There is something about winter that gets me into a contemplative mood. Maybe it is the lack of sunlight or maybe it is simply because with little to do outside I can think, dream, and plan for the future without feeling guilty for not getting chores done. All this while working on my fibre work or wood work.
The seed catalogues have started arriving so my mind has been working on what I want to grow and where. I'm not ready to set anything down in stone yet but I'm thinking corn, cranberry beans, sugar baby watermelon, winter squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, and hot peppers in the garden.
Then I have to populate the herb bed which is even harder since there are so many herbs we use on an almost daily basis here. Right now I know were are growing chamomile, rosemary, sage, and basil in the herb bed. We'll grow catnip in a separate box so it doesn't take over the yard. I'm also thinking about chives, garlic, cilantro, dill, and fennel/anise. Of course the herb bed is only 2 x 6 ft so it isn't like I have room for everything.
As I use the chicken coop more I find myself thinking about things I wish I had done, which is just a fancy way of saying I want to make additions/ changes to the design or setup. I wish I had placed it further back in the yard, behind the tree row rather than in line with it. This change is the least likely to get done as it will require dismantling and the plying of alcohol and BBQ to four burley coworkers.
I wish I had a raised platform or porch across the front of the coop. When it rains or the snows start to melt the area in front of the run and coop become a miasma of slippery muck. I can't imagine the chickens like walking around it and I know I don't. This is the easiest change to implement and I suspect will the the first thing we do once the snow melts.
I wish we had extended to roof further our over the walls. When it rains, or the snow melts it drips over the sides and swells/ freezes the doors, egg hatch, and windows shut or open depending on which we don't want to happen. This change is going to take some serious re-engineering of our roof and I'm not sure if it will happen as soon as I would like it to. The doors and the egg hatch are the most important as I can't do anything in the coop without access at those two points.
A few other things I plan on adding to the whole chicken setup is a feed trough the hens can't step in or bill feed out of, a raised platform inside and out for the water, a couple of exterior roosts for the girls to sleep in the sun, and a couple of removable nest boxes under the coop for those days when everyone wants to lay eggs at the same time. I also want to plant a small 2 z 2 ft patch of rye or wheat for them to snack on, rather than hopping the fence to get at the garden.
Of course these are just the near future things I've been contemplating. When I start thinking about the far future I think of a small self sufficient farm with several kinds of animals, rotational pasturing, market gardening, cheese and butter making, and all the other things that go along with these pursuits. This dream is a more romantic dream and will of course change as the reality becomes more important than the dream. But, until then I can dream.