Friday, May 22, 2009

I'm not enjoying "it" right now

Yeah, you read it right. I'm not enjoying it. And by "it" I mean the garden and the chickens. All of this rain has meant taking care of both has turned into a chore that I dread each day. Funny how I enjoyed both last week and this week I'm ready to kick everything in the back yard to the curb.

The back yard is flooded. I think we've had over 10 inches of rain in one week. Granted some areas just north of here have had 24 inches in one week and there are roads and schools closed. But 10 inches of rain means the entire back yard is flooded with some areas having about 6 inches of standing water, our pool overflowed and our septic is making us nervous with bubbly digestive gurgles in the back yard.

We can't go out back without the dog getting soaked, the boys getting soaked from head to toe, requiring a full change of clothes when we get in, and me getting soaked from overly-enthusiastic splashing boys. The novelty of this for me wore off after the first day. We're on day 5 now. The novelty of this has not worn off for the boys or the dog.

When you wade over to the chickens you discover that this much rain turns their coop into a stinky-soupy-poopy-cesspool. I had to go to the feed store to buy another bale of hay because their tarp-covered bale of hay is now floating in our wheelbarrow. Their coop has hardwire sides to keep them cool in the oppressive Florida heat, but this ingenious solution means the rain gets in too. I spent close to 2 hours yesterday scraping out gobs of floating hay and poo, digging out clumps of wet chicken food from their feeder and scooping out bucketfuls of heavy, wet shavings from their transportation box (more on this later). Keep in mind I'm doing this while it's pouring with rain and I'm standing in about 4 inches of water. I finally left the coop dry and clean and was thoroughly exhausted when I was finished, but glad I wouldn't have to do anything like that again for a long time.

Last night I got smart and threw a huge tarp over the coop, but left one little part open so the chickens didn't get overheated while they slept. I knew they'd enjoy their first night in a dry coop all week. After hours of procrastination, I waded out there late this morning to discover that the little part I'd left open for them to get fresh air was just enough to make the coop look exactly like it did the day before. Exactly like it did the day before. Exactly. I can't begin to tell you the level of dismay I felt when I saw that. It took a lot of willpower not to grab the chickens and chuck them over the fence into our neighbors yard to mingle with their flock.

Then I waded over to the garden to see how it was holding up. The okra seedlings look quite pretty reflecting so perfectly in the puddle of water that has formed around them. The peas look like they're working on their suicide note and will soon be compost-bound. And you already read about my #&%@! cracked tomatoes. I don't even want to get in there and pull any weeds because my boot squelches down several inches when I step onto our nutrient-free soil, so I think it's best I stay out and watch it drown from a distance.

Before you think I'm really ready to throw in the towel, please know that I've read enough Hallmark cards and listened to enough Country music to know that things always get better after the rain, that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger, that if you can get though this, you can get through anything, that the sun will come out tomorrow... and that no matter what I'll still have the dog and the truck at the end of the day.


Scott Hildenbrand said...

Have you ever considered going UP with your coop and garden? I don't recall how much garden space you have, but a good raised bed would solve alot of the issues with the flooding. I'd think a raised bed @ 4'x10'x12"H would work great for you. Just something to consider.

RE: The chickens, I'd seen the chicken run you all did but not the coop itself. A three walled coop is great for warm weather, but rain can indeed blow in. This can be mitigated by the use of a tarp over the open wall, held back at least 1" away from the hardware cloth to allow continued ventilation.

The floor is another issue.. I'm guessing that since things are floating that it's just a ground level coop with no floor? Or is it just too much water? Installing a raised floor in a coop without one isn't much trouble so that is an option, but without seeing what the coop looks like I can't give any advice beyond that. Would LOVE to see pictures.. Still working on our coop.. Need to finish soon, too.. Our rooster is attempting to crow and sounds like a turkey, so he needs to go outside full time..

Dani said...

Oh friend! If I lived closer, I'd be over there in a heartbeat to lend a hand.

I'm afraid my garden is toast too. Too wet for too long. *sigh*

Kathryn said...

Hi, Kate. Didn't mama say there'd be days like this? I too am suffering from all this rain . . . although not having to deal with the chickens seems a blessing now that I've seen what you're going through. I had a brainstorm the other night - why couldn't they stay inside in the kitchen (my chickens, if I ever get any). And then I could just open the back door and let them run around for the day and call them back in. Hmmmmm, maybe. Right now my granddaughter is sleeping in a tent in the backyard - however, every time it lightnings she comes running in the house with blow-up mattress in tow and camps out on the livingroom floor! Take heart. This wet stuff won't last forever and all will be dried out and you'll be wondering how you could ever have wanted to throw those cute girls over the fence. Here's to dryer weather! K (aka Mad Beach Maven)

Unknown said...

Awe! So sorry! It will get better though.

Kelly said...

Sorry to hear you are having one heck of a time with it Kate. Your frustration over the coop would drive most of us to drink, maybe you could keep some tequila in ice chest out there? ;)

I give you credit for continuing to garden with your crazy Florida weather, I hope all is not lost when this is all over.

Daphne said...

Ick. I wouldn't mind some of that rain. A couple of inches would do. But 10 I could do without. I was reading another florida blog and they said they were thinking of moving all their gardening into barrels on cinderblocks. I hope you dry out soon.

Erin said...

Kate, THAT SUCKS!!! I won't tell you to buck up...I feel really bad for you guys! We are coming off about 5 weeks of relentless downpours and even though I have raised beds, my tomato seedlings ended up in bad shape because all my "amended soil" in there was stripped clean of nutrients during the downpours and hail! You are definitely worse off because at least our yard drained off after about 10 hours. I would come and help you if I could with those chickens, but I am all the way up in Virginia :( ..... I sincerely hope things get better for you quickly and will send "dry thoughts" your way, lol!

Duralee said...

I enjoyed your article on the chickens.

Anonymous said...

The rain is driving us nuts as well. We have received 15.30 inches so far with more forecasted today and tomorrow. The tomatoes are spliting, yellow squash dying, and strawberries are mush due to the excess rain. I am not liking this at all.

Kate and Crew said...

Scott - thanks for the great comments on my blog!!! I am pretty sure we're doing raised beds next time we plant. EG has pretty much convinced me that I need to do it - and if I don't I fear he'll drive down here to FL and make me! LOL.

As far as the coop goes, here's a link to it It has some perches in it now and a hanging feeder and waterer, but it's still very hot for the chickens. Until you've felt the oppressive FL heat and humidity, you just haven't lived. The coop is elevated, but it has a wooden floor that is covered with linoleum for easy clean-up. All the rain came in (up to 12+ inches now) and just floated on the flooring. We had about 3 inches of rain in there and after that it was just flowing out of the sides where the hardwire cloth is. Got pics of your setup??

Kate and Crew said...

Daphne - thanks so much for the kind words. It's so nice to hear.

Dani and Erin- I'm sorry about your gardens. I'm 90% sure mine is a total washout.

Kathryn - chickens in the kitchen - LOL. Well I suppose I could make them diapers, but then we'd have 2 boys, 2 cats, 1 big chicken-chasing dog and 3 chickens in the kitchen... and they can fly so they'd be on the counters and on the stove and... LOL... I couldn't imagine.

Scott Hildenbrand said...

Sorry it took so long to comment back. Fine looking coop you have, but I see why there's an issue with water on the floor.

Looking at this picture:

The floor doesn't have any drainage to it at all, so basically the 2x4's sitting against it act as a dam, giving you 1.5" of water possible to be dammed up. I'd recommend drilling 1" weep holes every 6" around the perimeter of the floor to allow for drainage. It may expedite rot, but it's going to rot anyway with standing water so it's a fair trade. I'd also move to using sand in the run instead of shavings as it drains easier, would be easy to clean and won't float around. It would also dry much faster.

"it's still very hot for the chickens. Until you've felt the oppressive FL heat and humidity, you just haven't lived."Looking at the same picture above, it would not be much work to cut vent holes in the wall inside the run up at the top to allow for more air flow. This can be done with a jigsaw, up top close to the roof line. Once a section of the wall sheeting is cut out you can just staple some chicken wire or hardware cloth in place to keep the birds from trying to roost up there.

At any rate, the weep holes in the floor will really help any water issues since there's just about no way for it to drain right now.

As for mine, you can check out my worklog at the link below. I'm still trying to get the roof sheeted so that I can get the chickens in full time.. Between weather and life, it's delayed my work.. Hoping to have it sheeted this weekend though.

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