|Minding my peas and queues|
Most of the afternoon was spent on planning for the chickens. I finally decided where to put the chicken coop, which was a big deal for me. It really helped that Steve doesn't mind having a view of the back of the coop from his office. He took the dimensions from the Fresh-Air house and figured out for me what I need to do to scale it down. Since I need to keep the ratios roughly the same, and since he's volunteered to go in there from time to time "as a member of this family" as he put it, I need to keep it fairly comfortable for him as well. I could fit in a coop that was only five and a half feet tall but he couldn't, so I couldn't scale it down much; this is still going to be a big coop. This could be good thing, though, because we do have a lot of rain days, so it would be nice to be able to leave the girls inside if I needed to and they'd have plenty of room and no crowding. Because it's open on one side, they'll still get plenty of fresh air. My plan is to round up the girls in a movable pen during the days when the weather is nice and I can be out there working while they're enjoying some grass and bugs. I mean, it would nice to be able to free range them, but I have to face the heavy raccoon population in this neighborhood (thanks to my neighbor) so playtime will have to be supervised.
The only problem with the spot that I chose was that there was a cherry tree in the way. It's a dwarf Lapins and it was just vaguely starting to bud, so I decided not to waste anymore time. The currant bush, which is also still dormant, got dug up and moved to the south side of the hazelnut trees, and the Lapins went into the hole the currant had been occupying. This is not the first time I've moved a dormant tree; we'll just see if I'm as successful. I suppose I should tell you here that I did all this by myself because I have a history of moving dormant trees, some of them more than a couple of times- different years of course, but I knew that there would be no end to the complaining if I'd even so much as hinted that Steve should help me (never mind that tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day, Lochinvar), so I handled the moves by myself. I hoped to make up for uprooting both by filling their holes with some nice compost instead of clay, so hopefully they'll both find their new homes to their liking. The spot where the chickens are going also had a small rosemary bush in the way, so that got pruned back and moved as well. It went into the center of the bed that I've decided to devote to herbs, so I went ahead and transplanted the perennial herbs I had on the deck last summer into the bed as well.
The only thing left to do before I can get started is to pull out the pressure treated lumber holding up the flower bed and replace it with the last of the plastic decking that was left from pulling the deck apart. Last year I reasoned that it was only flowers going into that bed so I could use the pressure treated wood there, but those flowers are supposed to be for my bees, so now I'm wondering: what was I thinking? It may not be a problem for the pressure treated stuff to be holding up the flower bed, but it's a better use of the rest of that plastic decking, and the coop would be a better use of the pressure treated lumber. I just hope I haven't poisoned the flower bed!
Next up, I need to draw myself some plans for the coop, and see if I have enough lumber lying around to get started. I know that I'll have to see what I can find in the way of windows at the Rebuilding Center up on Mississippi in Portland. I'll need two or three rather long and skinny windows for the top, but I won't know what size I'll need until I do a rough drawing, and then once I get up to the Rebuilding Center, I'll have to see how close to those dimensions I can get. Kind of a roundabout, half-assed way to get something done, but I really want to use what I can around here, and try not to buy too many things new for the coop if I can help it.
One other piece of research I need to do: I need to find out what the minimum gauge is on welded wire that will keep out raccoons! I'm going to need this coop to be a Fort Knox, so the biggest expense is going to be the wire. I have to get it right the first time.