A Quiet Morning

This was one of the quietest mornings we’ve had in a long time.

We left the windows open. We came back late. We were tired. Huck would move around in his crate. But nothing too loud. Nothing that would wake you and keep you up.

I almost missed it.

I almost hoped one of the Ameraucana roosters would have started crowing right away.

But, no. Still silence on the mini-homestead, and I must say it’s a little lonely. When I opened the coop to let all the birds out, I looked around. I thought to myself, surely that can’t be it! I counted them all to be sure nothing had gotten to them.

20 Ameraucanas, Welsummers, Olive Egger, Anconas, Delawares.

No, nothing had gotten to the rest of my ladies (and four gentleman?), except us yesterday morning.

It’s an odd feeling, but certainly not a bad one.

Maryland Poultry Swap Haul

Yesterday we went to the Maryland Poultry Swap out at Green Hill Farm. This is a bi-annual event that Erin (owner of Green Hill Farm) runs every June and September. I think this was the third year, but I can’t be sure because it’s the first for me! All I can say is I cannot wait until September 14th to make the next one! If you live anywhere relatively close to the Maryland/West Virginia/Virginia line, I suggest you make the trip (some vendors came from Ohio!). And if you’ve been needing to take a cross-country trip towards the East Coast, I suggest you do so that weekend and make a detour at the swap!

We got there at 10:30am and I can’t even imagine what it would have been like had we gotten there earlier. I’ve seen a lot of the poultry vendors say they had sold half of their stock by 11am. So if you’re used to showing up halfway through an event like us–this is not the time to do so! I wonder what we might have picked up had we gotten there earlier. Actually, I can tell you exactly what would have happened. I would have come home with more birds and probably slipped a duck or two in my purse.

There was almost anything you could have ever wanted there when we got there. Incubators, cages, show cages, feeders. Quail, pheasants, turkeys, and guineas (I now understand why people say they are loud little beasts). Peacocks and peahens of all varieties. Rabbits (primarily Lionheads, Rex, Lop, and New Zealand)–I resisted because they didn’t have the breeds I wanted. Ducks and geese. Chickens of all types, though I saw mostly polish and I think the silkies were cleaned out by the time I got there. Hatching eggs. Candles. Bat houses. Pizza. Soap. Found vintage items. Guinea pigs. Goats. Pot-bellied pigs. Bluegrass music. Fudge. St. Berndard puppies. Flowering pots. Vegetable starts. Terrariums. I’m probably missing things because it was so overwhelming that the first time I walked through I thought it was a little small. The second time I walked through took over an hour, though to be fair I had to rush back to a few stalls a few times.

There were things I missed out on either because I got there too late (more chicks), I shouldn’t have brought them home to begin with (St. Bernard puppies, pheasants, and goats), I waited too long to go buy them (hatching eggs), or I never got a chance to go back and get them (terrariums, paintings, and soap). But trust me, I made out with a good haul. Pictures (though not the best) are behind the cut. Continue reading

Why I Always Get Extra

I’ve had a lot of people look at me funny when I tell them that I have over 100 tomatoes and peppers in the ground and in pots. And then I get to, “Oh, but I have extra–would you like some?”

I could talk to you about how I’ve learned that I can grow things as long as I put a bit of effort into it, but that’s not what this post is about. No, this post is about why when I want 20 chickens I get 30 (count for losses, you know), and why when I want 100 plants, I need to start at least 200.

I’d rather have extra than not enough!

And oh boy is there extra. When I sowed over 200 cells with seeds, I was expecting 85 to maybe show up and survive long enough to be planted. I spread the plantings out over weeks until it came down to my last tray. 49 seeds lovingly sowed a bit late. 5 different tomatoes and one pepper. So small that I never even got a chance to pot them up.

Then the other day they looked so sad. So starved for water, sunlight, and attention.

So I soaked them and tossed them under the Jeep tire for the long weekend. It would provide some shade, but let them get plenty of sun without getting soaked if it rained.

When I checked them yesterday, they looked beautiful. Ready to transplant up, happy.

When I checked them today–

Oh.

That’s right.

They were still under my tire.

That’s right. This morning I was running late and walked right past the car that I could have driven, jumped in the Jeep that was out of gas, and ran right over my precious plants.

I didn’t realize my mistake until long after the damage was done. On my way home I hoped maybe the tire missed. Maybe I moved the plants. Maybe Mike moved the plants.

No such luck, but I did what I could to salvage them–I buried them deep and I buried them 2-4 a pot. They’ll get crowded if they all grow, but I’ll take that risk in hopes they’ll grow at all. These were the Peche, Livingston’s Gold Ball, Ananas Noir and Red Zebra tomato varieties.

Such is life, and such is why I like to overdo it. You never know when blind stupidity or a bad morning will mess up your plans. (In addition to forgetting that I could drive the most fuel efficient of our vehicles today and running over our plants, I left the door wide open, yet locked. Come on in!)

And here, for good measure, a few pictures of the chickens since I say I have them but never post pictures.

In Summary: The To-Do List Just Got Longer!

This long weekend unfortunately turned out to be less productive than we were hoping. Had things gone according to the original plan, we should have at least gotten some progress on the chicken coop, finished planting everything, and maybe cleaned up the house. Instead, we only got a little bit crossed off on our to-do list and still have a pile of dishes in the sink. Saturday threw a wrench into things, and we used that as an excuse to run errands for most of yesterday and today.

But, we did get some things done and I wanted to post some updates on that! So here’s our progress from Saturday and Sunday. Today the only thing we got done was to pick out a caterer for the wedding (mmm, barbeque!). It just means this week will have that much more for us to get done.

Continue reading

Memorial Day Weekend To-Do List

I’m trying to post and get dressed and get things done all in time to make a cake tasting at 11am.

Not much is getting done, I’ll tell you that.

I want to post about the chickens, and the garden, and the fact that holy crap, I can grow things!

But instead, until later this evening when I can update about the bees (please let there be no swarm cells!), my to-do list for this weekend will have to suffice. And it’s pretty long. List behind the cut. Continue reading

Bees Can’t Read

Did you know that even though we went to classes every week, attended field day and, admittedly, only skimmed the coursebook, bees don’t attend the same things? No, the bees just show up, move right into their own home and proceed to do one thing to get off the ground: build.

After we installed our hives, we let the bees be for a week. We wanted them to get used to the queens, accept them, and build up some beautiful comb for them to lay in.

Well, they seemed happy enough with the queens and they did build, but rather than build on the foundation and frames, they built comb stretching off the inner cover like this:

Continue reading

Work to be done!

Well, with two days (you read it–two whole days) off work, we’ve been hunkering down and trying to get stuff done. To be honest, we’ve spent a lot of time driving to Home Depot, then Lowe’s, then Southern States, then the Farmer’s Co-op, then Tractor Supply Company, then Wal-Mart…. Repeat. And don’t forget the trip to Giant Eagle to get gift cards to make it doubly worth it!

I think Mike likes what we’re doing not so much for the chickens or the plants that will hopefully one day go in the ground. No, I think he likes it for two reasons:

  1. He’s excited about bees (field day for the short course we took is tomorrow!).
  2. With as many projects as we have going on, he finally has an excuse to buy a lot of tools he never had.

So far between today and yesterday we’ve:

  • Almost finished the chicken coop! There’s very little left–mount the door, mount some trim, vacuum/clean & caulk the inside……. And that’s IT! Until we get to the run.
  • Put up a bird house (this is a big deal–we’ve been waiting to do this for weeks).
  • Built and filled two raised beds for spinach and kale.
  • Transplanted up 61 plants

With the bulk of our project done (chicken coop), here’s what’s on the menu for tomorrow and Monday:

  • Create our strawberry holder
  • Plant spinach and kale
  • Till the lettuce bed and plant that
  • Reorganize the firewood
  • Create our newest compost area
  • Create a roost for the chicks
  • Start to build the chicken run
  • Plant all of our blueberry and raspberry bushes
  • Start to build the beehives
  • Transplant up another 72 pepper starts
  • Plant another 72 tomatoes/peppers–seed starts! Let the germination begin.

There’s plenty more we can and probably should do, but that’s the start of it. And boy, that’s a BIG start. The chicken coop’s half the battle, though I suppose before we start to put the run up, I need to find a place to hide the rabbit hutches–picked up for free on Craigslist the other day!

This was a dry post. I was going to talk about my inside garden tool (a fork), but I’ll save that riveting story for another day. Now–now it is time for bed.

Chicken Math

Do you know what chicken math is? I wasn’t sure at first, either. How can one kind of math be different than another?

So I went to the trusty thing known at the internet, and it explained it to me: Chicken math is just the natural order of how many chickens a person may originally want, and how many they end up with. What looks like 2 chickens may turn out to be 1, 0, or 15.

Sometimes it’s a disease and sometimes it’s nature. You decide: Continue reading