While Tasha and I wish we could have spent Mother’s Day with our mothers, we think they’d be proud of all we’ve accomplished in the six weeks or so since we’ve been here. Our latest big project was the greenhouse. We are still waiting on door and gutter parts, but the greenhouse is functional and we’ve got some seedlings in it. It gets quite hot and only has a few leaks in a heavy rain. Really, we’re just after an envelope here to trap the heat and keep it about 30 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature. So far, so good…

Greenhouse_Front

I spent the first part of the week finishing up some odds and ends with the greenhouse and foundation and then built a compost pile out of three shipping pallets from our solar panels and put that in the greenhouse. It’s already half-full from all the chicken and duck bedding (woodshavings) that we’ve been using over the past couple weeks. I was pleasantly surprised to find it heating up really hot really quickly, even without a whole lot of green matter. Maybe it’s the chicken and duck manure that’s providing the nitrogen in that reaction. Also, our Red Wriggler worms made it through the winter and the trip down south in the back of my truck, so we started a couple worm bins next to the compost pile, which will give us some nice worm castings for our seedling starts.

Compost_Bins

About the ducks and chickens: The ducks are huge! They are just about a month old, but Tasha transitioned them outside into an enclosure she built using some chicken wire, scrap wood, and an old dog kennel. During the day, they forage freely on the front lawn and in the pond. At night, Tasha puts them in their enclosure. They are slowly but surely getting comfortable. Today, they were sort of following us around outside.

Ducks_Peach_Trees

Tasha put the chicks in the chicken tractor for a couple hours today, to introduce them to the outside world. They quickly began foraging and pecking, and finding ways to get out of the tractor, which was designed for full-grown chickens. They are growing up too, although not as rapidly as the ducks. All three breeds are molting, getting in beautiful wing feathers. The Rhode Island Reds to me are the most spectacular, but the Barr-Rocks seem to be the calmest breed with the best roosting instincts.

Chicks

We had some rain this week and yesterday which jump-started everything in the garden, but also the weeds. I hadn’t really thought about it when I built the raised beds, but the paths were definitely going to need some weed control, so Tasha and I put down weed mat on the access paths and then covered that with gravel. Hopefully, we’ll have enough gravel left from the rapidly diminishing pile to be able to repair our driveway.

Garden Paths

The weeds in the raised beds were getting critical too, so I started weeding. It’s now pretty obvious what are beets or lettuces or beans, say, versus the four or five types of weeds that seem to be proliferating here. Tasha did a good job planting and labeling the veggies, so if we can just keep up with the weeding and find a natural remedy to whatever’s eating our leafy greens, we’ll be all set.

Garden Beds

We did some work today, but really we’ve been so busy, well, pretty much since we moved in, we thought we’d go for a hike. We went to Cumberland Knob, which is about a 15 minute drive from us. We did a very nice 2 1/2 mile trail that followed a mountain stream for the first half, then climbed back up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here are a couple pictures. In the first one, you could probably locate our property, somewhere between the Blue Ridge Parkway, where I took the shot, and Pilot Mountain in the distance. The second shows Tasha and Honey on our hike under what I think are magnolias?

Cumberland Knob

Cumberland Knob Trail

.