[p]Over the last few years my best friend and I have settled in to a comfortably paced existence in her home range of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The climate is beautiful and mild compared to my upbringing in New Orleans. This offers new foods that grow in a different climate and seasons making for seasonal delicacies at every decision. We have a small backyard, by our standards, which we look forward to producing enough of our own food to feel comfortable eating within our local resources. [/p]
[p]Our goals include knowing we are responsible for a healthy and honest meal; fair treatment of our animals and vegetables and flowers trying to stay as close to natural as possible; that is until something threatens our entire harvest. Our approach is not only for vegetables, but laying hens for eggs and honeybees for pollination and delicious honey. Not to mention this is the first year we have introduced flowers close to or amongst our vegetables outside of decorative flowerbeds. During the summer time, this cozy space will serve as an outlet of sorts to show what has been happening in our yard, what it takes to produce our food and the trials and tribulations of caring for our animals. [/p]
[p]The three topics I will constantly update will be our raised-bed gardens, honeybee hive and our small chicken coop. We currently operate four 5×10 raised-bed gardens, a honeybee hive and a 6×10 chicken coop for backyard eggs! When I can clarify our process or how we arrived where to the current status, feel free to ask questions by email or the comment section for all to benefit and participate.[/p]
[p]The no-frost plant day is Mother’s Day in our region. We are in our third season at this location with 4- 5’x10’ raised beds gardens. The first 2 were built in the 1st year and two in the fall of the 2nd year. The ground was tilled and removed as much of the grass as possible and then laid brown cardboard down to keep weeds from popping up in the short term. We purchased soil by the yard from a local mulch yard and add compost from our compost bin annually. 2012 marks the beginning of our adventures with staggered harvesting, as we are trying to stretch our harvest season and increase our annual yield per square foot.[/p]
Raised Bed Construction:
- 1st pair with 2×12 boards.
- 2nd pair with locust logs given to us by some friends.
[p]Abby and Jim attended a weekend beekeeping course in March. They ordered starter bee colonies from a local source and we assembled our hive and hive stand. Currently we have one hive and things are really looking good for honey production this year. The honeybee is absolutely fascinating and entirely necessary to pollination of food crops, my interest is increasing. Look forward to updates from myself and some guest posts from Abby.[/p]
[p]Our goal is to have half a dozen laying hens for eggs and an idea where some of our food comes from. We took the coop design from the popular Wichita Garden Coop on BackyardChickens.com. Our layout is 6×10; slightly larger than the Wichita but comfortable for our taste. The coop itself is apx. 1/3 of the overall footprint of the 6×10 footprint. We are using several inches of pine shavings for the coop and run to control poop and smell. These chickens will live quite comfortably in the yet to be named palace.
Currently we have 8 chickens that are 5 weeks old and we have 4 different breeds. They are in the coop but have a heat lamp for nighttime since they are not completely feathered out. Stay tuned for the breeds and updates.[/p]
[p]I will do my best to get you caught up to what we have done so far and update you about our inhabitants regularly for their life span; after all, we are doing this for the delicious benefits! The ride will be fun, names will come and go, and hopefully we will learn together along the way. Please feel free to ask questions, suggest topics or offer your advice. Using the comment section will benefit everyone that stops by.[/p]
Laissez les bon temps rouler.