A True Family Farm

When our boys help in the gardens they represent the fifth generation of the family to work the soil on Kimker Hill. Four generations still live on the farm today. Strong family bonds and a deep love and respect for the earth influence all of our farm practices.

Our gardens provide us with the best and purest of food, matchless beauty, and the ultimate earth science classroom for our homeschooled boys.

Sustainability is a popular buzz word among small scale agriculture. To us it means giving more than you take. Putting back what you use. Remembering that this beautiful earth will last forever and it's our commision to care for. In our gardens we try hard to follow these ideals and work with the earth's design, not against it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chicks on the move!

This evening we moved the coops again onto fresh grass. This time we got them moved before they killed the grass under them. It's getting easier and quicker as we're getting used to the new routine.

Afterwards, I got the great idea to try to lure the big chicks into the Eggmobile. Only a couple of them followed the trail of chicken feed I left for them, so I deciced to wait until dark to try again. I closed their old coop so they would have more of an incentive to follow the chickens in to roost and we all went in the house. After dark, Bear and I went out with a flashlight and started catching them and putting them in one or two at a time. When we got down to the last two, we got tired of trying and decided to just wait until later.

The idea behind this new move for the chicks was to make room in the old coop for the baby chicks. We were planning to move them tomorrow afternoon, but we decided it would be easier on all of us to just get it over with while they were calm and it was cooler. It didn't take too long to get them all set up and now they can wake up to their new home in the big outdoors. They're still pretty tiny, but I think they'll do better in the coop than they would staying in the brooder, cooped up in the hot garage.

After we finished moving the little chicks, we tried again to catch the last of the big chicks. We got one easily, but the other one just kept alluding us. After too many trips around the yard to count, we gave up. But I couldn't quit worrying about it out there by itself (and Bear couldn't go to sleep.) So, just before midnight Bear and I went out to try again. We must have looked hilarious following it around and around. Bear finally gave up trying to be quiet and sneakily try to catch it and starting running after it while I followed them both with the flashlight. I couldn't help laughing. But it worked, the chick finally decided to try to escape out of the fence, as it wiggled its way out, Bear just reached over the fence and picked it up. Whew, I hope we don't have to do that again! As we came inside still laughing, Bear told me I had to get this in writing. So now you get to enjoy it too!

Goodninght everyone.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The first of our squash is here and delicious!

Monday, Danny picked the first basketful of yellow squash and zucchini!! We've already had it for dinner 3 times and had the leftovers for dessert. We love it!

This evening, Zach picked two more basketfuls of yellow squash and it looks like there will be even more ready to pick tomorrow. This will be the first market this year that I'll be able to bring fresh produce with me.

I sure wish this heat wave would let up, the weeds are going crazy. It's hard to get motivated to go out and weed when it's this hot. I so much prefer the air-conditioning, but I have to set a good example. We all went out again this evening to weed and mulch. When we all work together, it doesn't take too long to see definite progress.

I was hoping we'd at least see the rain the weatherman's been predicting for today. After all the weeks of endless rain, you wouldn't think we'd want or need any more, but the gardens are getting rather dry. If it doesn't rain tonight, we're going to have to start watering tomorrow.

Hopefully we'll be able to do some more planting tomorrow evening. Danny has quite a bit of swiss chard that's ready to get in the ground. The initial row of rainbow swiss chard is just about ready to begin picking. We got it all weeded and mulched again this evening. It looks so pretty with all the different colors.

Oh, here's a warning for all the tomatoes growers reading this: It's time to check your plants for hornworms! One discovered our extra plants on the back porch and devoured most of the leaves before Danny stopped it. They're not the only pests attacking the gardens though. My parsley suffered the same scenerio from a parsley caterpillar. Potato bugs are out in full force and Japanese beetles have arrived.

Danny's fighting back with organic remedies for each of these pests. I'll keep you updated...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Update on all the chickens!

Shortly after my last post, two more chicks hatched but two others didn't survive, so we ended up with 28 new little chicks. All of them are doing well in the brooder in the garage.

It's hard to believe what a difference six weeks can make. When the last batch of chicks hatched, we had to keep the brooder heat lamp plugged in to keep the chicks warm enough in the garage. This time, it's so hot we have to keep the big fan running to keep them from overheating.

Thursday, after Bear and I finished moving the last of the new chicks into the brooder, I decided to try letting the big chicks out of their coop to run around with the rest of the flock. Surprisingly, the older chickens didn't seem to bother them at all. I suppose our plan worked. We've been moving their coop alongside the "eggmobile" as we move it around the yard in hopes that they would all be familiar with one another. So far so good. At night, the chicks go back in their coop and the rest go in the eggmobile. I haven't even had to separate them. Its turned out better than we hoped.

Now I'm hoping that the chicks will all be ready to move into the eggmobile by the time the new chicks need to get out of the brooder. Time will tell....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More "little peeps" are here!!

Wow! What a busy day for the chicks. Nate woke me at 5:56 this morning with the news that there were more chicks in the incubator. He said they were so loud that he heard them all the way up in his room.

When I went down to see, there were seven fluffed up little chicks waiting to be let out. I put them in with the other chicks and went back to bed. When Bear woke up, there were three more waiting to greet him. As the day has progressed, eight more have hatched and we can see several more eggs rocking in the incubator.

The nine that hatched yesterday have been moved into the brooder in the garage and are happily snuggling together. The ones that hatched today are still kind of sleepy and several are still wet.

We are enjoying watching them as they learn to get around. First they just kind of lurch forward toward the others. As they dry off, they start to heat up and want to get away from under the brooder light. Then they start walking around a bit with a lot of time to rest in between attempts. After a couple hours they begin looking for the food and water. The more they move around the more fluffed up they get until they look like little fluff balls, especially the buff colored ones.

So far, four of the chicks look like the buffs, most of them look like "chickmunks," and some of them are really dark like the Silver Wyandottes.

I'll keep you updated!

It's hatching day again!

This morning, about 10 o'clock, the first chick hatched as Bear and Nate watched excitedly. Two more hatched just a short time later. Then we waited all day, peeking in the incubator as often as possible....

We were gone for a few hours this evening and when we returned there were four more waiting for us. They were already dry and fluffed out. Within a few minutes of our arrival, another one hatched. Now, there are ten more that have broken through their shells and are "peeping to one another," but they haven't hatched yet.

Some of the excitement from last time has waned a bit, and it wasn't too hard to get the kids to bed, but they did have to come and check "just one more time" more than once. It is pretty amazing to watch as they hatch. Now it's my turn to go check "one more time before bed."

My camera is working again so we'll be taking pictures to post.

Friday, June 5, 2009

You should see the gardens now!

It's always amazing to me just how fast everything changes in the spring. I love looking out the upstairs windows each morning and taking note of the progress. Some days, especially after its rained, you can almost see the plants getting taller.

Most of the gardens are planted now. Just a few open spaces left to fill.

This evening we decided to add a couple more rows of tomatoes. The first ones I planted are about two feet tall now and Danny has started weaving them through the cattle panels. Some of them even have blooms on them already. The last ones to be planted haven't fared quite as well. They were planted when it was way too wet and I've had to replace a few of them, but they are growing. I'm starting to visualize picking vine-ripened, juicy tomatoes in all different colors. I think all together we have 17 different varieties this year.

We also decided to add a row of tomatillos. We have some planted in with the tomatoes, but they are coming up all over the gardens. We took Sam's advice (from Sunflower Savannah) and didn't start any from seed this year. She said the ones that come up on their own will be stronger and healthier. Last year, after the hail damaged all of mine, she gave me a lot of volunteers from her garden and they did great. So, Danny prepared a row and filled it with nice healthy transplants.

A few days ago, we planted more watermelons, bush beans, and sunflowers. We also planted amaranth. We're excited about trying to grow a new kind of grain, and I'm looking forward to the beautiful flowers it's supposed to have all summer.

My camera is not working right now, but we'll post pictures soon...

Oh, I also have another 41 eggs in the incubator. Hopefully, we'll have little chicks again in about two weeks....