On the Farmstead: We Lucked Out

August 27, 2018

I have to say, the term farmstead is really growing on me.

So, what has been going on around here, besides the thrice-daily stirring of the apple scrap vinegar?  I’m so glad you asked!

First up, that most unruly flock of chickens!

Dare I say it?  Well, I’ve said it before, so I guess I shall say it again:  I’m pretty positive both of the new chicks are female.  I think we lucked out!

These two Ameraucana/Ideal 236 crosses are over two months old.  No comb development, curved tails or pointy saddle feathers on either one, and you know I’ve been checking obsessively.  Plus, they just look like girls to me.

I think there will be no coq au vin for us (thank goodness!).

We were at the farm store last week and there were bins upon bins of chicks for sale.  All so cute and fluffy!  There was even – incredibly! – a bin filled with Blue Laced Red Wyandotte chicks.  I couldn’t believe it!

I’ve been hankering after that particular color and breed since we first started keeping chickens, but back then they were much harder to find and spectacularly expensive.  Seeing them at Wilco of all places, and for less than $10 a chick, was surprising.  I was extremely tempted by them, and even Jasper said he’d be game to buy a few.

You might like:  Happily Awaiting Chicks

But then I remembered how much easier and more satisfying it was for a broody hen to raise her own chicks.  I remembered how stinky and messy it was to raise chicks inside the house, and then all the trouble of integrating them into the flock.  These thoughts battled in my head for awhile, and in the end we didn’t buy any chicks.

Are you as shocked as I was?  Me, passing up the chance to bring baby animals home?  What is happening?!

I think it has everything to do with being the end of August.  If they have those same chicks in April, you know I will be buying some.  I am so full of excitement and energy in April.

In August, I am down-to-the-dregs bone weary.

We are harvesting so many things every day, and working overtime to preserve them.  Apples, potatoes, beans, onions, corn, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, and the list goes on.  It’s hard work and extremely time consuming.  As Two Branches Homestead put it, this is when the real work begins.

We are far (far!) from being self-sufficient, but we have definitely grown enough to put a big dent in the food budget this winter.  We even had to buy a new upright freezer that is more than twice as big as our old one, and it’s already getting full of homegrown produce!  The old chest freezer will hopefully hold venison, should Jasper be lucky and get one this year.

Ugh, I have to tell you though, sometimes it just feels like too much.  I know I’m going to appreciate it come January, but the thought of all I have yet to do before things go bad is often overwhelming.

I may get a little bristly this time of year!

Sitting on my back stairs and looking at my flower beds helps.

Isn’t this a pretty little corner?  It’s come so far this summer!  Korean hyssop, night-scented tobacco, echinacea, hardy and scented geraniums, catmint, zebrina, blueberries, self-heal and, most majestic of all, the grapevine.  I planted a lot of it from seed, and I was surprised by all the flowers I got this year.  It looks amazing!

I need to figure out a way to keep my citronella scented geranium alive this winter.  Should I cover it in burlap?  Dig it up and put it in a pot to bring inside?

That geranium has been my knockout favorite new plant.  I’ll have to write a post all about it, because it really is an awesome plant that I knew nothing about when I got it.  The smell of it when I water or brush against it is heaven on earth.

And last, but not least, the Puddle Ducks have started laying eggs!

I don’t know which of them are doing it, since they tend to lay them very early in the morning before I even let them out of their house.  We’re getting 2-3 a day from them though, so we’re pretty excited.  I haven’t tried them scrambled, but I’ve been using them in baking, and I’m surprisingly pleased with the results.

The shell of the duck eggs seem waxier than the chicken eggs.  It’s a weird feeling, but not in a bad way.  They’re a little harder to crack, but I wonder if that’s just because the ducks are new layers.

Oh, and please don’t judge that ugly plastic-covered hole that used to be their pond.  Ducks are busy little excavators it turns out, and managed to dug out large swathes of ground under the edge of the pond liner.  They ended up collapsing that whole side of the pond, and it was the downhill side, of course.

So, among our many other projects, we’re now planning on expanding their fenced yard and upgrading their pond.  It will have to involve lots of gravel and stone and perhaps a rigid liner that can’t be tunneled under.

Basically, it needs to be the Alcatraz of duck ponds.

Oh, those Puddle Ducks.  Never up to anything good, but at least they entertain me!



  • Spring Lake Homestead

    August 27, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Your farmstead is looking beautiful! Glad to hear your… everything… is producing so well! How exciting for you! You are really bringing life into your husband’s childhood home!

    1. lacey

      August 28, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      Thank you! This year definitely exceeded our expectations! And yes, even my father-in-law (who was having a bit of a hard time seeing all the changes we are making) has grudgingly said he thinks we’re doing the right things and making it all look nice again 😛

      1. Spring Lake Homestead

        August 28, 2018 at 7:48 pm

        I hadn’t even considered how his parents might feel about the changes. Glad he sees you are on the right path!

  • The EcoFeminist

    August 28, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I am totally stealing your farmstead term :))) Duck eggs being harder to crack means they’re getting lots of calcium from foraging – it’s a great thing!

    1. lacey

      August 28, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      Awesome! Those ducks of mine certainly are getting a lot of forage! How are yours doing with the move? Enjoying their bigger space yet?

      1. The EcoFeminist

        August 28, 2018 at 4:53 pm

        Oh my goodness, our girls have commandeered EVERYTHING now! For the most part they want nothing to do with the small pasture and everything to do with the large, wide-open, bullseye-on-their-back-for-hawks pasture…and the other day they were in the front almost to the street! Definitely enjoying their new digs with very little fear…we’re going to be putting in some kind of barrier (chicken wire or something cheap like that) on the bottom half of the horse fencing eventually so that they stay in the small pasture at least as it’s always a journey going out there to see where they are. Although Sunday they were all cozied up by the beehive which was lovely – aren’t they the cutest when they sleep? PS – we are going to get meat chickens next year and they are all going to look as generic as possible so that we don’t (hopefully) fall in love…yours are too cute!

        1. lacey

          August 28, 2018 at 5:06 pm

          Haha, ducks. They sure are contrary, aren’t they?! We want to do meat chickens next year as well. We should have get together and harvest them all together, make the work much lighter!

          1. The EcoFeminist

            August 28, 2018 at 8:48 pm

            Quite an idea but which of us is going to put 40 chickens in the back of our Subaru and drive it out to the others house? 😂

          2. lacey

            August 28, 2018 at 9:47 pm

            Ha! You can tell I didn’t think that one through 😂😂

  • Noble Homestead

    August 28, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Wow how pretty! I had my first two broody hens ever this summer. Agreed, no more chickens in the people house! I will hope they just keep making me a few more each year on their own 🙂 I also find my own kind of zen looking at my plants. I might dig that geranium up. Is it too late to try to propagate cuttings? Maybe start a bunch more, just in case…

    1. lacey

      August 28, 2018 at 5:04 pm

      Thank you! I was thinking about taking cuttings too. I think late summer is a good time, so we shall see!

  • Lisa

    August 28, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    Your farmstead’s gorgeous! I keep dreaming of the day I get my little acre up to scratch but, so far, little’s been done.

    Duck eggs tend to be larger and thicker, from my experience. A friend of mine keeps them, as well as chickens. I don’t recommend boiling them – too hard to de-shell – but they’re great eating any other way!

  • Brett Ann Stanciu

    August 29, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Oh, August — season of just SO MUCH, including worn-outness…. What a season you’ve had, though!

    1. lacey

      August 29, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      It’s true! I wouldn’t change summer – or August – for the world, though! I’ll be missing it come January!

  • farmkids8

    August 30, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    I have found duck eggs to be harder also. When we incubated duck eggs it took the ducklings much longer to hatch from the eggs after they cracked the shells than chicks.

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