a highly productive warm winter

We have been having the warmest winter in many years, here. There were still flies alive in mid-December (fortunately, a hard freeze after that finally killed them all off), and the garden didn’t even slow down until late November. Combined with this, the farm has been blessed by truly spectacular interns all winter, with the end result that a lot of outdoor projects, and some indoor ones, are getting done.

for instance, our turkey coop experienced a number of problematic failures this summer during the rainy season. The coop became very lake-like in the rain, and we had a water-system failure that led to having to use trough watering — always a messy, unsanitary arrangement when it comes to poultry. What with it all, though we mucked as often as possible, with the frequent rains, it was also a mess for months.

So we discussed remodelling it — raising the level of the ground to something above the level of the barnyard, so that it would shed water. Installing a completely new watering system, to avoid having to use troughs, but still get enough water to the birds (which the bucket nipple-waterer system wasn’t doing). Changing the door configuration between the carport-end of the coop and the old corral end.

We thought this might take until the 2017 baby turkeys were big enough to move into the coop — that would be the deadline. mid-May. instead, it has all been finished in the last month!

Raised floor:
See how there’s a step up from the barnyard now, and it slopes away from the barnyard toward the open space to the north?

detail on the slope:

including brand-new turkey playground, also much needed, as the old one had collapsed. this photo also shows the new door between the carport-coop and the old coop, doubled in size so that when we are using the whole space as one pen, the birds better understand it as a opening.

and — our interns Sam & Flora, who completed this entire remodel, used a line-level to gently slope the newly-raised ground to the north — and then they lowered the ground north of the coop, so that it slopes back into the pit that was already there! so if this works, runoff from heavy rains this summer will all slough away from the turkey coop, enabling much faster drying times, and preventing the lake effect.

slope:

They also built a new, sturdier, roosting system out of old cottonwood branches:

meanwhile, Rev installed and tested a new watering system:

We’re planning to use a similar system in the brooders this year, so that the baby birds get started on this type of watering system from day one. I have high hopes for the overall dryness and cleanliness that could result if this works!

Rev also installed the new laundry lines, a farm-scale construction behind our community house. These lines should hold 4-5 loads of laundry at a time!
Later this year, I hope to paint the header bar with some kind of artfully interesting and attractive design.

in the process of remodelling the coop, Sam and Flora moved a huge amount of clay and sand out of the Mahazda front yard, so the driveway finally looks like an actual entry way:

The previous intern, Dan, got us caught up on a couple year’s worth of chopping firewood:

Ana and Flora got the (very, very messy) greenhouse completely cleaned out and prepped for spring:

and then yesterday the whole crew teamed up to bring five truckloads of horse manure from our friend Kendra’s riding stable, into the garden. it’s tmie for a major garden reset — details to come later this winter, after our upcoming retreat.

and, because we have to have at least one cute animal picture in these photo updates, here are some of our laying hens enjoying the aquaponics system on a balmy January afternoon.

and here’s Tristan’s new dog, Cora, posing for the camera.