Homestead Update: Chicken Thieves, Baby Sprouts, and My New Favorite Book
Happy weekend to you! I've been thinking about trying something a little new on the blog, nothing too drastic, but I've been wanting to share more day-to-day updates on our tiny, urban homestead with you all. Life on a small hobby farm, a brand new one at that, has its many ups and downs, and while I love sharing all of my informative posts with little stories, it might be fun to just share the snapshots from our week, the little growths and successes from our garden and flock, and even some of the goofy things that we learn, hear, and fail at. There are lots of photos from our weeks that don't get shared, and I've been wanting to find a place to put them. As I stood in my greenhouse today, watering my sprouts, I thought about how I wanted to just share how they were looking with all of you, especially those of you who are dreaming of gardening or are gardening for the first time with us. I should be sharing the tiny progresses, too!
So let's talk about it. Grab a cuppa and some wooly socks and let's talk about vegetables and herbs and chickens and journals and books and music. I want to share all of the fun things that I've discovered this week. I hope that I can keep up with this weekly ritual! It will be fun to see where we're at a few months from now (:
We've been bringing the flock out into the yard for a little while now, on warmer days, so that they can explore the yard and get used to living in a larger space than their brooder. The weather has been pleasantly warm, in the upper 60s and 70s, and I find that our chickens are pretty tough and don't seem to mind. When I first brought them home, it was kind of like having a newborn baby, where you swaddle and layer them because you think they're cold. Though chickens are cold blooded and therefore, don't react to heat like we do, they do need to live somewhere warm, but I've just been following their cues for how to measure the temperature they require.
In all, they absolutely love being outside. Each time I bring them out to the grass, they spread their wings like crazies and fly around, so thankful to be out where there is room to roam. I love watching them all fight and scamper for tasty treats; the other day, Dorothy, one of our Australorps, found a giant black spider and gobbled it up quickly. I've been dropping new treats into their brooder every now and then. It was a few days ago that I mashed up a hard boiled egg (the ones we naturally dyed, which you can learn how to make here!) and let them pick at it. That's probably been their favorite goodie so far, which kind of grosses me out. I guess if you feed chickens eggshells for calcium, you have to make sure they're mashed really well or else chickens will start to eat their own eggs they've laid. Weird!!
While I was feeding them a treat, I sat near where they were picking outside and munched on a quesadilla I had made. Don't worry, I made sure I washed my hands and was sanitized. It was only a moment later that Muriel, our nosy and largest pullet wandered up to my chair, jumped up onto my lap, and stole my quesadilla right out of my hands. Uhm... what?! She is brave and also rude. Rude! They're starting to get too used to me...
We made a stop at one of our favorite country stores, Sisters' Garden and Bloom, last week. It is the perfect collection of reclaimed home items, gifts, botanical treasures, and junk. I just love it there! I always find some old gardening tools or dried flowers while I'm hunting. If you're ever in the Iowa City area, it is definitely worth a stop and always a place we recommend to travelers.
Enjoying my new book, The New Homesteader, by Bella + Nick Ivins. It is so beautiful and full of lots of great tips! I mostly just love the pictures. I wish I could live in an old, English brick house. Dreams!!
I tried making our favorite sweet potato pie recipe the other day and substituted yogurt for sour cream. Now that we live out in the country and are trying to eat as much local, organic food as possible, we don't really have a big stock of ingredients on hand like in the past. Instead of running out to the store constantly, I'm trying to just conserve and use the ingredients we already have. Well... the yogurt substitution didn't really work. I think it might have if I had used Greek yogurt; the consistency would have matched better. This yogurt was a bit watery, and in turn, made the pie watery. I had to bake it for an extra 40 minutes, and it just was not the same. Don't recommend that!
It's been getting really warm inside the greenhouse. Though it is beautiful, it doesn't operate like a fully functioning greenhouse. We don't have heat sources or fans or an opening roof. It's just a little glass building with ventilation and a door. I think it works rather well, but I am interested to see how our plants hold up on the really hot days of summer. On the warm days, we've been opening the door to the greenhouse and letting the breeze come in. I walked in on Monday after a hot weekend, and saw that my cauliflower and cabbage seedlings were looking sad. A handful of them had just died on me. I decided to give all of the seedlings a heavy drink. I had just been misting them thoroughly for the entirety of their lives, but it seemed that they needed something stronger. Thankfully, the half dead ones perked up quite a bit, and I have decided to do a heavy watering once or twice a week and mist once or twice a day. They're starting to get a little sensitive! I cannot wait to put them outside. Any ideas for flowers and plantings to keep rabbits out of a garden? We don't want to do fencing this year, and I've heard that marigolds detract pesky bunnies.
Our friends gifted us this wonderful, transportable chicken run the other day. Oh, we love it! It's so nice. We can move it all about the yard and let the chickens roam different areas to prevent boredom and also prevent them from getting in the neighbor's yard without us having to watch them so carefully. I like it for air and ground predators as well. Our neighbors on all sides have really large dogs that make me nervous.
Tad's new favorite book, Kingdom of You, gifted to us by Lost My Name. We were able to customize it to all of his favorite things, like animals and ice cream. It was so fun to put together! He really loves getting to see all of the different animal illustrations throughout the pages. We have to sit and name each one. He's been talking really well lately and learning a few new words each day. I am just so proud of him! I thought he'd never talk for a while there.
I made some rabbit stock the other day. So fun! I had been saving the front end of the rabbit I cooked making Brown Rabbit Frigassee just for this purpose. I have about five freezer bags full of vegetable scraps. Ah! There's just been a lot piling up and not a lot of time to sit in the house and do nothing. But, I had a rainy day with four hours to spare, and made this stock. It helped to make it alongside a loaf of sourdough, which takes about 5-6 hours. That was work! But they both turned out really delicious. I'll have to share both recipes soon. This preparation for Country Living Fair is kicking my butt, yet again! Right now we have two different timelines in our heads: before CLF and after CLF. Ha! (;
How was your week? I'd love to hear about your homesteading adventures.