Friday, 6 May 2011


Well, today was the day!  Hubby was out working a sod cutter early this morning to make our garden larger.  He had finished well within the allotted 4 hour time frame which meant that we didn't have to pay any extra money on the tool rental.   It was well worth the $60.00 rental fee, as we would have been working for DAYS to dig that hard packed, compacted sod out by hand.  It just wasn't efficient use of our time with a "to do" list a mile long, so we felt that $60 was a bargain to get the help that that piece of equipment gave us today.

We decided to take over nearly all of the existing hen run as the new garden extension and relocate the hen run to a very large grassy area under our fruit trees.    It just makes sense to do that as the fertility will be higher in the old hen run than on a patch of new ground.  Also, the hens will do a superb job of keeping insects at bay in our little orchard, all the while fertilizing the soil.  The fruit trees will in turn, provide shade for the chickens which they need on our hot summer days.  All around it's a win/win situation.

This decision will effectively double our food growing capacity, all conveniently within the existing fenced area.  We will have to put in more posts ($4.00 each) and buy more wire fencing ($200.00 for 2 rolls) to extend the hen run in the new direction, but as we will do all the work ourselves, we will save on labor.  The cost of the wire and posts will be offset by the benefit of having the fruit trees fertilized organically (plus effective insect control) not to mention the expected doubled vegetable harvest in the bigger garden!  Well worth the $250.00 that it will cost.  Naturally, that cost will bring benefit for more than just this one growing season, so that has to be considered, too.

After the sod was cut, our daughter and 2 friends helped to roll it up and haul it off the garden area.  The chickens realized (quickly) that many worms were hiding underneath the sod and the race was on to eat them all.  The sod rolls will sit through the summer and in the fall, the rolls will be unrolled and placed upside down over a patch of land that we want to develop as more growing space for the following year.  Over winter, it will kill the grass underneath it, and rot under the snow, amending the soil nicely.

One the sod was removed, hubby went to town shallow tilling the entire area with the small tractor (both the old garden and new garden where the sod was removed from the hen run).  He tilled in all the manured straw from the chicken coop that was laying out on top of the garden.  The chickens went CRAZY for the newly tilled soil and followed along behind my husband over his many passes through the garden eating bugs, worms and scratching up all manner of insect larvae.  Good job, girls!  I'll let them naturally clear the garden of bugs this week and all will be ready for planting very soon.  It's wonderful to have a natural solution to garden insects - especially one that fertilizes and lays big beautiful eggs!

After all that tilling, Kelly set to work putting our summer wheels and tires on the truck.  We recently bought a second set of wheels for the truck so that we can do our own seasonal wheel/tire changes.  In our climate, we need both winter and summer tires.  It's a hassle and expense to go in to a shop to have tires changed 2x/year, not to mention the huge waste of time sitting in a shop for a few hours waiting (particularly with kids in tow).  Kelly found these wheels second hand (in virtually new condition), and got them for a mere fraction of their value (equivalent to the cost of ONE tire changeover at a shop!).  Our summer tires will be permanently on the black wheels and the winter tires will remain on the aluminium wheels.  Kelly can simply switch wheels each season and not pay for having tires taken off and installed on the one set of wheels each season.  This will save us a lot of money in the long run, as he can now do all of our seasonal changes in future at home in our garage.

While Kelly was busy working on the wheels, I made supper with our youngest son, Reece.  We made homemade grilled cheeseburgers with some lovely lean ground beef from what's left of our beef side from last year.  We have a new side coming, so we need to use up the little bit that we have left in the freezer.  We were all ravenous after such a busy day of work outside, so we gobbled them up hungrily, satisfied with a full and productive day on our homestead :)


  1. I just love looking at your chickens...they look so busy,,but ever so happy...I wish I could have chickens. you are doing so well with all the work...I love reading about it...keep up the great work...

  2. Thanks Nellymary :) Our chickens ARE very happy - they are hard at work all day long, but they sure seem to enjoy it!