New additions to the homesteading library

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Here are the books I’ve collected thus far.

In the last couple months, I’ve been putting together a homesteading library for myself. This is my research project for the next year, which will help inform the novel I am writing about farming the suburban sprawl.

Also, these are some pretty mouth-watering reads for my inner informational text loving nerd.

Here are the titles I have collected thus far:

A Brooding Hen!

IMG_3598Sad news about our rooster, Sketch — he had to go live on the farm. Fortunately, that’s not a euphemism for killing and eating him. He was really sent to live on a farm.

One of our neighbors complained to us about his crowing, which was loud and frequent. I love the sound, but not every neighbor does. I think even our kids sleep better without him waking them up early in the morning.

The four hens he left behind seemed a little more fearful right after he was sent away. Instead of roosting higher up in the coop, they found more secure spots in nesting boxes. Then a few days later, their little chicken brains forgot him. Now they are back to sleeping on the square hay bale.

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Susan is the black hen on the left. The hen beside her is just hanging out for a few minutes and perhaps plopping out breakfast for us.

Also, one of the little black hens named Susan is brooding! We noticed about two weeks ago that she wasn’t getting off her eggs. She’s been a devoted momma thus far. So, hopefully, in a week or two we will have a couple little fluff balls bouncing around. My fingers are crossed that the eggs hatch (what a beautiful things for our kids to experience!) and that some end up being hens so that Sketch has a legacy here on our little urban farm.

Lately we have let the chickens out of the coop for a few hours in the evening while we are home. Their presence makes our backyard seem like a pastoral oasis in the middle of a hectic urban life. This afternoon, Reagan ran in to where I was folding laundry to tell me that the chickens were acting funny. She said they were lying in the dirt and looked dead, but they weren’t dead because some were moving.

Immediately I feared the worst (since we had an incident with a loose neighborhood dog before). What I found was quite cute. They were happily dust bathing.

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An early spring nipped in the bud

The chickens were snuggled in the hay with a heat lamp, a classy upcycled NASCAR sheet protecting them from the chilly wind.

The chickens were snuggled in the hay with a heat lamp, a classy upcycled NASCAR sheet protecting them from the chilly wind.

Texas weather is predictably unpredictable. So, while I secretly hoped and feared (global weirding?) that an early spring had crept upon us after several days with highs in the 80s… I knew that Arctic weather was bound to come.

IMG_3275[1]That early spring got nipped in the pear-tree bud, which had just come out a tad before the snow last week. School shut down for two full days. Fortunately I dragged enough dry wood inside to keep the fireplace constantly going.

Once the snow stopped and the sun came out this weekend, the chickens were happy to also poke around. They’re quite scrappy and hardy! They kept producing eggs at a steady rate as well. We had to make sure to collect them each day. One egg was left untended and froze, expanding and breaking the shell.

It was a shame that I couldn’t do much garden work this weekend, but the snowball fight with my family made up for the disappointment of a lost workday. And, if nothing else, the moisture and weight of the snow is helping break down the massive amount of leaves we put into the wooden terrace beds to turn into soil for fall planting.

My only concern now is that we are hosting our wedding in the backyard in less than two weeks. I hope the weather turns more fair in time for us to garden a bit and enjoy the outdoor space on the day of our homestead nuptials.

See the snowball midair? Not bad for a selfie!

See the snowball midair? Not bad for a selfie!

Progress in the backyard gives me hope for hosting our wedding outdoors

For a minute or two, I was stressing about whether or not the backyard projects would be completed in time for Austin and my wedding.

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But then Cory and another guy showed up with magic masonry fingers! The stone steps down the hillside are almost complete and a good chunk of progress has been made on the retaining wall, as you can see in the photo I took this afternoon. Continue reading