Archive for February, 2012

More ponds … and drought

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Back in October last year, I began an experiment in pond building. As I wrote then, it’s part of a strategy to retain water for longer in its passage through the quinta. Not just for irrigation purposes, but to increase the range of environments we have for growing and to support a greater diversity of wildlife.

But the ponds are rapidly becoming part of a developing long-term drought mitigation strategy as well. There are evidently years of severe drought here once every decade or so and at the moment it looks very much like that cycle is about to deliver another challenging year.

Top terrace irrigation tank

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New fruit terraces

Monday, February 20th, 2012

It’s not just been about the chickens. It’s been the plan this winter to extend the growing areas and to clear them of nettles, brambles, couch grass, bracken, etc, before planting a lot more trees, shrubs and fruit bushes.

New fruit terrace before clearing

The new fruit-terrace-to-be in January 2011

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Chicken compound

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Chicken suite complete.

Chicken compound

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Geodesic dome chicken tractor

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

The next stage in the construction of our suite of deluxe chicken accommodation is to provide them with some outdoor space. The chickens have arrived, but they’re not ready yet for free-ranging as it will take them a little while to get imprinted on coop = ‘home’.

Hens

Our hens! The two in the background are crossbreeds between Cochins and the local Portuguese pescoço pelado or bare-necked hens. The two in the foreground are Green legs.

While they’re getting to know their coop, we’ve made a start on both a permanent pen surrounding the coop and on ‘tractor’ accommodation for putting them to work round the quinta.

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Chicken quarters

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

It’s been the plan from day one to keep chickens, though it’s taken rather more days than that to get around to it. Keeping chickens is one thing. Exactly how to keep them is another. Free range? Tractor? Permanent pen? All have their fans among the chicken-keeping world and all for persuasive reasons. I thought I had it sorted in my head many times, but then I’d come across an advocate of another method or someone’s bad experience with the method I’d decided on and it would send me off back to the drawing board again.

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