Saturday, January 3, 2015

First Update of the New Year

Hello Fellow Homesteaders!

I didn't make a New Year's resolution or goal to write more posts this year, but I am going to try to do so anyway. Being 18 days away from my due date, it is nice to have a bit of energy these last couple days, so I took a stroll outside and did some chores. Even though it's cloudy, it feels nice out there. Cool but not freezing.

I cleaned up the coop a bit after collecting an egg. It certainly makes your heart skip a beat when you come back indoors from working and realize you had an egg in your pocket the whole time! I know I'm not the only chicken keeper who's done this. Here's my teeny bantam egg from Petunia. They are as cute as she is!

The chickens are all working the garden beds wonderfully! I throw snacks down for them from time to time to help their progress along.

The General is doing his job of keeping a watchful eye over the girls. He may be the second to smallest chicken I have, but he acts like a king! Handsome little guy.

My Rhode Island Reds are the best layers of the bunch. Good thing too, because you can see how meaty they are compared to little Petunia down there to the right. Some chickens are pets, but the RIR I got will be a meat source when the time comes. They are a good dual-purpose breed that are both cold and heat hardy alike. They have done well and I've been very happy with them. Plus once they started laying, they became very docile and friendly. The couple of times we've had one escape, they have been super easy to catch. I would like to breed them with a RIR rooster, but have been leery about this as I've read the roosters of that breed can tend to be mean. Can't have that around my little ones! But perhaps I will buy some straight-run RIR chicks and see what I end up with out of that bunch. Even if I don't keep a RIR rooster around, he'll make a good dinner!

As I've been cleaning out the coop, I've been putting some of their poo on the straw bales to help condition them. You can tell the obvious difference between last year's bale and the two I just acquired this fall. One person's trash is another person's treasure! Under the leaves in the middle I have some spuds that I planted last fall. I had read about winter potatoes and thought I would try it.

Under this patch of leaves is the garlic I planted this fall. Not sure how long it's been like this but...

Look at that! It's sprouting already! Not sure if that's a good thing or not as this is the first year I actually got them into the ground in time. These were planted into the ground, then covered with compost, then covered with partially decomposed leaves, so they have travel quite a ways to see the sun.

Here is what is left of last year's compost. I will put the rest of this on my mini Hugel Kultur garden in the spring before I plant it.

And here is the current compost pile. Most of my kitchen waste goes in there as well as chicken manure. Every so often I put in a layer of leaves I saved from last fall for the brown matter. I leave it open in the winter so moisture can get to it. When it starts to get warm out, I'll cover it and let the heat build up so it can break down faster.

Here is my sad-looking Hugel Kultur pile. So far just sticks and manure, but eventually it will be filled in for spring planting. I'm excited to try out this method for the first time.

In the summer chicken pen, some oats have already sprouted and wilted. I put most of our fall leaves in the pen. I hope it can grow up quite a bit before I put the chickens back in there.

Well, that was all the excitement I had for the day. It's wonderful to be counting down the days to planting season! Not to mention Baby Girl's arrival. Who knows what the next few weeks will bring with me having a newborn in the middle of it all, but I'm ready for you 2015! Bring it on!

Happy Homesteading!

Jen Hen

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