First Hop Harvest

The Cascade hops I planted in the backyard haven’t done much since 2015. There were a handful of cones each year, but it wasn’t until this year that there were enough to harvest.

I collected 3.3 ounces of hops. They smelled amazing. Sweet and delicious.

But how to best use them? I decided to use them as a late add to a one gallon lager beer kit I had.

My track record with beer brewing is not the best. Out of the five or so kits I’ve made only about two have been drinkable. But I won’t get better unless I keep practicing.

Brew day went smoothly and the wort looks great. I’ll find out in a few weeks if it’s drinkable.

Building a Rain Barrel Water Tower for the Chicken Coup

I was given this old barrel that originally stored non-toxic antifreeze. My plan was to build a Whizbang chicken plucker, but buying a small backyard chicken plucker turned out to be nearly the same price as buying all the hardware needed to build my own. (It might be worth it if you already have all the parts on hand)

So what to do with the barrel?

I have automatic feeders and I have automatic waterers for my chickens, but the current waterers leak everywhere and I have a garden hose running across my backyard to the coup. Its time to reengineer the poultry watering system. It would be a good start to have a water source at the coup. A rain barrel is just what I need.

No plans needed!

Just need it up high enough to let gravity do the work.

That should be about right. Now we need to add the spigot

I had to cut off the cover in order to access the inside and install the spigot and give the inside a good washing. Now how to reattach the cover?

Mistakes were made, but its finally back on securely.

Now to place it behind the chicken coup. Its in just the right spot to catch the rain once I install the gutter.

Hmm, that looks a little dangerous. Better add a safety rope to keep it from tipping over and crushing someone.

Lets’ secure the bottom as well…

Ok now let’s do some plumbing.
I have a few scraps of piping left over from a different project, but it will do fine. Maybe I should buy the correct kind of elbow? Nah.

Looking good!

Water was flowing out both sides, so I had to plug up this hole until I get to the hardware store for the correct elbow.

That’s a good start!
Ok, let’s lets connect up the new chicken waterers.

Two buckets hooked up. Each bucket has a float valve and watering cups. The rain barrel is high enough for the water to flow downstream and refill the buckets when the float valves open.

I put a rock inside the bucket as a counter weight to the float.

My goal is to be able to go away for a few days without worrying about the chicken’s water. I’m using Grandfather’s Feeders for automatic feeding which hold 40lbs of food and work great. But water had always been an issue.

Previously I was using the 6 gallon buckets shown in the photo below. There is a float on the bottom that is supposed to slowly let out the water, but they only worked correctly if the buckets were perfectly level and often the water would slowly drip out the side after only a day or two. I tried hanging the buckets, but then the chickens knocked them around and splashed the water out. I also tried modifying the buckets to use a float valve on top connected to the hose, but that just lead to them continually refilling and causing an even bigger mess. The chickens would also poop in the trough causing the water to get completely dirty.

I’m really happy with how this came out. Now I have non-spilling waterers and 50 gallons of reserve water that will automatically refill itself when it rains (or I could fill up from the garden hose if there’s no rain). My next step will be to make covers for the water buckets to keep the leaves and mosquitos out.

Success! The poults like it!

Hatching Aquasaurs

Triops aka “Aquasaurs” are small prehistoric creatures that can remain in suspended animation for a long time. They hatch out once they get wet and grow quickly. In that way they are like sea monkeys, but they grow much much bigger.

Here is a video taken on 2020-03-24. The Triops have hatched out and they were finally big enough to see:

Here they are four days later:

And finally here they are today, just eight days from the first video. They are getting huge!

New Garden

The coronavirus quarantine has given us lot more time in the backyard this week. The weather is beautiful, so we’ve begun working on a new garden.

Last year we built our first tiered garden and it worked out great. So this year we’ve decided build a second tiered garden to mirror the first.

We are hoping to grow a lot more of our own food this year. We especially love making pickles so we need twice as much space for cucumbers!

After measuring out the space for the new garden, we began to cut sod. We put the sod squares into the Turkey run as last year’s turkeys turned the run into a mud pit.

I’ve been playing a lot of Minecraft and all I can think about is how quick cutting this sod would go in the game. LOL!

Once the garden area is cleared we hope to have the wood needed to edge the garden delivered as we continue to reduce our exposure to coronavirus.