Show & Tell 4-18-14

Time for another quick update (aka smartphone memory cleanup) on some of the things happening around our place recently.

Stuck four blueberry bushes in Hugelkultur beds I built last year with a friend.

Wrote a guest post for the lovely Jessica @ The 104 Homestead all about Swales and how I dug some to passively irrigate my Hugelkultur beds.

swaleLineDrawingGraphic credited to Bill Mollison’s “Introduction to Permaculture”


Became convinced a hen was seriously broody.


Decided we had no wish to add chicken babies since we have our hands full with a new human baby.

Tried (sorta half-heartedly) breaking the broody spell by removing her from the nest box a few times.

Nursing wife got sentimental.

Twenty-four hours later met new friends via their Craigslist ad selling fertilized eggs.


Threw together this private nest box so I could segregate our Mom to be.


Curly got all settled in and has been setting like a champ for twelve days (not “sitting”, as I incorrectly thought, and now know).


Been enjoying spending a little time with one of my geekier hobbies (that does serve a Resilient purpose) – Amateur Radio.  Trying to become more proficient in Morse Code and it’s coming along nicely if I may say so myself.  The only thing more riveting than hearing about a 70 year old dude’s lawn in Virginia, is hearing about it incredibly slowly through dits and dahs.

What…. a guy has to do something when it’s his shift to man the baby monitors at night so the wife can grab precious, uninterrupted sleep.


Even though I’m on breakfast detail every morning, I ventured into dinner territory.  Yes, I guess Egg Frittata is rather breafkast-like.  Have to start using up our surplus of eggs.


With all of our recent rain, the portable chicken paddock at times resembles a swamp.  They don’t seem to mind since it brings worms to the surface.  I don’t seem to mind since I want to heavily work the birds here as the first stage in transforming this area into a large Mandala Garden.  When the chickens are almost done, I’ll sheet mulch the hell out of it.


There you have it.

What’s going on at your place?

Posted in Homestead, Show & Tell Tagged with: , ,
4 comments on “Show & Tell 4-18-14
  1. The lovely Jessica is still thanking you profusely for your amazing guest post. It was the most popular post of the week, which isn’t shabby since it went out on a Thursday.

    Cool fact about the sitting/setting. I’ve been getting that wrong. I’ll have to amend that.

    Jealous of the new Mandala garden.

    My big thing is hopefully happening soon. My coop is getting moved (a whopping 6′ back and 2′ to the right), but that alone is the start of many great things. With it moved, I can remove all the winter bedding and start my lasagna for the new garden, put back my glorious sand bedding and get going on coop renovations. My tacky redneck aluminum coop is getting resided with old barn wood, getting windows galore and the inside is getting switched around a bit (to redo everything I discovered doesn’t work) and being whitewashed. Now to convince the husband that the yard is dry enough to drive the truck on.
    Jessica @The 104 Homestead recently posted…Amber’s Rental in North CarolinaMy Profile

    • Mike says:

      Sounds good! There’s nothing like repurposed old barn wood on a chicken coop. I was planning that as well overtop of the plywood walls, or maybe some old cedar planks. Then I realized we really wanted the birds ASAP, my To Do list is three miles long, and I could have it painted in about 15 minutes. 🙂


      Tell your husband to drive on contour. Tire tracks make great redneck swales.

      • That reminds me of a question I had for you. I have a dip in my side yard that collects rain water. It’s perfectly round and make 5′ across. Wouldn’t you know that’s the exact size and shape of my proposed hugelkultur herb garden. Do you think placing the bed in the depression would be wise? I’m assuming the wood would wick water to the plants at the top and I can put water-happy plants at the bottom. Thoughts?
        Jessica @The 104 Homestead recently posted…Amber’s Rental in North CarolinaMy Profile

        • Mike says:

          Well, like most design questions, the short answer is “it depends.” 🙂

          Without really observing the location myself, there are some factors at play. The biggest being, how does the pooling water get there? Is there one or two very obvious fast rushing water channels that surge it there? (If so you might want to do something about that first.) Or do you know if maybe that spot is really compacted, or has almost no topsoil with stone underneath, or something else… that makes that one spot not drain? Or does rain just slowly seep it’s way there because it’s a low spot? (Best case scenario for what you want to do.)

          Nonetheless, I would feel pretty confident knowing nothing else that would be a great spot for an herb garden. Just make sure you build up a decent sized raised bed. 2-3″ won’t do and will just get soggy.

          Since it’s circular, my first thought would be to do a true Hugel mound (not my Hugel Swales) where you pile up a large mound of wood on top without digging. True Hugelkultur beds are typically 3-6 ft tall, with decently sloped sides and you plant into those sides. Makes it nice you can harvest stuff without bending over. Not saying you need to go that tall, but that type of technique in a circular soggy spot would probably work out great.

          The taller you go, the less irrigation help you get from the Hugel core, although it’s certainly way better than just piling up a bunch of soil. But moisture retention is only one benefit of Hugel and I’m convinced there’s more benefit from the wood breaking down creating fungal networks and stuff anyway.

          Last, to really throw in a monkey wrench have you considered an herb spiral? I’m a big fan of those for herb gardens compared to a straight up Hugel mound because of all the microclimate niches the spiral design provides. That way you can plant different herbs in the exact perfect spot for what they need since herbs vary so much.

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