A Day of Many Projects

Things we did today:


After a few weeks of suffering through something really nasty in the worm bin (we put a bunch of food John left behind in there and let me just say for the record that we have LEARNED OUR LESSON, thanks), we finally took the offending level out and dumped it in the compost and buried it under a layer of dried weeds. We washed the level out and put it on top of the bin and everything is much better in the kitchen.

Then Rosie decided it was a great idea to roll in the stinky part of the lawn where we rinsed the aforesaid offending level of the worm bin, so we washed the dogs (which is always a big production because even though they are really good about being washed, they do weigh a ton and lifting an uncooperative, sulky 80-lb dog into a tub and then out of the tub is a real chore).

Between the regular tomatoes in our vegetable box from Eatwell Farm and our own tomato plants, it was getting a bit crowded on the countertop. So Noel started a batch of sauce a-simmering, and I got to show him how to remove the skins from blanched tomatoes without burning the hell out of your fingers (ie, run them under cold water).

My new backpack sprayer arrived this week, and this morning I spent a jolly half hour assembling it and then taking it partially apart to see how it works, then reassembling it. I'm going to have a little Roundup festival on the Bermuda grass.


I've been working on removing the large compost pile right in the entrance to the chicken yard. Last night I moved a bunch of stuff from it to the other large unstructured pile and took one of the pallets off the surround.

Compost bin this morning

This is how overstuffed the other side of the chicken yard was looking this morning, but one thing that is true of compost is that it shrinks over time, right? It'd be tidier but the chickens delight in climbing the pile and kicking the stuff all over the place. I'd be angry at them except they make up for it by pooping in the compost and making it burn down faster.

What you can't see is the decent-sized brush pile I was standing in when I took the photo.

The new massive pile in progress

Today I moved even more stuff to the other pile, and I offhandedly mentioned that I'd like to shred the brush pile at some point, so Noel went and got out our crappy shredder.

Shredding the brush pile

Don't get me wrong: having a shredder is a great thing, and I'm not willing to buy (or even rent) a gas shredder, so improving on what we have is not possible. But this thing is ridiculously bad at any kind of shredding, even with some fairly substantial (and definitely unsafe) modifications to its feeder, and regular resharpenings of the blades.

Anyway, it turns out that if your blade is all gunked up and gross, you can clean it by shredding a couple of quinces. Just some shredder care tips from Noel.

What shredded quince looks like

And at the end of the day, when I'd removed the remaining sides of the compost bin, I had just this sort of compost lump that the chickens have really been enjoying. And much more room to move around.

Chicken yard without massive compost bin

Also, the brush pile is gone, and true to form the stuff from the bottom of the old compost bin has kind of weighed down the many piles of lighter stuff I added to the new pile, so it's not too much more full than it was this morning.

The other compost pile is a little overfull

I'm thinking about getting a tumbling composter that can process a batch of compost in 20-30 days, just to help keep the piles from getting too ridiculously large.

Anyway, that was the garden stuff. But we did more!

See, we've had this problem with rats getting into the chicken food, which is really gross and probably not terribly healthy for the chickens. So it was clear that we had to get to work and put the ceiling in the chicken room, since the rats were getting in by pushing aside my feeble attempts to keep them out with wire fencing tacked in place.

So we made this wonderful stripey ceiling, which is what you get when you have three pieces of random plywood and not enough of anything to make the whole ceiling. With this ceiling, there's no easy way for a rat to get into the chicken room any more (they can still chew a hole through the plywood and get in, but it'd take real work and there's other easier sources of food around).

The ceiling in the chicken room

With the ceiling in place, we have our little attic over the chicken room. So we shortened the center wall of the shed to make it easier to put large things up there.

Shortening the center studwall for better access

And then we filled it up with all kinds of wire fencing and tomato cages (one neighbor gave me a few tomato cages once, and I said thanks. Then it got all over the neighborhood that I wanted tomato cages, and now I have about thirty).

Completed attic with tomato cages

We still have to finish putting on the siding, as you can see, but it's pretty close to being done. That last little tiny bit just always takes forever.

We need to put siding over the door

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posted by ayse on 08/23/08