Urban Homesteading on a Small City Lot: It's March, In Like a Lamb

Monday, March 4, 2013

It's March, In Like a Lamb

The weather has been very mild so far this March.  We have been out in the yard working all weekend.  My hubby had a three day weekend and spent the whole thing out in the yard helping me build my last three raised beds and getting the chicken coup started.  I can't believe how much we have gotten done.

 Here are my hubby and Uncle Kevin working on the last of the raised beds.  They were doing that while I finished up the cinder blocks. 

Here is number five put in and level before we filled it with dirt.

I took this picture standing in the front yard right next to the first raised bed this morning.  You can see that we now have seven and they are all full of dirt.  That was my goal.  I am so excited.

Here they are from the other end.  You can see the last one in the back is raised up.  We decided to put in a step up to the back yard with cinder blocks.  The yard sloped pretty steeply towards the front and as we leveled the spaces for the beds we were having to move more and more dirt.  We made the back yard a whole step up from the side yard.  We still have to raise the tops of the window wells and fill the dirt back in against the house to make the yard really level and not sloped towards the house. We decided to wait until the temps are more concrete pouring friendly.
Here I am almost done with the tedious chore of putting in the cinder blocks all level and in line.  They aren't perfect, so no making fun, but I worked hard on that.
I lifted each of those blocks in and out at least five times.  My hands and arms are tired.

I planted some peas on March 1st.  They like cold temperatures, I planted one wide row along the edge of this bed.  two weeks later I will plant another second row and put in a climbing fence between them.  I love fresh peas.

I also put in some garlic and onion sets.  I hope the garlic gets frozen enough to set heads of garlic.  It got down to 28 degrees last night. I should have planted it last fall, but I didn't have enough space ready.  These packages of sets were really funny.  The instructions were written as if you were planting flower bulbs, and not vegetables.  I got a kick out of it.  I think some new gardeners will get screwed up by that, but luckily I have grown onions and garlic before.
We made some major progress where the chicken coup is concerned.  We are putting in a beefy foundation to help keep out digging predators and scavengers. Here you can see the cinder block foundation layer. Over these we will lay some sturdy hardware cloth and..
these flat blocks.  That will give a good three to four inches of depth to hold in the sand I plan on putting in for the hens to scratch and dust in.  That way we can just sift out the poop like a litter box and it will drain and stay dry and smell free.

The location we chose for the coup was also where the birch tree was until we cut it down last year.  These are all the roots we had to chop and dig up to make room for the foundation.  That was a chore, let me tell you.  My hubby helped so much with that.  We used a reciprocating saw, a hatchet and a heavy splitter, not to mention shovels, to get all these out.

We ended up buying a prefab coup kit at Coastal Farm and Ranch.  I began to really doubt my ability to get the coup built in time this year before I have to go back to work on April 1st and this kit was actually less expensive than the lumber I was planning to buy.  The only things I am not crazy about are: it is shorter, and therefore you can't just walk into it and it isn't quite as sturdy as my plans were.  The frame is 1 by 2's instead of 2 by 4's.  It does, however, have a nesting box that you can just reach into through the hinged lid and separate doors for the coup part and the run part.  It is close to the same floor space size as my designs were. It also has a little door on the end for adding a larger run on. This is a picture of the model one they had set up in the store.
Here is the latest picture of our house from the street.

You may have noticed that there is a curious blue sprinkling on the lawn area.
We decided to try seeding our lawn in.  My hubby has been put on watering duty.  Even though it is march, it is very dry. I think we had rain one night so far and yesterday we had some good wind to dry it out. 

We got the seeds with the water absorbent coating to help them stay moist.  You can't really tell but we did lightly work the seeds in with a rake. The ones you can see are probably about half the seeds we put down.  I hope they do well.  I have not noticed any birds checking them out.  The coating must help with that, too.

If you look very close here, you can see two very small miniature irises poking through the bark mulch.

The dutch irises are really coming strong everywhere.  I am so excited about them.  I have not seen any tulips peeking out yet.  I hope they do.  They are very pretty ones.
Well, plans for this week include buying our chicks on Wednesday.  They will be kept in a brooder in the house until they get their feathers, so we have a while to get the coup finished.  Also, my mother ordered seeds for both or us from our favorite local seed company: Irish Eyes in Ellensburg.  We should be getting those soon.  I want to start the tomatoes, peppers, and cabbages indoors soon. We have a couple south facing windows that should work well for that.
We ordered potatoes, scarlet runner beans, our favorite carrots, and bunches of other seeds.  I also ordered some cranberry beans from another company.  I got those last week.  I have wanted to try growing those for a while.
Have a great first week of March.  I will post pictures of the new chicks when we get them.  I can't wait.


  1. I'd say a conservative estimate for lifting and setting each of those blocks was 8-10 times! My arms hurt and I was just standing there!

    1. You're probably right, Aunt Linda. My arms are very sore today after two days of that. I am taking a break today. Mom says its supposed to snow this week, again. Its a good thing we won't need the coup done for a while.