Babies!! #FarmlifeFriday

Happy Friday, everyone!! I am so excited about all the babies in my farm right now! So far I only have vegetable babies but we are hoping to have some chicken babies, too!!

My garden is looking rather splendid these days! We’ve had some really warm days and a lot of rain last week so everything is nice and happy. I have zucchini, yellow squash, a variety of tomatoes, bell peppers, jalepenos, a “Mexican” pepper that I am hoping isn’t just a fancy name for a jalepeno because I have 4 of those already, cucumbers, artichokes, cabbage, red potatoes, basil, and some lettuce. The coolest part is that I started all of these from seeds! I did all the work. I didn’t buy any of the vegetables in the garden. And look!! Baby squashes already!!! This makes me so happy!!

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I did buy some flowers for the garden. I love marigolds and I have seeds but they take a while to sprout and I wanted the instant gratification. I have some on the outside of my garden as well as throughout the inside, just to add some flare. And I think marigolds will deter some bugs but promote the good ones, like bees!

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I have another cinder block planter on the left side. And a new banana plant. A guy at the local farmers marker was selling those for only $5 a couple weeks ago. How could we pass that up? We also bought a taro plant and 2 elephant ears from him for a whopping $1 each. Did you know they produce a potato-like veggie you can eat? They aren’t just pretty decoration. We’re happy to try something new.

The other babies on the farm could be chicks! We have a broody hen. Broody basically means she wants to lay on eggs and hatch them. Broodiness has been bred out of chickens but sometimes the urge strikes, kinda like baby fever I guess. You can put them in a secluded area without hay or eggs for a while and try to break them out of the habit, but we figured why not see what happens? The worst that can happen is that none of the eggs she’s on are fertilized and then we just try again with other ones. (Yes, we have a rooster, in case you are wondering how the eggs would have been fetilized).

We noticed our girl was not leaving the nesting box. I’m just going to call her THE French girl because Lagertha and Frenchie look identical and I am not sure which one is broody. She would get super pissed when we came to collect eggs and make herself huge and yell at us and peck us whenever we got near her. At first we kept taking the eggs out from underneath her because we weren’t sure we wanted to try to have her hatch any. But after about a week of taking the eggs she wasn’t going to give up. So last night after she went into her coma-like sleepy state, my daughter and I moved her and her eggs to a cozy box in the garage.

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When I first put her in the box the eggs were on the opposite side of where she is, and the darn automatic light was on in the garage, so she decided to eat rather than lay on the eggs. When she was done she was laying where she is now and I went out and put the eggs underneath her. She’s still there now so this is a step in the right direction.

A funny side story, like I said before about not knowing which girl is which, I think I tried earlier in the week to put the other French girl in the hatching box. I brought her and different eggs into the box but she refused to stay in the box. I left her and went to my yoga class and when I came back I couldn’t find her. I was like, “She abandoned the eggs? And disappeared!? What’s happening?” I finally looked UP a bit.

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She found a nice roosting spot on our tool shelf. HAHAHAHA!!! So I put her back with everyone else, and when I did, I looked in the nesting box and found the other French girl (the current broody one). OMG! I told my husband I have to mark them somehow. Maybe a ziptie around their feet.

Anyhoo, so far we’re on day 2 of laying on these eggs. I will have to continue to Google how to candle the eggs to see if they are in fact fertilized. I am no expert at any of this so this is going to be a really fun adventure. Updates as they happen so stay tuned!!

Ranch De La Chrissy #FarmlifeFriday

It’s about dang time for a new #FarmlifeFriday post. Sheesh! Life starts to catch up and I forget that I want to blog. But I am not complaining. I cannot complain about life.

The chicken coop is DONE!!! I think the last time I blogged about the coop we were just finishing up the building. Now it’s painted and decorated!! I found a warm, not rainy, day in March and painted the entire coop. I decided to do it barn-like, but since we don’t have edges, I made my own. I taped off all the edges, painted the entire thing red, then hand-painted all the white.

Isn’t it adorable? Just like this it’s pretty awesome but I wanted to add some Chrissy flare to it so I added some art. The original coop had a sign that said, “CHICK-INN.” I wanted to keep that but update it. So I added the white around the original red paint, and then made a new sign to go with it. And every Bed and Breakfast needs a tagline. 😉 Also, the B&B sign was made with a piece of wood that had fallen off the “creepy house” next door. #Recycling!!!

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I went on Amazon and bought some cheap tin signs. Then I had this brilliant idea to paint a rooster on an old cookie sheet. I mod podged over the roo so hopefully he will stay nice for a while.

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If I see any other cool signs I might add a couple more, but as of now, it’s doneskies!!

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After I painted one rooster on a cookie sheet, I found a stack of really old and nasty cookie sheets at a thrift store to paint more. I painted one for my friend Heather a couple weeks ago. It’s her bantam rooster name Squiggy.

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Chickens are all doing great. Did I blog about Ragnar passing away? I am not sure if I did. It was an unfortunate accident. He was left out over night and was killed by an owl. It was a terrible loss. #Farmlife 😦 So besides that, all the other chickens are doing great. Everyone is still laying and we’re selling eggs like crazy!!

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My next ranch project was expanding our garden. Operation “Not Buying Produce” has begun. I have been growing seeds in my bedroom since February and just yesterday put 90% of them outside. We started with a garden that was probably 10x20ish. I doubled it. I tilled the grass, added a bedload of compost, then re-tilled everything to get ready to plant.

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I currently have tomatoes (various kinds), cabbage, zucchini, yellow squash, artichokes, cilantro, basil, and peas growing nicely. I also planted a few seeds directly into the ground and those are, lettuce, cucumbers, and broccoli. Still in my room are all my peppers, bells, jalepenos, and another mexican pepper (not exactly sure what that one is) but those aren’t quite ready to be put outside yet. We are well on our way to self-sustained living!! Or at least on our way to make less trips to buy produce and eat right out of the garden.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Avocados: My Nemesis. #FarmlifeFriday

If you’ve followed me for a while, you will know that I love to garden. And I’m pretty darn good at it. I always have something growing inside, I grow a lot of things from seed, I love to rehab plants, and I love having a garden. But, the one thing I failed at over and over and over and over annnnnnndddd over, is growing an avocado sprout from a seed. I’ve grown pineapples from saving the tops, but I can’t sprout an avocado. EVERYONE tells me how easy it is, but I have tried a gazillion times to do it and it never happens. Why do I fail at this? And why am I trying one more time even though I swore I would never try again?

Well, while scrolling Instagram the other day I saw a picture of several avocado seeds growing in a windowsill. I commented that this was the one plant I have failed at. Another person commented, and they said the most interesting and most likely true reason I have ever heard and have never thought of before. He said that most store-bought avocados have been bred and hybridized and basically messed with so much that the seeds are probably sterile. DUH!! Makes total sense. He then said I should try an organic avocado because it would be less messed with. GENIUS!

So off to the store I went. One $2 avocado and one 89cent avocado later….

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When I cut them open I tried super hard not to score the pit at all, and I scooped it out rather than using the knife trick to get it out. I wrote the date on the mason jars so I can keep track and put the organic sticker on the organic one so I can know which is which. Here we go again. Millionth time’s the charm!!

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Chickens are doing fabulous!! And laying like champs. This is what I see regularly. Isn’t it so cute?

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Yesterday and today in Virginia it’s been about 75 degrees. So I spent the day outside and conquered the front flower beds. Over the winter I let the weeds grow but I learned my lesson…never do that again. It got too out of control. Also, I pulled up all that black tarpy stuff because it was very clearly not doing it’s job!!

Here’s the front before….

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Those weeds are crazy! They are a trailing weed so they just COVER everything. And you can see the tarpy stuff which drove me crazy.

8 bags of weeds and trash later… (I only actually trashed one bag. The rest I emptied in the woods to decompose)

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Voila!!!

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The birds sure did love it today! They hung out with me all afternoon and ate all the worms I was digging up. And then they took dirt baths of course.

My heart kept telling me to go buy flowers today, but my brain kept saying, “No!! There’s still a possibility of freezing and snow!! It’s only February!!!” So I’ll wait. I’ll just start all my seeds in the house tomorrow!!

Happy Friday!!!

Spa Day!! #FarmlifeFriday

Judging by the title you were probably thinking I was going to post all about a super wonderful spa day that I had to combat my back injury, but nooooo!!! This spa day was for one our girls, one of the chicken girls.

I noticed Hei Hei was getting a little overly poopy on her hindquarters so we gave her a bath.

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Chickens really do enjoy a bath. She didn’t fuss at all and didn’t even make any noises.

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I even used the blow dryer while she stood there and enjoyed it.

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She was having a marvelous time until it was time to be picked up and taken outside.

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She flapped violently while simultaneously pooping…allllllll over the bathroom and my husband. So not only was last Sunday a chicken spa day, it was a clean the entire bathroom day.

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This all goes in the “Things I didn’t know before I became a farmer” handbook. 🙂

Ducks and Carrots #FarmlifeFriday

Just a quick post for Farmlife Friday!!

We are officially duckless. The lady who took our 2 ducks about a month ago came back and got the other 2. She sent us photos of the reunion!

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They are all so happy to be back together and in a huge pond. The lady told us that our female assumed her position as head honcho immediately. We were sad to watch them go but happy that they could go to a great new home. She assured us that they won’t be eaten and they will live with her until their deaths.

After all the snow melted it started to rain and we have had only a couple days when the sun comes out. Of course my first thing on the agenda was clean out of the chicken coop. It was nice to go out there and not play slip-n-slide in all the mud. While I was outside on coop duty, I decided to go in the garden and rip out my lettuce plants. I remembered that we had carrots growing so I started to uproot one, then found another, then another, then a bunch!

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Some weren’t ready but others were pretty good size. It was neat to have a crop that was kind of a “set it and forget it” type.

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Digging those up reminded me that I need to go through all our seeds and figure out what we’re planting this year and get those baby sprouts started.

Chickens are still happy and laying like crazy. My husband is on a trip so the eggs aren’t getting eaten as fast as usual so I’m stocking up. I gave away another dozen this week.

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Happy Friday!!!

New Year New Coop! #FarmlifeFriday

My last post started by saying I couldn’t believe I haven’t posted and this is where it’s true! We got 3 new hens before Christmas and I haven’t told you guys yet! That is weird!!!

Let me introduce you to our new girls…HeiHei (formally Robin but we changed it because we wanted one named after the chicken in Moana), Peach, and Rocky. They are such fantastic girls. They were hand-raised so they don’t mind being held and they are just all around great chickens. Rocky is the best. She is soooo curious and she has the cutest little coo! They were welcomed into our flock with open wings and are doing awesome!

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Here’s the big addition to the backyard…an improved coop!!

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My husband was working half days during the winter break so every day when he got home we’d head outside to work on the new coop. We kept the original bottom but took off the old enclosed top. They have a ton of space plus nesting boxes. We still need to paint it and add some plastic stuff to the roof. That will come soon! We need some warm days and no rain first.

Daisy didn’t take long to test out the new roosting spots and open space on top.20161229_143222

Hargid was the first one to figure out the ladder up into the top. That’s my girl. 😉20161229_142254

Even though it’s cold, the girls are still laying pretty consistently. Here’s a pic of about 3 days of eggs. We ended up giving away a half dozen to the one of the gate guards on base. My husband sees him every single day and the guard had an interest in fresh eggs. Ask and ye shall receive.

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After the addition of the new chickens we started to really think about the ducks. We originally wanted the ducks for eggs, but you’ve read our “misfortune” with that venture; we only have 1 girl out of 4 ducks. So we made the decision to re-home 2 of the males. My husband posted on a chicken Facebook page that we were giving away 2 free male ducks. We had 2 bites. One was from a guy who said he wanted them but didn’t say too much else. We immediately figured he wanted them for dinner. We didn’t say no, but we had a fall back in case he didn’t show up. Well, he didn’t show up. A lady came and got them and we are so happy she did. She has a huge pond on her property and had only one duck, Fwank (yes, Fwank). She has a ton of kids in her neighborhood that love him and she wanted him to have friends. She let ours out in the pond and then she sent us photos of Fwank with Hank and Spank, their new names.

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She says they only leave the pond to eat. That makes us so happy to know they went to a great home.

Flash forward a couple days…I started to notice that they remaining 2 ducks don’t seem happy. We took away their family. So we contacted the lady to ask if she’d like the remaining boy and girl. She said yes! She’ll come back over Sunday to pick them up and they can all be reunited. We will miss them but she is giving them a better home. They have a kiddie pool here and a pond there. And now she can have the duck poop mess and constant wet dirt. I won’t miss that.

It snowed about a foot last weekend so this week has just been the birds coming out on a little spot to hang out. We’ve been giving them extra food and even some warm oatmeal. They love it!

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Yesterday,  HeiHei laid what we’ve heard is called a “fart egg.” Basically an egg that wasn’t done cookin’ but was laid anyway. I added it to my husband’s omelet this morning. It was so cute!

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Happy Friday!! 🐔

Merry Chicken Christmas #FarmlifeFriday

Merry Christmas, everyone!! It’s already been a really fantastic holiday season at our house.  We bought our first REAL tree this year and I’ve kept it alive! We bought ourselves a new couch! And Miss Hagrid laid her first egg yesterday!

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Isn’t that beautiful?! I didn’t know that her eggs would be speckled! And it’s a nice size for her first. We’re so proud! Below is a Daisy egg comparison.

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We’re still waiting for our lady duck to lay an egg. It could be soon because we saw a male duck mounting her a couple days ago.  At this point we just have 4 pet ducks, which is okay, but they stink and are gross and don’t interact with us at all. So they’re kinda lame. Cute but lame.

We’re headed out to buy some wood today to revamp the coop a bit. Stay tuned for that excitement.  Until then,  please enjoy Santa Hagrid! And have a wonderful holiday!

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Farm to Table #FarmlifeFriday

I’ve never grown lettuce. I even had to reach out of some of my Instagram friends asking them to harvest it. In case you don’t know, you clip what you want and leave the rest of the plant to continue growing. Last night I grabbed the scissors and clipped away. I made two huge salads for the hub and I. And so yummy! Fresh, crisp lettuce (or lettuce variety) is pretty darn delicious.

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While I was making a lettuce bouquet, I decided to check on the status of our carrots. This is another crop I am not sure about harvesting. The one I ate was peeking out from the top of the soil so I assumed it was ready. But it was kind of short so I bet I can wait a bit longer. I washed this guy off with the hose and chomped away. Again, pretty darn tasty!!

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Egg production has increased the last couple weeks. Daisy is a laying machine and one or both of the French girls are laying now. The French girls are Faverolles and they only lay about 260 eggs per year. Yesterday we had two eggs and have been getting one almost every day. So we are thinking both are laying. We went from one egg a day to sometimes three!! Woo!!!

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And the yolks from the girls are so big! Daisy has laid two double yolkers so far. And the Frenchies’ eggs are smaller in size, but the yolks are pretty big. This last weekend I was cooking eggs for everyone and I had to use a couple store-bought. I took a photo of all of them together to show the difference. What I’ve found is that the size you buy at the store does not necessarily mean the egg content is that size. A large egg on the outside may be more white and less yolk. Frenchies “small” eggs are closer to a large store-bought egg.

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The bottom two eggs are store-bought. They are the Simple Truth brand from Kroger; organic, humane farm, large, brown eggs. They are lighter in color (which I think means less rich) and smaller than the farm fresh. Top right is Daisy, large, brown egg. Top left is one of the French girls, smaller, beige egg. Look at the yolk difference.

Now if only the damn girl duck would get with the program, we could stop buying store-bought all together.

Oh yeah, I totally forgot to share these!! My new socks from the husband!! #crazychickenlady

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Daisy, Daisy, Bo-Baisy #FarmlifeFriday

I’m always trying to think of fun titles!

Not much happening on the farm lately. Daisy is back to laying every day. I read that you can’t expect young hens to have a regular cycle at first because their bodies are still trying to figure out just what the heck is going on. So it makes sense that Daisy would have a little dry spell and then back to it. Most eggs were brown and perfect until…

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She laid a shell-less egg! How weird and cool!! It was soft and had a little break at the top, but I managed to hold it carefully and save it until later to show my daughter and husband. It’s normal for this to happen, again, because Daisy is young. She has the right food, oyster shells, and her own eggs shells to eat so I’m not worried. She took off from laying the next day and then back at it.

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Her last two eggs have been pointier than before, but I guess eggs are like snowflakes; no two are the same. It’s so fun to see how different each day can be.

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I threw one of our carved pumpkins out in the run before it started to rot. They could care less. I have some picky eaters. They ate the cooked pumpkin, didn’t eat the canned pumpkin, and didn’t eat the raw carving pumpkin. Oh well.

I’m hoping our ONE girl duck decides to start laying soon. I’m thinking it will be spring before Hagrid starts. Who knows about the French girls. Chickens are weird! 😉

PeeWee & The Ducks #FarmlifeFriday

Update since last post… Daisy is a freeloader again. Could be the cold spell we had, not sure. I’ve gone in to talk with her and coddled her, but she isn’t listening to my kind words. My husband has been gone and he’s the one who gets to enjoy her eggs every morning, so maybe HE’S the one who needs to sit down with her and talk some sense into her. SSDD with the other chickens.

I talk about the chickens a lot, but what about the ducks? First, boy do they stink!! And do you know how long it takes them to turn fresh water in a kiddie pool into a poop pool? I’ll tell you. It takes exactly 10 seconds. Holy moley! I thought having the pool in the run would provide not only duck fun but also another water supply for the chickens. I was extremely wrong. Upside? Once spring rolls around again we’ll have nice duck poop water to water the garden.

When I started this Farmlife blog I mentioned PeeWee, our runt duck. I’m finally going to post about him. We got him along with our others, all at the same time. We quickly learned he was the runt. As the ducks turned from yellow to white and started to grow, he didn’t. He was picked on by the chickens and always ran over at the food bowl. We decided we could name him because he was easy to distinguish from the others. Then we started to notice he didn’t look like his brothers and sisters.

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We’ve read about frizzled chickens… Could he be a frizzled duck? We Googled it and asked all the bird forums and they all said the same two things; either he was a goose (there’s a kind that looks like that) or he was one of a kind. The way we described him was that he looked like he was wearing his big brother’s hand-me-down feathers. He was the Harry Potter of ducks.

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One thing we knew for sure, he was a boy. When we decided to get ducks the main purpose, besides pets, was eggs. We love duck eggs. But how can you tell if you have boys or girls? Well, girl ones are loud. Duh! Typical females. They have a very loud QUACK. Boy ducks have a raspy quack or even lack a quack. PeeWee lacked a quack. He sounded like dogs that have had their voice boxes removed. The other way is the drake feather. It’s one little feather on the boy ducks butt that curls up.

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PeeWee has the most distinct drake feather to go with his silent quack.

Time has gone by, PeeWee has finally grown into his feathers…

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And we’ve figured out that out of four ducks, we have only one flippin’ female. So much for loads of eggs. Three have the drake feather, and one is a loud mouth. But, hopefully by spring she will start laying. By then maybe Hagrid will lay, too. And we’re still holding out for the French girls to start back up.

Happy Friday!! 🐔🐤

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