If you follow my blog or YouTube channel you probably noticed that I have yet to post a video this week. I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to edit the next tutorial just yet. It will be coming later this week so stay tuned for that.
Right now I wanted to let you in on what I’ve been busy doing…. farm stuff! It’s been a year since we bought our 5-acre homestead out in the middle of the country here in North Central Florida and we are very happy with the progress we’ve been making, knowledge we’ve gained and how far us city kids have come since moving into our double wide on five acres.
I designed the coop to measure 10′ x 12′ x 8′ tall at the highest point and then the roof slants down to 7′ on the lowest end. I plan to install a gutter on that end and set up a rain collection barrel there to route into the garden for irrigation. But I’m not quite there yet. Still need to add more reinforcements to the coop frame, add the roof slats, plywood siding, hardware cloth, door, etc. But it’s coming along! I constructed the main body of the frame with 2x4s and then the reinforcements are 2x3s that I found at the lumber yard for $1 less than a 2×4 so I went with those. Gotta save where I can!
This coop will be 120 square feet total which, based on the calculations I’ve seen online should comfortably house somewhere between 20-40 chickens. That should be plenty of space especially since my chickens free range during the day and only need a place to roost at night. About 2/3 of the coop will only be covered with hardware cloth because we live in Florida and a main concern with our hot weather is ventilation in the coop. The sides that will have plywood siding face the Northwest side of the property (where the winter winds come from) to help shield the flock from any cold drafts.
Right now we have a rooster and three hens, one of which has gone broody and has 9 eggs in her nest. woo-hoo! We definitely need to get this coop finished up before those baby chickies arrive. I plan to have the mama hen, Spicy, and her chicks in the smaller chicken tractor and the rest of the flock in the new coop. So, it’s gotta get done ASAP!
In other farm news we have started working on our new garden plot for our Fall garden. I had a neighbor come over with his tractor this weekend and till up a 20′ x 60′ plot that was beyond overgrown with weeds… think 10’+ tall weeds! The plan here is to sow a cover crop that will choke out weeds and help add nutrients and organic matter to the soil before I start planting seeds and transplants in there in the next 1-2 months.
We settled on buckwheat as the cover crop. For the seeds I simply purchased 4 lbs of organic raw buckwheat groats (not the toasted ones) from my local natural foods store. It is a heat loving plant, grows super fast (1-3 day germination for ours!), adds organic matter and makes soil nutrients like phosphorus and calcium, more accessible to the fall crops that will be planted after it. In only 30-40 days the buckwheat will be ready for me to stomp down and let it start to breakdown before planting my fall transplants. My little helper spent two mornings with me walking and sprinkling buckwheat seeds in the plot. It rained both days so that saved us some water and work. All you do is broadcast the seeds everywhere, lightly rake it in and water. That’s it. If some seeds remain on the soil surface no biggie.. but be aware that the birds will eat the ones they see! Don’t ask me how I know that.
My baby was working and singing, “Farmer Jonathan sprinkling the seeds… Farmer Jonathan sprinkling the seeds.” He is almost 3 years old now and going through a phase where he makes up a song about everything he is doing. I love it.
We have a lot planned for this Fall garden! I’ve also started some seeds indoors to get a head start on the season.