Sunday, June 10, 2012

Garden Herbs

My goal this summer is to use more of the herbs from my garden and CSA share. I was told that lemon balm can spread very easily.... so lemon balm is the first to be harvested.

After a few online searches, I can across a really basic recipe. We have a indoor Meyer lemon tree. The lemons are sweeter than a traditional lemon, but I had so many lemons to use before they spoiled. I tweaked the original recipe by using bottled lemon juice and using the Meyer Lemons for peels in the syrup and garnish.

A Meyer lemon tree is easy to grow. We have our next to a sunny window and occasionally spray it with mist for a humid environment during our winter months. We get about 6 lemons per year. But the best part of growing the lemon tree is the smell of blossoms throughout our dining room.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Warm Weather Love

Even though I'm eight months pregnant, I can't get enough of this warm weather. I love to sit in the backyard and watch the chickens foraging, the dogs basking in the sun, and the laundry blowing in the wind. I have a natural habit of waking up at dawn and I love to sit outside and knit or pull garden weeds while the dogs enjoy the cool morning air. If only this could last ten months out of the year...

Hanging laundry bring great joy to my life.
Shadow enjoying the fresh air and evening sun.

Sunny, our Easter Egger

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Low Tunnel Success

Last Fall was our first attempt at building a low tunnel to lengthen our growing season. We had bought some fabric that was recommended on websites. The fabric failed within a few days. The thin fabric tore with the first windy day, and soon the dogs and chickens were helping themselves to our hard-earned vegetables.

This spring Eric replaced the fabric with clear plastic. He stapled each end of the plastic to wooden planks to prevent future wind damage. This plastic made a complete difference! I planted seeds in March, and by April we were enjoying lettuce, radishes, kale, and swiss chard. Carrots were also planted, but will still take some time to grow.

Red Russian Kale
Huge Radishes (I can't remember the name)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Another busy season...

I'm not going to lie, I'm starting to feel the stress of another growing season. Things started smooth. I got the onion seeds started in February and the cabbage family seeded shortly after. And then bamm!!!!

Spring came early in March and spring projects were suddenly on my mind, Eric was gone working all month, my work schedule picked up, and the baby inside me keeps me awake at night. I can't do all the spring projects myself and yet Eric is still remodeling our soon-to-be nursery/playroom.  I get stressed when I can't accomplish things (like lifting things that I could've last year). Okay, Moriah, just breathe!

I explained to Eric how I was feeling and he offered the best piece of advice... "Spring came very, very early. We weren't expecting to work in the garden yet. It's okay if we have to put aside a few spring projects because it shouldn't be spring yet." So in the meantime, the garden compost and asparagus roots can wait.

Thankfully we still have our low tunnels and cold frame where little sprouts of radish, spinach, pac choi, lettuce, and soon carrots await. I transplanted a few swiss chard plants because I had a few to spare. I still plan on more cold weather soon, but I'm okay with hoping for the best.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Another Addition to the Homestead

Our little homestead keeps growing and growing. This time we are adding another person. Eric and I are having a baby at the end of July! We are so excited to share our life with the little one. We are really looking forward to making baby food, growing more food, and teaching our child to garden, hike, and raise animals.

This picture is how we annouced the baby to our families.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Chicken Drama

A week after the chickens were traumatized by a hawk, there was another attack in the chicken coop.  Our dogs learned they they could open the coop door by clawing at the clasp. Normally the door is locked, but recently it wasn't.

We thought the chickens were safe from predators in their coop, but we hadn't realized the dogs new trick. One day Eric looked out the window and he starts screaming, "Shadow has a chicken!" He was on the phone, so I ran outside. I started yelling Shadow's name before I was even in the backyard. Both dogs came running towards me. The chicken that was in Shadow's mouth also came running into my arms.

I carried the bitten chicken into the house for a closer look. The dogs happily followed behind me. There were a few feathers missing and some exposed flesh on the chicken, but nothing looked serious. Another chicken had similar injuries under one wing. The rest of the chickens were safely hidden in a lumber pile. I made sure that all chickens were safely locked in the coop.

A few weeks after this awful incident, I noticed that a chicken was moving around the coop...even after I put fresh food down. I picked her out of the coop and realized she was having trouble walking and was squirting out watery poo.

After a little online research, I realized she wasn't getting enough food because she was still hurt from the dog attack. I made a temporary home inside our house for our injured chicken. Since she wasn't walking around, I hand-fed her and put water within reach. She was eager to eat and enjoyed human company.

We know that chickens are social birds, so I spent a lot of time talking to her and Eric brought in other chickens for a visit. The hurt chicken was pooping normal within a day, standing within two days, preening within three days, and walking within four days. She came to greet us whenever we brought food. 

By the eighth day, the now healed chicken was back outside with the other five chickens. I know that reintroducing a chicken can have problems, so I waited for any bullying. One other chicken picked a fight, but our healed and healthy chicken stood her ground and no one else bothered her. I'm so happy that our chicken was able to get better because I feel awful that it was our dog that hurt accident that didn't have to happen. I will continue to watch our chicken and make sure she continues to heal

Friday, November 25, 2011

First Farm Loss

Someone had an early morning Thanksgiving feast...and on the menu was one of our chickens...

For the past few months we have been letting the chickens roam free in our yard during the day. Our new fence gives us this freedom. Then at night the chickens go back to their coop and we lock the ramp for the night.

Yesterday morning Eric went outside to put the chickens in the coop so that we could let the dogs run around in the backyard. When Eric walked into the yard he watched a hawk fly away from the yard and into a nearby tree. He searched and searched for the chickens. One chicken was hiding in the coop and two more where covering behind some pine trees.

After no luck finding the other chickens, Eric came inside the house and told me what just happened. My heart sunk. "Are Sunny and Scrambles safe?" I asked. (We named three of the seven chickens due to their personalities). "Yes," he said. We ran back outside and Eric checked the garden shed. As I was walking to help Eric look in the garden shed, I saw it. I saw the heap of black and white feathers. My heart sunk even farther. I told Eric that I could never be a farmer. But here we were gathering the rest of the terrified chickens and putting them safe in their coop.

Losing a chicken was bound to happen. In fact, I'm not surprised it hadn't happened earlier. We have had the chickens outside for over a year. But the first death is always the hardest. Eric buried our Barred Plymouth Rock behind the garden shed and placed a rock on top. I guess I'm thankful that the chicken who died didn't have a name.

Now we are left with the question of whether we let the chickens roam free again. Now the hawk knows where dinner is. We plan to keep the chickens cooped up for a few weeks, and I guess from there we will make up our minds what to do next.

Who is watching who through the window?