We’re gathering our materials for building an egg incubator. I saw an awesome homemade incubator that was made from an old wine cooler and I knew that was what I wanted to do. I started searching online for a broken wine cooler and I struck gold on craigslist! The compressor was busted on this particular one and they were selling it for $50.00 . Since they were located in Santa Fe (which is over an 1 1/2 hour drive) I asked if they would take $30.00 for it…and we had a deal.
The whole thing weighs about 100 pounds and can hold 24 wine bottles. It also has a lock on it which will come in handy when  Simmi is present. We’re planning on creating an insert at the end of our kitchen island so the incubator will slide right in.

We’ve been looking at a few different DIY projects for the wine cooler incubator, and some of them are quite elaborate. Right now we’re trying to decide how technical we want this incubator to be. After we decide whether we want to include an egg turner, we’ll finish collecting everything and get started on the project! I’m really excited about it.

The weather here has been absolutely gorgeous with the temperature in the 60’s during the day. I’ve been taking Simmi out into the back courtyard so she can go on her favorite swing and I can start planning out her side of the courtyard. We’ll be planting 30 fruit trees in her area, as well as 15 berry bushes, edible flowers and herbs. It’s amazing just how many fruit trees you can squeeze into a small area if they are espaliered. We’ll be planting three varieties of the following trees in her area:

  • 3 apples
  • 3 pear
  • 3 plum
  • 3 peach
  • 3 apricot
  • 3 persimmon
  • 3 cherry
  • 3 orange
  • 3 grapefruit
  • 3 lemon

Of course the orange, grapefruit and lemon trees will be more experimental, but I believe that with the right preparation they will be successful. We’ll be painting the wall where the citrus will be planted a dark color (on both sides) as well as hooking up some plastic to keep them safe in the winter months. We’ll also be adding six inches wood mulch where her swing set is.

We’ve also been drawing up the rabbit hutches and second chicken coop that will be located in Simmi’s play area. We will probably only have about three or four chickens that live in the courtyard, and we are unsure just how many angora rabbits we’ll be keeping. The area for the chickens and rabbits is a large area that does not impede upon Simmi’s play space. Both the coop and rabbit hutches will have a living roof above and worm bins below. Dom is really excited about the living roof since he used to install them when we lived on the east coast. It gets a little more complicated having a living roof in the southwest, but we do have a few ideas for making a living roof possible out here in our dry climate. I always end up chuckling to myself when I watch Dom’s eyes light up as he draws up plans that include a living roof. LOL

On the other end of the courtyard, as I’ve said in other blog entries, we’re planning on creating an outdoor fireplace, bread ovens and grill station. In the concrete right now are five poles that we’ll be connecting a wire grid to over head, and we’ll be busting some of the concrete open in order to plant three or four varieties of grapes. The whole area to be covered is about 27′ x 22′ . I originally thought I’d plant squash there, but we just wouldn’t be able to consume that much squash!

While I was mapping out the courtyard yesterday it occurred to me that some of the homes we had been looking at before we purchased this house, actually had backyards smaller than our courtyard. Back then, we were trying to decide whether we wanted to have a newer home right near the Mesa in Albuquerque, or a house with some land. At that time we did seriously consider this one new home that needed no interior work done. I turned out many drawings of how I’d espalier fruit trees, still have a little aquaponics on the patio and do some vertical gardening. I think my time spent back then didn’t go to waste since the plans that I have now for our courtyard include many of the design possibilities I created for the new house we were considering at that time.

I really love where we live, and as we map out and plan each section of our land, I fall even more in love with our life and direction we are moving in.