Archive | July 2012

Cleaning Out The Chicken House

It is that time of year again…time to clean out the chicken house.  I follow the deep method for dealing with all of the chicken manure.  We clean it once a year and in between we use pine shavings and rake them around with the manure to keep things dry and not caked down.  We clean it in the hot summer because there are lots and lots of wheelbarrows full of manure that have to be pushed to our chicken compost area near the garden.  Our first year of cleaning out the chicken house, we tried in the spring when the ground was still wet.  Big problem.  The wheelbarrow kept getting stuck in the mud and spilling and making even more of a mess.  Now, the summer is super hot, but it is better than the spring.

J and R wanted to go to a 4th of July celebration, so my husband who had already planned a day of fun…not, work instead because of the storm, said if they wanted to go to the party they had to clean the chicken house.  He advised them to get up early to avoid some of the heat that we have been having.  Lo and behold…they got up early and when I got up at 7:30 they were already out there and working!

5 hours later it was completely cleaned out.  The shelves were cleaned off and they had used the shop vac to suck up all of the dusty cobwebs that had formed.  They were a hot sweaty mess, but they did an awesome job!  They smelled horrible of course, but a shower took care of that.  My oldest said that he could still smell the chicken manure on his hands even after the shower.  I have had that too.  I have kept washing my hands to no avail.  You just have to let the stink wear off!

I am so glad to have that job off of my list.  Normally, I would do this job myself or with help from a child or two, but I’m not allowed to lift right now, so I was completely hands off.  It is amazing what the kids CAN do if they want to.  Having a party hanging over their heads is a good motivator.

J using the shop vac to clean off the shelves and cobwebs.

R waiting for his turn on the other shelf.

The super awesome shelf that my husband and R made for me as a brooding shelf that is able to be put out-of-the-way when not in use. Here it is folded up and out-of-the-way.

Here is the super awesome shelf in the down position where I use it as a brooding area for chicks. The chains on either side support the weight of the equipment and chicks with no problems at all.

Going through all of the equipment and washing everything. Checking for lost or missing parts and checking things out to see what replacements we need.

Our chicken manure compost pile. We use the same place every year as it kills the grass because it has so much nitrogen in it. We let it age for about 9 months before we can use it in our square foot gardens. We keep it open, because our chickens will come over to peck and scrape it and stir it up as it ages.

We used the aged chicken manure from last year in our newest garden box this year.  My husband put in a 4 ft. by 12 ft. box for me for our vining plants to try to keep them off of the grass so that we can still mow.  It is working somewhat, but not as well as we intended because the plants in there are growing like crazy.  No kidding.  In the box we put the old chicken manure from last year.  Rabbit droppings which can be put straight in the garden from their cage with no aging.  A lot of ash from our burn pile which I read somewhere is good for the garden and topped it with the Miracle Grow potting soil, and wow, this is the best garden box we have ever had!  I will have to post a couple of pictures of when we planted to now so that you can see the difference.  Amazing!

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Bad Storm Cleanup

T and S using a hatchet to chop off the small branches.  M and R using axes to chop through the fallen tree.

M and R chopping and chopping!

One of the fallen trees in our back woods.

The wind blew the lid off of our garden yard shed.

Part of the tree from the back woods fell onto our red trailer.

The wind blew over our Composter.

On our last day of vacation, there was a bad storm.  My husband and son, R came home early to get the generator fired up to save our freezer and fridge food.  We lost power for about 20 hours all total.

The next day the rest of us came home to assess the damage.  We had three trees down at the half-way point.  The garden had some damage to the peppers and tomatoes.   I had to re-stake the tomatoes.  I had to stake the green peppers.  They wouldn’t stand up no matter how much dirt I packed around them.

Our composter was blown over, but no real problem.

We have millions of branches all over the place.  They have to be picked up so that we can mow.

We have plenty of things to be thankful for.  Our house was not damaged, our animals were fine.  Our food was safe.

Our Little 4th Of July Party

We had a little  4th of July celebration after working out in the heat all.day. long!  We are still recovering from the storms last week and we have zillions (I am not exaggerating!) of sticks down all over our yard.  We picked up enough to mow the front yard and back yard, but we still have a lot to pick up in the front woods and the back woods.  We got the mowing done, got the generator put away, cleaned out the garage, tidied the yard shed, J and R cleaned out the chicken coop, cut the metal for R’s 4H project, swept the sidewalks, watered the garden and plants, and went to get a cabinet for my husband for the garage.  It was a pretty productive day for us around here!

Normally we buy about $300 worth of fireworks to shoot off each year, but with my MIL recovering from her knee surgery down at my SIL’s house out-of-state, they weren’t here, so we didn’t spend the money.  We did make a quick trip to Wal-Mart and bought about $30 worth of little stuff for the kids.

They loved it because they could do the stuff themselves instead of just watching!

A getting a sparkler lit by dad.

S getting his sparkler lit by T. Why is it much fun to light one from the other? I don’t get it.

T trying his hand at one of the “gun” party poppers. It was pretty hard. S and A didn’t have the finger strength to get it to pop.

M lighting smoke balls. This is as rowdy as we got. They all loved the different colors of smoke.

We noticed we got a “rainbow” of smoke from the smoke balls. The kids loved that!

The most awesome trick of the night…dancing around the yard with a sparkler in each hand. My kids are talented!!

It was a fun time, but was it hot!  I don’t remember it ever being this hot on the 4th of July… but hey, I can’t remember much these days.  Do you remember it being this hot on the 4th?

Vacation Photos

We have been back for a few days now and I feel myself starting to get a grip again!  Finally.  Anyway, we had a wonderful time.  We only traveled to a state park about 30 minutes from home, but with 6 children, we need a lot of stuff to make it through a week away.  The kids brought bikes, skateboards, scooters, swimming gear, sand toys etc.  We had wonderful weather for the first few days, but then it got really, really, hot.  Our last afternoon, we had a terrible storm with lightning, high winds, and lots of rain.  Our power was out at home, so my husband and 13-year-old son headed home early to get the generator up and going to save our freezer and fridge food from going bad.

All in all it was so wonderful to be away from the same old, same old,  day-to-day stuff.  It was nice to just have all day to have fun and do whatever the kids wanted.  They could swim, go to the commissary, go to the swings etc.  M, read a lot of the time, J worked on his grilling, they all loved getting candy and such at the commissary.  T and S took long bike rides every day.  J golfed twice with my dad.  We played Texas Hold Em with my dad’s poker chips that we got him several years ago for Christmas.  A swam and swam.  It was really nice.

All said, I am glad we did it, but I’m also glad to be home.  Back to reality.  Here are some shots from our trip.

My parents and the kids under their new protective sun shelter.

My husband and S racing around the flag pole. S lapped my husband three times in the race.

My husband spent some time “babysitting” Bitty Baby.

Having fun with an inner tube.

J and Grandma B. playing Badminton.

A friendly card game.

My husband and Grandpa B. getting on each other about their “differences” in beverages.

Playing in the lake with dad. He was taking turns throwing them into the water.

M drying off after swimming.

Back From Vacation

Sorry about my long absence, but with 6 kids, preparing for vacation took my every waking minute for several days, then we were out-of-town, then we returned, and now  I am in the midst of getting all of the gear etc. put away.  I have plenty to say and show you, but it will have to wait just a little longer…see you soon!