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.

4 replies
  1. Nancy says:

    Hey .. just a few observations..
    I could never be a farmer… you have done such good work on that place…great job valerie
    second… LOVE the chicken toy… did the chickens like it..
    third… Do your girls look good or what….
    the healthy country life..
    do they eat ‘greens’ like the chickens do??
    love to you.. nancyw

    Reply
  2. brieanne. says:

    oh what a great place you have there! amazing learning opportunities for your kids. cute little chickens too! and so glad you got a good dose of mothering … we all need that as often as we can get it!

    Reply
  3. Jen says:

    Hey Val
    How do chickens do in the winter? Is the coop enough warmth for them or do you have to do something else? just curious.

    Reply

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