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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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View from the highest point in the county. #dansrock #midlandmd #mountainview ⛰ via IFTTT

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Just chillin' on our own beautiful balcony downtown Frostburg. 😎👍🏻❤️ #frostburgmd #chillin #awyeah via IFTTT

Sunday, May 22, 2016

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The last six tomato straggler seedlings who won't have a home this summer. A shame to kill them, but they'll need a home soon if they're going to stay alive. Their siblings are in the ground and looking much less depressing. #springfieldma #tomatoes #grow #spring #seedlings via IFTTT

Friday, May 20, 2016

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Another beautiful sunset over Springfield. ❤️🌞 #sunset #charmed #color #springfieldma via IFTTT

Chicken Cap

My first $3 for a dozen. Yes, I took a picture.
Well, that's it. I've met my chicken capacity on this property for now. We have three new chicks in addition to our five other birds. The count is at two Rhode Island Reds, three Easter Eggers, one Buff Orpington, one Silver Laced Wyandotte, and one black sexlink (aka black star). If we're lucky, we'll get five eggs a day, but it's more like three to four.

On December 17, I sold my first dozen eggs. It may seem stupid or silly to some, but it was my first success as a producer. I grow food, I make jams, I can things, but I usually just give them away. 

This isn't to say I don't still give away eggs... I do. A lot. But I also charge strangers, which is a great thing if you ask me. It's only $3 a dozen (and a quarter for just one!), and I have a little sign on the mailbox with a red NO and a green YES! for when we do and don't have eggs. Because we live in a more urban environment, and with that comes crime, we don't have a lock box for our eggs. I'd very much like to have one so egg sales don't have to be contingent on whether or not we're home. We also really can't keep up with how quickly a dozen disappears. We have people looking for five dozen at a time, which we aren't able to hold on to.
What our eggs look like :)

They've been insanely popular, probably because the price is competitive with factory farm egg prices in the grocery store. People will walk by and stop when they see the sign. Most people seem perplexed by the fact that we have chickens in the backyard, but we're sure to invite them back to see where they live. They inevitably see the garden (which takes up almost half of the yard), and they get it.

Kids seem to enjoy it as well, and always love to come over to give the chickens a good chase. The chickens are unfazed by the neighbors dogs that they're surrounded by, too (most households seem to have at least 2 dogs around us). The neighborhood seems at peace with everything, and that feels great.

I doubt I'll ever have a yard without chickens again, provided I can. They bring so much life and happiness to our backyard, even when they come to the open windows and yell for treats. The novelty of collecting eggs still hasn't worn off, even after these two years.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

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Beautiful sunset followed by beautiful thunderstorms. 🌞 #sunset #color #charmed via IFTTT

Garden post: Spring 2016

It's been a while. This is always an off and on thing. Sometimes, life is just full of stuff you don't want to talk about on the internet "out there," or sometimes it's the status quo. There's been a lot of both in my life.

But I'm here today to talk about the garden! I do this mostly so I can reflect in years to come on what I did each year. I actually have checked back here to see what I was thinking, or what worked/failed in the past.

Last year, I remember the irrigation system I spent months working on just wouldn't cut it. I gave up on it by late June and decided to use a half-assed elevated sprinkler instead (I put a sprinkler on an upside-down barrel in the middle of the garden). I didn't amend my soil at all, which was probably a huge problem. I've never really amended the soil until this fall, when I reflected on the overall failure of my 40+ tomato plants. 

So this year, we actually sifted our soil and amended it with gypsum and fertilizer specifically for vegetables and tomatoes. We sifted our soil because we still had massive amounts of gravel mulch in the garden area from the previous owner's wonderful pool installation. It's a terrible thing to have to do, inch by inch, foot by foot. We used an old panel to a chicken coop run to sift through shovelful after shovelful of dirt. It's still not all gone, but hopefully, we'll see a benefit after all the work out in the cold.
We've also got three new 4'x8' beds. One currently has well over 100 onions planted, the middle bed has five Waltham butternut squashes planted (I hear they need mega amounts of space, and possibly a trellace!), and the third was prepped today by my dear husband for 24-72 sets of corn. I want 72. We can feasibly get 72 in there, but I've been met with resistance. 

Unfortunately, my luck with the corn seedlings didn't come through and we had to buy 24 plants. I'm hoping I may still have time to get a bunch more planted and sprouted. Fingers crossed. 

Here's a run-down of what we have planted. No one knows how successful it will be! Hooray science! (Some of these have very low numbers because the seedlings didn't all make it):

- 64 tomatoes (varieties include Bill Bean, San Marzano, Indigo Blue, Boxcar Willie, Amish Slicer)
- 4 Black Beauty eggplant
- 2 generic zucchini
- 3 Canadian crookneck squash
- 12 peppers (varieties include a red, yellow, and purple; can't remember the names)
- 30 Homemade pickles (everyone we know enjoys the pickles we make, so we grow many!)
- 6 Bok choy
- 6 Lacinato kale
- 32 hardneck garlic
- 3 fennel
- Detroit red beets
- Provider bush beans
- Sugarsnap peas
- Appaloosa dry beans
- 100+ red, yellow, and white onions
- 5 Waltham butternut
- 24-72 Honey n' Pearl corn
- Kennebec potatoes (approx. half a bag of "seed")

We've also started growing things in window boxes on our chain-link fence, that goes all the way around the yard in the back. We've got lettuce, strawberries, and some herbs in zip-tied window boxes. So far, vertically, they're only on the top rung of the fence. We plan to put a lot more on the fences (and probably annoy our neighbors) and grow things which will work in a window-box sized space.

We're hopeful for this season's garden since we've tried some new things to start out. What have you got growing?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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Three tiny raccoon babies looking to break out of the riverbed in Bondsville, MA. ❤️ #raccoon #babyanimals #bondsvillema #cute #raccoons via IFTTT

Sunday, May 15, 2016

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"Fancy" pickles. I wonder what those are! $3 are the local thrift spot. You can tell someone spent a lob time making this. I had to have it. #thrifting #thriftfinds #saversstore #embroidery #yesplease #fancypickles #pickles via IFTTT