Tag Archives: chicken

Expanding the Garden, Fall Planting, and Chicken Death

August 27, 2013

We have been busy, as usual, this week.

  • Expanding the garden
  • Fall planting
  • Cleaning out the coop
  • Expanding the run
  • Dealing with chicken death

Expanding the Garden

Our church meets in an elementary school. Right before school starts, the cafeteria is getting food in, the teachers are unpacking boxes…there is a ton of cardboard to be had. So we load up all the cardboard we can and expand the garden every fall.

Before:10484629_791900920860759_4757761746985017869_oAfter:10533883_791900957527422_3687780063672357214_oSometime this fall, winter, or spring…whenever I get around to it…I’ll go to the local horse stables and cover this whole area with horse manure. Depending on when I am able to get the manure down, I may plant in it spring 2015.

Fall Planting

I planted some more broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce this week. It is supposedly too late to plant but I am continuing to plant just to see… I am using old seed so it is only costing me time and labor at this point. Nieto Family - August 22 14 - 0126This used to be the spaghetti squash patch. We moved the chicken tractor over it and I planted cabbage on the outsides and broccoli in the two middle rows.

  • The tractor can be covered to protect the brassicas from cabbage moths/butterflies
  • It can be covered in plastic to extend the season
  • Hopefully, I can use this area to get a jump start on spring/summer crops

Cleaning Out the Coop

We are in the process of collecting wood shavings from a local mill so we can clean out the coop completely and cover as much of the garden as possible with that wonderful compost.Nieto Family - August 22 14 - 0105

Expanding the Run

We got rid of the chicken tunnels for the time being. They are impossible to mow around and I was tired of stepping over them 😛 We instead expanded the run. It now goes from the coop to the house (our entire side yard).

Dealing with Chicken Death

We think two of our pullets got into something (but don’t know what) when we expanded the run because they both died. These are both chicks that were hatched at the homestead. One was 12 weeks oldDSC_5149 and the other was just about egg-laying age. DSC_5145She was gorgeous. It was saddest to lose her. Also, because she was so big, it took her longer to die. After a couple of days of no eating, drinking, or getting up, my husband had to just break her neck 😦

Of course, we have no clue what exactly happened to them. They both had droopy wings and were tripping over themselves. Towards the end, they would have seizures. After they died, my husband went around picking up many of the chickens, inspecting them, so we could tell if any of the rest of them were losing weight or looking ill. Everyone looks fine (as fine as moulting birds can look) so far.

One curious thing happened though. When the chickens started moulting, our rooster stopped crowing…Is that normal? He is not even a year old so he is not moulting…any thoughts?

I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursdays to see how others are prepping their fall/winter gardens and to see if others have insight on my chicken deaths.


Harvest Monday

June 16, 2014


I went to pick some more peas this week…to find that they had stopped flowering and there were only a few which had not plumped up. I guess it was time to rip them out! I love getting fresh peas but they are one of the harder crops to harvest and shelling them is rough on one’s fingers so I was not too upset that the spring pea season was over!Nieto Family - June 08 14 - 0588(That bowl wasn’t quite big enough…had to get another one)Nieto Family - June 08 14 - 0900We got a good crop this year (thank you Kitty for keeping the bunnies away!). The second planting produced long pods and fat peas.Nieto Family - June 07 14 - 0007(my husband’s hand 😉 )

The chickens LOVE the pea shells and we put a tunnel over the area so some chickens could eat the rest of the aphids before we planted something else…Nieto Family - June 13 14 - 0096

We are lightly steaming this batch of peas each night. The kids decided they like them better this way (rather than raw).


My daughter wanted to pull her carrots. The tops looked so wonderful, she felt sure they were ready 😉 We allowed her to pull one but she pulled and pulled and NOTHING. I pulled and pulled and still, it would not budge! I got a trowel out to help and I finally got most of the carrot up, but not before the top ripped off and the bottom broke off as well. We tried pulling another one and the same thing happened. I find it very interesting that the carrots look so good (very straight and very long) and yet, they were impossible to pull…interesting. We convinced her to leave the rest of her carrots in the ground. They definitely need more time to plump up.

Nieto Family - June 08 14 - 0860

Spinach and Lettuce

I harvested the last of the bolting spinach this week and ripped up the plants. Even though we love spinach and will miss our spinach salads, we are getting a TON of lettuce.Nieto Family - June 14 14 - 0001


Even with the biweekly plantings, we still do not have enough kale! You heard me correctly…we would eat sauteed kale or kale salads every day if it were up to us. One day I’ll get the hang of all that needs to be planted…one day…

And last but Certainly not least…


Earlier this week, I was able to pick enough for everyone to have one. Later in the week, we got a handful (literally) of blueberries.DSC_4503 This week is going to be insanely busy — I think it will work out really well because I think this is the last week of easy-going gardening. Starting next week and not ending until the end of July, harvests will pick up, blueberries being one of them.

Too bad the kids want to start schooling again next week (we took a break after the baby was born). And, no, they cannot help me harvest the blueberries. The 1yo has been banned from the blueberry patch because he keeps picking unripe berries. He follows his older siblings around so if they help, he’ll want to help. ‘Good thing’ the baby has been feeding around 4 or 5am so I’ll be able to get in some harvesting before it gets too hot and before the kids wake up.


  • Picking squash and potato bugs every day
  • Pruning tomato plants about once a week
  • Planting carrots, lettuce, kale, cucumbers, zucchini
  • Starting the Fall Garden by planting celery and cabbage
  • Ripped up the spinach, broccoli and cabbage (the worms got to them and they were pretty much destroyed — the chickens LOVED the worms!…I WILL cover the plants this fall!)

Fall Garden

As you may or may not know, I do not have a seed starting area in my house. Our house is in the woods so growing things in a window is impossible. I refuse to spend money on lights, etc…not to mention there is no room for any of that stuff.

Each year, I just do my best direct seeding…many times nothing comes up (too hot when they need to be started) but sometimes I get a few crops. This year, I am playing with some ideas. This week I implemented one of them: starting seeds in the sunflower boxes. This way, they still get sun but also get some shade throughout the day.

When the seedlings are big enough, I will transplant them into the overflow garden where I plan on covering them for the winter with the chicken tractor-turned hoophouse. This week, I planted celery and cabbage in the sunflower box. I had no luck with celery this spring but thought I would try again in the Fall Garden. I really hope I can figure out how to grow celery one day (soon) because we eat (and juice) a TON of it!


Hopefully, next week I’ll be telling you about new chicks (they are due this Friday)! I hope all of these aren’t duds as well.

We’re still getting about 14-16 eggs/day 🙂 We are trying to find new ways to eat them. We are steaming them, eating a lot more omelets, and just recently we made egg salad for the first time ever. It was a HIT!

I am playing around with freezing eggs for the winter as well. I froze some in ice cube trays. They are nearly impossible to pop out :\ I think I am just going to freeze them in little zip baggies and nestle those in a freezer bag. We eat at least 8 at a time anyway (if I’m cooking for all the children). It’s really not worth it to freeze them individually.

Check out what everyone else is harvesting and what they are doing with their harvests at Daphne’s Dandelions 🙂

Harvest Monday

July 22, 2013

Still getting snaps, potatoes (plants are still looking gorgeous), and blueberries from the garden 🙂 Blueberries are finishing up. There are only a few bushes left with blueberries ripening.

harvest22The raspberries officially succumbed to the intense amount of rain we have had this year. I am hoping they will perk back up in the spring and we will be pleasantly surprised. We’ll see.

wilt1 wilt2 wilt3We’re patiently waiting on the cucumbers, corn, cantaloupe, and tomatoes. Our summer has been unusually cool for North Carolina!

roma cantSome exciting news: I have a pepper changing color! I have never had success growing peppers in the past and very little success growing tomatoes. This year, I started peppers in my greenhouses and was very pleased with the results. Still, we only had one pepper.from all of those plants. I figured one was better than none and I see that as a success 🙂

red pepperAs this one started to change colors, however, we noticed many more were starting to form as well! So exciting 🙂

babybellI am always asking for help regarding one thing or another so today’s question is about the chickens: they are 20 weeks today! yay! so, we are expecting eggs any day now. All of a sudden, one or two are getting out of the run. They have not gotten out in months and now, it is a common occurrence.

I know when cats are about to have their kittens, they’ll go off and hide to have them but I didn’t think chickens were that way. I know they want privacy to lay eggs but we have nesting boxes in a dark part of the coop with lots of hay; not to mention the run is almost fully shaded with lots of great spots to lay…I wonder why they are trying to escape all of a sudden.

Anyone been there/done that? Any ideas? I am itching for some eggs!!! Maybe next week, I’ll be able to include some in my ‘Harvest Monday‘ post 🙂 Check out what everyone else is harvesting this week!