when i first started writing about our TUF attempt, it had a lot to do with coop construction...that was the first step toward ultimately becoming a Totally Urban Farm. another one of our original goals was to build and start a vegetable garden, and almost exactly a year ago, we built the boxes for it on the day we got our first egg. this is what it looked like back then:
then we got focused on the chickens all summer, and it was really hot, and then i was a science teacher for nine months (time consuming, that!), and so the garden boxes filled with weeds and turned into a chicken playground/hot dog wallow...UNTIL THIS WEEKEND. design revamped, enthusiasm renewed, the TUF garden is within a few weekends' reach!
the 3 original 6'x6' boxes got a 2'x4' inset for easy harvest access. each inset got 2 18" square patio tiles, and the rest of the growing area (84 square feet!) got dug up and covered with hay to get all the weeds out of there. shortly we will lay down some landscaping cloth, cover it with gravel, cover THAT with local topsoil enriched with our delicious compost, and we will be ready for a fall garden. for real this time!
this space on the side of our our house gets direct morning sun from about 9 am to 3 pm, then is shaded by the house for the rest of the day. i'm hoping that will be enough sunshine to grow tasty tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers...we are garden virgins for sure, so this will be a learning process. just like everything about the TUF!
speaking of learning experiences: last early june we had a brush with our first Texas Rat Snake, which resulted in the snake making him/herself scarce for the rest of the year. well, s/he is back.
and now it is more than a brush. it is WAR. this snake has been stealing the lovely ladies' eggs for the past month, ever since the beginning of may. "may's snake month," our neighbor once averred, and at the time i was skeptical. no longer. i am certain that this snake is a significant factor in hampering the as-yet theoretical five-egg day.
my thought is to carefully capture it, constrain it to a pillow case, drive it across 183 and release in a woodsy area. it has probably devoured like a dozen eggs at this point! i'll go out there, check on the birds, see the carefully crafted deep egg-nests they like to make, but they will be empty. the other day i caught it in the act of eating one of sammo's eggs. i made ready to do battle, but the snake dropped the egg (!) and beat it. and two days ago, as we were putting up the chickens at dusk, we saw it curled in the nesting box. tumblr was peering at it with great suspicion, and the other ladies were as far away as they could be inside the coop. we made a heroic joint attempt to capture it, to no avail. snakes always turn out to be surprisingly strong and nimble.
thus, the battle of the rat snake continues, and i will update you, Dear Reader, as developments develop! and summer is coming right up, with all its time and promise...cooking! grocery store adventures! gardening! more writing! it's almost, almost here........