Just Gotta Love Chickens!


At one of my apiaries, three hives, the property owner has 11 laying hens. I love chickens, always have. I loved it when grandma would send me out to her coop in Ford City – across the oil ditch north of Taft California.

Well, since I am mostly retired and have time in between my beer drinking/brewing duties and the occasional consulting job I have been spending more time with Troy’s chickens. I recently built some nesting boxes that can be accessed from outside the coop. I relocated roosting bars the keep the boxes cleaner but realized I need to do something to keep the rainwater generated mud out….,Hey Troy, would you mind if I build an awning? Haven’t had the conversation but I think he will let me play.

Today I picked up 10 eggs from the 11 hens. Can’t be unhappy with that! I do need to have a do better chat with one of the hens. She is short changing the egg laying process!

Do you see what I am talking about? One of her coop mates will sometimes lay a double yolk egg but no excuses! I also spent some time pulling weeds and tossed them into the coop! They appear to love the variety in their diet.

I love the slomo iPhone capabilities!

Bee stuff;

The bees are looking good too! I will rehouse the small topbar hive into a full sized box next week. The topbar hive in another location, that I assumed was queenless, may have fooled me. When I stopped by after a beer at “The Draught” today – I saw pollen being hauled in. Not a definitive sign of a queen in the hive but it does require a peek inside, again, in the next day or two!

A photo from a few years ago with one of my topbar hives!



My War On Weeds


I just cleaned out my carrot bed – one that I had allowed to be infested with too many weeds. It started innocently enough….the carrots were sprouting and I had made a halfhearted attempt to both thin the carrots and keep the weeds at bay. My work took me away for several weeks while the weather was perfect for the weeds…..I returned to a green mass with carrot tops poking through.

I harvested the carrots and decided to take a low tech approach to fight my “war on weeds”! I took bunch of newspapers and covered the bed about 3 sheets deep, some place a little more….it is a low tech approach so uniformity was not a big concern. My concern was coverage! After the newspaper I added a thick layer of shredded leaves from the bottom of my compost bin.  It looks very good now and at least for now, the battle is looking like a victory in the making.

The other beds have been well covered with shredded leaves and are relatively weed free. The covering of leaves help smother the weeds and those that do manage to make it through are leggy and easy to pull. I believe that extra barrier of newspaper will make it even more difficult on the evil weeds.

FYI, the  Houston Chronicle uses a water based, non-toxic ink. Non-toxic to readers and the environment. Newsprint will breakdown nicely in the garden as well as in the compost bin…..I use it both places.

Spreading the newsprint...spraying with water to keep it from blowing away!

Spreading the newsprint…spraying with water to keep it from blowing away!

Newsprint covered with the shredded leaves.

Newsprint covered with the shredded leaves.

Some of the carrots ....stubby due to my heavy soil but still very tasty!

Some of the carrots ….stubby due to my heavy soil but still very tasty!




A Ride Through the Woods

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I just needed to take a ride this afternoon………needed a break from the chores. I did finish the Pomegranate Jelly and it is so good! I headed out on my beater bike to the East End Park area here in my community of Kingwood. The sun was about 5 o’clock high and the light was looking good.

I love the sound of the tires making that little crunch/scrunch as they roll across the gravel. It was a quiet afternoon and other than the occasional plane overheard – it was just my breathing, the tires crunching along and the rustle of the leaves and branches. East End Park is adjacent to Lake Houston and extends north along the East Fork of the San Jacinto River. I took along my little Nikon J1 for a few pictures.

First stop along the trail – looking south toward Lake Houston.

Cypress knees are the coolest looking pieces of wood. Spotted these at my second stop as I headed north. Sometimes they don’t look like knees!

Looking across the East Fork of the San Jacinto River to the east.

An idyllic bench on a little island in the river. What isn’t seen is the fort some youngsters have built in the trees. What wonderful adventures they must have!

Now, I need to let you know that there are some interesting critters along the lake and river. One of the trails is aptly named “Alligator Alley”. I have ridden here for several years and have never seen the gator…….until this evening. Unfortunately the camera was in the bag. I saw the tail flash up out of the water as the gator spun around and took off under water leaving a nice big wake. Looked to be 6 or 7 feet long.

All is quiet looking across Alligator Alley – for the moment.

Another view across the Alligator Alley.

Almost hated to leave and come back home….the chores are still waiting and the danged ole weeds never stop growing!



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