Springtime fun!

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Yesterday, all 4 hens laid eggs!

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We almost have a full dozen saved, and we’ve been eating them! 🙂 I love spring with chickens! Whiney laid a beautiful brown egg with dark spots…we think this was her very first egg because we haven’t seen those before. 🙂 I think these girls enjoy their free-ranging time around the yard. They come back so full! It helps us too because they forage for food in the afternoon instead of eating pellets twice a day. Plus, they’re getting lots of nutrients that are possibly not in their food.

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Anybody local (Triangle, NC) want some mint plants? I’m thinking about selling veggies/plants in the next few summers and this is one plant I would include. Mint grows very well in a pot, but unless you want it to take over a large area, don’t plant it there. 🙂 Mint is a pretty garnish, or you can use it in drinks, salads, rice, etc. For ideas on what to do with mint, click here. 

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I planted cilantro and echinacea in an old bird bath and they’re starting to sprout! I have lettuce growing in the little white dish. If you get veggies from the store/farmers’ market that have the base part of the plant still on them (celery, lettuce, etc where the stalks come together…the part you chop off, or green onions with the white part on the bottom), cut off what you will use, and drop the ends in water. I’ve had green onions for months and I just keep cutting them and changing/adding water! I’ve done it with garlic cloves as well. We got a huge bag of garlic (2 lbs!) from Sam’s for about $3-$4 and by the end of it, some of the cloves were sprouting, so I dropped them in water and up they went! We just planted that clove-plant in the garden and it looks great. 🙂

I just came back from the garden and everything was looking GREAT. The tomatoes are growing very strong, the sprouts I left are doing great, the sprouts I transplanted in Solo cups (to give them more room before they’re committed to being left in the earth) are getting bigger and stronger, and the rest of the plants I grew from seed and planted in the ground are looking AWESOME! I’m just keeping an eye on the weather and I’ll cover the cold-haters (like tomatoes and small plants) with mini-greenhouses (jugs & bottles with the bottoms cut out) if it gets too cold. We placed the rest of the ollas and they are still working great as evidenced by the water line in a circle around them. Now that we know they work well, I think we’ll need to make a few more this weekend!

Do-it-Yourself Ollas

 Some days are yogurt & fruit popsicle days…

 And others are homemade Maple View ice cream days! Mmmm…

It has been quite hot here! And speaking of hot, I have a fun gardening find for you to try out! We recently found some plans for do-it-yourself ollas…An olla is a slow-watering pot and can be pricey and difficult to find. Since we…ok, fine, I’ll own it I have trouble remembering to water the plants daily, this is an excellent option to at least try out. 
We found these terra cotta pots (we are trying 2 different sizes) at Home Depot and they were very cheap. We also visited the discount area in the tile section and found a large and very inexpensive tile to break up & cover the bottom with. We had Gorilla glue already, and it is waterproof, so we used that. Here is a picture of one of them in use…

I found some flat rocks to cover the tops with. This picture shows how well it is working! The ground around the olla is wet…just enough to keep the roots of the tomatoes around it moistened. And as you can see, the area outside that is dry! I think this means it is working great! We have yet to fill them up again. I believe we put these in on Sunday afternoon, so I will report back and let you know how long it takes till they’re empty again. We also started some cuttings from these plants using rooting hormone, so I will let you know how that works after a few more days.

On a separate note, I got a Vitacost order today! (Click the link for $10 off your first order and I’ll get $10 off as well! Thanks!) Some of this is from a “Be” box…$13 for $70 worth of items from a certain category with free shipping, some are free samples, and some are to replenish my essential oil/supplement collection. 🙂 I have already used some of my supplements and added some oils to my homemade eczema balm. I am so excited to see the results! I love Vitacost! I strongly suggest you check it out if you haven’t yet. So many great products at such great prices.

Finished coop structure

This weekend, we added some room for the ladies. Since something (we’re not so sure it was the dogs) had been massacring the neighbors’ chickens, we had decided to take the chickens to their new home in our backyard a little earlier than previously planned. The coop wasn’t finished, but we wanted those chickens and I knew they’d be safe and happy in their new home. I’ve read that chickens are much happier in a small flock like this, and I now know it to be true. If nothing else, they have fewer chickens to compete with for food, water, and pecking order. After about a week of having them, they seem very happy. I feed them treats (scraps from cooking) just about every day and we go outside to hang out with them and watch them all the time. Tucker loves being outside in the sun and he loves being a chicken dog. I’ve been trying to teach him to round up the chickens like a sheep dog would…but that’s just more comical than anything! 🙂

The inside of the coop now has 2 roosting bars (more than enough space for the 4 girls), a place for water on the bottom, and 3 nesting boxes (more than enough boxes). The nesting boxes are filled with sand for now, which works, but is not ideal. Sand is soft and the chickens can scratch around in it, but it is not ideal because it isn’t very absorbent and it’s heavy to lift when pouring in or cleaning out the coop. Here’s a picture of the bottom jut out with the water and 1 nesting box…
You can just barely see the bottom roosting bar in this picture as well. The water bucket is one we found on Amazon and it works pretty well to keep the water clean.

I’d say they’re a pretty happy flock of birds. We let them free-range for a while this weekend and they all stayed close together. Baby (I think she’s a New Hampshire) is kind of a loner (far left), but the other 3 are tight. 🙂 From top-bottom: Red Foreman (I think she’s a Rhode Island Red), Whiney Brahama Mama (Brahma), and Aria (Australorp). 
Gotta go check for eggs! 🙂