Happy Summer to everyone on the Northern Hemisphere!

JennandAmberThisistlemoonMeadows

(I really want to thank our very dear friends Amber AKA Valley Writer, and Mr.ValleyWriter of Adventures in the Pioneer Valley for the beautiful Thistlemoon Meadows sign – here is Amber and I standing behind it! You can check out her post about her visit to Vermont, Visit to the Land of the Locavore, here.)

I have really enjoyed doing these weekly homesteading picture updates, so this is going to be a new regular feature of this blog. We had thought about starting a garden blog, but then decided that gardens and farm animals have everything to do with food – so why not just post about it here! It is going to be really helpful next year to look back at the pictures  and posts to see how the gardens are doing in comparison.

Chicken Tractor_collage_600

(Clockwise: The flock in their new home, Roberto in the beginning stages of the build, Jenn painting the tractor, middle stage of the tractor, you still need to eat when you are building, Jenn with the flock in their new home!)

We celebrated Summer Solstice in two ways. The first was by finishing a project that we worked on for about a week, from design to getting materials, to building – WE BUILT A CHICKEN TRACTOR! Yep. Our first real construction project, on the homestead, which was prompted by the chicks growing so darn fast!!! We will be building them a coop later in the summer – something bigger, with nesting boxes, and insulated for winter, maybe when my dad comes to visit in August (Dad, if you are reading this, get ready!!!). But we decided on a chicken tractor for now, this way, they have a big space to grow into over the next few months, and then once they are full grown, a few at a time can go out to pasture in it. Sadly though, one of the chicks seems to have hurt her leg, the same day. We did a lot of research on what it could be, and how to fix it, and tried a few different splints and braces which just seemed to make her despondent. Unfortunately it seems that she will either continue to adapt to it (she is doing just fine with it right now), or she won’t and it is probably a genetic pre-disposition.

The Flock_3weeks_collage_600

(Clockwise: chick with hurt leg, the flock on one of their outdoor adventures, big bird on top of the feeder, the flock on one of their outdoor adventures)

The rest of the flock is doing great, even our litter runts. With the bigger space, they are having a blast running around and trying to fly, including our injured one. She is just as wild as the rest, which bodes well for her spirit. We have been letting the birds out a few hours a day on sunny days to get used to being outdoors. Two of our birds have started to become very friendly, and when we open the door to the tractor, they come running over to say hi. We pet them under their beaks and on their chests, and they love it! The injured one has been very good natured, and even started falling asleep in my hands, as we were working on her legs. So keep good wishes for her to continue to adapt, she seems to be a fighter!

Garden_collage_June2310_600

(Clockwise: Tomato/Eggplant/Pepper bed, Cucumber/Turnip/Radish/Lettuce bed, All the beds, Potato and Bean field, Currants)

The second thing we did was make our rounds through the gardens and “orchard”, taking pictures. We have already started harvesting lettuces, and it looks like we are just days away from harvesting radishes and currants (only about 3 berries though…). The potatoes and beans, our main crops are going like gangbusters and so far the neem spray and garlic/rosemary/mint infusion have been keeping the critters at bay. Hopefully this weekend we will install fencing, then we can sleep like babies at night.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!