Chicks, Turkeys (poults) and a Greenhouse!

It’s been too long since I last wrote and I plan to fix that this year. I am putting it on my calendar to write something at least once a week!
So what have we been up to?

ALOT

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Fried, a very curious Turkey from 2014

Last year we tried our hand a raising Turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. In Oct we culled two Broad Breasted turkeys (female, 22 lbs, male 27 lbs). It was a great success and some of the best turkey I have ever had, so this year we have two Bourbon Red turkey poults. They are a heritage breed, so they grow a little slower and don’t have a that huge breast meat you expect to find in store bought, but I hear they taste even better.

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Gollum and her Welsummer baby

We also have 11 chicks, 10 are straight run Olive eggers from a local breeder (should lay olive colored eggs if they are hens). All cockerels will be sent to freezer camp and enjoyed for dinner (since we live in city limits and can’t have roosters). Gollum (one of our barnyard mix hens) wanted to hatch the golf balls in one of the nest boxes so we went to the feed store (Buckley’s Homestead Supply in Colorado Springs) and got her a day old baby to raise. This one is a Welsummer, which is a Dutch breed of domestic chicken that lays a DARK brown egg.

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Greenhouse from Harbor Frieght

I have been taking a ton of gardening classes at the CSU extension and learning a little more than I already knew and enjoying the interaction and conversation. I have made some grow bags out of the chicken feed bags (just like I made the shopping bags, but with small handles for moving them) and I plan to grow most our peppers and tomatos in them this year. That way with the cold hits I can move them into the greenhouse to finish the season.  On that note, I got a Greenhouse as an early Mothers Day gift this year. Our small urban yard is working out very well for us:-)

 

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Grow out Coop with Creeper Fencing

Last year we built a coop out of a double oven cabinet that we laid on it’s side.  The window side of this coop is the Nursery (Gollum her baby live here), the wood door area is the Grow out Coop (area for the chicks to get to about 12/14 weeks old when they are culled or added to the big girl coop). The 11159435_10205392794572705_276721039_oCabinet doors are just that, cabinets, for treats, oyster/egg shells, bedding, extra feeders/waterers. Under the coop we built removable creeper fencing so the little ones can hid from the big hens as they integrate into the flock.

 

 

More next week, I have to go dig some of the wet slimy soil/feed from the very wet chicken tun and find a way to keep it a little dryer in there, since it’s been raining for three days and no end in sight.

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Chiken Lips has a small urban homestead with edible and flower gardens, chickens a greenhouse and has lots of fun teaching our children about the importance of our food and out environment!

  Corona Street Chickens (they have their own Facebook Page) are currently 7 adult hens (Bluey, Clarice, Enchilada, Omelet, Martha, Frodo, Golum) + 11 chicks and 2 poults.

The girls are getting BIG and my new compost bin

It’s been a while, so I thought I should post.

Bluey and Clarisse are getting to look like chickens. They are 17weeks old this week, so we will hopefully get some eggs in the next 4 weeks from them 🙂 I have been letting them out into the extended run area. They like it, but since it’s only a 4′ fence and a dog house they keep thinking about making a break for it. I have to figure out something else to do to keep them in the yard. May have to clip some wings soon. Not sure if it’s true, but I’ve read and been told to expect our barred rock pullets to start laying eggs when they are about 16 to 20 weeks old. So we are in that range now 🙂 I am expecting closer to 21 to 22 weeks, but sooner would be neat!

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The little girls arn’t so little any more… they are almost as big as Bluey and Clarisse! They are also enjoying the extended run and are starting to get used to me but still won’t let me touch them. They have not let me pick them up since the dog attack all those weeks ago. Crab & Enchilada are 11 weeks old today!

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A few weeks ago I got a compost bin from my father-in-law. I still need to find the right spot in the yard for it and get it started. How many of you have a compost bin? What is the best placement. I have a nice corner it fits in, but it’s shady and near the kid sand box. Then i have a part shade area near the big garden and pumpkin plants.

In other news… my gardens are looking GREAT!

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GARDENING IN COLORADO

What is a Cold Frame Garden?

A cold frame is a transparent-roofed enclosure usually built low to the ground used to protect plants from adverse weather.  The transparent top allows sunlight in while reducing  heat loss.

Essentially, a cold frame functions as a miniature greenhouse to extend the growing season.

Cold frames are found in many home gardens and in vegetable farming. They create a micro-climate that provides several degrees of air and soil temperature insulation, and shelter from wind. In cold-winter regions (like Colorado) these characteristics allow plants to be started earlier in the spring, and to survive longer into the fall and winter.

My Cold Frame Gardens

14'x3' Cold Frame

 

6'x3' Cold Frame

I use my cold frame to plant early and harvest long after the last frost. We built them with the ability to remove the windows in the hot summer months and replace them in the cooler fall weather.  They were both built it using old windows (from the Re-Store and friends yards) and left over trex decking. I have a small urban yard, so we can’t have one cold frame and then a second garden for the plants to grow in the summer (many cold frames are used only to ‘harden’ plants for the elements). I did get a tip to put Black jugs full of water in the cold frame to absorb the heat and it will keep it warm longer in the cold nights/days. I will have to try that!

You can buy Cold frames from gardening stores and websites (I like Gardeners Supply Co). I had one that was a plastic cover with screens that covered a 4’x6′ garden. It lasted three summers before it totally disintegrated. It cost about $150 and lasted three years, so I was happy. But the ones we built cost us about $90 (including soil to fill it), are 4x’s the size and will probably last 10+ years if I paint the wood and keep the maintenance up.

Not everyone has a husband who is a builder and can make them things like this in a day. So a pre-made one may be for you.

Benefits to a cold frame are…

Protection from  Dogs,cats and other domestic pets (like my chickens)

Protection from Squirrels, birds and other wildlife

Protection from the elements

Extend your growing seasons

 

Chicken Feed bag upcycling.

We have yet to even go through a full 50lbd bag of feed, but a few people have been willing to give me their saved feed bags for these up-cycle projects. I am so happy for that! And a few offered to keep saving bags for us too. Maybe we can do a bunch for our fundraiser next year.

Next week my daughters Girl Scout troop and I will be making feed bag shopping bags for an Earth Day Project (I know a few days after Earth day).

This is my Sample Bag for the girls to see what we are making.

feed bag Shopping Bag

This is a pile of bag strips to make the Shopping bag handles. I am going to pre-make all but one for the girls, to stream line the process.

Feed bag handle strips

And the pile of bags too.  I will be pre-sewing the top and adding the handles to all but one of these also. The girls will just sew the bottoms of the bags they make.

fed bag pile

In my process of prepping for the Girl Scout meeting I decided I had more than enough bags for each girl to get one and to make a few extras for the nice people who gave us the feed bags, so I also made new liners for my hanging tomato cages.

Before  Before - Hanging Tomato cage      After  After Hanging Tomato Cage

I can not even begin to do the instructions justice, so here is the site I used to learn how to make the shopping bags.

http://communitychickens.blogspot.com/2012/06/diy-chicken-feed-sack-tote.html#.UXXIlcocP0U

&

http://www.instructables.com/id/Feed-Bag-Tote-Bag/step2/Sewing-the-top/

I just used my old worn out liners as a guide for the tomato cage bags.