A family farm

Monday, November 29, 2010

winter is coming ...

Well, Chris and I got some more winterizing done Saturday in the barn. We moved some wood, put some stuff away, put the non-running lawn tractor up on boards and picked up hay for the goats. We also picked up a new burn barrel because we went to empty out the old one and it cracked apart. The ring at the top came right off. So I emptied that out and got the bottom and the top ring that broke off put into the trailer that is full of crap to be emptied out at the dump. It would be nice to get that done. We don't have much that has to go to the dump, but it is a trailer full. We need to get a permanent plate for our trailer. Anyway ... I got the Christmas lights up Sunday evening. I even used our tree lights and put them on the crimson king maple and the crabapple tree as well as putting up our icicle lights, szchoop tree, snowflakes and reindeer. It was fun. Now it's time to get the inside of the house ready for winter - in other words, it needs a good cleaning --- from top to bottom. If I'm going to be spending much time inside (and that usually happens when the temps fall), I'm going to want to be in a clean house. I got a good start with cleaning our bedroom. Most of that stuff is now sitting in the living room waiting for a new home. I got the counter and the table all cleaned up and put the red tablecloth out with a few Christmas decorations. I'm getting excited! I even think we have it figured out what Alex is getting for Christmas ... which reminds me ... I was going to check on Kellie's gift!!! Chris will be all set soon.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Git er Done!

I got my garden "boxed" last night with the help of my faithful companion, Kellie. She put most of the rocks on. I opened up the boxes and got them flattened into one layer to cover the entire garden. Kellie put straw on the strawberries that are there, I put straw on the strawberries that are outside the garden. I also put straw on a few of my tender herbs. It just dawned on my that I'll have to put straw down on the strawberries that are in the backyard yet. Oops!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some recent pictures

The new goat is Lucy - this is her riding in my car. The other two pictures are Harley sleeping in my lap - which she does EVERY evening (or she goes slightly nuts).

Well, I didn't ...

Well, I didn't get my garden boxed last night. We had a thunderstorm instead, complete with a tornado watch. It was quite intense - even got the dogs a little nervous with the thunder. Our golden hates loud bangs and will try to flee any situation. It's not good when we have our annual Guns and Grillin' event, because she is just terrified of the loud noises. But she finds a place under the bed and stays. She's pretty good about it all. Our doberman doesn't seem to be bothered by the loud noise which is kind of nice. I only hope that our golden doesn't teach her that she needs to be scared of it.

So that was my night. I paged through a new-to-me gardening book. I'm really getting into all of this. I skimmed through the annuals section and took a bit more time with the perennials section. To me, perennials just make so much more sense, unless you have annuals that are really good at reseeding themselves. You don't have to purchase and plant them every single spring. It just makes so much more economical sense. It is also nice to have your perennials grow and get big enough to divide and then you can sell the divisions if you want and make a little money, or you can keep them and just expand your perennial garden. I planted some cilantro that was done at the beginning of spring as a plant. It was done and gone to seed by August when I was hoping to have it to make salsa with my tomatoes and peppers, so I had to buy some. Now, because this fall has been rather warm, it has reseeded itself and I have baby cilantros growing. I need to cut some this evening and freeze it or dry it because we're getting a "wintry mix" and possibly some "snow" by this weekend. So hopefully it won't be rainy or nasty outside tonight because I have to get my little jobs done tonight!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ending the Gardening Season ...

I'm laying down flattened and expanded cardboard boxes all over my garden tonight. The chickens have scratched the dirt up real well, so now it is time to make sure no weeds come up first thing in the spring. I should have more worms and great soil to till first thing in April. I have to get my rototiller over to my brother's house soon so he can putz around with it through the winter. He has as much access to it in the spring as I do. I don't mind. He's a mile up the road from me so sharing is easy. The other thing I need to do is cover my strawberries and not-so-hearty herbs with a nice blanket of straw. I have the straw. I need to use it.

We didn't get the donkey as I'd hoped, but we did acquire another goat - Lucy. She was already pregnant when we got her so I'm hoping for her to have at least one girl. We'll be able to keep her and raise her.

The chickens aren't laying very well right now, but I think they are molting. There are feathers everywhere! Hopefully they'll be done with that soon and get back to laying 8-10 eggs per day.

Harley is in heat, and it is so annoying! Can't wait for that to be done. First thing next January, she is getting fixed.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Meeting a donkey ...

I'm rather excited to be (hopefully) meeting a donkey (a 4 month old jack) this evening. We would love to have a donkey on the farm! They make great guard animals and would keep the goats safer, and I just learned that if you have a problem horse that bites and kicks, tie it to a donkey for awhile. The donkey won't take anything from the horse and will make the horse go the donkey's way! Oh, how wonderful! I hope we're able to get the donkey!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

tomatoes ...

I canned 5 more quarts of salsa last night! It took me until just past midnight, but the jars look so pretty all full and processed! Now, because Kellie has youth tonight, I think I'm picking the last beans in the dark ... That oughtta be fun!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Canning ....

I'm having a hard time getting everything stored and prepared for the winter months! I've had to get rid of an entire picking of beans because I didn't have time to get them blanched and into the freezer! It is now 11pm and I still have another 15 minutes to go on the processing process of canning 5 quarts of tomatoes! I did get 3 quarts of salsa and 1 quart of soup canned last weekend. I hope to get a couple of pints of peach salsa canned this weekend and yet another 3 or more quarts of regular salsa. I've got to pick up a few peppers for the process. I went through all of my onions and pulled out a couple that were going rotten, but I still have to chop a bunch of them and get them into the freezer. I did freeze a gallon size freezer bag of chopped onions already, but I have still more. With this humidity, it hasn't been easy keeping everything fresh. I also have to can a bunch of my chocolate cherries. They are about the size of a plum tomato. They made real good fresh salsa (oh, did I mention that I made a pretty good fresh salsa? We enjoyed some with nachos this evening. It was delicious, but I think it needed yet one other jalapeno pepper. I thought it needed more bite, but Chris thought it was pretty good.

Anyway, I hope I can keep up! We had a good dousing of rain today which was greatly needed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Up to now ...

Well, Nanny died, and there is nothing we could have done to stop it. I finally was able to reach in and push back the vertebrae which released a large bone, and then everything else seemed to start coming out. The whole vertebrae complete with ribs and innards came out. The ordeal exhausted Nanny who was in pain and was so tired she died that night. She fought so hard! It is good that she died before we went on vacation. I'd have hated for her to have died while we were gone on vacation.

And what a vacation it was! The Canadian Rockies are so awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping amazing!!! I'll post a few pictures with this ... I alternated between my jaw hanging down onto the floorboards of the Mountaineer to trying to sing some hymns to just being dumbfounded. The beauty was incredible, and all I could think of is that our magnificent God made it all!

My aunt and uncle who live in Kalispell were wonderful to stay with!!! I have yet to send them a thank you note, but that is coming ... I'd like to send a photo or two as well, but I don't have them all printed out. My cousin Mark and his wife, Monica, are such wonderful people with 2 absolutely adorable kids!!!! Their little ones are just hilarious and beautiful and wonderful! We enjoyed 2 meals with my relations, and they were like the very best parties!
Glacier and Waterton parks were beautifully landscaped by the hands of God! And the trip home, while exhausting was filled with wonderful sights and history. Our family travels so well together. We went from our house in Ravenna to Alex's in Rockford to Sault Ste. Marie and around the north side of Lake Superior (the best of all the great lakes), across Canada and their wonderful farms and mosquito-filled fields to Jasper, Alberta, Canada. Then down into Yoho and Banff in British Columbia to Kalispell, Montana. And that just takes you from Thursday evening to Monday. Then Friday we headed out across Montana. Saturday found us visiting Fort Union and the northern part of Theodore Roosevelt NP and straight through to Manitowoc, Wisconsin by Sunday to catch the SS Badger to Ludington. We watched Shrek 4 and played Bingo, and finally we landed in our own house by 9:30pm, and I still have luggage that needs emptying all over the house!!!!! But I'm not complaining. It was too wonderful of a trip to complain.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Nanny died this past Sunday. Too much for her to take, I think.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Well, Nanny isn't giving birth to anything lively. She is having what the vet calls a "mummy". In other words, the other kids she aborted a couple of months ago left one behind to rot in her uterus and it is being "birthed" right now. This is going to take awhile because I have to reach in with a gloved and lubricated hand and help it out. It is so disgustingly gross I can hardly stand it. But I do it because if I don't, she'll die. This all started Monday night when I realized she wasn't kidding for real, but what was coming out was shards of bone and bits of flesh. I called the vet's office and reached their emergency line and was called back by Dr. Anderson who told me what was going on. I believe it was the maggots in her rear that really had me going at first, but later, well, it was the dead baby goat bits that just keep coming ... well, sort of. The vet told me to get rid of the maggots to use dish soap, which I have been using on her bottom liberally. It has kept the flies away and thus, the maggots. He also told me I'd have to pull out the pieces, and to go to the office the next day to pick up some penicillin. I spent 3 hours pulling out pieces and parts. I took out rib bones, vertebrae, a hoof and part of a leg and an ear. The flesh remaining smells rather bad (you can't help but smell it), and really all looks like ground or pulled chicken. I have to look at chicken that I eat and tell myself that it is just chicken to not be sick. Anyway, it got to be around 10:15 pm, and I had spent nearly an hour and a half to pull out 3 vertebrae, so I called it a night and decided I'd go to the vet the next morning with Nanny. I was so scared she'd be dead by morning. She wasn't, however, so I loaded her up in my car and brought her in. The vet did pretty much what I had done, but only pulled out a leg and a hoof. He cut off the leg and hoof and gave her a couple of shots and gave me syringes and a bottle of penicillin and told me I'd have to keep going in and getting more stuff out over the next couple of days. It is gross, but it has to be done. Yesterday, I pulled out a what I think was a thigh bone and some flesh, but this morning all I was able to get was a couple lumps of flesh.

I left her pen open this morning as I took care of the other goats, my brother's dog and one of the barn cats and the chickens. She actually wandered out of the barn and ate some grass! I was so happy to see that! Hopefully she'll make it through all of this with no problems... We'll be praying! You pray, too!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ok, Here We Go Again

I think Nanny is in labor. If she is this would truly be a miracle baby! We bought her real cheap ($20) from a farm up in Grant about 2 months ago. She is older, about 4 or 5 years. The previous owners kept her as a free-range goat and had gotten pregnant by a boer billy goat that she went to visit. They said she aborted 3 babies. She was fat and has been struggling with mastitis in one of her teats since we got her. I hunted down a couple of remedies, but ended up calling the vet and getting their recommendation. Chris and I finally got the medication from TSC (it's the same stuff you use for cows, turns out), and inserted the piece into her teat. I can tell you it didn't go in far. The amount of milk I was able to squirt out was incredible! I thought her teat would have gone down in size more than it had, but it only reduced itself by about 1/2. The past couple of days she's been real sluggish. I had sort of attributed it to the penicillin in the Go-Dry, but Saturday, I noticed her backside had opened up a bit. And then she stopped when I had her on the leash leading her back to her pen and started to strain. I didn't check much on her yesterday, as we were busy with church and the Hume home service, but she did seem a little more animated. This morning, however, I saw her straining harder and it seemed as if she was constipated with a white discharge coming out her rear. I went inside to grab a plastic glove and reached down and felt something hard, like a small hoof. I had to get to work ... I was late! Chris looked in on her before and after his interview. The first time, she didn't respond much to him, but the second time she got up and walked toward him and he saw her left side just move around. We now have Kellie looking in on her every hour or so. Last time she checked on her, she was fine. She just grunted. So if she is preggers and about to give birth, and if the baby survives, then, well, I do believe it will be a miracle!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My weed-eaters

This morning - finally got a picture of the twins and their momma

My garden last night ...

I cannot believe how much this has grown in just a few days. Last night I pulled out all of the lacy (due to junebugs) spinach and the weeds that went along with it and planted 8 more cabbages and 3 more tomatoes (we picked up 12 cabbages and 8 more tomato plants free the other day). It looks rather neat right now. I have a few onions ready, and a few turnips, but I'm not picking them yet. I'll get the turnips in a couple of days. That will make room for others to grow bigger as well. We're looking forward to eating the turnip greens as well as the root vegetable.

This is my newer herb garden. It needs mulch to keep the weeds down.

And this is the older, established one. The shasta daisies and coneflower in there have grown waist high!

My garden as of last week

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yesterday ...

Yesterday was very hot!!! But that's not all ... I slept in until 10:30am! I must have been tired. All weekend I worked at the Cans from Fans food truck at Muskegon Summer Celebration, but that's another story. So, after finally getting up and doing the chores of watering the chickens and opening their window and feeding and watering the goats, I decided that I really should have a shower, tho the rest of the day's activities would leave me sweaty, damp and dirty! I made a great breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast for Kellie and I. Chris had to work. Then, finally, at around noon, we set ourselves in front of the new herb garden and pulled weeds. I did start tarragon from seed, and found some growing there under all the grass and such that has grown up around my nice herbs. The lavender I seed started is greener than the lavender I bought. That is silvery green. The mints are doing well ... the chocolate mint is starting to send out runners. I didn't know it would do that. I had let the chickens in my garden. They did fine for the first hour or so, but then it seems they all got excited to chow down on the june beatles that are eating up my spinach, and the chickens trampled my onions. I hope the onions stand back up! They aren't quite ready yet. Other than that, they did well! After we planted the sweet potatoes out back and covered the yukons, we decided it was just way hot and went inside to have a bagel and watch Pride and Prejudice. Now that she understands it, Kellie actually likes it. After that I cleaned my garbage heap of a car looking for my debit card. I left it at Number 1 Chinese after all and had to go get it. Kellie cleaned up the interior of the house. When I returned, we watched a Little House episode as it was still VERY hot! Finally, at around 7:30pm we ventured back outdoors to rototill a new strawberry patch. I was able to till 2 shortish rows. I had hoped to till around 5, but the doggone thing is clogged with dirt again and won't start. I have to tear it apart. Kellie's job today is to finish pulling all the green out of what I tilled and to plant the 24 plants I recently bought. Last night, we found spaces for the free tomato plants I picked up (putting our total tomato plant count up around 20). She also planted 4 green cabbages. I don't know where I'm going to put the other 8 plants if I can't transplant my strawberries!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Chickens

Happy chickens lay more eggs! We got a record 11 eggs today!!!!!

Deer in the Field

Eggs are a'comin'

Yesterday our 14 hens laid a record (for Decker's Haven) number of eggs: 10!!! They have laid 9 so far today, and the day is far from over! Could we hit one dozen? I don't know. All I know is that we have a very happy bunch of chickens since OH died Saturday and Chris put the window in Friday.

I sort of played with a doe this morning. I stepped out of the barn to get corn for the chickens and there was a doe, fairly large, only about 50 yards away from me. She saw me and started stomping toward me and stopped, snorting. She stared at me for a long while, and I noticed there was another largish doe off to the west a ways, but in the soybean field. She turned away, and I took a few more steps toward the corn. When she turned back at me, I stopped, frozen still. She looked at me very puzzled-like, as if wondering if I was still in the same place. She stomped and snorted some more and then got sick of it because I hadn't moved and turned away again. Again, I moved a few steps toward the corn. She did her act all over again. Her pal started to trot away, but by this time she wasn't 10 yards away from the top of the driveway. Eventually she stomp-trotted, snorting so loud she was whistling, away from me, toward the sheep pen. I finally got to the corn and fed the chickens. I went in and finished getting ready for work. When I left the house, she was back, along with a hen turkey, who upon seeing me, scrambled back down between the rows of soybeans. I do believe the sweetcorn has them vexed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hens and Goats and Gardens

We finally sold little Faith, who's not so little anymore. We got $65 for her. I'm thinking we're going to need to build a disbudding box and get a burner to disbud our babies, and then we'll be able to sell them easier to 4-H kids. I think that might have been part of the problem why we didn't sell her right away. Then I got to thinking about if our girls have little billy goats, and they should be disbudded because they can get agressive. Either way, I think that is something we're going to have to look into. They paid for her on Friday and picked her up on Sunday. She is going to be the most spoiled pet!

Saturday, when I returned home after working all afternoon at the Cans from Fans food drive at Muskegon Summer Celebration, I found OH (Ornery Hen) dead in the chicken coop. I buried her under a pine tree in the front yard. Chris and I decided her orneriness and her old age is probably what killed her. The Bards are outside more and seem to be enjoying themselves more. They are coming out of their shell, so to speak. Since OH died, I've seen them out in the chicken coop's little yard rather than huddled inside. I think OH was trying to have her own little flock and very much kept them where she wanted. Oh, and since Chris put the window in the chicken coop, we've gathered 8 eggs per day.

Now - last night I weeded more of my garden. I weeded the rest of the onions, the carrots and the peppers. My garden is starting to look more like the gardens of people who don't work full time! Kellie is going to finish weeding the tomatoes today. That leaves the lettuce and the spinach and between the turnips yet. I can't believe how big everything is in just a few short weeks!!! Look for pictures soon!

Monday, June 28, 2010

How the Garden Grows

We have been pulling weeds and pulling weeds and pulling weeds! I'm not complaining, but the weather has been absolutely perfect for the garden to grow. The weeds have been amazing as well, and they are easer to pull the bigger they are! I have discovered which of my neighbors don't work full time. They are the ones with the gardens that are immaculate, and I mean immaculate - there is not a weed to be found. Perfect rows of vegetables grow and no green mucks up the black/brown dirt between these perfect rows. Ok, not only do I not have a completely weed-free garden, but my rows are NOT straight.

Hopefully later this week I can get the backyard mowed and rototilled for my new strawberry plants. I bought 24 new strawberry plants (Allstars), and now I have to move the patch. The plants were less than 50 cents apiece! Crazy! Looking forward to all new gardening soon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

on the farm

We had to talk to our neighbors (gulp - because we like our neighbors and absolutely hated to complain) about their sheep. They were getting out 4 - 6 times per day and eating everything and trampling what they didn't eat. Since Thursday night, we haven't seen those doggone sheep. It's not that I don't like the sheep - they are nice to look at when they are in their own pen. But when they trample my back viney garden and eat all the soybeans planted in the field we rent out, well, that just isn't a good thing.

My tomato plants (and I'm so proud) are nearly a foot tall already. I'm proud because I seed-started them indoors way back in March and didn't kill them! I also seed started all my peppers and they are also doing well. My garden just needs an enormous weeding. I've come to the conclusion that people who have these nice neat gardens in their yards (usually right out in the front yards) don't work full-time. That is how they keep them completely weed free. It has to be! I just can't keep up. And now (granted we need it) it is supposed to rain all evening, so I won't be able to weed when I get home either.

On another note - we (the entire family) went kayaking on the Rogue river yesterday. We had such a great time, and first-timer on her own, Kellie, did real well, also!

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Goats

A week ago we picked up Nanny from a family up in Grant. She's older, about 4 or 5 would be my guess. She has mastitis, in that she has the swollen teat, but not any of the other symptoms such as a fever or a hot teat or not eating or being lethargic. We put her in with the other goats right off for a couple of days. Freddie made off with her right away for two days straight. Poor thing. She looked so pathetic. In researching treatment for her mastitis, I ran across that her teat would need cooling to get the swelling down. So we separated her out and I started a nearly twice daily regimen of washing her teat with cold water. It did nothing. Then we added Lily, our very shy, very curious, white pygmy goat to her pen. We kept them together for nearly a week before putting Nanny back in the pen with the rest of the goats. When we put her back in, she was at first a bit shy, but yesterday, I spent some time out there with her and she is chasing off our head goat, Naomi, and bounding around the pen with the others like she was made for it. She has the most adorable sparkle in her eyes! Her legs are a bit stiff, but she is happy! She is so FAT! Oh, about her mastitis, I'm waiting for TSC to call me with a teat catheter so I can express the bad milk stuck in her teat. That should solve the swelling problem. Another item to add to my goat medical kit.

This past Friday, we bought Ginger. She was born about a month ago, and is an absolutely gorgeous 1/4 Nigerian dwarf/3/4 Pygmy goat. Her face is brown, streaked with tan and black. Her body is tan with white mixed in, and she has the classic Pygmy two-toned coat. She will throw beautiful kids! I'm so looking forward to seeing her baby(ies) next spring! She will probably be out last to breed because she was born late, but that will be fine. They can't all kid at the same time!!!
Oh, and I still can't find my pickling cucumbers! Where in the world are they?

Friday, June 11, 2010

How does this happen?

I lost an entire row of vegetables. I think I'm going to have to re-plant 1 row of pickling cucumbers. I keep going back to that garden and counting up my rows and I have sweet potatoes, then potatoes, then zucchini, lemon cucumbers, Japanese long cucumbers, buttercup squash, spaghetti squash, gourds, giant pumpkins and Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins. No pickling cucumbers! I could have sworn that we planted them, but I can't find the row ... I can't find the marker (we marked the ends of the rows with the seed packet and a clump of dirt ... and I can't find any extra seedlings popping up in a place they shouldn't be. It is frustrating!!!

Anyway, my gardens are doing well. I have to finish up my welcoming flower bed with mulch and some plastic liner, but it looks so pretty! My herbs are coming up well and will need weeding and mulch. My main garden seems to have everything coming up as well. I have to thin my turnips, but I'd really like to transplant some in a nearby row rather than simply throwing them away.

I have enough strawberries for strawberry shortcake. I think I'll make an angel food cake this weekend rather than biscuits. I like the light and fluffy non-fat angel food cake so much better. I still have to build a cage to keep the birds out of my berries. I think they have discovered them.

The chickens have been laying better. 6 - 7 per day this week. It was a lot cooler this week ... but hopefully the laying won't slow back down to 2 - 3 eggs per day. Pathetic when you have 15 hens!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Goat

We bought another pygmy goat last night. She is older, about 4 yrs., I think. She is black, jet black, with grey flecks of fur throughout and a big white splotch on her forehead. She also has a grey nose, and a white splotch on one of her sides. She is FAT! and no, she is not pregnant. She had gotten pregnant not long ago and had late miscarriages. She had been impregnated by a boer, which is a much bigger goat. We think she is adorable! She has such big brown eyes, and she is blacker than Freddie. He is more of a chocolate than black.

Little Faith is still up for sale. Anybody want a pygmy goat????

Monday, May 31, 2010

The past couple of weeks

It's been awhile since I posted last, but I have been busy. We bought four more chickens - these are Barred Rocks. We got them from a farm that had a couple thousand chickens. It seemed a little silly for us just to get four, but that brings our flock up to 15. They were missing most of their feathers off their backs. Now, a mere two weeks later, their feathers are growing back nicely. Egg production is a lot less because we suddenly have been experiencing 85 degree temperatures. We went from getting back up to 7 eggs per day to 4, and yesterday we hit an all-time low of 2. Pathetic! I hope they get used to the heat soon. I'm glad we have 15 chickens right now. I'd hate to come home to no eggs at all. The hens are just really starting to get along with eachother. That has been tough as well.

Now, to talk about my gardening ... My brother had my rototiller for a couple of weeks. He got it running rather well for me. I need a new gas cap as mine has a big hole in it and is letting dirt get in and run through my little engine. It's been clogging up my carbuerator (how do you spell that?). But now it runs rather well. The evening i got it back, I rototilled up the expansion of my herb garden. With all the little herbs in it it looks like crap, but that will soon change. I have dill, cilantro, baptisia, lavender, mints (3 varieties - apple, chocolate and peppermint), yarrow, oregano, tarragon and rosemary. I also have columbine and purple coneflower that I started from seed. I can't wait to see how this looks next year. That was a Thursday ... the following Sunday, My daughter and I finished planting the main garden with beans, kohlrabi, tomatoes (I seed-started all those as well), broccoli (seed-started) and cauliflower. Yesterday, a mere week later, I noticed that my beans are up already. I have 4 varieties of beans: wax, green, purple and dragon's tongue. Yesterday I also dragged the rototiller out to the field because my neighbor finished planting his field corn this past Thursday and left a nice raked up spot for me to plant my viney stuff. So I broke a bit more ground and planted my potatoes, sweet potatoes, lemon cucumbers, Japanese long cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, spaghetti squash, buttercup squash, gourds and pumpkins. It's being watered right now ... as I write this!

We've already eaten some strawberries out of my garden. I have to go build a cage to keep the birds out. Fortunately, I have enough chicken wire and old pallets to do this with. We also have eaten some spinach, and will probably have more spinach for dinner tonight ... or perhaps I should scramble up some eggs with some spinach and ham for lunch? mmmmmmmmmmmmm ... I'm getting hungry already!

Happy gardening!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Chickens, Chickens and Now More Chickens

I let my 8 hens roam around the backyard a couple times this week. Tonight I had them in the backyard, and they would go back and forth from one side of the yard to the other, pecking at the grass the whole way there and back. Then I herded them all back into their coop and opened up the door to the garden. My strawberries are very established, my peas, lettuce, spinach and onions are doing well, so I thought if I stayed in the garden with them I wouldn't have to worry about them destroying my new vegetables. I didn't have to worry. They cultivated my strawberries and even ate some of the eggshell I put in with the strawberries to keep the slugs off the berries when they grow (eggshells are sharp on the slug's skin and are therefore harmful to slugs so they stay away). I watched one chicken carefully make her way between the row of romaine and spinach, scratching up the dirt the entire way looking for worms. I had to tell only one hen (I believe it was Stoogy) to stop eating the spinach. Finally, I shut them all in their own coop. Later this evening I scrolled through Craigslist and found 3 more free hens. They are 4 years old, and Ameraucaunas. I just returned from picking them up, so now we have 11 hens. They may be older, but if they remain healthy and happy, they will continue to lay well until they die. Right now, the one Ameraucauna is puffing herself up and establishing herself as high up the pecking order as she can. For tonight the light in the hen house will remain off so they can at least get some sleep.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Finally! Pictures!

Leaping, Spring-Fever-Filled Doberman!






Thursday, May 6, 2010


I am amazed at how quickly my peas, spinach, romaine and onions are growing! They are growing just as fast as the weeds in the rest of the garden. I'm hoping to have a chance to rototill the rest of the garden this weekend (the weather is supposed to be bad) and get the rest planted. I also have to work on the herb garden part 2 and get that section rototilled as well. Then, next week, I have to buy some mulch to put on both herb gardens to help keep the weeds out.

Friday, April 30, 2010


Our chicken coop is finally mostly finished ... finished enough to let the chickens into it without much fear of them being able to get out. We are waiting for a whitefish net to go over the top. Right now we have orange snow-fence put together over the top. It's rather bright. We're getting about 6 eggs per day from the 8 chickens, which I think is pretty good. I'm amazed at my husband's building ability, however. You should see the door from the coop to my garden! Can I just say Wow! It really is quite something.

Monday, April 26, 2010


We now have a total of 8 chickens. 6 are ISA Browns and 2 are Ameraucaunas. The coop is not yet finished. Our 2x4s weren't long enough Saturday, so we had to get more after visiting people in the hospital. A friend of ours had a stroke and Chris' sister-in-law is also in ICU. We did go to that sale in Fremont, however, and because of the foul weather, it was a bust. There wasn't much there. So we went to the Ravenna auction where I got a number, but we had to get to Grant to buy chickens at 12:30, so we missed out on the plants and part of the chicken sale at the auction. When we got back to the auction after picking up 6 chickens from Grant, they were auctioning off chicks, ducklings and baby turkeys. They hadn't gotten to the chickens, but there was so much to go before that we decided to go home, drop off our new chickens and have some lunch. Oh, I did forget to mention that we had farm fresh fried eggs for breakfast! They are so very good!!! I don't know what those white things are we have in the fridge ... they don' taste right! I had a good look in the garden, too, and I have peas, spinach and romaine popped up as well. After all the work we did on the coop, we have a fantastic door from the chicken coop to the garden, and we're ready to work on more. We are out of chicken fence, so we have to buy more. In fact, if our original chickys had their wings clipped, we would be able to let them out into the new part, but our 2 originals can fly. Enough.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hello Spring!

My onions are popping up! Woo Hoo! Hopefully over the next couple of days I'll see some lettuce, spinach and peas. I'm going to plant turnips and carrots this weekend. I also have to move my blueberry bushes. We're still working on the outside of the chicken coop and hopefully this weekend we'll have that finished up as well so I can rescue an iris that they have practically pecked to death. We're going to a farm sale at Newago county fairgrounds in Fremont this weekend as well and hopefully we'll be able to buy a couple more chickens. I also have to make a screen of some sort for my strawberries. I need to keep the wild birds off from them! I have to use my Home Depot coupon this weekend and pick up 2 trees. I'm not sure what they'll be. Probably a maple and a flowering pear. Does anyone know if a flowering pear bear fruit?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mystery Plants in the Herb Garden

My mystery plants are hostas! They had to have gone dormant last year because I never would have planted my chives where they are if there were hostas there. In fact, i moved ALL my hostas to beside the shed (and a couple in front of the house). My chives are planted one foot apart and between them sets a hosta! Just one of those white-edged, green ones. So I'll have to transplant them both later this week. Whew! Lots to do! I have to finish the chicken pen, too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Down on the Farm

We picked up 2 chickens for free yesterday, so my fantastic daughter and I finished setting up the chicken coop. We have ISA Brown hens. Chris already plucked an egg out of the coop and cooked it up for lunch. His facebook says it was delicious! I'm a bit jealous. The 2 hens seem happy with their limited surroundings. We have to finish up a fence and a gate to the garden. After watching them last night, I now know why you wouldn't want them in a garden with young plants. They really scratch up the dirt getting at worms and other bugs just under the surface. I can hardly wait to see them pluck hornworms off my tomatoes!!!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Can They Do That?

I just figured out what the 2 mystery plants are in my herb garden. They are hostas! The green kind with the white edges! I don't remember planting them there this past year. I may have when we moved in because I was in such a hurry to get the plants I brought over from the house we rented and get them into the ground. Actually I know I didn't plant them there last year because one of the hostas is in between 2 chive plants, and when I say it is in between the two chive plants, I mean it is so close to both of them that it would have not made any sense to have planted it there. Not a hosta, anyway. So I have to move them to the east side of the shed. Those hostas haven't come up yet. I am a bit concerned. The butterfly bush over there also hasn't budded yet. My sage hasn't come up and neither has the thyme. It should, tho. There are other things that just haven't poked through yet. It is a bit early. The columbine looks fantastic! I can't wait to get my other columbine planted, but I'm not entirely sure where it is going to go. I think I'm going to have to move the established columbine as well to make room for more herbs. We'll see. I may just leave that right where it is at. I have to bring my rototiller over to my brother's house to have it repaired so I can till the soil along the house for the other part of the herb garden. And this weekend I have to move the blueberry bushes out of the back yard so Luke doesn't pee on them anymore. Harley likes to eat the branches as well. They destroyed 1 blueberry bush and another is much shorter than the remaining 4. Only one good dog, I suppose --- Kayleigh!

Monday, April 12, 2010

What a Wonderful Weekend!!!!

Yesterday had to have been one of the most beautiful days I've experienced this spring!! I know spring hasn't come close to passing, but this is the best spring I've experienced in my life! I usually hate spring because my spring fever gets way out of control. But not this year! Yesterday I enjoyed singing in praise team, church was fantastic, the brunch after church was delicious and Chris' preaching at the Hume Home was great! Then we went home. Lily still hasn't had her baby(ies) yet. Poor kid. But beyond that, Chris grilled venison tenderloins. We also had baked potatoes and asparagus ... OUTSIDE!!!! we ate at the picnic table. I think that is the first time we've eaten there since we got it. We usually eat on the deck, but we haven't put the deck furniture out yet because it needs staining. Then we did a little work on my rototiller, which is just not working. But I decided I'd get some hoe-ing done anyway. Kellie and I worked up 1/3 of the garden and planted peas, onions, spinach and romaine. Then she and I went and walked around the property to peruse stuff we planted last year that. The apple trees are sprouting leave. I think the deer pruned them well. I'm not touching them. The grapes haven't started yet, but I don't think I've seen anybody's started yet. My hostas haven't pushed thru yet, and I'm a bit concerned. We'll see in a couple of weeks. The butterfly bush also doesn't look like much of anything yet. The raspberries and blackberries all have sprouts of greenery - YUM! And then up front, all of the new shrubs are getting ready to put forth leaves. The Black Lace Elderberry bush is going to be pretty!!! The leaves are so dark! And I was ready to get Kellie braced for her hydrangea bush because I hadn't seen any buds on it yet ... until last night!!! It's going to be fine! Yesterday was an absolutely fantastic day!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring's Arrival

Spring officially arrived on Saturday at 1pm, and we had snow on the ground. Again. The robins woke up and said BLEEP! No matter ... I just received my newsletter from the Home Depot and found I can plant cool-season vegetable seeds outdoors, including beets, carrots, radishes, parsnips and turnips, as well as leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, chard, mustard and kale. I do believe I'm planting nearly all of these over spring break, including sugar snap peas. My plans are to go to Menards for seeds (the Alpine one has a huge selection! and they are usually around half price!) after work today.

Naomi had her kid last Monday. A beautiful mostly black baby girl! Lily is next!

Chris informed me that he'd like to see chickens in the garden within two weeks. Wow! He's going to finish up the chicken coop tomorrow.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hanging Baskets

Kellie has a sports banquet tonight and I'm hoping it gets done a little earlier than 7:30. I have to stop by Aldi's to pick up ingredients for some venison chili I plan to make tomorrow night for our church's 2nd annual chili cook-off on Saturday. Mmm! Then, I'm stopping by Menards (their seeds are all 25% off) for impatiens seeds so I can get my hanging baskets started in the house. Impatiens make such beautiful hanging baskets. I had a little trouble with moisture last year. I'd also like to find a couple of vinca vine or hanging seeds as well to join in with the impatiens. But I really want to save as much money this year as possible. I really don't want to buy a lot of plants if I can get them going with seeds and really have them take root!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More Snow!!! GGGrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

So we got more snow. Now I even more want to start some seeds. My sister-in-law has. I stopped by last night and she has about 9 tomato plants in styrofoam cups and either a broccoli or a cauliflower plant in another. She's real hard core - she starts seeds in egg cartons!!! I'm just looking forward to having a moment to start some seeds!!!! Especially since we just got dumped on with some fluffy lake effect snow. We were only supposed to get 5 inches. I'm sure there is more out by my house. There is 11 inches in Ludington and 7 inches in Grand Haven as of noon, today. At least it will melt fast. This is the time of year to start seeing snow melt and snow fall ... It really kind of sucks! All the snow that's underneath the new fluffy stuff is filthy and everything turns into a muddy mess all over!!

Must ... Start ... Some ... Seeds ... Tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

To start or not to start ... that is the question

I think I'm going to seed-start my herbs and flowers. I bought several I didn't think I was going to, but I haven't found Winter Savory yet. I also just ordered Joe Pye Weed from the net because I wasn't able to find it where I looked - probably because it is a wildflower. Anyway, I picked up Tarragon, Oregano, Rosemary, Bee Balm, Lavender and Poppies. I'm going to seed start them all, then sell the extra plants. I've got enough pots from stuff I've purchased over the past year, so when they get big I can transplant. Flowerland had all their seeds at 30% off, and if you bought ten, you got a big bag of seed starter soil (originally $20) for $5. I limited my seed purchases to 20 and got two bags for $5. The soil offer was on Saturday only. I'm so glad I listened to the Flowerland show!!! Gotta Love Rick Vuyst!!!

I picked up three new and interesting vegetable choices: Japanese extra long cucumber, a lemon cucumber and chocolate cherry tomatoes! We loved the purple beans so much that we just have to try a few new options.

I also have plans to build a small greenhouse.

Oh, the excitement is building!!! 2 weeks to the home & garden show!!! I'm breaking out with spring fever ... oh boy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Vegetables

Kellie and I looked at our backyard space and kind of made a decision as to where we are going to expand our garden. It looks like we'll be making it nearly twice as big.

The vegetables we're going to put in are: purple beans, green beans, wax beans, zucchini, bush cucumbers, bell peppers (assorted colors), snap peas, tomatoes - several varieties, potatoes, carrots, turnips, onions, cauliflower, kale, eggplant, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, sunflowers and spinach. In the back garden, planted among the weeds, will be pumpkins, gourds, buttercup squash, spaghetti squash, watermelon and cantaloupe.

It's almost time. Almost time to start seed-starting in the house. I'm going to have to buy a bunch more trays and dirt. Kellie and I are working on the shed to get that ready for the chickens, but the shed also doubles as a gardening storage area. It's central to my garden. There is so much to do! Speaking of so much to do, I have to get the tile in my kitchen finished. The 2nd thing I wanted to get done on my day off from work!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 13 - yee-ha

I am getting excited for winter to be over. My husband bought fresh spinach for me instead of the frozen I thought he would buy. We have been really enjoying it! I made a dish today that I just love - it has spinach, chicken, tomatoes and rice as the basic ingredients, but I think it is the spinach that really pulls the dish together. Anyway, as I was making it, and the later eating it, I was thinking that it would be nice to try the dish with turnip greens. Then I go to thinking about how great a turnip is! You eat the turnip, the bottom part, but you also can eat the leaves that grow out of it! I'm excited to try this come spring. I also think I'll plant spinach in my garden because it is so very good when it is fresh.

I think I'm going to have to expand my main garden to include the blueberry bushes and give me more room to plant other vegetables. I may have to re-plant a couple of my blueberry bushes so they don't come as far as they do; we'll see. I've got a bit of time before I do any of that MAJOR work.

Only a few more weeks and I should be able to see my crocuses peeking through the snow. I'm so glad I planted them. I might have to do a few more this fall. After the crocuses pop up, it will only be a matter of weeks before the tulips and the hyacinths show their pretty green buds.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

herbs i want to plant this spring

I don't know if I've posted this already ... I think I have. But here they are:

Greek oregano - because I can't believe I don't have oregano in the herb garden yet.

flatleaf parsley - because it gets nice and bushy and pretty

Joe Pye weed - the purple attracts butterflies and the dwarf variety gets to be 4 feet tall. The regular version gets much taller than that!

Flowering gooseberry - I thought currant, but the gooseberry is just fun to say

Rosemary - tastes so good with chicken!!! and carrots ... mmmmmmmmmmm

French tarragon - again, yummy!

Winter savory - just sounds good

Lavender - smells nice

Heather - also smells nice - and is such a pretty name

Thursday, January 28, 2010


It's cold!!!! Oh, it is cold!!!! But it is so necessary to be this cold! With the thaw, my catmint was exposed, and our barn cat found it! She's been having herself a little party. I harvested most of it this past fall, but a little was left out there. Hopefully, come spring, she forgets that's what it is, or I'll actually have to get more to plant out there. I love the smell of catmint, and my ancient indoor cat loves it as well. The dogs don't understand why they like it so much. It's just a weed to them. Harley, God love her, will eat flowers! Crazy dog! She would eat the wild Queen Anne's lace that would grow into the fence, lop the flowerheads right off with her sharp teeth. She likes tomatoes, too, so I'll have to keep her out of the garden. All three dogs love squash, too. We'll see how much trouble we'll have with that because all the viney things are being planted behind the barn. We had quite a great pumpkin harvest (that was all I planted behind the barn last year), so hopefully, come fall, we'll have as good a squash harvest as we did when I planted it in the garden itself. I need a name for the garden behind the barn - how about the southern garden? The one by the house is the garden-garden, or the main. Haha! I must get back to work!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


It started snowing last night and is still snowing today. This is a good thing because we Michiganders need the additional precipitation to save up for the summer months. It will also be nice to be able to take the dogs out for a walk in the field without having them get all muddy. ew!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Spring is coming

I'm getting excited for spring and gardening ... perhaps a little early, yet, but we've been experiencing warmer temperatures. Then I heard about snow coming later this week! I know it has to come, and I'm glad for it because it will keep my enthusiasm in check.

My daughter and I recently watched a PBS show on a restaurant down south that is on a farm. Everything used in the restaurant is grown at the farm. They made a BBQed lamb neck that looked absolutely fantastic, and they made little tarts with a home-made strawberry jelly flavored with elderberry flowers. Since I have an elderberry bush, I might have to give this a try!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Getting ready

January 14 may be a little early to start getting ready for the spring growing season, but there is no reason not to get prepared. I've learned a few things since my last post. First, in Zone 5, where I'm at, I can start my snap peas right in the garden in the beginnin of April! Wow! And when they are done, I can pull up the plants and start a second batch of beans in their place. Maybe with the earlier growing season, the peas will fare better. I'm definitely having two garden areas: one fenced in, and the other for spreading, viney plants that will be behind the barn where it can go nuts into the cornfield. I also picked up a couple of seed starting kits with plastic domes so I don't have to try to make my own. That will make a huge difference this spring when I start some plants indoors as early as the beginning of March. Oh, I'm so excited! It's a good thing I have a couple of bird feeders outside to keep me from exploding from spring fever. There are a couple of barn projects that need to get done as well as some painting in the house. I really need to get on some of that stuff!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Expanding the Herb Garden

I've decided to expand the herb garden to go along the east side of my house, from the side door entry to the shady front yard. I came by this decision when I found a great list of herbs I still need to add to my garden: Lovage, Greek Oregano, Flatleaf Parsley, Joe Pye Weed, Flowering Currant/Gooseberry, Comfrey Bush (symphytum officinale), Rosemary, Garlic, French Tarragon, Winter Savory, Heather and Lavender. It's quite a list, but I was hoping to add the oregano, rosemary and tarragon anyway. I also wanted some lavender and heather. I wasn't thinking of garlic because i'm unsure of how to harvest, but I decided a girl can learn.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Peeking in at the seed aisle

My daughter and I stopped at Flowerland the other day just to peek in and see what might be new in plant-land. We looked at all the indoor plants, and checked out the after Christmas sale items, and walked through the outdoor gardening section that was filled with bird-feeders of all sorts and varieties as well as suet and bird feed. A weekend birder, I'm all stocked up on that. Then, just before we left, we saw the new seeds for 2010. We looked at them all, wondering if what we might be planting this spring. There are purple cherry tomatoes we might just have to try to seed-start and blue pumpkins to rival the recently new white ones (Our white pumpkins didn't grow this year). I've decided NOT to even bother with corn this year. I just can't grow it. I've had smut problems and earworm problems. This past year, I avoided the bugs and smut, but when the corn was about 4 inches high, something swooped down into my garden and pulled up several seedlings. Then, when it was about time to harvest it, some sort of critter came in and scratched the corn ears all up, turning them to rot. I am NOT doing corn. I just can't grow it!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I'm going to try to work on a gardening blog. It's January in Michigan, and I'm just starting to plan. I am currently researching perennial herbs to add to my herb garden, and I'm also considering expanding that herb garden along the east side of my house. There is plenty of sun, but not enough to be scorching. My current herb garden runs along the wooden fence that goes from the east side of my house to the shed which houses our well and freezer. Later this spring, that same shed will also house our chickens. My vegetable garden is in a large fenced in area behind the shed. Part of the walkway to the garden from the back yard will become the chicken coop. I'm going to expand my vegetables behind the barn, lining the drainage ditch that divides the main part of our property and the back 6 acres of field we rent to a neighbor farmer, currently for corn. The garden area behind the barn will mostly be for our pumpkins, gourds, melons and squashes. I'm also considering planting sweet potatoes this year as I love them dearly! I just have never planted them before, and I'm not sure about the deer and rabbits getting into them out there. As far as the rest of the vegetables, I'm going to have tomatoes and green beans for certain, and purple beans and was beans, but more purple beans this year. They were so tasty last year! I had a great bean crop last year and froze so many that my family has been enjoying over the winter.

To get back to my herb garden, I have thyme, sage and chives, as well as lemon balm and catmint. I would like to find out about other herbs that are Michigan hardy perennials.