Let’s hear it for the boys . . .

Heartfelt warm gratitude goes to spouse David for hauling tons and tons of sod (probably literally) and cousin Mark for tilling all 8 pasture beds tonight after dinner. Yesterday morning I was exhausted with a huge, 3-week job before me, tonight it’s done and I’m preparing to plant tomorrow. Not a lot of work for me today, as several Tylenol only made slow movements feasible. Boo hoo, my husband says. But he’ll be feeling it tomorrow since he hauled for 6 hours today. I’ll show him tomorrow how nice he should have been to me today.


Yay!!

Let’s hear it for the boys . . .

Heartfelt warm gratitude goes to spouse David for hauling tons and tons of sod (probably literally) and cousin Mark for tilling all 8 pasture beds tonight after dinner. Yesterday morning I was exhausted with a huge, 3-week job before me, tonight it’s done and I’m preparing to plant tomorrow. Not a lot of work for me today, as several Tylenol only made slow movements feasible. Boo hoo, my husband says. But he’ll be feeling it tomorrow since he hauled for 6 hours today. I’ll show him tomorrow how nice he should have been to me today.


Yay!!

Let’s hear it for my mom . . .

Let’s give my mom a hand . . .

Am I really that old? You all probably have no reference for that. Sigh. Good old 80s

Anyway, short post today because my fingers are stiffening up. I dreamed all night about how I should be trying to take off the sod in the pasture, not digging holes and then shaking off the dirt. I did a 2ft x 40 ft swatch by hand this morning and had three new blisters and old-people hands. My mom insisted we rent something and offered to foot the bill.

I called Diamond rental and asked about a sod-cutter to take off the grass in the 4 ft “boxes”–then we could use my cousin’s rear-tine tiller (big) to till them no problem–the grass is the problem for the tiller. The rental wasn’t that much, just $20 an hour, and they only counted two hours even though we were bringing it back tomorrow morning.

Now, all the boxes are grass free (8 of them, ranging from 60 ft to 30 feet). However, though the machines may be faster, they are not easier. I felt like I was taming a 300 lb, very loud bronco all day, followed by a great deal of rolling the very heavy sod up and putting it in the aisles. We worked until there was just no more light, about 9 p.m.

I have never, ever done this much physical labor in one day. I literally can hardly walk.

Boo hoo, I know, It’s my own fault. Still, I’m excited that we are so much closer to having it ready to plant than we were last night. Yay! Ow!!

PS: Hey Suz, I’ve done my share of lurking on sites and you’re very welcome to hang out–glad you liked the vid–it’s wacky and interesting and really makes you think about things. My grandma was also silent between her stroke and her death, and I really felt she was aware of things. The brain is a fascinating thing.

Let’s hear it for my mom . . .

Let’s give my mom a hand . . .

Am I really that old? You all probably have no reference for that. Sigh. Good old 80s

Anyway, short post today because my fingers are stiffening up. I dreamed all night about how I should be trying to take off the sod in the pasture, not digging holes and then shaking off the dirt. I did a 2ft x 40 ft swatch by hand this morning and had three new blisters and old-people hands. My mom insisted we rent something and offered to foot the bill.

I called Diamond rental and asked about a sod-cutter to take off the grass in the 4 ft “boxes”–then we could use my cousin’s rear-tine tiller (big) to till them no problem–the grass is the problem for the tiller. The rental wasn’t that much, just $20 an hour, and they only counted two hours even though we were bringing it back tomorrow morning.

Now, all the boxes are grass free (8 of them, ranging from 60 ft to 30 feet). However, though the machines may be faster, they are not easier. I felt like I was taming a 300 lb, very loud bronco all day, followed by a great deal of rolling the very heavy sod up and putting it in the aisles. We worked until there was just no more light, about 9 p.m.

I have never, ever done this much physical labor in one day. I literally can hardly walk.

Boo hoo, I know, It’s my own fault. Still, I’m excited that we are so much closer to having it ready to plant than we were last night. Yay! Ow!!

PS: Hey Suz, I’ve done my share of lurking on sites and you’re very welcome to hang out–glad you liked the vid–it’s wacky and interesting and really makes you think about things. My grandma was also silent between her stroke and her death, and I really felt she was aware of things. The brain is a fascinating thing.

Is the veil in the Left Brain?

I read this interesting article today about a brain scientist who suffered a stroke and lived to tell about it. There is an 18-minute video of her presenting on her experience I found very fascinating. For a minute toward the end I thought it was getting a little froofy for my taste, but then I realized it wasn’t really, and I should cut her some slack for being so, well, right-brained about it all. We live in a very left-brained world. I recommend you take a look.

I had some theological wonderings about the experience and wished I had the focus and time to write her a letter and talk about the idea of the doctrine of the restored gospel–that spiritual mastery over the physical self (and not just extinguishing or denying the physical self) is the most powerful form of existence. Rather than discounting the value of the left-brain, we can make that amazing analytical function serve the the creative, unifying focus of the right brain. So, I don’t necessarily agree wholeheartedly with her conclusions, but found the whole discussion highly engaging.

And yes, I can very much see how silencing the left-brain “chatter” would bring nirvana. I find my brain-chatter highly annoying and counter productive.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/when-a-brain-scientist-suffers-a-stroke/

Well, I’ve been in the dirt a lot. My blisters pop and reblister.

I learned the difference between a weed and a tiny potato plant coming up–the hard way of course. There are minute tops of chard and carrots peeking out. I’m hand-shoveling about 1500 sq. feet of new garden in the pasture, because the tractor guy is too busy and I need to break up the sod before we can till (and I have many tall tomato seedlings ready to go in now). I have three weeks before all the planting needs to be done, and I’m on a tight schedule to get soil shoveled, tilled, raked and ammended and seeds/plants planted.

I think I have the wrong ratios in my compost tumbler, so I’m adding more dirt and grass (plenty getting shoveled up in the pasture!) It is theoretically supposed to be done, but really it is just icky. I also found out the grass a friend lent me that I put in there had been chemically treated. Yuck. That could affect the bacteria doing their composting work. I may just start over. Mom gave me the give of 5 big bags of compost, so that is a comfort.

Chickens are so fun! At night I just go into the yard and clap my hands while yelling–“Go to bed! Go to bed!” and they all run in the shed. They have been getting out and going all over the yard–every hour or two we have had to go put them back in. This is due in part to our temporary (shoddy) fencing in the transition space, which I finally fixed up yesterday. But still, chickens everywhere.

Then I realized in the past three days the little ones had learned to “fly” over the fence (the littler the chicken, the higher they can fly–a word used loosely for a chicken). So, Sophie said she saw it this morning and I quit cursing my poor fence mending and went in there with a pair of kitchen shears and cut off half the wing feathers on the right side of every hen (just as the books said to–doesn’t hurt, just like clipping your nails–see pictures), and I’ll be darned if I didn’t have 100% reduction in loose birds today. Everyone happy and confined. Control is such a great thing (although in general, a sense of control over one’s life is such a delusion).

The chickens are also getting super fat, fast, especially the fryers–we’ve only had them a week and it is very noticable. We had lots of rain and everything’s green and pretty. We had a fun Memorial day with the Mocks, the Mosses, and maw/paw-in-law over for a BBQ.

I keep committing to updating daily, even if it is short. But I also commit to restarting the diet each morning. They are going equally well. I’m not good at keeping commitments to myself.

Is the veil in the Left Brain?

I read this interesting article today about a brain scientist who suffered a stroke and lived to tell about it. There is an 18-minute video of her presenting on her experience I found very fascinating. For a minute toward the end I thought it was getting a little froofy for my taste, but then I realized it wasn’t really, and I should cut her some slack for being so, well, right-brained about it all. We live in a very left-brained world. I recommend you take a look.

I had some theological wonderings about the experience and wished I had the focus and time to write her a letter and talk about the idea of the doctrine of the restored gospel–that spiritual mastery over the physical self (and not just extinguishing or denying the physical self) is the most powerful form of existence. Rather than discounting the value of the left-brain, we can make that amazing analytical function serve the the creative, unifying focus of the right brain. So, I don’t necessarily agree wholeheartedly with her conclusions, but found the whole discussion highly engaging.

And yes, I can very much see how silencing the left-brain “chatter” would bring nirvana. I find my brain-chatter highly annoying and counter productive.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/when-a-brain-scientist-suffers-a-stroke/

Well, I’ve been in the dirt a lot. My blisters pop and reblister.

I learned the difference between a weed and a tiny potato plant coming up–the hard way of course. There are minute tops of chard and carrots peeking out. I’m hand-shoveling about 1500 sq. feet of new garden in the pasture, because the tractor guy is too busy and I need to break up the sod before we can till (and I have many tall tomato seedlings ready to go in now). I have three weeks before all the planting needs to be done, and I’m on a tight schedule to get soil shoveled, tilled, raked and ammended and seeds/plants planted.

I think I have the wrong ratios in my compost tumbler, so I’m adding more dirt and grass (plenty getting shoveled up in the pasture!) It is theoretically supposed to be done, but really it is just icky. I also found out the grass a friend lent me that I put in there had been chemically treated. Yuck. That could affect the bacteria doing their composting work. I may just start over. Mom gave me the give of 5 big bags of compost, so that is a comfort.

Chickens are so fun! At night I just go into the yard and clap my hands while yelling–“Go to bed! Go to bed!” and they all run in the shed. They have been getting out and going all over the yard–every hour or two we have had to go put them back in. This is due in part to our temporary (shoddy) fencing in the transition space, which I finally fixed up yesterday. But still, chickens everywhere.

Then I realized in the past three days the little ones had learned to “fly” over the fence (the littler the chicken, the higher they can fly–a word used loosely for a chicken). So, Sophie said she saw it this morning and I quit cursing my poor fence mending and went in there with a pair of kitchen shears and cut off half the wing feathers on the right side of every hen (just as the books said to–doesn’t hurt, just like clipping your nails–see pictures), and I’ll be darned if I didn’t have 100% reduction in loose birds today. Everyone happy and confined. Control is such a great thing (although in general, a sense of control over one’s life is such a delusion).

The chickens are also getting super fat, fast, especially the fryers–we’ve only had them a week and it is very noticable. We had lots of rain and everything’s green and pretty. We had a fun Memorial day with the Mocks, the Mosses, and maw/paw-in-law over for a BBQ.

I keep committing to updating daily, even if it is short. But I also commit to restarting the diet each morning. They are going equally well. I’m not good at keeping commitments to myself.

My Motivation

I began touting the virtues of Animal Vegetable Miracle over on Mamamelodrama some time ago, but I want to push it one more time. This book really had a huge impact on my life, the choices I make, and attitudes toward family rearing and family feeding. It also leaves the reader with a great deal of how-to information, even though you thought you were just reading an interesting narrative. I took prodigious notes and am still referring to them. Make it your next read for sure!

Here is a rather generous excerpt I’d like to encourage you to read on Mother Earth News. I also highly recommend subscribing to the Mother Earth updates–they do such a great job on the healthy, family-focused, self-sufficiency thing, and do better than me on the “That’s not food” front, too.

Go to the library or Amazon and get it for yourself. I did the library thing and I’m really wishing I had my own copy to refer to, though. You can read the reviews here:

The first thing you are supposed to do before you start to garden a space (unless you’re planting in dirt you bought) is to have your soil tested. Soil testing kits can be bought at garden centers. In my typical rush-rush attitude, I blew this off–I didn’t have time, I was going to compost and mulch and green-manure, and real-manure anyway, so why?

But I kept reading about how every time you harvest vegetables from a soil, you are also harvesting much of the soil’s vitamins, and with the short-sighted chemical fertilizer method that doesn’t leave any slow-releasing organic matter in the soil, it just slowly gets worse and worse. In the west garden, that was their primary garden spot for the residents here for years, and although there was a good leaf mulch and some grass tilled in to some of it, the far end just seemed a little dead.

Lots of earthworms mean healthy soil, and there are a lot less worms in that half of the garden. So I tested over there with a $5 kit (it was $12 for a set of 5, should have done that). My soil is very alkaline and okay on potassium and phosphorus but LOW on the big, important nitrogen.

It’s hard to act on this when the plants are already in, but I’m going to take measures tomorrow, first to get iron sulfate to bring the Ph lower, then some organic fertilizer, since my compost isn’t done yet (although I started a new pen bin this week in addition to the tumbler David built).

If you don’t compost, you should! Even if you just a have a little container garden–and if you don’t, you should! There are some areas of Canada where 90% of the residents compost. It makes for wonderful gardens and keeps valuable nutrients out of the landfill:

Click here for a quick compost lesson.

Another thing I’ve learned is that any kind of bean–bush, pole, green, kidney, pinto, whatever–actually gives back more to the soil than it takes, and it gives A LOT of nitrogen. So, I interplanted LOTS of fast-growing green beans today between slow-growing squash hills and one bean plant replaced a dead tomato in the middle of the tomato plants.

The soil in the pasture, which I may or may not have tilled tomorrow, is really good, virgin soil, black with lots of worms, and has had horses pastured there for many years prior, so that’s just fertilizing at it’s best.

Chicken question time:

Yes, it’s going fine, they don’t stress me out, but my kids’ handling them does.

No, the coop isn’t done yet, it’s been raining. They live in the shed and come out into the yard by the shed during the day. I got home after dark from the temple last night and David didn’t get my message about putting them back in the shed. They weren’t eaten by racoons or a skunk, but they’d all put themselves to bed back in the shed in a big, warm pile of chicken on the floor.

Wintering chickens: Chickens keep themselves warm by huddling together, and the coop should be not too big so the heat they give off (a surprising amount, they all feel fevered) can be held in a small space–you need 3-5 sq. ft per chicken in the house (and 18″ of perch space per bird). But, in areas with cold winters (read: not LA, but here), we’ll need to insulate the coop before first frost with styrofoam or commercial insulation covered in a plywood inside.

Right now the design just has the studs with plywood over the outside, so the insulation will go between the studs with plywood inside. So Jen, yes, in NH, you need to insulate 🙂 In winter, they won’t be having yard time (unless there is an unusually warm day and there’s no snow on the ground), so they eat inside and just are all “cooped up” in there for 3-4 months. If you put a light on a timer to turn on early, the hens will keep laying strong (laying is governed by day length), otherwise, in the winter they lay a lot less.

A hen has to be 20 weeks old to lay, so we’re only at week 6. The roasters, I think I’ve mentioned, shouldn’t live a day over 12 weeks. A good laying hen will lay 230-260 eggs a year in her first season (pullet season doesn’t count as the first). But that number goes down quite a bit each year after that, so that’s why you keep adding pullets each year and culling the poor layers for stew (apparently you have to stew chickens that weren’t killed young because they are tough).

So, there’s some homesteading talk for the day. Have a good Memorial Day weekend!

My Motivation

I began touting the virtues of Animal Vegetable Miracle over on Mamamelodrama some time ago, but I want to push it one more time. This book really had a huge impact on my life, the choices I make, and attitudes toward family rearing and family feeding. It also leaves the reader with a great deal of how-to information, even though you thought you were just reading an interesting narrative. I took prodigious notes and am still referring to them. Make it your next read for sure!

Here is a rather generous excerpt I’d like to encourage you to read on Mother Earth News. I also highly recommend subscribing to the Mother Earth updates–they do such a great job on the healthy, family-focused, self-sufficiency thing, and do better than me on the “That’s not food” front, too.

Go to the library or Amazon and get it for yourself. I did the library thing and I’m really wishing I had my own copy to refer to, though. You can read the reviews here:

The first thing you are supposed to do before you start to garden a space (unless you’re planting in dirt you bought) is to have your soil tested. Soil testing kits can be bought at garden centers. In my typical rush-rush attitude, I blew this off–I didn’t have time, I was going to compost and mulch and green-manure, and real-manure anyway, so why?

But I kept reading about how every time you harvest vegetables from a soil, you are also harvesting much of the soil’s vitamins, and with the short-sighted chemical fertilizer method that doesn’t leave any slow-releasing organic matter in the soil, it just slowly gets worse and worse. In the west garden, that was their primary garden spot for the residents here for years, and although there was a good leaf mulch and some grass tilled in to some of it, the far end just seemed a little dead.

Lots of earthworms mean healthy soil, and there are a lot less worms in that half of the garden. So I tested over there with a $5 kit (it was $12 for a set of 5, should have done that). My soil is very alkaline and okay on potassium and phosphorus but LOW on the big, important nitrogen.

It’s hard to act on this when the plants are already in, but I’m going to take measures tomorrow, first to get iron sulfate to bring the Ph lower, then some organic fertilizer, since my compost isn’t done yet (although I started a new pen bin this week in addition to the tumbler David built).

If you don’t compost, you should! Even if you just a have a little container garden–and if you don’t, you should! There are some areas of Canada where 90% of the residents compost. It makes for wonderful gardens and keeps valuable nutrients out of the landfill:

Click here for a quick compost lesson.

Another thing I’ve learned is that any kind of bean–bush, pole, green, kidney, pinto, whatever–actually gives back more to the soil than it takes, and it gives A LOT of nitrogen. So, I interplanted LOTS of fast-growing green beans today between slow-growing squash hills and one bean plant replaced a dead tomato in the middle of the tomato plants.

The soil in the pasture, which I may or may not have tilled tomorrow, is really good, virgin soil, black with lots of worms, and has had horses pastured there for many years prior, so that’s just fertilizing at it’s best.

Chicken question time:

Yes, it’s going fine, they don’t stress me out, but my kids’ handling them does.

No, the coop isn’t done yet, it’s been raining. They live in the shed and come out into the yard by the shed during the day. I got home after dark from the temple last night and David didn’t get my message about putting them back in the shed. They weren’t eaten by racoons or a skunk, but they’d all put themselves to bed back in the shed in a big, warm pile of chicken on the floor.

Wintering chickens: Chickens keep themselves warm by huddling together, and the coop should be not too big so the heat they give off (a surprising amount, they all feel fevered) can be held in a small space–you need 3-5 sq. ft per chicken in the house (and 18″ of perch space per bird). But, in areas with cold winters (read: not LA, but here), we’ll need to insulate the coop before first frost with styrofoam or commercial insulation covered in a plywood inside.

Right now the design just has the studs with plywood over the outside, so the insulation will go between the studs with plywood inside. So Jen, yes, in NH, you need to insulate 🙂 In winter, they won’t be having yard time (unless there is an unusually warm day and there’s no snow on the ground), so they eat inside and just are all “cooped up” in there for 3-4 months. If you put a light on a timer to turn on early, the hens will keep laying strong (laying is governed by day length), otherwise, in the winter they lay a lot less.

A hen has to be 20 weeks old to lay, so we’re only at week 6. The roasters, I think I’ve mentioned, shouldn’t live a day over 12 weeks. A good laying hen will lay 230-260 eggs a year in her first season (pullet season doesn’t count as the first). But that number goes down quite a bit each year after that, so that’s why you keep adding pullets each year and culling the poor layers for stew (apparently you have to stew chickens that weren’t killed young because they are tough).

So, there’s some homesteading talk for the day. Have a good Memorial Day weekend!

More Planting, a New School and Chicken Day

West garden is done!!

I decided to quit holding out garden box space for subsequent plantings because I’m going to dig some new beds in the other garden with or without the tractor. So this morning I filled it up with winter squash, including pumpkins and acorns, and summer squash, including little round zucchinis and yellow squash, crook and straight neck.

With intensive gardening you can interplant long-maturing plants like squash (one gourd I planted today is 140 days) with quick-growing things, like beans, which are especially good because they add nitrogen to the soil. So I put in furrows inbetween the wide spaces you need for squash hills to put beans which will come out well before the squash takes over the space.

Ben did a test day at Capital Hill Academy downtown today and it went well, we are going to do a two-week test in the fall to see how it goes, but it looks good. Sophie will go there after she does 1st grade in grandma’s class at Orchard Elementary. It is a non-profit school that was started by a teacher who taught at Challenger and still teaches Latin at Rowland Hall (swank SLC private schools). She also homeschooled her own children.

It began as her helping out some families who had kids either in public school and not doing well or the parents we’re happy, or homeschooling with the same problem, and she just sat down with them and did the hard-core basics with a classical bent (e.g., after phonics, grade school kids start Latin). Its K-8. It’s grown to three classrooms (K, 1-3, 4-8), and the director teaches the older kids.

It is small, and serves a very clear niche, but my cousin, who sends her three youngest daughters there (recovering homeschooler) is thrilled with the results, because basically it is set up just like we all intended to homeschool in the first place. It only goes from 8-12, there is no wind-up or wind-down for the day or for the school year. It is intense math, intense reading/phonics/spelling and writing. They do cover science, history and geography but the intent is that the parent will do read-aloud in the afternoon on these subjects as well. There is prayer and the pledge–no messing around, old school. They train the kids treat each other very well, which is very big for me.

I know not to get to excited about anything, but it looks like exactly what I was hoping for, and I have my cousin’s testimonial, and we have much in common when it comes to strong educational opinions.

So, yes, the chickens came today. We’re still working on the coop (“we” of course is David), so for a week or two they are behind the shed during the day, and in the shed during the night. I’ll leave off talking and show you some of the pictures I’ve been promising, in a very random order.

Here are chickens behind a makeshift chicken wire fence–lilac tree in the background, Ben’s chicken toy he built today on the left.

My sweet mom came over tonight, brought dinner, bathed kids, cleaned my kitchen and bathroom, then mopped the floor. It felt so good to be mothered! Love you, mom!

Here are some tomato plants my Aunt brought me and I had to get them in the ground before they withered. They look pathetic, and I hope this becomes a “before” picture. The strange wet marks are from a soaker hose system I’m trying out with stuff I’ve found around the property.

Chickens! The big ones are fryers, the little ones are layers. They are about 5 weeks old. Fryers are harvested between 8-12 weeks. Layers lay best in their first 3 years, and new pullets (<1yr> hens) should be added in each year and non-producing hens culled.

These birds have been living mainly in a garage for their whole lives, and never have been out of their little kiddie pool. They were in heaven, eating bugs, bugs, bugs as fast as they could get them down (with some greens, too, they eat greens!) They ignored the feed grain I gave them for quite some time to scratch in the dirt and peck at the tasty, gooey bugs.

Blurry closeup of little layers, fat fryer on right.

Better closeup, fat fryer below.


Ben’s chicken play toy. Boys sure love some spare time with a hammer, nails and spare wood.

This is why we decided we’d rebuild the coop from scratch. When we took it down to the corner frame, it blew over. Sophie there also.

The dog we share with our neighbors so I can justify not getting one. Roxy. She will live right next to the hens, and will probably be sad (or get lucky and grab one).

Our new neighbors behind the hen house. Our landlords own this landlocked property, and our neighbors pasture the sheep there to keep the thistles down.

Cute Sophie and Lucy on the corral fence.

Loving life on the farm! I have SUCH a farmer tan.

More Planting, a New School and Chicken Day

West garden is done!!

I decided to quit holding out garden box space for subsequent plantings because I’m going to dig some new beds in the other garden with or without the tractor. So this morning I filled it up with winter squash, including pumpkins and acorns, and summer squash, including little round zucchinis and yellow squash, crook and straight neck.

With intensive gardening you can interplant long-maturing plants like squash (one gourd I planted today is 140 days) with quick-growing things, like beans, which are especially good because they add nitrogen to the soil. So I put in furrows inbetween the wide spaces you need for squash hills to put beans which will come out well before the squash takes over the space.

Ben did a test day at Capital Hill Academy downtown today and it went well, we are going to do a two-week test in the fall to see how it goes, but it looks good. Sophie will go there after she does 1st grade in grandma’s class at Orchard Elementary. It is a non-profit school that was started by a teacher who taught at Challenger and still teaches Latin at Rowland Hall (swank SLC private schools). She also homeschooled her own children.

It began as her helping out some families who had kids either in public school and not doing well or the parents we’re happy, or homeschooling with the same problem, and she just sat down with them and did the hard-core basics with a classical bent (e.g., after phonics, grade school kids start Latin). Its K-8. It’s grown to three classrooms (K, 1-3, 4-8), and the director teaches the older kids.

It is small, and serves a very clear niche, but my cousin, who sends her three youngest daughters there (recovering homeschooler) is thrilled with the results, because basically it is set up just like we all intended to homeschool in the first place. It only goes from 8-12, there is no wind-up or wind-down for the day or for the school year. It is intense math, intense reading/phonics/spelling and writing. They do cover science, history and geography but the intent is that the parent will do read-aloud in the afternoon on these subjects as well. There is prayer and the pledge–no messing around, old school. They train the kids treat each other very well, which is very big for me.

I know not to get to excited about anything, but it looks like exactly what I was hoping for, and I have my cousin’s testimonial, and we have much in common when it comes to strong educational opinions.

So, yes, the chickens came today. We’re still working on the coop (“we” of course is David), so for a week or two they are behind the shed during the day, and in the shed during the night. I’ll leave off talking and show you some of the pictures I’ve been promising, in a very random order.

Here are chickens behind a makeshift chicken wire fence–lilac tree in the background, Ben’s chicken toy he built today on the left.

My sweet mom came over tonight, brought dinner, bathed kids, cleaned my kitchen and bathroom, then mopped the floor. It felt so good to be mothered! Love you, mom!

Here are some tomato plants my Aunt brought me and I had to get them in the ground before they withered. They look pathetic, and I hope this becomes a “before” picture. The strange wet marks are from a soaker hose system I’m trying out with stuff I’ve found around the property.

Chickens! The big ones are fryers, the little ones are layers. They are about 5 weeks old. Fryers are harvested between 8-12 weeks. Layers lay best in their first 3 years, and new pullets (<1yr> hens) should be added in each year and non-producing hens culled.

These birds have been living mainly in a garage for their whole lives, and never have been out of their little kiddie pool. They were in heaven, eating bugs, bugs, bugs as fast as they could get them down (with some greens, too, they eat greens!) They ignored the feed grain I gave them for quite some time to scratch in the dirt and peck at the tasty, gooey bugs.

Blurry closeup of little layers, fat fryer on right.

Better closeup, fat fryer below.


Ben’s chicken play toy. Boys sure love some spare time with a hammer, nails and spare wood.

This is why we decided we’d rebuild the coop from scratch. When we took it down to the corner frame, it blew over. Sophie there also.

The dog we share with our neighbors so I can justify not getting one. Roxy. She will live right next to the hens, and will probably be sad (or get lucky and grab one).

Our new neighbors behind the hen house. Our landlords own this landlocked property, and our neighbors pasture the sheep there to keep the thistles down.

Cute Sophie and Lucy on the corral fence.

Loving life on the farm! I have SUCH a farmer tan.