Hobby farm update! In late September my beautiful garden froze. We weren't expecting such an early freeze (a full 3 week earlier than the average frost date for our area) or we would have covered a few things to save them a little longer. But the deed was done and my garden was pretty much gone in one night. The freeze wasn't so hard that it ruined produce... it just killed all the plants. So we went about that day collecting gallons of ripe, partially ripe, and green tomatoes (which ripen just fine off the vine by the way), a million and one cantaloupes, watermelon, and corn. We left the onions, potatoes, and carrots in the ground until just a few days ago.
Having a garden is awesome but having to deal with all the goods can be really overwhelming, especially when they are all on at once and you are 8 months pregnant! But I canned and canned and froze and canned this past month and put lots and lots of produce on the shelf (that's a whole other post!).
I cut the dried sunflower heads off and am storing them in a breathable but secure container (to prevent molding but to keep mice out). I'm going to feed them to the hens this winter for treats. You don't have to do anything but put the whole head in the coop, the ladies will remove the seeds from the flower head and shell by themselves. Easy!
And how are the chickens you might ask?! It's been ages since I've told you about them...
This springs chicks are huge! I have three older girls and 8 spring chicks and most of the young birds are now bigger than the older Barred Rock (black and white speckled).
Here are the three older birds who still prefer each other and stay together. They don't mind the other chickens but they definitely prefer each other.
And here are some of the young ladies:
The White Leghorns (white birds) just started laying their very first eggs a few weeks ago! The eggs are a bit small still, but I'll take it! The older hens have been molting and so I've been feeding 11 hens with only 1 or so eggs a day to show for it. I'm really excited to have lots of eggs again; buying store-bought eggs just isn't fun when you get used to your own!
Six of the newer ladies are breeds that are really good layers - Barred Rocks (black and white speckled) and White Leghorns (all white). I also got two fancier chickens, which aren't amazing layers, just for fun. One is a Golden Polish, also known as a Top Hat. We love this crazy little bird and she really is pretty. She can't see very well so when you are standing over her she's really easy to catch. We like her too because we can hold her a lot.
Here she is in the coop. Isn't she fabulous!
And then there are the lambs. Oh those devilish and stupid lambs.
At least they are cute...
The lambs started out really fun and the idea was novel... our first experience raising livestock and our own meat. After loosing one early in the summer and buying another, things were fine for a while. And then they broke the main sprinkler value to the entire property (and in Southern Utah, irrigation water is a need not a want). And then they started jumping out of their fenced off area and eating my garden. And then they ruined the chicken run and ate all of the chicken food. And then they jumped the fence to the whole property and were loose on the street!! Of course they got out the day Thomas wasn't around, so I was running around trying to coax them back home with my 9-month large pregnant belly and three kids following me around. That was the last straw for me, I just couldn't deal with them anymore. Lucky for them, and me, friends have offered to keep them a few blocks away at their house with their goats. They are living there and I pack them corn stalks and apples to eat until we are ready to eat them.
Here's one lamb looking in at my ruined chicken run. Doesn't he just look like he thinks the hens are having all the fun. LOL. And as soon as I put the camera away he jumped in to scare all the chickens out. If you can't tell there used to be netting to keep the hens in over this whole back part, but now all the netting is wadded up on top of the house (before I threw it away) because not only did they ruin it but they wanted to eat the netting too. Weirdos!
And this year was the year of the apple.
We have about 25 fruit trees on the property and 5 of them are gigantic old apple trees. This was a great year for them and we got lots and lots and lots of apples. Most of the trees in town actually froze in the spring so we were really lucky to have apples when most of our neighbors didn't. We picked lots, gave lots away, and even found a cider press to use and made 40 gallons of cider to enjoy this winter (and let me tell you, it is delicious!!).
All and all having a little hobby farm of sorts has been a blast this summer. After all of the hours we've put into gardening, animals, and preserving this summer the winter time will be a much needed break. The only thing I really have to do is tend the chickens and enjoy all that food I've been putting away for months! And the timing couldn't be better... I'm due with baby #4 tomorrow. Wish me luck!
Thanks so much for reading.