Homestead Update: Indigo Dye Party, Some Changes Around the Blog, and A Garden Growth Spurt

Hey there, friends! It feels like a really long time since I have written to you. To be honest, I have been feeling a little drained from writing the blog. Not because I am running out of ideas, but rather, I have so many ideas, and not being able to accomplish every single one of them is leaving me feeling anxious and depleted. If you consider yourself a creative or a go getter like me, or even a perfectionist, than I think you can relate to overextending your own abilities. Over the past weekend, Jill and I took an unexpected trip to Sharon Springs, New York. I mentioned that in last week's Homestead Update. We ended up being in a show that weekend, and that was just SO exciting. I am really hoping that some good things come from it... things to talk about in the future! (;

But while we traveled across the states with our trailer full of goodies in tow, it gave us quite a bit of time to chat about the business and where we want it to head. 30+ hours of time to be exact, if you count going both ways. I started mentioning how much pressure the blog was starting to weigh on me. And why? It was my blog, and even though I knew that our readers didn't necessarily have expectations about when I was going to post, my personal expectations were the cause of most of the pressure. Y'all have been so good to me over the past year! I just can't believe how much our readership has grown, and it warms my heart when our content is enjoyed by you. It was brought to my attention that it might be good for me to blog less. Maybe instead of 5-6 times a week, we could look into only 3 times a week. Because I was pushing the limit with a post a day only to make myself feel like I had accomplished more, when really I was putting out content that could be even better. Right?

With that in mind, I am going to try this slower schedule. I probably didn't even have to write that to you because you really won't notice much of a difference around here. So just ignore my ramblings, but I wanted to say something, because I love you guys, and it just wouldn't feel fair if I didn't say anything. 

As soon as we got home late in the evening Monday night, I woke up and headed over to my cousin's house. Did you know that a majority of my family lives here in Kalona? Yup! It's pretty much our entire extended family on Jill's side right here in town. I absolutely adore my cousins, and they are all creative themselves. A couple of weeks ago she and I decided that we wanted to try making Shibori. Have you seen that? It's trending on Pinterest! Ha!!

I didn't realize how absolutely fun it would be. She invited over some friends, and we all dyed with indigo together. What a blaaaaaast! I couldn't believe how much easier it was than I thought and also just so nice to gather with a group of women, eat good food, chat about life and making and business, and create some beautiful pieces together. Iowa always surprises me. It's like I meet a new person every week who turns into a lifelong friend that I would have never met anywhere else in this country. These women were awesome, and I hope they enjoyed making their Shibori!

It honestly inspired me to consider hosting workshops here at our studio and homestead for natural dyeing. I've been looking into other natural things I can use to dye with like madder root and henna and cochineal. Would any of you locals be interested in that? I think it would be so fun to come out for a few hours, eat some good food, and just create together as women (or men, too!). Gah! The possibilities!!!

Holy cow! The garden just exploded with growth and greatness over the weekend. We were gone for four days, and so much changed. I was amazed. We were facetiming with Kurt, my dad, on the drive home and when I asked about the garden all he could say was, "I think you will be surprised... and really happy!" 

He was right! The sunflowers are twice as huge, the nasturtiums are started to BLOOM already. I mean, what?! Iowa soil, you have got it going on. Honestly, the soil here is just fantastic, at least in our backyard. But I don't think it's ever been touched by anyone, at least not in a long time. Also, remember how I saw I was experimenting with planting carrot seeds with radish starts? Supposedly the radishes grow and make room for the carrots, so the carrots don't get all funny shaped, and then you can harvest the radishes much earlier than the carrots. You know, interplanting, if you want to get technical. Well, I bent down to peer into the radishes, where I saw a bunch of carrot seedlings popping up, and found that the radishes were already starting to get pushed out of the ground! I am not sure if they're just suppose to grow like that or what, I'll have to do some reading, but jeez! Go baby carrots. 

As far as lessons to be learned, because not all gardening can be amazing all of the time, I have learned to do what the seed packet says. I planted a lot of herbs and a few vegetables from seed in the garden, like just dug a trench and sprinkled seeds, and I feel like I probably shouldn't have done that sprinkling part. Because EVERYTHING under the sun popped up. I'm pretty sure every single seed I sprinkled germinated and now it just looks like a forest of lettuces and basil and dill and carrots. I don't know how I am going to thin that out... but I will try. Just hoping I don't regret it! It will be time to thin when they are about two inches high, if you were curious.

Also, as you can tell, we still need to mulch and fill in the paths between beds. Don't worry - we know! (;

The chicken girls are good! To be honest, I have spent too much time sitting with them and observing in a while. Tad's been under the weather, and I was away, so the girls have been left to themselves. That's alright, though! I do still let them out to free range in the late afternoon/evenings while I work in the garden. There was a day this past week where I thought I lost them all. I had been watching from the corner of my eye but not paying too close attention, when I looked up and they were all gone! They like to forage and scratch in the bushes alongside our studio, right by their run (why they don't try to venture out farther beats me! like try something new, girls!!!). I walked up to the bushes, and there were no chickens to be seen. They weren't in the run, so I thought maybe they had wandered back into their coop. When I walked back around the studio and into the coop - NO CHICKENS. Of course, I panicked, looking to and fro in our yard for any sign of them. Nothing. Our yard is fairly large, so even though I was scared, I thought it was strange that they had been able to escape from sight in such a short amount of time. I tried the bushes one more time, and there they were, lying piled on top of one another IN a bush. Like right in the center of it, all sleeping. Ugh. I love 'em.

Arlene and Muriel, the two barred rocks, are both getting their combs in! They grew out of no where, and all of the chickens faces are starting to turn a bright red. I had to run to the feed store the other day to get them more food and realized it was time to upgrade their diet from chick crumbles to grower feed. Yay! I can't believe it will only be about 8-10 more weeks until they are laying. I also can't believe that chick season is over at the feed store. I was loving walking in to see little day old chicks in there. They grow really fast, those feather babies!

We've been getting a lot of kind of concerned messages from readers about 1. the chicken wire around their run and 2. if we're feeding them mealworms. Since we haven't really made any mentions of the coop and how it is constructed, I'm finding the assumptions kind of funny! We did use chicken wire, which isn't normally recommended for outdoor chicken enclosures. While we know this, it's the choice that we made. I think that's the main point of all of this - conscious decisions after lots of research.
We really don't have a lot of predators around, just lots of rabbits and a few neighborhood dogs, but they never wander into our yard. It's definitely possible that it could happen, but we'll just see. Our run is actually really huge. It's 6 feet tall, so no worries on air predators, and it's buried into the ground. Honestly, we haven't had any critters curiously looking at our chickens at all. As far as mealworms go, I probably feed our girls way too many (; 

Arlene getting a drink of water. Look at that comb! Impressive, girl. 

Did you know that we're hosting an Open House at our studio and homestead on June 9 + 10?! YEAH! You should totally come out and say hello. I'll be sharing some info about our upcoming classes, you can make and take an herbal bath tea, check out our greenhouse and garden, shop our showroom, and say hello to the feather brains. It will be SO fun! If you want more info, you can click here and check out our events page. We'll share any other events and open houses we'll be at there. Then you can find a place to meet us!

If you've been looking out for our linen clothing, we'll have it available there. It will go up online shortly afterwards, but we are still deciding on an official date. Traveling really threw our schedule off! 

I hope you have a fun weekend. I think I may try to sneak off to the farmer's market in Iowa City tomorrow and hopefully the flower man will be there! He's my favorite. See ya!

xoxo Kayla