Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, Permaculture, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, Chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting and more...

May 31, 2018

Oh Hail No! Debbie The Sci Fi Chicken

Oh Hail No!!!
Last night I was watching the radar and another storm rolled in. I realized it might get pretty nasty so I put the chickens inside. Next I moved my basil that I haven't potted yet under a table for protection. Things transpired pretty quickly! In no time we had a long round of marble-sized hail-

All I could think of was just if the cucumbers and tomatoes would survive, this but it appears they have. We had really high gusting winds and torrential downpours for a good half hour to an hour. It's one of the worst storms I've seen in a long time with a lot of thunder, lightning and wind. We all survived and the chickens will live to see another day! Speaking of chickens.......

Debbie The Sci Fi Chicken-
Well you know it had to happen sometime! A chicken was introduced in Netflix's new wonderful series Lost in Space. I really love the series myself and I think it did a great job rebooting the idea. Early on in the show, without giving too much away if you haven't seen it, there's a crash with a lone chicken survivor-

The very hunky Han Solo-ish character Major Don West (dashingly played by Ignacio Serricchio) decides to save the chicken. As I was watching this scene I had to just really crack up when he said no chicken left behind! He talks to the chicken occasionally-

So without giving too much away, if you haven't seen it, he saves the chicken and then the chicken saves his life, with the help of a little technology-

He then names the chicken Debbie. At one point he has to go on a dangerous trip and leaves Debbie in the care of someone else. It's pretty funny when he describes how to put the chicken to sleep at night, by laying on her back and rubbing her stomach. Great cast, much of it was filmed in Canada and the CGI is excellent!

There's also blog link listed below with some fun information and I highly recommend the show if you like sci-fi. Honoring Debbie The Spacefaring Chicken

May 29, 2018

New Chicks! Garden Update, Growing Potatoes In Garbage Cans, Thrifting Scores

From the L-Sarah, Annie, Pru

New Chicks!
Sorry I haven't posted anything for two weeks but life has been crazy. Between babysitting 2 toddlers Sat./Sun., work and gardening it has been a lot to keep up with. I was really happy that I took today off work and had a four-day weekend. Since we don't travel on Memorial Day weekend it was a good time to plant the veggie garden, sleep in (a little) and play catch up. I have a few more projects today and then back to work tomorrow. I'm going to plant some herbs, shop for some odd things, and barbecue beef is in the crock pot. It's 79 degrees and humid but it beats the rain!!! So here we go-

Saturday we went out to Caldwell, just outside Boise, to the Dunlap Hatchery and bought 3 new chicks. We bought a Black Australorp, the black speckled chick-

Black with teal, pretty!

A White Plymouth Rock, the yellow chick-

A New Hampshire Red, the yellow/gray chick-

Our NHR hen from years ago- 

They should all be about the same size when grown, very intentional. They are six days old and all did really great through the weekend! There was a lot of distress crying from the one chick for the first two days, but that settled down. With our tiny little flock it's interesting to see their personalities, and the curiosity right off the bat. I added a little mirror which they stand by, like to look at and preen in front of. When one starts grooming then they all start grooming, ditto eating and sleeping. They're already developing a flock mentality apparently. I always name my chicks and Pru is the Black Australorp, Annie is the Plymouth White, and Sarah is the New Hampshire Red. I like old fashioned names from New England, since they seem to fit the old New England breeds. Chick area in our spare bedroom-

I made a mistake the first time I bought chicks, buying them over spring break. It made it necessary for them to be inside way too long. I've learned since then to wait until the weather is fairly warm and then buy the chicks, so they will be inside for a minimal amount of time. They will feather out in the next couple of weeks and I will start putting them outside to integrate with the flock then. We did a system before that works pretty well Chick to Flock Integration Tips  We separated them in a small part of the garden for several days, and in the coop, and integrate them after several days, no drama!

That went really well giving the older hens a chance to get used to the babies. The babies then just joined the older girls in the main garden and in the coop. It will take about 5 months or so for the young pullets to start laying, so that will put us into late fall-early winter depending on how things go. With having two older hens, winding down on their laying (you never want to have one chicken alone) it was a good time to get some chicks!

New Verbena, pollinators!

Garden Update-
The weather has been really crazy lately, with a lot of afternoon monsoon rains. I don't remember this kind of weather pattern this time of year ever, but on the bright side everything is super, super green. Sometimes the rain doesn't last that long but sometimes it does. Late last week around sunset it started pouring for several hours leaving everything nice and wet. Sunday night we had a really massive lightning/thunder show for several hours and torrential downpours overnight. That left everything pretty steamy and humid yesterday but that was okay. Garden is coming along great, both in the front and back yard. Lots of flowers are blooming, peaches on the peach tree, pears too.  We had a lot of shade n our veggie area, so Dave took down a large, lower branch off our monster maple tree before we planted the veggies-

Cutting up for our city compost bin

Bottoms up! Free ranging during pruning/planting time

Dave removed a small evergreen shrub that got mangled by a garbage can, shoved across our sidewalk by a (apparently) drunk driver. Bizarre! It was really damaged so Dave dug it up and we bought a couple of perennials for the area- 



He also dug up a big shrub (vines) that we inherited when we bought the house. He really likes digging up unsightly shrubs, go figure! It bloomed in the Spring, the rest of the year just sat there. Neither of us liked it so he removed it. We planted another perennial there. I chose Tickseed and Yarrow because both are pretty low maintenance, bloom, are pollinators, don't require a lot of water-

Another Yarrow

Adjacent area, 2 year old Catmint, huge and the bees love it!

Our front entryway, nice and lush!

Over two weekends we bought some vegetable starts, herbs, and annual flowers. Yesterday we laid out all of the warm weather vegetables in the main garden, and Dave planted a row of green beans on the side of house, where we tore down the shed-

Last year's 2016-2017 heavy winter snows really did a number on the nurseries, and warm weather starts were hard to find. This year the opposite, we found BIG tall tomato plants in tiny pots, $3.00!

Various heirloom tomatoes with Italian peppers in front, much sunnier, thanks to tree trim!

Lemon Cukes, with room for more peppers

Tomato, Zucchini and slicing Cukes, 

Having chickens we do put things in a couple different areas with divider fences and that works pretty well.

Kale ready to eat, with peas behind

Herbs to plant and I started Nasturtium seeds

Dave got a great idea from his brother that I thought I'd share here and hopefully this will make sense. We don't have a sprinkler system on our lot, so we drag hoses around, either hand water, use soaker hoses or use small garden sprinklers. One of the things that we wound up doing (like lots of people) is crimping the hose so you can take the sprinkler head off/change to the hand sprayer. Dave bought a short hose, 15 feet, and an adapter to put on it. When you put on the adapter it gives you the ability to not only turn the water off, but also adjust the flow. So instead of walking clear across the yard or around the house or crimping the hose you basically shut off the water at the start of the 15-foot section. Then you unscrew your sprinkler and put on your handheld watch her or vice versa. It works great and saves you from getting soaked by the sprinkler, walking back and forth repeatedly, or trying to adjust the water. Especially if you're working around a corner! So you can just buy a short stretch of hose and then by an adjuster easy peasy! Hose was $8.00, adjuster $4.00, much simpler. No more damaging hoses by crimping them.

Growing Potatoes In Garbage Cans-
A friend of Dave's at work gifted us with some potato starts and while we weren't planning on doing this we decided why not! It's a great way to plant and grow vertically in a small space. We had two garbage cans that were pretty beat up, one was cracked on the bottom and the other was getting pretty worn out as well-

 We decided since we didn't really use them anymore we would grow potatoes in those. For $6 we also bought a plastic tote at Home Depot-

Leveled after photo

We planted Yukon Golds in the two large containers since those are my favorites and red potatoes in the blue tote. I did quite a bit of research and the basics are- drilling holes in the bottom of the container, some holes in the lower part of the sides for drainage-

We added about 3 inches of almost-ready compost to the very bottom, with several inches of potting soil on top of that, and the potatoes on top of that-

also leveled

After you cover the potatoes with soil just water to keep them moist,but not soggy. We put them in 3 different spots in full sun. It's good we had drainage after a torrential downpour Sunday night as I could tell that the soil had compacted and it was pretty wet. With temperatures in the 80's this week hopefully the soil will dry out and we will be fine. Once we start seeing some greens coming up through the soil we will cover those with more potting soil. Just with that continue until there blooms up on the top of the vines and they turn brown. And then it will be harvest time! We can store some of the potatoes in our small outside refrigerator, and may give some away.

Thrifting Scores-
I found some great thrifting scores a couple of days ago, I bought several new books for a grand babies and a really nice large ceramic water pitcher for our dining table. It has Irises on it, one of my favorite flowers. One of the things I want to do this fall is actually plant some bulbs including some irises so it was a good reminder! I bought two used cook books on Amazon. I went out to Eddie Bauer's Outlet since we got a $10 coupon in our email. It's always funny to go there when I get lucky, since I basically found a nice pair of $75 work slacks. The original tag was $75, mark down to $40 something, with the sale reduction and my $10 coupon I paid a whopping $5! They're nice dressy fabric in a dark gray which will go with lots of different tops.

I also found two blouses on eBay, one is a Columbia Sportswear fishing blouse, (yes fishing) with a SPF built in. I've owned one of these blouses before and they are great for summer weather because they are cool with vents on the back of the shoulders-

It's actually dressy enough to wear to work. On the surface it just looks like another cotton blouse and I love the pink and green plaid. The other I found was a new blouse a Caribbean Joe brand with great colors again to wear to work in the hot weather. It will look cute with dark slacks! Maybe the Eddie Bauer ones!

The total for both tops was less than I would have paid locally for new. And it's easier to find specialty tops like that on eBay than it is driving all over town to various thrift stores. I also found a pair of shorts for Dave on eBay that he loves. They're about $35 new, and he loves them since he does some running, and a lot of heavy yard work in the heat. They're breathable lightweight shorts. They are Adidas brand, $12,  and another pair I'm keeping an eye on. When you really like something really specific eBay is definitely the way to go. I was also happy I also sold something on Etsy, for about the price of what paid for the slacks, two tops and Dave shorts with some left over! Worked out pretty well!

May 12, 2018

Independence Days Challenge, Our Sick Peach Tree, New Chicks Coming Soon!

Independence Days Challenge-
We have gone from warm 80's weather to 60's this week, pouring rain most of yesterday. It's been an awful pollen season here, everyone's miserable! Itchy eyes, sneezing, runny noses. My bedroom HEPA filter died, bummer, but I got a replacement so that's helping. Hopefully the rain will settle some of the pollen off the trees. It's so green though, loving it!!! Lots of birds out, flowers blooming, veggies up in the raised bed. The sun is shining this morning, but a little cloudy. So, here's a look at what we've been up to!

1. Plant Something- 
We planted 2 varieties of carrots and radishes about 2 weeks ago. And they're coming up really nicely. Right before that we planted pansies, bush peas and Italian kale, also doing well. It was really a good idea to put the bird netting over the kale I think since the birds always attack it. We're looking at planning warm weather vegetables here pretty soon. We thought about doing that this weekend but it was too wet and are babysitting. We were gifted with a large container of Yukon Gold potatoes for seed potatoes. I was wanting to plant potatoes this summer anyway, now we have lots of freebies to use. We're going to plant in a garbage can and see how that goes. More on that later!

Pansies in front 

Chives had nice purple flowers too 

Herb box doing great, all wintered over!!!

2. Harvest Something- 
Eggs and herbs. The peach tree is loaded! Hoping for a good pear, apple and Choke cherry harvest as well. 

3. Preserve/Store Something- 
I stocked up on some Italian sausage and artisans breads at our local grocery outlet. I froze some of the extra breads. Our freezer is about 1/3 full, which is good! We've been using up our frozen meats, peaches, apple sauce, tomatoes and rhubarb. We'll need the room for this years bounty. Running low on peach jam, apple butter and Choke cherry jelly.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep
Dave bought spray paint thru his employer, BIG cans only $2.00. I looked everywhere for some queen size sheets since we were down to one set. I finally found a great deal on I love for percale since it's a little bit heavier and lasts longer. It was an odd color, but matches our summer quilt pretty well! The color is called papaya-

I had an eye exam and Dave got his new glasses at Costco, so I decided to go there. With my current eye coverage I saved over $125.00 from my other fancy optometrist. I will keep getting exams there, but not so much the glasses anymore. I had to buy a few new tops for work and found some great deals at Penney's. I bought a few thrifted art items-

I took this one to work for my desk

For the dining room

 I recently switched from Neutrogena day moisturizer, $12.99 for four ounces compared to Trade Joe's $6.99 for six ounces. It had great reviews,  research is always helpful BEFORE I buy. I had been using Trader Joe's cleanser for years, great stuff, just $5.99 and really cleans your face gently but well-

The moisturizer is nice and light, but leaves my skin feeling much softer. Living in high desert REALLY takes it toll on your skin. I decided to try their serum as well, $9.99, and you don't need much. It was also well reviewed. Put on before the moisturizer and my skin is super soft, but not oily-

Next I found a replacement HEPA air purifier for our bedroom on Amazon, better deal than locally-


I run it all day, then turn off at night. When I deep clean I can move it easily into other rooms. It has a removable, washable sponge filter as well, great for catching Anya's cat fur! I also ordered some hard-to-find boxes of tea, since they don't weight much-


I LOVE this tea, it's a black tea, but very smooth. Orange is the grade of tea, not the flavor. I drink hot tea most days, since I'm not a coffee fan. We keep a nice variety on hand, but this was getting hard to find.

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- 
I found a copycat dressing recipe for my favorite Mexican restaurant On the Border that closed. It's a national chain but both local restaurants just closed up. I LOVE this dressing! Spicy and smoky. I made a double batch and keep in the fridge for later. I've started buying Jicama and really liked it! It has a lot of nutritional value, is slightly sweet, crunchy and in the radish family. I might try and grow some next year.

6. Build Community Food Systems- 
Nothing at this time.

7. Recycle/Re-Use- 
We needed to repaint our 10 year-old garden work bench. We bought it locally and it fit perfect in the space we had on our small deck. I had done a light repainting a few years ago, but it really needed a heavier paint job. Dave bought some industrial spray paint thru his employer in a nice green (huge can $2.00!) that was close to the original paint. We moved it to the grass on a tarp. I brushed it down really well  then I sanded the top to get a real smooth surface. We did two coats on the entire bench, and a third coat on the top. It looks great and this will really protect a long time-

Before shot- faded, messy, emptied out
Nailed a few loose boards down

chick supplies

Misc garden supplies

Dave nailing boards

You can see the weather damage, even with covering the top with plastic every winter

I sanded with a palm sander and got nice and smooth-

Dave had added the upper shelf originally for me, also got painted

All done!

We added the hanging screws when we purchased it

Dave removed the old brick edging from the front yard. The county will push into our yard a bit. We had also collected free river stone last fall, so Dave installed it. Looks great!!! We've saved the used brick for other part of the yards. 

8. Skill Up- 
I learned from the Master Gardener program at the University of Idaho extension office that are peach tree that only has Peach Leaf curl but also has aphids and baby ladybugs. I didn't know one tree could have quite so much going on at once. I learned about the copper spray and when to apply it-

Curled leaves and aphids

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- 
We painted the workbench. We'll clean and bring our chick feeder and waterer inside-

We sorted thru the contents of the workbench. Tossed some things, will put plastic totes to store the rest in the bench-

Also glued our old washboard that's been out in the garden for several years- 

Our Sick Peach Tree-
I looked out the window a week or two ago and realized our Red Haven peach tree looked sick. I emailed some photos to the Master Gardener program at the University of Idaho Extension office but they couldn't really tell a lot from those. Since I had Monday off I cut several samples off the tree and drove them over to the office. Luckily it's not too far from here. It's the same office that I trained in to become a Master Gardener. I talked to someone there and she gave me a few ideas, but later they gave the samples to an Arborist. It turned out it has a fungus which is fairly common, but we won't be able to treat until the tree loses all its leaves in the fall. It's loaded with peaches, which will be fine, and will generate new leaves as the sick ones fall off. I was advised to go ahead and fertilize the tree since it takes extra energy for the tree to repopulate its leaves at this time. I had noticed lots of little tiny white tubes on the branches which turned out to be aphids. I'd also noticed some black bugs on the tree, which turned out to be baby ladybugs! Great news since ladybugs eat aphids. So the good news is the tree will survive. We will spray it with a copper spray in the fall, then again next spring which should kill most of the fungus. The aphids should die off as the weather gets hotter. And the baby ladybugs are bonus! The peaches will still be edible and the tree life will go on.

New Chicks Coming Soon!
We had decided this winter to go ahead and get some new chicks this spring. Our hen Gwynne died recently and so that left us with two hens. We typically get about two eggs every 2 or 3 days, but with the two hens getting a little bit older we decided to add some new chicks to the flock. We'll drive out to Dunlap Hatchery in Caldwell, not too far outside of Boise. They have a great selection of breeds, their prices are good and the chicks are always healthy. I had a bad experience buying chicks from two different feed stores locally. One died the next day, the other was the wrong breed. So we drive out to Dunlap's and get some great chicks there. When I get three chicks I always like to get three different breeds to tell them apart easily. I seem to have better luck with the non-hybrid chickens for some reason. So this year we're probably going to be getting a New Hampshire Red, which we had before-

I'll probably buy a White Plymouth Rock, and possibly a Black Australorp. I may see what else they have in stock when we get there. Since pullets don't lay eggs for about 5 or 6 months basically we would start getting some eggs next winter. Given the state of the world better too many eggs than not. Chicks are always fun to get and really exciting but they take a consistent level of care. I called the hatchery today and Dave and I decided to get the new chicks the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, since we will be home. I'm also off the following Tuesday so I will have a four-day weekend to get acquainted.

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