Chicken Care 101- Spring Cleaning

Here at Gillis Gardens, we are big believers in preventative measures for maintaining good flock health. Part of that is a bi-annual coop cleaning.

As I have mentioned before in my Winterize Your Chickens Blog, we use the deep litter method to help keep our girls home warm in the coldest of Northern Maine winter. This means, come spring, the coop has about 10 inches of compacted, broken down, composted litter that needs to be removed, and replaced with nice new clean  pine shavings.

I used a shovel, a pitch fork and a wheelbarrow.

I had about 5 loads of great “brown” compost for our pile, and made the chickens very happy, I’m sure.

Izzy helped by giving them rocks.

Well, that concludes that. I know, its a short one, but trust me, it’s important to clean your coop. If you can smell something, your flock is breathing that in all night while they sleep. Preventative maintenance is worth every moment.

Otherwise, on the homestead, we are building a few things, so I’m going to call it on this one and move on to the next.

Until next time, have a wicked good day.

Homesteading Dreams – Building Cold Frames

Here at Gillis Gardens, we have dreams. Some of them are in laborious progress, such as our production kitchen and rainbow flock of egg laying chickens… others are probably unattainable for years yet(my personal favs being a greenhouse within a wallpini for tropical growing or getting into aquaponics and farming our own tilipia) but we have a lot of them.

We believe in that itself. Having dreams, goals… things that you reach for past what you have or know now. None of ours have to do with being rich, or gaining fame. It’s more about pushing our own limits at what we thought we could accomplish between us and our drive. Maybe that can be a blog for another time. Today we are talking about realizing a dream of ours that we’ve had for some time.

Building Cold Frames.

I know, quite the lofty goal there, but cold frames are important for homesteading for a big reason- it is going to extend our planting season by a few months.

From the renovation on the shed, we have a lot of of old windows, random hardware junk and different sized pieces of wood. What better use for all that stuff, then to pair it with some hay bales and bags of dirt to create THIS:

This is just the first one that we threw together real quick. We put the bales up on their sides, layered some hay in so that there was more insulation between our dirt and the cold ground and put a bag of dirt in. Then mrgillis slit the plastic and lined the sides of the hay bales with the extra. Next, he got fancy and put hinges on the windows for easy open access.

But one cold frame wasn’t good enough. We had a truck full of bales and a “malt beverage” into both of us, and it was almost 70 degrees out in April in Maine. This deserved some celebrating and some work. So we rearranged the bales and ended up with three cold frames.

Mrgillis made a neat brace for the windows too. He’s just that thoughtful. Meanwhile, Izzy and I played.

The Next day, it was up in the 60s again, so we planted salad greens and micro greens, because if it works, eff yeah we have fresh produce in our front yard. And if it doesn’t well it wont be long and it will.


So, to cap it off, we spent about 20 bucks on hay, reused a bunch of old windows and hardware instead of trashing them and have the ability to start growing outside about 5 to 6 weeks earlier then in years past… it also will extend our harvest capabilities well into the fall. It was a quick project and gave us a good reason to be out enjoying the fresh air and beautiful Maine spring day.

In fact, it was so quick and easy that MrGIllis is ready to go get another truckload of bales and make 3 more. I’ll post an update as spring moves along.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

Update for 04/23/17-


We have 4 cold frames and SPROUTS! Yea!

Update for May 7th 2017

The coldframes are  a rousing success! We have lots of tomatoes, peppers, squash, marigolds, cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelons, leafy greens all sprouting and growing OUTSIDE in MAINE in early friggen MAY.

We are so excited about the possibilities that these cold frames open up for growing fresh food out of season.

Have a wicked good day!

Update 05-29-17 – cold frames are a definite, long lasting success! We have tomatoes and peppers, cukes, pumpkins and a mini salad garden that we’ve been harvesting from for weeks now…. and they are all cold hardened already!

This has been a great first foray into lengthening our grow season, and we’re excited to do this for many years to come. It was great not having to transform a room or closet into a plant nursery for once…. Still lots more to go tho, so until then, have a wicked good day!