Wednesday, April 30, 2014

CSA Wednesday

Greens! And spring onions! And baby beets! By golly, spring is here. We love our friends at Fish Hawk Acres!

PS - don't forget, chick day is TOMORROW!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Our babies will be hatching tomorrow!  So, on Thursday, we will be bringing home 20 Buff Orpington chicks to start our first flock.

In preparation for their arrival, we got their brooder box together. Kole graciously gave up his "spaceship" box for their first few days. I know they'll quickly outgrow it, so I am planning on checking with Home Depot and Lowes to see if they ever have larger boxes that they get rid of.

I've read a lot from various sources about keeping chickens and the one I always return to is Kathy at The Chicken Chick. Using her suggestion, I bought a pack of puppy pads to use under paper towels for the first few days.

We plan to keep the chicks upstairs for a little while. The kids are more than excited to play with them and I look forward to it as well!  

I'll be sharing a lot of pictures and more info about what we will be using for heat and a DIY water setup! Check back tomorrow for this week's CSA Wednesday installment and Thursday to check out our little balls of fluff! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Coop Progress!

The coop is moving right along!  We are getting excited for our chicks this week and even more excited for the fresh, free range eggs we will get! Here's some progress pictures as of about 20 minutes ago :-)

There will be windows, don't worry. And Dan is currently working on the nesting box jut out on the east side. The "siding" and trim will be painted to match our house. There will also be a chicken door and ramp to the right of the full sized door. 

The planting has also begun in the garden! Onions, potatoes, carrots, peas, and parsnips are in the ground. The seedlings are coming along and we are anxious to get started planting everything else. After the late frost last year, we will probably err on the side of caution and wait a few days past our "last average frost date." One of our next projects will be fencing in the garden to keep curious chickens and deer out!

Have you started planting in your garden? Be sure to check in this week as I share our brooder set up, one my favorite chicken resources, and best of all - fluffy chicks!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

CSA Wednesday

Greens, spring onions, bread, brussel sprouts, potatoes, and eggs! There is just something special about fresh food.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April Showers

Bring May flowers! We will be homeschooling our kids and one of the things Kole loves is crafts. Today, we made a picture of April showers. He made the umbrella out of a cupcake liner and pipe cleaner. The flowers were made with a fork. And he painted on the stems and leaves.  It's quite fitting since we are indeed having April showers today!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Picking Up Sticks, I mean bones. Normal people, with normal dogs, spend their spring cleaning up sticks from their yards. We, on the other hand, pick up bones. That our dog gathered over the winter. She's like the vulture of the canine world. She's weird.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring Cleaning

I've finally started to tackle spring housecleaning. I started in the master bedroom last week. It feels like a whole new room! And I love, love, love sleeping on fresh line dried sheets. How's your spring cleaning coming along?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

CSA Wednesday

The sun was back out today after waking up to 24° temps this morning. We are itching to start planting in our garden and should be able to start this weekend!

To help ease the "we don't have anything in the ground yet" blues, our CSA box delivered some seriously cool goodies this week.

Carrots, potatoes, brussel sprouts, basil, granola, ramps, and salt. Salt?! From WV?

This is some pretty awesome stuff you guys. And you know it's spring in Appalachia when there's ramps! An odiferous vegetable that is part onion, part garlic. Hello spring! 

And granola! While I love making our own granola, this is delicious. What a fun box this week!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Future Food

Last year, Dan built us a small seed starting table out of scrap lumber. It sat in the corner of our dining area and looked like a jungle. We moved it to the basement and we now have our plants down there. The temperature is slightly cooler, so the germination has been a little slow. But, there is green and that makes me happy on this snowy (*!&!^snowy*&^!) April day.

The year we built our house, a turkey hen had a nest behind it. She returned last year. And lo and behold,  she's back again this year. We see her come out a few times a day to eat.  And we're looking forward to seeing her showing her babies around in a few weeks!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Little Flowers

While out watching Dan finish putting the roof on before the rain this afternoon, Kole hands me this:

Our yard is dotted with these little purple beauties. And it made my heart melt to watch my rough and tumble little boy carefully pick this for me. He also picked one for Jenna. I may have him pick a lot more soon and make some violet jelly. Has anyone ever tried it?

In other news, the coop is coming along!

The north side features the man door and will also have the chicken door. The east side will have the nesting boxes in a bump out on the side. And the South side will have a few windows. Dan worked really hard on the design and is anxious to see how well his original passive solar design works.

Here's a view of the coop from the bottom of the garden:

The chickens will be free range, so we will be fencing the garden in. We plan to let them in in the evenings for some supervised pest control.

And here's the view of the house from the bottom of the garden:

It was very cloudy today, with lots of wind. It is supposed to get chilly tomorrow,  with the possibility of *snow.* While I don't want to see any more of the white stuff this year, I know it won't last! Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Water, Water, Water...

....water! Water was a big concern of ours when we first started building. When you buy property, there really is no way of telling if you have a viable source of water for a well. Of course if there is a spring or stream, there is little question.

With our house being on top of a hill, we were a little unsure of our chances of finding water for a good well. We had things all set in place for one well driller to come and drill it for us, but his rig broke down in the middle of our building process. We were luckily able to find another well driller who had some availability to come help us out.

Our driller and his wife came out to our property and used a "divining rod." It is basically a forked branch of a certain species of wood. Cherry is a good choice. If there is water, the stick will bend toward the water. They walked around our house and tried to find spots that seemed favorable. One was right behind our house and the other was near the bottom of our driveway,  in the middle of the road. Convenient, right?

He started drilling behind our house first. Boy, well drilling is a dusty job! Things looked favorable and it seemed as though we had hit water. He asked me to come out the next day so I could "see the show." But, when I got here....The well was empty. He speculated that there was some sort of crevice in the rock that allowed the water to flow away. So, back to the drawing, er, drilling board.

The drilling rig was moved down to the switchback in our driveway. The divining rod showed the most movement in the middle of the road, but that wasn't going to work for a well. Off the road slightly, there was still some promise. And luckily for us, he hit water. At a depth of 160 feet, we had a viable well.

The well is 1500 feet from our house. At the bottom of the hill. Our driller had a small excavator and spent the better part of a week trenching and laying water and electric lines to get the water to the house. What a fiasco!

Because the well is so far away from the house, we have a storage tank in our basement. The well itself has a 2 horsepower pump in it and it takes 7 minutes for the water to get from the well to our basement. Obviously, that would make doing anything with water difficult,  so we have a secondary pump that pumps water through the house from the storage tank. The well is set up to pump water up to the tank every 30 minutes as needed.

We try our best to conserve our water. We bought all new appliances, so we were sure to buy a front loading washing machine as well as low flow toilets and shower heads. We also wanted to use rainwater. We found rain barrels that matched the siding on our house!  We have 6 - 65 gallon rain barrels.

This particular barrel sits on the southwest corner of the house and is perfect for watering our garden. We were able to use only rainwater to water the garden last year and hope to be able to do the same this year. We have plans to connect them all together in the future and set up some sort of irrigation for our garden(s). Baby steps, right?

And the chicken coop is coming right along! Here's a teaser picture,  but be sure to check back tomorrow to see Dan's passive solar designed coop!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

CSA Wednesday

I'm digging the warmer weather! And of course, the slight changes we are seeing in our CSA boxes. This week brings us bread, kale, lettuce, green onions, carrots, and potatoes - yum!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Getting Ready!

As we were (are) getting our kids to bed, our neighbor came by with his tractor and plow. We have a tractor and are on the lookout for a one bottom plow, but don't have the means to plow just yet. We are so thankful for good neighbors!

And doesn't that dirt look awesome! I'm looking forward to getting my hands in it and also taking some samples for a soil test.

I took the picture from Kole's room. Needless to say, he isn't interested in going to bed just yet :-)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Potatoes, Anyone?

We grew a variety of things last year. We enjoyed some lovely fresh dug potatoes on July 4 as well as some monster beets. We got a respectable potato harvest and hope for even more this year.

There are so many varieties of potatoes besides the typical russet in the grocery store. We love blue or purple potatoes. They are quite beautiful and the more color, the more vitamins and minerals a food has. There's a reason why we are encouraged to "eat the rainbow. "

I ordered our potatoes from Fed Co seeds this year or Moose Tubers. I ordered the "specialty organic" mix. Sounds fancy schmancy, eh? It was delivered via UPS. I love our UPS driver. When he came up the hill the other day, he told me that he gets excited when he has to deliver to our house because he likes our view!

Isn't this a fun bag? The mix included 12.5 pounds of seed potatoes. It was like opening a Christmas present since I didn't know what varieties we were receiving.

We received 2 red varieties, 2 white varieites, and a blue variety. Strawberry paw just sounds cool, don't you think? I'm looking forward to getting them in the ground!

Work continued yesterday on the coop yesterday. We also made it out to the last winter farmers market of the year.  While there we picked up half of a fresh chicken. Laura from Sweet Wind Farm, where we will be getting our chicks, butchered a few chickens Saturday night. It was the most delicious chicken breast! And I'm cooking down some stock as we speak.

I didn't get many pictures yesterday as my time outside was spent trying to keep a certain 13 month old from trying to run into the woods. Oy, she's getting to be a handful. I did snap this, though, last night as Dan was covering the floor to protect it from the rain today.

Happy Monday, everyone! What's on your homesteading agenda this week?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Coop Beginnings

The coop construction has begun! We decided on a location last night and we picked up the materials for the floor today. The weather was cloudy all afternoon, but cleared up for the boys to put some cement in the post holes. Tomorrow will be the floor. It's moving right along!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Women in Agriculture

Today, I was lucky enough to be able to get out of the house sans kiddos to attend a women in agriculture event. It was sponsored by Farm Credit. There were vendors selling arts and crafts, as well as some farmers with eggs and honey.

There were some informational sessions. I watched two: beekeeping and cooking. Bees are one thing we hope to add to our farm in the next year or two. Joyce Frey, a master beekeeper, was a wonderful presenter and I learned a TON. I sampled her honey and even made the evening news!

The other demonstration I attended was cooking with our favorite chef, Dale Hawkins from Fish Hawk Acres. He showed us, in 22 minutes, how to make 4 dishes for dinner with local ingredients. He made asparagus with a soft poached egg on top, grilled cheddar cheese and apple sandwich with whole grain mustard, an omelet, and asparagus and crab pasta. Everything smelled awesome and the prep was simple. A chefs tip - peeling the thick skin off of asparagus helps to cut down on any bitterness.

Chef Dale and Teresa along with Pati catered the event.

I had a very nice time and am really grateful my hubs was able to spend an afternoon with the kids!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

CSA Wednesday

The weather is certainly brightening up around here! And I was super psyched to see radishes in our box this week! We also got salad greens, spinach, potatoes, brussel sprouts, and eggs.

Tomorrow I am going to an afternoon of fun for a Women In Agriculture event. Fish Hawk Acres is catering it and Dale will be giving a cooking demo. There will also be bee keeping and canning demos. I can't wait! I'll try to snap lots of pictures to share!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Soil Remineralization

I've been doing a lot of reading lately (something I don't get to do very often!). I ran across a book on our statewide online lending library called The Intelligent Gardener. It is an interesting read and one that has completely caught my attention.

The idea behind the book is that our food we grow is lacking in nutrients because our soil lacks the proper mineral balance. When the minerals are balanced, plants are strong and healthy and pests are few. I'm still working my way through the book (it is information heavy!), but it appeals to my analytical side. And he doesn't bore me with his talk about chemistry.

And it just so happens a few weeks ago, I ran across a free cookbook. As I read through the beginning of the book, it turns out that the author is herself a huge proponent of remineralizing soil and growing the most nutrient dense food she can. I can't wait for fresh produce this summer to try her recipes out. She has a pretty cool website and offers a guide to growing nutrient dense foods.

I'm going to keep reading and researching and finding the best way to implement this into our garden. It all makes so much sense to me and it allows me to dust the cobwebs off my chemistry degree :-)