Tag Archives: chicks

Garden in September, Eastern NC, Zone 7b

September 2, 2015

Beginning of AugustNieto Photography 2015Beginning of SeptemberNieto Photography 2015The most noticeable difference between the beginning of August and the beginning of September is the lack of sunflowers. However, there are many more differences, if you look a bit closer. For one, we have electric fencing all around the garden, to deter the raccoons and groundhogs.

Walking through the garden, to the left, I have more brassica seedlings sizing up under shade cloth. Nieto Photography 2015(planted 2 weeks ago) Nieto Photography 2015(broccoli planted mid-July. may transplant these next week)

To the right, there is the former potato patch with one struggling winter squash. Nieto Photography 2015Further to the right is the former sunflower patch with some leftover watermelon and cantaloupe plants. I need to put some caging over them to protect them from the crows.Nieto Photography 2015Moving on is the former cabbage patch (with some volunteer tomatoes). I have tried planting carrots and peas here. The carrots are going to be replanted but the peas are trying to poke through. I assume it was just too hot for the carrots to sprout but I can’t figure out why the peas did not germinate well. I planted peas elsewhere in the garden that are doing great. This spot has more shade but not an extreme amount and both places have plenty of manure and compost. Conundrum…Nieto Photography 2015Moving along, in the former melon patch, I am planting all of my leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, kale) for the fall. To the left and right of this patch, are my ugly (but still producing) tomato plants.Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015(still getting about a gallon of tomatoes/day)

I have some boxes that are empty right now. I will plant brassicas in half of them and carrots and beets in the other half shortly. To the left of the boxes are the strawberry patches and the raspberry patch. Strawberries are trickling in (they do better in the spring). Nieto Photography 2015The raspberries give us a wonderful treat in the fall! I need to prune all of the raspberry canes that produced this year. I also need to replant ALL of the MANY raspberry shoots that have popped up everywhere! I haven’t decided where I want them though…Nieto Photography 2015(at the top of the photo, outside of the trellises and even outside of the fencing – raspberry shoots everywhere!) Nieto Photography 2015 (We get a nice handful each (all 8 of us) every other day – not too shabby 🙂 ) Nieto Photography 2015(more just starting to form)

To the far right of the boxes is the old potato patch and my daughter’s old garden (she ripped it up at the end of August – she was tired of harvesting so everything was rotting). OH! And the tunnels! Don’t want to forget the tunnels! The former broccoli and kale beds (under tunnels) house beautiful purple beans currently (as well as some melon plants).Nieto Photography 2015Under the tree, there is quite the hodge-podge.Nieto Photography 2015(another round of beans to the left, flowering cilantro to the right, a cucumber plant in front of the tree…and in the bottom of the photo – our fall peas!)

This was a new section. Earlier this summer, we ripped up tarp that was laid here years ago and put down chicken manure and wood shavings from when we cleaned out the coop.  (all of the dark mulch is where the tarp was ripped up)DSC_8441I was not going to plant in it until spring but I was running out of room when it was time to plant more peas/beans so I gave it a shot. Everything is doing well here (the beans to the left were just planted a couple of weeks ago). The peas are ready to be trellised.Nieto Photography 2015At the end of the garden, we have the sweet potato patch (partially eaten) and the (other) former sunflower patch. Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015(sweet potato blooms are a good sign though, right? 🙂 )

I will harvest the sweet potatoes sometime in October, around the first frost. I am not expecting as many sweet potatoes as last year but I will have about 13? or so varieties as compared to last year’s one. We are going to taste test these, decide which ones we want, and will save many for slips for next year.


The trees seem to be doing well. They are growing every year. The ones in the mulch grow better than the ones in grass. However, still no fruit. I don’t know what I can do to remedy this. I am going to just keep adding compost around the trunks, like I do with the rest of the garden, continue to cover them with mulch as we are able, and be patient. Maybe one day we will not have to buy fruit at the store! (the dream)


We actually harvested MORE eggs in August than June or July! I am pretty sure it is because some of our spring-hatched chicks have started laying. I do not see any red combs but there are some eggs that are significantly smaller than the rest (our other hens are 2yo) and our older hens are moulting so that would be the only logical reason we are getting slightly more.

Since the children do such a great job taking care of the baby chicks, I told them I would pay them once their chicks started laying (after taking out the cost of feed). So now, we are keeping up with how many eggs we are collecting each day AND how many small eggs we are collecting. I’m excited for them – we’ve had such a hard time keeping chicks alive (btwn snakes, foxes, other chickens, and bad mamas leaving them out in the rain… 😦 )Nieto Photography 2015As a matter of fact, our latest batch of chicks (and last for this year) is not fairing well either. Of the 5 hatched out, one was killed by other chickens before we got a chance to separate them. This past week, one was taken by a snake, one was found dead in the coop one morning, and the two left are sluggish most of the day. I am not expecting them to make it but don’t know what’s going on! We have lost 1/2 of the chicks we have hatched out this year 😦

The older chickens are doing a great job being our soil manufacturers, though. This is the first year I have been able to cover the whole garden with chicken compost from the run! Exciting 🙂Nieto Photography 2015What does your garden look like that the beginning of September? Are you able to plant a fall/winter garden? What do you use for protection for your plants during the winter? Are you drowning in weeds? Have you given up? Check out backtoedenfilm.com and see how many people around the world are gardening with minimal weeding and watering!


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 July, Eastern NC, Zone 7b

July 2, 2015

I know I’m not the only one who is wondering how it is the beginning of July already. Craziness.

Beginning of JuneNieto Photography 2015Beginning of JulyNieto Photography 2015It did not rain here in Eastern NC for about a month. I also did not water. The temps were also in the 90s/100s most of the month.

The potatoes (and possibly the corn) are the only plants that suffered from the lack of water. That and the fact that I put my 6yo in charge of bug duty (6yos just aren’t as diligent as adults – imagine that), they all died back without producing much at all. Oh well, there’s always next year.Nieto Photography 2015The section above was also planted in a new BTE section, so that did not help. Nieto Photography 2015This section of potatoes that are dying off but are not dead yet were planted in a higher section, getting less rain, which is interesting – I would not think they would have done better. However, this area is a 2nd year BTE section so…

The old potato patch was planted in peas and salad greens. The peas have been ripped up and all that is left in that section right now are greens that are going to seed. Those will go to the chickens and this section, which is shaded most of the day, will house my fall and winter seedlings, if ever I get the energy to plant them.Nieto Photography 2015At the beginning of June, the cabbages were sizing up and I had not seen any cabbage moths so I uncovered them. BIG mistake. The cabbages, broccoli, and kale are now all ruined. Lesson.Learned.Nieto Photography 2015Some are still decent. Nieto Photography 2015Most are not. Nieto Photography 2015Check out all those cabbage worms. The ruined brassicas are being fed to the chickens each day. Between these and the weeds, which grew like crazy once we did start getting rain about a week ago, the chickens are getting enough food from the garden, they do not need any chicken feed. I still give them some because…I don’t know…I’m a slave to those spoiled egg makers. 😛

Last year I stopped giving them feed AND forgot to give them enough food from the garden some days and they did an early molt. Since I do not have enough energy (though I am getting more) to make sure they get garden food every day, we feed them chicken feed as well. One day, one day…

Speaking of weeds…The children spent May weeding all of the sections where I put fresh horse manure (NEVER.AGAIN.). Most of June, nothing was weeded because I did not have the energy to even tell the kids where to weed. At the end of June, it started raining a lot so the weeds have really been vigorous!

We have gone out there every day this week and weeded until we fill the garden cart, then we dump it for the chickens. This equates about 3 buckets per person. By doing this, we have gotten about 2/3 of the garden weeded in about a week. Very impressive! Now we need Daddy to haul mulch for us so the weeds won’t come back!

Anywho, on to more pictures 🙂 Here is the carrot/beet patch, turned into melon/summer squash patch. Most of the carrots and beets have been pulled, while the melons are sprawling and the squash plants are producing baby squash. Nieto Photography 2015I would LOVE a cattle panel to be able to grow the melons on but we don’t have a truck to transport it from the store to here so… 😛 Maybe one day we can bribe someone to do that for us. It would save SO much room! It is amazing how much watermelon plants spread! Check out the watermelon vine below. ONE seed and it is already spreading into my sweet potato patch!Nieto Photography 2015This section has tomatoes on the right, patty pan, zucchini, and spaghetti squash in the middle (along with a holey cabbage), and lots of weeds in the background (those were actually pulled this morning).

Nieto Photography 2015We are seeing some watermelon fruit, so that’s always fun 🙂 Nieto Photography 2015We are also seeing some fruit on our butternut squash.Nieto Photography 2015Whenever I plant seeds or seedlings, I NEVER leave enough room! It always seems like such a waste of space to space them out properly when they’re little! Then, in the middle of the summer, I regret such foolishness 😛 Like when it comes time to harvest cucumbers…

Nieto Photography 2015What else? Let’s see…our tomatoes are sizing up…The onions look like they will be ready to harvest soon (some are popping out of the ground).Nieto Photography 2015My first year of planting flowers and I have no regrets! I love seeing all the pretty colors 🙂Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015The sweet potatoes are starting to spread.Nieto Photography 2015 I need to plant the rest of the slips that are growing in the pots before it is too late. Nieto Photography 2015I also should be getting my late season potatoes soon from Sand Hill Preservation.

Lastly, on my garden list, is my corn, pole beans, and sunflowers. In years past, I have planted corn by itself (knocked down by storm) and corn with pole beans (less knocked down by storm but still some). Last year, I planted sunflowers for the first time and I noticed they never got knocked down by storms. So this year, I thought I would plant my corn with sunflowers! I thought it was genius. Not so much.

  1. The sunflowers grew faster than the corn and beans and subsequently shaded them.
  2. Someone told me (after I planted) that beans do not do well with sunflowers.

These beans were ones I grew and saved seed from last year. Now, they are not producing at all. Sad. The corn is pitiful. I don’t think we’ll get even an ear. Nothing I can do about it now except make a big, bold note about it in my gardening journal and learn for next year! (six year old stood next to the corn for reference)Nieto Photography 2015The section above has never had manure on it and was only covered in woodchips two years ago. That could have something to do with the stunted growth as well. Nieto Photography 2015However, this section never had manure in it and was covered less than a year ago. The corn is even more pitiful here but the sunflowers (same variety) are outshining those in the previous patch. Amazing how microclimates work! Nieto Photography 2015If you have been reading my other posts, you know we have had a critter issue this summer like no other. Our strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries were mostly taken from us. Very sad. I was not able to freeze any and normally I freeze 10 gallons easy. My next thought goes to the melons — I need to figure out something before they ripen and are stolen from us as well. Suggestions?


We are still hatching out chicks. Another hen went broody this week. Our first Australorp. Previously, we’ve only had Orpingtons go broody.

We had at least 3 chicks hatch out last week but something got into the dog crate, ate two of them and 2 eggs and got out somehow. I assume a snake but we don’t know how it got in (the last time a snake got in, the door was off the crate – this time it was on) and I don’t know why it would eat 2 chicks and 2 eggs but leave one chick (though I’m thankful).

Also, because of miscommunication, the door to the coop was left off one night and a mama hen and her two chicks were taken away by something 😦 This mama originally hatched out 4 chicks but left 2 out in the rain one day so they died. They were in a caged-in area in the coop so thankfully, whatever got them, could not get to the other chickens roosting in the coop.

Although we are upset about the deaths, we are thankful no more chickens or chicks have died because of whatever they were getting into before we moved the run.

With all of the broody hens (5 in total) and eggs put under them (25), we were able to collect 185 eggs in the month of June (about 6 eggs/day). It is interesting to see how few eggs we are getting compared to last year (our hens’ first year laying). Last year we were getting about 1egg/hen/day. This year we are getting about 1egg/hen/2days. The eggs are bigger but still…

As I type this month’s garden update, it seems sad that many things are not doing well. However, other summers when I have had morning sickness, I was unable to do a garden AT.ALL. So the fact that I am able to do what I can is a blessing.

This month I need to:

  • Continue to weed and mulch the garden
  • Plant the fall/winter seeds
  • Plant the rest of the sweet potato slips
  • Figure out a way to keep critters out so we will have some fruit (melons) from the garden in August and September

I will try to continue to succession plant but my energy level is just not there yet. Last month, I was not able to do anything in the garden. This week, I have been able to work for about an hour in the garden. When I get all of my energy back in September, watch out! But until then, I just have to go at this slow, baby-growin’ pace. Such is life 🙂

How is your garden growing? Any tips you would like to throw my way?

I am linking up with FarmHopFriday today

Harvest Monday

June 1, 2015

We have stopped harvesting lettuce for eating. We are still harvesting lettuce each day for the chickens though 🙂 We are trying to feed them more from the garden and less chicken feed.

The first and second sowings of spinach (beginning and mid-March) were pulled this week. Most of them were bolting. The next day, I planted bush beans and carrots in that bed. Summer and winter squash were sown where the lettuce was pulled. I also planted some sweet potato slips, and the next round of succession plantings for cucumbers, kale, cilantro, melons, and lettuce.

We are harvesting spinach from April sowings still. As our spinach harvests are lessening, our strawberry harvests are increasing. We also started harvesting peas this week. The kids are so excited. They LOVE raw peas 🙂

We harvested this much (pics below) every other day – so 3x this week.

Nieto Photography 2015Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015(I planted purple-podded peas for easy picking this year. They don’t taste as good but picking a breeze!)

We eat peas steamed as well. I was going to add some butter or some type of seasoning but the baby wanted to nurse, like, NOW, so I just served it. SO glad I did! It was amazing! I have never tasted such sweet, tender, peas. LOVE it!

The baby loves the strawberries and peas as well. This is how we keep her busy while we harvest every morning.

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I pulled a carrot to see if they were ready to harvest. Nieto Photography 2015They’re getting there! I think we’ll see if we can hold off a little longer. We all were able to taste it though. It was sweet and juicy! Not sweet like a strawberry and no juices dripping down my chin but I typically would not describe a carrot as such and it really was.

This is the first year I remember our peas and carrots being so tasty! I think that is a reflection of how healthy our soil is becoming! Another thing, this is the carrot, after being pulled (not dug). I wiped it on the grass a bit but no need to wash it before eating. YAY Back To Eden gardening!!!

After harvesting, we weed the garden. You may be thinking, ‘Wait a minute! I thought one of the draws to BTE gardening was that you don’t have to do any weeding!’ Well, first of all, no garden is without weeds; however, weeding is TREMENDOUSLY cut down. Two reasons we have to weed:

  1. Dirt is exposed. The mulch decomposes with rain and heat. It is wise to put more mulch on top of the garden each fall for fertilization all winter as it rains/snows (when God fertilizes) and to keep weeds from germinating in the coming spring and summer. When we don’t get around to doing this, dirt is exposed and weeds flourish (like in a traditional garden).
  2. Fresh Horse Manure. I figured, horse manure is better than no manure and our chickens just don’t poop enough 🙂 so when someone offered horse manure, I jumped at the chance. No. More. Oh, the weed-seeds. The vast majority of weeding that is done is in the sections I added horse manure. Where I have chicken manure, NO.WEEDING. Okay, maybe a weed here and there but nothing like this (picture below).

So, we weed every day. It’s not so bad when you take one section at a time and you have about 3 helpers with you. Then, at night, we cover the weeded area with mulch to keep it weed-free. (Top of photo — where are the plants? It’s all weeds! This bed was covered with fresh horse manure this winter.)Nieto Photography 2015(Bottom of photo: weeded and recovered with mulch to keep the weeds at bay.)

We are giving away about 1/3 of our harvests to other families.


Our last set of chicks hatched this past week. Three of four eggs hatched.

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However, a snake got in the coop and ate the other egg and two of the chicks 😦 Sad, sad day. We think the snake may have killed one of our older chicks as well (3mo chicks we bought from the store).Nieto Photography 2015Nieto Photography 2015(You can see the lumps halfway through the snake. That would be two baby chicks 😦 )

The next day, a friend messaged me that she had 2 orphaned chicks and asked if I wanted to see if the newest mama hen would adopt them. So far, so good. They are SO CUTE!

We currently have 16 hens, 2 roosters, and 15 baby chicks.

I think we’re done with broody hens for the year. We are getting about 8 eggs/day from our 13, two-year-old chickens (the 3 mamas are not laying yet). Hopefully, all of the chicks will be ready to start laying when they older hens start to molt later in the summer. I hope to not have to buy eggs from the store ever again!

Coop Clean-Out

Another thing that happened this week – the coops got their yearly clean out. It is my least favorite chore but it is wonderful for the garden and I love how the newly-cleaned coop looks (though it is short-lived).Nieto Photography 2015(all cleaned out!)

We go to the local lumber yard to pick up free woodshavings.Nieto Photography 2015

Nieto Photography 2015As I cleaned off the roosting table (where most of the poop is) this winter, I spread it over the sweet potato section. The clean-out this week finished covering that area (just in time for me to plant some sweet potato slips).Nieto Photography 2015 The rest of the coop shavings covered most of the newly expanded area. Maybe I can plant some fall crops here…? We’ll see.Nieto Photography 2015I have purple sweet potato slips being shipped from Sandhill Preservation Center so I may need more room for sweet potatoes before it’s all said and done. We’ll see.

What’s going on in your garden? What are you harvesting? Check out what others are harvesting this week at Daphne’s Dandelions 🙂

Harvest Monday

May 11, 2015


We’re still harvesting spinachNieto Photography 2015lettuce, and cilantro…more and more each day 🙂

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We have enough for a big salad of some sort every night now. Our spring season is so short, we NEVER tire of these greens and are sad to see them bolt. The first planting of spinach is already starting to show signs of bolting (pointy leaves). Sad news. However, I have found that if I harvest in the morning, everything is much sweeter. If I wait until the afternoon, the lettuce is bitter.

This is the last of the sweet potato harvest : (

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I baked these for the baby. She eats 1/2 of a sweet potato each day. So for 1/2 a month, we have no potatoes. Now, if I were a good homesteader, that would be it. But I’m not…not yet. So for 1/2 a month or so, I will be buying potatoes from the grocery store :\

The sweet potatoes I buried in pots have started producing slips! 🙂

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Another exciting thing to happen this week: strawberries started turning from this…Nieto Photography 2015to thisNieto Photography 2015My parents came to visit for Mother’s Day so we went ahead and picked our first strawberry, just for them. I knew they weren’t quite ripe but I’ve never been known for my patience so…yeah, it was not ready to be picked. oh well. Lesson learned 🙂 It sure is pretty though.

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Some pea harvests seem to be in our future 🙂

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We finished painting the coop this week so it is finally DONE.

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Behind our house is starting to look like a jungle so we are letting the chickens take care of that. They don’t mind 😉

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All of that greenery has now been turned into ‘Run #4’

Our egg count for April was down from March and is down for this month as well. The reason? More and more broody hens= less eggs laid! Broody #1 (aka Cute) has 5 chicks. Nieto Photography 2015Broody #2 (aka Jealous) just hatched out 4 chicks. We gave her 5 to sit on. One died (didn’t quite get out of the egg). I am very pleased with the success rate this year! We finally have a good rooster (we’ve been through a few). First pic is the 8yo transferring a chick that had hatched a few days early.

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This pic was right after we transferred her to the dog crate (the eggs started hatching 2 days earlier than expected).10460293_934443089939874_2468228464457102282_n and Broody #3 (aka Little Red Hen) is due at the end of May. And to think, we bought 10 chicks from the feed store in March because I was afraid none of our hens were going to go broody. Well, as I said before, I’ve never been known for my patience 😉

We moved Cute and her baby chicks in with the ‘big’ chicks this weekend so we could move Jealous into a dog crate in time for her eggs to hatch safely. She is a good mama; I’ll give her that! She attacked the ‘big chicks’ any time they came close to her babies. She wouldn’t let them in the coop at night though. We put netting in the cage to keep them apart. Crisis averted…for now.

We have a friend who had a mama hen eat the chicks of another mama hen so we think we need to keep ours separate until the chicks get larger. Now to figure out where to put everyone! We have 3 mamas with babies and ‘big chicks’. That means 4 places to sleep and 4 runs…We have not figured it all out yet – I’ll keep you posted with pics when we do. Of course, I want to do it without spending money at all – now to get my husband on board with that idea 😉

Finally this week, my husband tried to pull up all of the poison ivy in the blueberry patch. If you remember, before we started gardening BTE style, we covered everything with tarps in order to keep weeds away. This is what it looked like after ripping up all of the poison ivy and tarps.

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The kids cleaned up all the tarps and I wondered if we needed to worry about them being exposed but my husband says all that was in the tarps was the roots so they would be fine. The 8yo is now covered in poison ivy. Fun times. I would say, ‘At least we got rid of it’ but you know how poison ivy is. There seems to be no ‘getting rid of it’ – it just keeps coming back year after year.

We’re applying peppermint everywhere except her eye. We’re putting tea tree oil there. I’ve heard doing this consistently should get rid of it in about 4 days. Here’s hoping!

What’s going on in your garden? What are you harvesting? I am linking up with Daphne’s Danelions today. Check out what other gardeners are up to.