Friday, December 30, 2022

The Legend of Houdini



We lost our beloved Houdini this week. 
She is the lovely gal to the left here,
an Americana who was a curious soul.
She was the low chook on the totem pole,
and, unfortunately for me, my favorite,
as I always root for the underdog.
I hope she felt loved and cared for
and enjoyed her life here with us.
Bless her as she continues her journey.
I hope we meet again some day.
The Legend of Houdini
From the beginning, she stood out as a curious and crafty girl.
Never one to be caught, much less cuddled,
she was as quick as a flash with her poultry prowess.
In fact, she earned her name because 
the very first night she came to our homestead,
she shot out of the back of our vehicle
and hid in the woods.
She could not be corralled and so,
 spent the night on the edge of the treeline, alone.
Oh, she was a slippery one, that girl.
She lived life on her own terms,
mostly ignoring the bad behavior 
the other chooks displayed toward her.
Whenever Gandalf made his advances,
she made her way to the top of the coop,
once again escaping a most unpleasant circumstance.
It's surprising that one of the only pictures we have (above),
is her with her Americana sister, HENrietta.
She was laid to rest right where she started,
in the woods near the azalea bushes.
You will be sorely missed.


Sunday, December 25, 2022

Happy Holidays!



May your holiday season be merry and bright!
God bless us all, every one!

Friday, December 2, 2022

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday!
It's been a while and we are well into winter weather,
regardless of what the calendar says.
We've already enjoyed the first fire of the season.
Here's what's going on around the homestead.

Composting can be done in a number of ways.
We have a weekly compost bucket that we empty into a closed bin.
It contains whatever food scraps our chooks or worms don't eat.
Another area holds our yard waste and is an open-air system.
I wanted to try to make compost right in the chicken run,
as I've seen it done on "The Hollar Homestead" YouTube channel.
Welded wire was used to make a ring,
and wood chips, leaves and some food scraps were placed inside.

The chooks showed interest at first,
but wouldn't scale the wire mesh to explore,
so I took it off.
Since then, they've been digging, scratching
and pooping up a storm!
I occasionally add treats in the pile to keep them interested.
We'll see how it goes.

The yard waste area has been cleaned up for fall,
and we are starting over.
One side is for the debris that is accumulated
from fall to spring,
and the other side is what accumulates from spring to fall.

The "sifted" finished compost was added to this bin
and two 5-gallon buckets for use throughout the year.

 Top dressing with compost is one of the ways
we feed the garden.
It also encourages worms to work their magic.

Help was garnered for creating this massive leaf pile.
The boys mulched the neighbor's leaves,
then ours, and transported them to the designated area on our property.
It made such a difference having assistance.
These mulched leaves will be added to 
all veggie and flower beds to keep the soil covered.
This will not only feed the soil, but
deter weeds as well.

The cover crops are helping in that area as well.
This is a cover crop of winter wheat
that not only covers one of the beds,
but doubles as a treat for the chooks!
They enjoy it when it is tossed into their run.

The other cover crop being used this season
is a fall/winter mix.
This was sown in the pollinator bed.

A few things are still growing out there,
despite the cold temps we've seen.
This parsley is a real trooper
and seems unfazed by the dip in the thermometer.

For the life of me, I can't remember what I've planted here.
The leaves are almost spiny,
but the chooks seem to enjoy it.

A few cold-hearty crops are making it through,
although seem to be growing v-e-r-y slowly.
We'll take anything we can get.

I'm happy to report that the wood chip pile
is almost completely gone.
It's been used to cover the chook run as well as the garden paths.
And just in time, as we are to have our trees in back
trimmed and another wood chip pile will fill this space.
Such a blessing!

The flower beds look a bit barren,
as some time was taken this week to tidy them up.
As you can see, the yarrow is still going strong.

Our blueberry bushes have a wonderful blush of color.
I'm awaiting soil test results for this area,
as we did not have a great harvest last year.

The chooks continue to produce eggs,
amuse and delight us with their antics.
We've recently learned how much they adore
cauliflower, so we've been adding it to their diet weekly,
along with turnip greens and any leftover kale or lettuce.

Here's hoping that December is finding you well,
at peace and enjoying the spirit of the season.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Friday, November 4, 2022

Garden Friday

Welcome back to Garden Friday!
We're sharing what's growing on 
in our Zone 7b Piedmont garden.

Our veggie garden is making progress.
Several leeks were transplanted into raised beds,
but I sure wish I had planted more.

The garlic is up!
The entire bed germinated,
so no reseeding was neccessary.
This crop will be harvested in May or June.

An additional 20 or so cloves were planted
at the same time
along the border of our front flower bed.
Since I couldn't stop there,
I decided to add a few more to this area yesterday.
Can you ever have enough garlic?

Ooooh, the kale is lookin' good!
Having sampled some (just to make sure),
I can assure you that it is crunchy and sweet.
This is another of my favorite things to eat.
There are several varieties planted,
including lacinato, Siberian and Vates kale.

A new variety to me, Curly Roja,
finds space in another of the smaller raised beds.

Although some of the cabbages have been munched,
this beauty is coming along nicely.
This is the first year I've grown cabbage to this stage.
I think covering the beds when they were small
helped them get a leg up on the growing season.

Snap peas were added to a couple of the beds.
I haven't thus far had much success with this crop,
although it's one of the tastiest snacks in the garden.
Try, try again.
The cover crops are filling in the beds
that aren't being used this season.
The bonus is that the chooks love the taste!
Some for the bed, some for them.

I'm about halfway through the wood chip pile,
which is a good thing, 
because we are planning on having some tree trimming done
at the beginning of the year,
so another load will be added to this spot.

Most of the spent perennials have been removed
from the pollinator bed.
A fall cover crop was sown and is popping up.
Some of our ornamental plants are breezing right through.
The yarrow just doesn't quit.
This will need to be divided in the spring.
I'll find somewhere to put it,
or give some away to other gardeners.

The orange mums that kept company with these purple ones 
were removed, as they started petering out.
I'm not sure if they were simply crowded out,
or if it was user error.
These need to be relocated,
as they are spilling over onto the walkway.

Coneflowers are still blooming!
I never tire of their cheery perfection.

This bush daisy adds a bit of brightness 
to the front porch bed.
I like the combination of purple and yellow.

The girls are doing well.
Most have gotten all their feathers back
after a molting period.
They enjoy snacks in their Omlet treat caddy,
as well as cabbage or kale that we hang up on a hook.
They are one of the best things about our homestead.
 Life is just better with chickens.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Garden Friday

Welcome back to Garden Friday,
where we share what's going on in our
Zone 7b Piedmont homestead garden.
Between nursing my injured back
and some technical difficulties,
it's been a while since I've checked in.
Fall is in full swing,
as the colors and temperatures are showing us. 
As I write this, it's 30 degrees outside.
This picture was taken at a nearby park,
where sister and I enjoyed a long hike
before the frosty mornings hit.
The mums in the front porch bed make it known
that autumn is indeed here to stay.
These are paired with a purple version,
and are spilling over onto the walkway.
This goldenrod recently came up in our yard,
right over the septic tank area.
It's a bright pop of color in a sea of oregano
that had been planted there by someone else.
Some surprises are a good thing.

This clematis had been moved from
the back of the house, which was much too shady,
to the fencing around the chicken run.
It finally decided to grace us with a bloom!

Garlic was planted in one of our 3X8 beds
last week.
I bought garlic seed from Sow True Seed this year,
as the last two years,
our heads have been on the small side.

We had enough to fill the entire bed, 
with a handful of smaller cloves leftover.
This harvest is always shared with sister.
The leftovers were added to a flower bed as a border.

Placing some welded wire stakes across the top of the bed
should deter the squirrels from digging in the soil.
This bed has drip irrigation, which we are still able to use through the colder months. 
Cover crops were also sown in a couple of beds
and germinated within 3 days!

The sweet potato harvest was a bit disappointing.
We got about eight and a half pounds.
The foliage was not as abundant as in past years,
so I wasn't that surprised.
I'm thinking maybe I didn't water enough.

They are curing in our coat closet for a few weeks.
Then they will be ready for eating!

One of the pots of turmeric had cracked open,
so I replanted it in a bigger pot.
I will do the rest in the spring,
as they are all in need of repotting.
For now, they will spend the winter in the garage,
along with the aloe vera.

A few of the tubers were removed for use.
It can be used as a tea, or grated right into any dish.
Turmeric is one of the best things to aid with inflammation.

Poor Wilma.
She is molting something fierce,
and with this cold snap,
I pray that she will be okay.
Several of the chooks have already gone through
the molting process, so our egg production
has gone down just a bit.

They are enjoying their greens and cabbage every week.
Sometimes I think I need to grow these things just for them.
They are worth any trouble it might be.

How are things in your fall garden?