This week we collected our first colored egg which means one of our Easter Eggers is now laying!
Grace asked if this is where the book Green Eggs and Ham comes from- ha ha!
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. 🤦🏻♀️
The past two weeks have been busy one on the home front and with work for me. It’s weeks like these that I’m thankful to be doing this whole garden homesteading thing with the Norris family.
Work has ramped up between creating two online courses, preparing for our first virtual summit for educators, and meeting with customers to plan for next school year, I feel like I’ve been glued to my MacBook for two weeks straight. And, though Brian Sr. had a couple of days where he started to feel better, he quickly took a turn down hill with severe pressure and nausea. We’re hoping for more answers and relief next week given this new medicine he’s on. On top of that, I’ve discovered I’m now allergic to poison ivy (turns out it’s bound to happen when you spend three weekends with a weed eater killing that stuff). So much itching!
Last week I didn’t get out to the garden once but often looked out the window and would see Clint and Vinny watering the garden, hanging with the hens, or eating lettuce and spinach off the plant. Grace, Ella, and Brian Jr. often joined them. They even dropped off some radish on Father’s Day! So grateful for them!
The kids tried radish for the first time, Grace was the only one who liked it even a little. I really enjoy some fresh slices on my sandwich but look forward to a few suggestions from some of our Facebook friends, especially roasting them!
By the time I got out to the garden this Friday, it was in desperate need for some harvesting! It’s amazing how much of a different the grass mulch has made for our crops!
Tarin, who has been busy with work herself, joined Ella and I in the garden for some picking. We got quite a haul!
On Saturday, we harvested rhubarb and I picked up some straw to recover our walking paths. Grace took pictures:
It’s about time for a second planting of carrots and some other crops. I’ll have to do some research on what would be good to plant.
Sunday, I spent time in the house gardens, adding cobblestone to a some of the paths, and reconfiguring the front garden by removing a bush and widening the area around our front outdoor table. I plan to add stone or pea gravel to level the space out.
While I worked, Sr. relaxed inside, the girls played by the creek catching salamanders and Brian Jr. played ball in the yard and took breaks to play guitar for the hens. It may be a little crazy, but life on the homestead is good!
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!
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.
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.