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!!! 🙂 I love their fluffy little butts too!

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Babies! And Not Just the Chickens!

We have lots of “little” things around the gardens this week! I can assure you I am NOT growing one myself. Just wanted to clarify so that my mother doesn’t have a heart attack. 🙂 We are hitting that point in the summer where everything is really starting to grow. We have more than just green beans and strawberries coming in! Though, let’s face it, nobody is complaining about either of those things!

First, we’ll check in with the strawberries! They are due for another shoot cut off and bury day in the very near future! They are producing like crazy and it’s wonderful! I love going outside to pick breakfast FRESH every morning!

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Next, the mater plants. It’s like a forest. We have beautiful baby green tomatoes! By the time I get back from my mission trip the first week in August they will be ripe and ready to turn into SAUCE! 😀

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Baby watermelons are the cutest. They’re just adorable. Our watermelon plants are monsters this year and I have a feeling we will have some monster melons to go with them!

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We trimmed the pumpkin back a TON so that the main plant, some choice leaves and the blooms have been left. This helps ensure that the good stuff can go towards making PUMPKINS! 😀

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We’ve got fuzzy little sprouts on a number of our corn plants. Whether or not we get some real ears this year will be the real question! They’re growing like weeds and looking good so we’re hoping we get SOMETHING from them!

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Last, but certainly not least- the ACTUAL babies! THE CHICKENS! I don’t think I can quite call them babies anymore being that they have all of their big girl feathers. They aren’t quite laying yet but we should be getting our first eggs by the end of August! They also, after well over a month, have figured out that they can roost all together in a row on the hockey stick, seen in the first photo in the top right corner. They have all turned gorgeous shades of red, mahogany and brown. Women pay big bucks to have their hair dyed the colors of these girls. Their combs are turning red and their beaks are getting darker. They have totally made friends with Miller, through the fence of course.

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The gardens are producing, growing, and taking over. There is something humbling, earthing, and beautiful about being able to go outside and get fresh fruit for breakfast and fresh green beans for dinner.

Jeremiah 29:5 “ Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;”

Coop and Poop but the Chickens are CUTE!

While the babies have been 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. 😉 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 fencing 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!

THE BABY CHICKENS!

Eric’s grandparents at one point and time had a full working farm. Horses, cows, chickens, ducks, turkeys, crops- the whole nine yards. Now that they have gotten up there in age they have chickens, turkeys, and keep smaller gardens. While over helping them a few weeks ago Eric decided that he too wanted a few chickens. He and his roommate decimate eggs like they’re the only food on Earth most weeks. Even though his grandparents supply us with eggs most of the year, he wanted a few of his own. Admittedly, I did too!

After a few phone calls to friends and relatives with chickens and some serious research we picked a breed- Rhode Island Reds. This also happens to be the same breed his grandparents and most of our friends and other relatives have as well. They are supposed to be great layers and have generally good dispositions.

A few more phone calls later, Eric and I found ourselves at Pickering Valley Farm and Feed. This happens to be a pretty cool pet store. We left the store with 4 little pullets. A pullet is not quite a baby chick but it is also not of egg laying age/adulthood. They are like teenagerish. They’re a little more than a month old, which means they still need to hang out under the heat lamp most of the time.

They’re also adorable.

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We haven’t named them yet because we just can’t decide. It was easier deciding on names for our non-existent children.

We are currently feeding them special not-quite-chick-but-not-quite-adult food for now. My goal is to make homemade feed for them in the coming months, especially when winter comes knocking again.

If you are considering getting chickens or already have some and are always looking for places to get good info, check out Back Yard Chickens. They were invaluable while researching breeds, feed, coops, how to raise them, health issues etc. It’s like the chicken Bible.

Stay tuned to see pictures of our coop and how we did it.

And because they’re so cute….a few more pics!

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