Tropical Storm Fay’s wrath

Well, we finally got rain. Some areas in Texas got hit really hard. The storm is stalling and just dumping inches and inches of rain. Rain is in our forecast for the next week.   The land can’t absorb it so quickly so it is flooding areas.  A previous blog of mine detailed how we found our property after two years of looking.  One of the things I mentioned in evaluating property is to visit after a rain has gone through.  You can see where water is flowing so you don’t make a mistake of building in the path.  Some properties may not work for you if water stands or flows in certain spots.  To know where these areas are  on your property is important in placement of a house, barn or driveways.  You don’t want to have to repair or pump out after each  rain or have impassable roads into your property.  We saw several properties that we knew would be problems and so we moved on in our search.  What we found has been perfect for us with no weather related issues.

The rain is welcome however, and has cooled off our temps and the alpacas and llamas have been busy out in the pastures munching on new grasses coming in now.  The chickens have been busy hunting for bugs. 

I have been seeing some migratory birds; I took a pic of one yesterday that I have never seen before and will search to find out  what it is.  It is very beautiful with a grey head and the belly is yellow-orange. I have seen some flycatchers and our resident mockingbirds are still here.  The swallows are here in the evenings swooping for insects and the hummingbirds are here all day chasing each other from feeder to feeder to trees.  Our count has increased to 5 now and more will appear as they move through the area. 

This is the time of year I clean up around the flower beds and I hope to get some fall vegetables planted this weekend to try; not sure yet what to choose.  I also have an area along the south side of the house I want to dig up for a flower bed.  I will get it all ready to plant some kind of  evergreen bushes this fall that won’t grow too tall and I want to get some very nice crepe myrtles included.  I just love them and they are very easy to care for.  They will give me some needed shade on the windows and house in the summer.

Simplify Your Day

Simplify

[clearspring_widget title=”Simplify Your Day” wid=”485ec583885ce243″ pid=”48a34b82a80ed739″ width=”300″ height=”250″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

Water catchment, cisterns, water tanks

My last water bill was the highest it’s been since we’ve been living on the property the past three years.  It wasn’t outrageous, and since we provide water for our neighbor’s grazing cattle in return for his maintaining 60 of our acres, it is bearable.  And our 6 alpacas and 2 llamas get buckets refilled twice a day with a cleaning out of the mud at the bottom of each bucket (their grazing brings the dry dirt to their mouth and it falls in the bucket when they drink).  But I am always thinking, especially when we are in the middle of a heavy rain, that how great  it would be to capture free rainwater. 

I have been doing research and am curious if anyone has a catchment system in place.  Did you buy the system or design your own?  I have seen simple designs on the Mother Earth website, and have found some websites like watertanks.com and catchtherain.com.  I would want to hook into the downspouts on the barn so I can fill up livestock buckets and chicken waterers easily and “free”.  Also the downspouts around the house that are not visible to the public or to me when inside the house would let me water the flowers and vegetable garden without worry of expense.  We are also on a voluntary water rationing for the county and I follow their rules (even number addresses on certain days, odd numbers on certain days and no watering on weekends).

I have to research the size of barrels I will need to compensate for the days there is no rain.  I need enough stored up so it is there when I need it. 

I have come across large empty pool chemical containers I can get for a few cents, but it will take too many of those to hold plenty of water.  I have also considered using livestock troughs where the downspout is designed to dump the water in it and then all I need to figure out is a sturdy cover to fit it.  Then it would just be a matter of dipping a bucket in it to fill.

So if anyone has any experience with this, I am glad to hear comments.  I would also like to get ideas of using “free” items for catchment.

Finally, some rain

After much waiting and anticipation, we have had rain most of today. Nothing torrential, but light and fairly steady.  The alpacas don’t like to be in the rain, but when it stops for awhile they get into the pasture and graze and then run in to the barn when it starts up again.  They also like the cooler temps.

The chickens were in the pasture en masse when the rain started this morning but have retreated either under the coop or inside.  They really like their new coop and it is very roomy for them.  I like it because it is perfect so that I don’t have to actually walk into it. It’s an A-frame, depth is 4 feet from front door to nest box/back wall, 8 feet long/wide, and 8 feet high.  I can reach from the door everything I need to do.  When the next boxes are in place and they actually start laying, I can also reach from the door to gather any eggs.  We may incorporate an egg gathering back door into the next boxes, but will wait and see on that.  The A frame eliminates their roosting on it because of the steep pitch and height.

The hummingbirds have been zinging all over this past week.  We have 3 regulars for sure and they like to chase each other off any one of the 3 feeders in the backyard.  Last year, during migration, we had a hard time counting all the visitors, but we think around 20 visited our feeders in the fall before moving on.  It’s interesting to know that the only way to get a hummingbird is to put up a feeder.  I would never have thought there were any out here but we have consistently had 3 since we moved out here 3 years ago.  Where they ar nesting I have no clue but during the day they hang out in the pine or the chinese pistache trees to be near the feeders.  Today there is one who is hanging out and enjoying the rain just sitting atop the feeder and fluffing his feathers for the rain to wash.  He’s right outside my computer desk window so I have an up close view.

Chickens in coops

Well, as previously noted in some earlier blogs, my 30 chicks arrived June 4 at the post office at 6:30 in the morning, just chirping fuzzy  fluff, and July 4 we (actually, “we” means “just my husband, with my mental assistance”) started building three chicken coops; each coop to house 10 chickens.  I have 2 each of 5 different rare breeds, 10 guineas (6 white, 3 black/pearl, and 1 lavendar), and 10 Partridge Silkie bantams (boy, are they cute!).  All that’s left  on the first one is to attach the rolled roofing. 

So last night I moved ten of my chicks (now soon to be 8 weeks old) into the first completed coop.  I waited until evening so they were not so rambunctious and they were so “blobby” that after I caught them to transport them out, from garage to coop, I had to physically reach in and take them out and put them in the coop.  There they stayed put, not caring they were in a new place.  This morning everyone was up and about and eating and drinking and inspecting the new digs. 

The books say that to make them “stay” and know this is their home, to shut them in for two full days.  They have plenty of air circulation, food and water, and I have checked on them many times today and they are doing fine.  The temp this weekend is in the 107 degree range.   I have chicken wired around the base of the house (raised on concrete block) and wired around the ramp so they have a secure area to roam, inside and outside of their coop) until the two days are up. Then I will take down the chicken wire fencing and they are free to roam the pasture. 

We will finish up the next 2 coops and get the rest of them out on their own.  They are so neat to have and will keep the alpacas entertained.