Category Archives: Chickens

Harvest Monday

August 24, 2015

What even happened this week? It has been crazy!


We put up the electric fence.

Something got in anyway and tore into all but 4 of our melons. The crows have set up residence this year in the garden so it is possible it is them and our fencing is working.

We put up fishing wire to keep the deer out. They broke through (the bottom one so I think it was a fawn) and ate all of my sweet potato vines down to the nub!

What we did about said issues:

  1. We cut all the grass around the electric fencing to keep the current strong.
  2. I went ahead and ripped out all of the watermelons and harvested what we could.
  3. We found the groundhog hole and put gum in and around it.
  4. I re-strung the fishing wire. I am thinking I will need to get thicker wire (I just used what we had on hand) OR possibly put another line of electric wire where it was broken to deter the fawns. I hear if the deer get through it is because #1 you used fishing wire that was too thin, #2 they were running through (no fishing wire will stop them), or #3 baby deer found how to get through and the adults followed suit. I also want to borrow our neighbor’s camera to see if/how they do it again.

So, other than harvesting, I spread some more compost in the garden and planted some more fall crops. Next week, I will continue to spread compost, continue to harvest, and continue to plant fall crops!

As the squash bugs were taking out my zucchini plants earlier this summer 😦 the melon plants were starting to produce. So as I ripped out one section of melons, we noticed there were a lot of squash bugs left over. Since the whole area was fenced in anyway, we put 6 chickens in there to clean it up. They did WONDERFULLY. Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015As they ate all of the bugs, we harvested the rest of the potatoes and fixed the fencing. When we noticed they were not eating or scratching, just looking around, we put them back in the run. If only every section in the garden could be cleaned up so nicely! I’ll have to think about putting something like that in place…

Other than melons, we harvested beans, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, and cucumbers.Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015(the 4yo has been lining up and organizing everything lately. very interesting…) Nieto Photography 2015(A couple of watermelon grew inside the fence. They had to be cut out.)

What are you harvesting? What are you planting for the fall? Any advice on the deer or groundhogs or raccoons? Check out what other gardeners are up to this time of year at Daphne’s Dandelions.


9yo’s Garden Update

August 19, 2015

My tomatoes are doing great. I had two tomatoes but I didn’t pick them early enough and the worms got it! All our tomatoes plants used to be bending over with fruit until we made cages to stand them up. We found a hornworm on the tomatoes but it had wasp eggs on it. The wasp paralyzes the worm and lays eggs on it. When the eggs hatch the babies eat the worm. We like seeing wasp eggs on hornworms.

Our potatoes are being used up like crazy. I got one that was 4 inches long and 3 inches wide that was huge. I planted two potatoes and six plants came up! There were even more potatoes than plants. I boil my potatoes. We eat mashed potatoes like crazy. The other night we had zucchini quiche,pasta primavera, and mashed potatoes. We sometimes have potato salad but not as often as mashed potatoes!

We have been growing cilantro a lot. When they flower they look like the Queen Ann’s lace flower. When they flower we put them to dry on the road and put the seeds in a bowl to plant later on. We have thousands of them.

The chickens are doing great.On June 21 we were supposed to have more chicks out of a black Australorp but something happened. We normally put the momma chicken and her eggs in a dog crate about two days before they are supposed to hatch. We did that but we put the wrong hen in the crate so the momma might of crushed them. All we know is we found eggs crushed in the morning! We also have a broody hen that has gone broody two times now! Chickens going broody means they want to have chicks so they peck at us when they want to keep their eggs. On August ninth some more chicks were born! I was excited! It was five chicks out of five eggs!

Our strawberries are doing well. We still get a few even though the groundhog got a lot of them. On July 26th we got about thirty! The first time the strawberries disappeared, we put up a fence around them. We have seen the groundhog many times now.

We haven’t got any corn this year. We planted corn and sunflowers next to each other on the same day because when there are really big storms the corn stalks blow over. Well, sunflowers grow fast and so it shaded the corn out. The raccoons also tore down most of the corn for us.

Our zucchini is done for the year I think. Around July 28 we picked our last zucchini. I was sad. I liked making food out of zucchini.

My cucumbers are doing well. I’ve gotten at least 20 cucumbers this year! I got cucumber plants for my birthday this year. I eat 2 cucumber slices a day or more! Everybody else in my family does too. Some of my cucumbers I give to the chickens. One time my brothers and I ate a whole cucumber in one day!

We plant beets every spring and fall. This year we gave some to our neighbors. We tried something called Roasted root vegetable hash that had beets in it but we did not like it. The two things we do like made out of beets are beet pancakes and beet juice.

Happy!…and Sad :(

August 13, 2015

This week has been pretty crazy! Some good things happened and some bad things. First the good:

#1 It RAINED! 😀

Gardening with a cover means this is not as important to me as other farmers/gardeners in the area but it was still nice! It cooled us down from high 90s to 80s all this week. And everything’s so pretty after it rains 🙂

#2 We got more mulch!

We had gotten down to our last two mounds of woodchips and were wondering what we were going to do when that was gone. I decided, since I don’t have many more woodchips, I would start covering my garden each fall with chicken compost, like Paul does.

Right about that time, our neighbors decided to cut down about a dozen pine trees so we got 8 or so loads of woodchips! I think (as long as the chickens make enough compost) we will still cover our garden area as Paul does and save the woodchips for garden expansion but what a blessing!!!Nieto Photography 2015#3 Our last broody hen of the year hatched out all of the eggs we gave her to sit on! That has yet to happen. Our young roosters are finally getting efficient 😉 The chicks hatched 3 days earlier than they were supposed to so one got away from the mother and was pecked in the head by another chicken – she did not make it. 😦 But we moved the mama and the four other chicks into the little coop for safety and they seem to be doing well.Nieto Photography 2015

That makes 16 chicks we hatched out this summer that survived. We are waiting for the older chicks to lay any day now. They are 20 weeks but their combs are not very red. All we can do is wait.

Now to the disheartening (hint: they all have to do with unwelcome animals):

#1 Racoons

We caged in our fruit to keep them safe from the groundhogs. That is not hard to do. However, the racoons decided they wanted the fruit. They can climb over fencing, move fencing out of their way that is not staked down, and even pull up stakes! Every day we go out and more and more watermelon and cantaloupes are eaten. I am so disheartened. My husband is off to find electric fencing.Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015(they lifted up the stake, dug, and got into one of our cages!)

#2 Deer

The deer have found our sweet potato patch (and all of our beans on the edges of the garden). They have not eaten it down to the nub YET but they are working hard! 😦 Last year we harvested enough sweet potatoes to last us until May. This year, I know that will not happen but I hope we are able to harvest some! Nieto Photography 2015I had issues with moles/voles (whichever eats veggies) and bunnies our first year gardening but as soon as we got a cat, that was taken care of. Other than that, we have never had any animal issues. This year…they found me! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: WE NEED A (well-trained) DOG!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursdays for ideas and commiseration. 😉

Garden in August, Eastern NC, Zone 7b

August 5, 2015

Beginning of JulyNieto Photography 2015Beginning of AugustNieto Photography 2015Walking through the garden, to the left you will see I have my future fall garden covered. I do not start seeds indoors (no money/space) so to start my fall garden, I sow seeds in a shady spot and use a shade cloth. Last year was my first year trying it and it worked pretty well. I am sowing brassicas every two weeks and covering them as they sprout.

I also just started sowing carrots. My fall carrots last year did not do well. There was spotty germination (I assume because of the heat) and then whatever did sprout was eaten down. I do not know what ate them but it was suggested to me to combat whatever bug it was with DE. I noticed some of the first sprouts coming through so I went ahead and sprinkled DE over the rows of carrots.Nieto Photography 2015(This area is shaded on the west with tomato plants and on the east with sunflowers. Maybe that will help with the heat and germination rates.)

To the right, you see our sunflowers are looking great 🙂 They are starting to droop so I am expecting to be able to harvest them in a couple of weeks. We will give them to the chickens while they are moulting for extra protein and then dry some in the basement to give to the chickens throughout the winter.Nieto Photography 2015Though I tied up the tomatoes about a month or more ago, they have grown more and need to be tied up again. It is on my to-do list for this week. They are doing really well though! We harvest buckets daily. If we could get all of the critters out of the garden, we would be harvesting even more! The plants are doing great 🙂Nieto Photography 2015I must say, I have not found the best way to grow tomatoes. Last year we tied them to cattle panel. It did okay. This year, I thought it would be a good idea for them to climb up this repurposed chicken tractor. However, the tomatoes that grow next to the netting tend to rot b/c the black netting is so hot….still brainstorming for the perfect (for us) way to tie up tomato plants.

Next up, the melons. The ones that are caged are doing well. The ones that are not are…well…not. We have harvested about 3 cantaloupe so far and I am thinking we will be harvesting some watermelon this week 🙂Nieto Photography 2015We are still getting a trickling of strawberries and our raspberries that have grown taller than a groundhog can reach :\ are starting to really produce for us!Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015Look in the picture below. The raspberry plants within the strings are ones I planted. ALL the greenery around that? Yeah, those are raspberry shoots. I am going to rip all of those up this fall and transplant them. If anyone local would like some free raspberry plants, please let me know! Nieto Photography 2015We have about 5 different sections where we are harvesting green and purple beans. Section 6 is growing larger and the last section of green beans was just planted.Nieto Photography 2015(section 6 of green beans)

What’s left of our potato patch (what hasn’t been harvested) is doing well…Nieto Photography 2015And at the end of the garden is the sweet potato patch. It is looking healthy and is spreading as it should 🙂Nieto Photography 2015Spread throughout the garden is a variety of flowers, some planted from seed, some gifted to us.Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015That is our garden in a nutshell 🙂 If you notice, we are in August and not a weed in sight! I could NEVER say that when I gardened the traditional way! LOVE Back to Eden gardening!!!

Oops! Let me not forget about the chickens 🙂 They gave us as many eggs in July as in June (a little less than 200). Our chicks are all getting big but their combs are not yet red. It would be nice if their first eggs lined up with the older chickens moulting. We’ll see. We have a broody hen who is set to hatch her chicks next week. I do not think we’ll let another one go broody after that because we are going on vacation at the beginning of September. If we can keep these chicks from being eaten (that has happened to about half of our chicks this year 😦 ), we will have 17 chicks. Which means we will have doubled our flock. Oh, that would be WONDERFUL! But we’ll see. Since we hatched them out, we don’t even know how many roos and pullets we have.

So What’s On Tap for August?

We will harvest the sunflower and potato patch fully. We will also pull up all of the dried beans. We will continue to harvest cucumbers, melons, beans, tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, and squash. Mainly though, we will be preparing for the fall garden. This means lots of planting and (whenever I get more energy) a lot of compost-spreading!

The fall crops I am planting this month:

  • cabbages
  • broccoli
  • beets
  • carrots
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • spinach

I will also plant seeds to go under a tunnel for winter harvesting:

  • cabbages
  • broccoli
  • purple and green sprouting broccoli
  • carrots
  • beets

What does your garden look like at the beginning of August? What are you planting for your fall garden?

I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursdays today.

Harvest Monday

July 13, 2015

We are harvesting potatoes, tomatoes, patty pan squash, zucchini, carrots, beets, lettuce, cucumbers, and a few strawberries here and there. Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015
Some cucumber and watermelon vines are creeping into the strawberry patch and in turn are keeping the groundhog out! 🙂 The raspberries are being stolen by that stinkin’ groundhog we have yet to catch and he ate all of our ripening blackberries. I am thinking of putting fencing around the raspberries…AND I am thinking about putting fencing around the whole garden next year!

Originally, I was planning on planting enough food for us, 3-4 other families, the chickens, and enough to put up for the winter. Because of the lovely animals who found our garden this year and the fact that I am probably working at about 50% energy right now (June was more like 10-30% energy), we are only able to grow enough for 1/2 of the chicken’s food, fresh eating for us, and enough for 2 other families.

For example, instead of 10 gallons of berries frozen, I have 0. I was planning on growing lots of kale, cucumbers, and celery to juice and freeze while in season so I would not have to buy it later. I do not have enough energy for that currently even though we are getting plenty of those things. So, I am letting most of my cucumbers get HUGE and overripe for the chickens. They LOVE them and it really keeps them satisfied on the hot days we’ve been having!

Energy was up a bit more this week 🙂 We were able to tie up most of the tomatoes and get the last of the weeding done. I can’t believe it! This WHOLE garden is weeded.Nieto Photography 2015

Amazing what you can do when you have some helpers! This is the first year I’ve asked for their help weeding (9yo, 7yo, 6yo, 4yo) and unfortunately for them, they were so helpful, they will be more involved from now on! 🙂 Also, thanks to the BTE method of gardening, as long as we stick with it, there will be no more big weeding weeks, like there have been these past two weeks. The weeds got HUGE because I was out of commission for about 6 weeks. Now, we just need to go out once a week probably and walk the garden for small weeds.

Of course, this does not mean there is nothing to do! This week, we are tying up the rest of the tomatoes, planting another round of cucumbers, beans, squash, melons, and fall broccoli and cabbage, weeding the bricks by our house, weeding the perennial beds by our house, possibly putting netting around the raspberries, and definitely covering our ripening melons with fencing. I hear groundhogs LOVE watermelon and cantaloupes. We have quite a few that are close to being ready to harvest and I do not want to lose them!


I read a couple of weeks ago that chickens need about ½ cup of feed/day. I always thought our chickens could handle less feed but I never knew how much. I didn’t want to feed them too little and lose our egg production but I don’t want to spend money on feed when I don’t have to! So this week, I took the time to measure how much we were giving them daily…about twice as much as they needed!

Considering the fact that half of their run is filled with grass and we give them a HUGE cart-full of weeds and food from the garden each day, they do NOT need that much feed. I feel much better about how much feed we are giving them now. I would still like to cut back more but until I am feeling 100%, I am going to keep everything as is.

We have 12 2yo laying hens, 2 roosters, 3 hens sitting on eggs or with chicks, and 12 chicks (and 5 eggs due to hatch in two weeks). I think some of our older chicks may have started to lay. I found a small egg in with the rest of the larger ones the other day. We’ll see!

What is going on in your garden? Is weeding taking over your life or do you have it under control? Are you preparing for a fall garden? Head over to Daphne’s Dandelions to see what other gardeners are harvesting this week.