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!
Last month we decided to do a BIG refresh to our home and replaced all the old blue carpet in our home. Y’all! There was a different kind of carpet (8 different shades of blue) in nearly every room and hallway in the house when we moved in. It was an eyesore–all stained from foot traffic and spills that had accumulated since it was put in some time in the 80s or 90s. It’s been a game-changer… and exhausting as we’ve packed away most of the house in 10 days, painted rooms and trim, and put it all back together after the install. One of the main reasons for the new carpet was so we could move the girls into a shared room and convert Grace’s old room into a nursery for our upcoming arrival.
Back in Texas, the girls–just 2 1/2 years apart in age–shared a room but when we moved to Ohio, each girl got their own room. Though they enjoyed their own spaces, they’ve often had sleepovers in each others’ rooms and occasionally discussed going back to a shared room.
When Grace was upgraded from a single twin to a twin bunkbed last Christmas, the sleepovers increased and so did the talk of “moving in” together. However, it wasn’t until we found out we were pregnant this summer, that the idea of moving them back in together was taken seriously.
The girls immediately began planning, taking over my interest to look for inspiration. Their only must-have–a play kitchen. Mine, plenty of storage to keep their abundance of toys OFF the floor and out of sight. I also wanted to find a way to show off their collections of hats, books, and stuffed animals as well as provide each of them their own special spaces.
It’s been a few weeks since the carpet install and we still have a little more to do but we’ve finally gotten to a place where we have something to show y’all!
There are several different sizes and configurations of the Kallax systems. I actually went a size up from what I planned and I am so glad I did! It was also super easy to put together. Ella and I did it all ourselves and only needed Sr. to secure it to the wall.
New carpet was a GREAT motivation to go through toys and clothes but we still had lots to find practical solutions for. What I love about this unit is I can use bins to hide, I mean “store”, toys but we can also display special things at the same time. The bins also help the girls keep things sorted and easier to find. And the BEST part? The girls can easily move the bins to wherever they are playing and put them back all on their own. The toys have stayed OFF the floor since we set up the unit, so I call that a #MomWin!
Next up: the library and bunkbed. The girls both LOVE to read and had stacks of books everywhere in their old rooms–bed, floor, shelves… so it was important to make sure their bookshelf was easy to access and that they had a dedicated space for their current reads by their beds as well as good lighting. Last year, I got this three shelf bookshelf off my local Buy Nothing Facebook group and whitewashed it. By some miracle, it fits perfectly in the space next to the bunkbed.
The girls call it their “library” and Ella loves to sit right by the shelves and read. They also enjoy sitting in this beautiful, refinished vintage chair by the window. Truth be told, I tried to get rid of this a week ago, thinking there wasn’t room for it in their room. I finally got tired of it being in our dining room waiting for a buyer and put it here temporarily but it works out perfectly, so it’ll be staying!
Since the girls like to do a lot of nighttime reading, I found them their own little wall bookshelves for their bunks at Target.
I also found these great little reading lights at Ikea to clip onto their headboards. The bunks are also each girls’ little piece of private real estate in the room so we added some special lighting and comfy pillows at the foot of the beds to add another space to sit for daytime reading. We reused the mosquito net canopy from Ella’s old room and Grace tszujed it up with a strand of floral garland we had in the basement. Each girl picked out their own lights while at Hobby Lobby the other day–llamas for Ella and an ombre curtain for Grace that looks so great with her canopy. These were around $12 each and are battery-powered.
Now that the days are colder and shorter, I foresee many hours spent on these bunks, with the lights aglow, reading. ❤️
Next up, the girls’ kitchen! As I mentioned, this was a must-have for the girls. They had many grand ideas for a custom build that Papaw and Sr. would have been obligated to create. Thankfully, we scored a well-built wood kitchen from the children’s room in our church when they decide to upgrade. I used Murphy’s Oil to give it a good cleaning but the plan is to paint it (when I have the energy).
I may also have Sr. build a simple base for it to make it a bit taller for my tall girls. The girls have their “fridge and pantry” stocked–mostly with homemade felt food, and a bin of larger cooking and baking playthings in the wall unit. They often play house and restaurant. The service is great, but a little pricey 😉
Lastly, Ella has quite the collection of vintage and straw hats–thanks to GiGi and Papa–and Grace isn’t far behind. For a few years, they’ve been stashed in the closet but we found some fun ways to display a few. the rest are in the dress-up bin in the wall unit. The hats on the wall are just hung with a simple push pin but I’d love to find some cool hat racks for a neat display with the rest of the vintage hats above their dresser.
All-in-all, aside from the cost of the new carpet the wall unit, two wall bookshelves, and bunk lighting, we didn’t have to buy anything else for this refresh–just some cleaning, combining, organizing, and moving!
Still to come for this room: window treatments– I personally LOVE these but Ella turned it down quickly–, bunk curtains for Ella to give her some requested privacy, possibly a new rug, and the painting of the play kitchen.
Today we worked to put the final touches (for now) on the girls new shared room. Including putting some life back into some favorite oversized animals. Grace learned to do some simple sewing. We’ll be sharing more on the blog tomorrow!
Last week I made bird feeders out of pine cones, peanut butter and bird seed. I found the recipe on my Kindle in the Nature Cat app. I think it’s in PBS kids app.
It is so easy to make! You can watch the video of me making one or read directions below!
Step 1: Get a pine cone.
Step 2: Take string or yarn and tie it to the pine cone. Make sure one side is long enough to hang on something, like a branch or hook.
Step 3: Spread peanut butter all over the pine cone. You can get it on the string but just where it’s tied on the pine cone, not the hanging part. Also, don’t get dirty peanut butter in your jar. You don’t want to eat that!
Step 4: Get a bag of bird food and pour it on a tray or plate.
Step 5: Roll the pine cone in the seed. You can also sprinkle it on but I like rolling better. Watch out! It’s messy.
Step 6: Hang you feeder on a hook or branch and watch your birds happily eat!
Now that I graduated kindergarten, I think my Mom will let me do more projects like this!
Last time I shared with y’all I was fresh into redoing the backyard, so excited about the possibilities. It’s been a month and a half and until this weekend the project hadn’t gone any further. Luckily the stars aligned and I had the energy AND the time. I told Sr. that all I wanted for … Read More
Last summer, despite Sr.’s disapproval, I put a pool up. He was against the idea for two reasons 1. He’s not a fan of pools(unless there’s a slide going into the pool, he doesn’t see the point) and thinks they attract mosquitos. 🙄 2. He thought I’d ruin the grass. While it didn’t attack mosquitos, … Read More
It’s been nearly three months since we’ve brought Bladen home and I’m excited to finally share my new favorite room in our home! The nursery took me much longer to put together than nurseries in the past, in part due to lack of energy and in part due to putting together some special touches, like … Read More
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 I had to do with my time were endless! One of which was to get back on … Read More
It’s cool and cloudy here so I’m in the gardens getting dirty—planting new plants and taming old ones.4 years ago there were just 3 poppies on this plant, look how many this year! It’s my favorite plant and blooms around Memorial Day each year.
Grace writes her blog posts using the dictation feature on Google Docs then helps Mom edit the blog after she copies it to the blog.
I love Christmas because I can wrap presents and give people stuff. I like wrapping presents a lot and putting them under the tree for Santa give lots of presents under our big Christmas tree that’s downstairs. I like to wrap presents a lot so I wrapped a bone for my dog Jack. I can’t wait to see his face when he sees the phone I hope he likes it.
I didn’t wrap anything for Sarah Lee yet but I’m thinking about it. my sister loves my cat Sarah Lee and she’s doing a blog about dogs. Mommy has wrapped a present for me. I can’t wait to see what it is because it’s big! My sister has a present from Mommy too. I didn’t know she wrapped presents yet.
I also love baking cookies! My Mom, sister and I make the BEST gingerbread cookies!
We have elves that come to our house too! Last week the elves got hurt and really sad because they tripped on all of our stuff so we had to clean up. My elf, Heart, has a broken elbow Brian’s elf, Steve, has a broken leg and Ella’s elf, Eggnog, still has something wrong with her eye because I put sprinkles in it. I feel bad about that.
After we cleaned they got better and brought us elf slime, jingle bell necklaces we made, and today… LIPS! Mom said they are wax but we shouldn’t eat them even though they smell good. She’s also not happy they stole her red lipstick.
Oh! And Uncle Josh is here! Lat night we had a sleepover in the basement with him. Mom didn’t sleep over with us but she did make popcorn for us. Josh is staying until Christmas so he can watch us open all our gifts. We play lots of games with Uncle Josh. And read, and cook, and snuggle.
Did you know we have Christmas to celebrate when Jesus was born? I bet he was such a cute baby. He wants us to give love and gifts and be kind to people. All I want for Christmas is love… and a bunkbed and a new sled and a card with money. But what I want most is love and to wish my teacher, Mrs. Gibbs, a Merry Christmas!
It’s the phrase of the week… well, that an “Hurry! Get out of the chicken pen, you’ve got a class zoom meeting about to start!”
The hens are went from two to three eggs a day this week and the kids CANNOT get enough! They check the coop several times each morning, which means they find the eggs nice and fresh.
Earlier this week Ella and Ava came running up with an egg yelling, “We got a hot one!” 🤣 And they’ve been saying with every new egg ever since. Grace has caught on as well and ran in during one of my Zoom meetings with a client. 🤦🏻♀️
This week we had beautiful weather! A little rain, not as much as I hoped for–isn’t it funny how when you have a garden, you start to pray for rain? It’s way too much of a chore to pull the hose all the way out to the big garden to water. There are signs of plant production everywhere! Clint and Vinny were enjoying the butter crunch lettuce straight from the plant while out watering one day.
The flowers are still blooming every day. I took a stroll through the house gardens and cut a few roses and flowering herbs for a summery bouquet.
The hens got more adventurous as they roamed towards the front yards. If you drove by the homestead on Tuesday morning you probably saw me running around like a madwoman with a lime green snow shovel shooing chickens out of the brush behind the coop (it’s full of poison ivy) and yelling orders at the kids on how to wrangle them so they. Trying to keep them all our of the poison oak and ivy and get the hens put up before my next meeting was exhausting.
I was able to use Sr.’s lawn sweeper (yes thats a thing) and swept up more grass clippings from our two yards to mulch the rows. I also added some enriching soil builder we had left over from planting the peach tree and blueberry bushes.
Sr got his 17 staples out and this weekend brought a slight improvement in Sr.’s pain 🙌🏻 and we explored new scenery for our walk.
Vinny turned FOUR and Tarin did a maternity shoot in the garden with the chickens!