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The Chickens are No Longer Chicks

I swear, now that the chicks I mean chickens, have left the brooder in the house, they are changing at a crazy fast rate.  Who knew chickens grew so fast?! (Okay, well, I guess I did, but still…)

We’ve officially started to let them free range fairly often.  I mean, we kind of had to. Once they had a taste for it, they quickly learned how to fly over the fence for their run and wander the yard on their own anyway.  I swear, it’s like keeping a toddler in their new bed.  It just won’t happen.

Free Range Chicks

Free Range Chicks

Well, hey.  The only reason we really kept them in the run is to keep them away from Scout, our overly playful pup that seems to think they are toys.  But you know what? It turns out these chicks can really handle their own.  Scout is now afraid of getting pecked on the nose again, and all it takes is a cock-eyed look from one of the chicks to send her running in the other direction.  Mission: Accomplished!

They’ve also really gotten to know us! It’s so funny.  Every time they see one of us, the whole flock comes running (and if you’ve ever seen a chicken run, you know what I mean by funny).  In fact, it was incredibly hard to get this picture of them free ranging, because they kept running at me while I was trying to get in the best angle to get a picture!

In addition to running at us every time they see us, they really actually like to be held (well, most of them do, we’ve got 2 shy ones).  And Pistache loves holding them, too.  So it’s a win-win for everyone.

Friendly chicks.

Friendly chicks.

Cage Free Dad enjoys holding them, too.  For some reason, they really like to roost on his arm and listen to him talk.  Or…maybe they just think he’s crazy for talking to a chicken? I sure do!

 

Chicken Talk

Chicken Talk

They also really love roosting on his shoulder, although I don’t think he’s quite as comfortable with that!

Did it poop on me?

Did it poop on me?

The answer, of course, is no it didn’t poop on him.  I wouldn’t have been mean enough to snap a picture of that. But it was funny to see him get so nervous about it!

As far as growth updates, I’d say they are hitting puberty.  They go back and forth between peeping like chicks and clucking like chickens, which really reminds me of boys during that phase of life!

They’ve also finally started eating some table scraps.  These crazy birds really love cabbage! So funny.  I’ve tried a variety of things, and the only decent response has been to strawberry scraps and cabbage scraps.  They turn their noses up at everything else! Who knew chickens were picky?

All in all, our chickens are growing at an impressive rate.  I’m anxiously awaiting our first eggs, but I know it will be awhile before that starts up.  I’m hoping for August, though!

 

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In the Garden This week – June 1-7

I haven’t shared any photos of our garden the last few weeks, and thought now would be a great time to do so.  We were outside Monday evening and the light was just perfect and all of our plants looked so good that I just couldn’t help but pull out the camera and snap a few pictures.  It’s fun to see the changes over the season.  I hope you agree.

Tomato Plants

Currently, my favorite plants in the garden are my tomato plants.  We have 14 in varying varieties, and they are all producing really well.  The best production so far appears to be Romas and Cherries, but there are tomatoes and blooms on all 14 plants, and they are just looking so green and lush.  I couldn’t help but take this picture of all of them in rows.

Roma tomatoes on the vine

Roma tomatoes on the vine

Cherry tomatoes on the vine.

Cherry tomatoes on the vine.

As you can see, I’m getting some beautiful cherry and roma tomatoes this week.  These pictures were taken after our tomato harvest that day, where we got about 8 tomatoes that were fully ready.

Recovering jalepeno plants

Recovering jalepeno plants

Probably one of the biggest improvements I’ve seen in the garden this year are our jalepeno plants.  A few weeks ago, most of these plants had lost their leaves.  They were still producing fruit, but had mysteriously lost almost all of their leaves.  They were just twigs in the ground with tiny peppers coming out.  After some good pest prevention and organic fertilizing (more on that later) they’ve made a drastic recovery in a short amount of time. There are even some new flowers!

Bell Pepper Plant

Bell Pepper Plant

So far, we’ve only got one bell pepper growing on the 3 bell pepper plants we purchased, but it is getting pretty big.  It’s supposed to be a red bell pepper, so we’ll see what happens! So far, it’s bigger than the peppers that came off our plants last year, and it’s not even starting to turn red.  One of our bell pepper plants we assumed was totally done for.  In fact, even the main stalk had turned brown and drooped away from the stake holding it up.  Then, suddenly, it turned around! It’s now green and growing again.  I’m optimistic for later in the season.

Baby Carrots

Baby Carrots

Okra starts

Okra starts

We planted okra and carrots from seeds back at the beginning of May (or end of April? I can’t remember).  I didn’t weed around that area from the point of putting in the seeds until this past weekend, because I was paranoid about actually pulling up starts.  I wanted to be sure I could tell the difference before I started yanking.  Needless to say, in Southeast Texas, those weeds went rampant before I got to pull them up.  When I finally had a few hours to dedicate to wedding, I was shocked to see just how good this section of my garden looks.  In fact, I realized I have room to plant a lot more carrots! This week I’ll be mulching around the okra and planting new carrot seeds, but for now, I’m just enjoying how clean and well kept it looks.

baby orange on the tree

baby orange on the tree

baby lemons and blossoms

baby lemons and blossoms

Baby lemons on the branch

Baby lemons on the branch

My citrus trees are also doing pretty well.  Our crop won’t be nearly what it appeared when we first started getting baby fruits, but since I didn’t expect any fruit this year, I’m still happy.  As you can see in this last photo of the lemon tree, we keep getting little babies that turn yellow and fall off.  The same thing happened on our orange tree, even after we fertilized (although I believe we did that pretty late). Our lemon tree also lost a lot of it’s leaves when we transplanted it, but what is still there looks healthy, and as you can see from the second photo, we’ve still got some green lemons getting big!

Figs!

Figs!

We also have a new addition to our backyard garden this week.  2 Fig trees! This is the smallest of the 2, a Texas Everbearing fig tree. We also bought a Celeste fig tree that is much bigger (about the size of the lemon tree), but it also lost a ton of leaves when we transplanted, so it didn’t look pretty enough for a photo this week!  Hopefully it recovers quickly.  Both trees were loaded down with fruit when we bought them, so fingers crossed that they get ripe for us this year.

Mimosa tree: a pleasant surprise

Mimosa tree: a pleasant surprise

Some Pink Oleander Blooms

Some Pink Oleander Blooms

And, finally, I just wanted to share some pretty pictures from around the yard.  I’ve had so many pleasant surprises this spring.  Whoever lived here before us must have really loved to spend time in their yard at some point before they got too old to handle it (this was an estate sale, so I can actually say that). We’ve found some gorgeous plants and flowers that I didn’t recognize until they bloomed.  As you can see, we have a beautiful Mimosa tree in the back corner of our yard.  We also found a huge Oleander bush along the fence line as well.  And yes.  I’ve read the book White Oleander, and do realize that these plants are poisonous.  We have no intentions of ingesting any part of the plant, and Pistache believes that the fairies will not come to our yard if she harms any living plant, so she doesn’t play with it, either!

So, that’s it for this week! I hope you enjoyed the “stroll” around our garden.  I know I sure did.

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More Coop Work

I don’t know about everyone else, but I feel like we’re constantly doing work to our chicken coop.  Every time I think, “Yay! We’re done with the coop! I can post the final update on the blog,” I find something that needs to be changed.  Sorry, guys.  You may never see a completed coop picture.

However, I can show you an updated picture of the run, because we’ve done some serious work, there!

Door added to the run

Door added to the run

The most noticeable things we’ve changed about the run are that we fenced it higher up, making it more secure. We also added a door, since we can no longer climb over the fence.

New door to the run

New door to the run

The door was really simple to construct.  It’s just chicken wire and some old fence posts.  We don’t have it latched with anything right now, but it’s heavy enough to keep our dog out and chickens in, and we don’t have much of a predator problem right now so we’re not in a big hurry to change that.

In addition to those changes, we also made it more secure at the bottom, because we found where either our chickens or the dog had pulled up a bit of wire, creating a hole at the bottom of the fence.  We did this with some simple metal camping stakes, and it has held up pretty well so far.

Some of the changes I still want to make are:

  1. Make the fence even higher, since the girls are still flying over it very easily.
  2. Cover the top, because we keep forgetting to lock them up at night, and I’d feel better about that if I knew they couldn’t get out of the run.

Over all, some pretty simple changes are coming this weekend.  I *think* we’ll be done after that.  At least for a little while.

So far, the ladies seem to like it a lot in there.  They are constantly grazing, and come running up every time I walk by.  They love to hide out under the coop and enjoy the shade.  Now, if only I could find a way to make this entire run mobile, I’d be one happy chicken owner!

Enjoying their yard

Enjoying their yard

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In the Garden: This Weekend

This weekend, we spent a lot of time in the yard (again).  It’s the story of our lives now that we’re home owners.  However, I just love this time of year with everything coming into bloom and surprising me. I thought I’d share a few more pictures for you, since everything is coming alone nicely.

Baby jalepenoThe most exciting development so far (because they’re new to me) are our baby jalepenos! I just photographed the largest one, but we’ve got at least 5 that are definitely going to grow, and several more that are little green nubs right now.  So cool!

Tomatoes

 

cherry tomatoesAnother exciting update is the wide array of tomatoes we have growing in our garden right now.  Last year, we only got a few small cherry tomatoes out of our garden, but this year I see little green tomatoes on all 14 of our plants.  We have cherry, roma, and big boy tomatoes, so I’m very excited to see what sort of crop we’ll get this summer! Hopefully we’ll have some to can.

first baby cucumber

I remember in last year’s garden, I sat around and watched our plants for days, studying and figuring out why I wasn’t getting a crop.  With the cucumbers, I even pollinated them myself! This year, however,  I vowed to make my garden less stress and more fun.  I haven’t done a thing other than my original fertilizing and using better soil (and watering).  Still, I noticed a baby cucumber yesterday! The one on the right should turn into a cucumber.  It’s grown considerably from what it looked like before.

magnolia blossom

And, since this is my favorite tree, I had to share one of my first Magnolia tree blossoms. I’ve been waiting on this for about a week because I knew it was coming.  Our tree may be a little worse for the wear, but I still love the flowers (and smell) that it produces in the late spring! I can’t wait to see the whole tree covered in blooms.

 

 

 

 

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This Weekend in the Garden

Perhaps I’m going a little overboard on the garden photos, but at this time of year, it’s just too irresistible to not go snap photos when I walk around and see progress! There is just so much constant change, so I feel the need to document it frequently.  So, I hope you enjoy the photos I took this weekend in our garden.

Our pecan tree coming back to life

Our pecan tree coming back to life

One of the things we were most excited for with this house was the huge, established pecan tree in the back yard.  However, so far we’ve been disappointed with the fact that it appeared to be dormant this year.  It looks like it’s just a late bloomer, though, because this week, we’ve finally noticed some green on those barren branches!

First blackberries forming on our bushes.

First blackberries forming on our bushes.

It also looks like our blackberries are beginning to form.  The bushes are thriving! We probably won’t get a ton of berries this year (I only planted 2 bushes), but these bushes look like they’ll be heavy with fruit!  If you notice the string, it’s because this bush was growing away from our fence line, which is where we wanted the bushes to grow, so we’ve got some twine and we’re gently and slowly pulling it towards the fence this way.  The other bush seems to have just known the plan, and grew that way in the first place.

New growth on the strawberries

New growth on the strawberries

Our strawberry plants are also showing some great improvements.  As you can see here, we’ve got some new green growth! We’ve also been picking off several flowers a week lately.  I know it sounds crazy, but until June we’ll be picking off all the berries so that these can focus on growing and  spreading.  These are more of a labor for next year, when we should get tons of berries for canning and enjoying.

There's a bee in our blossom!

There’s a bee in our blossom!

If you remember my post from last year, discussing the woes of a bee-less garden, you’ll understand why this photo is so exciting to me! Yep! That’s a bee! And he’s not the only one, either.  We’ve got bees all over the place, without even trying this time .

Our new (intimidating) friend

Our new (intimidating) friend

We also found another new friend in the garden today.  Pistache was so excited to see him that she ran up and tried to grab him.  As you can see, he decided to try and scare her, and we got a nice lesson in about how lizards defend themselves while I snapped the photo.

Well, there are my updates for the week! Be sure to check out my Facebook page for an album full of progression pics, too.  It’s so fun to see the changes.

 

 

 

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Today In the Garden

This evening, I was outside playing with Pistache, and decided to take a few minutes to enjoy all of the planting we’ve done this season.  I’m so thrilled so far with the progress of most of our plants! Obviously, the veggie garden hasn’t done much since we planted 2 weeks ago, but everything else is making great progress.  I thought I’d share some of the photos I took tonight so you can enjoy my planting, too.

ImageThe most exciting change so far is all of our tiny lemons! Can you believe it?! I didn’t expect fruit until next year at the soonest.  Now, if these all ripen, that will be interesting.

ImageWe also have some really beautiful flowers on our Naval Orange tree.  They smell amazing, and I may have to walk by more often just to enjoy it while it lasts.

ImageOur blackberry bushes have also made great progress from the twigs I planted a few weeks ago.  We’re even getting a few blooms and buds!

Our “garden” is certainly coming along! I hope you enjoyed the photos.

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Painting Seashells – Nature Crafts with Kids

Sorry for the radio silence this last week.  It started out with a fabulous family beach vacation, and ended with us on pins and needles hoping for some good news for our family.  We’re not quite ready to share anything, but hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll have an exciting announcement!

In the meantime, we thoroughly enjoyed our beach vacation, despite the weather forecast.  Tip of the day, just because the weatherman says there’s a 60% chance of thunderstorms all weekend, doesn’t mean you won’t have beautiful weather!  We spent the entire weekend on the beach building sand castles (well, I built them, Pistache just played Godzilla and crushed them all), and collecting seashells to learn about nature. We discussed how hermit crabs and muscles lived in these shells and the ones we collected were no longer useful to the sea creatures.  Pistache loves learning about nature and exploring new things, so we even take the time to discuss these things in the back yard and at the park.

love collecting seashells with kids.  It brings back the memories of me doing that as a kid, and it’s a tradition I’ve passed on to Pistache.  We walk the beach and collect seashells in a bucket while talking about the creatures that live in the sea, and then they are the perfect afternoon craft while the sun is at it’s strongest.

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Painted seashells are a great busy craft for toddlers!

Pistache loved painting seashells, and this kept her busy for quite awhile our last day at the beach and even after we got back from the beach-she collected a lot of shells.

Once she was bored with painting shells, we let them all dry and then collected all of the shells with little holes to make a decoration for her room.  We used fishing wire, a darning needle (to make it easier to control the fishing wire with her little hands), and all of the seashells with holes and began lacing them together.

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Pistache got a chance to practice lacing with her shells. And yes, she’s crafting in a Princess dress!

Nature can provide hours of entertainment for young kids, and crafts like these have really opened Pistache’s eyes to the world around her.  So next time you’re at the beach, try collecting seashells and talking to your toddler about their purpose and then plan a craft!

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