I had big hopes to get a lot done on the homestead this week. Unfortunately, my health didn’t cooperate at the start of the week. I had some symptoms that indicated coronavirus, including the chest pain and shortness of breath. That made it particularly difficult to do any digging or other yard work. Thankfully, I am over that now and felt really good on Saturday.
Living in the desert brings a number of challenges when it comes to gardening. One of the biggest issues is the quality of our dirt. It has many rocks and not much organic material. To get things to grow, I have to buy compost and growing soil. I found a place called Tank’s Green Stuff that recycles garden waste and turns it into compost. On Saturday, I made two trips there to get a load of compost and a load of Pro Planting Mix.
The Pro Planting Mix contains Coconut Coir Chips and other components that help to store water and provide nutrients to plants. When bought by the cubic yard, their prices are much lower than buying from a big box hardware store. A cubic yard is quite a bit of dirt, so I am happy that I bought a trailer earlier this year.
It has been another interesting week on The Geek Homestead. Josh has been home this week because of feeling ill and had to take off from work. He is feeling better today and hopefully will be completely better in a few days. He isn’t feeling up to writing our weekly homestead post though, so I’ll be the one writing this week.
This past week, we moved our middle batch of chicks out of the chick cage in the coop and into the actual coop with our older chicks. Smokey Jr., our second Easter Egger, still thinks she is in charge and has been having an attitude with the older chicks. Peckachu and Cheeto especially haven’t been taking her attitude and I think she is close to being put in her place. Smokey still picks on the two younger California Whites though, Thunderbird and Phoenix. I still can’t tell the two California Whites apart. Gwen has to be with me to tell me who is who. Thunderbird and Phoenix like being around people and will come up to say hi when you are near the coop or in the coop.
Zee-zee, Peckachu, Torchic, Charmander, Cheetoh, and Carmen in the middle with Thunderbird or Phoenix hanging back on the right side.
For a few days, we were actually wondering if Smokey Jr. might be a rooster, but I do think we have all hens. We will find out for sure in a few months!
Our baby blue-laced red wyandottes are still in the house with us. Josh expanded their home to two boxes and it took them awhile to decide it was a safe box. These babies are growing in their feathers quickly and are starting to look a little bit scruffy. We can’t wait to see what their colors will be like once they are grown. They love being hand-fed and will go crazy if you feed them their favorite snack, Scratch and Peck organic starter.
Since Josh was home this week, he was able to work on our garden beds (with many breaks so that he didn’t overdo it).
All the garden bed fencing is up. We have a lot of rabbits and other wildlife in the area that would love to get into a garden, so Josh and the boys put all the fencing up first. The garden beds are now ready to be filled with dirt. I think Josh will be going to pick up dirt tomorrow so that he can start planting. We are expecting only to be able to grow veggies in the garden until about June or July because of the heat here. Then, Josh plans to grow winter veggies starting in October or November.
Our fig tree also came in that we bought from our power company. The boys were able to dig a hole for it, but the tree still needs to be planted. We are hoping it will grow quickly to be shade for the chicken coop. In the meantime, we will probably need to put up some sailcloth this summer to shade the chicken coop instead.
Our prickly pear patch over by the garden beds will be flowering soon! There is nothing quite like cactus flowers. I think they are my favorite flowers.
I had to venture out on Thursday to pick up groceries and that was quite an experience. There are still many empty shelves out there. It also felt a little bit like a vacation after not leaving the house for two weeks. We are doing mostly fine with our supply of food and definitely use up leftovers. Example: Josh smoked a turkey breast last Saturday and I think I used it for two or three meals. I also froze the bone so that I can make turkey broth later. By the way, smoked turkey breast is amazing. We will have to post about it sometime soon. Josh actually said we can have smoked turkey breast as part of Thanksgiving and that is high praise because we usually don’t have turkey; we have a ham instead.
I was sad I wasn’t able to find eggs, but we do still have one package left. I just won’t be able to bake very much for about a week.
We also have continued to homeschool here on the homestead and decided to take no days off until everything opens back up again. Because of the great weather we’ve had the past week, after school and during recess, the kids have been outside playing. As you can see, our back patio is nearly covered with chalk drawings!
This week on the homestead has been a bit odd. All around us, people are having to change their lifestyles drastically due to COVID-19. Schools are shut down. Restaurants and other similar businesses in Tucson are all shut down. Since we live in a rural location and already home school, this hasn’t caused a big change in our family life for the short term. The biggest changes have been for me at work. There is a huge emphasis on cleanliness and keeping an eye on your own health.
To keep Lynn from having to go out, I did the family grocery shopping on Friday. The grocery store closest to us had been cleaned out of many staple foods like beans, rice, pasta and oats. Things like dried fruits, pickled vegetables and canned fruits were in limited supply. There were absolutely no paper products at all.
We only moved here at the end of August, so I hadn’t planned on doing much gardening this year. My plan was to try and find things to make compost out of this year and start the garden next year. I guess all this craziness got to me, and I am going to be putting in a few garden beds now. I have ordered the wire from Amazon that I need to keep the rabbits out. I also bought some wood for garden beds at Lowes.
This week we were expecting to get a lot of rain; the forecast was for rain from Tuesday to Thursday. Thursday showed a chance of 0.8 inches, which a good amount in the Arizona desert. Water is always a consideration when you are trying to homestead in the desert. Unfortunately, we ended up with very little rain. We started out well with 0.12 inches on Tuesday, but got only 0.03 during the rest of the storm. From what I read and observed driving for work, all around us there was rain, rain and more rain. We somehow ended up in a bubble of no water.
We still do have some flowers in the yard in spite of the lack of water. Wildflowers in the desert really don’t need much to grow.