Too long without blogging

I have so many things to blog about. It’s funny that’s it’s just been a few days and I am dying to blog! I just have not had the time to do it lately. So, here’s what is up.

The chickens are in movable coop all the time now. They spend nights in the garage, warm days in the garden area. Usually we take a blanket out there and lay around watching them for a while. It’s quite relaxing, almost meditative. We have a good time digging up worms for them, but I think they are spoiled and need to figure out how to dig up their own worms. Am I silly for being worried that they won’t figure it out if we keep doing it for them? They are getting bigger and bigger every day, but now they almost look like miniature chickens. They don’t quite have all their feathers, but they have most of them. The wattles and combs are growing, and a few of them have reddened as well. They are making noises that sound more like clucking than cheeping, which is really cool to hear. I do owe you all pictures of the coop and the 4 week old chickens. I suppose I will wait until tomorrow or Friday and post the 4 and 5 week updates at the same time.

We still haven’t heard from the people who are supposed to till the garden. I have put a 4′ by 4′ box out in the garden area, with newspapers spread on the bottom to try to kill the grass. It’s an experiment. I think it will work, but probably not in time to do a garden this year, so we might go with the tilling after all. I just can’t decide. It seems like a lot of people used raised beds and make their own potting soil because their soil is crappy – too sandy or too much clay or something like that. In this part of Illinois, we are lucky to have really good soil. So, I’m not sure what to do. I was partly thinking of no tilling because I am just tired of waiting. I suppose I could give them a call or stop by and say, “Hey, come till my garden already! I’m dying to get started!” 🙂 Whatever we end up doing, it will still be some form of square foot gardening for sure. It’s just a matter of whether to till or not, and if we don’t, then I think high raised beds (12″ or more, I think) with lots of mulch would work well. If we till, I will still be using the boxes/frames to do the square foot gardening, it just won’t be as deep.

One thing I am trying to figure out is how much lettuce and carrots to plant for a 5 person family. The square foot gardening book I have says you can plant something like 9 spinach plants per square foot. So if I have one 4′ X 4′ square for lettuce and radishes, and I decide to plant 5 squares of spinach, that’s 45 spinach plants. Obviously I will not plant them all at the same time, but even so, isn’t that a lot for a family of 5? I suppose spinach can be cooked and then canned or frozen, so that might not be so bad, but what about the bibb and romaine lettuce. I think it was (Edited to finish the thought!) 7 lettuce per square foot, so if I plant 5 squares, then that’s a lot of lettuce, don’t you think? Anyway, I’m just not sure how much of some things to plant. I guess extra is better than not enough, since we can give extra vegetables away to friends and family.

The seedlings are doing OK. Things that sprouted: broccoli, spinach, honeydew, watermelon, zucchini, gold rush zucchini, and butternut squash. The broccoli and spinach seem really skinny and leggy to me. I transplanted the broccoli today and we’ll see if it does better. If I have to, I will buy transplants. The peppers I planted have not sprouted at all. I am thinking perhaps the soil just was not warm enough when I planted them? My house is not warm, especially downstairs, so maybe it wasn’t warm enough for them to sprout. The only other thing I can think of is that the seeds were just not good. Any other ideas? It has been two weeks and it seems that they should have sprouted by now. None of the herbs have sprouted, but I have read that it is hard to start oregano and rosemary from seed, so I might have to buy them as transplants as well.

Scott the Farmer was here today and he and Tim are working on the fence for the cattle. They are only fencing in a few acres and we are only getting two heifers for now. That’s enough to get into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP for short. We’ll be sowing oats on the rest of the acres. He says that will improve the soil fertility, as well as providing some forage for the two heifers. The rest will be harvested and we’ll sell it, hopefully at a small profit. As for the heifers, I think we will be keeping one for ourselves for meat, and selling the other. I’m not sure of all the details at the moment. We have to sit down and talk to Scott about it soon. He says if we get too attached to the cows, we can always sell them as dairy cows. I would love a dairy cow, but I am not quite ready for that responsibility and would have to figure out how to make cheese and yogurt and butter before committing to our own dairy cow.  Scott doesn’t want to keep the heifers here over the winter, so we will have to decide before fall, which seems like a long time away at the moment. Scott went to some effort to find heifers that are already gentle and trained on a one wire fence. I did not even know cattle would stay behind one wire, but apparently they can be trained to do so. The one wire is, of course, electrified.

Mama Cat has been around lately. She is most definitely pregnant and is hungry and mean to her first litter (or at least her first litter we know about). I think Little Gray is also pregnant. Now, I love cats but am not all that happy about this. I wanted to get them all fixed, and still do, but it is very expensive as we wouldn’t qualify to do it through the Humane Society. However, one day I had a Great Idea. I finally figured out that we can pretend the cats are Tim’s so that we can do it through the Humane Society. So, after these two litters, we we will definitely be getting them fixed, even the males. I know the males aren’t a problem for us because they don’t have the kittens, but it just seems like a good idea to get them all fixed. Then at least when the neighbor’s cats get pregnant, I will know it isn’t my fault or my problem in any way. I think we will have to give some of the kittens away once they are weaned. It depends on how big the litters are, I guess. I was not planning on feeding 10 or more outdoor cats! Three outdoor cats is a good number, I thought. I admit I am quite attached to those three little kittens. We still call them baby cats even though they are obviously not babies anymore. They are so cute and it took several months for them to get used to us and let us pet them, so they are staying, for sure.


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2 Responses to “Too long without blogging”

  1. cyclingchicken Says:

    Put your chickens out where you want to till. They do a good job of it with all the scratching for bugs and dust baths. 😀

    We are giving 3 of the kittens away and keeping the little grey one. It is also really expensive here because I have to pay for all the shots before they will fix them, but we will be getting Speck and Coon fixed after she has weaned everybody.

    • hippygirl Says:

      Oh yeah, we have totally had the chickens out in the garden area and I can see where they have been. It works well with the no tilling method, I think. If we waited until next year to start the garden (yeah right!! hahaha) then we woud not have to till and would have really good soil, I think. 🙂

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