Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Ladies: 6 Months Later

This is just a little recap of our first six months with Chickens.  It's not meant to serve as a how-to, and I am certainly not trying to pass myself off as a chicken expert! We get asked all the time "so, how do you like having chickens?" So I thought I would answer!

Back in February Matt and I loaded the boys into the car and took a long winding drive through Amish country to pick up four teeny tiny peeping balls of fluff.  I've wanted to have a few chickens for a loooong time, but up until now, we didn't live in a place that we could have them.  BUT NOW.  Now I'm trying to talk Matt into raising ducklings as well :) (Kidding.  Mostly.)
 But anyway, back to the ladies.  We have four hens, all Australorps. (See that brownish blob behind the chick?  That's Jacobear.  He loves the chickens too, and is never agressive towards them)
For the first six weeks or so of their lives, they lived in our dining room, in a little brooder that we set up for them, using these directions (more or less - we made it work for our space).  I have heard a lot of people say that they would not keep the chickens in their living space, which I understand, but we didn't have anywhere else that was safe for them, plus I think it helped them get used to the boys. Also - I really loved hearing their little peeps.

**Chicken Fun Fact: Newly hatched chicks sleep like they are dead.  I don't mean they are sound sleepers, I mean they flop over, legs all willy nilly, and fall asleep anywhere.  I hadn't read that before and I was convinced our chicks were sick, but no! Just sleeping!**

They slowly feathered out over the next weeks, and around 5 weeks old or so, we started taking them outside to their run on balmy spring days. At first this was almost pitiful, as they just kind of huddled together in the corner, but they warmed up to being outside pretty quickly.

At somewhere between 6 and 7 weeks, we moved them our into their coop permanently.  We do let them out to free-range pretty regularly, but only when one or both of the adults are outside.  They never seem to wander far - but we live next to a farm and their vegetable garden is pretty close.  I would hate for my chickens to wreak havoc among the neighbors tomatoes, ya know?
 As I said before, they are extremely friendly. We were very intentional about teaching the boys that animals get scared, so they shouldn't chase the chickens (even though their 'run' is kind of hilarious).  They do have names, courtesy of Jack, but let's be honest - we can't really tell them apart!  Regardless, their names are Rosie, Smartie, Flower, and Wall.  Oddly enough, Wall is the only one we can tell apart - she is a little bit of a wanderer. I didn't really expect the chickens to have personalities, but they do! They are really fun to watch!
Oh...eggs! They started laying eggs in mid-July, when they were somewhere around 17-18 weeks old.  They are all good layers now, and we average three or four eggs a day - which has been really awesome.  The boys LOVE to check for eggs - they ask to check several times a day, and oh! The excitement when they find one! It's like Christmas.
So how do we like having chickens?  We LOVE having chickens.  Someday we want to have more. And ducks.  And turkeys.  Because now I'm hooked on this whole raising poultry thing.

Linking up at the Homeacre Hop

Monday, August 18, 2014

Get Into the Woods

Matt and I had a text exchange on Thursday that looked a little something like this:

Me: Oh my gosh, you start teaching Monday, don't you?  We never took the boys camping this summer!

Matt: Oh shoot.  Saturday?

So, yes.  Planning is not really our strong suit, but we are great at flying by the seat of our pants!  We had a jam-packed day on Saturday, as we had already planned to go to a local wildlife park with Matt's parents, but we rallied.  We quickly packed our camping gear into the car, grabbed some grilling food and s'more ingredients, and off we went.
 There is just something relaxing about getting everything set-up and smelling the wood-smoke from the fire.  It was like I could feel the stress melting away.  And speaking of melting - oh, did the boys ever LOVE the s'mores.
It's funny, the first time we took the boys camping they were much younger, and it was fun - but hard.  I felt like I was constantly chasing someone, telling them to back away from the fire, etc.  This time though - it was just FUN.  They are growing and maturing and while there is a big part of me that wants them to stay little, I really love seeing them change and adapt.
This was the first year they were allowed to 'help' with the fire.  I'll be the first to say that Matt is much better at letting them take risks and learn things like this than I am, and in no time at all he had them scurrying around the campsite gathering kindling and blowing on the flames.  
All in all - a fabulous impromptu camping trip! I'm so grateful to live in this place, with these people.



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

See them Sleep

If you follow me on instagram (hello_rebekah) you will know that I have an everlasting love of watching (and photographing) my boys as they nap.  Ever since Luke was about one and half years old, the boys have napped together, in my bed.  Yes, I know this is against the 'rules.  No, I do not care.

So annnnyway.  Pictures.  Boys.  Sleeping.  These are actually taken over the course of about two months, not all at once, and I love the variation in their poses.  Sometimes they hold hands, sometimes they flop on opposite ends of the bed.



 



It just never gets old to me.  I know these days of sweet quiet naptimes are soon coming to an end.  Jack is going on five now, and will be starting afternoon school next month.  So I will cherish every second of hearing the sweet rise and fall of their breath as they rest their growing bodies.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dirty Hands, Happy Hearts

A good long while ago, I shared this picture with you...
And now?  Well....
I never knew how much I would love growing a small portion of our food.  I never knew how much my boys would LOVE checking their garden.  They would check the tomatoes every few hours if I let them.  I never knew how well they would eat their vegetables if they grew them themselves.  Seriously.  You want your kid to eat zucchini?  Let him plant, tend, and pick it - then watch him clear his plate.

And how about these little ladies?
WELL.  Let me tell you, I fully underestimated how much we would ALL love these girls.
They are actually really fun pets, not to mention the HUGE benefit that is the fresh eggs.   We have four hens, and we get anywhere from 2 to 4 eggs each day.  They are sweet and gentle, and they let Jack pet them anytime he would like.
For the record - those 'carrots' are just the thinned ones, NOT the actual 'crop'

We have put a lot of hours and love into our little garden, but man the payoff is HUGE.  Not in terms of money, but in experience.  In sharing.  I've never known a gardener who isn't happy to send you off with a few extra zucchini or tomatoes.  It's a community I didn't know I was lacking, but I am so happy to have found it.  

Linking up : Homestead Barn Hop

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Snippets

Weeeellll hello there! I don't even know what happened, I blinked and now it's August.  We have been having SO much fun this summer, I have barely had time to crack my lap-top, much less write anything.  The boys are really growing, and this has been the summer of adventure for them.  A little more independence has gone a long way in teaching them about their abilities and giving them some extra confidence.

So let's see, shall we?

June:  We rang in the month with our first trip out for ice cream.
 We picked strawberries, and then made an insane amount of strawberry jam.
 We discovered the joy of playing in the hose.
 We went on VACATION.  It was incredible.  
July:
I don't have a picture, but the Mister and I celebrated our sixth anniversary with a fun night away.  It was fun to spend time with just Matt again.

We went blueberrypicking...
 ...with COUSINS!
 We discovered a deep love of going to the lake near our house.
 We learned that, yes, the boys ARE old enough to go hiking! This has opened up a world of fun for us on our long summer days!
 We have PLAYED!

August:

Bring it! We are ready!

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