This week has been a stressful one on the Camp Farm.
Everything has been so frozen here, our poor hens seem to have made the menu of some predators. Sunday we discovered something tried to get into the chicken run by ripping up the chicken wire from the bottom of the run door frame. It was easily fixed with some more zip ties but it has put us on high alert. Thursday something made it INTO the chicken run and tried to get into the coop. Luckily, they were unsuccessful and all hens are accounted for. We suspect raccoons.
Tuesday we found out that, while my due date is 4 weeks out, my body and this baby are preparing for a very possible early arrival. I’m in early labor, which can last days to weeks. Since Tuesday I’ve been been trying to balance an attitude of “GET ALL THE SHIT DONE!!!!” to “take it easy, rest while you can”. Not sure who it’s more stressful for, me or those who have to live with me 🥴
Either way, we’ve been making some MAJOR progress on the nursery and it’s almost ready for its reveal!
If you follow our page on Facebook, you probably saw the paintings I created for the nursery. As I was painting, the kids asked if they could creat something for the nursery too (OF COURSE!)
Ella and Grace drew inspiration for Eric Carle and Jr. looked to the internet for a mentor image. We’re only missing some original art from Sr. now 🤣. Check them out!
Finally, despite all we have going on, and soon to come, my mind keeps drifting to spring and planting the flower and vegetable gardens. Pretty sure I won’t be able to do much this year but I’m itching to plan. What are your super-simple, go-to plants?!
It’s a blistery, cold day here in central Ohio as the winter storm impacting much of the US this early February hits us. Also, Punxatawny Phil says it’ll be 6 more weeks of winter. So, what better time to share how we’ve prepped the henhouse for winter this season? While I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, I also wanted to ensure our methods worked before sharing… just in case some of you look to our half-assery for guidance. So here it is…
This was the first year we had to winterize for chickens–our flock last year went to Gigi’s (Tarin’s mother) before winter. When the hens stopped laying eggs mad-fall, Gigi came by to help us see if it was something we were doing… it was. We learned that we weren’t letting the hens out early enough nor did the feed we had provide enough calcium for layers. And because we had no idea what we were doing or plans developed for how to brace for winter, Gigi offered to take the hens to her coop for the winter. Needless to say, that flock stayed with Gigi as the Norris’ welcomed their newest little one to the world and the idea of taking chickens back on was a little much for them this spring.
This spring, the Camp kids pleaded hard and presented some strong cases for getting chickens again. They vowed to help care for the hens every day–rain, sleet, ice, or snow (like the postal code goes). It’s been amazing to see them work together to care for the hens, though they need reminders from time to time. This flock has a few hens that are STILL producing eggs, which amazes me. While the adorable little coop we bought for the last flock is less than ideal for a number of reasons–difficult to clean, flimsy door, barely large enough for 8 hens–we decided to refrain from investing in a larger coop just yet for two reasons:
I wasn’t completely confident the hens, or really the kids, would last through the winter. This pregnancy has really sucked the energy out of me so the responsibility of keeping the hens alive has been soley on the kids and just supervised by Sr. and me. We fully anticipated the possibility of the kids throwing the towel in and needing to rehome our sweet hens.
Our barely-big-enough coop actually seems to be an advantage in the cold winter while a larger coop might require more work to winterize. Our coop is designed for 6-8 hens, we have 8. But the tight quarters are actually a benefit as they keep the hens warm with less dead space to have to keep warm.
We’ve had some pretty cold, icy, and snowy weather this winter and the kids, hens, and coop continue to persevere. I’m glad we chose to wait on a bigger coop as the winter care experience will also help us determine the best coop feature we want when we upgrade in the spring.
So how did we winterize this year? It was actually pretty simple and cost-effective! First, I did some research and came across the idea of winterizing the run by blocking the wind with clear tarps. Since our coop sits in the run pen, we determined that this would be a two-in-one solution!
I purchased four 8 x 12 clear heavy-duty tarps from Amazon. These would not only block the hens, and their coop, from blustery winds but also allow us to maintain some visibility in the run. We ran the tarps horizontally (with the 12 ft side across the walls of the run) and secured them with zip-ties. The sides of our run are less than 8 ft but the excess height of the tarps actually provide a little coverage from snow on the edges of the run.
We also purchased a few bales of straw to provide more insulation in and outside of the run. Inside the run, we placed two bales against the open side of the coop, which is placed in the corner of the run. Outside the run, we placed the remainder of the bales against walls. As we get snow and ice, we use straw from the bales to provide a dry pad and walkways for the hens to walk on and stave off possible frostbite. The only issue we’ve run into is, recently–because we don’t have our straw bales covered–they freeze and are next to impossible to break apart. We’ve just used our pine bedding on the floor of the run instead.
Speaking of bedding, we’ve upped how much bedding we use as well for the winter. This helps insulate inside the coop and maintains a dry space for our hens.
When it comes to water, we’re simply using a bowl of water, checking and refilling throughout the day, when the temps are low enough to freeze up our gravity waterer. I thought for sure we’d have a water warmer by now, but haven’t seen enough need to invest in one just yet.
Whether you come here for guidance, curiosity, or entertainment, thank you. And know we always welcome your questions and comments!
I love to being outside. But my Mom takes the whole point of being outside away! She makes me work in in the garden all the time in the summer and spring. It sucks all the fun out of the great weather. I mean, who wants to pull weeds, plant, or shovel dirt and mulch when the weather is nice… or ever?!
She also makes help her with her projects. For example, the chicken coop, fencing the garden, building her a potting bench… that she hasn’t even used yet!
The only time I don’t mind working in the garden is if I can get money for it. Mom will sometimes bribe me to do work outside for her. But most of the time, if Mom pays me, she makes it hard work. She says she wants to “get her money’s worth”. 😒
And sometimes I do not finish, so I don’t get paid for the whole job. Mom says working for her is good practice for my business with the Yard Crew (more on that later). But Mom has high expectations. She even fired me once! 🙄
Now, don’t get me wrong, I like having a garden and fresh food. I just do not like to WORK in the garden.
The job I hate the most is pulling weeds. Mom has me pull BUCKETS and BUCKETS of weeds from the front garden. We don’t even grow food there.
My Dad can be worse! He doesn’t make me work int he gardens but he gives me gross jobs outside, like picking up dead animals. And RAKING LEAVES is the job hate the most!!!!
This year my Mom say she is going to make the garden bigger. OH JOY!!!!!!! 😑
Earlier this week, I was playing with my sisters, Ava ,and Vinny. They were running around the yard catching butterflies. Ella was about to step in our flower bed when she thought there was a stick on the ground. Suddenly she screamed as loud as she could, “Snake!”
My Mom jumped up, she was working on the deck with her computer, and told me to get the shovel from the shed. She said I needed to walk around the deck to bring her the shovel so I didn’t scare the snake and she could kill it.
When I handed her the shovel I said, “Don’t kill it unless it’s a poisonous snake! if it’s a garter snake we should let Andrew have it!” My friend Andrew has been wanting a garter snake forever. Mom said she didn’t know what kind of snake it was so Andrew better get here fast or it was going to be a DEAD snake. Mom texted Andrew’s mom and they headed right over–they live just up the street.
When Andrew got here, he looked at the snake and said it was a garter snake.. he was 99% sure and he said it’s harmless. He went to grab it but Mom made him put on gloves. So I gave him. moms rubber garden gloves and then he grabbed a pole off the deck. He put a pole on top of the snake and then he grabbed the snake behind the head and picked it up. Mom screamed. then took some pictures.
Andrew’s mom showed up and Andrew walked back to his house with the snake. At Andrew’s house, we made it a big cage. He was going to name him Fang but chose Slitherin instead. Then we played. That’s it.
The week Brian Sr. came home from his brain surgery and we were blessed with so much help on the Camp Farm from mowing the yard to delicious dinners. Honestly, I haven’t had to think about dinner all week. It’s been glorious, and super helpful as I pick up Sr.’s activities. So. much. laundry. We are so thankful for the continued support. Check out these awesome cookies my friend and colleague, Kyle made and sent to us from Houston!
As for Sr., it’s been pretty rough with severe nausea and pain. Mornings are the worst for him and walking is still pretty taxing as his neck is regaining strength and balance is still off. He’s supposed to work up to walking 5 miles a day. The first day he could gather strength to get out side and walk, he only made it across the street and back. We have a long way to go but each day he makes it a little further down the neighborhood and this weekend, he was able to walk with out his walking stick.
Ella and Grace have been playing entrepreneur all week, with an “Amazon delivery” adventure and having lots of meetings. It’s quite the business of the future. I don’t even have to order the items, the just show up in bags with “invoices”. And they are things I love, like my favorite books or high heels from my closet. 🤣
Little Miss Grace has gotten quite good on a bike and earned herself a shiny new one! And Jr. finally earned enough to get his new bike–thanks to his cat sitting job and helping in the yard and garden.
The hens continue to grow and have proven themselves capable of being able to roam free in the back yard mostly un supervised… I guess this means they’re now free range!
In the gardens, plants have been loving the sunshine this week. We’ve seen tons of growth in both the house gardens and big garden. My favorite peonies came into bloom and Ella and Grace helped me make a trellis for the peas and to support the green beans.
With all the extra sun, the soil in our growing rows was starting to dry out and crack. We hadn’t gotten around to adding mulch to the rows, or even deciding what kind of mulch we’d use, so I added grass clippings from our last mow. I’m hopeful this will be a good, free, solution.
Grace found our first strawberry and the girls helped me pull seeds out of a few melons and cucumbers for later planting since our first round of them didn’t take after all the heavy rains a few weeks ago. My sweet friend, neighbor, and fellow gardener, Amiée, brought us a few of her extra cucumber plants as well as a few extra goodies! I mean, I couldn’t be more excited about this book, y’all!
The redneck pool, aka redneck hot tub, is a bit of a tradition in my family and brings up fond memories of hot summers and water fun.
Summer is HOT, especially down in Texas. Growing up, whether on a hunting lease or our own ranch, we always managed to find an old livestock trough/stock tank to turn into our own mini water park. My mom would make me a swim suit, usually out of those red shop rags, and me, my brothers and my cousins would spend all day crammed in that game and playing with the hose to keep cool. Eventually we had a house with an in-ground pool but the old stock tanks were just as fun!
This spring, when the chicks started getting too cramped in our storage bin turned chicken brooder, I found a great deal on a 110 gallon tank at Tractor Supply. Initially I thought once it finished it’s purpose as a brooder, we’d put it in the garden as a container for potatoes and onions. However, when I got it home I discovered a spicket at the bottom for easy draining.
This discovery meant the tank would be perfect for a redneck pool like I had growing up. We’ve been wanting a small pool for the summers but Brian Sr. Says it’ll bring mosquitoes. I think he just doesn’t want to get shafted with cleaning duties (I don’t blame him).
We first filled the tanks a few weeks ago, when it was admittedly too cold to swim. Despite my warnings the kids insisted. They splashed around with blue lips and jaws chattering 90 miles an hour. They had a blast!
Now that it’s feeling like summer, this has been the perfect distraction for the kids—especially on days like today when Brian Sr. and I are away for Sr.’s brain surgery. The kids had a blast in the pool and even coaxed Jack to hop in!
The best part is, the kids work together to keep it clean and filled. Sr. and I do nothing… well except tell Grace to stop yelling and shrieking every time she splashed. I sweat the whole neighborhood hears her, and then hears us yelling her name! 🤣🤷🏻♀️
Once the days get even hotter, I’m picturing a little redneck hot tub in in the evenings… because, why not?!
Despite being stuck inside most the week, this week was an eventful one; full of hard work, celebrating the birthdays and mourning the loss of those we love. We celebrated Brian Sr’s birthday as well as one my best friend, Rachel’s birthday. We attended the funeral of my Opa virtually and spent time telling stories of his life.
Last Sunday was a busy day! Ella Rose helped me use some old lumber we found under the pine trees to build a raised bed for our new cut flower garden and then fill it with a combination of dirt from an old compost pile on our property and cheap topsoil from Tractor Supply. I also made a small bed around the mailbox for a little curb appeal and filled it with a few new plants and the tall marigold variety we started by seed a few weeks ago. It rained like a monsoon most of the week but weather cleared up for the weekend. Ella Rose and Grace helped sow seeds in the new cut flower garden more on that later.
We also made our first “cooking videos” as we made our rhubarb pie for us and a few friends. 🤣 Tune into tomorrow for the first.
After all the rain, the coop was starting to smell. The chickens are getting to big! Our coop “for 4-6 chickens” is getting a little tight. Jr. helped me clean the coop on Friday while the girls and a few neighborhood kids kept an eye on the chicks as they roamed the yard (maintaining a social distance of course).
This weekend we FINALLY added a gate to the garden, it’s the epitome of half-ass but it gets the job done for now.
We also planted the last of the new plants including two new strawberry plants, two blueberry bushes, eggplant and our special peach tree.
Brian Sr. was also busy getting the lawn on the Camp Farm in tiptop shape and working on the “super Chevy”. Look at that pretty green lawn!
Looking ahead to next week we hope to build (or buy) more space for the chicken to run and get mulch in the growing rows.
Nearly three months ago we anxiously awaited the arrival of March. Not only would we be welcoming the newest member of our family to the world, but I’d also have 6 weeks of maternity leave and the plans … Read More
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This week has been a stressful one on the Camp Farm. Everything has been so frozen here, our poor hens seem to have made the menu of some predators. Sunday we discovered something tried to get into the … Read More
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Jack is a playful pet and he the best dog you could ask for. He is a Labradoodle and likes to hop. He can hop really high and it’s really funny.
He used to sleep in my parent’s room but now he sleeps in my bed every night. In the morning, I have full responsibility on feeding him, and letting him outside.
Sometimes I try to take him on our walks, but my Mom does not let me walk him in the mornings (because she has her hands full with her coffee). I beg sometimes. It barely works, but its worth it. Normally I have to wait until our afternoon walks.
Jack tears up toys really fast but only likes toys that squeak. He loves to play catch, until he gets tired.
I tried talking Mom into a middle name for Jack, but she didn’t like my ideas and I didn’t like her’s. So he has not middle name.
*Posts are edited by Mom for spelling and punctuation.