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Faithful Homesteader


Frogs on the Homestead

Faithful HomesteaderI love attracting all kinds of critters to the yard. I get so much joy out of seeing birds, butterflies, squirrels, rabbits, lizards, frogs and toads. Since we put in a pond several years ago, we have attracted quite a few frogs, but this year we seemed to have more than ever. It made me think about the plague of the frogs from the Exodus story.

Lily pad frog

I love having the frogs hanging out in and near the pond. One of the things that I really wanted to capture with my camera was a frog on lily pad. I just find that such a cool sight. Over the years I have dealt with noisy frogs and it didn’t affect my husband at all because of his hearing loss. But now that my husband has restored hearing, the frogs have been too much for him to handle. They have been definitely affecting his sleep so he was working to relocate them away from the bedroom window. It was sounding like someone crying all night. I have become accustom to them over the years so it doesn’t affect me as much. 

Frog mat

I was amazed when he told me that when he went out by the pond early in the morning, that he counted 18 frogs. It seemed the frogs had decided to use our pond for some major mating. It is something that I could have gone without seeing. I felt a bit traumatized like some of my innocence was stolen. My husband showed me all of the tadpoles and I don’t think that I had ever seen so many in the past. There were strings of tadpoles all throughout the pond. 

The last few nights have been quiet and I have not been noticing the frogs near the pond. My husband said he saw some of them hanging out near the blackberry bushes. It seems like maybe they were done with the mating. It is nice that it is quieter, but I still hope some of them hang around. I read that they eat mosquitoes and I definitely want help with that since I get eaten alive every mosquito season. Now I have a dog that I have to be worried about as well when it comes to mosquitoes. 

I like seeing the frogs and we always have a variety of sizes. We have the cute little frogs and the not so cute big frogs. I like the ones that aren’t affected by our presence and just hang out. It is so unnecessary to me the ones that have to jump in the pond and hide whenever we come around. 

I hope my husband can get used to the noise and just embrace the sounds of nature. I prefer the noise of the frogs to our loud train whistles. Also the frogs don’t shake the house whenever they are around like the trains do so often. They are a fun part of our little ecosystem that we have on our humble little homestead. 

Enjoying the Beauty of an Edible Garden

Before I met my husband, I didn’t know anything about gardening. I did not realize that edible gardens could be so beautiful. I have heard over the years about home owner associations banning people from having edible landscaping in their front yard. After having a garden of my own, this makes even less sense to me. 

Every year as we grow new things, I am blown away by all the pretty flowers that come from our fruits and vegetables. I just never realized this was the case with fruit and vegetables. Like I said I really didn’t know anything about gardening. I didn’t understand how plants work. 

peach tree

Photo by Faithful Homesteader

Our peach trees were such a welcome sight as a sign of spring. I just absolutely love the colors of the flowers and seeing them brings me a lot of joy. Of course now what we are seeing are the tiny peaches and I am looking forward to when they are ready to eat. 

This year both of our apple trees were looking so beautiful. One still has the pretty flowers, but the other one looks like it will not provide us any apples this year. However, I did enjoy the flowers while they lasted. But my husband is ready to chop down the tree because it has never produced any apples. I am still holding out hope for the other one. 

We are getting pretty white flowers from our blackberries. The mockingbirds will likely soon enjoy the blackberries much to my husband’s dismay. Our dog has been chasing the birds off though, so maybe that will make a difference this year. 

kale

Photo by Faithful Homesteader

Last year we planted kale for the first time and I am in awe of the volume of flowers and just how beautiful the flowers are from the kale. Like the blackberries, they are white and they are blooming right now. I love to see that the pollinators are drawn to them. 

We do plant regular flowers like my favorite sunflowers, but I have come to realize that even if we never plant a single one of those flowers that I can still enjoy a beautiful garden. It is awesome the cycle of these plants. First I get to enjoy watching all the different flowers. My eye can behold their beauty. I also get to enjoy watching the pollinators do their thing and that is another beautiful thing to behold. Then I get to enjoy eating the fruit or vegetable itself as long as all goes as planned. 

A luscious tomato and bright colored pepper can also be a thing of great beauty. The year that we actually did get an apple off of one of our trees was a wonderful thing. It was a lovely apple and quite yummy too. 

We are planting some new things this year and I really don’t know what to expect as far as the flowers, but I am looking forward to seeing some new eye candy in the garden this year. I will also continue to enjoy the loveliness of our usual crops such as our squash. 

Helping My Husband in the Garden

Faithful HomesteaderIn previous years I was perfectly content to leave all the gardening to my husband. He is the green thumb in the family. However, as the years have gone on, I have become more involved. This year I seem to have the most involvement. I have learned some new things as we tend to our garden.

building the retaining wall
Working on retaining wall. Photo by Faithful Homesteader

One of the first new projects that I worked on was building a little retaining wall for mulch along the front of our house where we started growing Aronia berries. We bought some 7-1/2 x 15 inch landscape flats from Lowe's for the project. First I helped dig up the original bricks and dug out dirt to make room for the new bricks. 

finished retaining wall

Finished retaining wall. Photo by Faithful Homesteader

My husband helped get things started, and then it was my job to lay the brick using a string line and a level. It was actually the first time that I had ever used a level. I put in all the bricks and backfilled it with dirt to keep everything in place. I did have some struggles getting everything level, and I was sure exhausted at the end of it. But it did give me a sense of accomplishment.

Another new thing that I did this year was transplanting tomatoes and peppers from pots into the ground. My husband usually grows them from seeds but got a little lazy this year and bought some from the farm store. I have planted seeds before, but never transported from pots. My husband showed me how he did it.

I dug up the dirt with enough space to place the small pot into the ground fairly deep. Then I braced the top of the pot with my finger and turned the pot upside down. Once I loosened everything and let the plants fall from the pot, I was able to set it in the ground and fill in the dirt around it. I then placed cages around all the plants. 

our garden beds

Photo by Faithful Homesteader

I also did throw some seeds into the ground. So far from seed, we have corn, beans, squash, peach, cantaloupe, spiral cucumbers, and purple carrots. We still have other things to plant, like our flowers. I watered everything to get it all started. Generally we do not have to water much once things get going. We are doing in-ground beds for most everything that is not part of the landscaping. In the past we had lowered beds, but since my husband has amended the soil so much over the years, they now work as ground level beds. Raised beds do not work for us, because the temperature gets too hot. 

I also, for the first time, put down mulch and compost. It was definitely a smelly job that I could do without, but I know it is good for the garden. This year we are really working on making sure the garden is puppy proof. We generally don’t mind so much if the chickens have a run in the garden. We are mostly using chicken wire to keep the dog away, but we haven’t finished with everything just yet. 

Working in the garden is definitely giving me quite the work out. I have ended up with a sore back, sore quadriceps, arms, and shoulders. I do like having that sense of accomplishment. I think it will make me pay even more attention to how the garden does this year knowing that I have been putting in so much work.

Things I Learned as a Chicken Mama

Faithful HomesteaderI am a bit of a reflective person, and this week I was thinking about all the things that I have learned since I started raising chickens. I didn’t know anything when we ended up adopting a stray chicken that had wandered into our yard. Now it is almost seven years later, and we still have that same chicken. Her name is Buster, and today she started her spring laying cycle. 

Our little Buster

Photo By Faithful Homesteader

When my husband decided to keep her, he bought a rabbit hutch that he ended up converting into a coop, but it did not even have a roost, because we didn’t know anything about that. He eventually built another coop, and by then I stressed to him that we needed a roost. The first time a chicken went broody, I was clueless. I just noticed that of the two chickens that we had, only one was out and about and no one was laying. I didn’t know what broodiness was. Of course, now I know that it is when a chicken wants to sit on eggs with the goal of hatching baby chicks. We do not have a rooster, so there is no possibility of that happening. 

I have learned just how much drama a broody chicken can cause. I even ended up with a chicken on the roof of the house after chasing her out of the nesting box. I can’t get over how moody those broody broads can be. Right now we have one broody chicken, Nailie, and since I was gone most of the day, I wasn’t able to keep her out of the nesting box. 

I noticed that one of the other chickens, Katana, was fussy, and I guessed she was trying to lay even though it was so late in the day. Everyone else kept the other nesting box occupied, so she had no where to go. I managed to get Nailie out and Katana went into the box. When I checked on things, Nailie was in with her. Katana did manage to lay. I noticed she came out, and sure enough, the broody miss wasted no time sitting on her egg. I like that I have learned to understand at least some chicken speak.

I have learned when my chickens are getting close to starting their laying cycles. I pay attention to the color and size of their combs. Our little Buster has had an increasingly brighter red comb, and it has become bigger. That, and the fact that she would give us the submissive squat, told us she was getting close to laying. We also notice when the girls get a bit fidgety going in and out of the coop.

I learned about dirt baths for chickens. I never noticed that the wild, birds do the same thing. Now I notice the little spots in the yard that they use for bathing. I think it’s cute. I have learned so much since having chickens. They also just provide so much entertainment and joy. I never tire of seeing them run or fly across the yard in anticipation of a treat. I learned that they make great pets.

Winter Homestead Happenings in North Texas

Faithful HomesteaderThe temperatures have been up and down here in North Texas this winter. We have had some beautiful and warm days. However, we have also had some pretty cold days. We have had too much rain at times, but when I see how the weather is in other places, I know that we have actually had it pretty good. There are some signs that spring is just around the corner, such as buds on our peach tree, but the forecast is turning cold with multiple freezes expected in the coming days. 

Three of our chickens
Photo by Faithful Homesteader.

I try to take advantage of the good days by going on hikes with my dog when I have a chance. I know I need more time in the fresh air, and I want to get into better shape. The chickens seem to be doing well. They are quite active these days, and most of them are laying. I do love seeing them active. My girls bring a lot of joy into my life. Our girl Nailie had quit laying for several months, so I am so glad to see her laying again. I always worry about her, because she is never quite as active as the rest. 

Our original chicken Buster has been with us for seven years, and we don’t even know how old she really is. We are wondering if she has another season in her. We are fine if she doesn’t lay again. She has been a productive girl over the years. I don’t know if we would have ended up with chickens had she not wandered into our yard and chose to stay. 

We have started the garden preparations. Most of our seeds are ordered. We have a new fig tree and will be growing a lot of fruit along with our vegetables. We will be growing wild plum, gooseberry, Nanking cherry, and Jostaberry this year. I am not familiar with Jostaberry. I read that it is a cross between a gooseberry and black currant. 

We love our trees and continue to add more, but we had one tree that had roots growing too close to our septic system, so we had to cut it down. My husband had everything planned perfectly, and he said it fell in the exact right spot. He started cutting up part of it with our chainsaw. I decided that I wanted to give it a try. I had never used a chainsaw in my life. It was challenging, but I did it. We don’t have a heavy duty chainsaw, so we were not able to cut up the whole tree. 

I am looking forward to the end of the cold weather and the start of spring. I am hoping that as we are approaching our severe storm season, that it won’t be so bad. We are supposed to have an awesome wildflower season here in North Texas. I am looking forward to that. I also look forward to the flowers that we are planting, like my favorite sunflowers and marigolds. 

Spring and Summer Garden Preparations

Faithful HomesteaderIt is that time of year when we start preparing for our spring and summer garden. We have already started some of the dirt work. Sometimes my husband talks about not having a garden, but I can’t imagine that. It is great for us to get fresh vegetables, and I also love seeing beautiful flowers. I love anything that attracts pollinators. I also like sharing the garden with our chickens. 

chickens in garden
Photo by Faithful Homesteader.

This year we will need to do things a little differently because of now having a dog. We certainly don’t need him digging up the garden or doing his business all over the place. Like last year, we are doing in-ground beds, but we will surround each bed with chicken wire. We plan to make it where the dog can’t get in, but the chickens can. Doing dense planting, our tomatoes bushes always provide nice shade and refuge for the girls in the hot summer. 

We will be growing our usual vegetables of tomatoes, zucchini, squash, watermelon, and peppers. We also plan to have beans and corn. I am hoping we grow giant sunflowers again. They are my favorite flower. We will likely have marigolds. I notice they attract a lot of butterflies, and I love that. 

We are planning on growing kohlrabi. We grew it several years ago. The chickens loved it, and we liked it. I am hoping for some new vegetables this year. I try to follow a mostly paleo diet and I am preparing to go keto. I would like a great variety of good vegetables to eat. Currently I eat the same thing over and over again. 

My husband was looking through the Gurney’s Seed and Nursery Co. catalog and will soon order some seeds. We are trying a different type of cauliflower called Veronica Hybrid. They are said to have good heat tolerance, and we certainly need that in North Texas. We are also going to plant a couple different types of carrots. One is the Purple Haze Hybrid and the other is the Envy Hybrid.

More kale is certainly going in the garden. We actually still have some in the garden. It has survived multiple hard freezes. It is called Beira Seed Kale, and it is heat tolerant as well, surviving our triple digit summer temps. We are going to try some artichoke even though neither of us knows if we will like it. I don’t think I have ever had it. 

I always look forward to the garden each year, but we never know if it will be successful or not. Sometimes it is too hot or too wet. We have had losses because of hail. We do always manage to have at least one thing that makes it through no matter what. It is an adventure for sure. 

I love that the garden always seems to attract the birds and the bees. I am hoping that the Painted Bunting will make an appearance again this year. That adds a lot of joy to my life.  

We will do our best to prepare a successful garden, but we will have to see what the spring and summer weather holds for us. I certainly hope it will not be too hot or too wet. I want the chickens to enjoy the garden, but not too much. 

A Day in the Life with My Chickens

Faithful HomesteaderMy average day with my chickens is fairly quiet and routine. I make sure the girls come out of the coop just fine. I give them food and water and just check that all is well. They spend time digging around the yard, dirt bathing, and begging for treats. Or course they give me eggs. I love to just watch them. They all have their own cute personalities. 

picture of chickens

Occasionally, the routine is messed up and things are not so quiet and easy going on the homestead. After a mostly sleepless night while trying to nap, our usually quiet Katana just would not shut up, and I figured it had to do with the nesting box situation. But I did have to make sure it wasn’t something else like a cat or other predator. Once I did that, I moved Sage out of what Katana thought was her nesting box to try to smooth things over, but it did not work for long. I was definitely not a happy camper. I was glad when both girls finally laid their eggs and it was quiet again. 

I decided to give the girls some treats, but noticed that our sweet Andie was not coming around for the food. This is most unlike her. I looked up and noticed she was on the other side of the fence in our neighbors yard. I wasn’t sure if she flew over or found a hole in the fence. She was not figuring out how to get back over so it was up to me to help her.

I tried just encouraging her to come to me, but that was not working. She kept trying to come through the fence, but of course that was not an idea that was going to work. Lately she had given me the submissive squat, so I hoped she would be easy to catch, but the way my day was going, it could never be that easy. I finally did manage to catch her and put her back where she belonged. I made sure to give her a treat since she had missed out while she was on her adventure.

I would like to know what she was thinking when she went over to the other side. Was she bullied? Did she think there was something better over there? I hope she learned her lesson and will not be visiting again any time soon. It has been a long time since we had a chicken make its way over to the neighbors. Another neighbor’s dog has also been making the trip into their yard too. There must be some attraction. 

I really appreciate the easy going days with the chickens. I never tire of them at the back door looking up at me with begging in their eyes. I love seeing them just doing their chicken thing. I like when they follow me around and act like they want to spend time with me. I love all their noises, and I usually can tell from inside who is speaking. They bring me much joy, but occasionally they bring a bit of chaos. 


Photos courtesy Faithful Homesteader






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