This week on the Half-ass Homestead | May 31-June 1, 2020

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 Littlest “Pool” on the Block

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!

Me and my big brother, Sheldon

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?!

This week on the Half-ass Homestead

May 17-24, 2020

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.

Grace’s take on Saturday’s planting.

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.

Meet Brian

by Brian J. Camp Jr., age 10

*Posts are proofread by Mom for clarity and some spelling and punctuation.

This is when I was 8 years old.

Hi I’m Brian. I’m 10 years old right now, and I was born on a Columbus Day. Some things I’m interested in are football 🏈 ,baseball ⚾️,basketball 🏀, 2K MADDEN, and WWE WRESTLING. My favorite WWE wrestlers are THE MIZ, UNDERTAKER, THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR, JOHN CENA, KANE, and ADRIAN NEVILLE.

My favorite football teams are the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers. Baker Mayfield is of my most favorite football players of all. I had fun playing football for the first time last year, even though we only won 1 game against Johnstown. We still played in the playoffs because every team gets to play in the playoffs. My mom yells and cheers a lot from the stands during my games and my Dad is a coach.

Me playing QB
Me and Coach Dad

In baseball I have 3 trophies, and 6 metals. My favorite baseball teams are the Cleveland Indians and the Houston Astros.

I love homesteading because you get to do things outside, like improve a chicken coop. I hate gardening though because I don’t like bending over and pulling weeds until the weeds are all gone. But I will pull weeds for money. 🤑🤑🤑

Me exhausted after my Mom made me help in the garden

I love having chickens because you get to play with them. I also like to eat eggs, so it will be cool when they start to lay them.

Chicks dig me.

I like being a big brother because they always play with me and I like helping my mom with them. One thing that is annoying about them is they never stop arguing some days.

I like living in Granville, Ohio, even though I miss my friends back in Texas–especially my best friend, Jacob.

Me and my best friend, Jacob

At least Ohio is not always hot in the the spring and summer like Texas. I like spring the most because the weather goes from chilly to warm and back and forth.

This is a picture that my Mom drew of me.

Meet Hazel… the pig

Grace with Hazel, 8 weeks old

Hazel, named by Tarin for baby #3 (due in July) is a Cuckoo Maran and is our biggest chick so far. When we first got the chicks, they were all about the same size, except for Lola who was the smallest. Since our two families were sharing the flock, the kids each named the chicks and decided we split the chicks up so each family could brood their three chicks. So, the kids were shocked when we first got the flock together for a playdate a week or so later. Hazel was not only much bigger than the rest, she was also first to start getting her darker feathers. Each week the kids come running to share how much bigger Hazel is than the rest.

Despite getting the flock together every chance we had (aka when the weather was warm enough for a ‘field trip’ from the brooder), it was hard to tell how they would react together as a gang. When we moved the chicks to the coop last week, we spent the weekend hanging out by the coop proudly watching our chicks. I had read that chickens typically established a pecking order, even without a rooster, so we were all interested in how the flock would socialize together. In our brooder, it was Greta that displayed the leadership behavior, but in the big flock Hazel seems to be the clear leader of the flock. She uses her size to dominate the food bowl. She’s actually a bit of an ass when there is food around, pecking at other hens feet and chasing them off, especially Greta.

If there is food around, you can count on Hazel to be the first to the feeder and the last. Can’t wait to see if the current pecking order remains–though with as much as Hazel eats, I don’t think any chick will be surpassing her in brawn and feathers.

Chicks, 8 weeks old

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Meet Greta

by Brian J. Camp Jr., age 10
This is now.

I love Greta so much. This week, I noticed that Greta got her first black feather on her back, and got her first black line on her beak. Greta is getting so fluffy and so big. She used to be so tiny if I cupped my hands together, she’d fit in my hands. But now she’s so big she’s is twice as bigger than my hands now.

I used to be scared to her up because I didn’t want to hurt her and my Mom would shout, “JUST PICK HER UP ALEADY!” so loud I swear the neighborhood a couple blocks away could hear her. 😂 I’m not scared of picking her up anymore.

Fun Fact: If you holed her against your stomach and constantly pet her on the neck and chest, she falls fast asleep.

This is the fist day we got them.On my lap is Greta the one that is on my arm is Penny.

Meet Penny

by Ella Rose, age 8
Penny just 10 days old!

Penny is a sweet chick. Penny is a Plymouth Rock chicken. When she was 10 days old she was so fluffy! Penny is mostly yellow. When Penny is older she will be black and white. Right now she has one gray feather on her tail. Her one gray feather is the only gray feather so far.

Penny is so cute! The only spot she is fluffy is her bottom. We used to tell Greta and Penny apart by Penny’s gray spot. We do not know if it is there any more because if it was we wouldn’t be able to see it.

Penny and I at 7 weeks.

Penny likes to eat cranberries. Sometimes, when I am holding her, she jumps on to my arms, then shoulders, then my back. She usually does not peep when I am holding her but every once in a while she does. Since we got the coop, she’s been peeping more than before; probably because she wants to be near the flock.

The flock:

  1. Hazel
  2. Lola
  3. Pennywise
  4. Greta
  5. Elsa
  6. and of course Penny

I love each chick but Penny the most! No chick can replace my Penny!

*Posts are edited by Mom for spelling and punctuation.

Meet Elsa

by Grace , age 5
Me and Elsa when she was 10 days old!

Elsa is my hen. She is pretty. She is black and white and has a yellow beak. Mom says she is a Cuckoo Muran chicken. I love her. She kind of has a yellow spot on her neck.

She’s 7 weeks old now and she kind of likes me picking her up, but sometimes she runs from me. When she was little she had poop stuck on her butt and I had to help Mom clean it off. When I pick her up she flaps her wings so I let her go. She runs back to Greta and Penny. Elsa is my chicken, Greta is my brother’s chicken, and Penny is my sister Ella’s. Elsa hates being alone, she goes tweet tweet tweet tweet.

We’re gonna buy new chicks if every single one dies too or we’re going to buy one more black chick so I can have my own chick if anything ever happens to Elsa. I hope nothing does. But don’t worry, all of the chicks are alive. We have a video of the chicks 🐥Did you see it on the video? (Grace is referring to this post.) I’m sure that you can see it on your iPad, or your phone, with your laptop, or your Kindle….anything you want! Just look on a thing and find the video watch it, and then you can see what goes on with our chicks!

Sometimes my Dad puts things on the grass that’s not good for chicks so we can’t let them on the grass and instead take them to the garden. They like to eat worms, our chicks.

I help mommy do things around the house then we can play with the chicks. Sometimes Elsa runs so fast I can’t even grab her sometimes she flaps her wings sometimes she’s very quiet and I do like her cuddling up whenever I want. Sometimes Mom gives us treats for the chicks and we feed them from our hands. It tickles. Sometimes it’s a lot of work but it’s so fun to play with all the chicks.

OK guys, bye!

*Posts dictated with an app by Grace and edited for spelling and punctuation (and a little bit of clarity) by Mom.

Checking on the Chicks Each Morning

By Brian Jr., Ella Rose, and Grace

Brian: Each morning we check on the chicks to see if they are still alive or not and feed them.

Ella: Brian sometimes does this by himself. Today we all helped.

Checking on and feeding the chicks May 7th, 2020
Camera person- Grace

Ella: As you can see sometimes they try to get out in the mornings–today the Pennywise and Elsa tried really hard to get out… until Brian poured the food!

Brian: Earlier this week, we found a small hole outside the coop and another inside by the food bowl. The food bowl was wiped clean. I helped Mom put chicken netting under the coop to keep animals out.

Grace: We count all the chicks each morning too.

Ella and Grace counting chicks May 7, 2020
Camera person: Grace

Ella: Don’t worry, Greta is alive too!

*Posts are edited by Mom for spelling and punctuation.

When we first got our chicks.

By: Brian J. Camp Jr. – age 10

When we first got our chicks, I so surprised that I almost passed out! My mom didn’t even tell me we were getting 🐥. Then after that I have been checking on them constantly ever since.

My favorite thing about them is letting them walk on me. Especially then they try to fly on to my shoulder. Sometimes they poop on me… it’s gross but I still love them.

*Posts are edited by Mom for spelling and punctuation.

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