Category Archives: Children

Harvest Monday

January 19, 2015

We are only getting a few eggs/day. That and wild onions are our only harvests.

I told my kids I would pay them 1c/onion. They went right to work 🙂© Nieto Photography - - 919.495.5916 - Christopher Nieto(8, 5, & 4yo holding up their harvests)

I did ‘harvest’ chicken manure by cleaning out the coop this week. I either need to clean it out 10 more times before spring (not going to happen) or go get some horse manure to finish prepping the garden for planting.

Speaking of chickens, a friend of ours had an extra rooster she offered to us this week. It is about 7mo and is beautiful. It is getting picked on quite a bit, being the new guy and all. Such is life.© Nieto Photography - - 919.495.5916 - Christopher NietoOur other rooster, Whitey, we hatched out ourselves, this past March.  © Nieto Photography - - 919.495.5916 - Christopher Nieto

Another new critter on the homestead is Chip. She (yes, she. they thought she was a he when they named him/her. poor cat.) was brought to us when a relative had to move and could not take her with them. We have her in a dog crate this week and are giving her lots of yummy food so hopefully she will know this is her new home.© Nieto Photography - - 919.495.5916 - Christopher Nieto

This week finally warmed up enough to start planting in greenhouses. I planted some onions and some celery. The soil I use is stored outside in covered buckets. I was only able to plant two greenhouses because most of it was frozen solid 🙂 I put it out in the sun to warm and I will hopefully be able to plant more later in the month.© Nieto Photography - - 919.495.5916 - Christopher Nieto

What are you up to this week? Are you harvesting? Check out what other gardeners across the globe are doing at Daphne’s Dandelions.


Harvest Monday

May 12, 2014

This week started off with more strawberry picking! 🙂 Yum! My back was not a fan though. I think we’ve had our fill of strawberry shortcake for awhile…well, I say we have. I know my kids could have it every night!

Because of the storms last week, the mulch guys had about three more loads to bring us this week. The smell of freshly chipped tree is HEAVENLY!

Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0503In the Garden

I planted some more bush beans, flowers, and spaghetti squash and we started putting up trellises for our climbing beans.Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0483

We’ll make the trellises taller as needed…

More things are sprouting!

  • Sunflowers
  • CornNieto Family - May 10 14 - 0467(look really closely! the corn is in the middle. i hope it is able to grow! i may take out a bean plant or two to give it a fighting chance)
  • Squash, Cucumbers, Melons (all look the same when they are seedlings)Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0447
  • Flowers

Chicks and another Broody Hen!

We put the 6 week old chicks with the rest of the chickens and it went really smoothly! They are getting BIG! Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0517(They are seven weeks old and do not compare at all to the other chicks we ordered when they were 7 weeks old. These are HUGE! Amazing what a difference it makes when chicks are raised with their mamas, on pasture from the very beginning!)

Another selling point to getting them out of the dog crate is that we have another broody hen! 😀 Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0553(Unfortunately, hers is the only nesting box that did not get cleaned out so it is all poopy 😦 But there was no moving her — she made sure of that!)

I was waiting to clean out the coop and add more wood shavings whenever we stopped putting the dog crate in and out every night. Wood shavings were getting pushed all around by doing that so it really was pointless to add more shavings.

So, the day after we moved the chicks in with everyone, moved the dog crate out, and right before a friend brought over more fertilized eggs, I went ahead and cleaned out the coop and added more wood shavings. I did not do a deep cleaning…just scraped the poop off of the roosting table and out of the nesting boxes, and added a lot more wood shavings.Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0554(Now all of the nesting boxes (save the one where the broody hen is) are nice and clean)

As before, I dumped all of the cleanings into the run. The flies had gotten pretty bad in the coop since it had been so long since I had cleaned it. The chickens enjoyed scratching through the ‘cleanings’, eating fly larvae, etc. after I dumped it into the run. I do not like doing it, but I sure do like the look and smell of a newly-cleaned chicken coop! And all of that aged poop, wood shavings, grass clippings, and chicken scraps make a great addition to the garden!

The last time we had a broody hen, we had issues with other hens taking over her box, trying to eat her eggs, etc. We decided the problem was that we did not have enough nesting boxes so after the chicks hatched, we added 4 more. We hope that will take care of that and we will not have any problems with this broody hen. My daughter is excited that we will get new chicks just a few days after her birthday! 🙂

She has done a good job staying on her nest…so well in fact, we have been unable to count her eggs. The day after our unpleasant surprise (see below), she was finally off of her nesting box, getting some water and we noticed 4 eggs missing! This same sort of thing happened with the other broody hen before (3 eggs went missing). I have no clue what happened to the eggs…either time. My husband mentioned that since the coop door could have been open the whole day prior, anything could have happened to them. She now has 8 eggs under her and it has been less than a week. As always, we’ll just have to wait and see…

(Unpleasant) Surprise

We decided to take a day beach trip and a trip to the Aquarium as a last hoorah before the baby comes. It was a wonderful day! We came home and…the coop door was WIDE open :\

We are always trying to teach the children responsibility. The oldest child is the only one who has picked up on it thus far…but we continue to try! My husband told child #2 (6.5yo) to give the chickens some food and guess who didn’t bother closing the coop correctly?

SO, when we got home, some of my corn was scratched up, my sweet potato slip growing area was dug up, some place where I planted spinach and tomatoes…the largest area to be nearly ruined was my potato patch…specifically, the beautiful blue potatoes!

If you recall, after we plant them, we cover them with 8″ of mulch. Chickens LOVE a pile of mulch! So, they dug up that patch really well! 😦 I tried to recover everything with mulch. I only saw one potato sprout completely eaten; most were just uncovered and moved around. I was very sad to see the destruction but it could have been MUCH, MUCH, MUCH worse so at the same time, I was very thankful that it was only as bad as it was.


I have never bought starts. I have always been able to start my own tomatoes and last year was able to start my own peppers. This year, very few of my greenhouses did well. Other than our unusually snowy, never-ending winter, I did fail to seal the greenhouses with duct tape. I did not think it would make much of a difference but I am making a note to do so next year.

I decided to go ahead and buy some tomato and pepper starts this year as I still do not have any respectable-looking tomato or pepper plants growing yet. My daughter’s birthday is coming up and she asked her grandparents for some tomato starts for her birthday. So, at the end of the week, we picked up some cherry tomatoes, brandywine, roma, and some early girl tomatoes to get our tomato patch started. We will pick up some peppers and more tomatoes this week. I am not used to spending this much on the garden (I generally spend money on seeds but nothing else) but it’s either this or no tomatoes this year and I do realize all of the tomatoes we will get from our starts will more than pay for themselves in the long run so I will just grin and bear it and next year, try to grow some more! 🙂

Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0497(my daughter’s tomato plant) Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0461(A volunteer tomato I discovered in the corn patch (was the tomato patch last year)! It will be transplanted when it gets older 🙂 ) Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0443(Early Girl, Brandywine, Roma Tomato Starts)


We’re down to about 14 eggs/day. We have two hens not laying (new mama & broody) but production has gone down more than I expected. I would not be surprised if we found a nesting place somewhere in the near future…

I am hoping next week, I will be able to share our first harvest of kale, lettuce, and/or spinach. Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0480(Pinto beans to the left, then kale, and carrots to the right)

Then again, even more than that, I would love to share next week that we’ve ‘harvested’ our own baby 😉 That is not up to me, though. We’ll just see what the Lord has in store…

Check out what everyone else has going on in their gardens around the world at Daphne’s Dandelions 🙂

Sticking to a Budget…6 Months and Counting…

July 31, 2013

I’m sticking to doing a BIG grocery trip right when my husband gets paid and then one or two little ones until the next paycheck. One pay period this month, I used ALL of the money budgeted for groceries…we had to get a lot of non-edibles (toilet paper, trash bags, etc.).

The other pay period, I had some leftover money (because we’re eating out of the garden). When I have extra money, I put it back into our ‘Garden’ fund to pay for chicken feed and more seeds to plant.

Next on the ‘Garden’ list was to buy paint for the coop but my neighbor offered some old paint he had – we mixed it up and it looks just fine 🙂 (I would say ‘great’ but we painted it…and it’s just for the chickens…so it’s fine)

Our chickens are 21 weeks old so we are expecting eggs any day now. I expect to see a LARGE difference in our grocery bill after that! After buying seeds for the garden, I am planning on saving up for a riding lawn mower. It is not easy mowing this many acres with a push 😛 Then again, we are covering it little by little with cardboard, newspaper, and mulch so maybe we won’t need a riding one afterall…we’ll see 🙂

We’re trying to eat out of the garden, as always, to save on groceries. Right now, we’re eating corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, snaps, cucumbers, potatoes, and kale. Unfortunately, we ate through all of our carrot plantings (I’m continually planting more but they take quite a while to size up) and it is too hot for lettuce and a lot of kale so we are buying some of that from the store.

We are trying to keep it to a minimum and JUST eating out of the garden. It is not easy eating only what is in season when you always have the option of buying whatever you want at the store, but I think it is a wonderful practice in self control and a wonderful nature lesson as well 🙂

Here are a couple of samples of what we eat. We eat simply – mainly raw, roasted, or steamed…saves on time and ingredients 🙂

supper(Clockwise from the top: kale (from the garden) salad with apples and raisins, bean burger on homemade bread (WAY cheaper than store-bought AND much healthier), steamed snaps (garden), roasted potatoes (garden), oven fried squash (neighbor’s garden) – egg & breadcrumbs))

supper(clockwise from top: kale salad (garden – we’re in a lettuce loll, what can I say?), coleslaw (cabbage & carrots w/some mayo), baked beans made in crockpot w/maple syrup to sweeten), boiled corn (garden), steamed pole beans (garden))

In general, we don’t eat meat and limit our dairy intake so other than beans for a good protein kick, I try to load up their plates with lots of veggies! These are both my 5yo’s plate.

For the first dinner, I had to buy apples & raisins, which are already on the list as we eat a lot of fruit as well, and beans (I buy dried b/c it’s cheaper and healthier if I cook it at home).

For the second dinner, I had to buy apples, beans (dry), and cabbage. However, one cabbage goes a LONG way, since I make many batches and freeze them for future suppers. Hopefully, this will help some of you see how we can eat healthy AND not spend very much money on groceries.

Some meals, of course, are more expensive. For example, when we have stuffed shells or lasagna, I make a ricotta mix with tofu, which is not cheap…but still for that meal, I buy tofu, marinara sauce, and spaghetti squash (lasts us two meals). Not crazy expensive and hopefully, in the years to come, the marinara sauce and spaghetti squash will come out of my garden!

I always hate when people are really vague about how they save money, saying, ‘I cook everything at home’ or ‘I use coupons’ or ‘I eat from my garden’. I like specific examples. I hope this helps some of you to be able to visualize how your family can eat simply and healthily on the CHEAP. Please let me know if you would like more examples.

I’m sure I’ll hear about how your kids won’t eat anything other than nuggets or pizza or whatever. Kids aren’t going to go from eating fried, processed food to eating raw/steamed veggies overnight.

Many years ago, we began introducing our children to salads as a snack WITH Ranch dressing AND croutons! Next, we dropped the croutons. Then, a year ago, we dropped the dressing. We used to eat snaps by steaming and then putting butter in them. Now, we just steam them (no seasoning or anything). It is a process. Don’t expect things to change overnight. Work with your kids little-by-little. Get rid of all the bad food in the house. ALL.OF.IT. Be a good role-model.

By the way, we don’t eat healthy, healthy all the time. We eat pizza about twice a month. However, our pizza is with homemade, whole-wheat dough and they are veggie (kale, artichokes, cream cheese) or pineapple pizzas so again, not going crazy with money or health even when we splurge.

Another non-healthy meal we eat about twice a month is quesadillas…we eat these with guacamole (avocado, salsa, lime juice), rice (brown), salad, and refried beans (I make them from dry beans and only use a little coconut oil so they are VERY healthy but VERY tasty). We love the taste on our tongues of a splurge but their little bodies are so used to eating healthy that within 12 hours, their bodies have expelled all of the cheese they have eaten. It seems like a waste of $$ to me but, again, we enjoy it as it goes down!

Non-Food Savings

Another way we are saving on groceries each month is by not buying diapers (woo whoo!) or laundry detergent. Cloth diapering is really working out 🙂

For new readers, I bought 13 cloth diapers off of craigslist back in April with the idea that if I could use them until July, I will have broken even (cost the same as buying diapers from April until July). If I could use them past July, I would be ‘making money’! Well, it’s July and I am definitely continuing! 🙂

I bought 13 because that is how many the lady had for sale but I decided to look for more later. After 4 months of using cloth diapers, I don’t think I really need any more. We use all of them in about 2-3 days and after 2-3 days, it starts to smell so I have to wash anyway. If I had more, I would just want to wait longer and that’s just stinky 😛

I know cloth diapering is different with a newborn because the baby is changed a lot more and is different w/a toddler b/c poops are so much worse, but right now, with a one year old who still gets most of his nutrition breastfeeding, what we have is perfect 🙂

Another thing I bought back in April was Soap Nuts. It is a sustainable product and VERY economical. All of the reviews I read on them were wonderful so I ordered a large bag. If you like your clothes to come out smelling lavendery or citrusy, I suggest using essential oils because using Soap Nuts, your clothes come out smelling…like nothing…which I’m fine with. 🙂 They are incredibly easy to use and clean just as well as other laundry soaps (even on poop stains!).

I know this was a SUPER DUPER long post! If you made it to the end, Congratulations! 🙂 If you missed out on planting a garden this year, all is not lost! Go buy kale, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, and carrot seeds! Depending on where you live, gardening year-round is VERY doable! You can save on your grocery bills even when it is cold and snowy 🙂

Harvest Monday

July 15, 2013

I think it is officially too hot for lettuce 😦 I picked the last little bit this week – only enough for one salad (the kids were not too upset). I am still planting lettuce every two weeks so whenever the weather is cool enough, I’ll already have little plants ready to flourish.

Surprisingly, we still are getting some kale from seeds that were planted in January. Go figure. So, we are still enjoying kale salads some nights (only about 2/week).

kale2We have eaten all the carrots planted so this week I reevaluated how many needed to be planted from now on. I am going to buy from the store to allow what is in the ground to mature fully. It saddens me that I am buying things that I have been harvesting from the garden for a few months or more but all I can do is learn from my experience and keep planting more!

monharvest(Monday carrots (and snaps and blueberries))

potatoes&carrots(Wednesday carrots (and potatoes)
monpots(Monday potatoes)

Each week I think I we are about done with blueberries and then another set of bushes mature and we are overrun with berries. I picked Monday and Friday of this week.

monblues(Monday’s harvest)

blues1 (Friday’s harvest)

blues2(Friday harvest #2)

I am freezing most of them because most of them are split (due to the unending rain we have been having this summer). If I keep the split ones out for more than 24hrs, they start to rot. So, I pick the whole ones & put them in containers to eat for a few days and freeze the rest.

Right now, we are having strawberry jam on our PB&Js (from strawberries picked this spring) but I can easily switch to blueberry jam, as we have GALLONS of frozen blueberries in the freezer.

Green beans (bush and pole) were also picked for meals this week. My daughter has a small section of garden this year. She is growing pole beans and we are paying her for her harvests. She was able to make her first profit this week.

mathilda beansYou can see beans, carrots, and squash from our neighbor in this pic too 🙂

I had a baby zucchini but it rotted right off the plant.

zucch(I was VERY excited to see our first zucchini) zuchrot(until it rotted and fell off 😦 )

One night we had roasted potatoes, oven-fried squash, steamed green beans and bean burgers on homemade bread. Another night, we had veggie pot pie with green beans, squash, potatoes, and carrots from the garden. As eating solely from the garden is my main goal, these two nights gave me all sorts of joy 🙂

supper(This is the 5yo’s plate. Clockwise from the top: kale salad w/raisins & apples, bean burger on homemade whole wheat bread, steamed pole & bush beans, roasted potatoes, oven fried squash (just egg & bread crumbs for breading). We eat simply but it was all very yummy 🙂 Seconds were had by all!)

Head on over to Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week across the country 🙂

More plantings…

May 29, 2013

I mentioned previously that I have been moving more and more of my cool season vegetables out of the full sun/main garden into my shaded garden by the house.

I moved kale, which looked pitiful…then we had a 3 hour downpour and they perked right up. Next, I moved some lettuce (no rain since and I am unsure if it will rebound as well). I can tell the kale and lettuce I transplanted from my greenhouses have grown but only time will tell how long I can keep the cool season vegetables healthy.

May 25 13 - 0391 Other things that have been done in the garden this week…

I transplanted some extra zucchini, yellow squash, and cucumber that sprouted. Since I have old seed, I plant extra seeds and many times I am pleasantly surprised by getting better germination than planned.

May 25 13 - 0203(cucumbers) May 25 13 - 0272(yellow squash)

Our watermelon finally sprouted! I planted more spaghetti squash in corn box 2 and all of the running beans around the corn are starting to pop out of the mulch! I also planted another section of snaps and lettuce.

Passing it on…

I got an idea from a website about ways for your child to earn money. One was for the child to plant a garden and then sell the produce to you. My 7yo was very excited about the prospect of making money so a week ago, she went through my seeds and I helped her plant a tomato plant, watermelon, running beans, cilantro, and lettuce. Some of her running beans and lettuce just started popping through the mulch! It is so much fun to see her excitement 🙂

May 25 13 - 0282(Here is my daughter’s garden. Top left of the garden, you can see a bean popping through the mulch. That was yesterday. Today SO many more have come through. Exciting!)

One of these days, I’m going to harvest something! You would think! I am thankful we are still getting lettuce and kale from winter plantings. I already miss our spinach and broccoli. Until then, I’ll just keep planting 🙂

I am linking back to Simple Lives Thursday…whenever we start harvesting, we’ll really be living the simple life!