February 2017
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Property Update – February 20 2017

The weather yesterday was beautiful – almost 70 degrees. It was a great day to work outside. I took some pictures and thought it would be a good time to do a property update.

Swales and Wood Chips
We’ve spread a lot of wood chips over the last few months. The huge pile is almost gone, but I’m working on getting more:

Wood Chips Are Almost Gone

It’s cool to see how much moisture they hold. As I dug down into the pile, they are dry on the surface but wet underneath. And the chips have started to break down in the pile noticeably. That’s another good thing about wood chips – if you don’t need them right away, just let them sit there and continually improve until you are ready for them.

I’m excited as spring approaches to see how the swale environment progresses this year. If the explosive growth of the fruit trees last year is any indication, this year should be fun to watch. Right now everything is fairly dormant, but you can see how we spread wood chips throughout the area:

The Swales with Lots o Wood Chips

We got some rain a couple days ago, so the pond is full again. The water stays muddy, but that helps the goldfish hide from predators:

The Pond

Chicken Update
The chickens have started laying eggs. They ramped up quickly in January, and now we’re getting 12 or 13 eggs a day from our 13 hens. So far this seems to be a good laying breed. We’ve also had an unusual number of giant, double-yoke eggs. Yum.

The chickens are anxious to see things start growing again. It’s slim pickings in cold weather. Here are the girls in the compost area:

Our Hens in the Compost Area

The modified chicken yard is coming along. One of the doors is done. I have a few more things to do before it will be ready for the girls to use it. I’m in no rush because the chickens won’t be allowed in until the seeds we sowed have time to get established. Right now it looks very open, but it will look very different after the leaves come out on the kiwi vines

Panoramic View of the Chicken Yard

Moving the Aquaponics System
Another big project I’ve covered in some earlier videos is the move of the aquaponics system. I don’t have a set schedule for when this will be done. It will depend on when I have time. Since this is my 3rd aquaponics system with each one getting progressively bigger, my goal is to get it as right as possible this time so it doesn’t move for a long time.

The IBC tote has been moved to the new area. Much of the plumbing is gone. Next I have to remove all the rocks from the grow beds and keep them somewhere clean. Here’s a picture of the old system after partially tearing it down:

Aquaponics System Dissassembly

Ultimately I want to enclose it in a greenhouse, which means space will be at a premium. Thus the need to really think through every part of it. I plan to put the system back together in the proposed space with the assumption that some smaller adjustments will be needed before I get the final layout. This new system will include improvements like a larger sump tank and a separate solids filter.

The purpose of enclosing it in a greenhouse is so we can have year round production, so it doesn’t matter that much when I get the system started up. That’s why I don’t feel pressure to keep a schedule based on the seasons. Consequently, other projects that do depend on the seasons are coming first.

Early Fruit Blossoms
Even though we had some cold temperatures earlier in the winter, it has been fairly warm lately. So much so that several of our peach trees are already getting pink blossoms in mid-February. Even a couple of the plum trees have blossoms. It will either be an early crop, or we will lose a lot of fruit to a late frost.

Peach Trees with Blossoms in February

More Peach Trees with Blossoms in February

Currently the forecast is for warm temps all the way into the 2nd week of March. It’s hard to tell but my fingers are crossed.

Jono Is in Costa Rica
Jono has turned into quite the international traveler. He has been in Mexico and Costa Rica for a couple weeks. Before he left, he spread a lot of wood chips. He’ll be on his way home next week, then he’ll be headed back to Abuela Gardens in California for the rest of the year. I will miss him, but I know it’s time for him to go back. I’m very proud of him for what he’s learning. It’s exciting to think about where he’s going to go with this knowledge!

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