Minimalist Monday 7/13

Getting rid of stuff is HARD! Today I had to work and the boy spent time with his Pap. I really wanted to tackle the mess that we call a toy box today, but that didn’t happen.

So, instead I tackled a recipe. Slowly I am ridding myself of many of the toxic chemicals that surround me. Since I’m running out of perfume, I decided it is time to make some. I followed the recipe that I found on the young living essential oil website using the essential oil bergamot.

imageI put a little less water in because the bottle that I bought was a little too small. But with a little shake, it smells great! 
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So, I consider this living with less stuff. Good stuff here!

Why chickens?!?!?!

Chickens?!?! You have chickens? Why? Don’t they stink? Do you have a rooster? Hens can lay eggs without a rooster? Yes, many questions are asked when people find out about these ladies!

2 of my pretty ladies!
2 of my pretty ladies!

So, I have had lots of people ask my why I keep chickens. There are so many reasons why I do! I kind of consider them like pets, but also they complete the cycle. What cycle you ask?? Part of the having an amazing garden cycle! Here it goes! I feed chickens their feed, but also lots of yummy stuff leftover from the garden. They also gets lots of treats, like leftover spaghetti or Mac and cheese that the boy just couldn’t finish.

Some of the yummy treats!
Some of the yummy treats!

What is so great about the ladies getting the leftovers is that it keeps it out of the trash and I haven’t heard a chicken complain yet! They also produce some amazing manure that when composted, it turns your soil into super soil! It’s a win-win for the Llewellyn homestead!

Also at the end of the day, I get about an egg a day from each lady! I consider that amazing! Especially considering how expensive eggs are right now!

imageOverall, chicken keeping is a lot of work! However, I don’t mind doing any of this work! And, once you have some eggs from chickens that don’t live in a cage, you won’t go back!

Wednesday walk through the garden 7/8

This morning I took a walk through the garden and visited the hens. We are definitely getting to the harvesting part of the year!

The sunflowers around the chicken coop are getting ready to bloom! These are just the extra sunflowers that the girls kicked out of their coop. I’m guessing that they are black oil sunflowers!

Soon to bloom sunflower!
Soon to bloom sunflower!

The zucchini is finally growing! I will be harvesting my this yumminess by the end of the week!

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The tomatoes may still be green, but they are growing by the day! I can’t wait until I get to make a yummy tomato sandwich. The boys can’t wait until they get yummy spaghetti sauce. 
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The green beans are well on their way to being harvested too! I’m hoping to have some potatoes too, so that I can make some green beans and potatoes!
imageWith everything blooming and harvesting starting, I’m going to start keeping track of all of the food harvested! Gardening is amazing!!

Minimal living Monday 7/6

Today I took a break from gardening, it was raining, and I spent some time getting rid of stuff. I feel like the less that I have to keep track of, the better. It’s not like I’m a fashion queen or anything, but I need work clothes (I’m a teacher), workout clothes, comfy clothes and crap clothes( because I get really dirty sometimes)!

So, I started with the closet. My side is the left side and I don’t think that I need to force my husband to go through his stuff. (But maybe seeing what I do will encourage him to clean up too!)

The best part is that all if this is no longer in my closet!!imageSo, here is the before:

Such chaos!
Such chaos!

After trying on lots of clothes and deciding if I really wanted the clothing in question, here is the after:

So much better!
So much better!

I continued to work on my drawers and clean out my workout clothes! Before, I was not so proud of the mess! But afterwards, it looks so neat!

It can shut!!
It can shut!!

Overall, it took about an hour and it makes me feel good to have a little less mess! I think next week I will be working on a toy box in a certain boy’s room!

Using up those potatoes

I recently had a couple of my potato plants die off earlier than the rest. It resulted in me getting some yummy potatoes earlier than expected!

My first potatoes, ever!
My first potatoes, ever!

I posted a picture of those beauties on Facebook and everyone kept asking if I ate them yet. Well, I finally did! I followed the pioneer woman’s recipe for making fries and they turned out perfectly! Our family of 3 were shocked at how much yummier that they taste compared to take out fries!

Delicious fries!
Delicious fries!

Basically in her recipe, you cut up the fries and rinse in cold water. Then, you let them soak in water until dinner time. You fry them once in oil and then fry them again. I know, not the best diet choice! But, moderation is key! We paired this meal up with some broccoli from the garden and locally raised beef burgers. Yummy! Now I’m off to work on clearing out some stuff from the closet! Doing our best to living a little more minimalisticly!

Staking lots of tomatoes!

I have dubbed this year,” the year of the tomato!” because we had over 50 tomato plants come up all by themselves! So, I put some in the garden, some in the raised beds, along the fence and by the chickens. That’s a lot of planting, but I have some good supervisors when securing the tomatoes to their run!

Hens making sure the job is done right.
Hens making sure the job is done right.
Sunflowers and tomatoes!
Sunflowers and tomatoes!

I planted lots of heirloom tomatoes this year.

Big rainbow tomatoes!
Big rainbow tomatoes!
Marglobe tomatoes
Marglobe tomatoes

I’m intrigued by a strange looking variety, which is the brandywine tomato. The mr. Thought they were peppers! There is a striking resemblance!

Brandywine tomatoes!
Brandywine tomatoes!

We are getting so close to harvesting some of the fruits of our labor! The bush green beans will be ready soon and the zucchini are growing by the minute! I’m so excited for creating this little garden oasis in the middle of town!

Wednesday Walk Around the Garden

It actually didn’t rain for a whole 24 hours! That’s pretty rare for this summer! Everything seems to be growing so well and the chickens and quail are laying so many eggs! Since the price of eggs right now are outrageous, we are excited to not have to buy them! It takes about 4 quail eggs to equal 1 chicken egg, but they taste just as good and raising them takes up a lot less space!

Quail eggs!
Quail eggs! Aren’t they beautiful?!?!

I was beyond excited to dig up my first potatoes! I planted them way back around St. Patrick’s day and a few died off early. So, I uprooted them to find these 6 potatoes! In around a month, I will be digging up the rest. It’s like unearthing treasure!

My first potatoes, ever!
My first potatoes, ever!

Since I had close to 40 mystery tomatoes show up in my garden this Spring, I’m thinking I will be swamped with tomatoes in about a month! (And no, I don’t think that’s a bad thing!) I’m looking forward to tomato sandwiches, homemade spaghetti sauce and yummy salsa!

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I planted the 3 rows of green beans about 2 weeks apart. The first row is the oldest and I was excited to see that the beans are growing! They may only be about the size of a fingernail, but we will be harvesting them in about a month! Such excitement!

Tiny green beans
Tiny green beans

And finally the last beauty from the garden is the zucchini plant. There are 5 growing in the garden and I can’t wait until those flowers start blooming!

imageThere are lots of other plants growing in the garden! I also have some slow growing cucumber plants, pole green beans, green peppers and sweet potatoes. Here’s to more gardens instead of lawns!

Weed free garden!

This has been one of the most wet summers that I can remember! I haven’t had to water the gardens in over a month because it rains so frequently! Yesterday alone it rained over 3 inches! That’s a little too much! So, weeds were becoming a problem! While I don’t mind pulling some weeds, it’s almost impossible to keep up with them. So, I figured I would try using the mulching method. So, I begged for some wood chips from our local tree cutting service and I received them! Thanks again!

Our load of wood chips!
Our load of wood chips!

First, I started by laying down some cardboard between my green bean rows. It wasn’t just weeds growing between these rows, but some crazy invasive grass. It was pure evil!

Cardboard first before the mulch!
Cardboard first before the mulch!

Then, I loaded and unloaded bucket after bucket of this nicely chopped maple mulch. It must have been a freshly cut tree because the leaves were still green! Doesn’t it look so nice?!?! And it’s much easier to walk through since it is always muddy here!

Weed free green beans!
Weed free green beans!

And after I worked on the green bean rows, I put more mulch down on the walkway through the garden. It is so nice to not see weeds everywhere for now! And I like not using plastic weed wrap because I don’t like dealing with any plastic!

The walkway, minus the weeds.
The walkway, minus the weeds.

So far the weeds have been much better and it helps to retain moisture too! I will continue to update on the use of the mulch, but I know that I definitely need to build up more topsoil too! And the best part is that there is so much more mulch!

Gardening all alone!

While the boys were off at scout camp, I was here at the Llewellyn homestead holding down the fort. That means: feeding animals, weeding the gardens and cleaning this house up! While in the garden, I noticed the muskmelon vines are getting so large and flowering! I have not ever grown them before, so I am still wondering if they will have enough of season to grown here! I’ll have to keep you updated on that!

Beautiful muskmelon flowers!
Beautiful muskmelon flowers!

I am happy to see that some broccoli will be hitting my dinner plate here in the near future!

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And after cleaning the chicken run of lots of nastiness and then cleaning the coop, I look towards the house and see this beautiful sight! It was a nice ending to a beautiful day! Now just to get my family all back home!

End to the day!
End to the day!

Finally harvesting something!

Man, it’s a hot one out there today!! After making sure that the hens were taken care of, I worked on pulling millions of weeds! Lucky for me, I have some sunflowers and tomatoes growing outside of the chicken pen and they don’t require any attention from me! I don’t even have to water them! The leaf litter serves as mulch and I’m sure they are well fertilized by the birds!

Sunflowers and tomatoes growing nicely!
Sunflowers and tomatoes growing nicely!

And while pulling weeds, I was able to harvest a few things! We only have a few strawberries left until next year, and I’m pretty sure the broccoli and peas are on their way out too! But I’ll enjoy what I get until they die off!

Yummy harvest!
Yummy harvest!

A little Sunday stroll around the garden

It stormed, as in rained over 2 inches in less than 24 hours, on Saturday! I was concerned that my garden was going to be wrecked! Luckily for me, it was just fine! Whew! So yesterday, the girls were allowed to run the yard and check for bugs and scratch some grass! And take dust baths! imageYes, that’s their favorite dirt spot behind the garage! I was lucky to find some tomatoes finally starting to grow! Unfortunately, I have no clue what kind they are! They just popped up in the garden this spring!

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Sweet potato vines!
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Some yummy broccoli!
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The mystery tomatoes!

As for the rest of the garden, it’s looking great! Now, I just can’t wait until I finally get to harvest some yummy veggies!

The difference that a year can make!!

Last year, the hubs and I jumped head first into turning lawn into garden. It was a rocky road, with pretty much all clay soil, rabbits that loved green bean plants and trying to figure out how to water this area. After extra fencing to deter the deer and rabbits, and an amazing watering collection system we yielded pretty good results! Below is the 2014 garden this time last year!

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Thanks to the help of the hubs, we were able to expand the garden by nearly doubling it! We added a door so that I wasn’t falling into the garden from taking down the corner of the fence! And with such rainy weather, we haven’t even had to worry about watering! The tomato plants this year are huge compared to last and the green beans are doing much better! Below is the new and improved 2015 garden! image

We plan on doing a little more every year! Grow food, not lawns!!