Category Archives: Chickens

Saying Good-by to February

February 28, 2018 I cannot say that I’m sorry to see this February go. I think I’ve been either down with a painful flu or sinus infection or trying to recover from them for more February then I have felt good. If anyone is going to catch whatever bug is going around, it will be me, but this has been worse then ever for me. I am ready to feel strong again. Even so, I managed to keep up with daily readings in the book of Mark for #NTin2018 and I was able to plant at least one sort of seed daily.  Amazing!

On a happy note, my sister-in-law, Sheri has finished radiation therapy, hopefully forever. I planted sweet peas to celebrate. But on a sad note, her mother was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Damn Cancer!

Seeds February 18, 2018 I love planting seeds. In the past I’ve had marathon planting days, but with a full time job that was what I had to do. Loosing my job was extremely stressful but it has allowed a change of seed planting habit. Every day in February I started one small container of seeds. That was great! Even when I was “head-between-pillows” sick, I still got out in the fresh air for a few minutes. Hope my dirty hands counted as “grounding” (Thank you Patti!!!)

Baby its been cold! Its been rain, rain rain all month, when it hasn’t been snowing. Crazy! I’ve been so thankful for my greenhouse.

Snow 2 February 18, 2018 On the few days that the clouds parted and the sun shined, the greenhouse would heat up to 90 degrees F. On cloudy days, with a little bit of help from candle lanterns, it still heated up to the mid 60’s when it was in the low 30’s outside. Great for spring dreaming. It feels so good to get up in the early morning and see all of the food that has been started for this season on my kitchen table. Ray and I brought everything inside while it was still freezing at night. Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, onions, onions, onions, celery and so much more. Outside the autumn planted garlic and fava beans are looking happy. The trees have been trimmed for the season, daffodils and crocus are coming up… there is so much more, life is good! Poverty feels like wealth when food is growing. The chickens are not any happier with the wet and snow then Ray and I are. Still, the old girls are giving us a few eggs. While we stay in Everett (we want to sell everything and travel the USA while we still can) I hope to provide a big chunk of our food for the year. That is the goal anyway.

Mark 15 February 28, 2018 Looking forward to the merry month of March with outdoor Pea planting (as well as potatoes and the first salads) and night time temperatures in the 40’s. Tomatoes and pepper seed will be planted in the greenhouse and I’ll celebrate my 61st birthday with bouquets of daffodils and longer days. OH, and we will be starting the book of Luke this month. Yea!

Debs… ready to trade in the wool socks for bare feet in the dirt (probably will not happen in March) and layers of sweaters for sundresses.


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Harvesting what I did not plant…

September 12 (1)
I missed the my spring chore season. The tomatoes I started in March, for the most part, did not get planted. Squirrels ate the pea sprouts. I was so busy with school in May that the beans did not get planted, corn did not go in, there wasn’t even a good row of salad greens. The Fava beans I planted while Ray trimmed fruit trees got lost in a weed patch. Depressing. Even so, there seems to be an abundance.

September 12 (2) bean August 1st I was feeling an urgency to get out and plant… AUGUST 1st! The garden is usually on a “harvest only” schedule. It is late for winter crops and I am too busy putting up baskets of tomatoes, beans, cherries, peppers and cucumbers. But I missed my planting target dates this year for different reasons.September 12 (4)

Just add water and seeds. My soil had become hard, disinclined to embrace seeds in the dusty soil. We needed to re-hydrate while it was still drought season. Running sprinklers is not something we like to do, but there was no other way to bring the life back to the garden. Jade II green beans, Soleil yellow beans and our favorite Dragon’s Tongue beans, each got a row of garden space on August 1. Honestly, I was not expecting to harvest beans from such a late planting. It was a roll of the dice. Today I saw tiny beans developing. Hallelujah! We prayed for God to glorify Himself in the garden, but I sort of suspected He was very busy elsewhere. There are moments in life when I feel like the Almighty is showing off His love for me. We also put in cucumbers, as of this morning, they have blossoms that I dare to hope that the Almighty will show off his love again and make ripe cucumbers.

September 12 (5) Volunteer Tomatoes. Like many of you, I am a collector and saver of heirloom vegetable seed. I have a greenhouse and a great collection of tools for seed starting, but the tools only gathered dust this year. Even so, I am eating sweet, Sweetie Cherry Tomatoes by the apron full. I did not plant any this year, so how do I know what they are? They grew in this spot last year. Heirlooms reseed themselves and come back the next year true to type without any fussing from me. God gave them one job, “Be fruitful and multiply” They seem to be really good at glorifying God.

September 12 (6) orchard Apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, plums, raspberries, loganberries, cherries, herbs (both medicinal and culinary), cut and come again greens and the best eggs ever. Even if I do not plant another seed, God willing, we will have fresh food. I love reading about Eden. God put the man and his wife into the garden to work it and tend it. That is what we do. We can work it, crowding every unused space for plants that are beautiful and good for food. But we can also have seasons like this one, where we only tend to what is already growing. We still eat, knowing we are loved.

Debs in Everett, Washington… tending this years garden. There is sweat on my brow but it feels good.

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Spring again… happy me!

3March 26, 2017 (26)

Tiny Pink and White French Breakfast Radishes

Every year about this time, the daffodils bloom, the birds sing during the day and the frogs party by the light of the moon. We survived another winter. It’s good to be alive.

2february-25-2017-1 I have a couple of garden projects I like to start in January and February, but those are mostly to scratch what starts to itch with the first seed catalog. My Gardening starts to get honest when the peas and first potatoes go into the cold, wet soil.

3March 26, 2017 (21) I planted a lot of pea seeds, Tall Alderman, a French Heirloom sno pea, Sugar Snaps and a row of Green Arrow peas. I could show you pictures of those but right now they look a whole lot like clean dirt, wood chips and a nice structure Ray made for them to climb. These peas (a big pot of Cascade Snap Peas and another of Maestro) I started on Presidents Day. They seem to like it outside.

3March 26, 2017 (27) Potatoes: These were started in February. I’ve planted Vikings (Purple, Gold, Fight Fight) Yellow Bananas, and some kind of yellow that I saved from last year. I still have some Russet Burbanks and another fingerling still to put out. We do not have a lot of room for lots of potatoes, but we do what we can. A man once said that if I haven’t had a fresh from the dirt potato then you really do not know what a potato tastes like. He was right.

There is more to spring then peas and potatoes. I had a walk-about  this morning to see whats happening. Here is a small selection.

3March 26, 2017 (20)

The Herb Garden …chives are looking good

3March 26, 2017 (17)

Comfrey coming up in the Raspberry bed. It won’t be long until I’m pulling up big bundles of this daily for the chickens and all my medicinal needs.

3March 26, 2017 (2)

Two years ago I planted some very expensive flowering broccoli (a kale-brussels sprout hybrid). It comes back, or maybe better, it doesn’t die. Every year it sends up a new stem and makes a new branch of kale flowers. I guess it was worth the price of the seed. My hens sure like it.

3March 26, 2017 (5)

There is still a lot of work to do but we are enjoying every moment.

3March 26, 2017 (18) That’s my Rudy Valentine standing in my new strawberry bed. It was supposed to be an asparagus bed but they didn’t take. So all of the strawberries that I pulled out of the herb bed went upstairs into my new strawberry bed. I think these are called Pacific Reliant. I bought two or three plants last spring and now they are everywhere… well they were everywhere, now they’ve moved to this bed. In front of Rudy is a stand of Fever Few, the tea from the flowers does everything an aspirin does without eating away your stomach. The echinacea (cone flower) is just coming up all burgundy and fresh. If I’m not careful where I step, the scent of peppermint fills the air. It’s nice. Welcome back Spring!

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Chicken Tractors and today’s bento

Chicks out for a little sun

Chicks out for a little sun

The last day of April started out chilly and wet but by this afternoon it was beautiful. I brought the baby nuggets out for a little bit of sunshine. Meanwhile, the original nuggets (now 5 years old and still giving us eggs every day) were in their own tractor getting a different planting bed ready. The bed in front of the tractor is where I get my daily greens for my school bento.

Sweet ol' girls

Sweet ol’ girls

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Speaking of Bento today’s featured slices of Ray’s Enchilada with our fresh greens, the newest radishes, kiwi, cantaloupe and watermelon stars, plain Greek yogurt with bananas and blueberries. (one day soon there will be some kind of fresh fruit)

Everett’s pretty day: 59/46 but it felt warmer then that. Sunrise at 5:52, soon to set at 8:20 for 14 hours and 28 minutes of day light. A little rain this morning but it hardly registered in the rain-gauge. Expecting the same tomorrow.

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Meet the new nuggets!

Gypsy-Julia, Honey-Hannah and Misty-Meghan

Gypsy-Julia, Honey-Hannah and Misty-Meghan

The mother of one of my students asked if we wanted chicks. “YES!” (and thank you for thinking of us)

The best part was listening to her kindergarten son introduce them all to me. These are the friendliest chicks, thanks Dillon for raising such sweet girls for me. He assures me that they will like riding on my shoulder when I take them outside. They already will climb on my hand like a parrot when I press against their tummy. So far they do not run from me, that is REALLY nice.

We are going to need better weather and soon. While writing this I had to go rescue Meghan. She has already figured out how to get out of the box. The kitty-kover (and sometime chick-tractor) is more chick friendly (and safer) then the cardboard box.

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Food soverginty in the burbs

Corn grown in a SFG at the Toy Box Sub-Urban Farm

Corn grown in a SFG at the Toy Box Sub-Urban Farm

So you want to take control of what your family eats but you do not have the land for it? You can start where you are at. Even apartment dwellers with widows can do a few things.

Knowledge is your base. Read. Books, blogs, dedicated facebook pages, Seriously, read. I got my start at the library. Even before I bought my first shovel, I bought books. My dream started with the book Two Acer Eden. Back in the 70’s the title of this book made me realize that I could feed my family on a lot less land then I originally believed. Before there was a web, there was Organic Gardening from Rodale Press. Back when the magazine was the size of Readers Digest, before it took on the look of Glamour it was full of solid information instead of fluff. Find a newsy blog or forum and learn. Most of us know that knowing about a subject and experience with a subject have to marry to be of use.

Get out of the grocery store and get to know a farmer. Pull into the driveway when you see those signs telling you there is corn for sale. Raw milk, tomatoes, eggs, strawberries. You are going to get a deal in most places. The headline food is often just the tip of the ice burg. But the real investment comes from chatting it up with the farmer or his wife (or her husband). Most of us want you to be successful with your beans and broccoli. We want to pass on what we know.

Go to the Farmers Market. Most of the time you will not find a “deal” at big markets but you will find mostly local food and crafts. Be aware that farmers have to pay a fee for space to sell their goods. They also have to get up early, invest in items that keep food fresh and pay outrageous prices for gas, real-estate tax and permits of all kinds. The price you pay at the market is probably closer to what it really costs to buy food (think about that next time you complain about high taxes). I have noticed that Snohomish County farmers markets seem to have set prices for different food items. Even if there are six booths from six different farms selling strawberries, they are all going to charge the exact same price for a box or half-flat of fruit. No deals here. Even so, that bag of sugar snap peas is going to be miles and days fresher then the cello-bag of snap peas you pick up at your favorite organic grocery store. One bite and you will remember what it is you love about fresh food, be it snap beans, apricots or the humble radish. Don’t know what to do with boc-choi, ask the people selling it.

Plant a pot of herbs. One of the best ways for a busy working mom to start taking control of her kitchen is to plant a basket of herbs. Oregano puts up with all kinds of abuse. Sage is another herb that is very forgiving. Even pretty rosemary puts up with a lot of rookie mistakes. If all you have is parsley, use it! Beloved basil may be the most difficult to grow in the PNW, so if you have it, use it. Clip it up, toss it in. Basil is an annual so it only lives for one season anyway. Plant lavender in your flower bed, use it! Thyme will give and give. How do you use fresh herbs? Remember to read. Use your nose, rub some fresh herb between your palms while you cook. If the scents of your stove and the herb in your hand makes your mouth water, you may have a winner. Some say, be careful, a little goes a long way. Me? I like to go a little crazy.

Plant a tomato in the flower Garden. This spring, when you are buying snapdragons, pick up a tomato start. If you can grow a petunia, you can grow a tomato.

Build a Square Foot Garden on your lawn. Square Foot Gardening may be the easiest and safest way to turn your lawn into food. You can start small and add as you feel more competent. SFG does not use your native soil. You make a growing medium from peat, vermiculite and bagged compost that you pick up at the place you buy your beauty bark. You do not need to commit to tearing out your whole lawn to SFG. If you have any doubts about the history of your yard (Many yards in my home-town of Everett, Washington are toxic from our history as a mill town) then Mel’s Mix (the growing medium named after Mel Bartholomew, author of Square Foot Gardening) is a safe way to get started.

Get Really Radical, compost your bio-garbage instead of sending it to a land fill (your garden will love it!). Every city has different regulations, but you can raise chickens, bunnies or mini goats in the burbs. Did you know you can raise fish in a barrel? It is called aqua-ponics. Collect rain water, plant fruit trees, build a mason bee house. As long as you keep your neighbors happy and check with the city before starting a project you can do just about anything. Learn which flowers in your garden you can eat. Just get started.

Debs….. who started with a tiny pot of oregano in her bedroom window, then learned to make pizza sauce. Everyone begins somewhere.

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For A Kale Smoothy

A kale smoothy sounded like a nice way to celebrate the last day of the Wolf Moon. It also seemed like a good idea for the first day of 2013 that has 10+ hours of daylight. I knew I had a few large kale plants thriving in the garden. It was only on a whim that I picked up the new basket Chris made.

New toy for the Toy Box

New toy for the Toy Box

How did it get so full? The morning started in silver fog but the sun came out in the afternoon. I have so little time after school and puppy walks. I thought I would just get started on the garden that I plan to plant peas in. I saved the best of the skinny spring leeks and the tiny fingerling carrots hidden under weedy oregano. I love this new basket.

Stella and Bertha finish the job.

Stella and Bertha finish the job.

While I was out, I let my chickens out to graze. They seem to love their job… except for Miss Purdy, over by the fence. She was the first to molt this year and the last to recover BUT I suspect it is more than a tough molt. Her comb and waddle are a sickly orange-yellow instead of bright red like the rest of the girls. She just wants to sit in the sun. Poor thing. Little Bit was in the house laying an egg. I saw her when I cleaned out the old bedding in the easter basket. I cleaned out the run and put down fresh straw.

Kale Smoothie, nice after working in the cold winter sun.

Kale Smoothie, nice after working in the cold winter sun.

I did finally get that smoothy. Sunrise at 7:22 AM. Ten hours and two minutes later it sets at 5:24. That is when we say good-by to the Wolf Moon and Hellow to the Snow Moon (a reminder that it isn’t spring yet.)

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