Thursday, April 28, 2011

Introducing the Ameraucanas and Wyandottes! (We've Gone Chicken-Crazy)

Ben found a farm that had sexed Ameraucana and Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks.  It happens to be located very nearby, so we couldn't resist.  We were planning on adding to our flock next spring, but we decided it makes just as much sense to get them now. 
Ben was originally going to buy just four Ameraucanas, but he knew I've been wanting Wyandottes also.  So he came home with an additional three Golden Laced Wyandottes.  What a sweet surprise!

The darker birds are the Golden Laced Wyandottes.

It turns out that Ben had visited this particular farm as a young child.  The farmer remembered that he had taken a tour with his Boy Scout Troop.  Small world, even smaller town.
The chicken man said that these chicks are three weeks old, but they look more like five weeks old.  We don't mind.  It's just perfect because the Australorps are now six weeks old.  The new batch will live indoors for a week, then we'll put them out with the rest.

An Ameraucana

I'm so excited that we'll soon have pastel eggs as well as brown.  The mystery is whether they'll be blue, green, pink (quite rare), or a combination?  This whole chicken thing just gets more thrilling by the minute.
So far, these newbies are very docile.  They're less skittish than the Australorps and way more chill.  I hope the two groups will get along.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Homage to the Iris

The woman who owned this house before we bought it must have LOVED irises.  There are several hundred all around the yard.  We moved in last June, so I haven't gotten a chance to see them in bloom until now.  

When they began blooming I initially thought that we only had purple irises.  However, the yellow and white irises have just begun to bloom.  I'm in love with them all.

I had to move over a hundred rhizomes last summer in order to make room for the herb garden.  I'm so glad that I didn't let one iris die.  I safely transplanted each one that was removed. It's been a pleasure to finally see all the different colors that were hiding inside.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I Need a New Word

I need a new word for "chicken."  Miles' favorite toy is his chicken.  We play fetch every day with his chicken.  Every day I tell him, "Go get your chicken."  Then, I throw it, and he brings it back so we can play tug with it for awhile before I throw it again.

Now there is a whole house full of "chickens."  Soon, when their fence is built, there will be a whole yard full of "chickens."  See the problem?

Miles Giles

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Herb Circle is Almost Full

It's that time of year again.  There never seems to  be enough hours in the day.  The weather is spectacular, and there is always something to do.  I finally got to do two things that can only be done when it's truly spring.

Basil, thyme, and oregano

Most of the herbs are now in the Herb Circle.  I have some rosemary and some more lavender in the greenhouse.  They aren't quite big enough to transplant yet.  I'm proud to say that each and every one of the plants in the Herb Circle was started from seed in the greenhouse.  (See the sidebar for a full list of what's in the Herb Circle.)

The cardinals love the bird bath. 

In addition to planting herbs, I also got to put out the hummingbird feeders.  I love watching them eat. 

One thing I haven't had any time to do is sit in my favorite chair and watch the cows.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I've Got Worms: Vermicompost for Transplants

We collected the castings from our vermicompost bin for the first time yesterday.  I ordered 500 red wrigglers last summer, and they've been eating, pooping, and multiplying like crazy ever since.  We started an additional bin a few months ago because we have so many worms now.

For the last few weeks we've been putting food scraps on only one side of the most established bin (and feeding the new bin normally) so that most of the worms would congregate on one side.  Ben was so kind to pull the castings out of the other side of the bin last weekend and pick out all of the worms from it so that I could use the castings while transplanting this week.  The castings will help to prevent transplant shock, add organic matter, and give the plants a boost of nutrients for a good start.

We collected about fifteen pounds of castings, and there's still a lot more poops in both bins.  I added the castings to the bottom of the holes when I transplanted the artichokes and tomatoes on Monday.  I hope the plants enjoy it.

Newly-transplanted "Black Sea Man" tomato

Newly-transplanted "Red Brandywine" tomato

It has also been great having worms in the basement every time we want to go fishing down at the pond.  I suppose we can give them to the chickens for a treat too.

Speaking of chickens, they moved out into the Hen House last Sunday!  They were beginning to fly out of the brooder, and the coop is totally chicken-ready.  So, why wait?  Their yard isn't fenced in yet, but they can just live in the Hen House until it's ready.  They'll enjoy being in their own house  more than being all cooped up in our spare room anyway.  The fence won't take much longer to build.

The girls adjusting to their new home

I'm so glad to see my babies grow up!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kitchen Garden and Hen House Happenings

We've made a lot of progress on the Hen House.  I'm finished with my part of the painting.  I just need Ben to paint the very tippy-top of the front side (he's 6' 3").  Our colors are "Pearl" and "Sauteed Mushroom."

Side view, shutters closed

Shutters open

Back side, chicken door closed

Chicken door open

Front view, almost done


The chicks got to stretch their legs for a few hours today.

They're in that awkward stage.

We have a lot growing in the kitchen garden, but it's about to EXPLODE next week.  Stayed tuned.

Our garlic is thriving.

 Spinach is doin' it.

Arugula, my favorite.

The beets are happy.

 Every time I think I'm finished thinning the carrots, more pop up.

 I can't wait to taste the first strawberry.

 I finally got the wineberries in the ground.

Amish snap peas have finally grasped the fence.

Wineberry row.  Support system to follow.

Let's see what's headed for the kitchen garden.


A sea of tomatoes

 The peppers are growing up.


 Sweet delicate thyme

 All the squashes and melons are saying "hello" to the world.  This is a Waltham Butternut.

 Our last frost date is April 18th.  I have a lot to transplant during the next two weeks.  At the top of my list are artichokes, a gazillion flowers and tomatoes.  I'll also be sowing sunflowers and corn.  Happy planting!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Blooming and Growing Strong

The dogwoods are in full bloom.  We have two in the yard (one in the human yard and one in the dog yard).

Our apple trees are blooming. This is only their second year, so they're still pretty small.

 Cox's Orange Pippin bloom

We won't be getting a harvest until next year (okay, I've eaten a few while working), but the asparagus is coming up like crazy.

This spear is about to put out ferns

The nasturtium says, "I'm ready.  Move me to the garden!"Ans I did some of that today.

This is the second round of lettuce in the greenhouse, also ready for the garden.

 The salvia is going strong.

Next week will be super-duper busy.  I'll be transplanting hundreds of seedlings.  Today I began easing into this by transplanting Bells of Ireland, Butterflyweed, Milkweed, Nasturtium, some artichokes (as ornementals), Morning Glory, Cardinal Vine, and Ruby Moon Hyacinth.  I was a busy little bee.