Lil Suburban Homestead

The Long Lost Easter Eggs

Karen LynnRecently at our homestead our Ameraucana chicken (Easter Egg layer) stopped laying her eggs and I could not understand this as the weather was warm and balmy and all of the chickens were now laying steadily now that Spring had arrived. We only have four chickens right now so I count on every single egg our chickens lay. They do usually lay enough to meet our needs for our household which is about 22 to 24 eggs per week. I always know when she is not laying because she is my only Easter Egg layer and she lays the palest milky green eggs that are just so lovely. I always share with my friends that we don’t need to dye Easter eggs as we have light green eggs, beige eggs, light brown eggs, and medium brown eggs and they look lovely together in a bowl or when they are hardboiled.

The Easter egg layer eggs Karen Lynn discovered.

To backtrack a little bit, our chicken coop set up is kind of unique as it is a mobile chicken tractor that is connected to a run area in our wooded portion of our backyard. I would come home from work and every day sure enough she was out of the coop but wanted to quickly go back into the run with her feathered friends. I could not figure out how she was getting in and out of the coop, and then one day my husband “The Viking” in my life explained to me that she was basically hopping out of the coop from the chicken tractor coop door up to the top of the mason wire fence we had run for that area and so even with clipping her wings nothing much is stopping her now that she has learned her trick. What’s especially interesting is since she’s a chicken and she learned this trick to get out of the coop but she cannot figure out how to get back in the run.

chickens, eggs, easter eggs

We searched and searched for her eggs all over our backyard, and I even looked under the back steps to see if they were under there as she had hid them there before. Our yard is covered in pine straw a good part of the year so the chickens love to make nests with it. We checked the greenhouse, behind the shed, even behind the heating and air conditioning unit and our outdoor shower. A couple of days went by and we both work full-time so we never were able to see where she had been, just that she was waiting on us by the gate at the run to get back in with the other chickens.

Last week one evening while I was doing dishes my husband called out to me to meet him in the yard and said, “You have to check this out!” He looked at me with a big grin on his face and was standing over a couple of hay bales that had been covered up with a heavy tarp and sure enough our Easter Egg layer chicken had figured out a way to get under the tarp and had even burrowed a little nest for herself and her eggs.

eggs, chickens

We found nine eggs total and the good news is that the weather was mild and she made such a nice, snug nest that they were all fresh and protected from the rodents too. She has also decided to lay eggs in the tractor coop again, however, we are adding some reinforcements to the fence height since it’s garden season and we want to eat the vegetables first and whatever goes to seed or the bugs get too we will share with our chickens.

Every now and then I love to share a fun, humorous story with all of my fellow backyard chicken keepers and homesteader friends as I know you all can relate to such wonders. I wish you all well on your homesteading journey. I hope you all are having a wonderful Spring season and if you are like me you have either already planted or are getting ready to plant lots of seeds for a plentiful garden this summer. Our season starts fairly early in coastal North Carolina; we are in gardening Zone 8b and I will be harvesting radishes in about a month along with lettuces and I can’t wait!

Oh yes, and by the way, I made deviled eggs with all of those wonderful eggs.

I’m Over My Garden

Karen LynnI only have one good friend who basks in the dog days of summer, but most of us are done with heat almost as soon as it comes in. A true confession from me, a Leo, that spring and fall are my favorite seasons! This will be very telling to all of you that I am a person who enjoys living in the past and certainly planning for my future much more than living in the current moment. I was going to write for the GRIT Blogging Community a much different post, then I realized if I don’t get honest with ya’ll why would you ever want to read one thing I have to say?

So here’s the truth it’s almost August … I am completely over my garden this year. My dreams of tomatoes got squashed by my stream of college visits and graduation hoedown preparations … don’t get me wrong this is the season the Viking and I are in, but between closing out my job for the summer, job hunting for a new one, which I landed by the way, then getting a suburban homestead ready for a gathering is no easy feat. For one, you have to have the bees safely tucked away or at least to the best of your ability, you also have to have your chicken area looking unrealistically clean looking … by the way, kudos to all those working farms who have everything looking pristine – it’s not such an easy job!

garden 1 

We created great memories and then we moved our son to college early; shortly after, we moved him back and soon he is going back to school again … if you have been in this season, do you remember those days? We are so excited for our lineman son, but it’s an extremely busy season in our lives. I remind myself that there will be other summers and isn’t that the beauty of a garden? The truth is every seaso,n except for winter, in most cases we get to start all over again from scratch.

So here are my confessions ….

Back in the spring I was so hopeful about diving into my garden.

I am fed up with thorny weeds.

I am beyond over the horrific deer flies we have had this summer – I still have a hand smarting from one!

I am over having a lack of time for my garden.

I am over tomato blight!

I am over squash borers … can I get an amen?

I’m over those caterpillars that got all over my collards, but it was delicious while it lasted.

garden 2 

I could probably go on and on, but I am hopeful for the fall garden that we will start to put in this next week or so. I have big dreams for this garden and surely nothing could possibly go wrong; we will plant mustard greens, bok choy and Swiss chard, just to name a few. I will go back to dreaming about tomatoes; next summer they will be better and certainly I’ll have more time to carve out for my garden. In the meantime, we will eat what herbs we can rescue and a few straggling peppers to supplement our food supply, and indeed the basil does look robust this year so there may be pesto in our future. Truthfully this post isn’t meant to be a complaining post, it’s to let you know that if you are fed up with your garden, for whatever reason, you are in good company, and the good news is hope springs in the form of a seed right around the corner.

I am over my summer garden but the fun in planning our fall garden has just begun!

Karen Lynn

garden 3

7 Strategies for the Successful Suburban Homestead

Karen LynnSuburban, urban, and micro-homesteading is growing by leaps and bounds with many people adding bees, chickens, rabbits and more to their backyards. At our suburban homestead we have so enjoyed our adventures, but we have learned a few things in the past 15 years from our time spent urban and suburban homesteading that we would like to share to help others be successful in their urban and suburban homesteading adventures.

eggsNo. 1 – Make sure to befriend your neighbors and include them in your homesteading plans. Send your neighbors over some eggs or some honey; this way they will see the rewards of those chickens and bees in your backyard. Share the wealth from your garden like those delicious tomatoes, and bake your neighbors some fresh zucchini bread. Such gestures that won’t go unnoticed.

No. 2 – Fences make great neighbors. If you are going to have chickens or bees, a fence is going to be extremely helpful. Case in point: Make sure your chickens or goats aren’t getting into your neighbor’s garden. This is not going to bode well at all for good neighborly relations.

No. 3 – Do not discuss culling your chickens or that you might be raising rabbits for meat with your neighbors. Most of them will not understand. This requires really making sure they understand that you are a good steward of the animals you raise and that you really care. Many people will not equate the chicken behind your fence as the same chicken that is in their meat package at the store. Often many don’t understand that there comes a time you may have to cull that chicken from your flock.

No. 4 – Educate your neighbors and your community – take the time to join in on the local “chicken coop tour,” or the local “greenhouse or garden tour.” The more people see what you are doing the more interested and inspired they will be. We have the Viking bring out his beekeeping supplies to show everyone when they visit our homestead, and they love leaving learning something new. He will often offer to help new local beekeepers look through their hives and assist in any way he can.

chicken tour 

No. 5 – Be careful and considerate where you place your bees especially if your neighbors have young children, a patio, a pool or any other area where they may congregate. Sometimes this means you may have to place your bees elsewhere if your backyard won’t accommodate it. The good news is many businesses have abandoned fields behind them or you may be surprised to find you have friends who offer to host hives. We have had several people offer to host our bees just because they want to help the bees and maybe give their own gardens a boost!


No. 6 – Educate yourself. Get involved in your local beekeeping and gardening clubs and take classes to ensure you are continually learning about new beekeeping practices and diseases. This also includes reading the latest trends in homesteading and back-to-your-roots publications. There are many blogs and Facebook groups online as well as radio shows to help make this happen, especially if you are in a rural area and do not have local classes. And especially if you can’t get away from your home due to livestock such as in the case if you have what I call a "real" farm or ranch.

chicken salad 

No. 7 – You love your chickens, but your neighbors may not have the same admiration for them. We have learned not to keep our chickens directly next to the fence by using a DIY chicken tractor, or you can place your coop more centrally in your yard. Also, most neighbors are not going to appreciate a loud rooster so we do not keep any on our homestead. Many suburban homesteaders become frustrated if they live where a rooster is not allowed because they cannot raise their own chicks. This is where joining clubs or making a friend who lives in the country comes in. You may be able to join forces to raise chicks from afar … where there is a will there is a way. For us, we are happy to add pullets to our flock as needed, and we don’t really miss having a rooster. But everyone’s homesteading journey looks different.

These seven strategies for successful suburban homesteading are to help you on your way to forging great connections with your neighbors and also to educating your community, so when folks see all the great things you are up to, hopefully they will be more supportive of your vision. Wishing you all well on your homesteading journey.

The Crops Are Coming Up on Our Suburban Homestead

Karen LynnSpring is here! Coming up already at our Lil’ Suburban Homestead we have irises, carrots, radishes, peppers and so much more! I love spring, it’s such an exciting time of promise and hope in the garden, and I am so glad to share our excitement with all of you!

We have a 1/3 of an acre in Coastal North Carolina. We typically grow our produce in raised beds and have lots of container gardens because of our sandy soil. When we first arrived in this area and I was so frustrated with gardening, I knew we would have to research what to do so we could have our delicious tomatoes, crunchy peppers, and yummy eggplant again. 

Containers, raised beds and proper soil amendments were the way to go for us, and we have not looked back. In our area, it is so easy to grow collards. I recommend, if you live in North Carolina for sure, you try your hand at collards and sweet potatoes and, even if you don’t like collards, go ahead and grow them because you can barter with them for something you do like.

We are still planting and we are doing more and more succession planting at our Lil’ Suburban Homestead to make sure we have crops coming up just about every week or two. I also love to keep some perennial veggies in the garden. For now we have some herbs that seed themselves every year and keep coming back, and we also have chicory, asparagus and radicchio that return as well.

Each year I try to add another perennial just as I try to add a permanent edible part of our garden such as another fruit or nut tree. I also try to stick with smaller varieties because we are in suburbia.

What do you have growing on your homestead? Are you planting seeds or plants or both? We diversify to make sure we are getting a stream of supplemental produce all season long!

I wish you all a beautiful week!

Thanks for stopping in!

Karen Lynn

Jerusalem Artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes about to overtake the garden!

asparagus plant Sweet Pepper Plants
Our huge asparagus plant (left) and sweet pepper plants!