Well.....it all started with THIS. What's this? This is that gnawing hunger for hands in the dirt, sunshine on my back, sounds and smells of my own farm animals, rolling hills, bubbling brooks with children laughing and playing, good old fashion living---connected---feeling---in touch with the earth and the essentials for living---hard work and good rest, satisfaction looking on a job completed with my own hands.
Okay, back to real life. I've always wanted a home on land. Our own. Land that is. To do with what we want. Endless possibilities. There is something about making it myself. Making it from scratch. Being outdoors. Even sweating. I've tried here in this house to do some of these things, I have a garden, built up into the hill of a back yard we have. It's akward to access. But it's available and it's ours. Babies and toddlers and difficult pregnancies lead to planting and then not weeding. Laziness creeps in too. Sometimes just surviving becomes my way. And I stay indoors and take my Vitamin D faithfully. But I still long. To somehow be more connected with the cycle of life in the out of doors. Where I don't need Vitamin D, and my muscles ache but its a good ache, and I stink, but it's a good stink :). And there is a satisfaction that comes from this work---you know, the do it yourself, I made it kind of work---indoors and out.
So I decided, since it doesn't make sense financially to move, nor do we want to move away from the wonderful school God has given us, or the Church, why don't I do what I can here? Right here, our little Walsman Homestead. The old saying "bloom where you planted"! And so we're off to a good start. And what I've been daydreaming about has become reality. It's been fun. So let me tell you about our quail!
I wanted to buy 2 dozen eggs and incubate them, then watch with delight as they hatch out. And in the end keep a dozen hens, and eat the eggs they lay. Especially my husband since they are good for seasonal allergies which he suffers terribly from. But speaking of that husband he worried I wouldn't want to stay the course---that laziness---or that survival mode would kick in---and I would bemoan my quail responsibilities. I couldn't argue with him so I decided instead to----negotiate :)
No eggs to incubate, no babies to brood, just six full grown hens and a cheap cage. Just let me try it out I asked! And I got agreement and we got quail. And I realized I'm more handy than I thought I was. More on that in a minute.
So I bought a rabbit hutch from craigs list for 20 bucks. It needed some work. I laid some vinyl coated wire on top of the old hardware cloth that came on it. This was better for their feet but worse for allowing the poop to fall through to the box I built to fit under the wire and catch it. It was a mess. And boy did it stink. Woo! The quail smail! It stinks! Badly. I knew this wasn't going to work. So I took that box, unscrewed it, cut it down to fit on top of the wire, put it in a trash bag, mashed the bag down in the inside of the box, and put pine shavings in it. So in the back part of the hutch was shavings, and now the front part too. This really kept the smell at bay and they seemed happier. But the size! Too small! I didn't feel good about my little quaily girls being in realistically now, 4 square feet of space. But I still was limited to using very little money for my experiment. So, what could I do?
Woops! How did this picture get in here? Just had to sneak a little Jacob in here. Here he has just completed his first painting. On the floor. :) One of his big brothers dropped their brush full of green paint and Jacob went to town! Okay, back to quail....
See the bottom part of this new and improved cage? It was my salad table. I built it with the help of one of my sons friends (thanks Caleb!) about 2 years ago! I never used it. I kept intending to, but the kids would come along and play in the dirt and it just wasn't working out. As I thought about converting it to a quail hutch, I realized we don't really eat salad anyway. I wish we did, but my digestion isn't great with raw foods, and none of us love salad enough to grow lettuce regularly, so I concluded the table was definitely up for grabs! I noodled on it a bit, knowing I was on my own for the project. I had to build a new door for the rabbit hutch so I had already learned to use the table saw, and how to change out bits on the drill, screw things together, so I had a shred of confidence I could complete the project. And sure enough! With just 12 dollars of lumber from home depot and scraps around the house, the quail are much happier!
Here they are taking a "dust bath" with some of the old dirt that was in the salad table.
The kids love coming out to see the quaily girls.
Taking care of them consists of refilling their food and water every day. No big deal at all. And with the deep litter method there is no smell, no flies, and hopefully the litter will compost and in six months or a year, I'll change it out and have a good bit of fertilizer for my garden!
Speaking of the garden! I've got collard greens growing in the back bed and blackberries trellised in the front. Our homestead is really coming along! Woot!
I'll update in a few months when it gets hot! We will see if I have what it takes to maintain! :)