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Monday, July 04, 2011

Next year in Jerusalem

Risa knows it's actually hot in some places -- Phoenix had 118F recently -- but to her, after being one of the Earth's cold spots since about November, the air in her vicinity is wilting her at 83F. A spot of shade in the late afternoon, creeping over the tomatoes and the star-gazing bed, looks good to her, and so she falls into the star-gazing bed and takes a nap.

Later, it's time for another wheelbarrow load. What has happened, is there was a war between Stony Run Farm and a raccoon whose superpower is climbing up the pen netting, unwinding enough chicken wire to slip in, and taking three bites from a chicken. Ten dead chickens later, none of our old tricks have availed, and it has become necessary to abandon the pen in favor of shutting everyone -- ducks, chickens, goose -- into the barn.

All ten victims were so little chewed that they have been salvaged, and there is a whole lot more broth and such in the freezer than we had anticipated.

The barn's back door is nailed shut, and the front door has been extensively rebuilt. Welded wire fencing has been wrapped round the barn and buried in the earth several inches. So far so good. Nobody died over the last four days.

This leaves us with the question what to do with the pen, which is an L-shaped enclosure wrapped around the southeast corner of the barn, and which looks ... a lot ... like ... a polytunnel/greenhouse!

We had one before, but it suffered from inadequate bracing in today's stronger winds, and from an explosion of veggie-snacking slugs. The one on the back of the barn, though, would have chickens and ducks all around it every day, which might help. Worth a try.

Risa has opened a doorway into the space (which had been cut off from its only previous door) from the potting shed:

Now she's removing most of an eight-inch-deep layer of straw bedding mixed with duck poo, to get access to some actual soil:

Yes, we know, but you can't always muck out when you should, and we were guilty of just throwing new on top of old for a long time. We're much better in the barn. All this is heading for the compost heap. We like to sheet compost and skip the heap, but we've already set up the garden's nutrition for this year and this stuff would burn the plants. Risa's added an extra bin to handle the overflow:

What was the question in the far back? Oh, the mailbox. Yes, well, that's got hand tools in it. Where to grab a ho-mi or a nozzle on the way out to the beds.

So, anyway, the plan is to lay out a path in the polytunnel, fork over the goop that's in there to aerate it a bit, and start a fall garden. Then put the plastic on. Then next year, try it for tomatoes and peppers. If we like what happens, maybe gather materials to switch to a glass house. "Next year in Jerusalem," as they say.


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