Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Broody Hen

Latte : our broody hen

Over the past week or so, we have had a broody hen.  I’ve heard of the term before, but I never realized that hens without a rooster (thus, no fertilized eggs) would go broody.  To be honest, I thought our chickens were “broody” when they did a little song and dance after laying an egg! I was sorely mistaken.

We had noticed that the number of eggs we’ve been getting from our 3 chickens has decreased since the weather got nice, which was very confusing to us.  Come to find out, Latte, our “leader of the pack,” is actually broody. 

How to determine if your chicken is broody:

  • She will not come out of the nesting box
  • When you physically pull her out of the nesting box to go run about with the others, she is fluffed up and not happy at all!
  • The once leader of the pack will become a loner
  • She will stop laying eggs

I decided to visit Craigslist to see if we could find some fertilized eggs.  We have been talking about getting 6 more pullets (female chicks) next spring, but wanted to know if we could get the fertilized eggs now and let Latte incubate them naturally.  I found a micro-farm about an hour away from where we live that has fertilized eggs ready to be warmed up by Latte!  The owner I spoke to was a wealth of information.  I learned that if we went this route, it would take 21 days for the eggs to hatch. How fun!!!  The only downfall is that we could potentially get roosters, which we are not interested in.

So how do you stop a chicken from being broody?

You keep her out of the nesting box.  We have a door that closes and locks the nesting box so that nothing could get the chickens at night.  We are now using that to lock Latte out of her nesting box.  By doing this, she is not able to nest, thus, in the next week or so, she will be done with being broody and start a regular routine of laying eggs again. 

The other routes are to buy pullets from this breeder and let them mature this summer and fall to start laying eggs for us in late fall or winter and wait patiently for Latte to get back to her usual routine of laying eggs. 

We have yet to decide what we want to do, but I will tell you that I am pretty confident we will get our pullets from the micro-farm even though they are double the price of pullets from Tractor Supply.  The owners brought their chickens over from Australia (not shipped by a hatchery!) and they breed with only their original blood lines.  I like that the chickens didn’t come from a hatchery, are hormone, antibiotic-free, happy free-range chickens! 

SIDE NOTE: Upon doing research on how to sex chicks, I found this on YouTube that breaks my heart.  This is how our first 6 chicks were handled before getting to Tractor Supply, and then to us.  No wonder one died within 24 hours!  I am now fully convinced that we will not be getting any more chicks from a hatchery of any sort.

Have you ever had a broody hen?
What was your experience?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Multi-tasking is overrated in my opinion.  I used to boast that I could multi-task with the best of ‘em, but now I am proud to say that I am consciously trying not to multi-task throughout the day. 

There is something to be said about working on and completing one task at a time instead of being torn between five different objectives.  I have found that when I multi-task, not one of my tasks gets the attention it needs to be completed in the way I would prefer, thus creating more work for me in the end. 

For me personally, when I follow-through with one project at a time, it takes less time to complete.  I am entirely focused on the project at-hand and nothing else. 

I am forced to multi-task at work every day.  I am the sole Purchasing Agent for a multi-million dollar company.  I am torn between incoming phone calls, a dozen sales reps requiring quotes and asking questions, resolving a shipping error, finding obsolete product, placing orders and rectifying incorrect invoices.  I can be working on all of these things in a 15 minute time frame.  This is most likely why some days, I am so mentally exhausted that I can do nothing but read a book or veg out in front of the television.

What are your thoughts on multi-tasking?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Giving the Gift of Time and Memories

My (goofy) niece on Fathers Day 2012. 
We had a bonfire and cooked camper pies.
Alot of great conversation and quality time was had.

I enjoy planning for the holidays throughout the entire year.  I love trying to figure out practical, cost-effective gifts that others would enjoy.  Last year, I made a lot of gifts for our family and friends. This year, I plan on doing the same thing along with the gift of time together and memories.

My 6 year old niece lives with my father, his wife, and my sister.  I decided early on this year that I wanted to do something with them as an entire family for Christmas this year.  I plan on making a booklet with things for the entire family to do every few months off the year.  It will have:

·         Ice skating or roller skating

·         Making a snow-family together

·         Zoo

·         Children’s Museum

·         Kid’s Show (of some sort)

Of course, all of these events would be paid for by Todd and I, because it is our gift to them. 

I am a photo-fanatic as it is, so I plan on taking lots of photos on our excursions out as a family.  For Christmas 2013, I will give my niece a little scrapbook of our outings. 

We have always done things together as a family, but a lot of times it is at their house and it includes a lot of laughter, good food and great company.  This gift will include making memories to that list, which I feel is most important for a family.

Have you considered giving a gift of your time and making memories for Christmas this year?  I would like to hear all about your ideas!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

150,000 Miles and Still Going Strong

On June 12th of this year, my beloved 2007 Toyota Yaris hit 150,000 miles!  When I purchased the car brand new in August 2006, I told Todd that I wanted to drive the car until she hit 150,000 miles!  Two years ago, when Bianca (yes, I name my cars) hit 100,000 miles with not a single mechanical problem, I revised my goal to 250,000 miles!

I have never owned a vehicle with this many miles on it.  At just 6 years of age, Bianca has taken me 45 miles each way to and from work, to the Smoky Mountains, Appalachian Mountains and several road trips in between!  She has been nothing less than reliable and a complete thrill to drive.

In just 6 years, this vehicle has only been in the shop once due to a check engine light while under warranty.  When I started the car, one of the cylinders misfired which caused the check engine light to appear.  Since then, we (meaning Todd) have done nothing more than routine and preventative maintenance on this vehicle. Instead of waiting for the belt to break, we replaced it at 145,000 miles.  Instead of waiting for the spark plugs to rust out, they were replaced at 100,000 miles. Though Bianca didn’t need a new battery, we replaced the battery at 145,000 miles (Toyota has a 7 year 150,000 mile battery life!). 

We found out early-on that it is best to buy genuine Toyota parts for Bianca even though it costs a bit more.  We learned this quickly when we replaced a headlight with an off-brand equivalent.  Within a year, the $9 headlight burnt out.  Toyota’s headlights last over 4 years.  So, we decided to pay $25/headlight versus $9/headlight to make the part last longer and actually save us money in the long-run!

When Bianca hits 250,000 miles (approximately 4 more years), we have plans of purchasing a new vehicle for my commute to work.  Assuming Bianca is still running like a champ, Todd will drive her to and from work (70 miles round trip).

We started looking at vehicles to replace Bianca in case anything catastrophic happens in the upcoming years.  When we went to a dealership on Memorial Day Weekend, the salesman understood that we were doing our research to make an informed decision….in 4 years!  The guy was amused that we plan on seeing our car hit 250,000 miles and more!

There is no new car fever in our home!  We both love the vehicles we drive, and look forward to growing old with them!!!

I would love to hear about your vehicle(s)!

What year/make/model?  How many miles?  How many miles do you want to see the car hit before it’s time to even begin to look for another?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Planning A True Edible Landscape (2013)

As I was pulling the endless number of weeds in our front flowerbed last weekend, I decided that in 2013, I am going to make use of the front bed of our house.

I like maintenance free; which is why we have a couple of barrels in front of the house with perennial flowers, hostas, and some iris’ that were given to me a couple of years back.  The front flower bed is extremely simple and easy to take care of…except for the weeds!  No matter how many times I pull them each year, how much Preen I use, and how many tons of mulch we put down, the weeds keep coming back!   

In years past, I didn’t want to pull out the front bed because of how it may look.  This year, I don’t care how it will look!  In all honesty, we have 3 houses on our dead-end street and we own two of them! 

I have put my foot down (in my own mind) and plan on moving the barrels this year to another area.  I will be transplanting the hostas and iris’ as well as prepare the soil for next year.  I have big plans in my mind of planting tomatoes and green peppers in this area which gets sun from 10AM to 7PM every day.  In my dreams of eating produce throughout the year from our own garden(s), this added area will help with the production!

Rachel over at Intentionally Simple  has an edible landscape along her front pathway, and I love how it’s coming along.  Seeing her beautiful edible landscape helps to ease my mind to think that the front of the house will be booming with color of healthy greens, yellow flowers and red tomatoes next year instead of weeds!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Cost of Gardening (May)

In the month of May, I spent $15.96 for a flat of vegetables!

In this flat, I received the following:

  • 18 beefsteak tomatoes
  • 3 early girls
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 red peppers
  • 4 zucchini
That being said, I spent $0.47/plant!

I am not sure why I buy my zukes and tomatoes every year in flats, especially considering I have had a lot of luck in the past with growing tomatoes by seed.  Maybe next year, I will plant them by seed.

Yard Long Green Beans


I planted cukes and yard-long green beans when we got back from vacation in mid-May and they are taking off!  I am so excited to see how the yard-long green beans do.  I also planted over 200 bush {green} beans this year, hoping to have enough to freeze and eat throughout the year. 

Spaghetti Squash & Pie Pumpkin Patch

This is the first year that I’ve tried to grow spaghetti squash and pie pumpkin, and so far, they are doing great!  As you can see, we are battling weeds.  I try to pick some every evening, but they grow faster than I can pick them!

Wilted Pea Plants

The pea pods I planted back in April are growing, but don’t look so great.  They are all yellow and some are starting to shrivel.  I’m not sure if they don’t like all the sun they are getting, or if their roots are damaged by the straw bale.  I am completely frustrated that they made it this far, and we may lose them all, even though most of them are flowering!  I water them every other day at a minimum, so I’m not sure what is going on with them. (Any insight on how I can make them healthy again?!?)

I have never tried to grow onions before, and within a few weeks, we got these little things coming out of the ground!  Seeing these make me curious as to what’s going on under ground.

While taking pictures at the end of May, I noticed that the grape tomatoes are starting to flower!

So there you have it.  Our garden is coming along!

I have pretty much decided that next year, we will not be doing straw bale gardening.  It is still pretty early, so I may change my mind, but the vegetables don’t seem to be producing as well as they would if they were in the ground.  I am also considering buying black plastic next year and putting it on the ground where I am planting to avoid weeds!

The Nitty Gritty:
January: $35.29
February: $60
March: $69.74
April: $0
May: $15.96
Total Spent on the Garden in 2012: $180.99

How is your garden coming along?