The honey bees are out collecting pollen from the first flowers of spring
It snowed recently and when I went out to check on the chickens I could see many coyote footprints around the perimeter of the chicken run. Among them was a set of huge footprints.
For comparison that’s my footprint on the right
Here’s the other photo I took showing a clear paw print . This one wasn’t as big.
This morning a fox stopped by to look at the chickens. (Sorry its blurry, I took the photo through the kitchen window)
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.
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.
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!
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.
I checked in on the bees today to get them ready for winter.
First removed one of the boxes that had a hole in the corner. The bees seemed to love the extra entrance during the summer, but that hole would’ve let the cold in all winter so it had to go. The bees were very upset I was moving their honey around.
I scraped off some extra comb and got a little treat for myself.
There wasn’t much brood in the hive, which is a little worrying since most of the current bees will die soon and the bees that hatch out now have to survive all winter and keep the queen warm. That’s another thing that concerns me a little: I didn’t see the queen bee. I don’t always find her but I would’ve liked to confirm that she’s still alive before the winter. The bees were already getting angry with me so I did what I had to and got out as quick as possible.
I gave them their fall mite treatment and closed the hive back up.
Last thing I did was put the reducer in the entrance way. That will also help keep the cold out.
That’s it for today. Next time I check on the hive I will put a cork in the top entrance, and change the reducer to he smallest opening, again to keep out the cold. For now the fall has been very mild so I will leave it until we stay below freezing at night.
The first chick has hatched!