I have so many photos to post… I asked myself, do I add several small blogs to Garden, Cook, Eat, Repeat! or do I put up one big one and give ya all I’ve got?
We’re going to go with one big one. 🙂 I hope you like the photos. Most were taken with my Canon PowerShot SX530 HS Camera. A couple are from the iPhone, of course.
It’s been a looooong few weeks (months?). You know what we’ve been up to: coop building and putting in the 2020 gardens (list of what we planted) – and the challenges there with frail seedlings, plus there are job responsibilities. I’ve had big projects stacked up one after the other. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But I do not want to talk about “work.” (Grateful for a job, yes, but I long to do something I truly love to do.)
Let’s start with a small garden update.
We LOVE Amish Paste Tomatoes. They are fantastic for canning and making pasta sauce. But this is a rough year for tomatoes. The seedlings (all varieties) were very small. I honestly question if they did poorly because of the new LED plant light (photo here) we bought and used this year versus the “old style” T5 fluorescent lights. I am going to try and stick with the T5 fluorescent lights – the challenge will be sourcing replacement bulbs. I could not find any. Everyone seems to be switching to these LED grow lights.
Anyhow, we planted about 20-24 Amish Paste seedlings at the end of May. Between their frailty and cutworms, we lost most. I’m down to about 6 to 8. 🙁
Above: Amish Paste Seedlings in the garden.
Above: The peppers look okay, the squash is hanging on.
We also decided to try growing some squash (Black Beauty Zucchini- pictured above, Butternut, Honeynut, and Blue Hubbard) in one of the rows of decomposed sheep manure in the space above the Upper Garden. We had the space and some fairly robust squash seedlings, so we decided to give it a try.
I’m happy to report that the three varieties of garlic planted in fall 2019 are doing well overall in the Upper Garden – yay!
Above: Scapes, that delicate garlic springtime treat, grow on hardneck garlic varieties.
We harvested some from our Music Garlic, diced, sauteed in butter and olive oil,
then cooked with fluffy scrambled eggs. So yummy!
You can use sauteed scapes with a variety of dishes: mashed potatoes, steak and onions, sausage, etc. You can also add scapes to meat courses you might bake or roast.
And of course, our girls are a delight…
We built our coop about three feet off the ground for many reasons:
- shade for the chickens
- space to hang outdoor food and water (again, in the shade)
- space for a plastic litter box that holds “concrete sand” from the local gravel pit (no concrete mix in it) for dust bathing
- and a bowl of chick grit.
Plus, we wanted the extra height for additional predator deterrence; ease of access for Mr. Gordon if he had to climb under the coop; and also a higher coop for more easily cleaning litter out of the back.
Unfortunately, we cannot free-range our chickens. Not only are wild predators an issue, but although properties around here are spread out, there are dogs that are loose. This is not a complaint. The two beagles behind us (very well-behaved) have electric collars and the owner uses an electric fence. Across the road and down a bit, there are three big dogs, maybe a lab and a couple of border collies. They walk / run the field across the road with their owner. To our knowledge, none of these dogs have ever come into our yards. But we don’t want to “tempt” them with a chicken dinner. We don’t want our girls to be hurt (or worse). And we don’t want a dog to be hit by a car crossing the road.
Sand or Wood Chips?
Our eight chickens are kept to the run. We will probably expand the run even more (when we have the time, money, and energy), but in the meantime, we needed to think about managing the poop and mud (we are on clay soil) in the run.
I researched both sand (like the concrete sand) and wood chips as a run material. I also asked around to see what others used. Ultimately, we decided the wood chips made the most sense and purchased from our local gravel pit. Over time, the chickens will turn the wood chips (and other material we will add, like grass clippings, leaves, garden scraps, etc.) into compost-like material that we will move into our compost pile. (Which needs to be turned…)
During my research I found Flyte so Fancy Hardwood Woodchip for Chicken Runs. Quite honestly, if I could have sourced this in the US, I would have considered going with it. I had watched a video about the product and was intrigued.
Well, for now, we decided to go with playground chips. The girls seem to be okay with it, and I bring them grass clippings and other treats daily.
What do you use in your chicken runs? What do you use especially if you are like us and cannot free range your chickens?
The Subtle Colors of Australorp Feathers
Black birds? Think again! See the tints of green and blue? 🙂
The Australorps are a gentle breed. Although Daisy (we think she’s the chicken in charge of the flock) is not so much interested in being our buddy, Penelope will come over and lean against my leg so that I will pet her. She’s so sweet.
The Australorps are also very delicate when eating from your hand.
The Plymouth Barred Rocks, however… wow, can they “bite”! 😀 And we think a couple intentionally go for the flesh. Our flesh. 😉 But our “Rowdy Girls” are a riot. I love them all.
How could you not? Look at this especially glorious face.
I think this young Barred Rock is an Old Soul.
When Mr. Gordon met me, he soon learned that I love finding a smokin’ deal! I’ve wanted to add hostas to the mostly shady area under our (little used) front porch. I checked a couple of garden centers and found puny plants starting at $13 each. I wasn’t going to waste my money.
On the way home, I said to Mr. Gordon: “What about that roadside stand with all of the plants?” We drove by – and I snagged these beautiful hostas for $11 TOTAL. Not each, all TOTAL. Smokin’ deal.
These flowers (below) have been in my family since the 60s. I’m not kidding. My mother is still growing from the same stock she had in New Jersey in the 60s before I was born. I’ve planted the seeds harvested from them and grew flowers in my old backyard in the city. The patch I have now is a transplant from my parents’ yard. They smell heavenly.
Above: We always called them “star carnations,” but I think these are actually called: Arctic Fire Dianthus.
We Love Blog Visitors
🙂 So why not tell people about us, right?
I made up a few bumper stickers and car window details via Vistaprint. I figured, why the heck not?
We have some extras. If you would like a decal or a bumper sticker for your vehicle, let me know in a comment or message me via social media (there are links to our social media profiles on the right-hand side of this page under the title “Get Social With Us!”) and I will mail you one. I only bought a few, so if you want one, message me soon!
Phase Two for the Coop
And now we are on to the painting portion. We would have loved it if the coop was completely finished when the chickens moved in, but we had to be flexible. This past weekend the painting began. We will add some accent colors, and we still need to put up the gutters.
And that’s where we are.
There is still MUCH to do.
My house is a mess. Spring cleaning did not happen this year. There are many more projects that NEED to be started or completed. There are some projects that do not “need” to be worked on, but we probably will. We figure it out as we go.
What about you?
I know so many of you are giving it your all, too. Tell us about it. What do you think? What is working? What isn’t? Please share in a comment below!
Ever Wonder What Music People Are Listening To When They Write a Blog?
Wonder no more! This one from Hang Massive is a FAVORITE of mine: