There’s been some major setbacks for me. A racoon managed to wipe out all of my chickens in their new coop, though I turned the portable tractor into fort freaking knox with hardware cloth so we saved my neighbor’s 6 girls. He’s feeding them purchased feed now, so I can’t eat the eggs, unfortunately. The feed contains both soy and corn, and that means the eggs will have soy’s phytoestrogens. People with corn or soy sensitivity like me will have problems with eggs from chickens fed corn or soy. Boo.
And the other part of the double tap combo is the insect invasion: the squash bugs, vine borers, cucumber beetles are wiping me out. Again. The organic controls for squash bugs are not terribly effective. Besides, I just cannot use pesticides, even organic ones, without winding up with flu like misery, so growing veggies in the open is looking like an iffy proposition. After a solid week of depression…
I know, it sounds silly to most people to get really walloped by what is a mere setback to others. But, welcome to the world of PTSD and anxiety. One could argue we “over react”. It’s true. Our bodies are often in a permanent state of fight or flight, be it at a high level or a moderate one. It’s like getting whacked where you already have a bruise. It stings more.
Given 1) the physical exertion in building a garden when you have to fight the chronic fatigue to do so, 2) the waste of money my fixed income couldn’t afford to waste, 3) the loss of eggs I could actually eat without triggering migraines etc, and 3) the emotional investment in achieving a difficult goal that has been a big expensive failure… July was a really tough month.
What to do now? How to adapt to what’s clearly going to happen again if I try to grow any kind of veggie in the open? Should I even try again? I’m still a bit undecided what to do next. Should I really sink more money and physical expense into this dream of providing my own healthy food for myself? Could I take out both problems (predators and pests) with one solution? I continue meeting with failure, so is it worth the cost and difficulty?
One option to try is building a couple greenhouses, 16-20 feet wide, and if I make it with a 6/12 roof pitch it would hold up under winter snow and ice. The outer wall posts would be 6 feet or 8 feet tall, and the inner support posts would be either 10 feet or 12 feet. A four foot wide coop area with car siding or hardboard exterior would provide a roosting and nesting area. Something similar to the pic below.
The only area needing a solid roof would be the nesting area; the rest would be open so I could remove the greenhouse fabric for the summer growing season. Good wide beds inside allow me to even grow fodder in ground for chickens. One would house them during the fall and winter, the other in spring and summer.
There would be more cost, of course: lumber, the effort to build, sky high pricey hardware cloth (only thing that saved the neighbor’s girls), etc. The major drawback is trying to dig in this soil for the posts and buried hardware cloth: once again, fibro and fatigue present a big obstacle. Not to mention a total lack of building skills.
Even just one big greenhouse might be enough: chickens on one side, veggies on the other, seperated by simple bird netting I already have. I’m back to the drawing board, only now I don’t really trust my judgement about what would work out best. Would a wood structure last the longest, would a standard metal greenhouse be better, would 2″ pvc be cheaper…
If I want eggs next spring, I need to get my chicks this fall, so there’s some time pressure to make a decision and get going. I don’t want to buy the chicks until I have a really secure place to put them for the fall and winter. I think I’ll buy 4-6 red and black sex links rather than Orpingtons this time, as they are said to be excellent layers. I’d need to make a brooder, and buy a heat lamp, but that isn’t much trouble. It’s keeping them alive after they’re old enough to be outside!
So okay, you can see the rambling in my brain!
Now for the happier ending to this post: the garden hasn’t been a total loss! I’m gettin snap beans, the chard is growing like wildfire, I’ll get some more cucumbers before the bugs have finished the squash and are looking for the next victims, the turnips are ready to harvest, the lettuces are ready to bolt so I can keep the seed, and the crowning glory is my tomatoes are starting to ripen!
I’ll at least have some produce, maybe enough of the beans and tomatoes to freeze for winter. That helps my outlook a bit!