Tag Archives: broody hen

Harvest Monday

June 9, 2014

Garden Chores

Last week was all about weeding. The main chores for this week were planting sweet potatoes and spreading mulch. We were in the 90s almost every day so pretty much everything needed to be done by 9:30am or so for it to be bearable.

I decided to spread three loads of mulch each day, covering bare spots in the garden little by little. I finished the garden by the end of the week and my husband helped me finish the blueberry patch one day when he was off work.

I planted sweet potato slips just about every day this week. I filled up the sweet potato patch, a raised bed, and part of the ‘overflow garden’. I’m in the process of writing a post on the whole sweet potato experiment…

Other chores completed this week…

  • Bush beans planted
  • Tomato plants pruned (bottom leaves)
  • Squash eggs, nymphs, and bugs picked (yay for Duct Tape!)
  • Potato bugs picked and fed to the chickens


I planted two rounds of peas in March. I pulled up the first round this week. The aphids were swarming!..and only three lady bugs in sight. I tried to collect as many aphids as possible and feed them to the chickens. They enjoyed their treat of aphids and pea shells very much!

We are eating peas fresh every day but can’t eat them fast enough so we went ahead and shelled, blanched, and froze these.Nieto Family - June 06 14 - 0852(the 3yo has been really helpful in the garden this year!) Nieto Family - June 07 14 - 0086The second round still looks healthy. The pea shells are much longer than the first round and are plumping up nicely. I wonder if that has more to do with being planted at a better time (mid-March vs. early March)? or if it has to do with spacing. The first round were planted WAY too close while the second round were spaced properly.

When the second round is ripped up, I am planning on putting a tunnel on it and letting a few chickens eat the rest of the aphids and prepare the plot for some more planting. πŸ™‚

I harvested more lettuce, kale, and spinach this week. Nieto Family - June 02 14 - 0005 Nieto Family - June 08 14 - 0122Some lettuce was from my daughter’s garden. She was excited to make her first profit of the season πŸ™‚

We have been eating a lot of spinach this spring for many reasons:

  • because lettuce takes longer to grow
  • because we planted so much spinach and we don’t like it cooked (so freezing’s out)
  • because it has a shorter season than lettuce
  • because we like spinach salads more then lettuce salads

I am starting to rip up the first plantings of spinach (planted in mid-March). The spinach planted under the apple tree (mid-April) is doing really well. Too bad I only planted 5 or so plants under there :\ I’ll have to make a note for next year to plant more under the tree.

Everything seems to like it under the apple tree! The kale, spinach, beets, lettuce, and carrots planted under the tree are ALL bigger and grew faster than those seeds planted in full sun. I am not very surprised… I’ll have to be sure to prepare other trees this fall so I can have more places to plant shade-loving plants next year!

By the end of the week, I had ripped up about half of the spinach plants (bolting) and the lettuce seemed to be ready to harvest all at once so we had a BIG lettuce harvest — it should last us about a week…Nieto Family - June 07 14 - 0004

Egg production has slowed a bit as we have three broody hens and have been in a heat wave recently. We only put eggs under one broody hen (too much to keep up with otherwise; for me, at least) and are trying to discourage the others from sitting for the time being. I am welcoming the ‘slowing’ of egg production as this means we are only getting a dozen a day instead ofΒ  one and a half dozen a day πŸ™‚

A friend gave us one of her roosters that her granddaughter is afraid of. She thinks he’s fine (not aggressive) but since her granddaughter is afraid of him, she offered him to us. I was wary but my husband said we’d try him out πŸ˜‰ The kids are scared of him, just because of their last experience with a rooster. Hopefully they’ll get over that. The good news is, if he works out, we won’t have to borrow any fertile eggs for our broody hens anymore! πŸ˜€Nieto Family - June 08 14 - 0533

Check out what others are harvesting at Daphne’s Dandelions!


Harvest Monday

June 2, 2014

I’ll start with the sad news. Not a single egg hatched for our poor broody hen. Another hen went broody, however, so we went ahead and put some eggs under her. Per usual, we’ll wait and see πŸ™‚

The good news is, the two chicks that hatched a couple of months ago are sister and brother! We have a rooster πŸ™‚ Hopefully, it will be a docile one, as we had to kill our last one for being too aggressive. I can’t wait to hear crowing again! I love that sound πŸ™‚ AND we won’t have to borrow fertilized eggs from our friend anymore (eventually) when more hens go broody! πŸ™‚

We are still enjoying our spinach, green romaine, and red romaine salads. DSC_4281 DSC_4274Kale is being consumed while juicing and sauteed.DSC_4303 DSC_4312Peas are eaten raw as a side for lunch or dinner (the kids love shelling them so I just put some pods on their plate every day)._DSF9554 I was curious whether some carrots were ready to harvest or if I needed to continue to buy carrots at the grocery store so I pulled some to see how they were doing. The first one had obviously hit a rock so I pulled a second and then pulled one of my daughter’s carrots to show her how hers were coming along. DSC_4311They still need more time to fatten up but they are nice and long! Much longer than last year! Just goes to show how every year the soil is getting better and better. Praise the Lord! I am growing lunar carrots, a variety of orange carrots, and purple carrots.

Eating from the garden…only…

I was talking to a friend about how people used to provide food for their families. I couldn’t understand how they did it because I am working so hard and we still have to buy from the store! I know we have 6 kids but that was pretty normal for the time period we were discussing.

I used our blueberries for an example — we have 45 bushes…we eat them fresh and freeze them and we still have to buy frozen blueberries from the store about 4 months out of the year.

She went on to mention they did not have freezers back then either…then it hit me: even though my goal is to eat in season, I still have convenience engrained into me so that (as previously mentioned) if I want carrots and ours are not quite ready in the garden, I’ll pick some up from the store until they are.

How did people eat from their gardens alone back then? I know it was hard work but if we only ate in season, 45 blueberry bushes would be MORE than enough for our family and our neighbors! Since I have access to a freezer, I will continue to preserve by freezing (I HATE the taste of anything canned!) but I am trying to be more purposeful about eating in season.

For example, last year, when peas were in season, we would eat peas as an ‘extra’ thing on our plate but we would still eat our ‘normal’ veggies that were not in season (like green beans). This year, since peas are in season, peas are on our plate. It makes perfect sense! So why did it take me this long to realize it was an option? Because eating in season is not natural anymore. I am happy to retrain my brain and raise my kids to know what fruits and veggies are in season, when.

I know a lot of my fellow gardening bloggers’ goal is to eat fruits and veggies only from their gardens…hence the impressive amounts of produce they blog about each week! Check out what others are harvesting at Daphne’s Dandelions.

FINALLY! A Harvest!

May 26, 2014

This is last week’s update but…I’ll post anyway, as there is plenty of information to share — it’s starting to get really busy in the garden!

There was a LOT of planting going on this week! I picked up more tomato and pepper starts to fill up my tomato patch. As I said previously, I have never bought starts. I hope they all do well. I got as many heirloom as possible for flavor, variety, and so I can save the seeds and grow my own starts next year πŸ™‚

I planted:

  • Yellow Bell Pepper
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Homestead Tomato (heirloom)
  • Red Beefsteak Tomato (heirloom)
  • Mr. Stripey Tomato (heirloom)
  • German Queen Tomato (heirloom)
  • Indigo Rose Tomato
  • Black Krimm Tomato (heirloom)

_DSC9569(some tomatoes…) _DSC9567(and peppers)

Oh, and I planted those on one of our 90 degree days…I am a smart girl! πŸ˜›


I never thought this day would come but we have a harvest to show for Harvest Monday!!! SO exciting! The weather has cooled down to mid-70s as well so nothing is in danger of bolting — no more buying greens from the store! πŸ˜€

This week, we had sauteed kale from our garden and had many nights of spinach salad! YUM!

The Nieto Family - May 16 14 - 0007 The Nieto Family - May 16 14 - 0034As I said, this post was from last week (having a baby tends to put a hold on things, like posting, for a bit πŸ˜‰ ). We continued to get harvests thisΒ  week as well! Green and red romaine lettuce, spinach, and peas!!! πŸ˜€ LOVE IT!DSC_4234

_DSC9659 _DSC9668Broody Hen

Later in the week, Broody Hen was able to take a dust bath so we were able to count her eggs. Down to 5 😦 I am so confused as to where they’re going! I wonder if the marker is just rubbing off? I can’t imagine something is stealing just a few here and there and ONLY from the broody hen!…because we are still getting 16 eggs/day so it’s not like the so-called predator is stealing other eggs… It makes me want to cage the next broody hen — JUST to see what is happening to the eggs. The chicks are due tomorrow so as always, we’ll see!

The chicks are getting HUGE!!! They are still small enough to get out of the tunnel though so we only open it up when we’re outside so they don’t eat up the garden. Nine weeks old…

10376946_744534375597414_4736389532606979274_nWhat are you harvesting? Go to Daphne’s Dandelions to see what other gardeners around the world are up to.

Harvest Monday

May 12, 2014

This week started off with more strawberry picking! πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ˜€ 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! πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ ) 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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ™‚

Harvest Monday

March 10, 2014

Yet another week of crazy weather – sleet, ice, rain, and 65 degree weather! I was unable to do much in the garden this week until the weekend.


Nothing from the celery yet. Some seeds are starting to sprout though:


DSC_3953Onions (first time sprouting my own onions…could have planted more/greenhouse)

DSC_3952 Flowers (these are red sunflowers – sprouts look purple – but foxglove & yellow sunflowers are sprouting as well)

This week is supposed to be much warmer so hopefully, there will be many more to follow.

Garden Chores

I spent the weekend expanding mulch to the driveway. I have found that a garden, whether a raised bed or a BTE garden, surrounded by grass (especially bermuda grass) will quickly become overwhelmed by said grass. So, we try to have our gardening area surrounded by quite a bit of mulch to

  1. Deter the grass and
  2. Prepare new ground for expanding the garden in years to come.

DSC_3948My husband’s work moved offices recently. Those big moving boxes are AWESOME when it comes to covering a lot of area! Hopefully we can find more of those huge boxes soon! πŸ™‚

DSC_3955Finished Product. Looks great! Still a lot more area to cover!


Still just harvesting eggs. Fifteen a day! We are very excited about this. We caught the chickens eating eggs a week ago but now we check 3 times a day and the problem has seemed to resolve itself. yay πŸ™‚

The broody hen is still sitting. One week down, two more to go!

Some weird happenings

  • Every once in a while, we’ll find a few of her eggs (marked by an X) in other nesting boxes!
  • Also, we started with 10 eggs and now just have 7. We have no clue what happened to them. Our nesting boxes do not have backs to them and since some of her eggs have been kicked out of her nesting boxes a few times (in the front), I would not doubt it if we found them later behind the nesting boxes. I don’t want to move the nesting boxes now because I do not want to disturb her. We have looked and have not seen them but I don’t know where else the eggs could have gone!

Are you harvesting anything green? I cannot wait until that day comes! Check out what others are doing in their gardens at Daphne’s Dandelions.