Friday, June 20, 2014

Backyard Update

Chicks have turned 6 weeks old on Father's Day (June 15, 2014).  Time flies.  I have not been able to keep up with the blog.  It's been almost 3 weeks since my last entry. ^^;  Chicks are not the only thing that have grown in that time...

Here's a pic of Sage at 5+ weeks.  They have outgrown the old watering bowl.  I have bought the larger waterer.  It is placed slightly raised above ground level, but it still gets dirty from the chicks bathing in the dirt, kicking it everywhere.

Mocha and Vanilla at 5+ weeks, with Chaba the cat photo bombing.  LOL  She and a couple of cats just can't get enough of the chicks.  ^^;

Swiss Chard in the Spring Veggies Box looking beautiful.  My salad greens have started bolting in the heat.  Various flowers are about to bloom.  I kind of have fun watching them grow flowers.  Adds to the color.

Because it has gotten so hot, the broccolis have no time but form a rather small head before buds start to open.  This is what you have to deal with when you have a rather short spring (and late start in the garden).  ^^;

Because it is consistently in the 90s for mid-day high these days, I have a record short pea plants.  At least they're producing.  ^^;

I have some chrysanthemums interplanted in the Summer Veggies Box and found these baby ladybugs.  They're good for eating aphids that are bothering the broccoli plants.

The "Indigo Rose" tomato plants have fruits forming. :D  Purple on top and green at the bottom.  More fruits are forming.  The plant is still rather small...

The "German Queen" heirloom tomato that was planted way back in the old garden plot with plenty of room.  We have the tomato support, and on the outside of it, chicken wire fencing to protect from our free-ranging chickens.    Last year, we had a tomato plant grow wide in the SFG box and it was touching the fence.  Chickens were pecking on the tomato fruits through the fence material.  They do like tomatoes.  At any rate, this tomato plant is doing well.  Currently about 18 inches tall.

The sunflowers along the back fence line are doing well.  Most are about 10 inches tall and have been thinned once.  When they reach a foot tall, I will thin them again for 1 per spot.  They are still so short, compared to the volunteer sunflowers that grew from last year's seeds.  I have neighbors with sunflowers that are already blooming, too.  ^^;

Hubby and I made an exciting addition to our baby coop - a chicken run! :D  It's 8 feet long and 2 feet wide.  Connects to the end access door of the coop we purchased.  This is painted to match the coop.  It's been a big hit with the babies.  Sage was the first to come out past the threshold and venture out into the new run.  I see the girls running back and forth.  They do some funny hop-step-jump kind of stunts, and do a lot of chest bump with running starts. XD   It seems Sage has established herself as the boss bird of the three.  Brave and inquisitive, despite her small size.   These last two photos were taken today.

Mocha is starting to develop a rather cool pattern.  She also seems to be growing crest-like feathers on the sides of her head.  After the run was set up and the babies were venturing out, Dorito, once again, acted all annoyed and upset, squawking like a rooster, trying to peck at the little ones through the wirecloth...  The babies were just so curious about the big ladies that roam freely around them.

At the end of June, they will be 8 weeks old and we will be switching their food from 'chick starter' to the 'grower' type.  Although they seem to have grown so much since they first arrived, they're still a fraction of the fully-mature chickens in size.  But these babies will most likely start laying eggs at about 5 months, which will be end of September. :D

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Update on the Garden

The chicks have turned 4 weeks old on Sunday, and they're doing really well.  Sage (Barred Plymouth Rock) is a sweetie and an adventurer, wanting to sneak out every time I open the door to change water and refill feed. ^^;  Luckily, she's quite content to have a visit on Grandma's lap for a while.  It's so unbelievably easy to scoop her up.  The other two always have a bit of a shenanigan of running madly around before settling down.  So I usually just spend extra time with Sage as I change the water multiple times a day.  They are getting larger, with Vanilla still being the biggest and Sage being the smallest.  But Sage definitely has a big attitude. LOL  Will have their photos next time.

Today, I have mostly garden photos as things have really picked up the pace outside with high temperatures on a regular basis.  With the high temperature, sometimes comes wind, which increases the frequency of watering for me. T_T  As I'm still recuperating from my recent illness, I can't do things quite as quickly and as easily.  Water feels heavy in a 2-gallon watering can, and the distance to the 'Sunflower Fence' seems longer... under my current condition.  But I have good news.  We have germination in every spot (20 along the fence).

This spot was sown with two different kinds of sunflowers.  Eventually, they will be thinned to one of each in a spot.  I have successfully managed to keep the soil moist during germination, so it only took 5 to 7 days, and I have drip irrigation hose in place along the fence, so I will be able to start using it.  The sad thing though, is that we have an old Elm tree that sheds so many seeds every spring.  All the little seedlings are them in the photo.  I'll be eliminating them in the coming days. T_T

Just on this side of the "Sunflower Fence" is the purple meadow.  These are volunteer plants (originally larkspurs that I grew from a seed package of blue flowers).  As long as we've been at this house, these guys have managed to self-seed and perpetuate in this somewhat sparse and bushy form for years.  The bees love these purple flowers - in particular giant bumble bees.  I've tried to capture in a photo at least one of the multiple giants that come to our backyard for the past three days, with no luck.  As soon as I start to walk toward them, they seem to sense it and fly away, only to return later. ^^;

Walking towards the house, here's the summer veggies box.  I've somewhat casually planted it this year with the broccoli plants making a semi-circle around an eggplant and tomato.

This morning, I noticed the beginning of a crown on 3 of the broccoli plants.  :D

Right next to the Summer Veggies Box is the Bees & Butterflies Box filled with flowers both annual and perennial.  Chocolate Mint proved to be extremely invasive last year, but the Bee Balm clump that didn't do much last year has come back with a vengeance, and they're about ready to start blooming. :D  Even more bees.  Speaking of bees, one got stuck in my hair right by the left temple.  Initially, I felt a slight panic, but I just hoped the bee would manage to untangle himself and he did so rather quickly.  :D   I just stood still while he returned to freedom.

The onions are out of control! LOL  The flower buds have formed and the stems have really shot up.  They are doing some kind of contemporary art thing by twisting and bending.  They're always changing. LOL

Next to the Spring Veggies Box is the Strawberry Box.  This photo was taken May 30, 2014.

And this was taken today.  Yum!  :D :D :D  Exciting~!!!

On Saturday, this arrived in the mail and I, like a garden nerd, was giddy. :D  My favorite tomato food!

It's basically a powdered sea kelp from North Pacific, that provides micro-nutrients to the plant.  The first time I used this, I had an heirloom tomato grow to 8 feet tall and out of control.  It eventually got blown over on a windy day, support and all.  Even though the main stem was damaged, it kept producing fruits like nothing happened until it got too cold.  It was an amazing experience. :D  So I'm hoping we can duplicate that kind of fun this year.

And, as I had hoped to show you one day, I cracked open one of our girls' eggs and one store-bought egg.  The one on the left is Dorito's egg with richer orange color, perky yolk... generally so robust and wholesome. :D  I let the girls eat a variety of greens in their diet, along with seeds and nuts, aside from their standard layer feed.  They scratch and forage all day long in the backyard, and they are happy.  I think it shows in their eggs. ^_^  (To think that the garden grub they find and eat with such glee is a protein that transforms into eggs... LOL)

Next time, I'll have chicks photos. ^_^