Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Next Project: Raised Garden Beds

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Last year, we tried a tilled-in garden and didn't have alot of luck for several reasons:  (1) we didn't plant enough - especially the corn, (2) we got busy and didn't keep it weeded, (3) we planted in the wrong location, and (4) our soil is really crappy.  It doesn't help that the soil is compacted from where they bulldozed the house that used to sit on the lot.

So, after reading Square Foot Gardening and doing much research,  I decided early this year that we would try raised bed gardening instead.   The obvious benefits are that you can better control the soil content (new dirt and compost!) and the height of the beds saves your back from bending over so much. 

I'd read that you shouldn't use CCA- or pressure-treated wood for your beds because the chemicals can leech into the soil and your plants.  Some folks use cedar but it will turn grey from weathering and I wanted something a little cuter.  So I came up with the hair-brained idea of using PVC fencing panels and posts.  These are normally $49 per 6'x6' panel from Home Depot or Lowes, but I caught them on sale for just $37 from HD:

The only thing holding these panels are together is PVC glue where the individual slats meet the top, middle and bottom rails.  We used our Sonicrafter oscillating tool to easily cut these apart at the rails every other slat to create foot high panels (2 slats per panel).  You could use a jigsaw or hand saw to do this also.  Then we cut the 4"x4" vinyl posts to 18" each (getting 3 usable posts out of each one).  And, finally, we cut out rectangles in the posts where the panels would fit into them.

I wanted two beds in front of the chicken coop, with a path between them leading to the door.  Both beds would be identical at just over 5 feet wide by 11 feet long, so we did cut a couple of inches off of each panel.  We then leveled out the ground and set the posts in place.  Then we hammered rebar down into the ground to keep them in place.  No digging to set the posts (although you could, I guess).   

It took a 3 pallets of 20 lb bags of compost\dirt to fill both these beds.    We did get some slight bulging of the panels, but it was minor. Time will tell if we have a problem with the weight of the dirt pushing the "panels" out. 

Then we added the post toppers. (The one in the lower right hand corner is a solar light).

I hope you think the finished product looks as nice as I do!  Next project:  replacing the plywood path to the coop with something nicer.

Til later, I am one tired and....

Coop is finished!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Finally, after many months of hard work and rained-out weekends, the coop is finished.  *sigh*  And J and I are taking well-deserved time off to rest.  In the meantime, some pics for you...

From the run looking into the coop.  I love the large windows (that ended up being FREE from Craigslist!).  If you look closely, you can see Kermie the Austrolorp peeking out to see what's going on.

I'm hoping that the climbing rose will eventually grow up over this trellis. 

Here's the mural on the back of the coop wall inside.  J. says this is incredibly nerdy, but I think the girls need something pretty to look at when they're inside.  Or maybe I do.   :-)

Gotta have plenty of storage for chicken stuff - grit, treats, egg baskets, etc.  When you walk in the front door, there are these shelves on either side. 

And here are the girls waiting for me to finish the photo shoot and fill their empty feeder.

Exhausted and heading to bed,

Caution: Chicken Crossing

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Before we put up the plywood on the inside of the coop, I wanted to come up with an inventive way to open and close the pop door that allows the chickens to get out to the "playpen".  I didn't want to spend $100+ on an expensive door opener, so we headed to Home Depot to see what we could cobble together and ended up with an expensive set of 16" drawer glides.  Think of a drawer mounted standing up with the front on the bottom sill of the wall like so (picture taken looking down at the closed door):

The glides are mounted fully extended so, when the door opens, it moves along the glides that are mounted to the wall studs.  We placed a piece of 2x4 between the studs right above where the door lands when it is open.  That will prevent critters\bugs\etc. from trying to get up into the enclosed walls.  Here's another pic from the side:

Later, we'll  put an eye bolt on the outside of the door and run a wire from it to the front of the coop so that you can manually open and close the door.  Yeah, it's not automated to open or close on a timer, but cost less then $3.  I can live with that.

Ingeniously yours,

My Babies are Growing Up!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Here are the barred rock chicks at just a little over 2 weeks old, I think (we don't know their exact hatch date).  They're starting to get their wing feather and look at those little tail feather!  I wish I could get an up-close shot of them.  They're used to us picking them up, which we do several times a day so that later on they won't mind us "inspecting" them.  I just can't believe how quickly they are growing and I'm starting to worry that we won't have the coop done in time to get them out of the kitchen!

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