Late March in the Garden and Life

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Life in Northwest Arkansas has been nice. I absolutely miss Boise and everything we had there, except for our overly busy lives and lack of family.

Before I get into the homestead update, a few things have happened since I last posted:

  • Our house in Boise sold and the guy who bought it has been sending us a few updates on his remodeling efforts. I am happy that our home went to someone with the time and energy to finish the remodeling that we weren’t able to get to.
  • Josh has a job! And it’s a great relief to no longer eat into our savings for day-to-day living.

Chicken Lady

The chickens are doing GREAT. Without trying to, I’ve tamed these chickens so much more than I did with my previous flock. These chickens all jump into my lap (or onto my shoulder if the lap is full) when I sit near them. They’ll really nuzzle against me as though I’m there mother. It’s so sweet and ridiculous.

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Last week, I moved them into their coop full time. They had been living in a big cardboard box in the house until the nighttime temperatures got high enough and they got enough of their feathers. Normally, they say to move chickens outside at 6 weeks and last week my chickens were only 5 weeks, but I felt like it was warm enough at night to move them out a week early. I had forgotten how much I don’t like having adolescent chickens in the house. They scratch around their bedding so much that everything gets so dusty. Additionally, chickens are just happier outside.

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I love the coop I bought. Now that I have several years of chicken tending under my belt, I had a good idea of what I was looking for in a coop and am pleased that I got the perfect coop, used and for a great price. One of the things I love about it is that it has wheels and integrated jack system so it’s easy to move the coop around, so that no patch of grass gets over-foraged and the chickens have constant access to fresh greens.

And yes, I let them out of their enclosure a lot but especially while they’re still small I only let them out when I can monitor them. We have a ton of vultures, hawks, and other huge birds of prey constantly circling overhead that it’s not safe for them to be completely free.

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gardening update

In my last post, I wrote about how I was building and otherwise setting up a lot of containers for gardening in. This is for two reasons. One is that I don’t know for how long we will be living here (on my father-in-law’s & his wife’s property) and I want to have containers that I can bring with us if we move to our own house. The other reason is that, about an inch underneath this lush greenery is a layer of rocks and it would be a huge amount of work to actually cultivate this land. I’ve joined a Northwest Arkansas Gardening facebook group and they all recommend gardening in raised beds in this area… and containers are a variety of raised beds.

Anyway, in the below photo, in the first three pots I’ve planted three blackberry plants that I dug up from my patch in Boise and brought here.

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In the wooden planter boxes, which I built from inexpensive cedar fencing, I’ve planted asparagus. One box has asparagus first-year plants and the other three boxes have bare roots. The plastic planter has rosemary and yerba buena mint.

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Alongside the house, I’ve got another round of containers as well as my little greenhouse.

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In the greenhouse, my seedlings are doing great. Amazingly, I should be able to plant them outside in just a few weeks! Already it’s been weeks since temperatures have gone below freezing at night (though we’re not past the last frost date) and the growing season here is significantly longer than in Boise.

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I’ve planted some Fort Laramie strawberries in these wooden planters and they are doing great. I also bought some variety of daisy that the butterflies LOVE.

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Milo and I took a field trip to an organic nursery this week so that I could obtain some bareroot asparagus, and of course I bought more than what was on my list. One of which was a Brown Turkey fig!!! I found myself talking with a lovely farmer couple who grow figs and described how well they grow here. After my failed fig experiment in Boise, I’m excited to try them several zones to the south.

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In this metal planter, I’m trying my hand at growing artichokes. The empty wooden planter is waiting for some strawberries that I’m actually growing from seed, which are doing quite well in the greenhouse.

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In the smaller of the blue pots I’ve planted an obvious forsythia, whose flowers are comparatively huge and so so bright yellow. In the larger planter, is a bulb for an Elephant Ear, which is occasionally grown as a houseplant in Boise but apparently thrives in Arkansas gardens.

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In the garden plot that my inlaws have generously allotted to me, I’ve planted all of my cole crops as well as onion starts. They are doing pretty well although cutworms have been ravaging my cole crops and I am not amused.

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The snap peas and garlic I planted are doing well. I also planted a row of black eyed peas, which have yet to come up and am wondering if I did them wrong.

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home preschooling

I’ve decided to take a break from looking for a job and instead to embrace my current role as ‘domestic engineer.’ In that role, I get to spend my days tending to the garden, keeping the house clean & tidy, running the household errands, managing our money, and most importantly for me, spending the day with Milo. I never thought of myself as the ‘stay at home’ type but I’m liking it. In Boise, with both Josh and I working full time jobs with disparate schedules, I was so overwhelmed with how much there was to do in my ‘spare time’ and felt spread thin. If I was spending time with Milo, the house was a complete disaster. Or if the house was presentable, then I felt like a bad mother.

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Anyway, so I’m trying out a bit of home preschooling in a little more of a formal way. We’re doing a ‘letter of the week’ theme and building a ‘word wall’. Though, it’s been so nice that we’ve been spending most of our time outside.

In the above photo, Milo was practicing using scissors and had been cutting paper for a long time with the scissors in his right hand. Then, all on his own, he switched the scissors to his left hand and successfully cut with that hand as well. All on his own, he seems to be teaching himself to be ambidextrous, which I find interesting.

And then in the below photo is where Milo had been practicing writing his name with sidewalk chalk. I had actually been tending to the chickens while Milo did this all on his own and was surprised at how well he formed these letters.

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But yes, we’ve been spending most of our time outside. Spring is definitely here and Milo is showing tremendous interest in the natural world.

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It’s nice living in the country for so many reasons, but I particularly love that we have so much space for Milo to roam around.

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