i nearly cried…

Thursday night I went to lock up the coop. Around dusk the chickens all just run to the coop, up their ladder and go up in the rafters to roost for the night. It amazes me every night how they just do what they are supposed to do. Anyway, I was locking things up and just for the fun of it decided to check the nesting boxes. Lo and behold, we got our first egg!

The girls were asleep, but I got all the boys up to go see for themselves. We had a party out by the coop for the tiniest little chicken egg I’ve ever seen. It looks big in my 5 year old son’s hands, but it is small.

It is almost ridiculous how excited I was to see that little egg. I’ve never been so proud of poultry! I am not sure what is happening over here, but we didn’t kill all of our strawberry plants, our cucumbers are growing like crazy and we have one bite of broccoli. Not to mention all the onions, potatoes, spinach, beets, carrots and lettuce we’ve already harvested. With the garden and the chickens – you might as well start calling me Farmer Ashley. Okay – not even close. I do know what happened. We’ve had a ton of rain, cooler than normal temps and we’ve actually remembered there is a garden back there. Amazing how that works!

We’ve been working hard on the coop/garden. We got a fence up and gates. It is the first of several fenced areas. I’ve been reading Free Range Chicken Gardens and we’ve got a long term plan in the works for growing more food and getting the chickens to help. As this growing season comes to an end, the chickens will stay fenced in the garden area to start working the soil. In the spring, they’ll be moved to a different fenced area.  The boys got the fun job of deep cleaning the coop this weekend. Stinky, stinky chicken droppings. Having big kids is nice. I’m also growing a couple boxes of weeds in the garden. Try hard not to covet those.

While cleaning they found our fourth egg. Our ‘Spikey” has laid an egg a day since Thursday. Don’t tell Chris I gave the boys his tire brush to scrub chicken poo.

And a totally random picture of our cat. While inside taking pictures of eggs, I remembered there was a request here to see Poppy again. I assure you she is doing fine. The kids just celebrated her first birthday. She is outside most days and some nights. She made a cat friend and they can often be seen chasing butterflies or killing moles. (this was at f/1.8 with my 85mm lens)

Poppy and the chickens aren’t friends, but they get along. Poppy likes to pounce to scare them, then they chase her.

Our new little chicks love ‘dirt baths’ – wallowing in holes they make in the dirt. The boys think it is one of the funniest things they’ve ever seen.

So, I know I still haven’t done a coop tour. Here’s the thing – it isn’t finished. My dad is pounding and burning a weather vane for the top. It is incredible. I need to replace the ladder the chickens climb and we still have fence construction stuff laying around the ground. I am sure none of you care about that stuff, but I do. We all have our issues and posting tours of unfinished things is mine. I still haven’t done a tour of the studio because it isn’t done. I don’t care if you see me without make up or if you come over and I have to move laundry for you to sit down. Posting a coop tour of an unfinished coop – I just can’t do it. I’ve got issues, I know.

For those dying for more details, we bought Heather Bullard’s coop plans. We ended up doubling the size and making it taller. We also changed a bunch of minor stuff to work with what we had, but the basic design is Heather’s. I promise I will post a tour before next August!

***all these were taken with my Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens

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  • kimberly oyler - what a great farmer you are. i’m not even mad that you haven’t done a coop tour. take yo sweet time. also, your middle sons blonde curly hair just about kills me. such cute kids you have.

  • Brandi - Everything looks so nice. I love your fencing and can’t wait to see the coup!

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - Love it all! Your coop and chicken yard are what dreams are made of! And I get that urge to cry. It is the best feeling!

  • Molly - there is just something about growing stuff with your own hands. so fulfilling. we harvested a bunch from our garden last night…peppers, onions, cucumbers and a few drops of golden sunshine (tomatoes). I love it.

  • Kimberly @ Turning It Home - I love hearing about other chickens! Our chickens are free range in our city backyard, so when I walk out of the back door, they all run up to “greet” me. By greet me, I really mean running up from their dirt bath to shake all the dirt off of their feathers onto my feet. It’s a funny, bittersweet relationship I have with my chickens. I also second your statement that it is so nice to have older kids. My 9-year-old son loves our chickens and I love that he is able to help out with them! Thank you for sharing such wonderful stories, Ashley.

  • Jessamy - Eeek, melt my country girl heart! Who takes pictures of chickens bathing in the dirt and makes it look awesome?? YOU! My husband says he’s going to block you’re site because I keep begging him to quit his job in the city so we can move to the country and have a garden and chickens like yours! Maybe we’ll be neighbors! Oh, and you probably know this, but broccoli produces more every year. The first year is never that great. By next year we will be calling you Farmer Ashley!

  • Debbie C - I am so excited for you! Fresh eggs! I am trying hard not to covet the weeds ;)…but the eggs and fresh produce you are growing, that is much harder. Congrats on all the progress, so fun!

  • AshleyAnn - Jessamy – I don’t have to replant broccoli?! I didn’t know that. Now I have something new to research today!

  • Seamingly Sarah - “I’ve got issues” – don’t we all?!?! =)

    I’m missing our garden so bad this year. We are in a rental while we fix up our new home, which has a garden with a few veggies, but not at all how I would’ve planted it and I can only get up there once a week. I want my old garden back =(

  • Shannon - Aww, Poppy looks like my Bella.

  • Alice - ‘Killing moles’!!!???!!!! Really? Does poppy and her friend eat them? This concept is strange to me, Im from oz, so haven’t seen a live mole before… Don’t they spend most of there lives underground? I need to research moles now :)

  • AshleyAnn - Alice – I know, crazy cat! Yes, moles are usually underground but I guess Poppy knows when they pop up. She’s killed several. All I know is she’s killed them, beyond that Chris doesn’t tell me because I don’t want to know!

  • Lori - So glad your girls are getting busy! :)

  • Eva - I am soo jealous of all that you’re doing “at home” with your kids. All that hands on learning…and not just head knowledge…growing in character too. Awesomeness overload.

  • Jessamy - My mom trims her broccoli back when it starts to seed. She gets a second harvest in the fall. It has wintered over the past 2 years and come back producing more heads. She gets enough from 1-2 plants to freeze some. Totally worth checking out. Good luck!

  • Olivia - Oh I’d love to have a garden, coop and some chickens, maybe next summer when my youngest is a bit older.

  • { lydia } - you make me happy!

  • Gwen - Just you wait, before you know it you’ll have more eggs than you know what to do with!

  • Valerie - yeah, that’s an awesome coop! I’ve seen it on Heather’s blog, and I want one – but can’t have one, not enough space … love seeing yours though!

  • Analia - You inspire me! I too live in the country. We have chickens too and are in the process with the coop.

  • elma - Oh how eggciting!! We have four hens that we got last year and this year we added eight baby hens. Well two ended up being roosters which we so dislike but anyways ours started laying such cute tiny eggs. The cool thing is these tiny eggs have all been double yolks!! My kids love playing and getting the eggs out and our 12 year old keeps the coop super clean with some stuff she mixes all together and the coop looks new again. She also puts flowers and herbs in the nesting boxes which the chickens really like,

  • sheridan - oh i love it all!!! can’t wait to see everything!!! we are building on 9 acres and I’m so excited about my little farm and garden ill have out there! and I’m not a cat person but for sure will have an outside one to keep the mice and other fun creatures away! have i mentioned i love it all so happy for your crew!

  • AshleyAnn - Sheridan – I want to see your farm one day!! Congratulations!

  • emily anderson - “she made a cat friend”…

    we all know what that means. poppy’s got a boyfriend.

  • AshleyAnn - Emilee – yes, she’s got a boyfriend!

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