Chicken Run Fun!

Hello friends & family!
Well it certainly has taken me a while to find my way back to the Wildwood blog! It’s hard to believe that my last entry was way back in January! My posts have been few & far between lately for good reason.  It seems that I’ve been so engrossed in living, doing & devoting my time & energy to family & homestead projects, that I’ve literally run out of hours in the day to share our latest happenings via the blog.  This is a good problem to have! It means that our lifestyle here at Wildwood Acres is dictated predominantly by our commitment to our family & our home space.  Although I’ve missed creating posts, it warms my heart to know our priorities are well aligned around here.
At any rate, here we are sliding into spring during the month of March & the sunshine prep is well underway! Gardens have been plowed, onions are set, potatoes & peas planted, leafy greens are in the ground & tomatoes are sunbathing in the windowsills of my dining room. If any of you gardening gurus out there ever grow “Atomic Red” carrots, please share your experience!
So, Josh & I attended the Tidewater Beekeepers monthly association meeting on Thursday.  We will visit a working bee yard at the end of the month & we’re hoping to have our hives placed & bees on order in the next few weeks.  Luckily for us, there are local beekeepers who actually breed their own little buzzy buddies around here! This is an awesome thing as we not only get an idea of the temperament of the bees before we adopt them, but we also have an excellent resource to come crying to when we potentially screw things up on an epic level.  I’m so enthralled with this entire process & there’s just so much to learn! There’s a local mentor (easily in his 80s) who has been keeping bees since he was very young. Still to this very day, he claims that he never stops learning.  I love the idea of incorporating a hobby into our lives that not only benefits the planet, but that we can enjoy well into our golden years, all the while learning & evolving together. Slow & steady wins the race, so we’ll stick to that leisurely pace. (Hmmm… Channeling my inner Dr. Seuss!)
We worked all weekend building the chicken runs on both the small laying coop & the palatial poultry palace.  We still need to finish the small run as we misjudged the amount of 2×4’s needed to finish the cross members on top.  However, the large run is completely finished & ready to go! I’m so proud of these two structures.  Josh has such an excellent vision when it comes to building & we both enjoy working together. Best of all, the whole cost of the project was much less than we estimated over the winter, which is always a kind realization! I’ll never say never, (coons & coyotes are resourceful, hungry little buggars) but I firmly believe that if any predators want access to our flock this time around, they’re going to have to do it during daylight free-range hours and/or bring a stick of dynamite because these two runs are absolute TANKS!  I don’t want to jinx all of our hard work, but these babies are tight!
My poultry partner, feather-loving friend Chanda & I will begin transporting lots & lots & lots of birds from her house to their new space here at the homestead this week. I’m so excited to be back in the turkey, chicken, duck business! It has been a long, quiet, roosterless winter around here & I’m ready for some feathered friends to fill the spring air with a chorus of clucks, coos, putts, purrs & yelps! This brood will be extra special too because each of these birds came from eggs we personally collected & they were all incubated & hatched in Chanda’s little magical backyard bird bakery!  I’m beyond blessed to have a friend with the “know-how” & the willingness to make all of this happen.  Chanda loves to handle, hatch, wrangle & cuddle these little critters! She’s a wealth of knowledge & an excellent mentor!
In other news, strawberry picking in Pungo is right around the corner & yesterday I got a jump on the discounted 5 gallon bucket deal that Cullipher Farm is currently running via Groupon.  SCOOOORE! Their organic strawberry fields are just down the road & basically became our second home last spring.  Jasper & I spent more money on strawberries than we did on our electric bill each month! His little fingers were literally stained red for a month from picking ripe berries! What a life.  Heaven on earth!  This year, we will sweat a portion of our spring days away in the kitchen boiling up berries & making preserves that will feed us all (& some friends) this summer, fall & winter.
In the fear of sounding like an overwhelmingly boring human, I reluctantly admit that the excitement I have for this growing & canning season probably ranks right up there with that of what some individuals might feel like whilst planning their wedding day! Whether we succeed at growing every crop or fail repeatedly, the entire process of learning & troubleshooting while working to bring our little gardens to life is a dream come true & it brings immeasurable joy.  I thank God daily for giving me wonderful family & friends in which to share this journey.
In love & light!
 ABOVE: A little cutie just making his way into the world! Photo creds to CHANDA! 😉
 ABOVE: Teensy babes.  They are all much larger now!
 ABOVE: Little Jabba, checking out one of the babes from the new brood. This photo was taken back in January, so you can imagine how much larger this little cuddler is today!
 ABOVE: Jasper & Dad building the frame.
 ABOVE: Experience is the best teacher. This time we are placing chicken wire not only on the actual run itself, but we rolled it down onto the ground & then around the frame as well.
 ABOVE: We staked the wire into the ground all the way around the run in the hopes that hungry digging predators cannot make their way beneath the frame.
 ABOVE: Such a good helper.
 ABOVE: The top is currently covered with chicken wire & eventually we will add a rolled metal roof for shelter to at least a portion of the run.
 ABOVE: All finished & ready for feathers!


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