Monthly Archives: January 2013

What’s a pergola?


Our new office. Note the missing blue tarp!

a sample of vertical gutter gardening on north pergola wall

“A pergola, arbor or arbour is a garden feature forming a shaded walkway, passageway or sitting area of vertical posts or pillars that usually support cross-beams and a sturdy open lattice, often upon which woody vines are trained.”
I was introduced to this word while perusing building plans for the new “office” my sweet husband agreed to build for the Science and Tech farmers. We had a compilation of rusted poles with a beautiful bungeed blue tarp on top (made this Alaskan feel right at home!) and it moved like a sail boat with the wind; never knew where it might be when we came to work the next morning. My Mr Wonderful constructed it in just a few days- I most likely spent more time shopping nurseries for jasmine and vines and planting the flowers then he did building! I am anxious for all the vines to grow and the poles and roof to begin to be covered in green vines and sweet smelling flowers. We also created our own “pots” around the cement footers by lining chicken wire with weed fabric and filling it in with potting soil. We planted one vine plant per pillar and sprinkled poppy and aster seeds all around to fill in the space. On the north side, the side against the dusty road, we hung four rows of gutters 2 feet apart vertically and filled them with over 200 different flower, salad greens and herb seeds and cuttings. This was a sample of all the awesome vertical gardens I have seen pictures of lately. Climbing the cables I have green beans, morning glory, cardinal vine and sweet peas. The finishing touch was 10 hanging baskets- but I cheated and bought plants cause I didn’t have anymore patience to wait for seeds! A girl needs some instant color! Here are a few pictures of it’s humble beginnings- we will post more when the plants take over. It will be the most beautiful office in the world! Thank you honey:)
Pergola- not just a word for Scrabble.

close up of gutter garden

Week 10

We are at the halfway mark for eggs!!  The chicks get to run around outside on the afternoons children are available to watch over them.  We still have active mongoose in the area and I don’t want to take chances.  I really want to get a livestock guarding dog to rid of the mongoose- but it is complicated by legalities means we are a mission base with lots of  people living here.  In the meantime, children are our shepards and the chickens have limited outdoor time.  Once they are full grown we will be a bit more brave.  These girls (and boy) are chowing down the grain, but we are also daily feeding sow bugs (children collect them daily under plywood), comfrey, nasturtiums and dried sweet potatoe leaves and kale.  They are also eating duck weed and azola the aquaponics team is growing in the fish ponds- a great source of protien and vitamins.  Next week we are planting a few small areas of grain

Maria the rooster, 10 weeks old

.  Along with experimenting with watering and planting techniques we will be growing food for the chickens.  I also planted over 30 kombacha pumpkin plants-so in the near future the chickens will have pumpkin for carbs.  And maybe a pumpkin pie for me:)

two cute chicks!

Week 11

This week my chicks officially hit puberty!  Yesterday when I was visiting one of them made a sound half “cheep” and half  “bock”- that cracked me up:)  They are looking grown up size but had still sounded like little chicks till now.  Two days later they all appear to have new voices- no more cute little cheeps.  They are still curious about people and will eat out of our hands, but they seem to appreciate getting held less and less.  Children visit them everyday and torture them with affection- although I have to say that looking at these pictures I think they secretly like it:)

” I love chickens” support group

Natural Medicine for the Natural Cat

Pumpkin has made himself a home at the Farm.  Kitty style, he naps most of the day, seeking sun or shade depending on the time of day in various garden beds or sometimes a wheelbarrow or cart.  He is true to cathood and does not always come when you call him, but if he is hungry he is sure to follow you everywhere.  We are contemplating putting a little bell on his collar due to his habit of trailing right behind and tripping us up.  Due to his early weening and malnutrition I have decided not to use tradional drugs to treat his infection, worms, mites and fleas.  He is a natural farm cat so we are using natural medicine and it’s working well so far.  He gets a “bath” (careful not to breath the dust) of DE- diatomateous earth, twice a week to kill the fleas and we also put 1/2 a tsp of it in his food everyday to kill the worms.  So far we have not seen evidence of either after a week of treatment.  DE is really handy on a farm and with animals- I am learning many uses for it.  I encourage you to look it up.   I clean his ears daily with coconut oil mixed with a few drops of grapefruit seed extract.  He really detests having his ears cleaned and for a couple of days punished me with the world famous, cat perfected, ignoring routine.  Then one day he was hungry and decided he loved me again.  As I am trying to write this he is mauling me and purring so loud he rumbles.  I took a picture of his helpfulness.  This is right after he drank out of my water glass and knocked my notebook off the table.

Pumpkin writing his blog and harrassing me cause he is not getting 100% of my attention

Poor Kitty

Little Pumpkin is a mess.  In less than week of his adoption he developed what looked like an abcess on his lower spine- we were not sure what it was.  He also had a belly swollen with worms,  itchy ears from mites, and of course the fleas were having a circus.  We don’t have the resources for this kind of vet bill-but God provided!  The very day we realized the abcess had to be treated my new crew of DTS work duty students arrived and I was elated to discover  that two of the young men were doctors- one even a surgeon!!  I quickly gave him his first assignment.  With his developing English and my complete lack of Korean we fumbled our way through the conversation, only for me to realize he thought I was asking him to work on my child- not a straggly kitty.  I saw the surprise in his eyes when I handed him a purring, sickly kitten; but with no hesitation he performed impromptu surgery -farm style.  The wound needed to be packed for several days- and he came everyday to do it himself!  Pumpkin initially acted as if he could not walk with the dressing on- quite the drama scene.  But he figured it out and was climbing trees within 4 hours!

bandaged up Pumpkin soaking up the sun. He prefers to lay in the middle of the tool shed so everyone has to pay attention to him:)

Farm Cat

My daughters came visiting the garden with a stray kitten- he appears too small to have been weaned already and very scrawny.  Their request to keep the kitty reminded me of myself over 30 years ago when I found a similar flea infested, diarrhea stricken stray kitten in our neighborhood.  Lucky for me it was my Dad’s birthday, so being the cleaver child  that I was, I decorated a box and stuffed

Pumpkin kitty

the kitty in it and presented my Dad with his impromptu birthday present!  He didn’t even like cats:)   She became an integral part of our family for 18 years and moved several thousand miles with us.  This scene flashed before my eyes and I realized I couldn’t be a hypocrite, so I bought cat food and a collar.  He sleeps under a certain pumpkin plant and thus earned the name “Pumpkin”.  My co-workers were even less enthusiastic about a farm cat- but he quickly went to work trying to charm everyone.  I think it is working- they  just don’t want to admit it:)

Week 8

automatic waterer made from 4 gallon bucket. It has a float pump that keeps the bucket full at all times. We clean it out weekly.

automatic feeder created from 6 gallon bucket on top of 6 gallon bucket full of gravel to keep feeder immovable.

Week 8

    I am thankful that we are utilizing the Korean Natural Farming method of keeping our chicken coop.  It has IMOs (indigenous micro organisms) we collected around the farm and cultivated, then applied to deep mulch on the dirt floor.  We use the same method to naturally enhance our soil in the garden.  We never have to clean out the coop and it does not smell.  This method has also been successfully used worldwide for pig farming.

Week 7

Maria the rooster

Week 7

For Christmas we move the chicks into the large henhouse.  It was said to be mongoose proof but in order to test it we put 3 chicks in for 3 days ahead of time (so not to lose all 31 if we were wrong).  They love their new digs.  I am still waiting for clearer direction about outdoor time, but for now they have lots of room to wander and explore.  I would rather be safe than sorry.  Maria appears to be showing some protective behavior already with his hens.  He is always first to the door when I arrive and he checks out any treats before the others eat.  I used to think that roosters were just bullies but have been learning that they have very protective and selfless behavior towards the flock.  They will go hungry to ensure the hens eat and they have also been known to sacrifice their lives to protect the hens.  My favorite source of information is  There is much more to these “bird brains” than meets the eye.

Week 6

My girls

Week 6

3rd bag of feed gone.  I noticed that suddenly all the chicks have feathers- no more down to be seen.  When did that happen?!  When I kneel down to feed or check on chicks they start to jump on my back and arms.  I wonder if there are any other chickens in the world as socialized as these!  They love visitors and attention.  I can feed them right out of my hands they are so gentle.  As a child I was pecked by mean birds and have always been a bit scared of them, but this sweet little flock has changed my mind about chickens.  Now I know why people enjoy their chickens so much!  I think everyone who can should have a backyard coop.

Week 5

Week 5

The chicks are still in a small 60 sf brooder house.  We wanted to give them an outing and some fresh air so we carried each one to a fenced in area of the farm.  They cautiously pecked around for an hour until a mongoose snuck real close and scared them silly. I heard a chick crying real loud and came running.  We saw the mongoose slipping away and I panicked that he had hurt one of my babies.  They were all safe but traumatized.  We quickly whisked them all back into the brooder.  I have been setting traps for a couple of months in preparation of these chicks coming but it is impossible to get rid of all the mongoose.  This incident really shook me up and revealed my growing attachment to my “babies”.  I am seeking counsel from locals about when it is safe to release them outside.