My little family lives in a regular old house, in a regular old neighborhood on the edge of town, but we manage to squeeze half a dozen fruit trees, 5 big raised beds full of fruits, veggies, and flowers, a bunny, and 2 sweet hens into our postage stamp-sized suburban backyard. And oh yeah, we own a 16-acre farm just south of town. That's where the 3 cows, 1 horse, 4 turkeys, 15 pigs, and countless chickens live. And my in-laws.
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Lessons in Backyard Farming#1: You can have baby chicks sent to you through the mail!
#2: Catalogs are super fun to look at. It doesn't even matter what they're selling. Some of my favorites are the seed catalog, the farm equipment catalog (I don't even know why we get that one), and the chicken catalog.
#3: Build yourself a hotbox. Your lettuces will grow 5 times faster and be relatively bug free. We tried growing lettuce a few summers ago, but I began obsessively examining each leaf for bugs before I'd let anyone eat it, and we had to put the kibosh on the whole endeavor.
#4: Picking blueberries is awful. It's kind of like a weird nightmare where you pick and pick and pick, but there never seem to be fewer blueberries on the bush. In fact, I think for every blueberry you pick, two pop up in its place!
#5: Waffle knit shirts, aka Thermals, don't stop bees from stinging your arms. I learned this the hard way. Actually it was the easy way for me, but the hard way for my husband. Which takes us to...
#6: If you can, avoid doing any actual work on the farm. If you are documenting the day for posterity by snapping a few photos from the safety of the golf cart, you can't possibly be expected to help, right?!
#7: As in almost all areas of life, it really is most efficient if you have a plan first. Otherwise, you end up filtering your honey 4 times because you keep pouring chunks of beeswax into the honey you've already filtered.
#8: Babies of any kind are sweet miracles, and mamas are stalwart saints. Amen.
#9: Araucanas and Ameraucanas lay the pretty blue/green eggs. There are lots of mutt chickens that lay pretty blue/green eggs too. They fall into the "Easter Egger" category. In addition to Rhode Island Reds, lots of other breeds lay eggs in varying shades of brown. On the farm, we have more Rhode Island Reds, and a whole bunch of Buff Orpingtons, Lavender Orpingtons, Speckled Sussex, and Partridge Rocks. And we have one lone, white egg-laying Leghorn.
Adventures in Backyard Farming Series
The Beauty of Backyard Eggs--4/10/2013
This Little Piggy--3/13/2013
The Honey Harvest, part 2--9/12/2012
The Honey Harvest, part 1--8/30/2012