It has been an exciting last couple of weeks. Myron (pronounced May-run) called saying his pullets (young hens) had just started laying, so they were ready to find their farm.
We were not yet ready for hens. The puppies have just climbed out of the kennel for the last time & were running free on the farm. That means absolutely nothing is safe. Particularly cantaloupes & carrots, both being dug up or stolen on a daily basis. We haven’t built our chicken coop because I want a chicken “tractor” – a chicken coop that is moveable so hens can eat fresh grass everyday & their poop gets spread around to nourish the ground.
DH suggested we buy a chicken coop kit so we could figure out what we want, we would be moving forward & we can build the permanent structure later when the weather finally cools. We have been running 5 – 10 degrees above normal the past few weeks. Onto Tractor Supply’s website, Lowes.com, Wayfair.com I go looking at a large selection of coops, reading the descriptions & reviews, finally settling on a coop on wheels with a screened chicken run from Wayfair.com.
It was supposed to be delivered in 2 weeks but arrived after 1 week. Glad about that. It took me 6 hours to put together – DH was out of town. I realized it was very small, basically just a bedroom with a tiny patio-ish. There are 4 roosting bars across the main floor of the coop, 4 nesting boxes, 2 removable trays to clean out the poop, a door on either end. The run has 2 screen doors with latches, 2 screened windows with latches.
We fetched the hens from Myron & his sweet wife, Christine. Of course it was pouring down rain so we got to sit & visit for a couple of hours with these salt-of-the-Earth folks. Myron sells hens to help pay for their grand-daughter’s college. Christine collects quilts – some are just gorgeous!
The rain stopped & off we were to the chicken yard by the old barn in the back of the property. Oh my goodness, I thought these young hens were going to be small. Wrong! They are huge, full-size hens! Running in the tall sorghum growing as a hiding place from predators, Myron’s chickens free-range. Using a large net on a long pole, Myron calmly walks through the yard until the hens are next to the fence & he drops his net on them one by one. We collect them in a large, wire dog kennel then DH & Myron load them into the back of our pick-up. DH didn’t expect them to be so heavy.
Rain beginning again, no sun to charge the solar-powered electric fence, this may be a problem. Puppies are very excited with all the movement inside the run & the fence is not sturdy. The girls settle in & we make the dogs walk us back to the house. So far, so good.
Sunday morning we have eggs! Yippety-skippety! Eggs from our own hens! Excited! Problem – puppies charge the fence & break right through. Good news – hens run to the chicken coop & run immediately & take shelter as I run immediately screaming, “BAD DOG!” I didn’t know if the hens were more afraid of Dixon or me.
Monday morning – I leave well before daylight to meet with our trainer; DH has an early flight to Ohio so he must skip. DH opens the coop, both doors; opens the run, both doors; turns on the solar-powered electric fence charger then takes off for the airport. Uh oh! I have a chiropractic appointment after my workout so after errands I return home around noon. The fence has been knocked down! No puppies to be seen & NO HENS!
Maybe I should continue this tomorrow…
Farm life is busy… & I mean very busy in the summertime. Gardening. Bush-hogging the pastures. Canning pickles, salsa, tomatoes. Making jams & jellies. Freezing veggies & berries. From dawn till dusk I’m working.
I didn’t mention the pups, Mason (blue collar) & Dixon (red collar). They are keeping me really
The Great Pyrenees puppies are now 7 months old, weigh around 70 lbs & dominate quite a bit of my time.
They are learning certain words: pond, porch, pasture, pool – I bought them a kid’s wading pool so they could cool off on really hot days.
Mason is learning “walk slowly,” “whoa!” & “easy,” all for use while we are walking – they on their leashes, me in my running shoes!
Dixon is always a bit slower to learn. This could be because of his Parvo Virus early in life. He was a really sick pup in the beginning.
They are learning. They are definitely growing. They are the calmest, sweetest pups imaginable.
Last weekend our dearest friends came for a visit to see the house for the first time. (They hiked up the hill with us the first month we owned the property 2 years ago before any work had begun.)
They also got to meet the boys…the puppy boys.
Dave said the best thing he liked about our farm is the dogs. Yep. Me, too!
Just a reminder of how small & adorable they were last March.
I kept turnip greens & collards all winter, picking & cooking them throughout the season.
Time to clean up the garden & replant some beds.
Now I need to get Spring veggies growing so I picked the greens & plan to serve them at Easter dinner tomorrow.
I left the few beets that volunteered along with about 5 dill plants that have come up.
Spring onions & other weeds removed, dirt refreshed with compost & good soil. Carrot, spinach & gourmet lettuce seeds planted & mulched. Gray skies. Tired back. Time to go inside & start cooking, which includes washing all these greens!
How about a recipe or 2? I have published this one before, but just in case you didn’t see it then…
T’s Collard Greens
1 – 4 quarts water
3/4 pounds Ham Hock, rinsed or 1/2 pound Smoked Meat, chopped
4 pounds small Collard Greens (I prefer mixed greens: collards, turnip & beet)
1/2 teaspoon dried hot Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tablespoon T’s House Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Hot Sauce
Bring water with ham hock to boil in 8 qt. pot, uncovered, skimming any froth.
Reduce heat and simmer, covered 1 hour.
While hocks simmer, discard coarse stems and center ribs of greens, then wash and drain. (The easiest way to accomplish this: fold the leaf in half, lengthwise & break away the center stem.)
Coarsely chop greens.
Add collards & seasonings to water, then simmer, partially covered, about 45 minutes.
Remove hock from cooking liquid & let stand 15 minutes.
Discard skin & bones and coarsely chop meat.
Stir meat & salt to taste into collards.
T’s House Seasoning
8 Tablespoons Sea Salt
2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
2 Tablespoons Curry Powder
1 teaspoons Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
Mix ingredients together & store in glass jar with a screw top.
Wayne & Geezer, yep, that’s what he is called, have been working drilling holes in cabinets, repairing furniture damaged by the movers & preparing the brackets, rod & finials for the tapestry to be hung.
In our previous house, I hung the brackets, braided the rope, made the tassel & hung the tapestry by myself in the Keeping Room where we had a vaulted ceiling. How grateful I am, 16 years later, not to have to do it myself this time.
These guys are professionals & I am convinced, they can do anything!
They even pushed the dining room table together after I removed the unneeded leaves so I can set the table for Easter dinner this coming Sunday afternoon. We have been entertained at holidays for 2 years having not had a place that would accommodate…many.
A few things left to do on the Punch List before they are gone forever…until I want to change something or build something or remodel something or hang a heavy mirror, like yesterday – thanks, Carole, for the mirrors.