Critter Update

Originally, I was going to post about my pumpkins or a full post on our new rabbit hutch system in all its glory.

Then, something crazy happened today. It turns out, you’re never too old for surprises.

So, instead, I’ve decided to give you an update on the animals you haven’t seen since they were chicks–or even since they were eggs. Plus, some details on our newest additions, and at the very end… our surprise. It’s both embarrassing and exciting all in one. Continue reading

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.

I look like a raccoon attacked a hobo

Today did not go according to plan. Things were going great. Corn bed was put together, newspaper down, compost filled. It was windy, so no bees, but we made it to the tasting on time and had time to come home and start potting some of these leftover plants. There are tomatoes hanging in my carport, herbs planted in the garden, and the backyard is mowed (courtesy of Mike). We even went back and got a second load (2 tons) of compost. I even took pictures of everything to document it, which is something I always want to do but never do.

Then one of our neighbors stopped by to say hello. It was about 7pm. Way past the time the dogs should eat. We were talking to our neighbor when I noticed the fur on Huck’s back going up, a growl start in his chest and then–

Him and Dixie were at it again. They used to fight all the time. Huck has bitten my arm when I’ve broken them up (in an attempt to attack Dixie) and Dixie has sunken her teeth into my leg when I lunged between her and Huck once. You know–when you stick yourself in the middle of a dog fight, you’re going to get bit. But things had been quiet for a few months. A few squabbles, but nothing BIG. Huck turned 2 back in November and so we thought–this is it. They’ve sorted themselves out.

The last few weeks, things have been getting worse again. It’s very bad when Dixie hasn’t eaten. You can’t reason with the dog when she’s hungry. But she’s ALWAYS good with people, with kids. If she’s eating, a kid can walk up and dip his hand in her food dish and walk away without a scratch.

Apparently, I can’t. Don’t worry, there are no pictures behind the cut. 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.