Holistically Organized Multidisciplinary Endeavors Farm

Reflections on May, 2024

May 2024 Cover

We made it through May with no tornadoes! There were some pretty big storms with hail and 40mph winds, but luckily, no damage. The garden and trees are loving the rains. A couple of trees have reached the top of their tubes!

New Chicks

Do you know what it’s like to have 50 baby chicks chirping all night long in your living room? Well, we do. They are noisy, and smelly, and drink so much water that we have to refill the 2 gallon waterer everyday! These chicks came from Freedom Ranger Hatchery in Pennsylvania. Most of them started out yellow, but a few were motley brown, and some even have what looks like moviestar make-up around their eyes. They are so cute!

Lovely make-up, Chick!

But there are 50 of them. We started them out in a large plastic tub, that lasted about a day because they seemed crowded. Then Aaron put together a little pen made from the frame of a 500 gallon tote, wrapped in weed barrier. Pine chips were the initial bedding, until we noticed them eating them, causing their little chicken butts to become packed and crusted over with globs of partially digested woodchips. After that, we just used layers of cardboard, but they covered that (and their little feets) with poo all day long, so we went back to the woodchips. They sent 51 chicks, and I am proud to say that this round only suffered 2 deaths! One just didn’t handle the trip from Pennsylvania and died once introduced to his new home. The other died from that compacted woodchip fecal issue. This is a success!

chicks in small tote
So many chicks!

Because we’ve never had this many chicks at once, we had to come up with a way to feed them that would do 2 things; allow adequate access, and prevent them pooping into the feeder. You have probably seen these chick feeders at farm stores, but we like to DIY everything so hubby constructed one out of cardboard. It worked great, up until they reached about 3 weeks old, which is also when we moved them to the outside coop. They were getting so big that they couldn’t all fit around it at one time, and were aggressively clambering over one another.

DIY chick feeder

So hubby upgraded the feeder by inserting a 5 gallon bucket with a hole at the bottom, into another 5 gallon bucket with 1 inch holes going around the bottom, about one inch from the bottom. It allowed just enough feed to fall into the bottom bucket, so they could reach in with their heads and peck the food. And, 100% no poo in the food!

DIY bucket chick feeder
Hole in the bottom of inner bucket
1 inch holes around the outer bucket

This worked until about 5 weeks old, when their heads started to get stuck, or not fit into the holes at all. Once again, we have upgraded to a couple of 8 foot lengths of plastic gutter as feeding troughs. They are such hungry little beasts, they will eat until their crops are jam-packed with food, and then choke down some more. This gets expensive, so we are now feeding only twice daily. Man, they grow fast!

Carefully traversing the chicken garden

Garden Update

The garden is loving the rain. We’ve been eating plenty of fresh kale and arugula, and our potatoes look great so far. The poultry netting works perfectly to fence off sections of garden so the big chickens can work on bug control. Check out our cool Ancient Forest Garlic! While I want to harvest and devour these leek-like garlics, we are allowing them to grow and spread, so that we’ll have a bounty of the stuff in years to come. I love the flowers!

Ancient forest garlic

Tree Update

Still mulching in between trees, and weeding, and checking in the tubes for signs of growth, we found a couple of dead birds. Birds can be beneficial if they land on top of the tubes, dropping their nutrient-rich poops, but they can fall down in and become trapped. This can be detrimental to the baby trees; the flapping can break branches or even smash the tree. So, we’ve been attaching the tree nets that came with the tubes.

Tree nets to keep the birds out
Trees popping out!
Even the trees that don’t have tubes are doing well!
Row of honey locusts

In preparation for the silvopasture setup, (allowing the cows to graze around the trees) we had to come up with a way to keep the cows from rubbing on the tubes or trampling them altogether. Winding turbo wire up the tubes and attaching to the hot line connecting the row of trees is our solution. By placing some stakes and turbo wire-lined tree tubes near the cows now, our hope is they will get trained to avoid them when they begin to graze around the trees. I’m excited to see how they affect the grasshopper population when they graze the grass down.

Graduation and Fishing Trip, and Baseball

Our oldest graduated high school! We are so proud of his accomplishments at his many different modes of education. This kid has attended public schools in Illinois, Florida, and 4 in Oklahoma, as well as a few years of homeschooling and unschooling, This variety of different learning environments has given him a well-rounded and interesting educational background. He plans to up his working hours and save money for a car. No plans for college at the moment. Both myself and his father did some gap years before college so we are supportive of this decision.

Our graduate!

The middle kid got to go to Colorado with his grandpa and uncle for a 10-day fishing trip near South Fork! He caught lots of fish, and brought many home, so we could have a fish fry. He was reluctant to go, but had a great time playing cards in the cabin, reading, and fishing.

Fishing trip in Colorado

And the little guy went to a Dodger’s game in Oklahoma City! Wearing his new hat, slurping down Dippin’ Dots, and eating hotdogs, he cheered on the team! Because we are not sports-oriented people, we always support our kiddos going to sporting events with their grandparents, because we ain’t gonna take them, and they are a part of our culture. Thanks, Nanna!

Dodgers game

Art Works

With all the rainy days, I’ve had some time to work on paintings, and have a couple of new ones in the Gallery for sale. This banjo took me forever! I tweaked and tweaked for many days, until finally I was satisfied. Please comment if you’d like to see this one available as a print. Even more abstract works have been on my mind lately as well. Our old printer failed some months back and I saved the ink tanks. They are such fun to pour into the cracks of dried gesso! Check out the gallery to see more of my works. @Alisoncanyonart on Instagram, you’ll see some process videos.

“Banjo” 19×36 inches
Sand & Sea 12×24″

Books of the Month

While on his fishing trip, Mason (9) got in lots of reading! He also binged the Youtube read-alouds of several Percy Jackson books. Buccaneer by David Wood, Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of The Labyrinth, and The Demigod Files. He also read By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Our read alouds included 2 of Kate Dicamillo’s books; Franklin Endicott and The Third Key, Stella Endicott and The Anything is Possible Poem, and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. We enjoyed comparing the movie to the book. Kyias (7) continues to read his Elephant & Piggie books, a set of 25 he got from his Nanna.

Your Thoughts

I don’t just write this blog as a journal or record of our adventures in homesteading. I also write it so that you will be inspired to make the changes in your life that will bring you joy and fulfillment, homesteading or not. This lifestyle isn’t always easy. We have to deal with isolation, pests, naysayers, frozen water lines, hail damage, insufficient air conditioning! To name a few. But, we have also reaped the many rewards; no mortgage, no neighbors, freedom to do what we want when we want, gorgeous sunsets, organic eggs! Life is a balance. All this is to say that I would love to answer your questions! Feel free to give me some suggestions about what YOU want to hear about. It doesn’t have to be homesteading. Thanks for reading and sharing, folks!

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Hey.  I’m Alison; author, artist, and off-grid homeschooling mama of three.  I love painting, exploring the outdoors, and a hoppy IPA.  My partner and I work together to bring this website and blog to you.  We hope you enjoy!