The Kids’ Gardens

After intending to for far too long, I am finally sharing with you our kids’ little gardens, today!

All 4 of our kids help in our family gardens at some point or other through the gardening seasons; although some do with more joy and ambition than others. There is always some weeding, dead-heading flowers, or picking vegetables, that needs tending to. I do much of it myself, but sometimes I could use another pair of hands, and the company is nice sometimes, too.

But just prior to the gardening season in 2013, I pitched the idea to the kids, of having their very own little garden.
I explained that they could plant and grow whatever they wanted, but they were also responsible for keeping it up. That meant keeping it weeded, watered, dead-heading their own flowers, and generally tending to it with love.  Not only that, but after their father built the frame base, they had to be a team and prepare the bed themselves. They all loved the idea, and each have had their own little garden ever since!

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It may have been more work than they anticipated, that first year!  Because although we have had loam brought in by the truck full for our other garden beds, we had a perfectly good dirt pile next to the driveway that we didn’t really want there.  It had been overgrown with weeds and grass, though. Basically, it was less of a dirt pile any longer, and more like a grassy hill, riddled with rocks! So they did work hard, like a team. The boys dug the hill up, pulling and shaking out the grass and weed clumps, and putting shovel fulls earth onto the handmade screen on the wheel barrow.  The girls sifted the dirt through, to remove all of the rocks, and then wheeled the barrow over to the garden bed, and dumped the dirt in.

That was the less than fun part. But they made the most of it, and it was good and done for many years to come.
Now let’s look at their gardens, today…. [Read more…]

Photos from Around the Homestead – May, June, July 2015

*Hello Friends!  First, there are a whole bunch of photos to this post here, so you really need to NOT scroll, and just let them load for a minute. Therefore, you might as well just read this brief intro, if you are one who usually just looks at the pictures.  😉

About the title: I always use the term ‘homestead’. So just so you know, yes, we do understand that we do not technically live on a true homestead, by definition. But we still have taken to the word. We are simply referring to our home and the little tiny property we live on. We’re going to keep using it, because it works for us.

Lastly, it’s been quite an unusual spring and early summer for us all.  Kind of tough, but it’s all good. I am finally starting to get around on my own two feet, following my wicked broken ankle and torn ligaments in mid-April. That kept any usual projects and activity off the table. But God has taught me much through it all, as I knew He would. Things like patience, Psalm 46:10, and all of that good and hard stuff. I didn’t realize how much transforming I had to do but, um….I see it in full color now!

Anyway, the photos are probably loaded now. Just some brief descriptions from here on out. Hope you enjoy……
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Our First Natural Hatching of Chicks

It was while we were all gathered around our dinner table as a family one night, somewhere around the 3rd full week of May (2015), that we made the spontaneous decision to not collect some of our chicken eggs in one nesting box, and see if any of the hens would get broody, and naturally hatch them to chicks.

The next day, and the day following that, we left a total of seven eggs in one nesting box, for them to care for.

For any newcomers here, we should note that our original flock are all pure breeds, and each of our 6 chickens are a different breed. So we knew that any new chicks that hatched would be part Welsummer (because we only have one rooster), and part one of the other hen breeds. (Also known as ‘barnyard mixes’.) It was going to be fun to try and figure out whose was whose, if any hatched!

01_nesting-hen It was Plymouth, our White Plymouth Rock, that stepped up to the plate….errr, nesting box, first, and took on the role of Mama hen. She was so completely committed to caring for those eggs, and not leaving them, that we had to lift her out daily, and put her out in the big run, to go eat, drink and potty.  It was really only then, that she’d take no more than 30 minutes, to do those things, recharge, and maybe sneak in a good dust bath. And then it was right back to her volunteer duties. The mothering instinct obviously comes quite easily to her.

We started with 7 eggs, because we assumed not all would develop or make it, and so we’d end up with 2 or 3, which is all we were really hoping for right now. We didn’t know that chickens have a better natural hatch rate, than artificial incubation, as we had done before. So when we candled all of the eggs once, at day 10, and saw veins and a dark moving form in every single one, two things happened.

1. I began to panic. [Read more…]

Gardening FAIL: Growing Strawberry Plants in Rain Gutters

I’ve been feeling an urgency to get this blog post update out, because I have been seeing ridiculous growing traffic on our Strawberry Planting in Rain Gutters post.  And I think we should let you all know, that growing strawberry plants in rain gutters hasn’t turned out so well for us.  And by that I mean….well, they are all dead. Big gardening fail. It’s true. Take a look for yourself.

01__strawberry-growing-in-rain-gutters-fail Are we missing any signs of life here, People? Yeah, we didn’t think so.
<Sigh.>
I had such high hopes. It was this photo below, that I saw online, that really had me daydreaming, about growing a wealth of strawberries from rain gutters, like this……
[Read more…]

Deterring Flying Predators from Our Chickens

Today we wanted to tell you about a flying-predator deterrent method we are trying out with our chickens, so that they can happily free range, with less risk.  It’s not guaranteed prevention to protect our flock, by any means. But designed to merely be a deterrent; to discourage hawks and other flying predators from attempting to fly down and get our chickens.

We had always originally planned to allow our flock to free-range wherever they pleased, when we got chickens.  But that intention all changed one day, when our oldest was sitting at the sunroom table, eating her lunch, and watching the little birds happily eating at the bird feeder, just a few yards outside of our slider glass door. As she watched, a hawk came down in one fell-swoop, and grabbed a little feeding birdie, right off the feeder! It happened so fast, and left her in such shock and so upset, she could hardly speak at first. Soon, all of the kids were all upset, over the tale she told. We needed a new plan.
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We got our chickens as one day old chicks, in July 2014.  They grew up, in size and maturity, in their ample-sized, predator proof (for sure!) chicken run, attached to their predator-proof (for sure!) coop. Most every day while they were young through the Fall, they got to come out of their run with the kids or us adults, and free range under our supervision. The chickens also get lots of ‘one-on-one’ time and attention from our kids; being carried around, brought out front to meander, carried inside the house for a visit, etc.

The winter season that followed, the chickens’ first cold season, was a brutal one. Free-ranging was not even an option, since they’d have immediately gotten lost in the snow several feet over their little heads.  The temperatures were detrimental, as well. But their run was protected with a canvas over the top, and that seemed to keep most of the snow out enough for them to venture out within that area.  The inside of the coop was on a temp regulator, so it never fell below 38 degrees or so.  They can actually handle much colder temperatures but, we’d feel bad anyway, and we also were trying to keep their water from freezing. So they went in for a spell throughout the days, whenever they felt the need to warm up, or lay an egg.

Spring finally arrived, and we definitely wanted them to be able to free-range on their own, throughout the day! As we had always planned.  So it was time to devise a plan to try and keep our chickens somewhat protected, so they could come out of their run and have the freedom to roam, all throughout the daytime. As chickens love to do!  We want our chickens alive and happy, if we can possibly help it.

So first, my husband, Michael, and I agreed that [Read more…]