Summer Happenings

Summer and Fall are busy times ’round here.

It seems there is something that needs to be done every day just to keep up, or else…

First, there’s trying to keep up with the garden.

We’ve had lots of glorious rain this year which is wonderfully nourishing for the plants but is equally nourishing for the weeds.  And, when you garden organically, that means trying to keep up with the weeds just so you can see your crop!

Then, there’s the harvesting of said crop.

Currently we’re only harvesting cucumbers (lots and lots of cucumbers!) and a few tomatoes here and there.

With so many cucumbers ready every few days I am trying new-to-me recipes to preserve them.

In the last blog post I talked about making Bread & Butter pickles.  I can’t wait to try them in a few weeks!

Today, I started the process of making Sweet Icicle Pickles found in the Complete Blue Ball Canning book.

summer happenings 10

Four pounds of cucumbers in a stainless steel stock pot and covered with pickling salted water.

summer happenings 11

I placed an inverted plate over them and sat some canning jars full of water on the plate.

summer happenings 12

(It’s a green glass plate which is why it’s so green!)

These will sit in the cool pantry with a thick towel over them for a week before the next step.  There are six steps total so this process is going to take a while.  After all that I hope they turn out!

Once the rest of the veggies we’ve planted are ready to be harvested our days will be non-stop and there will be veggies all over the mudroom and the kitchen waiting to be preserved.  Yea, it’s a lot of work but when you see your pantry fill up with all the food you started from seed and tended to and harvested there is nothing more rewarding!  And, we’re able to eat that reward all throughout the year, woot!

Of course, with all the wonderful rain we’ve had it also means the grass is growing as well.  So, there’s mowing to be done every week and bush-hogging the upper and lower forty every other month.

We really need to get a hay rake and a small square hay baler so that we can bale the grass from those fields to use in the chicken coop throughout the year.  Some day.

Speaking of chickens, this guy has got his hands, er, feet FULL!

summer happenings 01

The gorgeous Fuzzy Foot always has a lot to say!  I guess that’s the only way to keep up with seventeen laying hens and sixteen ‘babies’.  Either that or he’s awfully proud of his brood and wants everyone to know!

And, speaking of babies, the chicks are no longer chicks and are growing like our weeds!  They are eleven weeks old and getting so big.  I will have to take some photos for y’all to see.

I’ve enjoyed taking a few minutes here and there and walking around the farm with my camera.  Well, let’s just say for the sake of keeping it real, I’ve mostly enjoyed it.  I’ve had issues with my camera for a while.  It seems it likes only one lens now and half the time the automatic focus doesn’t work meaning I miss out on a lot of shots.  I know that’s neither here nor there for y’all but that’s my world.  ha!

I did manage to capture a butterfly or two when they were hitting the daylilies…

summer happenings 14

I love watching the butterflies flit from one flower to another!

A friend of ours gave us this plant last year and it bloomed this year…

summer happenings 03

I have no idea what kind of plant it is but the flower is larger than my hand.  Anyone know?  These are bulbs and will spread.  I already have two large stalks and two smaller stalks.  Yay!

There was a full moon last Saturday and when I went out to lock the chickens up the moon was just over the barn.  I had to walk back in and grab my camera…

summer happenings 09

Along with summer comes the heat.

So far, we’ve had a decent summer.  With no air conditioning in the ‘ol farmhouse we appreciate a decent summer.  We open the windows at night and close them when the sun comes up and the house usually stays fairly cool.

My bees, on the other hand, have taken to bearding in the evenings to stay cool…

summer happenings 13

Bearding typically takes place during the warmer months.  With all the buzzing and humming and work going on inside the hive it tends to get warm in there.  In order to stay cool, the bees will congregate outside the hive in the evenings creating a beard-like effect.

Another reason they may do this is when they are getting ready to swarm.  If they are out of room in the brood box they will swarm, congregate outside the hive getting organized waiting for the scouts to return then leave the hive and go to their new home.  I checked the hive and, thankfully, there was plenty of room for them.  I even added another brood box just in case so I know they are just bearding to cool off.

Another summer time happening is the process of gathering wood for the winter.  This will be our third winter here and maybe the first winter that we will be completely prepared for it.

The first year, we had no heat source, bitter cold temps, lots of snow, and no snow shovels.  We moved from Florida where one doesn’t need snow shovels!

The next year, we had some heat sources (wood burning insert and propane) and we had gathered quite a bit of wood but we still needed to be frugal with burning it and even then, the wood shed was empty by the last cold spell.  Thankfully, it wasn’t a bad winter.

This coming winter, we hope to have the wood shed completely full and get a jump start on wood for next winter as well.

I mentioned earlier about all the rain we’ve had but we’ve also had some terrible wind associated with several of those storms.

Quite a few friends and neighbors have had several trees come down in those storms.

CountryBoy is currently helping a friend from church cut up a HUGE tree that fell recently.

summer happenings 04

This is only half the tree and just the branches are shown.

summer happenings 05

The wood shed is half full and they haven’t even gotten to the trunk yet!

summer happenings 06

Another church member told us about a couple hundred trees that came down in his cousins field that we are welcome to.  YAY!  Y’all just don’t know what a blessing and relief it is to know that we will stay warm this winter.

While the guys were cutting up the tree I meandered over to take some photos of the original cabin on their property.

summer happenings 07

The history of this homestead is that two elderly ladies occupied this little house up until the time our friends bought the property.

There is no electricity and no creature comforts that we are accustomed to.

summer happenings 08

The ground is slowly taking this little cutie pie piece of history.

The current owners had taken up the wood floor before it started disintegrating and stored it in their barn although much of it was stored under a roof leak and had started to deteriorate.  They gave us quite a bit of that flooring that was in somewhat decent shape and, one day, I hope to salvage what I can of it and put it in the second guest room.  It will be nice to have a finished floor in that room and some local history in the farmhouse.

There’s never a dull moment during the summer but we do manage to get some down time, especially during the heat of the day, allowing us to do some fun things or just relax.  After all, it’s all about balance!

Rainy Day Ramblings

It’s Monday.  It’s raining.  And, both are just fine with me.

The rain is nourishing the gardens. The onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes are coming along nicely and the recently planted watermelon, okra, turnips, beets and corn will all love this rain!

Also coming up much quicker than the crops are weeds.  Lots and lots of weeds!  One could hoe 24/7 and still not keep up with the weeds.  We are doing our best, though, to not get overrun with them this year.  We’ll see how that goes!

My flowers are also loving this rain…

rainy day ramblings 05

It’s been a nice, gentle rain which is perfect for newly planted seeds.

rainy day ramblings 07

It’s also good for all my potted plants.

Prior to this rainy Monday, I spent several hours over the weekend re-locating my ‘office’.  Again!  Originally, it was in my sewing and craft room but there are no windows in there and I found myself lacking any desire to get in there to do any blog writing or computer work in general.  So, I moved my ‘office’ (which consists of a laptop, printer, computer software, paper & card stuffs, and files and stuff for Young Living) into one of the guest rooms.  Ah, windows!  I suddenly found myself a bit more motivated!  But, it still wasn’t the perfect location.  When we do have guests, I am hesitant to do any blogging or computer work as I feel like I am intruding on our guests space.  And, I felt ostracized from the goings-on downstairs.  I don’t know if that makes sense or not but it was just how I felt.

So, I decided to move my ‘office’ downstairs.

The only somewhat suitable spot was in the dining room.

My overly-large roll-top desk was already in there so I decided that was where my ‘office’ would be. But first, I had to tackle the mounds of paperwork that covered the top of the desk so that I could put my laptop on it and yesterday morning was the day I felt as if I could conquer it.  Ha!  Please tell me I’m not the only one that lets paperwork get out of control!!!  I love to be organized but if anything is going to whip me in the organizing department it will be paperwork.  sigh.

Anyway, after moving the desk to anther wall so that I could look out the window while I worked I set about sorting, filing and tossing and eventually I saw the top of my desk.  Yay!  So, I started bringing stuff down from upstairs and getting it set up.

rainy day ramblings 11

It still needs a little bit of tweaking here and there.  I will finalize the space as I figure out what works and what doesn’t.  But, for now, I’m happy to be downstairs writing this here blog post, happy to be out of the guest room and happy to be able to see outside.  Happy, happy, happy!

I also spent a few hours over the weekend working on an old window that was left behind when we moved in…

rainy day ramblings 02

I knew I wanted to do something with this window but I didn’t know what so it’s been moved around from one storage shed to another waiting for me to be inspired.

As I was looking for a wooden box that I wanted to use in my new ‘office’ space (later to remember that I was already using it in another guest room to store bedding) I came across the window and a lightbulb went off!  I was going to clean it up and hang it on wall in the ‘office’/dining room.

It required lots and lots of elbow grease to get the paint off the windows…

rainy day ramblings 03

and while I was at it, I cleaned up the backside and ran a bead of clear silicone around each pane to help secure them…

rainy day ramblings 01

There was a pane missing so I tried to cut a piece of glass I had leftover from a water-damaged picture frame but I didn’t have the right tools.   So, to avoid a potential disaster I let it be.

rainy day ramblings 12

For the window frame itself, I simply scraped off any loose paint which exposed the original white paint and, in some spots, the wood itself.  I love the character that is left behind!

This wall, which is the only wall in there with drywall, is in need of a coat of paint.  I’m hoping that the window will be the focus and not the badly needed-paint job.

Also on this wall is a built-in shelf.  This shelf was originally a window but when, what is now the mudroom was enclosed the window was removed and, I’m assuming, this shelf was built…

rainy day ramblings 08

I’ve not known what to do with this built-in. At one time, I was thinking about removing it to have a solid wall and not have to try and ‘decorate’ around it.  But, since this shelf is near my ‘office’ I’ve decided to store some extra Young Living goodies on it…

rainy day ramblings 10

as well as a few things that remind me of the farm…

rainy day ramblings 09

I pulled that honey comb off the bottom of one of the medium supers I temporarily had in the large brood box.  It’s so cool and the handy work of the bees just amaze me!  It’s also a reminder of my ‘why’ for growing my Young Living business as well as my handmade/homemade farm goods business.

Speaking of handmade goods, I was asked by a friend of mine to make a quilted wall-hanging for her dining room.  She and I both like traditional quilts so I spent some time searching for just the right pattern.  After finding the pattern the next challenge was finding the perfect fabric.  I finally found some and, as you saw in my last post, I started cutting it.  I finished the quilt-top last Friday.  I love it!

Katie wall hanging 01

Simple nine patches around a double star.  Here’s a closer look at the gorgeous colors…

Katie wall hanging 02

Now to decide how I want to quilt it.  I find piecing the top is the easy part – quilting it, not so much.   I’m starting to come up with a plan.  I’m wanting to keep the quilting fairly traditional and I want it to add to, not take away, from the quilt top.

I did a second one with completely different fabrics which gave the quilt a completely different look…

Katie wall hanging comparison 01

The sun was shining bright when I took this photo so it’s hard to see the colors but here’s a closeup…

Katie wall hanging comparison 02

This pattern was so much fun!.  I will definitely be making more of them.

I also had some fun with the embroidery machine…

rainy day ramblings 14

I decided to make a pillow with this one.  I want to do another one but will use different colors.  SEW fun!

Earlier in the week, we decided it was time to let the chicks out of the grow-out cage during the day…

rainy day ramblings 13

CountryBoy cut two openings in the cage just large enough so that the littles could go in and out but the big girls couldn’t get in to eat all the food.  Cuz, you know, the chicks are getting better food than they get.  smirk!  We close the openings each night once they are all in safe and sound.

Occasionally, the big girls throw their weight around trying to tell the littles who’s boss but, for the most part, all is well.  Fuzzy Foot is really the boss but he just keeps thinking about the fact that he’s got even MORE girls to watch out for!  Poor Fuzzy Foot!

The rain has stopped for now so I will end my ramblings.

Thanks to all of you who faithfully read my ramblings and for the sweet comments letting me know that you actually enjoy reading my ramblings.  Y’all are too kind!

Chicks, Bees & Peonies

Yesterday was graduation day for the chicks.

It was a week sooner than we originally planned but after seeing the mudroom under an inch layer of dust and the house starting to stink no matter how often I cleaned their cage it was time.

We dug out the grow-out cage that CountryBoy made last year from the depths of the side barn and set it up in the breezeway of the main barn.  Then, it was time for the graduation ceremony.

We put their current cage on the dolly and wheeled them down the drive.

chicks bees peonies 01

These poor girls were awfully quiet after their bumpy trek down the gravel drive and from all the fresh air!

chicks bees peonies 02

One by one we moved them into the grow-out cage.

chicks bees peonies 03

They were somewhat shocked from the move, the bigger cage, new surroundings, big things staring at them and some awful loud noise in their ear every now and then (good ‘ol Fuzzy Foot crowing) but, by nightfall they were doing better and were eating and drinking and running around their new digs.

chicks bees peonies 04

Of course, several of the big girls had to check these tiny things out!

chicks bees peonies 05

It’s been 24 hours since their graduation ceremony and they are doing just fine.

We will leave them in the grow-out cage for a few weeks until they get a little bigger.  By then everyone should be acquainted and used to each other.  The pecking order will still need to be established but, by then, the young’uns will be big enough to not get pushed around by the older ones too much.

The bees are busy, busy little bees.

chicks bees peonies 10

I could sit and watch them for hours.  OK, maybe not hours.  I don’t sit for any length of time very well, ha!  But, seriously, the bees fascinate me.  I can not WAIT to open the hive to see what they have accomplished.  I will, not-so-patiently wait, though, as opening the hive disrupts their rhythm and they would have to spend precious time re-sealing the stacks of boxes rather than making delicious honey.  So, I wait.  And watch.  By simply watching the goings-on around the hive entrance one can learn a lot about the health of the colony.

A really cool thing that has happened this year is a holly tree at the side of the house has bloomed!  It has never had any sort of flowers or berries on it since we’ve moved here.  THIS year, it is loaded with tiny white flowers and the tree sounds like it is humming!  It is alive with busy little bees!

chicks bees peonies 09

Isn’t that awesome! I just think it’s so cool that the year we get bees is the year that this tree blooms!

Today, I identified one of the plants that resides under several Rose of Sharons and gets swallowed up by weeds every year… they are Peonies!

Some friends of ours from church brought me some flowers that were in their yard and they said they were peonies.  They also gave me a good-size piece of one of their white peony plants to plant in my new flower bed in front of the porch.  As I got to looking at them it dawned on me that I thought I had seen some similar flowers in the weed-filled side yard that we have yet to tackle.

Sure enough!  Pink peonies!

chicks bees peonies 12

Aren’t they pretty!  I was wanting some pink ones after seeing them so I’m excited to already have them and now, I’ll have white ones, too!

Farm Life Musings

What I love about life on a fixer-upper farm is that no two days are alike.

I have always loved variety.  From whatever job I had outside the home to crafts the more variety involved the more I enjoyed it.

We are only half-way through the day and here are just a few things that have taken place…

CountryBoy and I worked on underpinning the front porch this morning.

We used some old, original metal roofing from the farmhouse that we found in the barn and began custom-cutting each piece to fit the uneven ground.

farm life musings 07

We had to use the backside of the metal because there was black tar on the other side.

I love it!  It’s kinda rough looking right now but with the addition of some plants and the finishing touches on the porch it’s going to look awesome!

farm life musings 08

The BEST part about the under-pinning?  It will keep the cats from using that area as a toilet.  Peeeeuuuu!

We’ve also come up with a solution for this wall.

farm life musings 11

Say Hi to Creamsicle posing on the concrete step!

It’s going to take some work but at least we have a plan now.  I know.  What a mess!  But, we are going to add some structural support which means we can also add some insulation.

Tonight is our monthly business meeting and potluck at church.  I had no idea what to bring so I am making a favorite of many that attend – soup beans.  I had never heard of soup beans before moving here.  Of course, I’ve heard of bean soup, you know, with navy beans and ham or a 9 or 15 bean soup but not soup beans which is really nothing but pinto beans ’round here.  I found a recipe online from an Eastern Kentucky gal so it oughta be pretty close to the way the locals make it.  At least I hope it is!  (Trying to get an actual recipe from anyone, phhhttt!  It’s a pinch of this or some of that but an actual recipe?  Fah-getta ’bout it!)

farm life musings 02

The secret ingredient?  Bacon grease!  And, thankfully, a farm kitchen always has a jar of bacon grease!

Later on I’ll make some cornbread to go with it and maybe even some sugar cookies.  I love having a well-stocked pantry for occasions like this especially since town is thirty minutes away.  (Just ask my brother about that, ha!)

I checked on my bees since I knew they would need some water.

There was lots of action in and out of the entrance.

farm life musings 04

I tried to get a shot of the bees coming back with huge pollen sacks on their legs but they were too fast and my camera is having issues.  Seeing those bees so active and bringing the pollen back is a good sign of a healthy and productive hive.  Maybe I’ll get a bit of honey this year!

While I was checking on the bees I took in the beauty of the blooming irises.

farm life musings 03

These are near one of the garden entrances by the grapevine arbor.

farm life musings 06

The purple and yellow irises are so pretty together.

Speaking of grapes, I’m hoping for a few clusters this year.

farm life musings 05

One of the grapevines shows a lot of promise with lots of teeny tiny grape clusters on it.  The second grapevine has a few but not near as many as this one.

I am purposefully walking to the mailbox each day for a bit of exercise.  (If you read my last post then you know how much I loathe exercise, ha!)  On my way back, I stopped at the barn to check on the girls’ egg-laying progress and FuzzyFoot posed for the camera so I obliged!

farm life musings 09

Such a handsome and good rooster!  And, it looks like we’ll have a dozen or more eggs today.

farm life musings 10

My days can quickly fill up with all things farm-related but I am conscientiously making time in the afternoons and/or evenings to work on business ventures such as my Etsy shop and oily care packages for my Young Living team members.

farm life musings 01

Each day is a different scenario, a different set of tasks but all too soon the day is gone and it’s time to lock the chickens up for the night.

Life on the farm.  I love it!

The Birds and the Bees

OK, so technically it’s the CHICKENS and the bees.

And maybe that’s not even correct.  It’s more like the chicken’s EGGS and the bees.

Nonetheless, we’ve been wanting to open up an ‘egg-stand’ so to speak here at the farm but, we’ve never had enough extra eggs left over after our regular customers have gotten theirs to do so.  Since the girls have been steadily laying throughout the winter months we now have an excess of farm fresh eggs.  So, what better time to do a bit of advertising and get the ‘egg-stand’ open!

bees n eggs blog post 01_

CountryBoy made the post and sign out of salvaged material then I painted them.

The sign is double-sided…

bees n eggs blog post 02_

Hello Dream Valley Farmstead!

I love how it turned out!  Although, I’m thinking about adding a second sign underneath that lists the price per dozen.  We’ll see if we get anyone stopping in or not then go from there.  We would love for this to be the only advertising we need to do and the rest be word of mouth.

Another exciting happening is the arrival of our bees!  OK, so maybe I’M the one that’s the most excited, heehee!

Next weekend we will drive a couple of hours one way to pick up 3 lbs. of bees and a queen.  I.can’t.wait!

I’ve got the brooder box we purchased from a beekeeping friend painted and set up for their arrival.

bees n eggs blog post 04_

I will ‘pour’ the bees into this brooder box that already has the honeycomb and a little bit of honey on the ten frames and leave them be (get it? ha!) for two weeks.  It is going to be hard for me to NOT check on them but during that time they will be busy ‘cleaning and tidying up’ their new house and the queen will then start laying some eggs.  Having frames with the honeycomb already on them will allow the colony to grow quicker and I should have some honey this first year.  Otherwise, if the bees had to start from scratch honey production would be low.  I am SO grateful for our beekeeping friend who was willing to part with one of his boxes with honeycomb-filled frames so that we could have this jump start!

After the two weeks I will add two medium supers to the top of the brooder box and the bees can start building the honeycomb and making delicious honey.  A dream coming true for me!

bees n eggs blog post 05_

The hive is nestled under the sour cherry trees in the small fenced in garden which, I hope, is a great spot.

I’ve added a water source for the bees on top of the hive but may move it later on after observing the bees for a bit.

bees n eggs blog post 06_

I mentioned on Facebook the other day that I had laid a tarp over the top part of the garden.

bees n eggs blog post 03_

My plan is to plant a bunch of lavender in this area as I think the bees will really enjoy it when it’s in bloom.  Lavender infused honey?  Yes, please!

Here you can see the proximity of the intended lavender ‘field’ and the beehive…

bees n eggs blog post 07_

I will eventually turn the lower part of the garden into an herb garden for both cooking and medical purposes.  I need to think it through and plan it out, though, so this section will be a work in progress for several years to come.

But, for now, the upper section will be all about the BEES!

Projects Galore

OK, maybe not galore but we did manage to get quite a few projects done in the past two weeks.

But first, I want to share with you this morning’s foggy sunrise over the mountain…

projects galore 17.jpg

It was magical!

I can’t believe today is the last day of September.  This year has really flown by.  Soon, we will be buried under quilts, stoking the fire, eating the fruits of our labor and relaxing.  I, myself, am also looking forward to doing some sewing and quilting.  My sweet LizzieBelle is already buried under her blanket…

projects-galore-20

So cute!

But, back to the past two weeks…  after discovering that our chickens were still not safe even in the fenced in paddock we decided to close off a portion of the paddock and make a chicken run directly off the barn.

projects-galore-01projects-galore-02

We purchase 150 feet of chicken wire, re-used some metal fence posts from around the farm and got to work.

After a long days’ work we had two sides done.

projects-galore-03projects-galore-04

Still to do was add the chicken wire to the outside of the fence by the driveway but, at least, they were safe from predators stalking them from the mountain side of the paddock.

While we were purchasing the chicken wire I, of course, had to check out the clearance aisle where I found some lovely perennials marked down to $3.  Score!  So, we took a break from the chicken run to work on some curb appeal.

Our driveway actually ends at the side of the house.  There were a few Hostas and some wild Lemon Balm along the front of the porch and nothing along the back of the house where we and everyone else enters the house.

projects-galore-06projects-galore-05

I decided to move two of the Hostas, divide them and plant them along the back of the house from the corner of the porch to the door.

projects-galore-10

Hopefully, they will fill out again but we’re liking where they are now.

CountryBoy tilled the ground at the far corner of the porch and then I planted my clearance plants.  He added some stones for me to help keep the weeds down.

projects-galore-18

It’s easy to mow around and helps show off the flowers.

All of my lovely clearance plants!

Once that project was over we got back to work on finishing up the chicken run.  The girls, and Fuzzy Foot the rooster, are happy and we feel good again about their safety.

The next project was installing a temporary wall to close off the bathroom from the laundry nook and pantry.

projects-galore-14

I say temporary because, one day, we have plans to renovate the bathroom after we get a half bath put in upstairs.  We’re not sure when that will happen so in the meantime we decided that we needed to go ahead and close off and separate the bathroom from the pantry.

Continuing the reclaimed fence boards we used in the pantry CountryBoy got to work on sanding the remaining boards down, putting up 2×4’s and cutting the boards to size to create the wall.

He also relocated the door into the pantry/laundry nook/bathroom and used it as the bathroom door.

projects-galore-23

SO much better!

Since the wall is temporary I simply tucked the metal rack we’ve been using for towel storage in the wall alcove but removed several shelves to accommodate the wall mounted gas heater.  CountryBoy added some small shelves by the tub/shower for a little bit of extra storage space.

projects-galore-21

I can’t tell you how nice it is to NOT see the bathroom when I walk into the pantry for something or when I’m doing laundry.  It’s the little things, haha!

Yesterday, while CountryBoy was re-working our winter dining table (it sits directly across from the wood burning stove!) I got to work on the cover for the crib-bench in the living room.

After mustering up the courage to cut the fabric, I washed it and finished cutting out the pieces that I needed.  If there’s one thing that will make me procrastinate on starting a sewing project is the cutting of the fabric.  You know, that whole fear of messing it up and then what do I do?!  Once that’s done, it’s a piece of cake!

I didn’t quite think the whole thing through when I started but it went together fairly easy and I’m pleased with how it turned out.

projects-galore-19

I made it like a pillowcase with snaps on the one end so that it can be removed if it needs to be washed.

Once CountryBoy was finished stiffening up and sanding down the winter dining table I did a final sand and put a couple of coats of polyurethane on it.

I love how the polyurethane brings out the grain of the wood.

projects-galore-16

CountryBoy made this table last year out of boards that were salvaged from right here on the farm.

projects-galore-22

So pretty and ready for winter!

I’ve also been removing Lavender seeds and flowers from a box of Lavender that we were gifted with as well as working on the ever-present need to get organized and find permanent homes for everything.  Happily, I am finding those permanent homes and feeling a bit more settled in.

I’m sure I’ve missed something else that we’ve done over the past two weeks but those projects were the bigger ones.  Which one was your favorite?

Barnyard Chickens

After losing our third chicken in a two and a half to three month time period to a predator during daylight hours we knew we had a major decision on our hands.  Somehow we had to restrict the girls free ranging to a limited area.  The predator was consistent in its attacks –  coming up from the ditch/creek in the same general area, grabbing a chicken and taking it back down the same way it came up.  How did we know this without ever witnessing it?  A trail of feathers was left behind.

We tossed the idea around of putting up a fence around the existing coop and creating a run for them.  That would cost us a lot of money and a lot of sweat equity.  The sweat equity would’ve been fine but we did not want to go in debt to purchase fencing nor did we want half the yard fenced off so we needed another plan.

We walked down to the barn and that’s when we made the decision to house the chickens in the barn.  They would have protection from the elements and full use of the paddock as a run where they would still be able to dig, scratch, play and free range a bit but have the added protection of a fence.  Now we know this is not fool-proof from predators such as hawks but we’re hoping this solution will deter any four-footed predator from attacking.

Our first thought was to use one of the larger stalls at the end of the barn.

barnyard chickens_

As you can see, this room needed a lot of work.  It was the stall we originally chose to store our reclaimed wood and other paraphernalia in.

We began by relocating the wood.

Once that was done we began the assessment of what all needed to be done before it was safe from night time predators.  whew, the list was quickly becoming long… a roof of some sort was needed, blocks or rocks around the base, chicken wire on the sides… yikes!

So after taking a short break and assessing the situation again we chose a different location but still in the barn.

barnyard chickens 01

Facing the barn, this room is on the left at the front of the barn and had a ramp in it to load and offload animals.

barnyard chickens 02

It also had a metal roof over it and sturdy goat fencing above the three quarter wall and the other three sides are wood.  It seemed like a much better and more immediate solution.

It also had lots of cobwebs…

barnyard chickens 04

and even a dead chicken (not one of ours) was found under the ramp.  Don’t look at the following photo too close or you’ll see it :(.

barnyard chickens 05

But before any work began in this room we relocated a gate from the center of the barn to the front of the barn.

The older girls love to be around us when we’re working so since they were already in the barn we simply closed the gate thinking it would be somewhat easier on us when it came time to relocate the girls come evening.  phffft, were we wrong!

barnyard chickens 03

Now that we had the gate in place and the ramp removed it was time to add some roosts…

barnyard chickens 08

While CountryBoy reworked the ramp door I started removing the chicken wire behind the windows.  They served no purpose since the windows were there and just collected cobwebs and encouraged wasps to build nests in between the two.  I’m thinking the windows were added after the chicken wire.  I also started cleaning the paint off the windows.

barnyard chickens 07

After I finished that it was time to bring the feed and feeders over and get them hung…

barnyard chickens 09

There was already a box in one of the corners.  The girls that hadn’t already laid an egg decided it looked like a good nest box.  So, I added some hay to it and, lo and behold, we got a couple of eggs in there shortly after…

barnyard chickens 10

We really wanted to have the nest boxes in the center of the barn so CountryBoy hung the cabinet that was in our bathroom out there and put some hay in it but the girls didn’t like that idea.  They would jump up, check it out but then go back to the box in the corner and go to fussing if another girl was already in there.

So, today, he cut the cabinet in half, added some sides and hung them in the new coop.  We’ll see if they approve.

barnyard chickens 13

Throughout the day, yesterday, I managed to grab a few of the young’uns and take them to their new digs.  They were happy to find those feeders!

Each time I was able to grab a chicken I was thinking, ‘yay, one less chicken to relocate come evening’.  Boy, was I WRONG!

Come evening, all those chickens knew was that they needed to get back to the coop before nightfall.  What a ruckus!  They started jumping over the gate (even though we added wire well above the top of the gate), squeezing under and through the sides of the gate and generally just freaking out!

What started out as only needing to relocate six chickens ended up being more like a bakers dozen.  I would be carrying a chicken or two from the old coop to the new and another chicken was passing me on the road headed the opposite way.  sigh.  What a fiasco!

CountryBoy ended up snatching them up at the gate and putting them in the coop then shutting the door each time while I went back and forth from the old coop to the new coop carrying chickens.  After several trips we finally had all 24 of them in the new coop and they were vying for their spot on the roosts.  whew!

Needless to say, we were thoroughly exhausted by then!

Today, we did a few more things to the new coop and added their light.  We’re hoping that it will draw them into the coop making for a smoother night.  We also plan on sitting in front of the gate to ward off any escapees.  We’ll probably have to do this for a few nights until they get used to where they are supposed to go at night.

Thankfully, they seem to be very content today.  They’ve spent a lot of time in the barn checking out all the stalls and some have even ventured into the paddock.

barnyard chickens 11

Our beautiful Buff Cochin, aka Fuzzy Foot, spent a little time this morning on the roost.  I think she was picking her spot for the night!

barnyard chickens Fuzzy Foot

Overall, I’m pleased with the solution we came up with.  Not only did it save us a lot of money but we were also able to get the girls a little more protected much quicker and they still have lots of room to roam around yet be protected by the elements.  It’s also a little bit cooler in the barn which is great during the summer and it is well ventilated for the winter months.

barnyard chickens 17

Not only that, there is now LIFE in the barn!  I’m thrilled about that!  After we finished up today we sat on the front porch facing the barn and I said to CountryBoy that I thought the barn looked like it was standing straighter.  He looked and said he agreed.  Buildings, and even barns, seem to know if they’re abandoned or not.  Don’t ya think?

barnyard chickens 16

While I do miss seeing the chickens running all over the place it will be nice to NOT have chicken poop all over the yard, heehee.  I also have more peace of mind knowing they’re a tad bit safer and, I’m thrilled that there is life in the barn now!  Yay for barnyard chickens!

Garden Growth and Chicks

It’s been a weird year for planting the gardens.

It’s been raining a lot.  We’ve had cold snaps; even some temps back in the 30’s at night and had to bring the tomato starts back in the house.

We don’t have everything planted yet but a few things are already coming up…

garden-potatoes.jpg

Five rows of potatoes have come up. Yay!  Six more rows have recently been planted.  Good thing I LOVE potatoes!

Another thing that is coming up that I am thrilled about are the lima beans…

garden-limas.jpg

We had to replant them as the previous ones rotted in the ground.  Whether it was because the seeds were old or if it was too much rain but seeing these pop up out of the ground makes me extremely happy.  There is nothing quite like fresh lima beans… so buttery and yummy even when seasoned with only a bit of salt!  Now if we can just get a good harvest.  It seems every time I’ve grown limas that it takes them a long time to form and the harvest is few.  Fingers crossed we get a mess of them this year so I can put some up to enjoy the rest of the year.

Also coming up in the big garden so far are the beets, onions, and corn.  In the little garden we have two cucumbers coming up, three asparagus and some chives.  The jalapenos are showing promise as are some of the basil.  Struggling, because of all the rain, are the beefsteak tomato starts.

Still to plant are the Roma tomato and green pepper starts.  I’m also going to plant more cucumbers and probably start some more tomato seeds, just in case these don’t make it or do well.  It’s also good to stagger the planting so that they don’t all ripen at once.  Besides, can you ever have TOO many farm fresh tomatoes?  I don’t think so (wink!).

Like I said, it’s been a weird planting season.

Speaking of gardens, we’ve been letting the young’uns out in the little garden since we don’t have much planted in there yet.

It is fenced off so they can’t roam too far and are easier to round up in the evening to be put back in the grow-out coop for the night.  Believe it or not, they actually come to me to be put back in the little cage that we transport them to and fro.  It’s so cute!  CountryBoy calls me MamaHen, ha!

chicks-first-day-out-2.jpg

They are getting so big and actually look like miniature chickens now!

chicken-SLW-closeup

Aren’t they gorgeous?  This little one is a Silver Laced Wyandotte.

They have finally ventured away from this corner (and my grapes and rhubarb, thank goodness) and have discovered the rest of the garden getting lots of exercise and sunshine.

Several times Hunter has taken on the job of babysitting the young’uns while they’re out.

Hunter-babysitting-2.jpg

This babysitting is hard work…

Hunter-babysitting-1.jpg

and makes ya thirsty!

It’s raining again today so the young’uns didn’t get to go outside and play.  Maybe tomorrow.

I found this beauty the other day in the side yard…

knockout-rose

I’m assuming it’s a rose of some sort.  Does anyone know what kind it is?

Till next time my friends

 

 

It’s Been A While

It’s been, what, three months since my last blog post?  Mercy, time flies!

We’ve been busy doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that during that time.

Things like surviving winter; working on my sewing space/office; attending a quilt retreat while CountryBoy held down the farm; tearing down a pole shed; sealing the fireplace rocks; rearranging the second guest room; relocating the salvaged wood in the barn to make way for CountryBoy’s shop; tidying up the grounds; walling off a portion of the shed/guest house for storage; etc., etc.

In early April we added sixteen chicks to our current flock of ten chickens.  We lost five in the first couple of weeks (it was a very emotional few weeks) and bought six more during a trip to Tractor Supply giving us a total of seventeen chicks.

chicks-growing.jpg

They have graduated to the grow-out coop in the big girls’ coop and are all doing well, thank goodness.

So far, the big girls aren’t too concerned about the young’uns.

chicken-closeup.jpg

We’ll see how it goes when we start integrating them.  Fingers crossed all goes well!

Does anyone know what happened to Spring?

We had a few Spring-like days and the flowers started blooming.

purple-iris-closeup.jpg

Now it’s cold again.  We’ve had a fire going the last few days to keep the chill out of the house.

And rain.  Lots and lots of rain.

We’re not sure how the gardens will turn out this year.  We’ve managed to plant a few things such as corn, beets, onions, potatoes, lima beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, jalapenos, basil and marigolds but then it rained and the temps dropped.

temperature.jpg

This was a few days ago.  sigh.

I’ve seen two cucumbers so far.  Looks like I’ll be planting some more.  The corn, onions, beets and potatoes seem to be doing OK.  The other stuff?  We’ll have to wait and see.  If they make it through all the rain and cold temps they’ll be some pretty hardy plants!

I’m hearing the weather is crazy all over the place.  How is it where you are?  Have you been able to get anything planted in your garden?

Till next time!

Signs of Spring

I wandered around the farm the other day with my camera in hand.

I saw a few signs that Spring is on its way.  Yay!

The daylilies are beginning to peak through the dirt…

signs-of-spring-2

The chickens have done a great job of clearing away all the weeds which saved me a LOT work!  Thank you girls :).

I don’t remember what these are but they are shooting up quickly…

signs-of-spring-1

It amazes me that these plants are so hardy even under feet of snow.  While I was  walking around that day there was still a bit of snow in front of barn…

signs-of-spring-3

It is all gone now but the forecast, as of today, is calling for snow showers on Thursday.  oh boy!  Thankfully, the snow won’t bother what’s already coming up.  whew!

Another sign of Spring is our driveway; or lack thereof …

signs-of-spring-4

The deterioration started last Spring when we received copious amounts of rain and the force of the water coming down off the mountains started washing out the rocks.  Then with each rain then the melting of all the snow it has just continued to deteriorate and here we are almost into Spring again.  It’s hard to tell from the photo but there are some spots where it has eroded a foot or more.

Before spending any money  to fix the driveway we need to address the runoff of the mountain issue otherwise any monies spent would be washed away into the creek.  We got an estimate to have a pond dug at the base of the hill beside the barn, culverts placed where necessary and the driveway fixed but, truth be told, it was way more than we can afford.

I have entered the farm into a contest with Hobby Farm magazine and BobCat where the winner will receive a week’s worth of whatever needs done using BobCat equipment and a crew.  I focused on our need to solve the runoff issue for not only the driveway but also the barn where water goes as well making four of the stalls unusable in rainy season.  Needless to say, I am praying hard that we win!  I’d love it if you’d send up a prayer or two also :).  I think the winner will be chosen sometime in April or May.

If we don’t win, well… I don’t know; we’ll figure something out.

Last Friday and Saturday were beautiful so we took advantage of it and headed outdoors.  More progress was made in and around the chicken coop.

We straightened up a little more and salvaged what wood we could by cutting off rotten ends.

Since our budget is slim to none on the coop redo we are using what’s already in and around the farm.  One such item we were reusing were the roosts for inside the coop.  I liked the poles of the pole shed and wanted to use them for the roosts.  They were well-worn tree limbs or small trees and I thought they would be perfect!  The thickness of them were good where the girls could still wrap their feet around it yet big enough so that their feet would be mostly, if not completely, covered when they hunker down therefore helping to keep their feet warm during the cold, winter months.  I also really like the look of them :).

But, in order to use them we had to get rid of the pole shed.

After we relocated everything from underneath and around the pole shed CountryBoy made quick work of it by simply removing the side braces then pushing it over.  That’s how rotten most of the poles were.

signs-of-spring-5

It looks so different now!

We still have to remove the shingles and salvage what wood we can but that thin white line on the ground is the roof.

Now we had some wood to make new roosts for the girls.

In our efforts to create an efficient coop CountryBoy wanted to relocate the roosts.  Here’s where we originally put them…

signs-of-spring-6

and now they’re over here…

signs-of-spring-7

This arrangement works much better making the coop roomier and giving the girls more room to jump/fly down from the roosts.

We also made it wider to accommodate the chicks we are getting in April.

signs-of-spring-8

This should be sufficient to accommodate our future flock of 26 comfortably.

Here are the girls the first night after the roost relocation…

signs-of-spring-9

I think they like them!  Oh, and aren’t the pole shed poles perfect for roosts?!

Still to do in the coop are adding more nest boxes and building the grow-out coop.  Bit by bit.

The days the weather has not been conducive to working outdoors I have spent some of my time making these cute little card wallets…

I have enjoyed spending time in my sewing room this winter because before long I won’t have the time or the energy to do much sewing once the ground warms up and it’s time to get the gardens going.  Then my days will be filled with mowing, weeding, harvesting and preserving.  To everything there is a season so I am making the most of winter :).

I’m also hoping to be able to open up my Etsy shop again or maybe create my own site therefore cutting out the middle man.  We’ll see.  All in time.  Bit by bit!