden beds. And I mustn’t forget the hen house compost. My favourite. When I clean the hen house I take out all of their bedding and poo and put it into the yard where they scratch. I leave it there for another few weeks and after they have had a good scratch through it and added more nitrogen into it from their own poo I then take it and add it to the compost.
We have layered the materials that have gone into the apple crates and watered it down. Every fortnight I will turn the bins and fork the compost into the empty bin beside it. So currently there are three bins full and three bins empty.
We won’t put any food scraps in there because it will attract quolls and possums. Our food scraps are shared between the chickens and another closed compost bin.
And the last update on the farm is about our little hen who is abut to be a mother. I am so excited about this. I have never had chickens before and actually I have never had any experience with a broody hen. Lots to learn. I did some research and what I read was it takes 21 days for the chicks to hatch. The hen needs to be separated from the other hens and kept warm. She is very protective of her eggs and will only come off them to go to the bathroom and have something to eat. However her eating is reduced a lot and I may find she doesn’t eat at all. I was horrified by that. So each day I am popping fresh food right next to her and also fresh water so that she doesn’t have to go off her eggs.
And what I read about the hen being protective of her eggs is correct. I have nearly lost my fingers when changing over her food and water. She really does not like you going near her.
Here is the little pen we have here in. During the day I open up the front ‘curtain’ and allow fresh air and sun to enter and at night I close it all down for her. If its a cold and windy day I close it all down so she is all snuggled up and warm. It is going to be so rewarding to raise chickens. I really do feel excited to see them hatch and to be a part of something so special.
Normally with hens their comb is upright and bright. My little hen’s comb is very small and not looking as healthy as it usually does, but that is because she is not eating or drinking enough and has gone into a ‘broody hen zone’. I guess it is like us females when we are expecting. Our bodies change and our hormones are a bit all over the place.
And that there is an update on the progress with the farm.. Like I mentioned earlier, I am learning patience. There is so much still to do with infrastructure to enable me to plant crops without them being eaten and we also need to put in wind breaks to protect the crops. We have a dam that we thought we could fix from leaking, unfortunately it is still leaking. I would love all this to be done yesterday, but I know that it all takes time. And if I can’t get in there to plant, thats OK. What is important is that I take the time each day to enjoy the learnings.
Living on the land and wanting to support yourself self sufficiently is a lot of hard work. I learn something about myself every single day and I have also learnt to be a lot kinder to myself. I am working with nature and she has a way of making us slow down and only do what we can do.
So whilst it is still an extremely windy day here on the farm I am going to go into the hot house and plant out more seeds of tomato, capsicum, zucchini and pumpkin. I hope that they will germinate and be ready to plant out in November when the weather has warmed up a bit.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little update and please feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below. My goal is to share as much as I can about our own experience on the farm learning how to live more sustainably and self sufficiently.
Lots of love and happy gardening.