Garden Growth

GREAT PUMPKIN! I don’t think anyone quite understands the joy of having not one, but MULTIPLE pumpkins growing right now. Last year, we had a giant plant and no pumpkins. I LOVE pumpkins. Pumpkin carving and pumpkin seeds are two of my most favorite things in the world. I have not ventured to pumpkin soup. That might change this fall though! They’re still little, and look more like our watermelons, BUT THEY’RE PUMPKINS! Yeah, I’m that excited. Like a kid in a candy store.

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Of course, the tomatoes. They are HUGE! And we have had a few start to turn red. I can’t believe how big they are this year. We must have done something right to the soil. We didn’t get very many even close to the size of these guys. By the time I get back from Antrim I will have a bajillion to make sauce with! Thank goodness I have already set a day aside to do it!

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And the chickens. They are still growing. Their combs are slowly but surly coming in. They LOVE eating strawberries and have begun to associate me with feeding them the delicious little treats. The other day I saw one of the girls “assume the position.” I had never seen a chicken lay an egg and didn’t realize it was different from when they just kind of sit down. Eric, who has a bit more experience informed me that that is how they sit when they are laying an egg! No eggs yet but hopefully that’s a sign that they are coming soon!!! šŸ™‚ I love their fluffy little butts too!

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New Additions

Eric had a brilliant idea. Our girls love roosting together in a row and the balusters we set up aren’t too long. So he put an old hockey stick for them. GENIUS! Of course they weren’t hanging out on it when I went out to take pictures.

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Our gardens have some new additions as well! We have our first baby beans starting to burst through!

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Eric’s tomato plant was the first of them to have a mater bud.

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And the strawberries are coming in strong!

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I plucked a few before work. I meant to take pictures of them but uhhh oops! They were delicious!

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Meeting the Neighbor

Our super nice neighbors have a super adorable dog named Miller. Miller is our friendly bud who loves to run over to our side of the yard to say hi…all of the time. He also LOVES swimming. They too have a pool and he has learned how to use the ladder to get both in and out when he’s not super-dog jumping in. He’s an absolute sweetheart and while Eric and I were out checking on the girls, Miller decided to pay a visit.

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He just wanted to play with them! He had been around chickens before, so he was very aware of them. The pen stood up to his gentle giant pawing, in his feeble attempt to say “hi.” I’m now pretty confident that the pen and coop are predator proof. šŸ˜‰ And being the sassy ladies that they are, they stood right along the fence taunting the poor guy like the knew he couldn’t bust through and get them.

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They also discovered the nesting boxes. Their first few days they stayed on the lower level and grass. Eric went out and plopped them all up there the day before so that they would figure it out. By this evening they were “flying” up and down, not even using the ramp. By the time we said goodnight to Miller (and the neighbors) the four of them were all settled up in their boxes for the evening.

The other great entertainment of the day was watching one of the girls get a worm while the other three chased her around the run in an attempt to get a piece of the delicious new treat.

I believe I can officially say the chickens have made a fully successful transition into their new home.

Early Summer Harvest and Chicken Changes

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WE GOT POTATOES! We had a few plants that were ready to be dug up and by golly we did it! Our biggest ones were about the size of a small lemon all the way down to about a marble. Eric was so excited I made stew with them the other night. It got chilly up here with the rain, and so that was his request. We still have about half of our tater plants in the ground so hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be pulling some more.

Some things we’ll do differently ned year-

SAND! We always add a bit of sand to the soil to help loosen it up, but being that potatoes grow underground, we’re pretty sure they only grew so much because the ground was a bit too hard. We will be cultivating a specific area with extra sand and till the ground a bit more in that specific area. Hopefully with these little changes we’ll have some bigger ones!

Not too shabby for our first time growing them!

The rest of the garden is in full bloom!

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We spent a good half hour weeding and working the strawberry patch. Eric covered shoots, transplanted whole plants and worked the whole patch. It’s suddenly gotten a bit out of hand! We had a good passing storm that uncovered half of them so we had to go back out and re-coverĀ the shoots. Quite a few had finally taken root and were ready to be “cut off” from the mother plant. You can learn more about controlling a strawberry patch in my post Root and Shoot.

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Once again our pumpkin plant is kicking butt! Hopefully these big leaves will turn into big blooms and giant pumpkins this fall!

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We’ve got some friends hanging around the gardens too. We have little pencil toads EVERYWHERE! Hundreds of them. In the grass, around the pool, in the gardens, the chicken run- EVERYWHERE! We also have a mating pair of doves in close proximity. This pretty lady hung out in our green bean sea while we worked in the strawberry patch. She probably would have let me touch her I was able to get so close. Pandora, chatting, and walking around and through the gardens didn’t bother her one bit. It’s like she knew we wouldn’t bother or hurt her.

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AND the most exciting part of the weekend!? THE BABIES ARE OUT! They have finally been transported from their heat lamp, cozy little crate to the big outdoors! They spent the first 12 hours or so huddled in the coop in a corner. They hadn’t ever seen or been on grass before and didn’t quite know what to make of it. They sat and stared at their food and water dishes across the run for hours. By the next morning they were running around like they owned the place. One of them finally took the plunge to the great expanse of their new home. They thoroughly enjoy smooshing themselves all onto one roosting baluster and knock each other off. They are now LOVING the grass and are settling in quite nicely. It’s getting much harder to tell them apart now that their big girl feathers are all coming in! No more blondies in the group.

Coop and Poop but the Chickens are CUTE!

While the babies have beenĀ inside growing and hanging out under the heat lamp, Eric and I have been hard at work putting together their new home. And by Eric and I being hard at work I mean mostly Eric. šŸ˜‰ Thankfully, though we no longer have Penny, we have lots of containment items from when we had her! We had a 6×8 chain link outdoor pen with a door that was no longer in use. We removed one of these sides to install the coop at the open end. By doing this the chickens have a good bit of area to cluck around and the coop isn’t taking up any ground space. We then took plywood and 2x4s to fashion the bones of the coop. The roof of the coop is on hinges to allow us access to the nesting boxes and eggs.

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We made upper level nesting boxes and roosting/hangout space on the bottom. With the pen having a door and the coop having the hinged roof, cleaning is a breeze.

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Like the idea of a removable pan in a dog crate, we created the same concept in the coop to make cleaning easy.

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Due to our semi-rural location, we do have predators like skunks, fox, and snakes. EEK! To add extra layers of protection, we added tiny wire fencingĀ around the entirety of the pen/coop about 2 feet high to make getting in extremely hard and our chickens can’t quite poke their heads out. The whole structure is also sitting on 4x4s to deter diggers from getting under the fencing. Essentially- Predator proof.

The girls will finally be getting to move into their new home by the end of the week! Now that they have had a solid 2 weeks or so under the lamp, they have grown almost double since we got them and my 2 blondies are going red!