Catalyst Coop Walk Through 4-21-15 : Preview to 2015 growing season

Omega to its core, we all experience and explore.

Omega to its core, we all experience and explore.

Howdy hello,

I’m back to present another installment of the Coops evolution, which, includes a new bridge for the question mark shaped sink and pond, finished deck and wood shed area, the chicken tractor in use, a rare view of the woodlot, and the new water fall frog pond. But for those who have followed the progress here, you will see many many other changes.

This is a preview of the 2015 growing season, check back soon to see the whole place overgrown with edibles and medicinals.

This years chicks are on there way after finally having a hen go broody. I hope she stays for the long haul. I did not get the chance to bring in a new rooster for color, so next year it is I guess…

Many of the fruit trees and berry bushes are starting to gain size, many annuals have natural crafted themselves and continue to return, and new plants such as Goji berry and currents have been planted this spring.

The place is maturing, just as it should. But as a reminder to my readers, for the exception of any earth works none of these beds were ever tilled even once. This place was one flat brick that very few things grew on. Only mulch of many types, and growing what would grow has produced this place. The soil is maturing, more is growing, and all the extra hardship just to ad my own kind of personal challenge to this type of gardening. Not to mention perennializing my annuals by strengthening their genetics for easy self seeding.

So the work being done, lets have some fun. For a song tonight, tonight… Because, “time is never time at all.”

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The God Conclusion

 

Any erosion of fallacy is a divine spirituality. Though fallacy does exist, the scales they are a tipped.

Any erosion of fallacy is a divine spirituality. Though fallacy does exist, the scales they are a tipped.

A light has been shaping

In the reality we call dream

Where we all know the same

And live as a team

The light sheds view

On life’s hidden rules

Suffering under proposed crime

Is our gruel

This light breaks it down

So they build around

This light adds another

And they beat it to the ground

With what is invested

The light seems no chance

But the light is lucid

And again brandishes the lance

Back and forth

The realities pull

Positive versus negative

The poles never lull

But if ever the light

Is to see proper balance

There must be recognition

Of the divinity of the challenge

Challenge one’s self

To a game of divine contemplation

To goal is to win

With only inner competition! Illumination.

Music my friend, music to tend; music my friend, music to mend. – – – – –  Click Here For Your Tune

Rotational Paddocks and Chicken Tractor System

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I started this rotational paddock barn system last fall (2012). The idea is to grow gardens for the chickens, and have a way to limit the destruction of said gardens. Above you can see a basic layout of the design.

You can also see video and other commentary on this and other subjects at catalystcoop.com.

As you can see in the drawing, the barn has six doors, but I have seven paddocks. (plus the human gardens they enjoy fall and winter.) This is simply how the design fell in to place due to the perimeters I had to work within. Yours would likely be entirely different. (as of 2014 there are 6 paddocks as I combined part of the far NW paddock into its neighboring paddock, adding a wood shed and patio next to the home.) There is also a fully covered ‘day or staging area.’ This allows an area to confine the birds under numerable circumstances, and keeps air flowing through in the summer. We will jump back to the barn in a moment, but first lets look at the chicken tractor and how it is used in conjunction with the day area.

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The tractor is built with scrap iron, steel wheels, and chain link fence for maximum longevity. It is however very light. 12 ga. by 1″ strapping creates the arch, 1″1/2″ x 2″ angle make up the bottom rectangular frame, and then miscellaneous 3/4″ tubing and angle for supports and door frame. It also has a perch inside at the middle, and a handy shopping cart style grip.

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From the door side, we see the welded loop which holds the water. I never give them food in the tractor, they have a job to do while in there. Over the top of where the wheels are, I have added some  recycled 1/2″ mdo plywood. This keeps the birds from getting their feet under the wheels by pushing their butts while the tractor is rolling. Also notice the scrap carpet piece serving as a fine sun shade. The tractor is used for mowing the paths between the poly-cultured beds when the growing season is on, and it serves to segregate chickens for slaughter as well.

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In the above picture I am standing in the day area looking at the main gate (opened to the tractor), and the tractor itself. I get the chickens into the day area and simply push them towards the door with my handy chicken guiding tool called a leaf rake… then off for a chicken work day. This is also a way to allow longer periods of rest on the paddocks if needed, just find a place that needs mowed. It is important to remember that when using a tractor in this way, MOVE IT REGULARLY. This tractor will hold 8 chickens with ease at 4’x6,’ and they can become bored with and area rather quickly. Meaning: scratch it harder than desired, or, run out of desirable greens.

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Here we see the front of the barn, standing in the far south paddock. First you will notice that there is little growing activity as of date (fall 2012), this is because I have been building it all summer; next year this should hopefully all be thick with chicken grub. You can also easily see the three front doors on the barn; one coming to the day area and the paddock I am standing in (open door), one to the West paddock, and one to the East. The Virginia creeper starting on the day area fence will eventually cover the fence and the ceiling of the day area and house many yummy chicken bugs.

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Inside the barn we are looking at the screen door that allows circulation no matter what paddock the chickens are in. To the right of the screen door is the NE paddock door. Hanging from the beam is a homemade feeder (goal being to remove this item in time as the chicken gardens mature) made from an old waterer. I hang it to prevent rodents from capitalizing on the feed, to keep it at a good height for the chickens, and to hang it higher when I am flushing the birds before slaughter. All birds go through this detox until I no longer use any bag feed. (This year 2014 fall, I now use the human gardens as %100 diet for 4-6 weeks as the birds get ready for slaughter; Thus, as the new chicks start laying eggs around October then the old hens will be appreciated as meat after eating only natural food they can find in the gardens.)

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This is the summer perch up top, made of black walnut limbs. Also the nest boxes which are open on the front, and a door on the back which is hanging open in the picture. You can also see how I used some recycled corrugated fiberglass to bring in all the light of the evening hours for winter egg production. No external lighting and timers here. An addition of opening sides was installed up top the fall of 2013, which, gave the chicks a nice cozy roost that allows for body warmth to be more contained in the winter and opened in the summer.

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And lastly we open up the bottom to reveal a cozy winter perch area which also has a handy window flap as barely seen in the last picture ( this is now a brooding area as shown in this video. The chicken stairs to the left fold out of the way, which, leads to the door for the far East paddock.

I truly hope this was of benefit to you somehow.  Check out my spring 2014 video that shows some of this in a more visual perspective. Link here.

Until I return to post again, this ONE should reign you in!

The Coop: Part 1 – Greening the Kansas Desert

I took a bunch of pictures today, I wish I had done it a month ago when everything was giant green, and fresh. However, I have many videos of that time and I will be editing on them soon enough. Most posts, and videos especially, will be done in the winter for the prior summer. This is simply when I have more time, and less money, so it’s a good thing to occupy my broke winter mind.

I took pictures of many more things, but, this post is concentrated in the main 1/10 acre garden space. You will see earth works, artistic creation, small ponds, and more. I only water when I really feel it needs to be or it will die. I am after specific seeds here. So you will notice the limp texture of the plants on the dry land. Keep in mind, this garden would be dead as that skunk on the side of the road up from my place if this was traditional organic technique…

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What we see here is the far South ‘sink’ as I call it. In heavy rain it will fill from the river created through the property, and over flow to the South in extra heavy rains. On the back side of the area is a large woody bed, then six fruit trees just behind that. The goal here as always with these gardening techniques, is to turn the soil into a living sponge, so this sink soaks the surrounding sponge, and releases the rest back into the water table for home use.

These pictures by the way are not professional, so I hope if you are interested as an example for your own property that you will enlarge the pictures on your screen. Right click and open in a new tab.

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This is the back side of that sink and woody bed. Notice the micro-climates I make by texturing the land, varying mulches, and the addition of entire trees, logs, and stones. Though hard to see, in this ten foot by twenty-foot area there are two three year plumbs, one flowering crab apple, and two apple trees (two years at nursery). This is only two growing seasons into this project and doing so with intentional hardship placed on the plants; so it could be better as far as more polyculture under these trees, and greener for this time of year, but it will be in years to come. Patience. These trees were watered three times after they were planted this spring, then never again, and they are thriving! Its the shallow rooted annuals that suffer in this still poor soil. However, just the mulches alone are starting that sponge, and the more time goes on the more life will be in the soil including mycorrhizal fungi, which, I will continue to inculcate until my supply is gone.

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Here we see an example of one of my more naturalistic woody piles. Instead of burying the wood, which is a great thing to do, I also just make piles of logs I cannot split by hand, then cover them with mulches and just enough dirt to make an awesome snake retreat. You can clearly see the butternut plant and cucumbers, now dead, which fully covered this entire area a month ago. The seeds are harvested, and the rest is left to see what will come up next spring. Saving the seeds is my insurance, but its the plants that will regenerate themselves that I am really looking for, I want their seeds. This area is really enjoyed by the chickens, as the squash bugs are plump! Yes, I let the squash bugs go, because I want to attract their predators.

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Here is another set of annuals that should be dead; no water since the last rain over a month ago, and 95-100 temperatures the last two weeks. But natural permaculture techniques are keeping the peach trees strong, and the okra alive. The peaches were planted the first season, and again, were only watered a few times to get them established. They would be four years old now (two in the pot at the nursery).

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Here we see an example of playful creation with a five foot forked piece of tree. Previously in the season, it had peas then cucumbers bunched half way up its height. In the back ground you can see the paddock and barn system, we will do a quick review of it soon. Deep rooted plants in this area capitalize on a second septic system for grey water only.

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Ms. Chicky hanging in the Polk Weed and Virgina Creeper.

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I put this in here as an example of trash utilization. When I find something that is free and I see a future use for it, I save it. I am not a hoarder, my place is well-kept. If you can’t find the will to stop your car and pick up a hose from next to a garbage can, that you can fix for $2. You have an issue. I recycled 2×4’s to build an octagonal frame, then sheathed it in reclaimed 1/2″ plywood, then a covering of leftover scrap corrugated tin from the barn. Previous to this, I had a blue pool tarp over this grey water system, now I don’t. Thanks me!

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This was a cherry tree that was dead when I moved in. I turned it into garden food (not really, mother does that for me), then decorated it with the ax and additional logs, then I grew stuff by it, let other things grow there because they wanted to, and walla. Magnifico!

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 Here we have the front pond. I am still working at getting it sealed, as I want this one to be more than a sink. I want small aquatic life, like frogs, goldfish, and maybe even salamanders or a turtle. I will go into more detail with these water ways and catchments, as many of them are connected and deserve their spot light.

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Here we see the pond from the other side, It measures approximately three feet deep when full, four-foot wide, and fifteen feet long in a tear drop shape. Again, we see my tendency to make things look natural with the large cedar log extruding from the pond. This does not have to be done, food-scaping as it can be called, is more like traditional landscaping just mostly with food plants instead of ornamental’s. Those systems are more labor intensive, and not as healthy, but still a viable option for HOA, or if the natural look just isn’t your thing. As long as you want to grow food, we will find a way to accommodate you.

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And last are two examples of rock decoration and wildlife shelter as the upper one shows, art for the lower picture, and as thermal mass from both. Not to mention the minerals leaching out and being taken up by plants, which, helps make our true medicine called food.

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I have been making rock piles for a few years now, but just this year I stood on the shoulders of an asshole to create this little balancing act. So credit where due right?! Indeed, ass or not, let us give credit to those we learn from, at least once… This one is created out of three 50-80lbs stones, and a light weight piece of lava rock to cap it off. No chipping, just balancing. It’s probably about 3 feet tall, and has stood solid through some pretty intense Kansas winds. I will move it later to a new location, and give the base stone a better cradle, right now it is shimmed with small stones to keep the base stone where it needs to be.

Sweet, thanks for checking it out folks. I’ll be back.

Until then, how about a tune? Here