The 1st week of Spring in Photos

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1st Asparagus harvest on the 1st day of Spring!

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The herb garden is ready to start harvest!

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The girls get dried herbs in their nest boxes to help keep pests away. And I think the lavender keeps them calm and happy while they lay their pretty eggs.

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The Sugar Snap Peas will soon reach the Pea Teepee!

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Baby Bright Lights Swiss Chard, soon to be in our bellies.

She finally conquered her fear of the "big chickens"!

She finally conquered her fear of the “big chickens”!

 

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The Crocus are always the first little blooms around the property.

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Dapple Dandy Pluot trees in full bloom.

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Overwintered Red Russian Kale is looking beautiful and yummy!

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Strawberries and Garlic Chives. Companion planting goes into every decision I make in the garden. Alliums are a great pest repellent for so many other crops.

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She is going to be good friends with this little Sizzle chicken!

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Baby braising greens.

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Hops vines and fluffy chicken butts.

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Burning our 4 acre hay field.

We've been harvesting this Red Kitten Spinach all winter!

We’ve been harvesting this Red Kitten Spinach all winter!

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I was going to get 15 new chickens this year. I got 42. I may not be trusted to enter a feed store alone in the Spring, I have no will power.

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Nothing says “Spring” better than these pretty little daffodils outside Penelope’s window. Happy Spring to you all!!!!

 

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Blackjack

Blackjack

Blackjack ended up being the only rooster out of the 22 pullets we got last year in March. 21 hens and 1 rooster, hence the name Blackjack.  He was the cutest little chick.  He was so tiny and had a little star on his head.

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Fast forward a year and Blackjack has turned into an aggressive, protective rooster that makes it extremely difficult to visit with the girls.  As soon as you turn your back he attacks!  He especially hates children so Penelope can’t even go into the chicken run anymore.  Long story short, we decided it was time for Blackjack to go.
Attack mode!

Attack mode!

This living on a farm thing got very real this afternoon, but we like to eat meat and this is a very real part of the cycle so I am glad to have this experience.  It makes me appreciate the meat our family eats that much more.  This is where I will warn you, this post is about to get a little graphic so if you don’t care to see how a chicken is processed I would stop reading right about now.
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Just catching him turned out to be quite challenging.  I think Jeremy and I were both a little scared of what kind of damage he could do with his inch long spurs.  When we caught him Jeremy immediately turned him upside down and held him by his feet.  That kept him calm and still.  Then Jeremy hung him by his feet with this little contraption.      I had to walk away for the next part.
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Jeremy cut the arteries in his throat and then lowered him into the bucket to bleed out.  The black plastic bag captured the blood but also made it dark for him so he didn’t panic as much.  I just can’t do the killing part.  I can’t even watch!  Jeremy doesn’t enjoy this part but he gets that it is part of the process.  He has the ability to stay calm and focused and get the job done.  I on the other hand was around the corner completely freaking out until Blackjack finished flapping.
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We washed him off with the hose to get any blood, dirt and poop off of him.  Then we placed the chicken into a large pot of water heated to 145°f.  It takes about 1 minute in the hot water to loosen the feathers so they will pull out easily. You want to stop as soon as the feathers will pull out so you don’t start cooking the meat.
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We placed him onto a trash bag on the table and defeathered him.  The feathers come out very easily by doing the hot water dip.  Then we brought him inside, gave him a quick rinse and started the gut removing process.
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Pee-yew!  Chicken guts smell very, very bad.  When we process the 5 meat chickens we’re raising we will be doing it all outside.  Jeremy read several “how to gut a chicken” articles online.  For first timers I think we did ok.  At one point Jeremy pushed on the vent and squirted poop on the counter.  That was nasty, really, really nasty.  When all the insides were removed we gave him a good scrub down in the sink, patted him dry and sealed him in a Ziplock bag.
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We will let the meat rest in the refrigerator for 2-3 days for nature to do its thing then it’s winner, winner chicken dinner!

Birthday Girl

This week has been all about our sweet little Penelope.  She is TWO!  We are amazed everyday by this little person.  She is so smart and kind, pretty and charming.  We love watching the amazing person she is becoming right before our eyes.  Happy Birthday sweet girl!

Waiting to get the party started

waiting to get the party started

hunt

the egg hunt

the egg hunt

happy birthday to you

happy birthday to you

cake!

cake!

spoiled rotten by all her friends and family

spoiled rotten by all her friends and family

thanks for coming to my birthday party!

thank you for coming to my birthday party!

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How to buy plants

I know this could seem like a silly subject, how to buy plants?  Duh….  But I have been watching people for 15 years buy the wrong plants!  Ok not the wrong plants, but plants in the wrong stage of their life.

I was just at a local garden center and watched people grab these huge overgrown, out bloomed, horrible plants and I wanted to shake them!  So here is my opinion on how you should choose your plants from the garden center.  You want to look for plants that fill the pot, and have nice white roots to the bottom and sides of the pot.  Choose plants that have not bloomed yet or are just forming buds.  Plants that are in full flower at the garden center will not flower very long for you once you get them home.  When you plant a plant you want it to focus it’s energy on growing roots.  If the plant is flowering it will put all it’s energy into the flowers.  This is not ideal.  When I’m planting something with buds or flowers I pinch them off.  Especially vegetable plants!  I saw broccoli plants at the garden center with little heads of broccoli on them and people thought it was the greatest thing.  NO, NO, NO!  This is when I want to shake them!  Then I went into the tomato area and there are these huge tomato plants 3 feet high in 1 gallon pots that people were scooping up.  MORE SHAKING!  Large plants go through way more stress and usually will be set back weeks.  They have also been growing at the greenhouse longer and are more likely to have pest and disease problems.  You are so much better off buying a 2 1/2 inch pot or smaller.  Plants in smaller pots adapt better to transplanting.Save your money and don’t buy those big plants.  They are overgrown and will not make your garden nicer.  I promise you!  Did that turn into a lecture?  I do that sometimes.  But if you are guilty of buying huge, blooming plants, you NEEDED that!

pinching flowers off a pepper plant

pinching flowers off a pepper plant

buds on a tomato plant

buds on a tomato plant

A year of change

What a year it has been in the Ferber household!  Today our girl is a 1 year old!  It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by.  So many things happened this last year that have changed our lives.  Life changing event #1: The birth of our daughter Penelope.  No one can prepare you for how your life will change when you have a baby.  It’s amazing and incredibly hard all at the same time.  The first few months we were  lost in baby land.  We were teetering on insanity from lack of sleep, and overwhelmed with the responsibility of this precious little life.  Amazed by her beauty and her incredibly loud farts.  Here was this sweet little person with her daddy’s mouth, mommy’s eyes and wild blond hair that went in every which way.  Our baby girl.

Through the baby fog, I had to prepare myself for going back to work.  I had made arrangements to come back part-time for a couple of weeks to ease back into working and being away from Penelope.  Life changing event #2: Three days before returning to work from maternity leave I get a voice mail from my boss saying that my position was no longer available. Having a baby during bedding plant season apparently had it’s costs, mine was my job.  I cleaned out my office and said good-bye to a company that I had poured my heart and sweat into for 7 years.  Jeremy and I suffered a series of mini heart attacks trying to figure out how in the world we would make ends meet.

After a lot of day dreaming, idea swapping and a lot of empty job searching, came life changing event #3:  Starting my own business.  There are a lot of pros and cons to being your own boss.  Pros: You have is 100% freedom.  The freedom to make your own choices, be your own boss, create and achieve your own dreams. Cons: It’s nice to leave work at the door.  I think when you own your own business you never truly are “off” work.  There are no paid holidays, no two weeks vacation, no paid health insurance, no retirement plan.  But Horticulture has been my passion for 15 years now and this seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to try my hand at running my own gig.   And so inspired by our daughter and with the support of my husband, Sweet Pea’s Garden was created.

And here we are today, one year from the day Penelope entered this world and changed our lives forever.  This year I learned that you can love bigger than you ever could imagine, that being a mom is hard, and I’m not always going to be good at it.  I learned that I am a control freak and I like the diapers folded a certain way, my way.  I learned that babies make you mushy inside and out.  I learned why moms always hang out with other moms.  I learned letting go of a job isn’t as hard as I once thought.  I learned creating a website is much harder than I thought!  I learned I will always need my mommy.  And I learned that my husband is an amazing dad and he is even more wonderful than I thought he was the day I said “I do”.

The Birthday Girl

The Birthday Girl

Peeps

day old baby chicks

day old baby chicks

I am a proud new momma of 22 baby chicks!  Sweet, fluffy and full of spunk!  There are 5 Ameraucana, 5 SilverLaced Wyandotte, 6 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Black Stars, 2 Red Stars, and 2 Golden Comets.  I am already in love with these little fluff balls.  I started with just 16 and had to get a few more.  I’m sure I have way too many now.  I was lured in by their sweet chirping and the fluff!

Buff twins

Buff twins

 

Ameraucana chick

Ameraucana chick

Le Peep’s Place

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Le Peep's Place

Le Peep’s Place

I have waited several years for the chance to raise chickens.  This year we finally decided to do it!  We are a very busy family this year and have enough projects on the “to do” list so we opted to purchase a coop instead of build one ourselves.  We ordered this chicken coop from Overholt Sheds in Delta, Colorado.  We picked the 6′ X 12′ model and we got to choose the roof color.  I of course chose blue.   And we are so glad we didn’t try to build one.  As handy as my husband and myself are we never could have built such a nice coop. 

 

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Penelope and Grammy watching the coop be unloaded.

 

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 Now we just need the baby chicks!

The seed has arrived!

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Every year I anticipate the seed catalogs arriving in the mail.  I am a total plant nerd so I read them cover to cover!  I have two favorite companies that I ordered all my garden seed from.  Pinetree Garden Seeds and Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

I ordered most of my seed through Pinetree this year.  They offer seed in smaller quantities for smaller growers.  I do not like having to carry over seed from year to year or worse, throw it out because I didn’t use it all. They sell a huge variety of vegetables, herbs, and flower seed and all kinds of other garden items.  They have a really nice selection of heirloom seed and they do not carry anything GMO.  They have a really great informative catalog, their staff is really friendly and to top it all off, their seed packages are super cute!

Pinetree seed packet