The biggest project of the past couple of weeks has been to start turning the old horse corral into a series of raised beds that will be come the cornerstone of the JAZ Farm sustainability food project. After plowing up the soil (which had been pounded flat over the years by horse hooves) Farmer Jon and the tractor plowed up the ground and then tilled it into a much finer mixture. We chose the horse corral because it had some fence posts already in, and it had been fertilized by those same horses.
The beds are all approximately a tractor width wide and the walkway in between them is also about the same. It is wide enough to get a tractor down and a small flat bed trailer, for easy access to the plants. We dug up the dirt in the pathways and dumped them into the raised beds. So far we have 14 beds, 4 – 5 feet wide and averaging 35 feet long. This is about 2/3 done. We estimate it will be 20 beds all of similar size. There is also the ability to lengthen them and/or add more should we think it necessary (haha!)
This is a huge project! While we want to be able to be as food sufficient as possible, this is likely way more than we need. Perhaps we will be able to sell some and also donate to food banks. Only when we got out there and started making the thing did we realize just how big half an acre really is (and I was originally thinking of starting with a full acre!)!
My big concern, considering that we want it to be chemical free, is how to come up with the volume of compost that will be necessary to build the soil. There is manure left from the previous owners, but that will run out very quickly. Something else to ponder on our way to getting this big adventure up and running!
At long last, with grandma visiting, we had someone to snap a photo or two of the hippie clan! Zina, in keeping with the spirit of the organic agrarian hippie basis for JAZ Farm, got us some very busy tie-die shirts. Basil the dog even sat still long enough to be a part of it! Happy Spring!
Thanks to the efforts of Jon Zina and Grandma we even have the entire 24 raised bed garden at the urban farm planted! Looking forward to eating and canning the produce who’s distance to plate is less than 25 yards!
Well we made it through graduation! It seems just like yesterday that I was carting him around in a car seat and rocking him to sleep. What a long strange trip it is to raise another human being. Now its up to him. College is on the horizon and his adventures and dreams await. Mom and Dad are very proud.
After the graduation events we went back out to the farm. Grandma was out visiting and was eager to see the progress and to help. We set her to work on spray painting the trim on the coop. The aluminum edging didn’t lend itself to hand painting as it would be streaked, so a few cans of Hunter Green spray paint, some edging tape and it was good to go.
I got the first of the vents put in as well. An article I read said that it is important to have some ventilation lower to the floor so that ammonia produced in the litter can be filtered out. As chickens are prone to respiratory problems this seemed like a good idea.
The overhead tubing attached to the wooden posts is a “tic-tac-toe” frame that will be used to hold up chicken wire. It will cover the entire run to protect against falcons, eagles, and owls. Because of all the potential predators this all has to be something of a fortress. One step at a time. We are very pleased with the progress.
Next up…. windows.