There hasn’t been much going on here at Patchwork Prairie this summer as the unusually intense heat and humidity kept us from achieving many of our goals this year. Therefore, as the heat winds down we will be a blur of activity in our attempt to get all that we wish to achieve for 2011 completed. Thus far, we have gotten all the posts up around the new garden spot and completed the wooden posts and metal gate for the entrance. Next, we will be adding the welded wire fencing to the posts with chicken wire added to the bottom and an electric wire to the top. My woes with gardening in the past-included deer that ate the tops off everything I planted or pulled plants out of the ground, and rabbits that chewed on all my new plants down to nubs. I am determined to eat my own produce next year!
I am so excited about my garden spot for next year. It will consist of raised beds with a thick layer of sawdust in between the beds to prevent weed growth. We should be able to get the sawdust placed and the raised beds made and filled before the first flakes of snow stop our progress. Our land is pretty much void of top soil and this area of the country is clay, so the fill dirt is going to be coming from someplace else and amended with the compost we make every year. We make our rich compost using the waste we get from scooping the poop out of the chicken coop and duck house. We use sawdust for bedding in those areas, and the composted wood and poop combined with grass clippings, tree leaves and produce waste is fantastic for plants. That combination has yielded us fabulous herbs, which thankfully, the deer and rabbits don’t seem to like.
A few weeks ago we replaced a few chickens and added 8 guineas to our stock due to a raccoon raid last month. That raid took 6 of our young chickens. What a horrific disaster that was! It left us with only 8 chickens but thankfully, spared one rooster. Fortunately, the raiders were still in the aviary so Bill was able to permanently stop 2 of the 3 involved. I really don’t believe the one that got away will want to come back any time soon. That afternoon, after he got home from work, Bill did a thorough check to find how they were getting in. We had checked over the aviary in the spring but we didn’t see the holes created by raccoons walking on the top of the flight run. The area where the flight run attaches to the aviary was the location of the holes that allowed the raccoons to enter because the staples had popped out!
Bill now has those areas secured but then we lost one guinea last week. I’ve learned that the critter was either an opossum or a raccoon as it found an area where the chicken wire had come loose from the fencing at the ground, and took it right through the fence. Now we have those areas are more secure. We have never had much of a predator problem until this year. Those buggers are teaching us a lot related to just how cunning they are. I believe the extremely hot and dry weather we’ve been experiencing this summer is affecting the natural prey the raccoons and opossums normally eat so they are concentrating their efforts in getting to our birds. And naturally, we are learning from them and concentrating our efforts in keeping them OUT! Next year I want loads of produce to eat and can as well as loads of eggs and baby chickens to sell. It’s been a struggle this year but next year our Patchwork Prairie could actually begin to pay for itself.