Since we last spoke, it’s been nothing but change here at the Little Blue House. Amidst all the spring excitement of planning and planting in the garden, I gave birth to a precious baby boy! New and wonderful things came this spring!
With recovery going well and our little home returning to a state of normalcy after the birth, I’ve finally had time to sit and talk shop! This year, instead of buying seedlings, we started the majority of our garden from seed. Most of it was ordered form Baker Creek Seed Company down in Mansfield, MO. If you have not heard of them, I highly suggest giving them a search online. They have a wonderful establishment along with a wide range of high quality heirloom seeds! Even better, they are shipped for free!
This spring we planted May Queen lettuce, Calima bush beans, Honeynut Squash, Early Fortune cucumbers, nasturtium flowers, miniature sunflowers, green and yellow onion, beefsteak and Riesenstraube tomatoes, Clemson Okra, basil, cilantro, rosemary, and a few pepper plants. Everything has flourished as June comes to an end. We have been seeing some yields and have already put a few seeds down for our fall vegetables. So far with have Swiss Char, rainbow carrots, and beets sprouting, with some broccoli and other goodies on order from Baker Creek. Seriously, check them out on their website!
My daughter and I have also started a small project of growing micro greens in our laundry room window. Our first trial is with a small plastic tray full of chia seedlings. If all goes well, we plan to expand and grow other greens to share and sell to our friends and neighbors.
So far this summer, we have been selling our fresh eggs faster than our chickens can lay them. We expanded our flock to 23 birds in order to keep up with demand. Our new girls will be old enough to start laying by this fall.
In other news on the animal front, our pony and horse are set for winter hay thanks to family and friends that joined together to pick bales out of the field at this year’s first cutting. It was a long, hot day!
As an eventful and life changing spring comes to a close, we look forward to the yields of summer and fall that await our little family!
Things at The Little Blue House are warming up as the days grow longer and spring settles in. We have been busy revamping our garden, starting vegetable seeds, tending our to our horse pasture, and brooding our set of spring chicks!
To top off our spring excitement, our second baby will be making his debut at any moment! This busy time of year is about to get a whole lot more hectic. I will also be trying my hand at cloth diapering this baby in an attempt at becoming more self sufficient. With all those dirty diapers about to be made and my toddler beginning her potty training journey, I see a bunch of laundry in the near future!
Lay a large area of wax paper out on your counter.
Cook sugar, orange juice, and orange zest in a large pot over medium heat until sugar is fully dissolved.
Fill a glass with cold water and drop a small amount of the mixture into the glass. It will clump together and readily form a ball in your fingers. This is how you tell if it is the correct temperature. If it does not clump, cook a little longer.
Remove from heat.
Add pecans to mixture and gently mix and fold until the the mixture cools and the pecans start looking cloudy. This could take up to ten minutes.
Pour and separate pecans onto the wax paper on your counter.
Wait until they are dry before placing into a container for storage. This will only take about ten more minutes.
Before I start, I’d like to apologize to my readers for being absent for so long. In the summer I contracted COVID 19, and soon after recovering found out I was pregnant with baby number two! It was a very difficult first trimester with severe nausea and food aversions. Juggling my symptoms along with raising a toddler and running our backyard farm made little time for me to sit down and concentrate on my blog! Now that I am firmly in the second trimester with our baby boy, and the craziness that is summer and fall is over on our little farm, I have finally been given a minute to catch up!
First, let’s talk about our wonderful flock of chickens! We bought chickens this past spring and now have a laying flock of 16 hens and 1 rooster. We lost one bird out of the original 18 to what I assume was some sort of predator, because one day she was just gone! However, the rest of the flock has blossomed. I get between 12 and 16 eggs per day. I often let them run during the day and have a few girls that get in the habit of laying outside somewhere instead of in their nesting boxes. We get some egg loss due to that. When I start noticing a significant difference I keep them in their enclosure for a few days to remind them where their nests are, and it seems to do the trick. I have had a fair amount of success by setting a sign in front of our house to sell the eggs we don’t eat. I’ve been making enough profit to pay for their feed from selling eggs for $3/dozen or $5/2 dozen. We also have had enough leftover to gift to our friends, family, and neighbors!
In October, the old run collapsed. This made it so we had to spend the next couple months with our flock out full time during the day until my husband had time to build a new one. It was well worth the wait. The new run is now built to stand for a long time! Along with rebuilding our run, we have prepped the inside of the coop for winter. We’ve dropped a heater in the water bucket and added heat lamps to roosting areas for night that are below freezing. I kept one heat lamp red because the birds prefer the dimmer light to sleep by at night. But the other heat lamp is the classic yellow light. Having this light on at night will trick our birds to lay through the the short days of the winter months.
During the summer months, we had a decent yield from our garden of berries, lettuce, broccoli, peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, sweet corn, and basil. The vegetables we grew were able to sustain us for the summer with enough to share with our family. Our peach yield was so good I was able to can a batch of peach jam! It turned out delicious. I also started several okra plants from seeds. However, I failed in hardening them properly. As soon as they were exposed to the weather they shriveled and died. Getting COVID and soon there after getting pregnant, made late summer and fall harvest in the garden near impossible. So by the end of the season, my wonderful garden fell by the wayside. Hopefully we will have better luck next season!
As summer ended and the fall grasses began to sprout, our little pony Clarabelle took it upon herself to gorge as much new grass as she could. This of course caused her to get rather full around the barrel and eventually leaded up to her contracting laminitis. This is a disease where the tissues called laminae in a horses hoof begin to degrade. It causes separation of the hoof wall and rotation of the coffin bone in the hoof. It is very painful and if not caught in time, deadly. She can now no longer be on full grass. This event forced us to build a separate dry lot and to renovate the water and electric in the horse barn for Clarabelle. To say that she is not pleased with the new diet plan is an understatement.
As an eventful summer and fall come to an end, we as a family are looking forward slowing down and spending time together this holiday season. And I look forward to having more time for sharing our experiences with you all.
The future of food security belongs to our children. Many of which believe their food comes pre-washed and packaged from the grocery store. It is important now more than ever, to educate both children and adults about where their food comes from. Agricultural education is a key factor in providing future generations with quality and sustainable food sources.
As we begin to remove ourselves further away from our roots, ignorance is beginning to negatively effect today’s farming community. Bills are passed by officials that have inadequate knowledge of the intricacies of farming and of our environment. Marketing knowledge and regulation is so sporadic that consumers have no clue what they are purchasing to nourish their families. Lack of education and transparency by our schools, government, and agricultural companies have people grasping to ideals about food that they don’t fully understand.
The wide world of agriculture was an obscure part of my life growing up as well. When we moved to a small farming community and I started high school, I discovered a little club that some of my readers may know about. This group, along with it’s accompanying classes changed my future as well as cultivated my interests in agriculture.
The Future Farmers of America or The FFA, provides endless outlets for students to inquire and pursue interests in all fields of agriculture. It also gives young adults the chance to lead, speak, and volunteer in local communities. Though agriculture programs are not offered in every school, I believe it should be part of all school curriculum. In the interim, there are other outlets to gain knowledge about food and where it comes from. Many communities that don’t have an FFA program offer out of school 4H programs, community gardens, and cooking programs. So if you or someone you know might be interested in learning more, ask your school or city council about programs that involve our youth in learning where their food comes from!
As we turn the corner into the summer season, we are beginning to see yields on our little farm. The chickens are days away from laying, and our garden is producing delicious fruits and vegetables. Here are a few photo updates of how the summer is panning out this year!
How is your summer going so far? Let me know in the comments!